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August 10, 1826.
THE greatest talents and the most powerful eloquence of the age, have already poured forth the libations of national feeling, to the memories of the illustrious dead, in Faneuil Hall, the Cradle of Liberty, and at the foot of Bunker's consecrated Hill. An attempt on our part to add any thing to these distinguished services, would be equally unavailing and presumptuous. But, fellow-citizens, it is our duty to bring our humble offering to the memories of our common political fathers. The rivulet unites with the majestic river in its tribute to the deep; and although our notes should be as low as the last reverberation of an echo, still they should be sounded.
Public sentiment exerts arbitrary control over human actions. The sanctions of religion and law are but Lilliputian ties to restrain its operation. We frequently see the most distinguished men assume the arm of the assassin, and expose themselves to deadly weapons, in contests, which their reason and their consciences condemn, and do acts, which the laws of heaven and society stamp as murder; because public
' opinion in their country requires it, to vindicate and preserve unsullied that fame, which is justly dearer to man than life itself. If such is the arbitrary influence of public sentiment how important is it, that it should be properly regulated, and that every opportunity should be seized to give it a right direction. What occasion so appropriate, what so effectual, as to hold up to society for imitation, those whose actions were models for human conduct, and whose lives illustrated every
virtue. The greater respect you pay such men, the higher the veneration you inspire for their characters. If you can induce men to admire the virtues personified, they will most surely practice them. They will not abuse what they love. It is preposterous to suppose that any person devoted to a virtue, can fall a victim to its opposite vice. Exalted virtues and public services demand our highest gratitude ; and this grat
; itude is the greatest incentive to others. They merit, that they too may receive it. One of the strongest motives to a virtuous life, is the desire implanted in our bosoms, to live after death in the memory of posterity.
These, fellow-citizens, are the reasons which should induce us to pay every tribute of gratitude and every mark of respect to those virtuous and distinguished patriots to commemorate whose departure we are now assembled. Search history from creation to the deluge, and from the deluge until the present day, and where can we find men whose lives have been more virtuous, patriotic or useful, or who better deserve to be exhibited as models for mankind ? If the moral virtues gave proportion to the form, here Phidias might sculpture perfection, and Stuart know that his models surpassed those of ancient Greece.
The solid foundation of our liberties rests on the system of Christianity. Although in its first promulgation, its maxims opposed sudden violent and unavailing opposition to those in authority, yet, in its general tenor, it teaches the natural equality of man, and of course his equal rights, not only to life, and the bounties of nature, but also to liberty and selfgovernment. The same book which enjoins on “slaves to
66 obey their masters," at the same time directs masters “ to give that which is just and equal to their slaves,” for that they also have a master in heaven, “who hath no respect to persons." It teaches those who would rule, that governments
" are instituted not for their gratification, but for the benefit of their subjects.
6. Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” It declares that in the day of deso
lation, it shall be “as with the slave, so with the master.” It brings the master and his servant to the same communion, and teaches them that each has an immortal spirit under the protection of one who knows no distinction of rank. It depresses the proud, the haughty, and the elevated, by declaring to them that their honors and elevation cease with their breath ; that they can carry nothing with them beyond the grave ; that their honors and elevation on earth give them no title to rank in heaven ; that they will be judged there by the single standard of moral worth. It elevates the low and depressed with the assurance, that if they act well their part on earth, no distinction of rank this side the grave can bar their advancement to the highest posts in heaven. Such principles are utterly subversive of all right to enslave our fellow-creatures, and of the dark ribaldry" of a divine right to hereditary rank.
These, fellow-citizens, are the republican doctrines of your religion, when it is understood in its simplicity, and purified from the absurd commentaries of those, who have erected religious establishments, and connected them with their political systems. To unite Church and State, and make them mutually support each other, it is necessary to give to the Scriptures an unnatural and servile interpretation.
It was in the Holy Scriptures that the Puritans learnt their lessons of civil and religious liberty. Equally averse to the slavery of the mind and person, they fled at the same time from the Hierarchy and the Aristocracy of the old world, and commenced the settlement of the new. Here for ages they were permitted, without interruption, to enjoy a degree of liberty unknown in the mother country. At last their prosperity excited the avarice of the parent state. The colonies had always voluntarily contributed most liberally* to the
*Mr. Otis, in a speech in the legislature, September 8, 1762, says, “This province has since the year 1754, levied for his ma
, jesty's service as soldiers and seamen, near thirty thousand men, besides what have been otherwise employed. One year in par
prosperity of the mother country. But now her cupidity sought to relieve her own burthens, by imposing them on the colonies ; to bind them without their consent, by the acts of a body in which they were not represented. The principles of liberty implanted by the Puritans in their descendants, had taken too deep root to be easily shaken. They denied the authority thus to bind them. They resisted it, and this resistance produced the American revolution. The taxes imposed on them were light, and much easier to be borne than the cost of any opposition. But they regarded not the amount. They saw in the principle, the arbitrary principle of tyranny, and they determined to risk property, honor, and life, rather than submit to it.
It was amid the scenes of the American revolution, that the two patriarchs, whose memories we would now embalm, acted their first and most distinguished parts.
· The American revolution, and the erection of free governments consequent to it, form the most important era in history ; the most appalling to hereditary rank and aristocratic pride. Our systems of government approximate to perfection, and are susceptible of but little improvement. They unite the greatest strength in the government with the most entire liberty in the people. They afford such an example to the world, that if we are true to our ancestors, true to ourselves, they must eventually be universally adopted. It was the part taken by Adams and Jefferson, in disenthralling us from colonial servitude, and erecting governments, which will always be considered as “stupendous fabrics of human wisdom," that calls us at this time to pay the homage of ceaseless gratitude to their memories.
The history of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson is the history of their country during its most critical and interesting
ticular, it was said, that every fifth man was employed, in one shape or another.
We have raised sums for the support of this war, that the last generation could hardly have formed an idea of. We are now deeply in debt."