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Tuis distinguished statesman and scholar was born in Boston, on the 4th of February, 1772. After the usual preparatory studies at Phillips Andover Academy, he entered Harvard College, graduated in 1790, and then entered on the practice of law in his native city. In 1797, he married Eliza Susan, daughter of John Morton, a merchant of New York. In 1804, he was elected representative from Boston to the Congress of the United States, and held that station eight successive years, until he declined a re-election in 1813, when he was chosen senator from Suffolk County to the State Senate, which position he held till 1820. The same year he was elected a member of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, and was made speaker at the opening of the session. In 1821, he was appointed Judge of the Municipal Court, but resigned the office on his election as Mayor of Boston in 1823. He held the office of Mayor six successive years, until he declined a re-election in December, 1828. In January, 1829, he was called, to use his own words, "from the dust and clamor of the Capitol to the Presidency of Harvard University," and retained this office until his resignation in 1845. Since that time he has held no public office, but is always ready to lend the influence of his great name to aid every cause which he deems connected with the public good or national honor.
Such is an outline of the public life of this great and good man, and true patriot. He has held no office which he did not fill with singular fidelity, wisdom, and zeal. With an ardor of temperament and energy of soul seldom equalled, he has ever enlisted these high characteristics in the cause of truth, justice, liberty, humanity; always pursuing the right rather than the seemingly expedient, convinced that in the long run the right is the expedicnt. His rare moral courage has more than once been put to the test, when he has stood alone, braving any amount of obloquy for pursuing what he deemed the truth, and what duty demanded of him. When he was in the House of Representatives of the United States, he took a position, sometimes literally alone, against the war of 1812, pronouncing it “an unjust, unnecessary, and iniquitous war;" and when in the Senate of his own State, in reference to a recent naval victory, he presented the following:-"Resolved, as the sense of the Senate of Massachusetts, that, in war like the present, waged without justifiable cause, and prosecuted in a manner which indicates that conquest and ambition are its real motives, it is not becoming a moral and religious people to express any approbation of military or naval exploits, which are not immediately connected with the defence of our sea-coast and soil."
As Mayor of Boston, Mr. Quincy showed uncommon energy, wisdom, and executive power. At the earliest dawn, he might often have been seen on horseback, traversing the various streets and wharves and alleys, personally to inspect their condition, and to see what improvements might be made. Some of his plans for advancing the best interests of the city seemed at the time, to many cautious men, altogether too extended and almost visionary: but time has proved that they were conceived with wisdom, as they were executed with energy; and the "House of
For myself, I have not the least doubt that the calm and impartial judgment of posterity will fully endorse this sentiment.
Industry," the "House of Reformation for Juvenile Offenders," as well as the noble granite structure that bears his name,-" Quincy Market,"-and numerous other improvements, remain monuments of his wise and vigorous administration.'
As President of Harvard College, Mr. Quincy exhibited equal fitness for guiding affairs in academic shades. During his Presidency, debts were paid, endowments secured, buildings renovated, and the general efficiency of this ancient institution largely promoted. The Law School, under Judge Story, was enlarged, Dane and Gore Halls were erected, and an Astronomical Observatory established.
Mr. Quincy is now enjoying a vigorous old age, at his ancestral estate in Quincy; and, though not taking an active part in public affairs, yet feels a warm interest in them. And, when recently called on by his fellow-citizens, he lifted up his eloquent and courageous voice against the further encroachments of slavery, and urged the free States to exert their proportionate influence in the affairs of the Government.
The literary productions of Mr. Quincy, besides his Speeches in Congress, and Orations on Various Occasions, which have been published, are Memoir of Josiah Quincy, Jr., of Massachusetts, (his father;) Centennial Address on the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Settlement of Boston; A History of Harvard University, 2 vols. 8vo; Memoir of James Grahame, Historian of U.S.; Memoir of Major Samuel Shaw; History of the Boston Athenæum; and A Municipal History of the Town and City of Boston from 1630 to 1830, 1 vol. 8vo, 1852.2 His last work is a Memoir of the Life of John Quincy Adams; Boston, Phillips, Sampson & Co., 1858.3
THE LIMITS TO LAWS.*
Mr. Chairman:-In relation to the subject now before us, other gentlemen must take their responsibilities: I shall take mine. This embargo must be repealed. You cannot enforce it for any important period of time longer. When I speak of your inability to enforce this law, let not gentlemen misunderstand me. I mean not to intimate insurrections or open defiances of them; although it is impossible to foresee in what acts that "oppression" will finally terminate, which, we are told, "makes wise men mad.” I speak of an inability resulting from very different causes.
1 His son Josiah was subsequently Mayor of Boston, inheriting all the noble and generous characteristics of his father.
2 In the Presidential campaign of 1856 he took the deepest interest, and published an "Address illustrative of the Nature and Power of the Slave States, and the Duties of the Free States; delivered at the Request of the Inhabitants of the Town of Quincy, Mass."
3 It is enough to say in its praise that it is in all respects worthy of its venerable and accomplished author. That it should be distinguished for research, as well as a careful collation and happy arrangement of facts, is what we might suppose from one whose scholarly taste has generally inclined him to historical subjects; but that it should be written in a style of such unflagging vigor to the very close, is what could hardly have been expected from an author of an age so far beyond the period usually allotted to the life of man.
4 Extract from the Speech of Josiah Quincy, delivered in the House of Representatives of the United States, November 28, 1808.
gentleman from North Carolina exclaimed the other day, in a strain of patriotic ardor, "What! Shall not our laws be executed? Shall their authority be defied? I am for enforcing them, at every hazard." I honor that gentleman's zeal; and I mean no deviation from that true respect I entertain for him, when I tell him that, in this instance, "his zeal is not according to knowledge."
I ask this House, is there no control to its authority? is there no limit to the power of this national legislature? I hope I shall offend no man when I intimate that two limits exist,-nature and the constitution. Should this House undertake to declare that this atmosphere should no longer surround us, that water should cease to flow, that gravity should not hereafter operate, that the needle should not vibrate to the pole,-sir, I hope I shall not offend,-I think I may venture to affirm that, such a law to the contrary notwithstanding, the air would continue to circulate, the Mississippi, the Hudson, and the Potomac would roll their floods to the ocean, heavy bodies continue to descend, and the mysterious magnet hold on its course to its celestial cynosure.
Just as utterly absurd and contrary to nature is it to attempt to prohibit the people of New England, for any considerable length of time, from the ocean. Commerce is not only associated with all the feelings, the habits, the interests, and relations of that people, but the nature of our soil and of our coasts, the state of our population and its mode of distribution over our territory, render it indispensable. We have five hundred miles of sea-coast, all furnished with harbors, bays, creeks, rivers, inlets, basins, with every variety of invitation to the sea, with every species of facility to violate such laws as these. Our people are not scattered over an immense surface, at a solemn distance from each other, in lordly retirement, in the midst of extended plantations and intervening wastes: they are collected on the margin of the ocean, by the sides of rivers, at the heads of bays, looking into the water, or on the surface of it, for the incitement and the reward of their industry. Among a people thus situated, thus educated, thus numerous, laws, prohibiting them from the exercise of their natural rights, will have a binding effect not one moment longer than the public sentiment supports them. Gentlemen talk of twelve revenue cutters additional, to enforce the embargo laws. Multiply the number by twelve, multiply it by an hundred, join all your ships of war, all your gun-boats, and all your militia, in despite of them all, such laws as these are of no avail when they become odious to public sentiment.
AN EMBARGO LIBERTY.
An embargo Liberty was never cradled in Massachusetts. Our Liberty was not so much a mountain as a sea nymph. She was free as air. She could swim or she could run. The ocean was her cradle. Our fathers met her as she came, like the goddess of beauty from the waves. They caught her as she was sporting on the beach. They courted her whilst she was spreading her nets upon the rocks. But an embargo Liberty; a handcuffed Liberty; a Liberty in fetters; a Liberty traversing between the four sides of a prison, and beating her head against the walls, is none of our offspring. We abjure the monster. Its parentage is all inland.
What lessons has New England, in every period of her history, given to the world! What lessons do her condition and example still give! How unprecedented; yet how practical! how simple; yet how powerful! She has proved that all the variety of Christian sects may live together in harmony, under a government which allows equal privileges to all,-exclusive pre-eminence to none. She has proved that ignorance among the multitude is not necessary to order, but that the surest basis of perfect order is the information of the people. She has proved the old maxim, that "no government, except a despotism with a standing army, can subsist where the people have arms," is false.
Such are the true glories of the institutions of our fathers! Such the natural fruits of that patience in toil, that frugality of disposition, that temperance of habit, that general diffusion of knowledge, and that sense of religious responsibility, inculcated by the precepts, and exhibited in the example, of every generation of our ancestors! * * *
What, then, are the elements of the liberty, prosperity, and safety which the inhabitants of New England at this day enjoy? In what language, and concerning what comprehensive truths, does the wisdom of former times address the inexperience of the future?
Those elements are simple, obvious, and familiar.
Every civil and religious blessing of New England, all that here gives happiness to human life, or security to human virtue, is alone to be perpetuated in the forms and under the auspices of a free commonwealth.
1 From the "Centennial Address," delivered in Boston, September 17, 1830, at the close of the second century from the first settlement of the city.
The commonwealth itself has no other strength or hope than the intelligence and virtue of the individuals that compose it.
For the intelligence and virtue of individuals, there is no other human assurance than laws, providing for the education of the whole people.
These laws themselves have no strength, or efficient sanction, except in the moral and accountable nature of man, disclosed in the records of the Christian's faith; the right to read, to construe, and to judge concerning which, belongs to no class or caste of men, but exclusively to the individual, who must stand or fall by his own acts and his own faith, and not by those of another.
The great comprehensive truths, written in letters of living light on every page of our history, the language addressed by every past age of New England to all future ages is this: Human happiness has no perfect security but freedom;-freedom none but virtue;-virtue none but knowledge; and neither freedom, nor virtue, nor knowledge has any vigor, or immortal hope, except in the principles of the Christian faith, and in the sanctions of the Christian religion.
Men of Massachusetts! citizens of Boston! descendants of the early emigrants! consider your blessings; consider your duties. You have an inheritance acquired by the labors and sufferings of six successive generations of ancestors. They founded the fabric of your prosperity, in a severe and masculine morality; having intelligence for its cement, and religion for its ground-work. Continue to build on the same foundation, and by the same principles; let the extending temple of your country's freedom rise, in the spirit of ancient times, in proportions of intellectual and moral architecture, just, simple, and sublime. As from the first to this day, let New England continue to be an example to the world, of the blessings of a free government, and of the means and capacity of man to maintain it! And, in all times to come, as in all times past, may Boston be among the foremost and the boldest to exemplify and uphold whatever constitutes the prosperity, the happiness, and the glory of New England!
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.
The life of a statesman second to none in diligent and effective preparation for public service, and faithful and fearless fulfilment of public duty, has now been sketched, chiefly from materials. taken from his published works. The light of his own mind has been thrown on his labors, motives, principles, and spirit. In times better adapted to appreciate his worth, his merits and virtues will receive a more enduring memorial. The present is not a moment propitious to weigh them in a true balance. He knew