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be, free and independent States." The debate continued to the 10th, and was then postponed to the 1st of July. A committee of five, consisting of Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Sherman, and Livingston, was appointed to draw up a declaration of independence. At the request of Mr. Adams, the instrument was written by Jefferson, and was adopted, as is known, on the 4th, but not without some strong opposition. The opposing arguments were met by Mr. Adams, in a speech of unrivalled power. Of him Mr. Jefferson said, "The great pillar of support to the declaration of independence, and its ablest advocate and champion on the floor of the House, was John Adams. He was the colossus of that Congress: not graceful, not cloquent, not always fluent in his public addresses, he yet came out with a power, both of thought and expression, which moved his hearers from their seats."
In 1779, he was appointed minister-plenipotentiary to negotiate a peace with Great Britain, and had authority to form a commercial treaty with that nation. He was associated with Franklin, Jay, and Laurens, and the mission was successful in forming a definite treaty of peace, which was ratified January 14, 1784. He returned to Boston in 1788, after an absence of nine years. Congress had before passed a resolution of thanks for his able and faithful discharge of various important commissions. He was elected the first Vice-President of the United States in 1789, and was re-elected the second term; consequently, he was President of the Senate during the whole of the administration of Washington, whose confidence he enjoyed in the highest degree. Having been elected President to succeed Washington, he entered upon his duties March 4, 1797;' and in 1801 he was succeeded by Mr. Jefferson.
After March, 1801, Mr. Adams lived in retirement at Quincy, occupied in agricultural pursuits, though occasionally addressing various communications to the public. In 1820, at the age of 85, he was chosen president of the convention for revising the constitution of Massachusetts, though he did not serve in that capacity. In 1825, he enjoyed the singular happiness of seeing his son, John Quincy Adams, elevated to the office of President of the United States.
The following admirable letter was addressed by Mrs. Adams to her husband on his being elected President of the United States:
QUINCY, February 8, 1797.
"The sun is dressed in brightest beams,
And may it prove an auspicious prelude to each ensuing season! You have this
day to declare yourself head of a nation. "And now, O Lord, my God, thou hast made thy servant ruler over the people. Give unto him an understanding heart, that he may know how to go out and come in before this great people; that he nay discern between good and bad; for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?" were the words of a royal sovereign; and not less applicable to him who is invested with the chief magistracy of a nation, though he wear not a crown nor the robes of royalty.
My thoughts and my meditations are with you, though personally absent; and my petitions to Heaven are that "the things which make for peace may not be hidden from your eyes." My feelings are not those of pride or ostentation upon the occasion. They are solemnized by a sense of the obligations, the important trusts and numerous duties, connected with it. That you may be enabled discharge them with honor to yourself, with justice and impartiality to your country, and with satisfaction to this great people, shall be the daily prayer of your
But he was now drawing near his end. On the morning of the 4th of July, 1826, he was roused by the ringing of bells and the firing of canno ; and when asked if he knew what day it was, he replied, "Oh, yes! it is the glorious Fourth, -God bless it! God bless you all!" In the course of the day he said, "It is a great and glorious day;" and, just before he expired, exclaimed, "Jefferson survives!"—showing that his thoughts were dwelling on the scenes of 1776. But Jefferson was then dead, having expired at one o'clock; while Mr. Adams lingered till twenty minutes past six P.M.
For purity of character, dauntless courage, and true patriotism, Mr. Adams had no superior among his contemporaries; and his name will be held in veneration by all coming generations.1
MEDITATES THE CHOICE OF HERCULES.2
The other night the choice of Hercules came into my mind, and left impressions there which I hope will never be effaced, nor long unheeded. I thought of writing a fable on the same plan, but accommodated, by omitting some circumstances and inserting others, to my own case.
Let Virtue address me: "Which, dear youth, will you prefer, a life of effeminacy, indolence, and obscurity, or a life of industry, temperance, and honor? Take my advice; rise and mount your horse by the morning's dawn, and shake away, amidst the great and beautiful scenes of nature that appear at that time of the day, all the crudities that are left in your stomach, and all the obstructions that are left in your brains. Then return to your studies, and bend your whole soul to the institutes of the law and the reports of cases that have been adjudged by the rules in the institutes; let no trifling diversion, or amusement, or company, decoy you from your book; that is, let no girl, no gun, no cards, no flutes, no violins, no dress, no tobacco, no laziness, decoy you from your books. But keep your law book or some point of law in your mind at least six hours in a day. Labor to get distinct ideas of law, right, wrong, justice, equity; search for them in your own mind, in Roman, Grecian, French, English treatises of natural, civil, common, statute law; aim at an exact knowledge of the nature, end, and means of government; compare the different forms of it with each other, and each of them with their effects on public and private happiness. Study Seneca, Cicero, and all other good moral writers; study Montesquieu, Bolingbroke, Vinnius, &c., and all other good civil writers."
Here are two nights and one day and a half spent in softening, enervating, dissipating series of hustling, prattling, poetry, love,
Read "The Works of John Adams; with a Life of the Author; Notes and Illustrations by his Grandson, Charles Francis Adams," 10 volumes.
2 From his Diary, dated Braintree, January 3, 1759.
courtship, marriage; during all this time I was seduced into the course of unmanly pleasures that Vice describes to Hercules, forgetful of the glorious promises of fame, immortality, and a good conscience, which Virtue makes to the same hero as rewards of a hardy, toilsome, watchful life in the service of mankind. I could reflect with more satisfaction on an equal space of time spent in a painful research of the principles of law, or a resolute attempt of the powers of eloquence. But where is my attention? Is it fixed from sunrise to midnight on Grecian, Roman, Gallic, British law, history, virtue, eloquence? I don't see clearly the objects that I am after; they are often out of sight; motes, atoms, feathers, are blown into my eyes and blind me. Who can see distinctly the course he is to take and the objects that he pursues, when in the midst of a whirlwind of dust, straws, atoms, and feathers?
THE FOURTH OF JULY.
FROM A LETTER DATED THE THIRD OF JULY.
Yesterday the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was nor will be decided among men. A resolution was passed, without one dissenting colony, "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, and as such they have, and of right ought to have, full power to make war, conclude peace, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which other States may rightfully do." You will see, in a few days, a Declaration setting forth the causes which have impelled us to this mighty revolution, and the reasons which will justify it in the sight of God and man. A plan of confederation will be taken up in a few days.
When I look back to the year 1761, and recollect the argument concerning writs of assistance in the superior court, which I have hitherto considered as the commencement of this controversy between Great Britain and America, and run through the whole period, from that time to this, and recollect the series of political events, the chain of causes and effects, I am surprised at the suddenness as well as greatness of this revolution. Britain has been filled with folly, and America with wisdom; at least, this is my judgment. Time must determine. It is the will of Heaven that the two countries should be sundered forever. It may be the will of Heaven that America should suffer calamities still more wasting,
1 The practice has been to celebrate the 4th of July, the day upon which the form of the Declaration of Independence was agreed to, rather than the 2d, the day upon which the resolution, making that declaration, was determined upon by the Congress.
and distresses yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect at least. It will inspire us with many virtues which we have not, and correct many errors, follies, and vices which threaten to disturb, dishonor, and destroy us. The furnace of affliction produces refinement in states as well as individuals. And the new governments we are assuming in every part will require a purification from our vices, and an augmentation of our virtues, or they will be no blessings. The people will have unbounded power, and the people are extremely addicted to corruption and venality, as well as the great. But I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.
FROM ANOTHER LETTER OF THE SAME DATE.
But the day is past. The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward for ever
You will think me transported with enthusiasm; but I am not. I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means; and that posterity will triumph in that day's transaction, even although we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not.
FRANCIS HOPKINSON, 1737-1791.
FRANCIS HOPKINSON, the son of Thomas Hopkinson, an English gentleman who emigrated to the colonies in the early part of the eighteenth century, was born in Philadelphia in 1737. His father dying when he was quite young, his education devolved upon his mother, who is said to have been a woman of more than common powers of mind, and who took every pains to foster the genius and to cultivate the talents which she saw her son possessed, as well as to instruct him in the pure principles of Christian morals. From school he was sent to the College of Philadelphia, afterwards the "University of Pennsylvania," and then commenced the study of law, and, after the usual period, entered upon its practice. In 1766, he went to England, where he remained two years. On his return he
married Miss Ann Borden, of Bordentown, N.J., in which place he established himself in his profession. His legal attainments, general knowledge, and ardent patriotism soon acquired for him a high reputation, and in 1776 he was chosen by the State of New Jersey as one of her representatives in Congress, and in this capacity he signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1779, he succeeded George Ross as Judge of the Admiralty of the State of Pennsylvania, and held the position for ten years, until the organization of the Federal Government, when he received from General Washington a commission as Judge of the United States. In this office he continued till his death, which took place on the 9th of May, 1791.
Great as Judge Hopkinson's reputation was as an advocate while at the bar, and distinguished as he was for learning, judgment, and integrity when upon the bench, he was, perhaps, more celebrated as a man of letters, of general knowledge, of fine taste, but, above all, for his then unrivalled powers of wit and satire. Dr. Rush, after speaking of his varied attainments, says:-"But his forte was humor and satire, in both of which he was not surpassed by Lucian, Swift, or Rabelais. These extraordinary powers were consecrated to the advancement of the interests of patriotism, virtue, and science." This praise may be too strong; and yet we hardly know where to find papers of more exquisite humor than among the writings of Francis Hopkinson. His paper on the Ambiguity of the English Language, to show the ridiculous mistakes that often occur from words of similar sounds, used the one for the other; on White- Washing; on A Typographical Method of Conducting a Quarrel, which made friends of two fierce newspaper combatants; The New Roof, an allegory in favor of the Federal Constitution; the Specimen of a Collegiate Examination, to turn certain branches, and the modes of studying them, into ridicule; and The Battle of the Kegs, are all pieces which, while they are fully equal to any of Swift's writings for wit, have nothing at all in them of Swift's vulgarity.
SPECIMEN OF A COLLEGIATE EXAMINATION.
PROFESSOR. What is a SALT-BOX?
STUDENT. It is a box made to contain salt.
PROF. How is it divided?
STU. Into a salt-box and a box of salt.
PROF. Very well! show the distinction.
STU. A salt-box may be where there is no salt; but salt is absolutely necessary to the existence of a box of salt.
PROF. Are not salt-boxes otherwise divided?
STU. Yes; by a partition.
PROF. What is the use of this partition?
STU. To separate the coarse salt from the fine.
STU. To separate the fine salt from the coarse.
PROF. To be sure; it is to separate the fine from the coarse; but are not salt-boxes yet otherwise distinguished?