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aroused the strong sympathy of the people of the commercial cities, Mr. Clymer was placed at the head of a large and responsible Committee of Vigilance in Philadelphia, to act as circumstances should require. He was also placed upon the first Council of Safety that was organized in Philadelphia ; and early in 1775, he was appointed by Congress one of the Continental treasurers.
In 1776, after two of the Pennsylvania delegates in the General Congress declined voting for the Declaration of Independence, and withdrew from their seats, Mr. Clymer and Dr. Rush were appointed to succeed them, and they both joyfully affixed their signatures to that instrument. Mr. Clymer was soon afterward appointed one of a committee to visit the northern army at Ticonderoga ; and when the British approached Philadelphia at the close of 1776, and Congress retired to Baltimore, he was put upon a committee with Robert Morris and others, to remain as a Committee of Vigilance in that city. He was again elected to Congress in 1779, and was one of a committee sent by that body to Washington's head-quarters at Valley Forge, to inquire into the alleged abuses of the commissary department.
Mr. Clymer was peculiarly obnoxious to the British,* an evidence of his patriotic zeal and unwavering attachment to the Republican cause. While the enemy were in possession of Philadelphia in the winter of 1778, they surrounded a house which they thought was Mr. Clymer's,
sisted the exercise of the assumed right. The duty being so light, the East Indian Company believing the Colonists would not complain, at once sent large cargoes of tea to America. In Boston the people would not allow it to be landed, and ordered the vessel out of port. Refusing to comply, a party (some disguised as Indians) went on board on the night of the sixteenth of December, 1773, and broke open, and cast into the harbor, more than three hundred chests of tea.
* After the defeat of the Americans at the Brandywine, and the British were marching triumphantly toward Pbiladelphia, Mr. Clymer moved his family into the country for safety. But their retreat was discovered, and the British soldiers sacked the house, destroyed the furniture, and wasted every sort of property which they could find.
with the intention of demolishing it, but they discovered it to belong to a relative of his of the same name, and they spared the edifice.
In 1778, Mr. Clymer was sent by Congress to Pittsburgh to endeavor by negotiation to quiet the savages, who, influenced by British emissaries, were committing dreadful ravages on the frontier. In this he was successful, and for his arduous services he received the thanks of Congress. In the autumn of 1780 he was elected to Congress for the third time, and he continued an attentive and active member until 1782. During that year, he joined with Robert Morris and others in the establishment of a bank in Philadelphia, designed for the public good. Mr. Clymer was a considerable subscriber, and was made one of its first directors.*
In 1782, Mr. Clymer and Edward Rutledge were appointed by Congress to visit the Southern States, and
urge the necessity of a prompt contribution of their assessed quota of funds for the public Treasury. The individual States were slow to respond to the calls of Congress, and this tardiness very much embarrassed the operations of government. On his return, Mr. Clymer moved his family to Princeton, for the purpose of baving his children educated there. Public interest soon called him back to Pennsylvania, and he took a seat in its Legislature. It was while he was a member of that body, that the criminal code of that State was modified, and the penitentiary system introduced. It is conceded that the credit of maturing this wiser system of punishment, is chiefly due to Mr. Clymer, and for this alone he is entitled to the veneration due to a public benefactor.
Mr. Clymer was a member of the Convention that
* Two years before, he, with Mr. Morris and others, established a private bank, which was designed for the public good, and was of great utility. The bank established in 1782 was of a national character.
framed the Federal Constitution, and was elected one of the first members of Congress, convened under that instrument. He declined a re-election, and was appointed, by President Washington, supervisor of the revenue for the State of Pennsylvania. This was an office in which great firmness and decision of character were requisite, in consequence of the spirit of resistance to the collection of revenue which was then abroad. In fact, open rebellion at length appeared, and the movement known as the " Whiskey Insurrection"* in Pennsylvania, at one time threatened serious consequences to the whole framework of our government. But Mr. Clymer was unawed, and amid many personal dangers, he passed forward in the performance of his duty. At length, when things became quiet, he resigned. In 1796, he was appointed, with Colonels Hawkins and Pickens, to negotiate a treaty with the Cherokee and Creek tribes of Indians, in Georgia. This they effected to the mutual satisfaction of the contending parties. This mission closed the public life of Mr. Clymer, and the remainder of his days were spent in acts of private usefulness, and a personal preparation for another world. He died on the twenty-fourth day of January, 1813, in the seventy-fourth year of his age. His long life was an active and useful one, and not a single moral stain marked its manifested purity.
* A portion of the people of the interior of Pennsylvania, violently opposed the excise law, it heing a region where much whiskey was distilled, and hence the tax or duty amounted to a considerable resource. This excise law was adopted by Congress in 1790. In 1792, so insurrectionary had the people become in relation to the duty on distilled liquor, that Congress passed an act authorizing the President of the United States to call out the militia of the State, if necessary to enforce the laws. He withheld his power for nearly two years, but at length the “Whiskey Insurrection" assumed such a formidable aspect, that an army of fifteen thousand men were placed in the field. The rebellion ceased without a conflict.
† Mr. Clymer was one of the projectors of the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Philadelphia, and was its first President, which office he held until his decease. He was also one of the founders of the Philadelphia Agricultural Society; and his name appears conspicuous in many of the benevolent movements of his day.
AMES SMITH was born in Ireland, and was quite a small child when brought by his father to this country.
The date of his birth is not recorded, and Mr. Smith himself could never be induced to
tell it. It is supposed to be somewhere about 1720. His father, who had a numerous family of children, settled upon the Susquehanna river, in Pennsylvania, and died there in 1761. James his second son, and, discovering a strong intellect at
an early age, his father determined to give him a liberal education. For this purpose he placed him under the charge of Reverend Doctor Allison, provost of the college of Philadelphia. He there acquired a knowledge of Latin and Greek, and what proved more useful to him, practical surveying.
After completing his tuition, he began the study of law in Lancaster, and when admitted to the bar, he removed westward, and practised both law and surveying. The place where he located was very sparsely populated, and indeed was almost a wilderness. The flourishing town of Shippensburg has since sprung up there. After a short continuance in his wilderness home, Mr. Smith moved to the flourishing village of York, where he found no business competition for many years. He married Miss Eleanor Amor of Newcastle, Delaware, and became a permanent resident of York, where he stood at the head of the bar until the opening of the Revolution.
Mr. Smith early perceived the gathering storm which British oppressions were elaborating here; and when men began to speak out fearlessly, he was among the first in Pennsylvania to take sides with the patriots of Massachusetts and Virginia. He heartily seconded the proposition for non-importation agreements, and for a General Congress. He was a delegate from the county of York to the Pennsylvania convention (which was styled the “Committee of Pennsylvania”*), whose duty it was to ascertain the sentiments of the people, and publish an address. Mr. Smith was
a member of the sub-committee chosen to prepare
the address, which was in the form of instructions to the representatives of the people in the General Assembly of the state.
earnest in endeavor
* These committees formed in other colonies, and were distinct from the Colonial Assemblies authorized by the Royal Governors. In 1775 they superseded those Assemblies, and assumed general legislative powers, which they exercised as Provincial Congresses, until the Confederation of the States took place.