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advised and assisted Governor Tryon in all his measures to suppress, the rebellion. For this, he was branded as a royalist, and even when he openly advocated the cause of the patriots, he was for a time viewed with some suspicion lest his professions were unreal. But those who knew him best, knew well how strongly and purely burned that flame of patriotism which his zealous instructor, Mr. Otis, had lighted in his bosom; and his consistent course in public life, attested his sincerity.
Mr. Hooper began his legislative labors in 1773, when he was elected a member of the Provincial Assembly of North Carolina, for the town of Wilmington. The next year he was returned a member for the county of Hanover; and from his first entrance into public life, he sympathised with the oppressed. This sympathy led him early to oppose the court party in the state, and so vigorous was his opposition that he was soon designated by the royalists as the leader of their enemies, and became very obnoxious to them. The proposition of Massachusetts for a General Congress was hailed with joy in North Carolina, and a convention of the people was called in the summer of 1774, to take the matter into consideration. The convention met in Newbern, and after passing resolutions approving of the call, they appointed William Hooper their first delegate to the Continental Congress. Although younger than a large majority of the members, he was placed upon two of the most important committees in that body, whose business it was to arrange and propose measures for action—a duty which required talents and judgment of the highest order.
Mr. Hooper was again elected to Congress in 1775, and was chairman of the committee which drew up an
of government they adopted, the professions they made, and the practices they exhibited, all bear the impress of genuine patriotism; and we cannot but regard the blood shed on the occasion by the infamous Tryon, as the blood of the early martyrs of our Revolution.
address to the Assembly of the island of Jamaica. This address was from his pen, and was a clear and able exposition of the existing difficulties between Great Britain and her American Colonies. He was again returned a member in 1776,* and was in his seat in time to vote for the Declaration of Independence. He affixed his signature to it, on the second of August, following. He. was actively engaged in Congress until March, 1777, when the derangment of his private affairs, and the safety of his family, caused him to ask for and obtain leave of absence, and he returned home.
Like all the others who signed the Declaration of Independence, Mr. Hooper was peculiarly obnoxious to the British, and on all occasions, they used every means in their power to possess his person, harass his family, and destroy his estate. When the storm of the Revolution subsided, and the sun-light of peace beamed forth, he resumed the practice of his profession, and did not again appear in public life until 1786, when he was appointed by Congress one of the judges of the federal court established to adjudicate in the matter of a dispute about territorial jurisdiction, between Massachusetts and New York. The cause was finally settled by commissioners, and not brought before that court at all.
Mr. Hooper now withdrew from public life, for he felt that a fatal disease was upon him. He died at Hillsborough, in October, 1790, aged forty-eight years.
*He was at home for some time during the spring of that year, attending two different Conventions that met in North Carolina, one at Hillsborough, the seat of the Provincial Congress, the other at Halifax. The Convention at the former place put forth an address to the people of Great Britain. This address was written by Mr. Hooper; and we take occasion here to remark, that as early as the twentieth of May, 1775, a convention of the Committees of Safety of North Carolina met at Charlotte Court House, in Mecklenburg county, and by a series of resolutions, declared themselves free and independent of the British Crown; to the support of which they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. For an account of this Mecklenburg Convention we refer the reader to a work of the writer, entitled "1776, or the War of Independence," page 155.
HE parents of JOSEPH HEWES were natives of Connecticut, and belonged to the Society of Friends, or Quakers. Immediately after their marriage they moved to New Jersey, and purchased a small farm at Kingston, within a short distance of Princeton. It was there that Joseph was born, in the year 1730. He was educated at the college in Princeton, and at the close of his studies he was apprenticed to a merchant in Philadelphia, to qualify him for a commercial life. On the termination
of his apprenticeship, his father furnished him with a little money capital, to which he added the less fleeting capital of a good reputation, and he commenced mercantile business on his own account. His business education had been thorough, and he pursued the labors of commerce with such skill and success, that in a few years he amassed an ample fortune.
At the age of thirty years, Mr. Hewes moved to North Carolina, and settled in Edenton, which became his home for life. He entered into business there, and his uprightness and honorable dealings soon won for him the profound esteem of the people. While yet a comparative stranger among them, they evinced their appreciation of his character, by electing him a member of the legislature of North Carolina, in 1763, and so faithfully did he discharge his duties, that they re-elected him several consecutive years.
Mr. Hewes was among the earliest of the decided patriots of North Carolina, and used his influence in bringing about a Convention of the people of the State, to second the call of Massachusetts for a General Congress. The convention that met in the summer of 1774, elected him one of the delegates for that State, in the Continental Congress that met at Philadelphia in September following. He took his seat on the fourteenth of the month, and was immediately placed upon the committee appointed to draw up a Declaration of Rights. During that session he was actively engaged in maturing a plan for a general non-importation agreement throughout the Colonies, and he voted for and signed it. In this act his devoted patriotism was manifest, for it struck a deadly blow at the business in which he was engaged. It was a great sacrifice for him to make, yet he cheerfully laid it upon the altar of Freedom.
Mr. Hewes was again elected a delegate to Congress in
1775, and took his seat at the opening, on the tenth of May. He seldom engaged in debate, but as an unwearied committee-man, he performed signal service there. He was at the head of the naval committee, and was in effect the first Secretary of the Navy of the United States. He was also a member of the "Secret Committee," to which we have before alluded in these memoirs.
Mr. Hewes was a member of Congress for 1776, and North Carolina having early taken a decided stand in favor of independence, his own views upon this question were fully sustained by his instructions, and he voted for, and signed the Declaration thereof. As soon, thereafter as the business of the session would admit, he returned home, for the troubles there demanded his presence, and his private affairs needed his attention to save his fortune from being scattered to the winds. He remained at home until July, 1779, when he resumed his seat in Congress. But his constitution, naturally weak, could not support the arduous labors of his station, and his health failed so rapidly, that he was obliged to resign his seat. left it on the twenty-ninth of October, 1779, and being too unwell to travel, he remained in Philadelphia. But he only lived eleven days after he left his seat in Congress. He died on the tenth of November following, in the fiftieth year of his age. He was the first and only one of all the signers of the Declaration, who died at the seat of Government, while attending to public duty, and his remains were followed to the grave by Congress in a body, and a large concourse of the citizens of Philadelphia.