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had this dignity conferred by the voluntary suffrages of the people. He held the office five consecutive years, by annual election. For two years he declined the honor, but again accepted it, and held the office until his death, in 1793.
He was governor during that period of confusion which followed the adoption of the Federal Constitution, and its final ratification by the several States, and his wisdom and firmness proved greatly salutary in restraining those lawless acts which a spirit of disaffection toward the general government had engendered in New England, and particularly in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. * Of course his character and motives were aspersed by the interested, but when the agitation ceased, and the clouds passed away, his virtues and exalted character, shone with a purer lustre than before.
He was elected a member of the Convention of Massachusetts to act on the adoption of the Federal Constitution, and was chosen president of that body; but sickness prevented his attendance until the last week of the session. He voted for the adoption of the constitution, and by his influence, a majority voted with him.
Mr. Hancock continued a popular leader until the time of his death, and no one could successfully contend with him for office. He was not a man of extraordinary talent, but was possessed of that tact and peculiar genius fitted for the era in which he lived. He was beloved by all his cotemporaries, and posterity venerates his name, as a benefactor of his country. He died on the eighth of October, 1793, in the fifty-fifth year of his age.
. * The theory prevailed to a great extent in New England, that all having contributed to defend the national property, they all had an equal right to sion, thus regarding the matter in the light of personal and individual interest, rather than in that of general welfare. Popular excitements occurred. In Exeter, in New Hampshire, a mob made prisoners of the members of the General Assembly. In Massachusetts, an insurrectionary movement, led by Daniel Shay, (known as Shay's insurrection) was so extensive, that four thousand militia were called out to suppress it.
O LOFTIER genius nor purer patriot wore the Senatorial robe during the struggle for Independence, than John Adams. He was born at Braintree (now Quincy), in Massachusetts, on the thirtieth of October,
1735, and was a direct lineal descendant, in the fourth generation, from Henry Adams, who fled from the persecutions in England during the reign of the first Charles.* His maternal ancestor was
Archbishop Laud, the spiritual adviser of Charles I. influenced no doubt by the Roman Catholic Queen, Henrietta Maria) took especial pains to enforce the strictest observance of the Liturgy of the established Church of England in the
John Alden, a passenger in the May-Flower, and thus the subject of our memoir' inherited from both parental ancestors, the title of a Son of Liberty, which was subsequently given to him and others.* His primary education was derived in a school at Braintree, and there he passed through a preparatory course of instruction for Harvard University, whence he graduated at the age of
a 1755. twenty years.a
Having chosen the law as a profession, he entered upon the study of it with an eminent barrister in Worcester, by the name of Putnam. There he had the advantage of sound legal instruction, and through Mr. Putnam he became acquainted with many distinguished public men, among whom was Mr. Gridley, the AttorneyGeneral. Their first interview awakened sentiments of mutual regard, and young Adams was allowed the free use of Mr. Gridley's extensive library, a privilege of great value in those days. It was a rich treasure thrown open to him, and its value was soon apparent in the expansion of his general knowledge. He was admitted to the bar in 1758, and commenced practice in Braintree.
At an early period, young Adams' mind was turned to the contemplation of the general politics of his country, and the atmosphere of liberal principles in which he had been born and nurtured, gave a patriotic bias to his judgment and feelings. He watched narrowly the movements of the British government toward the American colonies, and was ever out-spoken in his condemnation of its oppressive acts. He was admitted as a barrister in 1761, and as his
professional business increased, and his acquaintance among Church of Scotland, and also in the Puritan Churches. Those individuals and congregations who would not conform to these requirements were severely dealt with, and these persecutions drove a great many to the western world, where they might worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences.
* This name was given to the American patriots by Colonel Barre, on the floor of the British House of Commons.
distinguished politicians extended, he became more pub.. licly active, until in 1765, when the Stamp Act had raised a perfect hurricane in America, he wrote and published his “ Essay on the Canon and Feudal Law.” This production at once placed him high in the popular esteem; and the same year he was associated with James Otis and others, to demand, in the presence of the royal governor, that the courts should dispense with the use of stamped paper in the administration of justice.
In 1766 Mr. Adams married Abigail Smith, the amiable daughter of a pious clergyman of Braintree, and soon afterward he removed to Boston. There he was actively associated with Hancock, Otis, and others, in the various measures in favor of the liberties of the people, and was very energetic in endeavors to have the military removed from the town. Governor Bernard endeavored to bribe him to silence, at least, by offers of lucrative offices, but they were all rejected with disdain.
When, after the Boston Massacre, Captain Preston and his men were arraigned for murder, Mr. Adams was applied to, to act as counsel in their defence. Popular favor on one side, and the demands of justice and humanity on the other, were the horns of the dilemma between which Mr. Adams was placed by the application. But he was not long in choosing. He accepted the invitation - he defended the prisoners successfully — Captain Preston was acquitted, and, notwithstanding the tremendous excitement that existed against the soldiers, the patriotism of Mr. Adams was too far above suspicion to make this defence of the enemy a cause for withdrawing from him the confidence which the people reposed in him. His friends applauded him for the act, and the people were satisfied, as was evident by their choosing him,
that same year, a a representative in the provincial Assembly.
Mr. Adams became very obnoxious to both Governors Bernard and Hutchinson. He was elected to a seat in the Executive council, but the latter erased his name. He was again elected when Governor Gage assumed authority, and he too erased his name. These things increased his popularity. Soon after the accession of Gage, the Assembly at Salem* adopted a proposition for å general Congress, and elected five delegates thereto in spite of the efforts of the governor to prevent it. John Adams was one of those delegates, and took his seat in the first Continental Congress, convened in Philadelphia on the fifth of September, 1774. He was again elected a delegate in 1775, and through his influence, George Washington of Virginia was elected Commander-in-Chief of all the forces of the United Colonies.t
On the sixth of May, 1776, Mr. Adams introduced a motion in Congress “ that the colonies should form governments independent of the Crown.” This motion was equivalent to a declaration of independence, and when, a month afterward, Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion more explicity to declare the colonies free and independent, Mr. Adams was one of its warmest advocates. He was appointed one of the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence, $ and he placed his signature to that document on the second of August, 1776. After the battle of Long Island he was appointed by
* The “Boston Port Bill,” so called, which was adopted by Parliament, closed the port of Boston, removed the Custom House therefrom, its law Courts, &c., and the meeting of the Provincial Assembly was called at Salem. This oppressive act was intended to have a two-fold effect— to punish the Bostonians for the tea riot, and awe them into submission to the royal will. But it effected neither.
† Mr. Adams did not nominate Washington, as has been frequently stated. He gave notice that he should “propose a member of Congress from Virginia," which was understood to be Washington, but, for reasons that do not appear, upon the journals, he was nominated by Thomas Johnson, of Maryland.
$ The committee consisted of Dr. Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston.