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Great Britain. They had earnestly labored for the the schemes of an intriguing as well as cruel maintenance of local self-government; now they enemy. We shall then, too, be on a proper footlabored as zealously for the establishment of an ing to treat with Great Britain ; . for there is independent nation here. Washington and his reason to.conclude that the pride of that court fellow-officers in the field spoke out boidly and will be less hurt by treating with the American warmly on the subject. General Greene wrote to States for terms of peace than with those whom a delegate in Congress from Rhode Island: “The she denominates ó rebellious subjects' for terms of king breathes revenge, and threatens us with de accommodation. It is our delaying it that en. struction ; Americans must raise an empire of per- courages her to hope for conquest, and our backmanent duration, supported upon the grand pillars wardness tends to prolong the war. . . . Every of truth, freedom and religion." Washington de quiet method for peace hath been ineffectual; our clared that when he took command of the Conti. prayers have been rejected with disdain ; recon. nental army in the summer of 1775, he “abhorred ailiation is now a fallacious dream. Bring the an idea of independence;" “ but," he wrote, “I doctrine of reconciliation to the touchstone of *am now fully convinced that nothing else will save nature; can you hereafter love, honor, and faith
." The flame of desire for independence was fully serve the power that hath carried fire and suddenly kindled in almost every bosom; and it sword into your land ? Ye that tell us of harmony, was fanned by the brave, wise and earnest words can ye restore to us the time that is past? The of Thomas Paine, the son of an English Quaker, blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature who had lately come to America as a literary ad cries, ''Tis time to part.' The last chord is now venturer and emissary of human freedom. In the broken ; the people of England are presenting name of “ Common Sense” he put forth a power- addresses against us. A government of our own ful appeal in favor of independence, in the begin is our natural right. Ye that love mankind, that ning of 1776, in terse, sharp, incisive and vigo dare oppose not only tyranny but the tyrant, stand rous sentences, and in language that might be forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun comprehended by the plainest mind. He em
with oppression; Freedom hath been hunted bodied the sentiments of reflecting men and round the globe ; Asia and Africa hath long exwomen throughout the Colonies in telling words pelled her ; Europe regards her like a stranger; like these :
and England hath given her warning to depart; - The nearer any government approaches to a O! receive the fugitive and prepare an asylum for republic, the less business there is for a king; in mankind." England a king hath little more to do than to
This powerful essay was printed and scattered make war and give away places. Volumes have broadcast over the land. Its effects were wonderbeen written on the struggle between England ful. Legislative bodies soon began to move in the and America. Arms must decide the contest; matier. The Continental Congress felt the sentithe appeal was the choice of the king, and the ment of desire for independence keenly, but acted continent but accepted the challenge. The sun with great caution for a while. When, in Febru. never shone on a cause of greater worth. 'Tis ary, 1776, Wilson of Pennsylvania proposed to not the affair of a city, a county, a province, or send forth an address of Congress to the people, a kingdom, but of a continent-of at least one- in which they should disclaim all idea of indeeighth part of the globe. 'Tis not the concern of pendence, the flame burst forth. The constitua day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually ency everywhere were found to be ahead of the involved in it even to the end of time . . . It legislatures in aspirations for independence. matters little now what the King of England The proposition of Wilson brought out Harrieither says or does. He hath wickedly broken son, of Virginia, in Congress,
“We have hobbled through every moral and human obligation, tram- on," he said, “under a fatal attachment to Great pled nature and conscience beneath his feet, and | Britain. I felt that attachment as much as any by a steady and constitutional spirit of insolence man, but I feel a stronger one to my country." and cruelty, procured for himself a universal ha. Honest George Wythe, from the same Colony, tred. . . . Independence is now the only bond fired by righteous indignation, exclaimed, after that will keep us together. We shall then see our asserting the rights of the Americans: “We may object, and our ears will be legally shut against | invite foreign powers to make treaties of commerce with us; but before the measure is adopted, it is Pennsylvania received no official instructions on to be considered in what character we shall treat ! the subject. The Maryland Convention, so late As subjects of Great Britain ? As rebels ? No: as the close of May, positively forbade their we must declare ourselves a free people !" These delegates voting for independence; but at the were the first brave words in favor of indepen- close of June the pressure of public opinion was dence spoken on the floor of Congress, and they so great that the Maryland delegates were in were echoed and reëchoed from a thousand voices accord with those of Virginia. No official action throughout the land.
was had on the subject in Georgia, South Carolina, When, in thar Hall, Mr. Wythe offered a reso- and Delaware, but the people of those provinces lution " That the colonies have a right to contract were in favor of independence. Their delegates alliances," timid ones exclaimed, “That means in- were left to be governed by their own feelings and dependence !" "So it does," said the bold Wythe; judgment. The independent sovereignty of Conand the question whether the resolution should be gress had been asserted by their treatment of considered was carried by a vote of seven Colonies William Franklin, son of Dr. Franklin, and against five. The leaven worked vigorously, and, Governor of New Jersey, who, by their order, had in less than a month afterwards, Silas Deane, of been arrested and made a prisoner of State in Connecticut, was appointed by the Committee of Connecticut. This was one of the boldest measures Secret Correspondence as a political and com- of that body, for a royal governor or viceroy is mercial agent to operate in France and elsewhere, the direct representative of the king. and to procure necessary supplies of every kind Early in May, John Adams moved in the Confor an army of twenty-five thousand men. Already tinental Congress “That it be recommended to an emissary from France had been sent to America the several assemblies and conventions of the from King Louis, whose keen ministers saw in this United Colonies, where no government sufficient quarrel, and the probable dismemberment of the to the exigencies of their affairs hath hitherto been British Empire, the opportunity for France to be established, to adopt such a government as shall, fevenged on England for despoiling her of her in the opinion of the representatives of the people, broad domain in America.
best conduce to the happiness and safety of their Outside of Congress the desire for independence constituents in particular, and America in genrapidly became a glowing flame in the bosom of eral.” This, though bold, was not broad enough colonial society. North Carolinians first took to form a basis for energetic action in favor of positive public action on the subject of independ independence. It was a timid step forward. A ence, as they had done the year before. On the bolder man was needed for the occasion, and he 220 of April, a provincial convention in that soon appeared in the person of Richard Henry colony authorized the representatives of that Lee, of Virginia. Moved by the instructions of province in Congress “ To concur with the other his colony to propose independence, Mr. Lee colonies in declaring independence.” On the rose in his place, in Independence Hall, on the very next day the people of Massachusetts, in morning of the 7th of June, 1776, and with his convention assembled, did the same. Those of clear, musical voice, read aloud the resolution : Rhode Island and Virginia instructed their rep- " That these United Colonies are, and of right resentatives to propose independence. Those of ought to be, free and independent States; and Connecticut told their delegates to assent to that all political connection between us and the independence. The Provincial Congress of New State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally Hampshire instructed their delegates to agree to dissolved." independence, and those of New Jersey, who had As I have observed in a former paper, John just been elected, were left to act in accordance Adams immediately seconded the resolution, but with the dictates of their own judgment.
as both the mover and seconder would doubtless The subject of independence had been hinted at incur the hottest anger of their king, their names in the Legislature of Pennsylvania several months were not then entered upon the journal. Three before, when the startled conservatives in that days afterwards the consideration of the resolution budy procured the adoption of instructions to was postponed until the first day of July next their delegates, adverse to that idea. These re-ensuing, and on the with a committee was apstrictions were now removed, but the delegates of pointed to prepare a declaration in accordance
with the resolution, that should set forth the causes purpose the minutes of a sub-committee, comwhich impelled the colonies to separate from posed of himself, Mr. Adams, and Dr. Franklin. Great Britain.
John Adams says that sub-committee appointed Mr. Lee would, undoubtedly, have been made Mr. Jefferson and himself to "draw them up, chairman of that committee had he been present. in form and clothe them in a proper dress.” They On the evening of the roth he received word by made minutes of the several topics, and submitted express that his wife was very ill, and he was them to the sub-committee, when Mr. Jefferson compelled to ask leave of absence for a short time. desired Mr. Adams to take them to his lodgings, It was granted, and on the morning of the uth, and make the draft. This Mr. Adams declined the day when the committee was appointed, he to do, and gave several reasons for it, the chief set off for his home in Virginia. Thomas Jefferson, of which was that he had “a great opinion of the a delegate from the same province, was first named elegance of the pen of Mr. Jefferson, and none at on the committee, and became its chairman, all of his own." Mr. Jefferson took the minutes,
Mr. Jefferson's colleagues on that committee and in a day or two produced the draft. were John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger On the first of July Mr. Lee's motion was Sherman and Robert R. Livingston. After a full taken up in Congress, sitting in Independence discussion of the topics to be embodied in the Hall, for consideration in Committee of the Whole declaration, the writing of the document was House, Benjamin Harrison of Virginia (father of entrusted to Mr. Jefferson. "It will naturally be President Harrison) in the chair. Jefferson's draft inquired," Mr. Adams wrote, “ how it happened of the Declaration was submitted at the same that he was appointed on a committee of such time, and for three consecutive days it was debaimportance. There were more reasons than one.
ted by paragraphs seriatim. Many alterations, Mr. Jefferson had the reputation of a masterly omissions and amendments were made in Compen; he had been chosen a delegate in Virginia in mittee of the Whole. A whole paragraph which consequence of a very handsome public paper condemned the slave-trade and charged the king which he had written for the House of Burgesses, / with the perpetuation of slavery in the colonies
, which had given him the character of a fine writer. "by prostituting his negative for suppressing any Another reason was, that Mr. Richard Henry Lee | legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this was not beloved by the most of his colleagues execrable commerce," was stricken out.
The from Virginia, and Mr. Jefferson was sent up to charge was not founded in truth, and was prorival and supplant him. This could be done only perly omitted. Referring to the many alterations with the pen, for Mr. Jefferson could stand no that were made, Mr. Jefferson, in a letter to competition with him, or any one else, in elocution Richard Henry Lee, written on the 8th of July, or public debate.” He had then been a member 1776, in which he sent that gentleman copies of of Congress about a year, but had attended to his the Declaration as he had written it, and as it was duties very irregularly, and when there had never altered and adopted, said, “You will judge whether spoken in public. “ During the whole time I sat it is the better or the worse for the critics." with him in Congress,"' Adams wrote, “I never
On the 2d of July Mr. Lee's resolution was heard him utter three sentences together." adopted, and two days afterward the Declaration
Mr. Jefferson was, at that time, a little past as amended was also adopted by the unanimous thirty-three years of age; tall, wiry, lithe in limb, vote of the colonies represented, though not by with “sandy” hair and rather sharp features. He the unanimous vote of the delegates present. On occupied a parlor and bedroom ready-furnished the afternoon of the 4th, when the great deed in the new three-storied brick house belonging to
was accomplished—when the United Colonies in Mr. Graaf, a bricklayer, who had then lately Congress assembled had decreed the birth of a been married. The house, yet standing, is on nation—they perceived the necessity of a national Market street, south side, between Seventh and insignia, and resolved “That Dr. Franklin, Mr. Eighth streets, and the rooms which Mr. Jeffer- J. Adams and Mr. Jefferson be a committee to son occupied are on the second floor. In that prepare a device for a seal for the United States little parlor, where he habitually performed his of America.” For six years the States struggled writing, Mr. Jefferson made the original draft of for the independence they had then declared, the Declaration of Independence, using for the before they possessed a seal, the token of supreme
authority; and then the device was suggested by Sir, that while groping so long in the dark, an English nobleman.
divided in our opinions, and now ready to sepaOn the day when the Declaration of Indepen- rate without accomplishing the great objects of dence was adopted the members present who our meeting, that we have hitherto not once voted for it signed the “fair copy of the docu- thought of humbly applying to the Father of ment which had been engrossed on paper; but it Lights to illuminate our understandings? In the was then published to the world with only the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when names of John Hancock, President of the Con- we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers gress, and Charles Thomson, Secretary of that in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, body, attached to it. It was ordered to be en- Sir, were heard and graciously answered.” He grossed on parchment, and at the beginning of then moved that “henceforth prayer, imploring August, fifty-four delegates in the Congress signed the assistance of Heaven and its blessings on our it, and two others affixed their signatures after deliberations, be held in this · Assembly every wards. That parchment, with the precious writ- morning before we proceed to business.” The ing upon it, has been preserved, but many of the resolution was not adopted, as the convention, ex
, signatures have faded to the verge of illegibility. cept three or four members, thought prayers unIt has been placed in Independence Hall, in which necessary, because in this case they would be it was signed a hundred years ago, where the merely formal. Objections were also made because hundreds of thousands of visitors who will throng there were no funds to defray the expenses of such that Hall during the Centennial Exhibition may clerical services. look upon it. On that parchment rested the vision The Convention continued in session until Sepof each man who signed it on that eventful day-tember, when all propositions were referred to a men who by their boldness, their wisdom, and committee for revision and arrangement. It was their indomitable energy, made the great Centen completed on the 12th of September, and adopted nial Exhibition to-day possible. May the sight of by the Convention as the Fundamental Law of our it inspire all beholders with gladness, for it was a land. Copies of the Constitution then framed glorious gospel of freedom then preached to the were sent to the several State legislatures, to be by nations of the Earth! May it inspire every them submitted to the people for ratification. American to firmly resolve that hencesorth Union This was done, and in the spring of 1789 the naand brotherhood by love shall prevail throughout tional government was organized under the proour borders !
visions of this National Constitution, with WashThe other most notable event that has occurred ington as the first President of the Republic. in Independence Hall was the sitting of a conven- These two great acts-the adoption and signing tion of delegates therein, in the summer of 1787, of the Declaration of Independence, and the to devise a better form of government for the Re- adoption and signing of the National Constitution public. These delegates represented all the States -in that room, consecrated it forever as a shrine excepting New Hampshire and Rhode Island. of human liberty, in which every aspirant for civil They met in May, and chose George Washington, and religious freedom, of whatever hue, creed, or a delegate from Virginia, the President. His nationality, has an abiding interest. associates were able statesmen, and they entered
“ This is the sacred fane wherein assembled upon their duties with zeal when the convention The fearless champions on the side of Right; was full, on the 24th of May. For some time
Men at whose Declaration empires trembled,
Moved by the Truth's immortal light. they made very little progress.
There were no
Here stood the patriot-our union folding precedents to guide their action. There was a
The Eastern, Northern, Southern sage and seer, great diversity of opinions respecting the applica- Within that living bond which, truth upholding,
Proclaims each man his fellow's peer. tio of principles and of expediency; and for a
Here rose the anthem which all nations hearing, while it seemed probable that the convention
In loud response the echoes backward hurled; would be dissolved without accomplishing any- Reverberating still the ceaseless cheering, thing. Some proposed a final adjournment, when Our continent repeats it to the world. the venerable Dr. Franklin, then long past eighty
This is the hallowed spot where first unfurling,
Fair Freedom spread her blazing scroll of light; of age, arose in his place, and address
Here from oppression's throne the tyrant hurling, ing the President said: “How has it happened, She stood supreme in majesty and might.”
That Hall has been devoted to various uses, and has undergone some transformations in feature since these two great events; but it has now been restored to its original condition under the able supervision of Col. Frank M. Etting, of Philadelphia. Visitors may see it as the fathers of the Republic saw it a hundred years ago, with the single exception of discerning upon its walls the portraits of all the Signers of the Declaration of Independence but two or three. · These have been procured by Colonel Etting by persevering and persistent labor.
REMARKS. -The National Museum is certainly unique,
NATIONAL MUSEUM. and the success of Colonel Etting and his co- tude of every American for his poble labor of laborers in the work of collecting precious relics love in the restoration of Independence H.!! of the early days of our country has been mar- and its surroundings—the labor has been invelous. An intelligent visitor may spend hours calculably great, and not only has he sought of in this one room with pleasure and profit, and received nothing in the way of pecuniary comthen regret his inability to prolong his inspec. pensation, but he has actually contributed his tion of the historic treasures. The Colonel is private means liberally, in addition to his time entitled to, and will receive, the sincere grati- | and talents.-EDITOR.
By William WIRT HENRY.
As the United States in the month of July cele- States, but engaged in a doubtful struggle with brate the hundredth anniversary of their birth the greatest power of the earth, involving our very day as a nation, and are making preparations for existence as a nation. To-day we number thirtyits celebration which shall fill the ear of the eight States, extending from the lakes to the great world, the minds of all naturally turn to a com- guls, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, with a parison of our first estate with our last, and to a population of forty millions; and in commerce, contemplation of our wonderful progress.
in arts, in resources, in civilization, in all that One hundred years ago, within the lisetime of makes a people great, ranking amongst the foresome now living, we were thirteen Colonies, most nations of the earth. Such a remarkable stretching along the Atlantic coast, with less than growth the world has never before witnessed. three millions of inhabitants, without a navy, Many causes have operated to produce this and without credit; aspiring to be independent result; but were we called on to name the one