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“Very pleasant,” answered one of his companions, supposing him to be contemplating the beauties of the sky. “I mean, " he replied, “THIS DAY IS A GLORIOUS DAY FOR AMERICA." So fearless was he of consequences, so intrepid was he in the midst of danger, so eager to look forward to the lustre of events that would succeed the gloom which then involved the minds of the people. Mr. Adams had been a member of the continental congress the preceding year. In this situation he rendered the most important services to his country. His eloquence was well adapted to the times in which he lived. The energy of his language corresponded with the firmness and vigour of his mind. His heart glowed with the feelings of a patriot, and his eloquence was simple, majestic, and persuasive. He was one of the most efficient members of congress. He possessed keen penetration, unshaken fortitude, and permanent decision.
After many unavailing efforts, both by threats and promises, to allure this inflexible patriot from his devotion to the sacred cause of independence, governor Gage, at length, on the 12th of June, issued that memorable proclamation, of which the following is an extract. “In this exigency of complicated calamities, I avail myself of the last effort within the bounds of my duty, to spare the further effusion of blood, to offer, and I do hereby in his majesty's name, offer and promise, his most gracious pardon to all persons, who shall forthwith lay down their arms, and return to the duties of peaceable subjects, excepting only from the benefit of such pardon, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock, whose offences are of too flagitious a nature to admit of any other consideration than that of condign punishment.” This was a diploma, conferring greater honours on the individuals, than any other which was within the power of his Britannic majesty to bestow.
In a letter dated April, 1776, at Philadelphia, while he was in congress, to major Hawley, of Massachusetts, he said, “I am perfectly satisfied of the necessity of a public and explicit declaration of independence. I cannot conceive what good reason can be assigned against it. Will it widen the breach? This would be a strange question after we have raised armies and fought battles with the British troops ; set up an American navy, permitted the inhabitants of these colonies to fit out armed vessels to capture the ships, &c. belonging to any of the inhabitants of Great Britain; declaring them the enemies of the United Colonies, and torn into shivers their acts of trade, by allowing commerce, subject to regulations to be made by ourselves, with the people of all countries, except such as are subject to the British king. It cannot, surely, after all this, be imagined, that we consider ourselves, or mean to be con
sidered by others, in any other state, than that of independence."
In another letter to James Warren, Esq. dated Baltimore, December 31, 1776, he said, “I assure you, business has been done since we came to this place, more to my satisfaction than any or every thing done before, excepting the Declaration of Independence, which should bave been made immediately after the 19th of April, 1775."
The character of Mr. Adams had become celebrated in foreign countries. In 1773, he had been chosen a member of the society of the bill of rights in London; and in 1774, John Adams and doctor Joseph Warren were elected on his nomination.
Mr. Adams was a member of the continental congress when the declaration of independence was made. He was a warm and ardent friend of that measure, and supported it with great zeal.
In the year 1777, our patriots encountered many difficulties. It was at this critical juncture, after Congress had resolved to adjourn from Philadelphia to Lancaster, that some of the leading members accidentally met in company with each other. A conversation in mutual confidence ensued. Mr. Adams, who was one of the number, was cheerful and undismayed at the aspect of affairs, while the countenances of his friends were strongly marked with the desponding feelings of their hearts. The conversation naturally turned upon the subject which most engaged their feelings. Each took occasion to express his opinions on the situation of the public cause. Mr. Adams listened in silence till they had finished. He then said, “ Gentlemen, your spirits appear to be heavily oppressed with our public calamities. I hope you do not de spair of our final success ?” It was answered, “That the chance was desperate.” Mr. Adams replied, “if this be our language, it is so, indeed. If we wear long faces, they will become fashionable. Let us banish such feelings, and show a spirit that will keep alive the confidence of the people. Better tidings will soon arrive. Our cause is just and righteous, and we shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we show ourselves worthy of its aid and protection."
At this time there were but twenty-eight of the members of Congress present at Philadelphia. Mr. Adams said, “that this was the smallest, but the truest Congress, they ever had.”
But a few days had elapsed, when the news arrived of the glorious success at Saratoga, which gave a new complexion to our affairs, and confidence to our hopes.
Soon after this, lord Howe, the earl of Carlisle, and Mr. Eden, arrived as commissioners to treat for peace, under lord
North's conciliatory proposition. Mr. Adams was one of the committee chosen by congress to draught an answer to their letter. In this, it is related, “That congress will readily attend to such terms of peace, as may consist with the honour of an independent nation.'
In 1779, Samuel Adams was placed, by the state convention, on a committee to prepare and report a form of government for Massachusetts. By this committee he and John Adams were appointed a sub-committee to furnish a draught of the constitution. The draught produced by them was report-ed to the convention, and, after some amendments, accepted. The address of the convention to the people was jointly written by them.
In 1787, he was chosen a member of the Massachusetts convention for the ratification of the constitution of the United States. He had some objections to it in its reported form; the principal of which was to that article which rendered the several states amenable to the courts of the nation. He thought that this would reduce them to mere corporations. There was a very powerful opposition to it, and some of its most zealous friends and supporters were fearful that it would not be accepted.
Mr. Adams had not then given his sentiments upon it in the convention, but regularly attended the debates. Some of the leading advocates waited upor Mr. Adams to ascertain his opinions and wishes, in a private manner. Mr. Adams stated his objections, and stated that he should not give it his support, unless certain amendments were recommended to be adopted. These he enumerated. Mr. Adams prepared bis amendments, which were brought before the convention, and referred to a committee, who made some inconsiderable al. terations, with which the constitution was accepted. Some of these were afterwards agreed to as amendments, and form, at present, a part of that instrument.
In 1789, he was elected lieutenant governor of the state of Massachusetts, and continued to fill that office till 1794. when he was chosen governor of that state. He was annually reelected till 1797, when, oppressed with years and bodily infirmities, he declined being again a candidate, and retired to private life.
After many years of incessant exertion, employed in the establishment of the independence of America. he died on the 3rd of October, 1803, in the 82d year of his age, in indigent circunstances.
Though poor he possessed a lofty and incorruptible spirit, and looked with disregard upon riches, if not with contempt; while at the same time he did not attempt to disguise that re
putation and popular influence were the great objects of his ambition.
His private morals were pure, his manners grave tere, and his conversation, which generally turned on public characters and events, bold, decided, and sometimes coarse. Besides the occurrences of the passing day, he is said to have had three topics of conversation on which he delighted to expatiate, and to have always dwelt upon with great earnestness ; British oppression, the manners, laws, and customs of New England, and the importance to every republican government, of public schools for the instruction of the whole population of the state.
The person of Samuel Adams was of the middle size. His countenance was a true index of his mind, and possessed those lofty and elevated characteristics, which are always found to accompany true greatness.
He was a steady professor of the Christian religion, and uniformly attended public worship. His family devotions were regularly performed, and his morality was never impeached.
In his manners and deportment, he was sincere and unaffected : in conversation, pleasing and instructive; and in his friendships, steadfast and affectionate.
His revolutionary labours were not surpassed by those of any individual. From the commencement of the dispute with Great Britain, he was incessantly employed in public service; opposing at one time, the supremacy of “parliament in all cases ;" taking the lead in questions of controverted policy with the royal governors ; writing state papers from 1765 to 1774; in planning and organizing clubs and committees; haranguing in town meetings, or filling the columns of public prints adapted to the spirit and temper of the times. In addition to these occupations, he maintained an extensive and laborious correspondence with the friends of American freedom in Great Britain and in the provinces.
His private habits, which were simple, frugal, and unostentatious, led him to despise the luxury and parade affected by the crown officers; and his detestation of royalty, and privileged classes, which no man could have felt more deeply, stimulated him to persevere in a course, which he conscientiously believed to be his duty to pursue, for the welfare of his country.
The motives by which he was actuated, were not a sudden ebullition of temper, nor a transient impulse of resentment, but they were deliberate, methodical and unyielding. There was no pause, no hesitation, no despondency; every day and every hour, was employed in some contribution towards the
main design, if not in action, in writing; if not with the peu, in conversation; if not in talking, in meditation. The means he advised were persuasion, petition, remonstrance, resolutions, and when all failed, defiance and extermination sooner than submission. With this unrelenting and austere spirit, there was nothing ferocious, or gloomy, or arrogant in his demeanor. His aspect was mild, dignified and gentlemanly. In his own state, or in the congress of the union, he was always the advocate of the strongest measures, and in the darkest hour he never wavered nor desponded.
No man was more intrepid and dauntless, when encompassed by dangers, or more calm and unmoved amid public disasters and adverse fortune. His bold and daring conduct and language, subjected him to great personal hazards. Had any fatal event occurred to our country, by which she had fallen in her struggle for liberty, Samuel Adams would have been the first victim of ministerial vengeance. His blood would have been first shed as a sacrifice on the altar of tyranny, for the noble magnanimity and independence, with which he de. fended the cause of freedom. But such was his firmness, that he would have met death with as much composure, as he regarded it with unconcern.
His writings were numerous, and much distinguished for their elegance and fervour; but unfortunately the greater part of them have been lost, or so distributed, as to render their collection impossible.
He was the author of a letter to the earl of Ilillsborough ; of many political essays directed against the administration of governor Shirley ; of a letter in answer of Thomas Paine, in defence of Christianity, and of an oration published in the year 1776. Four letters of bis correspondence on government, are extant, and were published in a pamphlet form in 1800.
Mr. Adams's eloquence was of a peculiar character. His language was pure, concise, and impressive. He was moro logical than figurative. His arguments were addressed rather to the understanding, than to the feelings; yet he always engaged the deepest attention of his audience. On ordinary occasions, there was nothing remarkable in his speeches; but, on great questions, when his own feelings were interested, he would combine every thing great in oratory. In the language of an elegant writer, the great qualities of his mind were fully displayed, in proportion as the field for their exertion was extended; and the energy of his language was not infcrior to the depth of his mind. It was an eloquence admirably adapted to the age in which he flourished, and exactly calculated to attain the object of his pursuit. It may well be described in the language of the poet, “thoughts which breathe,