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ory is still cherished with grateful affection for his contributions to the service and the honor of his country, rose and spoke against it. “He stated the consequences in alarming colours." Silence and doubt ensued. John Adams, “ the pillar of its support," as Mr. Jefferson has styled him, rose in reply. His fervid eloquence silenced every doubt. The question was settled, and the vote of the states was unanimous. In what language he made this last and powerful appeal, we may judge from the triumphant burst of patriotic exultation and pious emotion with which he wrote to a friend on the following day.* “ Yesterday the greatest question was decided that was ever debated in America ; and greater perhaps, nev. er was or will be decided among men. A resolution was passed, without one dissenting colony, that these United States are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.'The day is passed. The fourth of July, 1776, will be a memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to Almighty God. It ought to be solemnized with pomp, shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever. You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states ; yet, through all the gloom, I
* There can be no doubt that the date of the letter was the 3d July, 1776, though in recent publications, it has appeared with the date of the 5th. The resolution of Independence was adopted on the 2d July--the declaration was not agreed to till the 4th. The former is the "resolution" referred to by Mr. Adams. Inattention, to this distinction has probably led to the change of date in the printed copies. The error is pointed out, and corrected in a very satisfactory manner, in the Democratic Press of the 12th instant.
can see the rays of light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means; and that posterity will triumph, although you and I may rue, which I hope we shall
The authorship of the splendid record we have been considering belongs to Mr. Jefferson. To him is justly due the. merit of preparing a paper, which has elevated the national character, and furnished a perpetual source of instruction and delight. That Mr. Adams, his colleague, entered deeply into his sentiments, is equally certain. To the last he retained his attachment to the original draught prepared by Mr. Jefferson, and thought it had not been improved by the slight alteration it underwent, in expunging a few passages or parts of passages.
Placed by their talents and virtues in this elevated and commanding position, these two distinguished champions of the rights of their country and the rights of mankind, were thenceforward looked to for every ardous service. In December, 1777, Mr. Adams was appointed a commissioner to France, an appointment, as all who are acquainted with our history well know, of great hazard, but of the highest importance.
Struggling for existence, with comparatively feeble means, against a powerful enemy, who assumed the tone of an insolent and vindictive master, but struggling with a constancy of resolution, which already conciliated the regard of nations, our country looked abroad for countenance and aid.
But the fleets of England covered the ocean, and the tower where Laurens was so long confined, with no prospect beyond it but the scaffold, was the almost certain reward of the daring rebel (for so they would have styled him) who should fall into their power. This hazardous employment he instantly and fearlessly accepted. He embarked soon after, and, through many imminent perils arrived in safety. Of the signal advantages derived from that commission you are well aware. A treaty was made with France, and, in the year 1778, our great countryman Franklin, was received by that nation as
the acknowledged minister of a sovereign and independent power. f
Mr. Adams was afterwards sent to Holland, where he successfully negotiated a loan.
Whilst Mr. Adams was serving his country abroad, Mr. Jefferson was rendering equal service at home. Being elected governor of Virginia, he gave the most effectual aid to the cause of the Revolution. This rests upon no doubtful or questionable authority. Twice, in the course of the year 1780, were resolutions adopted by Congress, approving his conduct, in aiding their military measures in the south.
In the same year Congress instructed a committee “ to inform Mr. Adams of the satisfaction they received from his industrious attention to the interests and honor of these United States abroad.” Thus did they both deserve, and thus did they both receive, the highest rewards that could be bestowed upon them.
Not to fatigue you by too much detail, let me simply mention, that Mr. Adams was appointed sole commissioner to negotiate peace with Great Britain in 1779,- that he was one of those who negotiated the provisional articles of peace with Great Britain in November, 1782,—who made the armistice for the cessation of hostilities in January, 1783,-and who finally negotiated the definitive treaty of peace in September, 1783.
The thirteen United States, sovereign and independent by their own exertions and the favor of Providence, from the fourth July, 1776, were now universally acknowledged as such, and admitted by all to their place in the family of nations. Thev chose, for their two principal representatives
+The treaty was signed at Paris, the 6th February, 1778, by B. Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee. The Congress of the United States desired the suppression of the 11th article, consenting in return that the 12th should likewise be considered of no effect. The acts rescinding these two articles were signed at Paris 1st September, 1778, on the part of the United States, by B. Franklin, Arthur Lee, and John Adams.
Dr. Franklin was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to France, on the 14th September, 1778.
abroad, the illustrious men whose death we are here met to commemorate. Mr. Jefferson succeeded Dr. Franklin in France ; Mr. Adams was sent to England. They were joined also with Dr. Franklin, in a plenipotentiary commission to negotiate treaties of amity, commerce, and navigation, with the principal powers of Europe.
The first treaty with Prussia, the only fruit at that time of the commission, bears the names of Franklin, of Jefferson, and of Adams. What a splendid constellation of talent! Sufficient of itself, to shed unfading lustre on a nation--more than sufficient to refute the exploded European doctrine of the degeneracy of man in America.
Our history from this period is familiar to you all. When the present constitution was framed, Mr. Jefferson was still in France. Ever alive to the welfare of his beloved country ; ever watchful of those sacred principles of human right, which it had been the labor of his life to vindicate and maintain, he looked with intense anxiety upon this interesting movement. To his suggestion, it is understood, that we are indebted for the ten original amendments to the constitution, embodying such restrictions on the authority of Congress, and such assertions of the fundamental rights of the citizen, as were thought necessary to the preservation of the just power of the states, and the security of civil and religious freedom.
Upon the organization of our present government, the voice of the nation assigned the highest place to Washington. He was elected President of the United States. The illustrious men whom we now commemorate, were second only to him who had no equal. The one was elevated by the choice of the people; the other by the choice of Washington.
Mr. Adams was elected Vice-President of the United States; or rather, let me say, he was the second choice for President. As the constitution then stood, two were voted for as Presi. dent, and he who had the smallest number of votes was the Vice-President.
Mr. Jefferson was called home by the father of his country, to fill the high and arduous station of Secretary of State.
With what ability he performed its duties, at a period of more than ordinary difficulty, I need not state ; for it is still fresh in the recollection of most of those who hear me.
A second time was Mr. Adams elected to the second office in the country, Washington still filling the first. Before a third election came, the great father of his country announced his determination to retire, bequeathing to his countrymen, in a farewell address, his solemn injunctions and advice, which ought forever to remain engraven upon their hearts. He thus set the example, now ripened into an established limitation, that the highest office in the government is not to continue in the same hands for a longer period than two constitutional terms.
In this great trust, in dignity and importance the greatest in the world—the first magistrate of a nation of freemen, the first citizen of a republic, selected from millions by their spontaneous choice--in this great trust, Mr. Adams succeeded Washington ; Mr. Jefferson having the almost equal honor of being his chosen competitor. Mr. Jefferson was elected VicePresident.
At the expiration of four years they were again competitors. After a contest, still remembered for the eagerness and warmth, I will not say the violence of the parties which then divided the United States, Mr. Jefferson was elected President. Mr. Adams retired from public life. Mr. Jefferson was a second time chosen to the same high office. As the expiration of this term drew nigh, imitating the dignified example of Wash. ington, and, if possible, strengthening its influence by his deliberate opinion, Mr. Jefferson announced his intention to retire. He retired in March, 1809.
Thus terminated the public employment of these eminent men. Thus did they take leave, as it were, of that country, whose welfare had so long engrossed their attention and engaged their anxious labors. Is there a man who would desire now to revive the recollection of the angry feelings, and the warm contention, which prevailed among their fellow cita izens during a portion of the latter period of their service ?