ePub 版
[ocr errors][merged small]

vices of religion alone: he was always foremost in crcry benevolent work that commended itself to his judgment.

Surveying the disputes between the colonies and Great Britain, with intelligent vision, he early perceived the right; and unlike too many of the episcopal clergymen at that time, he warmly espoused the republican cause. His only sister was the wife of Robert Morris (the patriot and financier), and the outward pressure of circumstances, as well as internal convictions, guided his actions. He did not “ beat the ecclesiastical drum" before the Declaration of Independence was promulgated, but on the Sunday following, he ceased officially praying for the king, and soon took the oath of allegiance to the United States. Already he had offered up prayers in the hall of Congress;' and when that body, at the close of 1776, convened at Baltimore, he was chosen one of its chaplains.? In that capacity he continued to serve until the seat of government was removed to New York. When, again, under the Federal Constitution, the sessions of congress were held in Philadelphia, he acted as chaplain, and his labors in that field of duty ceased only when the seat of government was removed to Washington city, in 1801.

Mr. White was the only episcopal clergyman in Pennsylvania at the close of the revolution, and the church seemed on the verge of dissolution. Yet he labored with increasing zeal. He was called to tho rectory of Christ Church and St. Peter's; and in 1783, the University of Pennsylvania gave him its first issued degree of Doctor of Divinity. At about that time he proposed the establishment of an American Episcopal Church, on such a basis, that ministers might be appointed by a convention of clergymen and laymen, without the aid of bishops. The proposition startled many who could not conceive of the existence of “a church without a bishop,” but was warmly seconded by those who loved religion for its own sake. The acknowledgment of the independence of the United States, soon afterward, changed the aspect of affairs. Through the exertions of Dr. White, a general convention of delegates from the churches. met in Philadelphia, in October, 1784. Ilo presided; and then and there the broad foundations of the Episcopal Church, in America, were laid. At the request of the American churches, Drs. White and Provost proceeded to England in the Spring of 1786; and on the 4th of February, 1787, they were consecrated bishops, the former for the diocese of Pennsylvania, and the latter for that of New York. From that time, episcopal consecration in the United States was performed at home; and from Bishop White, nearly all of the American prelates, consecrated during his life, received the sacred office. For about thirty years he performed the duties of his episcopate without assistance; but in 1827, the diocese of Pennsylvania becoming very extensive, and as the infirmities of age were pressing hard upon the venerable prelate, an assistant bisliop was elected. Yet he continued his labors until the last, as presiding bishop of the church in the United States. In 1835, when the church sent missionaries to China, he prepared instructions for them; and that paper shows that his mental vigor was unimpaired, although the hand that wrote it was eighty-eight years old. It was among the last official labors of his long and useful life. In June, the following year, that devoted patriarch preached his last sermon; and on the 17th of the next month, his spirit ascended to the New Jerusalem. In his writings, and in his example, Bishop White still lives, and the church yet feels his conservativo influence.

1. It has been erroneously stated that he was the first chaplain of the Continental Congress. That honor belongs 10 Rev. Jacob Duche.

2. The other was Rev. Patrick Allison, minister of the Presbyterian Church in Baltimore. They were chosen on the 230 of December, 1776.



TIRST IN WAR-FIRST IN PEACE-FIRST IN THE HEARTS OF HIS COUNTRYMEN T -was a just sentiment uttered half a century ago by the foster-son of the Great Patriot, when speaking of the character of his noble guardian. And the hand of that son was the first to erect a monumental stone in memory of The Father of his Country, upon which was inscribed: HERE, THE 11TH OF FEBRCARY (O. S.), 1732, GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS BORN. That stone yet lies on tho site of his birth-place, in Westmoreland county, Virginia, near the banks of the Potomac. The calendar having been changed,? we celebrate his birth-day on the 22d of February.

George Washington was descended from an old and titled family in Lancashire, England, and was the eldest child of his father, by Mary Ball, his second wife. He died when George was little more than ten years of age, and the guidance of the future Leader, through the dangers of youthhood, devolved upon his mother. She was fitted for the service; and during his eventful life, Washington regarded the early training of his mother with the deepest gratitude. He received a common English education, and upon that, a naturally thoughtful and right-conditioned mind, laid the foundation of future greatness. Truth and justice were the cardinal virtues of his character.3 He was always beloved by his young companions, and was always chosen their leader in military plays, At the age of fourteen years, he wished to enter the navy, but yielded to the discouraging persuasions of his mother; and when he was seventeen years old, he was one of the most accomplished land surveyors in Virginia. In the forest rambles incident to his profession, he learned much of the topography of the country, habits of the Indians, and life in the camp. Theso were stern but useful lessons of great value in his future life.

Young Washington was appointed one of the adjutants-general of his state at the age of nineteen, but soon resigned his commission to accompany an invalid half-brother to the West Indies. Two years later, when the French began to build forts southward of Lake Erie, he was sent by the royal governor of Virginia, to demand a cessation of such hostile movements. He performed tho delicate mission with great credit; and so highly were his services esteemed, that when, in 1755, Braddock came to drive the French from the vicinity of the Ohio, Washington was chosen his principal aid. The young Leader had already

1. George Washington Parke Custis, grandson of Mrs. Washington, and adopied son of the distingaished patriot.

2. In consequence of the difference between the old Roman year and the true solar year, of a little more than eleven minutes, the astronomical equinox fell back that amount of time, each annual cycle, toward the beginning of the year. It fell on the 21st of March, at the time of the council of Nice, in 323. Pope Gregory the Thirteenth reformed the calendar in 1582 (when the equinox fell on the Ilth of March,) by suppressing ten days in the calendar, ard thus restoring the equinox to the 21st of March. The Protestant states of Europe adhered to the old calendar, until 1700 ; and popular prejudice in England opposed the alterations, until 1752, when the Julian calendar, called ou Style, was abolished by Parliament. Tho retrogression since Gregory's time made it necessary to drop 11 days, instead of ten. Now the bitference is about twelve days, so that Washington's birth-day, according to the New Style, is on the 23d of February.

3. Young Washington was playing in a field one day with another boy, when he leaped upon an untamed colt belonging to his mother. The frightened animal used such great exertions to get rid of his rider, that he burst á blood vessel and died. George went immediately to his mother, and gave her a truthful relation of all that bad happened. This is a noble cxumple for all boys.

[ocr errors][merged small]

been in that wilderness at the head of a military expedition, and performed his duty so well, that he was publicly thanked by the Virginia legislature. Braddock was defeated and killed, and his whole army escaped utter destruction only through the skill and valor of Colonel Washington, in directing their retreat. He continued in active military service most of the time, until the close of 1758, when he resigned his commission, and retired to private life.

At the age of twenty-seven years, Washington married the beautiful Martha Custis, the young widow of a wealthy Virginia planter, and they took up their abode at Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Potomac, an estate left him by his half-brother. There he quietly pursued the business of a farmer until the Spring of 1774, when he was chosen to fill a seat in the Virginia legislature. The storm of the great revolution was then gathering; and toward the close of Summer he was elected a delegate to the first CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, which assembled at Philadelphia, in September. He was a delegate the following year, when the storm burst on Bunker Hill, after the first lightning flash at Lexington; and by the unanimous voice of his compatriots he was chosen commander-in-chief of the army of freemen which had gathered spontaneously around Boston.

For eight long years Washington directed the feeble armies of the revolted colonies, in their struggle for independence. That was a terrible ordeal through which the people of America passed! During the night of gloom which brooded over the hopes of the patriots from the British invasion of New York, until the capture of Cornwallis, he was the lode-star of their hopes. And when the blessed morning of Peace dawned at Yorktown, and the last hoof of the oppressor had left our shores, Washington was hailed as the Deliverer of his people; and he was regarded by the aspirants for freedom in the eastern hemisphere as the brilliant day-star of promise to future generations.

During all the national perplexities after the return of peace, incident to financial embarrassments and an imperfect system of government, Washington was regarded, still, as the public leader; and when a convention assembled to modify the existing government, he was chosen to preside over their deliberations. And again, when the labors of that convention resulted in the formation of our Federal Constitution, and a president of the United States was to be chosen, according to its provisions, his countrymen, with unanimous voice, called him to the highest place of honor in the gift of a free people.

Washington presided over the affairs of the new Republic for eight years, and those the most eventful in its history. A new government had to be organized without any existing model, and new theories of government were to be put in practice for the first time. The domestic and foreign policy of the country had to be settled by legislation and diplomacy, and many exciting questions had to be met and answered. To guide the ship of state through the rocks and quicksands of all these difficulties required great executive skill and wisdom. Washington possessed both; and he retired from the theatre of public life without the least stain of reproach upon his judgment or his intentions.

The great Patriot and Sage enjoyed the repose of domestic life, at Mount Vernon, in the midst of an affectionate family and the almost daily congratulations of visitors, for almost three years, when the effects of a heavy cold closed his brilliant career, in death. He ascended to the bosom of his God on the 14th of December, 1799, when almost sixty-eight years of age.?

1. Braddock persisted in fighting the Indians according to the military tactics of Europe ; and when Washington modestly suggested the policy of adopting the Indian method of warfare, it is said that Braddock hanghtily answered, “Wbat la provincial buskin teach a British general how to fight!"

2. See the Frontispicce. On the left, below the portrait, is his birth-place, on the right, his tomb. Liberty and Justice are supporters, in the midst of Plenty, and surmounting Fame is proclaiming his deeds.

Liberty and Fureticis piece. On the left. La provincial Bukin

[merged small][graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small]

THE bud of a keen wit and zealous patriot appeared when, at almost midnight 1 on the 3d of September, 1738, Francis Hopkinson was born in the city of Philadelphia. His father was a fine scholar, and an intimate friend of Dr. Franklin; his mother was a woman of great refinement, and niece of the Bishop of Worcester. They came from England immediately after their marriage, settled in Philadelphia, and died there. When Francis was fourteen years old, his mother was left a widow with a large family of children. She discharged the holy duties of her station with fidelity and success.

Francis Hopkinson was the first scholar and first graduate of the College of Philadelphia, of which his father was one of the founders. He was an honor to the institution. The profession of the law was his choice, and he studied in the office of Benjamin Chew, afterward the eminent chief justice of Pennsylvania. He was fond of literary and scientific pursuits, and for the purpose of expanding and strengthening his faculties by contact with eminent men, he went to Eng. land, and resided with the Bishop of Worcester, about two years. Soon after his return, in 1768, he married Ann Borden, the accomplished daughter of a wealthy gentleman, the founder of Bordentown, New Jersey; and that became his place of residence. His country was then agitated by the premonitions of the approaching Revolution, and his active mind often found powerful expression

[ocr errors][merged small]

through his pen. His first publication, of moment, was a small pamphlet entitled, A Pretty Story, which is said to have had great influence on the public mind, in quickening its perceptions of the true relations existing between Great Britain and her colonies. It abounds with fine specimens of imagination, composition, and elegant wit. So in his conversation; it was ever marked by great refinement. He was never known to use a profane word, or utter an expression that would make a lady blush.

When the colonies had drawn the sword and cast away the scabbard, Mr. IIopkinson, who had been an unflinching patriot from the beginning, was chosen a delegate to represent New Jersey in the Continental Congress. In that capacity he signed the Declaration of Independence, and soon afterward received the commission of Judge of Admiralty, for Pennsylvania. While in that station he wrote that exceedingly witty poem, entitled The Battle of the kegs.

When the Federal Constitution was before the people, Judge Hopkinson became one of its most zealous and eloquent supporters, with tongue and pen; and in 1790, President Washington appointed him a judge of the United States court, for the district of Pennsylvania, under the new organization of the judiciary. He did not bear the ermine and its honors long, for on the 9th of May, 1791, he was suddenly smitten with epilepsy, which terminated his life in the course of a few hours.

Mr. Hopkinson's genius was versatile. He was proficient in the knowledge of music, mathematics, mechanics, and chemistry. As a satirical writer he has few peers; and he held a front rank as a statesman and jurist. His works, arranged by himself, were published in three volumes, after his death, and are now exceedingly rare.


VANY good men, whose actions have been governed by the purest and loftiest M motives, have been made the targets of scorn by partisan writers; and it is difficult, when perusing the pages of history, to judge correctly of the real characters of the prominent men whose actions make up the sum of the record. Thomas Hutchinson, Governor of Massachusetts during some of the most exciting scenes of the early years of the revolutionary struggle, is generally regarded with contempt and indignation by readers of American history, because, like thousands of conscientious men, he chose the royal side in the controversy. He was born in Massachusetts, in 1711, and was graduated at llarvard College in 1727. His father had been a public man, and Thomas studied English constitutional law, with the intention of becoming a statesman. He first embarked in commercial pursuits, however, but did not succeed. For ten consecutive years he was elected a member of the Massachusetts Assembly, and he was Speaker of that body for three years. In 1752, he succeeded his uncle as judge of probate; and from 1749 until 1756, he was a member of the governor's council. In 1758, he was elected lieutenant-governor of the province, and held that office until 1771, when he was appointed governor. In the meanwhile he had held the office of chief justice, after the death of Judge Sewall, in 1760. That office

1. A man, named Bushnell, of Conencticut, invented a submarine explosive apparatus, by which ships might be blown up. An inciTectual attempt was made to blow up the Eagle, General Howe's flagship, in the harbor of New York, in 1776. In 1778, while the British had possession of Philadelphia, and several of their ships were lying in the Delaware, some Whigs at Borilentown prepared several kegs of powder with a similar machine, and sent them floating down the current of the river, toward the British shipping. They caused great alarm, and in commemoration of that event the Battle of the Kegs was written. The author's son, Joseph, wrote the popular national song, Hail Columbia,

« 上一頁繼續 »