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which placed her by the side of her Northern sister. It is a historical fact well known to us all, that these two great States, then by far the most populous and powerful in the Union, led off, as it was natural and fit that they should do, all the strong measures that ended in the Declaration of Independence. Together, and stroke for stroke, they breasted the angry surge, and threw it aside - with hearts of controversy,” until they reached that shore from which we now look back with so much pride and triumph.
It was in his thirtieth year, as you remember, that Mr. Adams gave to the world his first great work, the Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law; and it was, about the same period of his life, that Mr. Jefferson produced his first great political work, “ A Summary View of the Rights of British America.". The history of this work is somewhat curious and interesting, and I give it to you on the authority of Mr. Jefferson himself. He had been elected a member of that State Convention of Virginia which, in August, 1774, appointed the first Delegates to the Continental Congress. Arrested by sickness on his way to Williamsburg, he sent forward, to be laid on the table, a draught of instructions to the Delegates whom Virginia should send. This was read by the members, and they published it, under the title of " A Summary View of the Rights of British America.” A copy of this work have ing found its way to England, it received from the pen of the celebrated Burke such alterations as adapted it to the purposes of the opposition there, and it there re-appeared in a new edition ; an honor which, as Mr. Jefferson afterwards learned, occasioned the insertion of his name in a bill of attainder, which, however, never saw the light. So far Mr. Jefferson. Let me add, that the old inhabitants of Williamsburg, a few years back, well remembered the effect of that work on Lord Dunmore, then the royal Governor of the State. His fury broke out in the most indecent and unmitigated language. Mr. Jefferson's name was marked high on his list of proscription, and the victim
was only reprieved until the rebellion should be crushed; but that rebellion became revolution, and the high priest of the meditated sacrifice was sent to howl his disappointment to the hills and winds of his native Scotland.
In the next year, 1775, Mr. Jefferson, young as he was, was singled out by the Virginia Legislature, to answer Lord North's famous 6 conciliatory proposition," called, in the language of the day, his “ olive branch.” But it was an olive branch that hid the guileful serpent, or, in the language of Mr. Adams, “ it was an asp in a basket of flowers." The answer stands upon the records of the country. Cool, calm, close, full of compressed energy and keen sagacity; while, at the same time it preserves the most perfect deco. rum, it is one of the most nervous and manly productions even of that age of men.
The second Congress met on the 10th of May, 1775. Mr. Adams was, of course, again a member. Mr. Jefferson having been deputed, contingently, (to supply the place of Peyton Randolph, did not take his seat at the commencement of the session. Of the political works of this Congress, as well as of the preceding, their petitions, memorials, remonstrances, to the Throne, to the Parliament, to the People of England, of Ireland, and of Canada, I have forborne to speak, because they are familiar to you all. Let it suffice to say, that, in the estimation of so great a judge as Lord Chatham, they were such as had never been surpassed even in the master States of the world, in ancient Greece and Rome; and although they produced no good effect on the unhappy monarch of Britain; though Pharaoh's heart was hardened so that they moved not him, they moved all heaven and all earth besides, and opened a passage for our fathers through the great deep.
The plot of the awful drama now began to thicken. The sword had been drawn. The battles of Lexington and Concord had been fought; and Warren, the rose of American chivalry, had been cut down, in his bloom, on that hill which his death has hallowed, The blood which had been shed in Massachusetts cried from the ground, in every quarter of the Union. Congress heard that cry, and resolved on war. Troops were ordered to be raised. A Commander-in-Chief came to be appointed, and General Ward, of Massachusetts, was put in nomination. Here we have an incident in the life of Mr. Adams most strikingly characteristic of the man. Giving to the winds all local prepossessions, and looking only to the cause that filled his soul, the cause of his country, he prompted and sustained the nomination of that patriot hero whom the Almighty, in his goodness, had formed for the occasion. Washington was elected, and the choice was ratified in Heaven. He accepted bis commission on the very day on which the soul of Warren winged its flight from Bunker Hill, and well did he avenge the death of that youthful hero.
Five days after General Washington's appointment, Mr. Jefferson, for the first time, took his seat as a member of Congress; and here, for the first time, met the two illustrious men whom we are endeavoring to commemorate. They met, and at once became friends
to part no more, but for a short season, and then to be re-united, both for time and eternity.
There was now open war between Great Britain and her colonies. Yet the latter looked no farther than resistance to the specific power of the parent country to tax them at pleasure. A dissolution of the union had not yet been contemplated, either by Congress or the nation; and many of those who had voted for the war, would have voted, and did afterwards yote, against that dissolution.
Such was the state of things under which the Congress of 1776 assembled, when Adams and Jefferson again met. It was, as you know, in this Congress, that the question of American Independence came, for the first time, to be discussed; and never, certainly, has a more momentous question been discussed, in any age or in any country; for, it was fraught, not only with the
destinies of this wide extended continent, but, as the event has shown, and is still showing, with the destinies of man, all over the world.
How fearful that question then was, no one can tell but those who forgetting all that has since past, can transport themselves back to the time, and plant their feet on the ground which those patriots then occupied. 6 Shadows, clouds, and darkness" then covered all the future, and the present was full only of danger and terror. A more unequal contest never was proposed. It was, indeed, as it was then said to be, the shepherd boy of Israel going forth to battle against the giant of Gath; and there were yet among us, enough to tremble when they heard that giant say, “ Come to me, and I will give thy flesh to the fowls of the air and the beasts of the field.”. But, there were those who never trembled—who knew that there was a God in Israel, and who were willing to commit their cause 6 to his even-handed justice," and his almighty power. That their great trust was in Him, is manifest from the remarks that were continually breaking from the lips of the patriots. Thus, the patriot Hawley, when pressed upon the inequality of the contest, could only answer, 6 We must put to sea-Providence will bring us into port;" and Patrick Henry, when urged upon the same topic, exclaimed, - True, true; but there is a God above, who rules and over-rules the destinies of nations."
Amid this appalling array that surrounded them, the first to enter the breach, sword in hand, was John Adams—the vision of his youth at his heart, and his country in every nerve. On the sixth of May, he of. fered, in committee of the whole, the significant resolution, that the colonies should form governments independent of the crown. This was the harbinger of more important measures, and seems to have been put forward to feel the pulse of the House. The resolution, after a bloody struggle, was adopted on the 15th day of May following. On the 7th of June, by previous concert, Richard Henry Lee moved the great resolution of Independence, and was seconded by John Adams; and “then came the tug of war." The debate upon it was continued from the 7th to the 10th, when the further consideration of it was postponed to the 1st of July, and at the same time a committee of five was appointed to prepare, provisionally, a draught of a Declaration of Independence. At the head of this important committee, which was then appointed by vote of the House, although he was probably the youngest member, and one of the youngest men in the House, (for he had served only part of the former session, and was but thirty-two years of age,) stands the name of Thomas Jefferson-Mr. Adams stands next. And these two gentlemen having been deputed a subcommittee to prepare the draught, that draught, at Mr. Adams' earnest importunity, was prepared by his more youthful friend. Of this transaction Mr. Adams is himself the historian, and the authorship of the Declaration, though once disputed, is thus placed forever beyond the reach of question.
The final debate on the resolution was postponed, as we have seen, for nearly a month. - In the mean time, all who are conversant with the course of action of all deliberative bodies, know how much is done by conversation among the members. It is not often, indeed, that proselytes are made on great questions by public debate. On such questions, opinions are far more frequently formed in private, and so formed that debate is seldom known to change thein. Hence the value of the out-of-door talent of chamber consultation, where objections candidly stated are candidly, calmly, and mildly discussed; where neither pride, nor shame, nor anger take part in the discussion, nor stand in the way of a correct conclusion; but where every thing being conducted frankly, delicately, respectfully, and kindly, the better cause and the better reasoner are almost always sure of success. In this kind of service, as well as in all that depended on the power of composition, Mr. Jefferson was as much a master-magician, as his eloquent friend Adams was in