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debate. They were, in truth, liemispheres of the same golden globe, and required only to be brought and put together, to prove that they were parts of the same heaven-formed whole. i
On the present occasion, however, much still remained to be effected by debate. The first of July came, and the great debate on the resolution for inde. pendence was resumed, with fresh spirit. The discussion was again protracted for two days, which, in addition to the former three, were sufficient, in that age, to call out all the speaking talent of the House. Botta, the Italian historian of our Revolution, has made Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Lee the principal speakers on the opposite sides of this question; and availing him. self of that dramatic license of ancient historians, which the fidelity of modern history has exploded, he has drawn, from his own fancy, two, orations, which he has put into the mouths of those distinguished men. With no disposition to touch, with a hostile hand, one leaf of the well-earned laurels of Mr. Lee, (which every American would feel far more pleasure in contributing to brighten and to cherish,) and with no feelings but those of reverence and gratitude for the memory of the other great patriots .who assisted in that debate, may we not say, and are we not bound in justice to say, that Botta is mistaken in the relative prominency of one, at least, of his prolocutors? Mr. Jefferson has told us that “the Colossus of that Congress the great pillar of support to the Declaration of Independence, and its ablest advocate and champion on the floor of the House, was John Adams.” How he supported it, can now be only matter of imagination: for, the de. bate was conducted with closed doors, and there was no reporter on the floor to catch the strains living as they rose. I will not attempt what Mr. Adams himself, if he were alive, could not accomplish. He might recall the topics of argument: but with regard to those flashes of inspiration, those bursts of passion, which grew out of the awful feelings of the moment, they are gone forever, with the reality of the occasion:
Ætna. w., to the sublime ne pitations of an arti
and the happiest effort of fancy to supply their place, (by me, at least,) would bear no better resemblance to the original, than the petty crepitations of an artificial volcano, to the sublime explosions of thundering Ætna. Waiving, therefore, the example of Botta, let it suffice for us to know, that in that moment of darkness, of terror, and of consternation, when the election was to be made between an attempt at liberty and independence on the one hand, and defeat, subjugation, and death, on the other, the courage of Adams, in the true spirit of heroism, rose in proportion to the dangers that pressed around him; and that he poured forth that only genuine eloquence, the eloquence of the soul, which, in the language of Mr. Jefferson, 66 moved his hearers from their seats.” The objections of his adversaries were seen no longer but in a state of wreck; floating, in broken fragments, on the billows of the storm :-and over rocks, over breakers, and amid ingulphing whirlpools, that every where surrounded him, he brought the gallant ship of the nation safe into port.
It was on the evening of the day on which this great victory was achieved, (before which, in moral grandeur, the trophies of Marengo and the Nile fade away,) and while his mind was yet rolling with the agitation of the recent tempest, that he wrote that letter to the venerable partner of his bosom, which has now become matter of history; in which, after announcing the adoption of the resolution, he foretells the future glories of his country, and the honors with which the returning anniversary of her Declaration of Independence would be hailed, till time should be no more. That which strikes us on the first perusal of this letter, is, the prophetic character with which it is stamped, and the exactness with which its predictions have been fulfilled. But, his biographer will remark in it another character : the deep political calculation of results, through which the mind of the writer, according to its habit, had flashed; and the firm and undoubting confidence with which, in spite of those appearances that alarmed and misled weaker minds, he looked to the triumphant close of the struggle. .
The resolution having been carried, the draught of the Declaration came to be examined in detail; and, so faultless had it issued from the hands of its author, that it was adopted as he had prepared it, pruned only of a few of its brightest inherent beauties, through a prudent deference to some of the States. It was adopted about noon of the Fourth, and proclaimed to an exulting nation, on the evening of the same day.
That brave and animated band who signed it--where are they now? What heart does not sink at the question? One only survives : Charles Carroll, of Carrollton-a noble specimen of the age that has gone by, and now the single object of that age, on whom the veneration and prayers of his country are concentrated. The rest have bequeathed to us the immortal record of their virtue and patriotism, and have ascended to a brighter reward than man can confer.
Ofthat instrument to which you listen with reverence on every returning anniversary of its adoption, which forms the ornament of our halls, and the first political lesson of our children," it is needless to speak. You know that in its origin and object, it was a statement of the causes which had compelled our Fathers to separate themselves from Great Britain, and to declare these States free and independent. It was the voice of the American Nation addressing herself to the other nations of the earth: and the address is, in all respects, worthy of this noble personification. It is the great argument of America in vindication of her course: and as Mr. Adams had been the Colossus of the cause on the floor of Congress, his illustrious friend, the author of this instrument, may well be pronounced to have been its Colossus on the theatre of the World.
The decisive step, which fixed the destiny of the na
tion, had now been taken: and that step was irrevocable. “ The die was now, indeed, cast. The Rubicon had been crossed,” effectually, finally, forever. There was no return but to chains, to slavery and death. No such backward step was meditated by the firm hearts that led on the march of the nation : but, confiding in the justice of Heaven, and the final triumph of truth, they moved forward in solid phalany, and with martial step, regardless of the tempest that was breaking around them.
Their confidence in the favor and protection of Heaven, however, strong and unshaken as it was, did not dispose them to relax their own exertions, nor to neglect the earthly means of securing their triumph. They were not of the number of those who call upon Hercules, and put not their own shoulders to the wheel. Our adversary was one of the most powerful nations on earth. Our whole strength consisted of a few stout hearts and a good cause. But, we were wofully deficient in all the sinews of war: we wanted men, we wanted arms, we wanted money; and these could be procured only from abroad. But, the intervening ocean was covered with the fleets of the enemy; and the patriot Laurens, one of their captives, was already a prisoner in the Tower of London. Who was there to undertake this perilous service? He who was ever ready to peril any service in the cause of his country : John Adams. Congress knew their man, and did not hesitate on the choice. Appointed a Minister to France, he promptly obeyed the sacred call, and, with a brave and fearless heart, he ran the gauntlet through the hostile fleet, and arrived in safety. Passing from Court to Court, he pleaded the cause of his country with all the resistless energy of truth; and availing himself, adroitly, of the selfish passions and interests of those Courts, he ceased not to ply his efforts, with matchless dexterity, until the objects of his mission were completely attained. With the exception of one short interval of a return home, in 1779, when he aided in giving form to the Constitution of his native State, he remained abroad, in France, in Holland—wherever he could be most useful—in the strenuous, faithful, and successful service of his country, receiving repeated votes of thanks from Congress, till the storm was over, and peace and liberty came to crown his felicity, and realize the cherished vision of his youth. .
Mr. Jefferson, meanwhile, was not less strenuously and successfully engaged at home, in forwarding and confirming the great objects of the Revolution, and making it a revolution of mind, as well as of government. Marking, with that sagacity which distinguished him, the series of inventions by which tyranny had contrived to tutor the mind to subjection, and educate it in habits of servile subordination, he proceeded, in Virginia, with the aid of Pendleton and Wythe, to break off the manacles, one by one, and deliver the imprisoned intellect from this debasing sorcery. The law of entails, that feudal contrivance to foster and nourish a vicious aristocracy at the expense of the community, had, at a previous period, been broken up, on their suggestion; and property was left to circulate freely and impart health and vigor to the operations of society. The law of primogeniture, that other feudal contrivance to create and keep up an artificial inequality among men whom their Creator had made equal, was now repealed, and the parent and his children were restored to their natural religion. And, above all, that daring usurpation on the rights of the Creator, as well as the creature, which presumes to dictate to man what he shall believe, and in what form he shall offer the worship of his heart, and this, too, for the vile purpose of strengthening the hands of a temporal tyrant, by feeding and pampering the tools of his power, was indignantly demolished, and the soul was restored to its free communion with the God who gave it.
The preamble to the bill establishing religious freedom in Virginia, is one of the most morally sublime of human productions. By its great author it was always