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esteemed as one of his happiest efforts, and the measure itself one of his best services, as the short and modest epitaph left by him attests. Higher praise cannot and need not be given to it, than to say, it is in all respects worthy of the pen which wrote the Declaration of Independence: that it breathes the same lofty and noble spirit; and is a fit companion for that immortal instrument. , · The legislative enactments that have been mentioned, form a small part, only, of an entire revision of the laws of Virginia. The collection of bills passed by these great men, (one hundred and twenty-six in number,) presents a system of jurisprudence, so comprehensive, profound, and beautiful, so perfectly, so happily adapted to the new state of things, that, if its authors had never done any thing else, impartial history would have assigned them a place by the side of Solon and Lycurgus.
In 1779, Mr. Jefferson was called to assume the helm of government in Virginia, in succession to Patrick Henry. He took that helm, at the moment when war, for the first time, had entered the limits of the Commonwealth. With what strength, fidelity, and ability he held it, under the most trying circumstances, the highest testimonials now stand on the journals of Congress, as well as those of Virginia. It is true that a poor attempt was made, in after times, to wound the honor of his administration. But he bore a charmed character; and this, like every other blow that has ever been aimed at it, only recoiled to crush his accuser, and to leave him the brighter and stronger for the assault.
In 1781, his alert and active mind, which watched the rising character of his new-born country, with all the jealous vigilance of an anxious father, found a new occasion to call him into the intellectual field. Our country was yet but imperfectly known in Europe. Its face, its soil, its physical capacities, its animals, and even the men who inhabited it, were so little known, VOL. V.
as to have furnished to philosophers abroad a theme of unfounded and degrading speculation. Those visionaries, dreaming over theories which they wanted the means or the inclination to confront with facts, had advanced, among others, the fantastic notion that even man degenerated by transplantation to America. To refute this insolent position, and to place his country before Europe and the world on the elevated ground she was entitled to hold, the Notes on Virginia were prepared and published. He there pointed to Washington, to Franklin, and to Rittenhouse, as being alone sufficient to exterminate this heresy; and we may now point to Jefferson and to Adams, as sufficient to annihilate it. This pure and proud offering on the altar of his country, “ The Notes on Virginia," honored its author abroad not less than at home; and when, shortly afterwards, the public service called him to Europe, it gave him a prompt and distinguished passport into the highest circles of science and literature.
Thus actively and usefully employed in guarding the fame, and advancing the honor and happiness of his country, the war of the Revolution came to its close; and, on the 19th of October, 1781, of which this day is the anniversary, Great Britain bowed to the ascendency of our cause. Her last effective army struck her standard on the heights of York, and peace and independence came to bless our land.
Mr. Adams was still abroad when this great consummation of his early hopes took place: and, although the war was over, a difficult task still remained to be performed. The terms of peace were yet to be arranged, and to be arranged under circumstances of the most complicated embarrassment. That the acknowledgment of our independence was to be its first and indispensable condition, was well understood; and Mr. Adams, then at the Hague, with that decision which always marked his character, refused to leave his post and take part in the negotiation at Paris, until the powers of the British commissioner should be so enlarged as to authorize him to make that acknowAND ADAMS
ledgment unequivocally. I will not detain you by a rehearsal of what you so well know, the difficulties and intricacies by which this negotiation was protracted. Suffice it to say, that the firmness and skill of the American Commissioners triumphed on every point. The treaty of peace was executed; and the last seal was thus put to the independence of these States."
Thus closed the great drama of the American Revolution.' And here for a moment let us pause. If the services of our departed fathers had closed at this point, as it did with many of their compatriots-with too many, if the wishes and prayers of their country could have averted it—what obligations, what honors, should we not owe to their memories! What would not the world owe to them! But, as if they had not already done enough, as if, indeed, they had done nothing, while any thing yet remained to be done, they were ready, with renovated youth and elastic step, to take a new start in the career of their emancipated country.
The Federal Constitution was adopted, and a new leaf was turned in the history of man. With what characters the page should be inscribed-whether it should open a great æra of permanent good to the human family, or pass away like a portent of direful evil, was now to depend on the wisdoin and virtue of America. At this time our two great patriots were both abroad in the public service; Mr. Adams in England, where, in 1787, he refuted, by his great work « The Defence of the American Constitutions,” the wild theories of Turgot, De Mably, and Price; and Mr. Jefferson in France, where he was presenting in his own person a living and splendid refutation of the notion of degeneracy in the American man. On the adoption of the Federal Constitution, they were both called home, to lend the weight of their character and talents to this new and momentous experiment on the capacity of man for self-government. Mr. Adams was called to fill the second office under the new Government, the first having been justly conferred by the rule 6 detur
fortiori :" and Mr. Jefferson, to take the direction of the highest Executive Department. The office of Vice President afforded, as you are aware, no scope for the public display of talent. But the leisure which it allowed, enabled Mr. Adams to pour out, from bis full fraught mind, another great political work, his Discourses on Davila; and, while he presided over the Senate with unexceptionable dignity and propriety, President Washington always found in him an able and honest adviser, in whom his confidence was implieit and unbounded. de
Mr. Jefferson had a theatre that called for action. The Department of State was now, for the first time, to be organized. Its operations were all to be moulded into system, and an intellectual character was to be given to it, as well as the Government to which it belonged, before this nation and before the world. The frequent calls made by Congress for reports on the most abstruse questions of science connected with Government, and on those vast and novel and multifarious subjects of political economy, peculiar to this wide extended and diversified continent: discussions with the ministers of foreign Governinents, more especially with those of France and England and Spain, on those great and agitating questions of international law, which were then continually arising; and instructions to our own Ministers abroad, resident at the Courts of the great belligerent Powers, and who had consequently the most delicate and discordant interests to manage; presented a series of labors for the mind, which few, very few men in this or any other country could have sustained with reputation. How Mr. Jefferson acquitted himself, you all know. It is one of the peculiarities of his character to bave discharged the duties of every office to which he was called, with such exact, appropriate, and felicitous ability, that he seemed, for the time, to have been born for that alone. As an evidence of the unanimous admiration of the matchless skill and talent with which he discharged the duties of this office, I hope it
may be mentioned, without awaking any asperity of feeling, that when, at a subsequent period, he was put in nomination by his friends for the office of President, his adversaries publicly objected that Nature had made him only for a Secretary of State.”
Presiderit Washington having set the great example, which has engrafted on the Constitution as firmly as if it had formed one of its express provisions, the principle of retiring from the office of President at the end of eigbt years, Mr. Adams succeeded him, and Mr. Jefferson followed Mr. Adams in the office of Vice President.
Mr. Adams came into the office of President at a time of great commotion, produced chiefly by the progress of the revolution in France, and those strong sympathies which it naturally generated here. The spirit of party was high, and in the feverish excitement of the day much was said and done, on both sides, which the voice of impartial history, if it shall descend to such details, will unquestionably condemn, and which the candid and the good on both sides lived, themselves, to regret. One incident I will mention, because it is equally honorable to both the great men whom we are uniting in these obsequies. In Virginia, where the opposition ran high, the younger politicians of the day, taking their tone from the public Journals, have, on more occasions than one, in the presence of Mr. Jefferson, imputed to Mr. Adams a concealed design to sap the foundations of the Republic, and to supply its place with a Monarchy, on the British model. The uniform answer of Mr. Jefferson to this charge will never be forgotten by those who have heard it, and of whom (as I have recently had occasion to prove,) there are many still living, besides the humble individual who is now addressing you. It was this : “ Gentlemen, you do not know that man : there is not upon this earth a more perfectly honest man than John Adams. Concealment is no part of his character; of that he is utterly incapable: it is not in his nature to meditate any thing that he would not publish