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compassion. This noble affection which impels us to sacrifice every thing,
dear, even life itself, to our country, involves in it a common sympathy and tenderness for every citizen, and must ever have a particular feeling for one who suffers in a public cause. Thoroughly persuaded of this, I need not add a word to engage your compassion and bounty towards a fellow-citizen, who with long protracted anguish, falls a victim to the relentless
of our common enemies. “Ye dark designing knaves, ye murderers, parrisides! how dare you tread upon the earth, which has drank in the blood of slaughtered innocents, shed by your wicked hands? how dare you breathe that air which wafted to the ear of heaven, the groans of those who fell a sacrifice to your accursed ambition? but if the labouring earth doth not expand her jaws; if the air you breathe is not commissioned to be the minister of death; yet, hear it, and tremble! the eye of Heaven penetrates the darkest chambers of the soul, traces the leading clue through all the labyrinths which your industrious folly has devised; and you, however you may have screened yourselves from human eyes, must be arraigned, must lift your hands, red with the blood of those whose death yoll have
procured, at the tremendous bar of God.
"But I gladly quit the gloomy theme of death, and leave you to improve the thought of that important day, when our naked souls muststand before that being, from whom nothing can be hid. I would not dwell too long upon the horrid effects which have already followed from quartering regular troops in this town: let our misfortunes teach posterity to guard against such evils for the future.
“Let us be ready to take the field whenever danger calls; let us be united and strengthen the hands of each other, by promoting a general union among
Much has been done by the committees of
correspondence, for the houses of assembly, in this and our sister colonies, for uniting the inhabitants of the whole continent, for the security of their common interest. May success ever attend their generous endeavours. But permit me here to suggest a general congress of deputies, from the several houses of assembly, on the continent, as the most effectual method of establishing such an union, as the present posture of our affairs require. At such a congress a firm foundation may be laid for the security of our rights and liberties; a system may be formed for our common safety, by a strict adherance to which, we shall be able to frustrate any attempts to overthrow our constitution; restore peace and harmony to America, and secure honor and wealth to Great Britain, even against the inclinations of her ministers, whose duty it is to study her welfare; and we shall also free ourselves from those unmannerly pillagers who impudently tell us, that they are licensed by an act of the British parliament, to thrust their dirty hands into the pockets of every American. But, I trust, the happy time will come, when, with the besom of destruction, those noxious vermin will be swept forever from the streets of Boston.
“Surely you never will tamely suffer this country to be a den of thieves. Remember, my friends, from whom you sprang. Let not a meanness of spirit, unknown to those whom you boast of as your fathers, excite a thought to the dishonour of your mothers. I conjure you by all that is dear, by all that is honourable, by all that is sacred, not only that ye pray, but that you act; that, if necessary, ye fight, and even die, for the prosperity of our Jerusalem. Break in sunder, with noble disdain, the bonds with which the Philistines have bound you. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed by the soft arts of luxury and effeminacy, into the pit digged for your destruction. Despise the glare
of wealth. That people who pay greater respect to a wealthy villain, than to an honest upright man in poverty, almost deserve to be enslaved; they plainly shew that wealth, however it may be acquired, is, in their esteem, to be preferred to virtue.
“ But I thank God, that America abounds in men who are superior to all temptation, whom nothing can divert from a steady pursuit of the interest of their country; who are at once its ornament and safe-guard. And sure I am, I should not incur your displeasure, if I paid a respect so justly due to their much honoured characters in this place; but, when I name an Adams, such a numerous host of fellow patriots rush upon my mind, that I fear it would take up too much of your time should I attempt to call over the illustrious roll: but your grateful hearts will point you to the men; and their revered names, in all succeeding times, shall grace the annals of America. From them, let us, my friends, take example; from them, let us catch the divine enthusiasm; and feel, each for himself, the god-like pleasure of diffusing happiness on all around us; of delivering the oppressed from the iron grasp of tyranny; of changing the hoarse complaints and bitter moans of wretched slaves, into those cheerful songs, which freedom and contentment must inspire. There is a heart-felt satisfaction in reflecting on our exertions for the public weal, which all the sufferings an enraged tyrant can inflict, will never take away; which the ingratitude and reproaches of those whom we have saved from ruin, cannot rob us of. The virtuous asserter of the rights of mankind, merits a reward, which even a want of success in his endeavours to save his country, the heaviest misfortune which can befal a genuine patriot, cannot entirely prevent him from receiving.
"I have the most animating confidence that the present noble struggle for liberty, will terminate
gloriously for America. And let us play the man for our God, and for the cities of our God; while we are sing the means in our power, let us humbly commit our righteous cause to the great Lord of the universe, who loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity And having secured the approbation of our hearts, by a faithful and unwearied discharge of our duty to our country, let us joyfully leave our concerns in the hands of Him who raiseth up and putteth down the empires and kingdoms of the world as He pleases; and with cheerful submission to his sovereign will, devoutly say,
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the field shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold; and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet we will rejoice in the Lord, we will joy in the God of our salvation."
The battle of Lexington now announced the commencement of the revolutionary war. To gain possession of the persons of Hancock and Adams, who lodged together in that village, was one of the motives, it is said, of the expedition which led to that memorable conflict. The design, though Govered with great secrecy, was anticipated, and the victims escaped, upon the entrance of their habitation by the British troops. Thus, by the felicitous intervention of a moment, were rescued from a virulent enemy, and perhaps from the executioner, those who were to contribute by their future virtues, to the revolution of empires, and to be handed down to posterity as the benefactors of mankind.
The defeat of the English in this battle was followed by the governor's proclamation declaring the province in a state of rebellion; offering, at the same time, pardon to all whose penitence should re
commend them to this act of grace, with the excep: tion of those notorious offenders, Samuel Adams and John Hancock. These, by the enormity of their guilt, which was declared too flagitious for impunity, were reserved to propitiate the férocity of the royal vengeance. But this signal and glorious denunciation, less the effect of good policy, than of passion, advanced these popular chiefs upon the lists of fame; they were every where hailed with increased acclamations and applauses, and not only by their illustrious merits, but by the dangers to which they were exposed, were endeared to the affections of their countrymen.
Hancock, in October, 1774, was unanimously elected president of the provincial congress of Massachusetts. In 1775, he attained the meridian of his political distinction, and the highest honour that the confidence or the esteem of his compatriots could bestow upon him; being made president of the continental congress. By his long experience in business, as moderator of the town meetings, president and speaker of the provincial assemblies and conventions, during times of great turbulence and commotion, in his native state, he was eminently qualified, as well as by his natural dignity of manners, to preside in this great council of the nation.
That there were, in this assembly, personages of a superior age to that of Mr. Hancock, and men, at the same time, of pre-eminent virtues and talents, will not be denied; who required at least some indications of deference from a generous mind, in reverence of their merits. It was, besides, an occasion upon which calmness and composure had been little commendable; and upon which indifference, or a haughty and supercilious confidence had been criminal in him who was crowned with the principal honours. For rarely in the vicissitudes of nations, has it happened that interests more sacred have been confided to the infirmity of human wisdom or integrity; and that a