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additional momentum was given to the patriotism of Mr. Clymer. He had removed his family and goods to Chester county, and immediately after the defeat of the Americans at Brandywine, the tories led the British to his house; his family escaped, but his property, to a large amount, was totally destroyed. This sacrifice at the altar of freedom seemed to strengthen his political faith and impart fresh vigour to his exertions.
In December, 1779, he was one of a board of commissioners sent by Congress to Fort Pitt, to counteract, if possible, the hostility of the savages, who were committing murders upon the western frontiers of Virginia and Pennsylvania, and to effect, if practicable, a treaty with the several tribes, and if unsuccessful in the accomplishment of these designs, to make arrangements for offensive operations. The mission was boldly executed, principally by Mr. Clymer alone, who narrowly escaped the tomahawk during his absence. The commissioners returned in April and reported the necessity of carrying the war into the Indian country. During the next year Mr. Clymer was not in Congress, but devoted his time in raising loans and supplies for the army, then destitute of almost every necessary of life and of the munitions of war. In 1780, he was again elected to the national legislature and served until November of the ensuing year, when he and John Nixon were appointed to organize the Bank of North America, which was instrumental in reviving the prostrate credit of the government. In May, 1782, he was associated with Mr. Rutledge on a mission through the southern states, for the purpose of inducing them to meet more promptly the requisitions of Congress for supplies. During the entire period of the revolution he devoted his whole time to the service of his country, and discharged every duty assigned him to the entire satisfaction of his constituents and colleagues. He stood high as an able and faithful co-worker in the vineyard of liberty, and retired from the field when the harvest was ended covered with the honours of enduring fame. At the close of the war he removed to Princeton, for the purpose of resting from his toils and educating his children. The ensuing year his services were requested in his native state, and he returned to Philadelphia. He was elected to the Pennsylvania legislature, and contributed largely in divesting her old constitution and laws of the obnoxious branches of tyranny that were still attached to them. He introduced the amelioration of the penal code and was the originator and warm advocate of abolishing death in all cases, except murder in the first degree. He was the father of the much admired penitentiary system of that state, which has but recently been organized fully upon the plan proposed by him—that of solitary confinement at hard labour. It may not be known to the young reader, that in former times, prisoners, after conviction, were compelled to labour in chains often in the most public places. The superiority of solitary confinement over all other modes of punishment has been fully demonstrated, and is in a course of adoption throughout the civilized world. The arguments of Mr. Clymer in favour of these philanthropic measures manifested a deep and thorough knowledge of human nature, and were based upon the firm pillars of equal justice, lucid reason and sound policy. He devised and prepared the humane report of the committee that remodelled the penal code of Pennsylvania, which has been fully and successfully tested, and stands an admired monument of judicial reformation, and an enduring praise to the name of its author.
The mind of Mr. Clymer was peculiarly prolific and happy in the conception of plans of usefulness and utility. To benefit his country and better the condition of mankind, afforded him the highest pleasure. To effect this, he saw the necessity of reducing every department of government to system and order. American independence was achieved; to preserve it by reducing to harmony the conflicting local interests, jealousies and inconsiderate clamours of the malevolent, was an herculean task yet to be performed. The convention that formed the federal constitution was therefore hailed with joy by Mr. Clymer, who was one of its members. The result of the labours of that body was fraught with deeper interest than the war struggle for victory over a foreign foe. It involved the fate of our infant republic, which was then vering on dissolution and fast retrograding towards the awful gulf of primeval chaos. The conflict was between members of the same family, and required the deepest sagacity, the profoundest wisdom, the most acute judgment, the most disinterested patriotism, the most exalted charity, and the purest spirit of conciliation, to bring it to a peaceful and satisfactory termination. Happily for our country this was done, and Mr. Clymer contributed his full share in the accomplishment of the glorious work.
He was elected a member of the first Congress convened under that saving instrument. He was a stern republican and opposed to tacking any titles to the name of any public man except that of his office. Excellency, honourable, &c., he conceived to be the mere shadows of a shadow, too vain and trifling for a freeman. He was opposed to the right of instruction from his constituents, because they must necessarily decide without hearing either evidence or argument. He was unwilling to be made a mere passive machine of puerile power, a mere automaton of party spirit.
In the organization of the general government through all its ramifications he took a deep interest and an active part. Every subject that was presented to Congress for consideration he analyzed with the skill of a sage, a statesman and a philosopher. In 1790, he closed his legislative career and declined again entering upon its arduous duties. Under the act of Congress of 1791, imposing a duty on domestic distilled spirits, Mr. Clymer was appointed to superintend its collection in his own state. The tax was then called, by way of opprobrium, the excise. This law gave great dissatisfaction in many places, and in Pennsylvania produced what was termed the whiskey rebellion, which required the military to restore order. Unpleasant as it was, Mr. Clymer proceeded to perform his duty by appointing the required collectors in each county, endeavouring to persuade the people to submit to the law whilst in force, and pursue the constitutional remedy for its repeal if they believed it wrong. During the height of the excitement he hazarded his life among the malecontents where but few other men would have been spared if clothed with the same office. He finally resigned this station, and was soon after appointed a commissioner, with Colonels Pickens and Hawkins, to negociate a treaty with the Cherokee and Creek Indians in Georgia, which was effected on the 29th of June, 1796, and closed his long, faithful and arduous public career. He had perilled his life, his fortune and his sacred honour for his country; he had been her unyielding and fearless advocate amidst the storms of revolution, civil discord and open rebellion; he now saw her peaceful, prosperous and happy, with the illustrious Washington presiding over her destinies. He could therefore retire to enjoy the fruits of his labours and his toils, without any to disturb or make him afraid.
But he remained an active man during his whole life. He felt an interest in every kind of improvement, and to many he extended a fostering care. As early as 1785, he aided in establishing the Philadelphia Agricultural Society, and when the Academy of Fine Arts was founded in that city he was one of its liberal patrons. He aided also in establishing the Philadelphia Bank. Of the former, he was vice president, and of the two latter, president when he died. He was a friend to all the labouring classes, and made himself acquainted with the principles of farming and the mechanic trades. His private papers exhibit a great variety of draughts and plans of bridges, canals, water-works, machinery and implements of husbandry, and numerous recipes relative to the arts. Like the philosophic Franklin, he extended his researches to almost every subject within the grasp of man, and treasured in his mind the essential oil of each. He always sought for solid substance that could be applied to substantial use. His mind and his manners were opposed to pedantry and pomp. He was what, in common parlance, would now be called a plain, old fashioned, blunt man. His bluntness was not of an offensive kind; it consisted in laconic truth, dressed in republican simplicity, a garb that was much admired during the times of pure unsophisticated patriotism. Although he originated many important measures in the national and state legislature, he seldom spoke in the forum, and was often unknown to the public as such, when the author of the most salutary propositions. He was ambitious only to do good, and was not anxious that his name should be wafted on the breeze of popular applause or be emblazoned in the high places of the earth. To know that he had been instrumental in benefitting the human family was the ultimatum of his soul. When the importance of a subject induced him to rise in debate he was listened to with profound attention, and was an example worthy of imitation. Without any pretensions to refined elocution, he expressed in strong language the sentiments he strongly felt. He came directly to the point, adhered closely to it in a strain of keen, cutting, pithy and laconic reasoning; was always brief, often casting into the shade, by his remarks of a few moments, the laboured and gaudy speeches of his opponents that had cost them weeks to prepare and hours to deliver. He effected this, not by personal recrimination or irony, but by aiming his blows at the strong points, the syllabus of their superstructure, which he often demolished at one bold stroke with the damask blade of sound logic, drawn from the scabbard of plain common sense, and wielded by the vigorous arm of lucid reason. He was opposed to every shade of aristocracy and every thing anti-republican, both in theory and practice. His views were broad and liberal, his purposes were honest and patriotic. He was an attentive reader, and wrote numerous essays, which are forcible, logical, and extremely sarcastic.
In the private walks of life his character was a model of human excellence. All its relations he discharged with the most scrupulous fidelity and integrity. He was proverbial for punctuality in all things, if only to take a walk with a friend or present a promised toy to a child. In conversation he was agreeable and instructive, illuminating and enlivening the social circle with apothegms, aphorisms, and pungent anecdotes, imparting pleasure and intelligence to all around him. In all this he was modest, chaste and discreet, avoiding any appearance of superiority, carefully guarding against personal allusions, even to his most bitter enemies. He spoke ill of no individual, and checked slander in others whenever he discovered it. His morals were of the purest order, his philanthropy was of the loftiest kind. As a public servant, a private citizen, a kind husband, a faithful father, a warm friend, an honourable enemy and a noble patriot, the name of GEORGE CLYMER stands pre-eminent.
He was of the middle size, well formed, fair complexion, with a countenance attractive, intelligent, expressive of a strong mind, pleasing and ingenuous. He closed his long and useful career on the 23d of January, 1813, at the residence of his son at Morrisville, Berks county, in his native state, most deeply mourned by those who knew him best.
It often happens that those who forget right and abuse power undermine the foundation of their own citadel, and prepare the way to be shorn of their present enjoyments by an improper course to enhance them. Thus it was with England. Previous to the 'causes that produced the American revolution, the idea of a separation from the mother country, and of forming an independent government, had probably never entered the minds of but few of the patriots who were engaged in its consummation. When the impolitic measures towards the colonists were first commenced, relying upon their chartered rights, based upon the British constitution as they were, they believed their grievances would and must be redressed by the king, when properly requested by petitions. These were repeatedly forwarded to him, couched in the most respectful and eloquent language, to which he turned a deaf ear. Parliament was appealed to in vain. Remonstrances formed the next link in the chain. They also were treated with contempt. A formal demand to desist from oppression in bold, but still in respectful language, breathing allegiance to the king in every word, was the next resort—but all to no purpose. The ministerial cry, give-give-give-resounded from Albion's shore, and pierced afresh the sensibilities of the imploring suppliants. Resolutions of non-importation followed; these produced menaces from the British military, a preparation for resistance by the colonies succeeded; American blood was spilt; the tocsin of war was sounded; millions rushed to the conflict; the struggle was long, doubtful, and bloody; the patriots triumphed; the power of Britain was dissolved; Columbia was free and patriots rejoiced.
Among them stood CARTER BRAXTON, the son of George Braxton, a wealthy planter, who resided on the north bank of Mattapony river, where he owned a valuable plantation, situated in the county of King and Queen, Virginia. At that beautiful place Carter was born, on the 10th of September, 1736. His paternal and maternal connections were highly respectable and wealthy, and several of them officers of the crown at various periods. He was liberally educated at the college of William and Mary, and reared amidst all the splendours of opulence, without the tender care of a mother to correct his childish foibles, or of a father to guard him against the errors of youth; the former having died when he was but seven days old, and the latter when he was quite young. When but nineteen years of age, he married the beautiful and amiable Judith Robinson, who was very wealthy, and entered into full possession of his large estate, which, united with that of his wife, constituted a princely fortune. She survived but a short time, leaving him two daughters, the youngest but a few hours old.
To assuage his grief, he sailed for England, where he remained for nearly three years, during which time he added greatly to the store of knowledge he had previously acquired, and became familiar with the feelings, views, and designs of that kingdom towards his native country. His rank and fortune gave him access to the nobility, from whom he obtained much valuable information relative to the ministerial conclave then concocting plans to raise money in America to support royalty in Great Britain.
Although his family connections were favourites of the king, and every thing around him was calculated to foster aristocracy in his bosom, Mr. Braxton became a warm friend of liberal principles and equal rights. Soon after his return from Europe, in 1760, he was elected a member of the house of burgesses, and, in 1765, was an ardent supporter in that body of the bold resolutions offered by Patrick Henry, relative to the stamp act. From that time forward he was a zealous advocate in the cause of freedom. He was one of the house in May, 1769, when the proceedings of the members excited the ire of the royal governor Bottetourt to such a degree that he dissolved them without ceremony. They immediately repaired to a private room in Williamsburg, and entered into a solemn agreement not to import any articles from the mother country until their