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the part of the citizens. The tax on tea was another source of grief that touched more tender chords. Woe unto the ruler that rouses the indignation of the better part of creation. He had better tempt the fury of Mars, or try his speed with Atalanta. Tea soon became forbidden fruit, and several vessel loads were sacrificed to Neptune as an oblation for the sins of ministers and an oblectation for the fishes of Boston harbour. Royal authority increased in insolence, and the patriots increased in boldness. At the commencement of the session of the general court in 1773, Governor Hutchinson sustained the odious doctrine of supremacy of the parliament in his message, which was promptly replied to and denied by the members of that body. A reply was as promptly returned by his excellency, which was prepared with more than usual ability. Mr. Adams, although not a member at that time, was employed to write a rejoinder, which was adopted without any amendment. It paralyzed the pen and closed the mouth of the governor. It was an exposition of British wrongs and American rights so clearly exhibited, that no sophistry could impugn it or logic confront it. So highly was it appreciated by Dr. Franklin, that he had it republished in England and freely circulated. It was a luminary to the patriots and confusion to their opponents.
Shortly after, Mr. Adams was elected to the general court and placed on the list of committees. So vindictive was governor Hutchinson, that he erased his name—an act that recoiled upon himself with redoubled force and aided to hasten the termination of his power in the colony. In less than a year from that time he was succeeded by governor Gage, who was still better calculated to hasten on the revolutionary crisisbecause more authoritative and ministerial than his predecessor. With the commencement of his limited administration in 1774, the Boston port bill took effect. The consequences that followed are familiar to the reader. Governor Gage embraced the first opportunity to pay a marked attention to John Adams. His name was placed on the council list at the first session of the legislature, after his excellency assumed the helm of government, who at once placed his indignant cross upon it. He also removed the assembly to Salem. The members proceeded to the preliminary business of the session, and among other things requested the governor to fix a day for general humiliation and prayer, which he peremptorily refused to do. Here again tender chords were touched. The people en masse venerated religion, and an insult upon that or an interruption of its usual and ancient usages, was like adding pitch to a fire already vivid and flaming. The house then proceeded to consider the project of a general Congress, and in spite of an attempt by the governor to dissolve it, the door was locked against his secretary, patriotic resolutions were passed, and five delegates appointed to meet a national convention, one of which was John Adams. So bold had been his course that some of his warmest friends and most ardent admirers advised him to decline his appointment, as the adherents of the crown had already hinted that he evidently aimed at establishing an independent government, which they considered endangered the peace
of the country and his life, as the British could and would enforce every measure they chose to adopt. But John Adams had weighed well the subject of rights and wrongs and took his stand within the citadel of MORAL COURAGE, against which the gates of hell can never prevail. He had resolved to nobly perish in defending the liberty of his country, or plant the standard of freedom on the ruins of tyranny.
At the appointed time he repaired to the city of Philadelphia and took his seat in that assemblage of sages whose wisdom bas been sung by the ablest poets, applauded by the most eloquent orators, and admired by the most sagacious statesmen of the two hemispheres. On reading the proceedings of the American Congress of 1774, Lord Chatham remarked, "that he had studied and admired the free states of antiquity, the master spirits of the world—but that for solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity and wisdom of conclusion, no body of men could stand in preference to this congress."
Mr. Adams, for whom his friends felt so much anxiety for fear his ardour might lead him to rashness, was as calm as a summer morning, but firm as the granite shores of his birth place. With all his ardent zeal he was discreet, prudent and politic. He was the last man to violate constitutional law, and the last man to submit to its violation. He kept his helm hard up and ran close to the wind, but understood well when to luff and when to take the larboard tack, and when to take in sail. His soundings were deep and his calculations relative to future storms were truly prophetic. He was one of the few that believed the ministry would induce the king and parliament of the mother country to remain incorrigible, and that petitions would be vain, addresses futile, and remonstrances unavailing. That this Congress adopted the proper course to pursue, he was fully aware—that dignity might grace the cause of the people and justice be honoured. The following extract from a letter written by him at a subsequent period, shows his, and the conclusions of others at that time.
“When Congress had finished their business as they thought, in the autumn of 1774, I had with Mr. Henry before we took leave of each other some familiar conversation, in which I expressed a full conviction that our resolves, declarations of rights, enumeration of wrongs, petitions, remonstrances, addresses, associations and non-importation agreements, however they might be accepted in America and however necessary to cement the union of the colonies, would be waste water in England. Mr. Henry said, they might make some impression among the people of England, but agreed with me that they would be totally lost upon the government. "I had just received a short and hasty letter, written to me by Major Joseph Hawley of Northampton, containing a few broken hints, as he called them, of what he thought was proper to be done, and concluding with these words, 'after all we must fight.' This letter I read to Mr. Henry, who listened with great attention, and as soon as I had pronounced the words:-after all we must fight-he raised his hand and with an energy and vehemence that I can never forget, broke out with—by G-d I am of that man's mind.'
The other delegates from Virginia returned to their state in full
confidence that all our grievances would be redressed. The last words that Mr. Richard Henry Lee said to me when we partėd, were 'we shall infallibly carry all our points. You will be completely relieved—all the offensive acts will be repealed, the army and fleet will be recalled and Britain will give up her foolish project.' Washington only was in doubt. He never spoke in public. In private he joined with those who advocated a non-exportation, as well as a non-importation agreement. With both he thought we should prevail-with either he thought it doubtful. Henry was clear in one opinion, Richard Henry Lee in an opposite opinion, and Washington doubted between the two."
Here is exhibited a striking picture of the minds of these four great men, which appears to have escaped the notice of the several writers that I have consulted. Adams and Henry, drawing their conclusions from the past, the present and the future, diving into the depths of human nature and grasping, at one bold view, all the multiform circumstances that hung over the two nations, concluded truly, "after all we must fight.” They concluded that the confidence in spired in the ministers by the overwhelming physical force of Great Britain, would prevent them from relaxing the cords of oppression, and that the independent spirit of the hardy sons of Columbia would not be subdued without a struggle. Lee, naturally bouyant, his own mind readily impressed by reason and eloquence, did not reflect that inflated power, when deluded by obstinacy and avarice, is callous to all the refined feelings of the heart, is deaf to wisdom and blind to justice. He was as determined to maintain chartered rights as them, but did not scan buman nature as closely. Washington, deep in reflection and investigation, his soul overflowing with the milk of 'human kindness, did not arrive as rapidly at conclusions. In weighing the causes of difference between the two countries, reason, justice and hope on the one side, power, corruption, and avarice on the other, held his mind, for a time, in equilibrio. He plainly perceived and pursued the right, and fondly but faintly hoped that England would see and pursue it too. He was as prompt to defend liberty as either of the others.
On his return, Mr. Adams was congratulated by his anxious friends upon the prudent course he had pursued, and was re-elected a member of the ensuing Congress. During the interim his pen was again usefully employed. Mr. Sewall, the king's attorney-general, had written a series of elaborate and ingenious essays, maintaining the supremacy of parliament and censuring, in no measured terms, the proceedings of the whigs. Under the name of "Novanglus,” Mr. Adams stripped the gay ornaments and gaudy apparel from the high-varnished picture that Mr. Sewall had presented to the public, and when he had finished his work, a mere skeleton of visible deformity was left to gaze upon.
The attorney-general was made to tremble before the keen cuts of the falchion quill of this devoted patriot. So deep was his reasoning, so learned were his expositions, and so lucid and conclusive were his demonstrations, that his antagonist exclaimed, as he retired hissing
from the conflict, he strives to hide his inconsistencies under a huge pile of learning.” The pile proved too huge for royal power, and was sufficiently large to supply the people with an abundance of light. The supremacy of parliament was an unfortunate issue for ministers. It left the sages of liberty in a position to hurl their arrows freely at them, without denying the allegiance of the colonists to the king. The British cabinet worked out its own destruction, if not with fear and trembling, it was with blindness and disgrace-a disgrace arising from the grossest impolicy and injustice, if not to say ignorance and infatuation. They were entirely mistaken in the people of Americathey awoke the wrong passengers.
In May, 1775, Mr. Adams again took his seat in Congress. The members convened under quite different feelings from those that pervaded their bosoms the previous autumn. Revolution was now rolling fearfully upon their bleeding country, hope of redress was expiring like the last flickerings of an exhausted taper, dark and portentous clouds were accumulating, the ministerial ermine was already steeped in blood, the chains of servitude were clanking in their ears, the dying groans of their fellow citizens and the mournful lamentations of widows and orphans were resounding through the land; and the prophetic conclusion of Adams and Henry, drawn at the previous session, began to force itself upon the minds of members, that “after all we must fight.” As a preliminary measure, it was necessary to appoint a commander of the military forces to be raised. To fix upon the best man was of vital importance. Many were yet chant
of peace and thought it premature to make such an appointment, Test it should widen the breach which they still hoped might be repaired. The New England delegates were not of this class. When the purple current was wantonly diverted from its original channel upon the heights of Lexington, they hung their syren harps upon the weeping willows that shaded the tombs of their murdered brethren. They were convinced that war was inevitable. All soon became satisfied that prudence dictated a preparation for such an event. A suitable man to lead the armies and direct their course was a desideratum. The southern members were willing to submit to any nomination made by the eastern delegates. General Artemas Ward of Massachusetts was fixed upon by most of them, except John Adams. In George Washington he had discovered the commingling qualities of a philanthropist, a philosopher, a statesman and a hero. He was prompted by the force of moral courage to at once urge his colleagues to sanction his choice. They were all opposed to it, as were also the other members of the northern and eastern delegation. Mr. Adams was firm in his purpose, and met every objection with conclusive arguments. These discussions were all private, not a word was uttered on the floor of Congress as to who should be the man. At last Samuel Adams became convinced that his junior colleague was right. The work was soon accomplished. Satisfied that his measure would be supported by a majority, John Adams rose in Congress and proposed that a commander of the American armies should be appointed. When this resolution was passed, he proceeded to portray the requisite qualities necessary to
fit a man for this important station, and emphatically remarked "such a man is within these walls." But few knew who he was about to nominate, and could not imagine who among their own number was possessed of all these noble attainments. A transient pause ensued. A breathless anxiety produced a painful suspense. The next moment the name of COLONEL GEORGE WASHINGTON of Virginia, was announced, at which the colonel was more astonished than any
other member of the house. He had not received an inti. mation of the intended honour from any person. He was nominated by John Adams about the middle of June, the nomination was seconded by Samuel Adams, the next day the vote was taken and was unanimous in his favour. This appointment originated entirely with Mr. Adams; a high encomium upon his deep penetration and discernment of human intellect, a clear demonstration of his moral courage manifested in persevering in his choice although opposed at the threshold by the entire New England delegation. So judicious and felicitous was this selection, that the revered La Fayette remarked, "it was the consequence of providential inspiration.” Be it so; Mr. Adams was the happy medium through which it was communicated to the Continental Congress, thereby placing at the head of the American armies just such a man as the crisis required-prudent, dignified, bold, sagacious, patient, persevering, and universally esteemed by the patriots, and admired even by the most violent adherents of the crown.
After Mr. Adams had accomplished this important act, he remained apparently quiescent during the residue of the session, viewing, analyzing and scanning public feeling and public acts.
In the spring of 1776, he took his seat a third time in the National Assembly. The period had then arrived for more decisive action. Massachusetts had been declared out of the king's protection by parliament. England had hired legions of soldiers from German princes to subdue the rebels in America, the last
peace the voice of echo, every ray of hope in favour of an amicable settlement was banished, and every member became convinced that the dilemma was, resistance or slavery; but there were many who shrunk back with astonishment when independence was named to them.
At this juncture Mr. Adams marked out a bold course and had moral courage to pursue it. On the sixth of May he offered a resolution in Congress proposing that the colonies should organize governments independent of the mother country. On the tenth of the same month its substance was adopted in a modified form, recommending the formation of such government by the colonies "as might be conducive to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular and America in general.”
This startling measure was at first ably opposed by many of the patriots as premature, admitting its justice, and, but for the weakness of the colonies, its propriety and necessity. But Mr. Adams knew no middle course. He had succeeded in obtaining the adoption of the preface to his broad and expanding folio of an independent compact, and he proceeded to put the main matter to press. He rose like a
had died upon