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Constitution of civil government for the State, the record says: —
“ July 29, 1779: The whole of the proceedings of the convention at Concord was read, paragraph by paragraph, and then voted upon separately; and it was unanimously voted that we comply with the same."
The draft of the new Constitution for Massachusetts was at last prepared ; and, May 28, 1780, Medford accepted it, with a few exceptions. The record is as follows. The Committee report : —
“We apprehend that the Governor, with the advice of the Council, should, in the recess of the General Court, be vested with the power, on special occasions, in time of war and rebellion, to order the militia out of this State to the assistance of a neighboring State; and that the said Governor, with the advice of Council, shall not be empowered to continue the militia out of this State, on the aforesaid emergencies, for a longer space than thirty days at one time, without the consent of the General Court. Yeas, 49; nays, 5.
“ Concerning the writ of habeas corpus, we are of opinion that it should not be suspended by the Legislature, on any account, for a longer space of time than six months. Unanimously, 39.
“We are of opinion that no person ought to be elected a Delegate to the Congress of the United States, who is not possessed of property, in the State of Massachusetts, to the value of £600, currency, according to the Convention. Unanimously, 39 votes.
“We should be pleased if the above alterations might be made in the said Constitution, but mean not that said alterations should prevent the establishment of said Constitution at the next session of said Convention.
EDWARD BROOKS, )
AARON HALL, “ Voted unanimously to accept, by 39 votes.
“ Voted to accept of the first Section of the second Chapter of said Constitution, styled Governor, with the foregoing amendment. Yeas, 49; nays, 5.
“Concerning the writ of habeas corpus (Chap. vi. Art. 7), voted unanimously to accept it, with the foregoing amendment 39 votes.
“ The declaration of rights was unanimously accepted (except the third article), by 44 votes. The third article being particularly discussed, a vote was called for; 28 for and 6 against it.
“ The constitution of government (Chap. i. Sect. 1), styled General Court, was unanimously accepted. 33 votes:
“The second Section of same Chapter, styled Senator, unanimously accepted. 26 votes.
“ The third Section, same Chapter, styled Representatives, unanimously accepted. 23 votes.
“ All the remainder of said publication was unanimously accepted (with the foregoing amendments), by 23 votes, one-half of the people having before withdrawn.”
Stephen Hall, 3d, was the Delegate from Medford to form the Constitution of 1780. The convention sat at Cambridge from Sept. 1, 1779, to March 2, 1780.
After the adoption of this Constitution, the form used in warning town-meetings was changed, and they warned “in the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
Thus established under a Republican Constitution of their own making, our ancestors felt as if they had passed from a state of minority to a state of manhood. The first election, therefore, under this new political charter, was an event of deep interest. They wished to set an example of wise selection, disinterested patriotism, and fraternal unanimity, which might serve for an example to all future times. They did so. They selected intelligent statesmen, true patriots, and professing Christians. The first election took place Sept. 4, 1780; and, in Medford, the votes stood thus:
For Governor. John Hancock .... 30 James Bowdoin .... 20
For Lieutenant-Governor. Artemus Ward .... 30 | James Bowdoin .... Benjamin Lincoln ... 9 | Thomas Cushing . . . . 1 John Hancock .... 3 Benjamin Grenleaf ...
For Senators and Councillors. ·
Col. Cummings . . . . 23 | Abraham Fuller . . . .
Here we find two candidates for each office ; thus parties, inseparable from a state of free inquiry and equal rights, revealed themselves at once. The question being settled, the next election showed great unanimity, and recognized that central principle of majority which lies at the basis of our civil liberties. The Constitution provided that the annual election should take place in April ; thus giving the farmers the winter to think of it, and an occasion of finishing it before planting.
April 2, 1781: The first in the series of the annual elections took place on this day ; and the votes, in Medford, stood thus: For Governor.
For Lieutenant-Governor. John Hancock .... 24 Thomas Cushing. ... 20
Seth Gorham .. . . . . 22 Abraham Fuller . . . . 22 James Prescott . . . . 22 Josiah Stone . . . . . 22 John Tyng . . . . . . 22 |
The State government took up the cause of independence with wisdom and power. At this time, a levy of clothing and beef for the army was made by it, and our records show that Medford raised its share with promptitude.
The second annual election of State officers was like the third, which, in Medford, stood thus : — For Governor.
For Lieutenant-Governor. John Hancock ..., 45 Thomas Cushing. ... 44
For Senators. Ebenezer Bridge . . . . 37 | Eleazer Brooks .... 37 Josiah Stone . . . . . 36 | Jonas Dix . . . . . . 35 Abraham Fuller . . . . 37 Joseph Hosmer.. 3
At the fourth annual election, April 7, 1783, Governor Hancock had, in Medford, 36 votes ; Lieutenant-Governor Cushing, 30. Each Senator had 24. These facts show remarkable political harmony in the town.
The recognition of independence by the mother country caused a day of thanksgiving in Medford,which the aged among us remember. There were meetings and feastings and congratulations and rejoicings without number. It seemed here as if the whole heavens were filled with rainbows. So intoxicated with hope were our fathers, that they doubtless presumed that two blades of grass would henceforth grow where only one had grown, and that a shower of twopenny loaves might be expected at any time. From these dreams of a political Elysium they were doomed to awake plain New England farmers; and, on the 1st of March, 1784, in townmeeting, they thus voted : “ That the guns and gunlocks, axes, pickaxes, spades, shovels, and lead, belonging to the town, be sold at public auction.” When the first gush of republican joy was over, and the town became settled in the new ways of freedom, then they began to ask how much independence had cost, in pounds, shillings, and pence.
To give only two specimens of individual zeal in the cause of independence among us, we may mention the remark of our first Medford merchant, Benjamin Hall, Esq.:
“ When the struggle began, in 1775, I would not have exchanged my property for that of any man in Middlesex County; and now, in 1784, I am worth nothing."
The other case is that of Rev. Edward Brooks. He was librarian of Harvard College two years. On the 19th of April, 1775, he hastened towards Lexington, and did duty through the day. Lieut. Gould, taken prisoner at Concord, was committed to his custody at Medford. He was chaplain in the frigate “ Hancock,” in 1777, when she captured the British frigate “Fox.” Afterwards, when the“ Hancock ”and “ Fox" were retaken by the British off Halifax, he was carried there as prisoner of war, but was soon released. He had not money to give, but he would have given his life, to the American cause. He died at Medford, May 6, 1781, aged 48.
Medford took steps to pay its debts at the earliest period. It was to be done by degrees; and, May 12, 1785, they vote thus : “ To raise £400 to defray the expenses of the town, and £400 towards sinking the town-debt.” The next year they vote that “one quarter of the town's debt be paid this year.” They thus continued the wise work of liquidating all claims against their treasury, and, before many years, were free also in this particular.
Our fathers shared largely in the intense anxiety which pervaded the United States, from the declaration of peace in 1783 to the adoption of the Federal Constitution in 1788. Though independence was achieved, yet it might prove a curse, if a form of government could not be adopted which would harmoniously unite all the Colonies into a strong, just,
and brotherly union. To draft such a constitution required all the Numas, Lycurguses, and Solons of the land. There was, in the country, the wisdom, the learning, the patriotism, and the virtue necessary for the stupendous and allimportant work; but attending circumstances were, in some respects, unpropitious. Differing opinions and opposite interests, state rights and state sovereignties already established, the disbanded soldiers sowing discontent and immorality among the citizens, the enormous public and private debts, the unwarrantably large importations of foreign merchandise, the draining of the specie from the country, and the fear of a political chaos, — all these fertile sources of alarm rendered the formation of a durable federal compact a gigantic labor. March 10, 1787, a convention of delegates from the several States was agreed upon, who should prepare a form of government which should "render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union.” This convention was to meet in Philadelphia on the second Monday of May next. The General Court appoint Francis Dana, Elbridge Gerry, Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King, and Caleb Strong as Delegates from Massachusetts.
At this juncture, the late requisition of Congress, Aug. 2, 1786, for $3,777,062, calls on our Commonwealth to pay its proportion, which was $324,746. The murmurs of the people, under what they deemed excessive taxation, became loud and emphatic. There were those who were ready to rise in rebellion against the government, and throw the whole fabric of American liberty in ruins. This suicidal sophistry found its advocate in Shays, who put himself at the head of a military force of eleven hundred men. The Governor of Massachusetts ordered out four thousand four hundred troops of militia and four companies of artillery, who, under Gen. Lincoln, marched to Worcester, Jan. 22. General Shepherd took possession of the arsenal at Springfield, and, on the 25th of that month, encountered Shays, and soon scattered his adherents to the four winds, leaving upon the field three of them killed, and one wounded. This base attempt to involve the country in civil war being thus promptly and totally crushed, while it united anew the friends of freedom and order, put a final check to further insurrections. We have mentioned these facts to show the fidelity of our Medford patriots to the cause of their country; for no sooner had this