« ZurückWeiter »
the house at the time specified, and repeated his endeavours for the second and third nights, when the number amounted to more than thirty. The friends of the administration knew nothing of the matter. The popular leaders took the sense of the members in a private way, and found that they would be able to carry their scheme by a sufficient. majority. They had their whole plan completed, prepared their resolutions, and then determined to bring the business forward; but, before they commenced, the door-keeper was ordered to let no person in, or suffer any one to depart. The subjects for discussion were then introduced by Mr. Adams, with his usual eloquence on such great occasions. He was chairman of the committee, and reported the resolutions for the appointment of delegates to a general congress to be convened at Philadelphia, to consult on the general safety of America. This report was received by surprise and astonishment by the administration party. Such was the apa prehension of some, that they were apparently desirous to desert the question. The door-keeper seemed uneasy at his charge, and wavering with regard to the performance of the duty assigned to him. At this critical juncture, Mr. Adams relieved him, by taking the key and keeping it himself. The resolutions were passed, five delegates, consisting of Samuel Adams, Thomas Cushing, Robert Treat Paine, John Adams, and James Bowdoin, were appointed, the expense was estimated, and funds were voted for the payment. Before the business was finally closed, a member made a plea of indisposition, and was allowed to leave the house. This person went directly to the governor, and informed him of their highhanded proceedings. The governor immediately sent his secretary to dissolve the assembly, who found the door locked. He demanded entrance, but was answered, that his desire could not be
complied with, until some important business, then before the house, was concluded. Finding every method to gain admission ineffectual, he read the order on the stairs for an immediate dissolution of the assembly. The order, however, was disregarded by the house. They continued their deliberations, passed all their intended measures, and then obeyed the mandate for dissolution.
The battle of Lexington, which took place on the 19th of April, 1775, now announced the commencement of the revolutionary war. Adams and Hancock were in Lexington the very night the British troops left Boston. To gain possession of the pa. pers of Messrs. Adams and Hancock, who lodged together in the village, was one of the motives, it is said, of the expedition which led to that memorable conflict. The design, though covered with great secrecy, was anticipated, and the victims escaped upon the entrance of their habitation by the British troops. General Joseph Warren, who was the first victim of rank who fell in the revolutionary contest with Great Britain, despatched an express, at ten o'clock at night, to Adams and Hancock, to warn them of their danger. A friend of Mr. Adams spread a report that he spake withi pleasure on the occurences of the 19th of April.T6 It is a fine day,” said he, walking in the field after the day dawned. 66 Very pleasant," answered one of his companions, supposing him to be contemplating the beauties of the sky. 6. I mean," he replied, " THIS DAY IS A GLORIOUS DAY FOR AMERICA.” So fearless was he of consequences, so in trepid was he in the midst of danger, so eager ta, look forward to the lustre of events that would succeed the gloom which then involved the minds of the people. Mr. Adams had been a member of the continental congress the preceding year. In this situation he rendered the most important services to his country. His eloquence was well adapted
to the times in which he lived. The energy of his: language corresponded with the firmness and vigour of his mind. His heart glowed with the feelings of a patriot, and his eloquence was simple, majestic and persuasive. He was one of the most efficient members of congress. He possessed keen penetration, unshaken fortitude, and permanent de€ision.
After many unavailing efforts, both by threats: and promises, to allure this inflexible patriot from his devotion to the sacred cause of independence, governor Gage, at length, on the 12th of June, issued that memorable proclamation, of which the following is an extract. “In this exigency of complicated calamities, I avail myself of the last effort within the bounds of my duty, to spare the further effusion of blood, to offer, and I do hereby in his majesty's name offer and promise, his most gracious pardon to all persons, who shall forth with lay down their arms, and return to the duties of peaceable subjects, excepting only from the benefit of such pardon, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock, whose offences are of too flagitious a nature to admit of any other consideration than that of condign punishment." This was a diploma, conferring greater honours on the individuals, than any other which was within the power of his Britannic majesty to bestow.
In a letter dated April, 1776, at Philadelphia, while he was in congress, to major Hawley of Massachusetts, he said, “ I am perfectly satisfied of the necessity of a public and explicit declaration of independence. I cannot conceive, what good reason can be assigned against it. Will it widen the breach? This would be a strange question after we have raised armies and fonght battles with the British troops; set up an American navy, permitted the inhabitants of these colonies to fit out. armed vessels to capture the ships, &c. beloning
to any of the inhabitants of Great Britain; declaring them the enemies of the United Colonies, and torn into shivers their acts of trade. by allowing commerce, subject to regulations to be made by ourselves, with the people of all countries, except such as are subject to the British king. It cannot,. surely, after all this, be imagined, that we consider ourselves, or mean to be considered by others, in any other state, than that of independence.”
In another letter to James Warren. Esq. dated Baltimore, December 31, 1776, he said, "I assure you, business has been done since we came to this place, more to my satisfaction than any or every thing done before, excepting the Declaration of Independence, which should have been made immediately after the 19th of April, 1775." ;
The character of Mr. Adams had become celebrated in foreign countries. In 1773, he had been chosen a member of the society of the bill of rights in London; and in 1774, John Adams and doctor Joseph Warren were elected on his nomination.
Mr. Adams was a member of the continental congress when the declaration of independence was made. He was a warm and ardent friend of that measure, and supported it with great zeal.
In the year 1777, our patriots encountered many difficulties. It was at this critical uncture, after Congress had resolved to adjourn from Philadelphia to Lancaster, that some of the leading members accidentally met in company with each other. A conversation in mutual confidence ensued. Mr. Adams, who was one of the number, was cheerful and undismayed at the aspect of affairs, while the countenances of his friends were strongly marked with the desponding feelings of their hearts. The conversation naturally turned upon the subject which most engaged their feelings. Each took occasion to express his opinions on the situation of the public cause. Mr. Adams listened in silence
till they had finished. He then said, “ Gentlemen, your spirits appear to be heavily oppressed with our public calamities. I hope you do not despair of our final success?". It was answered, " That the chance was desperate.” Mr. Adams replied, “if this be our language, it is so, indeed. If we wear long faces, they will become fashionable. Let us banish such feelings, and show a spirit that will keep alive the confidence of the people. Better tidings will soon arrive. Our cause is just and righteous, and we shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we show ourselves worthy of its aid and protection.”
At this time there were but twenty-eight of the members of Congress present at Philadelphia. Mr. Adams said, "that this was the smallest, but the truest Congress, they ever had."
But a few days had elapsed, when the news arrived of the glorious success at Saratoga, which gave a new complexion to our affairs, and confidence to our hopes.
Soon after this, lord Howe, the earl of Carlisle, and Mr. Eden, arrived as commissioners to treat for peace, under lord North’s conciliatory proposition. Mr. Adams was one of the committee chosen by congress to draught an answer to their letter. In this, it is related, “That congress will readily attend to such terms of peace, as may consist with the honour of an independent nation.”
In 1779, Samuel Adams was placed, by the state convention, on a committee, to prepare and report a form of government for Massachusetts. By this committee he and John Adams were appointed a sub-committee to furnish a draught of the constitution. The draught produced by them was reported to the convontion, and, after some amendments, accepted. The address of the convention to the people was jointly waitten by them
In 1787, he was chosen a member of the Massa