« ZurückWeiter »
would be speedily developed, while the safety of New-Orleans, and of our whole southwestern frontier against hostile aggression, as well as the interests of the whole Union, would be promoted by it.
In the earlier stages of our National existence, the opinion prevailed with some, that our system of confederated States could not operate successfully over an extended territory, and serious objections have, at different times, been made to the enlargement of our boundaries. These objections were earnestly urged when we acquired Louisiana. Experience has shown that they were not well founded. The title of numerous Indian tribes to vast tracts of country has been extinguished. New States have been admitted into the Union. New Territories have been created, and our jurisdiction and laws extended over them. As our population has expanded, the Union has been cemented and strengthened. As our boundaries have been enlarged, and our agricultural population has been spread over a large surface, our federative system has acquired additional strength and security. It may well be doubted whether it would not be in greater danger of overthrow, if our present population were confined . the comparatively narrow limits of the original thirteen States, than it is, now that they are sparsely settled over a more expanded territory. It is confidently believed that our system may be safely extended to the utmost bounds of our territorial limits: and that, as it shall be extended, the bonds of our Union, so far from being weakened, will become stronger.
None can fail to see the danger to our safety and future peace, if Texas remains an independent State, or becomes an ally or dependency of some foreign nation more powerful chan herself. Is there one among our citizens who would not prefer perpetual peace with Texas, to occasional wars, which so often occur between bordering independent nations? Is there one who would not prefer free intercourse with her, to high duties ou all our products and manufactures which enter our ports or cross her frontiers ? Is there one who would not prefer an unrestricted communication with her citizens, to the frontier obstructions which must occur if she remains out of the Union? Whatever is good or evil in the ocal institutions of Texas, will remain her own, whether annexed to the United States or not. None of the present States will be responsible for them, any more than they are for the local institutions of each other. They have confederated together for certain specified objects. Upon the same principle that they would refuse to form a perpetual union with Texus because of her local institutions, our forefathers would have been prevented from forming our present Union. Perceiving no valid objection to the measure, and many reasons for its adoption, vitally affecting the peace, the safety, and the prosperity of both countries, I shall, on the broad principle which forned the basis and produced the adoption of our constitution, and not in any narrow spirit of sectional policy, endeavor, by all constitutional, honorable, and appropriate means, to consummate the expressed will of the people and government of the United States, by the re-annexation of Texas to our Union at the earliest practicable period.
Nor will it become in a less degree my duty to assert and maintain, by all constitutional means, the right of the United States to that portion of our Territory which lies beyond the Rocky Mountains. Our title to the country of the Oregon is “clear and unquestionable ;" and already are our people preparing to perfect that title, by occupying it with their wives and children. But eighty years ago our population was confined on the West by the ridge of the Alleghanies. Within that period—within the lifetime, I might say, of some of my hearers-our people, increasing to many millions, have filled the eastern valley of the Mississippi; adventurously ascended the Missouri to its head springs ; and are already engaged in establishing the blessings of self-government in valleye, of which the rivers flow to the Pacific. The world beholds the peaceful triumphs of the industry of our emigrants. To us belongs the duty of protecting them, adequately, wherever they may be upon our soil. The jurisdiction of our laws, and the benefits of our republican institutions, should be ex tended over them in the distant regions which they have selected for their homes. The in creasing facilities of intercourse will easily bring the States, of which the formation in that part of our territory cannot be long delayed, within the sphere of our federative Union. In the meantime, every obligation imposed by treaty or conventional stipulations, should be sacredly respected.
In the management of our foreign relations, it will be my aim to observe a careful respect for the rights of other nations, while our own will be the subject of constant watchfulness. Equal and exact justice should characterise all our intercourse with foreign countries. All alliances having a tendency to jeopard the welfare and honor of our country, or sacrifice any one of the national interests, will be studiously avoided; and yet no opportunity will be lost to cultivate a favorable understanding with foreign governments, by which our navigation and commerce may be extended, and the ample products of our fertile soil, as well as the manufactures of our skilful artizans, find a ready market and remunerative prices in foreign countries.
In taking care that the laws be faithfully executed,” a strict performance of duty will be exacted from all public officers. From those officers, especially, who are charged with the collection and disbursement of the public revenue, will prompt and rigid accountability be required. Any culpable failure or delay on their part to account for the moneys intrust
. ed to them, at the times and in the manner required by law, will, in every instance, terminate the official connexion of such defaulting officer with the government.
Although, in our country, the chief magistrate must almost of necessity be chosen by a party, and stand pledged to its principles and measures, yet, in his official action, he should not be the President of a party only, but of the whole people of the United States. While he executes the laws with impartial hand, shrinks from no proper responsibility, and faith fully carries out in the Executive Department of the Government the principles and policy of those who have chosen him, he should not be unmindful that our fellow-citizens who have differed from him in opinion are entitled to the full and free exercise of their opinions and judgments, and that the rights of all are entitled to respect and regard.
Confidently relying upon the aid and assistance of the co-ordinate departments of the government in conducting our public affairs, I enter upon the discharge of the high duties which have been assigned me by the people, again humbly supplicating that Divine Being who has watched over and protected our beloved country from its infancy to the present hour, to continue His gracious benedictions upon us, that we may continue to be a prospero ous and happy people.
LIVES OF THE SIGNERS.
The memories of few men will perhaps be cherished, by their posterity with a more jealous and grateful admiration than those of the patriotic individuals, who first signed the political independence of our country. They hazarded by the deed not only their lands and possessions, but their personal freedom and their lives; and when it is considered that most of them were in the vigor of existence, gifted with considerable fortunes, and with all the offices and emoluments at the disposal of royalty within their reach, the sacrifice which they risked appears magnified, and their disinterested patriotism more worthy of remembrance. Although many of them can rest their sole claim to lasting distinction upon the one great act with which they were adventitiously connected, still their lives present a valuable transcript of the times in which they lived, and afford examples of inflexible honesty, heroic decision, and noble energy of mind, quite as interesting as any records of the eccentricities of genius, or the grasping efforts of ambition.
Not one of the least ardent and uncompromising asserters of the rights and liberties of his country, was the subject of oyr present sketchSAMUEL ADAMS. This gentleman, descended from a respectable family, which emigrated to America with the first settlers of the land, was born at Quincy, in Massachusetts, September 22d, 1722. In 1736 he became a member of Harvard College, and took his degree of Master in 1743. On this latter occasion, he proposed the following question, in which he maintained the affirmative: “Whether it be lawful to resist the supreme magistrate, if the commonwealth cannot be otherwise preserved ?"
On quitting the university, he commenced the study of the law; but soon afterwards, at the request of his mother, became a clerk in the countinghouse of Thomas Cushing, at that time an eminent merchant. The genius of Adams was not suited to commercial pursuits. His devotion to politics, and his interest in the welfare of his country, diverted his attention from his own business concerns; and he retired from his mer. cantile connexions poorer by far than when he entered into them. In 1763, when a committee was appointed by the people of Boston to remonstrate against the taxation of the colonies by the British ministry, the instructions of that committee were drawn by Mr. Adams, and gave a powerful proof of his ability and zeal. He soon became an influential leader in the popular assemblies, and was bold in denouncing the oppressive acts of the mother country.
In 1765, he was chosen a representative to the General Court of the State, from the town of Boston. Here he soon made himself conspicuous, and became clerk of the legislative body. About this time he was the author of several spirited essays, and plans of resistance to the exactions of the British ministry. He suggested the first Congress at New York, which was a step to the establishment of a Continental Congress, ten years after.
In 1770, two regiments of troops were quartered in the town of Boston, apparently to superintend the conduct of the inhabitants. This measure roused the public indignation to the utmost, and soon gave occasion to a quarrel between a party of soldiers and citizens, in which eleven of the latter were killed or wounded, by a guard, under the cominand of Captain Preston. This rencontre, which is well known under the name of the “Boston Massacre," and will long remain memorable as the first instance of bloodshed between the British and Americans, did not tend to allay the excitement caused by the presence of the troops, On the following morning a meeting of the citizens was called, and Samuel Adams first rose to address the assembly. His style of eloquence was bold and impressive, and few could exercise a more absolute control over the passions of a multitude. A committee, of which he was one, was chosen to wait upon Governor Hutchinson, with a request that the troops might be instantly removed. The Governor replied that the troops were not under his command: but Adams, with his usual intrepidity, would brook no prevarication or excuse, and declared that if he permitted them to remain, it would be at his peril. The Governor, alarmed at the personal danger which threatened him, finally consented to the demand, and further hostilities were, for a time, suspended.
The injudicious management of his private affairs rendered Mr. Adams poor. When this was known in England it was proposed to bribe him, by the gist of some lucrative office. A suggestion of the kind being made to Governor Hutchinson, he replied, that “such was the obstinacy and inflexible disposition of the man, that he could never be conciliated by any office or gift whatever.” A higher compliment could not have been paid him. The offer however was made, it is said, and rejected._About the year 1773, Governor Gage renewed the experiment. Colonel Fenton waited upon Mr. Adams, with the assurance of Governor Gage, that any benefit he might ask would be conferred on him, on condition that he would forsake the popular faction; while, at the same time, significant threats were thrown out of the consequences which might ensue, if he persisted in his opposition to the measures of the ministry. The reply of the undaunted patriot was characteristic: "Go tell Governor Gage,” said he, " that my peace has long since been made with the King of kings; and that it is the advice of Samuel Adams to him, no longer to insult the feelings of an already exasperated people."
Under the irritation produced by this answer, Governor Gage issued a proclamation, which comprehended the following language: “I do hereby, in his majesty's name, offer and promise his most gracious pardon to all persons, who shall forthwith lay down their arms, and return to the duties of peaceable subjects : excepting only from the benefits of such pardon, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock, whose offences are of too flagitious a nature to admit of any other consideration but that of condign punish ment."
Mr. Adams was a member of the first Continental Congress. Waspas
assembled in Philadelphia, in 1774; and he remained an active member of that body until the year 1781. During this period, he was one of the warmest advocates for the declaration of American independence. After that declaration had been irrevocably adopted, and when the subsequent gloom which overspread the land had depressed the spirits of the most ardent advocates of liberty, the firmness and enthusiasm of Mr. Adams were unchanged. His example contributed in a high degree to inspire his coun: trymen with a confidence of their final success. The following encomium upon him is from a work upon the American rebellion, by Mr. Galloway, published in England, in 1780 : “ He eats little, drinks little, sleeps little, thinks much, and is most indefatigable in the pursuit of his object. It was this man, who, by his superior application, managed at once the factions in Congress at Philadelphia, and the factions of New England."
In 1781, Mr. Adams retired from Congress: but having already been a member of the Convention which formed the Constitution of his native State, he was placed in the Senate, and for several years presided over that body. In 1789, he was elected Lieutenant-Governor, in which office he continued till 1794; when, upon the death of Hancock, he was chosen Governor, and was annually re-elected till 1797, when he retired from rublic life. He died October 20, 1803, at the advanced age of eightytwo.
In his person, Mr. Adams was only of the middle size, but his countenance indicated great decision of purpose and an energetic mind. He was a sincere and practical Christian; and the last production of his pen was in favor of Christian truth. His writings were voluminous, but as they chiefly related to the temporary politics of the day, few of them remain. He always manifested a singular indifference to pecuniary considerations. He was poor while he lived; and, it has been said, that had not the death of an only son relieved the poverty of his latter days, Samuel Adams would have had to claim a burial from private charity, or at the public expense.
Josiah BARTLETT, Governor of New Hampshire, and the first frorn that State who signed the Declaration of Independence, was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in 1729. Without the advantages of a cojiegiate education, but possessing a competent knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages, he commenced the study of medicine at the age of sixteen. After devoting himself for five years to the acquisition of the necessary knowledge and experience, he commenced the practice of his profession at Kingston, in the year 1750. Here he soon obtained very considerable reputation, and introduced many efficacious changes in the treatment of several diseases.
In the year 1765, Doctor Bartlett was elected to the Legislature of the province of New Hampshire, from the town of Kingston. In his legis