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His liberality was great, and hundreds of families, in times of distress, were daily fed from his munificence. He has been accused by his enemies of a passion for popularity, but whatever may have been the truth of the charge, a fondness for being beloved can be hardly reckoned among the bad traits of a man's character. A noble instance of his contempt of wealth, in comparison with public expediency, is recorded.
At the time the American army was besieging Boston to expel the British, who held possession of the town, the entire destruction of the city was proposed by the American officers. By the execution of such a plan, the whole fortune of Mr. Hancock would have been sacrificed. Yet he readily acceded to the measure, declaring his willingness to surrender his all, whenever the liberties of his country should require it.
BENJAMIN HARRISON was born in Berkley, Virginia. He was the descendant of a family distinguished in the history of the State, and was a student in the College of William and Mary, at the time of his father's death. In consequence of a misunderstanding with an officer of that institution, he left it before the regular period of graduation, and returned home.
The management of his father's estate now devolved upon him, and he displayed an unusual degree of prudence and ability in the discharge of his trust. He was summoned at an early date, even before he had attained the age required by law, to sustain the reputation acquired by his ancestors, in state affairs. He was chosen a member of the Legislature about the year 1764, a station which he may be said to have held through life, since he was always elected to a seat, whenever his other political avocations admitted of his occupying it. His fortune being ample, and his influence as a political leader very considerable, the royal government proposed to create him a member of the executive council of Virginia. Mr. Harrison was not to be seduced, however, by the attractions of rank and power. Though young, he was ardently devoted to the cause of the people, and remained steadfast in his opposition to royal oppression.
Mr. Harrison was a member of the Congress of 1774, and from that period, during nearly every session, represented his native State in that assembly. In this situation he was characterized for great firmness, good sense, and a peculiar sagacity in difficult and critical junctures. He was likewise extremely popular as chairman of the committee of the whole House. An anecdote is related of him on the occasion of the Declaration of Independence. While signing the instrument, he noticed Mr. Gerry, of Massachusetts, standing beside him. Mr. Harrison himself was quite corpulent; Mr. Gerry was slender and spare. As the former raised his hand, having inscribed his name on the roll, he turned to Mr. Gerry, and facetiously observed, that when the time of hanging should come, he should have the advantage over him. " It will be over with me,” said he, “ in a minute; but you will be kicking in the air half an hour after I am gone."
Towards the close of 1777, Mr. Harrison resigned his seat in Congress, and returned to Virginia. In 1782, he was chosen Governor of the State, to which office he was twice re-elected; when he become ineligi ble by the provisions of the Constitution. In 1788, when the new Con. stitution of the United States was submitted to Virginia, he was returned a member of her Convention. In 1790, he was again proposed as a candidate for the executive chair; but declined in favor of his friend, Beverly Randolph. In the spring of 1791, Mr. Harrison was attacked by a severe fit of the gout, à recurrence of which malady shortly after put a period to his life.
Mr. Harrison became connected by marriage with Miss Bassett, a niece to the sister of Mrs. Washington. He had many children ; and several of his sons became men of distinction. His third son, William Henry Harrison, has honorably served his country, in various official capacities.
John Hart was the son of Edward Hart, of Hopewell, in the county of Hunterdon, in New Jersey. He inherited from his father a considerable estate, and having married, devoted himself to agricultural pursuits, and became a worthy and respectable farmer.
The reputation which he acquired for integrity, discrimination, and enlightened prudence, soon brought him into notice, and he was often chosen a member of the Colonial Assembly. Although one of the most gentle and unobtrusive of men, he could not suppress his abhorrence of the aggressions of the British ministry. He maintained a fearless and uniform opinion with regard to the rights of the colonies, and did not hesitate to express it when occasion invited him. On the meeting of the Congress of 1774, Mr. Hart appeared and took his seat; having been elected by a conference of committees from several parts of the colony. During several succeeding sessions, he continued to represent the people of New Jersey, in the same assembly. When the question of a Declaration of Independence was brought forward, he was at his post,
and voted for the measure with unusual zeal.
In 1776, New Jersey became the theatre of war, and Mr. Hart sustained severe losses, by the destruction of his property. His children were compelled to flee, his farm was pillaged, and great exertions were made to secure him as a prisoner. For some time he was hunted with untiring perseverance. He was reduced to the most distressing shifts to elude his enemies; being often severely pressed by hunger, and destitute of a place of repose for the night." In one instance, he was obliged to conceal himself in the usual resting place of a large dog, who was his companion for the time.
The battles of Trenton and Princeton led to the evacuation of New Jersey by the British. On this event, Mr. Hart again collected his family around him, and began to repair the desolation of his farm. His constitution, however, had sustained a shock, which was irreparable. His health gradually failed him; and though he lived to see the prospects of his country brighten, he died before the conflict was so gloriously terminated. He expired in the year 1780. The best praise that can be awarded to Mr. Hart, is, that he was beloved by all who knew him. He was very liberal to the Baptist church of Hopewell, to which community he belonged; and his memory was hallowed by the esteem and regret of a large circle of friends.
Joseph Hewes was born near Kingston, in New Jersey, in the year 1730. His parents were Quakers, who removed from Čonnecticut, on account of the existing prejudices against them among the Puritans, and of the hostilities of the Indians.
At a suitable age, Joseph Hewes became a member of Princeton College ; and after having graduated in due course, he was placed in the counting-house of a gentleman at Philadelphia, to be educated as a merchant. On leaving this situation, he entered into business for himself, and was highly successful in his commercial transactions. At the age of thirty he removed to North Carolina, and settled in the village of Edenton. Prosperity continued to attend him here, and he soon acquired a handsome fortune. By his probity and liberal dealings, he also gained the esteem of the people among whom he lived, and was called to represent them in the Colonial Legislature of the province. This distinction was conferred upon him for several successive years, during which he increased in popularity with his constituents.
In 1774, Mr. Hewes was chosen one of the three delegates from North Carolina to the Continental Congress. No members of that body brought with them credentials of a bolder stamp than the delegates from North Carolina. They were invested with such powers as might “ make any acts done by them, or consent given in behalf of this province, obligatory in honor upon any inhabitant thereof
, who is not an alien to his country's good, and an apostate to the liberties of America.” On the meeting of this Congress, Mr. Hewes was nominated one of the committee appointed to "state the rights of the colonies in general, the several instances in which those rights had been violated or infringed, and the means most proper to be pursued for obtaining a restoration of them.” He also assisted in preparing their celebrated report, which was drawn up as follows:
"1. That they are entitled to life, liberty, and property; and they have never ceded to any sovereign power whatever a right to dispose of either, without their consent.
“ 2. That our ances.ors, who first settled these colonies, were, at the time of their emigration from the mother country, entitled to all the rights, liberties, and immunities of free and natural born subjects, within the realm oi England.
“3. That by such emigration they by no means forfeited, surrendered, or lost, any of those rights; but that they were, and their descendants now are, entitled to the exercise and enjoyment of all such of them as their local and other circumstances enable them to exercise and enjoy.
“4. That the foundation of English liberty, and of free government, is a right in the people to participate in their legislative council; and as the English colonists are not represented, and, from their local and other circumstances, cannot properly be represented in the British Parliament, they are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several Provincial Legislatures, where their right of representation can alone be pursued in all cases of taxation and internal polity, subject only to the negative of their sovereign, in such manner as has been heretofore used and accustomed; but if, from the necessity of the case, and a regard to the mutual interests of both countries, we cheerfully consent to the operation of such acts of the British Parliament as are bona fide restrained to the regulation of our external commerce, for the purpose of securing the commercial advantages of the whole empire to the mother country, and the commercial benefit of its respective members ; excluding every idea of taxation, internal or external, for raising a revenue on the subjects in America, without their consent.
“5. That the respective colonies are entitled to the common law of England, and, more especially, to the great and inestimable privilege of being tried by their peers of the vicinage, according to the course of tha law.
“6. That they are entitled to the benefit of such of the English statutes as existed at the time of their colonization, and which they have, by experience, respectively found applicable to their several local and other circumstances.
“7. That these his Majesty's colonies are likewise entitled to all the immunities and privileges granted and confirmed to them by royal charters, or secured by their several codes of provincial laws.
“8. That they have a right peaceably to assemble, consider of their grievances, and petition the King; and that all prosecutions, prohibitory proclamations, and commitments for the same, are illegal.
“9. That the keeping a standing army in these colonies in times of peace, without consent of the Legislature of that colony in which such army is kept, is against the law.
“ 10. It is indispensably necessary to good government, and rendered essential by the English Constitution, that the constituent branches of the Legislature be independent of each other; and therefore the exercise of legislative power in several colonies by a council appointed during pleasure by the crown, is unconstitutional, dangerous, and destructive to the freedom of American legislation.
“ All and each of which the aforesaid deputies, in behalf of themselves and their constituents, do claim, demand, and insist on, as their indispu
table rights and liberties, which cannot be legally taken from them, altered, or abridged, by any power whatever, without their consent, by their representatives in their several Provincial Legislatures."
To the above declaration of rights was added an enumeration of the wrongs already sustained by the colonies; after stating which, the report concluded as follows:
“ To these grievous acts and measures, Americans cannot submit; but in hopes their fellow subjects in Great Britain will, on a revision of them, restore us to that state in which both countries found happiness and prosperity, we have, for the present, only resolved to pursue the following peaceable measures : 1. To enter into a non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation agreement, or association. 2. To prepare an address to the people of Great Britain, and a memorial to the inhabitants of British America. And, 3. to prepare a loyal address to his majesty, agreeably to resolutions already entered into.”
Although engaged in extensive commercial transactions, Mr. Hewes, about this time, assisted in forming the plan of the non-importation association, and readily became a member of it. He was again elected to Congress by the people of North Carolina in 1775, and remained in Philadelphia until the adjournment of that assembly in July. He continued to represent the same State, almost without intermission, for four succeeding years, and gave very general satisfaction. The last time that he appeared in Congress was on the 29th of October, 1799. After this date, an indisposition, under which he had labored for some time, confined him to his chamber, and at length, on the 10th of November, terminated his life, in the fiftieth year of his age. His funeral was numerously attended, and in testimony of their respect to his memory, Congress resolved to wear crape round the left arm for the space of one month. Mr. Hewes left a large fortune, but no children to inherit it.
THOMAS HEYWARD was born in St. Luke's parish, in South Carolina, in the year 1746. His father was a planter of fortune, and young Heyward received the best education that the province could afford. Having finished his scholastic studies, he entered upon those of the law, and after the usual term of application, was sent to England to complete himself in his profession. He was enrolled as a student in one of the Inns of Court, and devoted himself with great ardor to the acquirement of legal knowledge.
On completing his studies in England, he commenced the tour of Europe, which occupied him several years. After enjoying the advantages of foreign travel, he returned to his native country, and devoted himself, with great zeal for a man of fortune, to the labors of the law. In 1775, Mr. Heyward was elected to supply a vacancy in Congress; and arrived at Philadelphia in season to join in the discussion of the great question