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DELIVERED IN THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, ON THE
TWENTY-FOURTH OF JULY, 1826, IN COMMEMORATION
FRIENDS AND FELLOW CITIZENS,
TIME, in its course, has produced a striking epoch in the history of our favoured country; and, as if to mark with peculiar emphasis this interesting stage of our national existence, it comes to us accompanied with incidents calculated to make a powerful and lasting impression. The dawn of the fiftieth anniversary of independence beamed upon two venerable and illustrious citizens, to whom, under Providence, a nation acknowledged itself greatly indebted for the event which the day was set apart to commemorate. The one was the author, the other “the ablest advocate,” of that solemn assertion of right, that heroic defiance of unjust power, which, in the midst of difficulty and danger, proclaimed the determination to assume a separate and equal station among the powers of the earth, and declared to the world the causes which impelled to this decision. Both had stood by their country, with unabated ardour and unwavering fortitude, through every vicissitude of her fortune, until “ the glorious day" of her final triumph crowned their labours and their sacrifices with complete success. With equal solicitude, and with equal warmth of patriotic affection, they devoted their great faculties, which had been employed in vindicating the rights of their country, to construct for her, upon deep and strong foundations, the solid edifice of social order and of civil and religious freedom. They had both held the highest public employ
ments, and were distinguished by the highest honours the nation could confer. Arrived at an age when nature seems to demand repose, each had retired to the spot from which the public exigencies had first called him—his public labours ended, his work accomplished, his beloved country prosperous and happy-there to indulge in the blessed retrospect of a well-spent life, and await that period which comes to all. But not to await it in idleness or indiffer
The same spirit of active benevolence, which made the meridian of their lives resplendent with glory, continued to shed its lustre upon their evening path. Still intent upon doing good, still devoted to the great cause of human happiness and improvement, neither of these illustrious men relaxed in his exertions. They seemed only to concentrate their energy, as age and increasing infirmity contracted the circle of action, bestowing, without ostentation, their latest efforts upon the state and neighbourhood in which they resided. There, with patriarchal simplicity, they lived, the objects of a nation's grateful remembrance and affection; the living records of a nation's history; the charm of an age which they delighted, adorned and instructed by their vivid sketches of times that are past; and, as it were, the embodied spirit of the revolution itself, in all its purity and force, diffusing its wholesome influence through the generations that have succeeded, rebuking every sinister design, and invigorating every manly and virtuous resolution.
The Jubilee came. The great national commemoration of a nation's birth. The fiftieth year of deliverance from foreign rule, wrought out by the exertions and sufferings and sacrifices of the patriots of the revolution. It found these illustrious and venerable men, full of honours and full of years, animated with the proud recollection of the times in which they had borne so distinguished a part, and cheered by the beneticent and expanding influence of their patriotic labours. The eyes of a nation were turned to
wards them with affection and reverence. They heard the first song of triumph on that memorable day. As the voice of millions of freemen rose in sounds of gratitude and joy, they both sunk gently to rest, and their spirits departed in the midst of the swelling chorus of national enthusiasm.
Death has thus placed his seal upon the lives of these two eminent men with impressive solemnity. A gracious Providence, whose favours have been so often manifested in mercy to our country, has been pleased to allow them an unusual length of life, and an uncommon continuance of their extraordinary faculties. They have been, as it were, united in death, and they have both, in a most signal manner, been associated with the great event which they so largely contributed to produce. Henceforward the names of Jefferson and Adams can never be separated from the Declaration of Independence. Whilst that venerated instrument shall continue to exist, as long as its sacred spirit shall dwell with the people of this nation, or the free institutions that have grown out of it be preserved and respected, so long will our children, and our children's children to the latest generation, bless the names of these our illustrious benefactors, and cherish their memory with reverential respect. The jubilee, at each return, will bring back, with renovated force, the lives and the deaths of these distinguished men; and history, with the simple pencil of truth, sketching the wonderful coincidence, will, for once at least, set at defiance all the powers of poetry and romance.
The dispensation which has thus connected itself with the first jubilee of our independence, mingling with our festivities the parting benediction, and the final farewell of our two illustrious countrymen, cannot fail to bring with it the most serious reflections. Marked, as it is, by such an extraordinary coincidence, methinks it seems to announce, with solemn emphasis, that henceforward the care of their great work is committed to our hands; that we are to guard,
to protect, and to preserve the principles and the institutions which they, at such an expense, have established for our benefit, and for that of our posterity; and, may I not add, for the common benefit of mankind. Of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, but one now remains. Health aud peace to the evening of his days! The single representative on earth of the Congress of 1776, he seems to stand between two generations, and to be the visible link that still connects the living with the mighty dead. Of all, indeed, who had a part in the achievement of independence, " whose counsels aided, or whose arms defended,” few and feeble are they who survive. Day by day their numbers are reduced; yet a little while, and they will have followed their illustrious compatriots. Not a footstep will be heard throughout this land, of all who rushed to danger in their country's cause,-not an eye will beam, that borrowed prophetic light from afar to illumine the hour of darkness,not a heart will beat, whose pulsation was quickened by the animating hope of a glorious triumph.
To this effect we are admonished by the event we are met to commemorate. Here then let us pause! The point of time at which we have arrived, marked by a concurrence of circumstances so impressive, demands our earnest attention. It stands forth, I repeat, with commanding dignity, and seems to say, Behold! fifty years have gone by. The altar of freedom raised by your fathers—the sacred fire they lighted upon it-are now, at the appointed time, delivered to you. To you belongs the great trust of their preservation, until another generation shall in turn succeed to occupy your places, from you to receive the invaluable deposite, and with it to receive its guardian spirit, the spirit of the revolution. Shall we, my friends and fellow citizens, be able to acquit ourselves of this high trust? Shall the next jubilee find the altar pure and undefiled, the fire still burning with a steady flame? And shall every succeeding jubilee, like that which has passed, be at once an evidence