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John Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the first vice presi. dent and the second president of the United States, was born at Quincy, Mass.,
Oct. 30, 1735. He was educated at Harvard College, and was bred to the practice of law. Settling in Boston he became associated with Hancock, Otis, and others, in various measures, in fa
vor of the liberties of the people. In 1775, as a delegate in congress, he nominated George Washington to the office of commander-in-chief of the American army. He was one of the committee of five who drafted the Declaration of Independence. In 1785 he was appointed the first American minister to the court of Great Britain, and was the successor of Washington to the presidency. He died on the same day with his compatriot, Jefferson, July 4, 1826, and in the 92 year of his age. The last words he was heard to utter were, “Independence forever."
John Quincy Adams, son of the preceding, was born at Quincy, in July, 1767. From an early period he was engaged in public life, and was sent as an embassador of the United States to various European courts. He was one of the commissioners who signed the treaty at Ghent, in 1815. He was secretary of state under President Monroe. He was elected president of the United States in 1825, and continued in that office for four years. In 1831 he took his seat in the house of representatives at Washington, and continued a member until Feb. 22, 1848, when he was stricken down at the post of duty by an attack of paralysis, and expired in the speaker's room, in the capitol, the next day. His last words were, " This is the end of earth.” He was in the 81st year of his age, and was denominated the old man eloquent.”. The annexed engraving is a representation of the two Adams' houses, near
the foot of Pennis Hill, in Quincy, That on the right is the birth-place of John Adams—the one on the left, of John Quincy Adams. In the rear of the dwellings is a meadow, connected with which is the following
anecdote, often related by the elder Vign Adams, respecting himself:
“When I was a boy, I had to study BIRTH-PLACES OF PRESIDENTS JOHN AND JOHN QUINCY the Latin grammar, but it was dull, ADAMS, AT QUINCY,
and I hated it. My father was anxious to send me to college, and, therefore, I studied grammar until I could bear it no longer, and, going to my father, I told him I did not like study, and asked for some other employment. It was opposing his wishes, and he was quick in his answer. Well
, John,' said he, if Latin does not suit, you may try ditching; perhaps that will. My meadow yonder needs a ditch, and you may put by Latin, and try that.' This seemed a delightful change, and to the meadow I went. But I soon found ditching harder than Latin, and the first forenoon was the longest I ever experienced. That day I eat the bread of labor, and glad was I when night came on. That night I made some comparison between Latin grammar and ditching, but said
not a word about it. I dug the next forenoon, and wanted to return to Latin at dinner; but it was humiliating, and I could not do it. At night, toil conquered pride, and I told my father—one of the severest trials of my life—that if he chose, I would go back to Latin grammar. He was glad of it; and if I have since gained any distinction, it has been owing to the two days' labor in that abominable ditch."
Rot Treat Painte
I have never
Robert Treat Paine, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was the son of a clergyman, born in Boston in 1731. He graduated at Harvard College, and
afterward prepared himself for the ministry, in which calling he was engaged
as chaplain in a military expedition against the French, at the north, in 1755. He afterward practiced law in Boston, held various public offices, and died in that city, in 1814. He was a sound lawyer, well versed in literature, and eminently upright. His son, of the same name, a poet of some celebrity, was born at Taunton, Mass., in 1773, and graduated at Harvard College, with a high reputation for genius. He died in 1811.
James Otis was born in West Barnstable, Mass., in 1724; was educated at Harvard, and settling in Boston, as a lawyer soon attained the highest rank in his profession. Before the year 1770, no American, excepting Dr. Franklin, was so well known and so often named in the colonies and in England. But few memorials remain of him, for his papers all perished, none of his speeches were ever recorded, and he himself was stricken down, just on the eve of the revolution, by a bludgeon in the hands of a ruffian. It is owing to these circumstances that the most learned, eloquent and influential man of his time is so little known; that the following language of President Adams seems exaggerated, although Chief Justice Dana, and other eminent characters, used commendation equally strong. Says President Adams: “I have been young, and now am old, and I solemnly say, known a man whose love of his country was more ardent or sincere; never, one who suffered so much; never, one whose services for any ten years of his life were so important and essential to the cause of his country, as those of Mr. Otis, from 1760 to 1770. He came upon
the stage at a time when the mother country had determined to enforce her "Acts of Trade;"-laws of parliament which bore with crushing force upon the industry and enterprise of the colonies, especially those of New England. By these laws, the colonists could not engage in manufacture — because the manufactures of England would be injured; they were restricted in commerce, because the English shipping interest would suffer.
In 1760, as a preliminary measure to their enforcement, application was made to the supreme court of the province for writs of assistance, a species of searchwarrant, to be granted to the officers of customs to search for goods on which duties had not been paid. Otis was at this time advocate general, and unwilling to advocate laws he believed tyrannical and illegal, he at once resigned his office, which was not only very lucrative, but, if filled by an incumbent of a compliant spirit, led to the highest favors from the crown.
The merchants of Boston and Salem engaged Otis and Thatcher to make their defense. The trial took place in Feb., 1761, in the council chamber of the old town house in Boston, before Lieut. Gov. Hutchinson, as chief justice, with four associate judges. The court was crowded with the most eminent citizens, deeply solicitous in the cause.
The case was opened for government by Mr. Gridley, the old law tutor of Otis, and very ably argued ; in all his points he made his reasoning depend upon this consideration: “if the parliament of Great Britain is the sovereign legislator of the British empire, then," etc. He was replied to by Mr. Thatcher, in an ingenious, sensible speech, delivered with great mildners." But," in the language of President Adams, “Otis was a flame of fire ; with a promptitude of classical allusions, a depth of research, a rapid summary of historical events and dates, a profusion of legal authorities, a prophetic glance of his eyes into futurity, and a rapid torrent of impetuous eloquence, he hurried away all before him. American independence was then and there born. The seeds of patriots and heroes were then and there sown. Every man of an immense, crowded audience appeared to me to go away as I did, ready to take up arms against writs of assistance. Then and there was the first scene of the first act of opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then and there the child INDEPENDENCE was born. In fifteen years, i. e. in 1776, he grew up to manhood, and declared himself free."
The following year, Mr. Otis was elected to a seat in the Massachusetts General Assembly, and for nine years after he was in connection with Samuel Adams and John Hancock, the very head and front of opposition to aggressive ministerial measures in New England.
In the summer of 1769, Otis published some very severe strictures upon the conduct of the commissioners of customs. Happening in alone one evening into a coffee house wbere Robinson, one of those commissioners, and a number of British officers were sitting, an altercation ensued, when the lights were blown out, and the party, armed with bludgeons, pounced upon him. He escaped death, but to meet a worse fate. His brain was injured, and his reason dethroned. A verdict of $10,000 was awarded as damages in a civil suit against Robinson. Otis, in a lucid interval, very magnanimously forgave the base ruffian, and refused to receive a dollar of the damages awarded him. For many years, all through the scenes of the revolution, the patriot lived on, with his great intellect in ruins, comparatively useless to the world, and a deep grief to his friends. When at times the cloud was litted froin his reason, he talked calmly of death, and expressed a desire to die by a stroke of lightning. His wish was gratified. On the 23d of May, 1783, he stood leaning on his cane at the door of a friend's house in Andover, watching the sublime spectacle of an approaching thunder cloud, when suddenly a bolt leaped from it, like a swift messenger from God to his spirit, and killed him instantly. Thus perished one of the master spirits of his tiine, of whom few memorials remain ; but enough to show that the future historians of the United States, in considering the foundations of American independence, must inscribe a chief corner stone with the name of James Otis.
Samuel Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Boston, in 1722, educated at Harvard, and then
entered mercantile life. Elected to the legislature of the province, the people found him one of their most steadfast friends, the goveronment one of its mot inveterate opponents. Step by step, and inch by inch, he fought the enemies of popular liberty, and was the most active of the patriots of Bston in inciting tshe people to throw overboard the tea, in 1773. When Gen. Gage, in 1774, sent to dissolve the colonial assembly, he found the door locked; the key was in Samuel Adams' pocket.
After he had received warning at Lexington, the night of the 18th of April, 1775, of the intended British expedition, as he proceeded to make his escape through the fields, he exclaimed, when the day dawned, “ This is a fine day !" Very pleasant, indeed," answered one of his companions, supposing he alluded to the beauty of the morning. “I mean, he replied, “it is a glorious day for America !” A few days before the battle of Bunker Hill, Gage offered a pardon to all rebels excepting Samuel Adams and John Hancock, * whose offenses are of too flagitious a nature to admit of any other consideration than of condign punishment.” This virulent proscription, intended to be their ruin, widely extended their fame.
As a member of the continental congress, he was an earnest advocate of the revolution, which declared the colonies free and independent states ; and when some members faltered, through fear of failure, the stern puritan exclaimed: “I should advise persisting in our struggle for liberty, though it were renealed from heaven that 999 were to perish, and only one out of 1,000 survive and retain his liberty One such free man must possess more virtue, and enjoy more happiness than 1,000 slaves ; and let him propagate his like, and transmit to them what he hath so nobly preserved.”
The very faults of his character rendered his services more useful, by confining his exertions to a single point, and prevented their being weakened by indulgence and liberality toward different opinions. He had all the animosities and all the firmness that could qualify a man to be the asserter of the rights of the people. So inflexible he was in his principles, that sooner than pay an illegal tax of a sixpence, he would have been condemned as a traitor, and mounted the scaffold. He succeeded Hancock as governor, and died in 1803, at the age of 82 years. Notwithstanding his many years of eminent service, he must have been buried at the public expense, if the afflicting death of an only son had not remedied this honorable poverty.
Gen. Henry Knox was born in Boston, in 1750, where he became a bookseller. In the revolution he was commissioned as major general, and greatly distinguished himself as an officer of artillery. He was secretary of war in Washington's administration. He died in Thomaston, in Maine, in 1806. His death was sudden, strangled while eating, by the lodgment of a bone in his throat.
Col. Timothy Pickering was born in Salem, in 1845; graduated at Harvard, and became a lawyer. At the outbreak of the revolution, some most valuable papers came from his
pen. He was quarter-master general of the army. From 1790 to 1794, he made important treaties with the western Indians. He was in turn post
master general, secretary of war, and secretary of state under Washington. He was for years after in the United States Senate. He was one of the leaders of the federal party in the United States. He died in 1829, in his 84th year.
Benjamin Thompson, originally "an humble yankee schoolmaster," was one of the many Americans who arose to eminence in foreign lands, becoming “a count of the holy Roman Empire, and a companion of kings and philosophers." He was born at Woburn, in Mass., in 1753. At the beginning of the revolution he was a teacher at Rumford, now Concord, N. H., where he married the widow of Benjamin Rolfe, Esq. Falling under unjust suspicion of being a royalist in sentiment, because he spoke doubtfully of the American cause, he was compelled to leave the place. It is said that he in vain sought for service in the American cause previous to the battle of Bunker Hill
. Being everywhere suspected of toryism, he finally placed himself under the protection of Gen. Gage, in Boston. Toward the close of the revolution, he for a short time served in New York as a lieutenant colonel of a British regiment. After the war he went to Germany, where he received from the reigning Duke of Bavaria all the honors that could be conferred, and among others, that of count" of the holy Roman Empire,” to which he added the title of Rumford, in remembrance of his former residence. He introduced great improvements in the condition and discipline of the army. At Munich he provided houses of public industry for the poor, to whom he became an object of almost idolatrous regard; and in grateful remembrance of his services and benefactions, a monument was erected there to his honor. He died in 1814. He bequeathed the annual sum of $1,000 to Harvard College, to found the Rumford professorship. At his death the celebrated Cuvier pronounced an eulogy upon his character before the Institute of France, as a man of science and a philanthropist.
Fisher Ames was born at Dedham, in 1758; was educated at Harvard, and became one of the most eloquent of American orators and writers. He was in congress during all of Washington's administration, where he greatly distinguished himself, particularly by his speech on " Jay's Treaty;" In 1804, he was chosen, but declined the honor, of the presidency of Harvard. He died in 1808.
David Porter, a commodore in the U. S. navy, and one of its most intrepid officers, was born in Boston, in 1780. In the war of 1812, he made a most successful cruise in the Pacific; but after a desperate and gallant resistance against an overwhelming force in the harbor of Valparaiso, his vessel, the Essex, was captured. In 1829, he was appointed, by Jackson, minister to Constantinople. He died in 1843, aged 60 years.
Joseph Story, LL.D., was born at Marblehead, in 1782; graduated at Harvard, and at the early age of 31 years, was appointed one of the judges of the U. S. supreme court. In 1830, he was chosen professor of the law school at Harvard. He gained great eminence as a jurist and as a writer in law. His name is associ. ated with Chief Justice Marshall and Chancellor Kent, as one of the three great legal minds in American history.
Amos Lawrence, one of those wealthy public-spirited merchants of Boston, whose munificent gifts to objects of philanthropy and of general utility have shed 80 much honor upon the character of that city, was born at Groton, in 1786, the son of a deacon in a Congregational Church. He was apprenticed as a clerk in a country store in his native town. During this apprenticeship of young Lawrence, and for many years after, it was customary, throughout New England, for clerks and apprentices, journeymen and employers, to prepare ardent spirits in some form, to be drank in the middle of the afternoon." In common with the other clerks of the establishment, he partook of the pleasant beverage, until he found himself longing for the stimulus, as the hour for serving it approached, when be had the resolution to abandon the dangerous habit. Many years afterward, he wrote to a young friend, respecting this incident in his life, as follows: “In the first place, take this for your motto, at the commencement of your journey, that the difference of going just right, or a little wrong, will be the difference of finding yourself in good quarters, or in a miserable bog or slough at the end of it. Of
the whole number educated in the Groton stores, for some years before and after myself, no one else, to my knowledge, escaped the bog or slough; and my escape I trace to the simple fact of my having put a restraint upon my appetite.'
When Mr. Lawrence became of age, he was seen on his way to Boston, with twenty dollars in his pocket, his seven years' experience, and his good principles, as his only capital with which to begin the business of life. After a brief clerkship in Boston, he commenced business for himself, in Dec., 1807, in a small store, in what was then known as Cornhill
. How the young merchant got on in his new business, without capital, may in part be guessed at from what he wrote years afterward, to a friend". "I practiced upon the maxim, ' Business before friends,' from the commencement of my course. During the first seven years of my business in this city, I never allowed å bill against me to stand unsettled over the Sabbath. If the purchase of goods was made at auction on Saturday, and delivered to me, 1 always examined and settled the bill, by note or by crediting it, and having it clear, so that, in case I was not on duty on Monday, there would be no trouble for my boys; thus keeping the business before me, instead of allowing it to drive me." With such principles he became most eminently successful in his mercantile ca
All the time he could spare from his business was devoted to charitable la. bors. After his death, this inscription was found in his pocket: “What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul." No accurate statement can be made of all the sums which he bestowed on various objects. The calls on him were continual; and it has been conjectured that the whole amount of his benefactions exceeded $700,000; yet he died worth about $1,000,000. This event took place in Dec., 1852, when he was in the 66th year of his age. His younger brother, Abbot Lawrence, and partner in his merchandising and manufacturing, was appointed minister to England in Taylor's administration. He also was noted for his princely benefactions to objects of public utility; in all amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. He died three years later than his brother, Amos.
John Singleton Copley was born in Boston, in 1738, and became a pupil of the celebrated English portrait painter, Smibert, who accompanied Dean Berkeley to Rhode Island. His patronage waning, he went to England at the outbreak of the revolution, and with Benjamin West obtained fortune and great fame as a painter of portraits and of historical subjects. He died in 1815. Twelve years later, his Boston born son became lord chancellor of England, and was elevated to the peeraye, with the title of Lord Lyndhurst.
William Hickling Prescott, so eminent as an historical writer, was born at Salem, in 1796; graduated at Harvard, and died in Boston, Jan. 28, 1859. Notwithstanding his great fame in Europe and America, it was said that in private life, " the man was more than his books—his character loftier than all his reputation.'
Horatio Greenough, the earliest American who gained eminence as a sculptor, was born in Boston, in 1805, and died in Newport, R. I., in 1852. He spent many years of his life in Italy, and whether at home or abroad, was the prized friend of the most cultivated of men. The work in which he took the greatest pride was his collossal statue of Washington, which now ornaments the public grounds in the city of Washington.