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leagues to this distinguished station, which only the most eminent could occupy, is an imperishable record of his worth in the colony of Massachu

His whole time, indeed, had been devoted to the public from the organization of the provincial assembly. Measures of the highest importance, taxing to the utmost the integrity, firmness, and ability of the parties, had been the daily subject of discussion by men deeply interested in the result. Selected through the province for their talents and their zeal, and entering on their appropriate duties with an honourable rivalship, all the faculties of the mind, all the qualities of the heart by which honour and distinction may be claimed, had full and free opportunity for exercise in the assembly, of which, for three years, he had been an assiduous member. His election to a more extensive field of duty by such colleagues after such trial, and for the great objects then more distinctly in view, is a proof of the esteem and respect, in which they who knew him best were accustomed to hold him, and cannot but be taken into consideration in those occurrences of his subsequent life, where his firmness or ability or the value of his public services have for political and party purposes been made the subject of discussion.

The continental congress, of which Mr. Gerry now became a member, was the source and centre of that power, which thenceforward conducted the

American revolution. The anarchy usually attending a change of government was prevented by the early organization of provincial assemblies, but confusion and collision among the assemblies or the provinces were happily prevented by the existence of this dignified convention. The members who composed it possessed the confidence and the esteem of the people. Its moderation reconciled the timid, its energy satisfied the bold, while the wisdom, the public spirit and private virtue of its collective character, secured to it an unbounded popularity.* The orderly spirit of an educated people lead them naturally to fall into sentiments and measures which had this respectable sanction, and secured the colonies in the whole course of their arduous conflict from the crimes of rapacity, cruelty or violence, which, in other countries and under different councils, have tracked the progress of revolution, and marked its various vicissitudes with bloodshed and crime.

The government of the continental congress, to which the patriot and the christian are under equal obligations, was commenced at a period of general distress, was continued by the excitement

* During the whole revolution, congress maintained its character for strict veracity. Deception, even under defeat, made no part of its policy. Whatever public declaration hore the signature of the secretary, passed as unquestionable truth. The name of Charles Thompson was, in matters of political history, like the attestation of St. Paul on subjects of religious belief.

It was

produced in the public mind, was matured amid all the dangers and the outrages threatened or perpetrated on their constituents and friends. instituted as the champion of the country's freedom against the unnatural efforts of a vindictive and tyrannical enemy; it was exposed to all those temptations which an unsettled state of things invariably present, to the allurements of a wild ambition, or the gratification of a stern revenge. Had it been influenced by a love of power, it might itself have encroached on public liberty ; or, if seduced by cupidity of wealth, it might almost without restriction have been the safe plunderer of the public treasure; or, if instigated by those feelings which have marked the changes of power in other countries with crime, it might easily enough have satiated a ferocious spirit of revenge. All the checks, which in later times are considered so essential to good government, were removed, except only a proud spirit of patriotism and a respectful submission to public sentiment; and by the blessing of God these were all-powerful. To all future time an American citizen may look with a better spirit than that of military triumph on the fair escutcheon of his country's fame; and, if the civic virtues by which more than by feats of arms a nation becomes truly great, are in any respect owing to the character of the government, he may find the origin of that character in the continental congress of the revolution.

It may be useful to enquire how this great and controlling power was established.

The thirteen American colonies had, at the commencement of the revolution, whatever period may be assumed for that memorable epoch, no common source of power except the British crown. Separated into distinct colonial establishments, the people every where had some right of sending a delegation to provincial assemblies; but this right was derived from charters which had at different times been granted by royal authority. The internal affairs of each colony or province were managed under the directions of such charter, which provided for the assembling of provincial legislatures, and for the due exercise of an executive authority, by persons more or less under the control of the crown. No regularly established union existed among them; and whenever the authority of the mother country was removed, the whole power of government necessarily devolved on the people of each separate province, which thereby became, de facto, an independent state.

It was early seen by the American patriots, that a state of division would be a condition of weakness; that a controversy with the British empire, difficult and arduous enough under any circumstances, would be utterly desperate if conducted by a single colony, or by all in succession, and that an union of effort for the common object

was the only means which could make resistance any thing but madness.

To establish a common power, which should have a control over the continent, became obviously indispensable; and it is to the glory of the men of those days, not only that they so early discerned the policy of this procedure, but that they suffered no sectional or imaginary interest to obstruct the execution of their plan. At the moment, however, when this great convention was first projected, the extent of the influence it was destined to exert could scarcely have been conceived. Resistance by force of arms was no part of the original design ; or if there were those prophetic spirits that saw the coming storm in the small cloud which was beginning to appear on the horizon, they had not such distinct vision of future time as to be themselves satisfied how best to escape from the danger.

The first continental congress assembled in the character of a committee for consultation. The powers delegated to the members were limited to the object which they were intended to accomplish.

The province of Massachusetts, which was the very seat of the oppression and injustice of the British ministry, naturally would feel more seriously than even her neighbours, the importance of measures for relief; yet the resolutions of this province of 17th June 1774, declare "This house,

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