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raneous commentaries made on it by the friends of the ministry at home and abroad, there was much cavil at its doctrines and some question as to its facts, but no objection, that we have seen, to its high merits as an effort of intellectual skill. In a true republican spirit it places the objects of
government in the good of the governed, and its right on their will ; and as a corollary therefrom asserts the power of the people to abolish one government and institute another, “ lying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
This was a doctrine to be sure, which had for many years been familiar to the patriots of the American congress.
In the controversy between the governour and house of representatives in Massachusetts, it had been the theme of many an able harangue and eloquent state paper; and to illustrate and enforce it, and to bring the public mind to admit it and to feel its weight and importance, and its inseparable connexion with public liberty, had been the unceasing effort of the republican advocates throughout the continent. The declaration did indeed contain nothing new, but the occasion was not one which demanded new truth or new argument; it required a solemn, forcible, impressive recognition of truth that was familiar. This the declaration contains. “To say of the author that he performed his great work well, would be doing him injustice. To say that he did excellently well, admirably well, would be inadequate and halting praise. Let us rather say, that he so discharged the duty assigned him, that all Americans may rejoice that the work of drawing the title deed of their liberties devolved on him."
Letter communicating the Declaration of Independence........ Received
with joy in Massachusetts........ Character of the Act........ Committee of Congress visit Camp......Letter from Head Quarters.
The great event, in which he had most heartily co-operated, was communicated without delay by Mr. Gerry to his constituents in Massachusetts.
MR. GERRY TO GENERAL WARREN.
PHILADELPHIA, July 5, 1776. DEAR SIR, I have the pleasure to inform you that a determined resolution of the delegates from some of the colonies to push the question of independency has had a most happy effect, and after a day's debate all the colonies excepting New-York, whose delegates are not empowered to give either an affirmative or negative voice, united in a declaration long sought for, solicited and necessary, the declaration of independency.
* The word was usually spelt in that manner. Hence the point of a remark made by a tory to a member of congress, “ You bave all gone far enough to be treated as rebels, and may expect to be in a state of pendency (that is to be hung) whether you declare for independency or not.”
New-York will most probably on Monday next, when its convention meets for forming a constitution, join in the measure, and then it will be entitled the unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America.
I enclose you a copy of the declaration for yourself, and another for major Hawley, and offer you my sincere congratulations on the occasion, and I pray that we may never want the divine aid, or the spirit and the means to defend it.
The delegates from New-York received the expected authority. On the twentieth of July the places of the delegates from Pennsylvania, who had retired, were supplied by a new election. In expectation of this event it was on the nineteenth of July ordered that the declaration passed on the fourth, and which had in the usual manner been authenticated by the signature of the president only, be fairly engrossed on parchment with the title and style of “ The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America,” and that the same when engrossed be signed by every member of congress. On the second day of August the copy being made and examined was signed at the table by the members then present, and of course bears the names of some gentlemen, who were not members on the day it was originally adopted.
As an event in political history nothing is entitled to higher consideration than the independence of the United States. Not merely did a new nation take rank with the empires of the earth, but the immutable principles, on which its right to do so rested, became distinctly avowed, better understood and more widely extended, and a foundation was established for incalculable improvement in the moral and political character of mankind.
The necessity of a change in the relation between Great Britain and her colonies was early perceived by American statesmen. It was urged on by men of forethought and political knowledge, and was consummated by a fearlessness and intrepidity, which disregarded all personal considerations in devotion to the public good.
Physical courage merely is not indeed a rare quality. It is seen in the rudest of our race. Its greatest efforts are often displayed for very inferiour objects. But that higher quality of mind, which shrinks not from the most fearful responsibility that duty requires, and is ready to jeopardize not merely life or fortune, but what to men of this class is their dearer jewel reputation, on the uncertainty of future events, is the sublimest display of moral greatness. Men are drawn into battle often by an impulse, which they cannot control ; they engage