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The subject of this memoir commenced his political career under the royal government in Massachusetts, and continued in the public councils almost to the close of the last war with Great Britain. During this long period, he sustained high and responsible offices, which peculiarly connected him with “both the political ages of our country.”
In measures, which dissolved the power of the British crown over the colony of Massachusetts; in the establishment of a new government by the people ; in the declaration of independence by the United States; in the direction of the civil, military, foreign and domestic concerns of the continent during the war of the revolution; in arrangements for the cessation of hostilities and in the
administration of affairs after the treaty of peace, the individual of:whose life some account is now to-be given, was conspicuously concerned.
In the convention to form a constitution for the confederacy, which may be considered a new epoch in the history of the United States, he attracted no common share of public attention.
At the organization of the federal government, he was a member of the house of representatives ; during the negotiations, which ended in the termination of our treaties with France, he was engaged in an important embassy to that power; during the excitement and agitation which preceded the second war with England, he was at the head of the government of Massachusetts, and through the greater part of that war presided over the senate of the United States.
This connexion with distant and important events in the history of his country, belongs almost exclusively to him. Four of his associates in the colonial legislature and provincial congress of Massachusetts were his colleagues in the congress which declared the independence of the United States, but neither of them were members of the convention which prepared the federal constitution. Of the whole number who signed the declaration of independence, seven only were members of the latter assembly. Again, the first and second congress under the new government contained
individuals who had been distinguished in the civil or military service of the revolution, and several who had assisted in forming the present constitution, but the number of those concerned in both these events was small. Time rapidly made that number less, and when the subject of this memoir took the chair of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, few of his associates in the revolution were in its councils ; at a subsequent period, when he presided in the senate of the nation, he is believed to have been the only individual, in any branch of the government, who had been a member of the “ immortal congress of 1776."
Two only of his colleagues of the revolution attained an equal elevation under the constitution of the United States. They passed indeed to a rank one degree higher in its service ; but of these eminent citizens one ceased to hold public office about the commencement of the present century, and the other retired in the year 1809. Subsequent to this latter period, ELBRIDGE GERRY was governour of Massachusetts, and died in 1814, vice-president of the United States.
To enter into the service of the country while a royal colony, to sign the declaration of independence, to assist in the forming of the constitution,