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was adopted. This was not the case. Messrs. Franklin, Rush, Clymer, Wilson, Ross, Carroll, Taylor and others, as in the case of Dr. Thornton, were not members on that day. Finding the measure would probably
. be sanctioned by a majority, fear seized several members who resigned their seats and run for dear life. Let their names rest in oblivion. The name of Thomas McKean is not upon the printed records although he was present and signed the Declaration at the time of its adoption. Henry Wisner a member from Orange County, New York, was present and signed the original manuscript whose name has never been properly recognized. He was a highly respectable member and a fearless patriot. How these errors occurred cannot now be told.
Dr. Thornton ably discharged the important duties of his station until his services were required upon the Bench. On the 24th of December of the same year he was re-elected to Congress and served until the 23d of January following, when he took his final leave of the National Legislature highly esteemed by his colleagues, enjoying the approval of his constituents and the proud consciousness of having performed his duty toward his country and his God.
For six years he served on the Bench of the Superior Court and on that of Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, the combined duties rendering his services arduous. He filled these stations with dignity and impartiality. In 1779 he removed to Exeter and soon after purchased a farm upon the bank of the Merrimack river that he might enjoy that repose his advanced age required. But in this he was disappointed. He became a member of the General Court and served in the State Senate from that time up to 1785. On the 25th of January 1784 he was appointed a justice of the peace and quorum throughout the state, an important office under the original constitution but abridged in jurisdiction by amendments in 1792. In 1785 he retired from the political arena but continued to afford salutary counsel on all important matters involving the public good. During the controversy between his state and Vermont relative to disputed territory, he wrote several letters to those in power urging conciliatory measures and unconditional submission to the decision of Congress. They were highly creditable to him as a writer and a discreet man. In public or private matters he was
a peace maker.
Dr. Thornton was a large portly man over six feet in height, well proportioned with an expressive countenance lighted up with keen piercing black eyes. He was one of the most fascinating men of his time. He was seldom known to smile but was cheerful, entertaining and instructive-in many respects similar to Dr. Franklin. His mind was stored with a rich variety of useful knowledge which rendered
a him an interesting companion. He sustained an unblemished private character and discharged all the social relations of life with faithfulness and fidelity. He was wisely opposed to sectarianism-belonged to no church but was devoutly pious, exemplifying primitive Christianity all the beauty of practical development and apostolic simplicity. He was a regular attendant of public worship.
He was a kind husband, an affectionate father and a good neighbor. He was exact in collecting his dues and as exact in paying his creditors. The poor he never pressed. If he found they were unable to pay he cancelled their account. He was kind, charitable and liberal.
He died at Newburyport, Mass. on the 24th of June 1803, whilst on a visit with his daughter. His remains were conveyed to New Hampshire and deposited near Thornton's Ferry on the bank of the Merrimack river where a neat marble slab rests over his dust with the Collowing laconic and significant epitaph.
AN HONEST MAN,
JOSEPH B. VARNUM.
The man who despises labor and treats the working man as an inferior being-except on the eve of an election or time of war-should never be elevated to an office of honor or profit. Such men seem to forget that every article used is the result of labor. They do not realize that the working classes are the original producers of the physical comforts they enjoy. I refer particularly to those who dig the soil, work our minerals, shape our timber-manufacture our fabrics and conduct our commerce-the bone and sinew of our country who have raised it to a scale of grandeur unparalleled in point of greatness in so short a time. By the force of labor our lands, wilderness, minerals,
a rivers, lakes-all have been made the means of rapidly advancing the prosperity of our expanding nation. Labor is a dignity conferred on man by his Creator-a dignity that is highly appreciated by all sensible men. Aristocracy depreciates it to make serfs and reduce its value. Monopolists often undervalue it to increase their sordid gains by short allowance and poor pay. Demagogues look down upon it and aim to impress the working man with their assumed fictitious superiority that they may obtain his vote by a little condescending familiarity just before election. Away with all this trash and much more that might be named. Let the laborer assume his proper dignity-know and feel that without him our country would become a barren waste-our iniprovements moulder in ruins-our nation rush back to original chaos. All should be employed in some laudable manner. Idleness is not sanctioned by nature, ethics, theology-Pagan or Christian philosophy by experience or common sense. Man was made for action-noble and god-like action. Working men of America! on you depends the onward and upward course of these United States. On you rests the high responsibility of perpetuating our glorious UNION. You have the votes—if you think, judge and act with intelligence and independence-all will be right. If you are made the abject tools of dishonest politicians-LIBERTY is lost-FREEDOM is
gone. The Sages and Heroes of the American Revolution were actively laborious. Most of them were from the classes above enumerated. Washington and Jefferson thought it a respectable healthful exercise to work on their plantations. Among those who did not despise labor and highly appreciated the working man-was Joseph B. Varnum, born in Dracut, Massachusetts, in 1750. He was raised upon a farm and left his plough to do battle for his bleeding country. He had acquired a good English education-had studied men and things thoroughly-understood the rights of the Colonies and strongly felt the wrongs imposed upon them by mother Britain. He promptly rendered his best services to advance the cause of human rights. He became an active military man and filled various posts-up to Major General of militia. He was long conspicuous in the political field. He warmly approved of the Declaration of Independence and every measure calculated to advance the cause of Liberty and drive from our shores the last vestige of British power. He was also a zealous advocate for the adoption of the Federal Constitution and a member of the Massachusetts Convention that sanctioned it. “ Federalist” was first applied to those who were warmly in favor of this sacred instrument-“ Democrat” to the opposite party. Those who understand the doctrines of the various governments can comprehend the terms.
Gen. Varnum was repeatedly elected to the legislature of Massachusetts. He was long a member of the House of Representatives and Senate of the United States and speaker of the lower house at a time when the storm of party spirit increased to a tornado and threatened to dash the ship of state upon the rocks of dissolution. Under all circumstances he was calm, collected, impartial, just and independent. Nothing could induce him to swerve from the stern path of strict integrity. Party spirit had no charms or terrors for him. The good of his whole country he aimed to promote regardless of personal consequences Beyond or short of that he had no favors to ask or grant. Would to God that all our public men were of the same stamp at the present day.
After filling the measure of his country's glory, Gen. Varnum retired from public life to his paternal mansion in Dracut to enjoy the refreshing comforts of domestic life. There he glided peacefully down the stream of time until the 11th of September 1821 when he was taken suddenly ill and became fully sensible he must enter upon the untried scenes of eternity in a few hours. He called his family around himarranged his earthly concerns-directed that no military display should be made at his funeral-that it should be conducted without vain pompappointed his pall-bearers and slumbered in death. Not a stain rests on the fair escutcheon of his public or private character.
GEORGE WALTON. .
In this enlightened age and in our free country, ignorance is a voluntary misfortune arising from idleness-the parent of want, vice and shame. Under the benevolent arrangements of the present day every
hild, youth, woman and man can have access to books and generally to schools. At no former age of the world has the mantle of education been so widely spread. All who will may drink at the pure fountain of intelligence and walk in the light. They may obtain that knowledge which will lead them to the green pastures of virtue-the parent of earthly happiness and heavenly joys. By a proper improvement of time the plough boys of the field-the mill boys of the slashes and the apprentice boys of the shops may lay in a stock of useful information that will enable them to take a respectable stand by the side of those who know more of colleges but less of men and things. Instances of this kind have occurred and I trust will be rapidly increased. Youth and young men of America-in your own hands are the materials of future fame and usefulness. Neglect to properly improve them, oblivial obscurity or withering infamy will be your fate. You are the architects of your own fortunes. You will rise in the scale of respectability and importance just in proportion to the correct culture of your mental powers. Your immortal minds cannot be dormant. If you do not sow the seeds of wisdom noxious weeds will grow spontaneously and leave you to reap the whirlwind of keen regret and consuming anguish. Youth and young men of America-if you desire the perpetuity of that Liberty purchased by the blood and treasure of your ancestors-store your minds with useful knowledge. If you love a Republic more than monarchy, freedom more than slavery, religious liberty more than hierarchy-store your minds with useful knowledge. Imitate the bright examples of those whose history is spread upon the pages of this book who raised themselves to usefulness, fame and glory by the force of their own exertions.
In the history of George Walton another striking instance of this kind is beautifully illustrated. He was born in Frederic County, Vira givia, in 1740. Without any school education he was apprenticed to a morose carpenter at an early age, who was too penurious to allow George a candle to read by although an unusually active and faithful boy. Fortunately pine knots were plenty and free. By the light of these he prosecuted his studies during his boyhood and youth. He fulfilled his indentures to the letter. When manhood dawned upon him he was free in person and mind. He had accumulated a rich stock of useful knowledge to what purpose the sequel will show. This he had acquired alone by untiring industry during those hours of night when a large proportion of boys and youth are either reposing in the embrace of Morpheus or hastening on their ruin by associating with corrupt and vicious companions-demonstrating most clearly that ignorance is a voluntary misfortune-that man is the architect of his own character.
At the age of twenty-one Mr. Walton went to Georgia and read law under Henry Young and became a safe counsellor and able advocate. During his investigation of the principles laid down by Blackstone and other elementary writers, he was forcibly impressed with the gross violations of the charter and constitutional rights of the Colonies. The more closely he investigated the more his indignation was roused. He freely expressed his views and feelings and was among the first to oppose the high-handed policy of the British cabinet. He found a few kindred spirits-but by a large majority the crown was sustained in Georgia longer than in any other colony. Many desired freedom but believed its attainment a visionary idea. They preferred present sufferings rather than make an abortive attempt to disenthrall themselves lest heavier burthens should be placed upon them. They felt their own weakness-they dreaded the power of England. Not so with George Walton and a few others who had clustered around him. No display of chains or bayonets could intimidate them. To die in the cause of Liberty was more glorious in their view than to wear the shackles of a tyrant. They were determined never to bend a knee to kings or saorifice at the altar of monarchy. Freedom or death was their motto.