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LIVES OF THE SIGNERS.
SAMUEL ADAMS. The memories of few men will perhaps be cherished, by their posterity, with a more jealous and grateful admiration than those of the patriotic individuals, who first signed the political independence of our country. They hazarded by the deed not only their lands and possessions, but their personal freedom and their lives; and when it is considered that most of them were in the vigor of existence, gifted with considerable fortunes, and with all the offices and emoluments at the disposal of royalty within their reach, the sacrifice which they risked appears magnified, and their disinterested patriotism more worthy of remembrance. Although many of them can rest their sole claim to lasting distinction upon the one great act with which they were adventitiously connected, still their lives present a valuable transcript of the times in which they lived, and afford examples of inflexible honesty, heroic decision, and noble energy of mind, quite as interesting as any records of the eccentricities of genius, or the grasping efforts of ambition.
Not one of the least ardent and uncompromising asserters of the rights and liberties of his country, was the subject of our present sketch-SAMUEL ADANS. This gentleman, descended from a respectable family, which emigrated to America with the first settlers of the land, was born at Quincy, in Massachusetts, September 22.1, 1722. In 1736, he became a member of Harvard Col. lege, and took his degree of Master in 1743. On this latter occasion, he proposed the following question, in which he maintained the affirmative: “ Whether it be lawful to resist the supreme magistrate, if the commonwealth cannot be otherwise preserved ?"
On quitting the university, he commenced the study of
the law; but soon afterwards, at the request of his mother, became a clerk in the counting-house of Thomas Cush. ing, at that time an eminent merchant. The genius of Adams was not suited to commercial pursuits. His de votion to politics, and his interest in the welfare of his country, diverted his attention from his own business concerns; and he retired from his mercantile connexions poorer by far than when he entered into them. In 1763," when a committee was appointed by the people of Boston to remonstrate against the taxation of the colonies by the British ministry, the instructions of that committee were drawn by Mr. Adams, and gave a powerful proof of his ability and zeal. He soon became an influential leader in the popular assemblies, and was bold in denouncing the oppressive acts of the mother country.
In 1765, he was chosen a representative to the General Court of the State, from the town of Boston. Here he soon made himself conspicuous, and became clerk of the legislative body. About this time he was the author of several spirited essays, and plans of resistance to the ex actions of the British ministry. He suggested the first Congress at New York, which was a step to the establishment of a Continental Congress, ten years after.
In 1770, two regiments of troops were quartered in the town of Boston, apparently to superintend the conduct of the inhabitants. This measure roused the public indig, nation to the utmost, and soon gave occasion to a quarrel between a party of soldiers and citizens, in which eleven of the latter were killed or wounded, by a guard, under the command of Captain Preston. This rencontre, which is well known under the name of the “ Boston Massacre," and will long remain memorable as the first instance of bloodshed between the British and Americans, did not tend to allay the excitement caused by the presence of the troops. On the following morning a meeting of the citizens was called, and Samuel Adams first rose to alldress the assembly. His style of eloquence was bold and impressive, and few could exercise a more absolute control over the passions of a multitude. A committee, of which he was one, was chosen to wait upon Governor Hutchinson, with a request that the troops might be in.
stantly removed. The Governor replied, that the troops were not under his command: but Adams, with his usual intrepidity, would brcok no prevarication or excuse, and declared that if he permitted them to remain, it would be at his peril. The Governor, alarmed at the personal dan. ger which threatened him, finally consented to the de. .mand, and further hostilities were, for a time, suspended.
The injudicious management of his private affairs ren. dered Mr. Adams poor. When this was known in Eng land, it was proposed to bribe him, by the gift of some lucrative office. A suggestion of the kind being made to Gorernor Hutchinson, he replied, that “such was the obstinacy and inflexible disposition of the man, that he could never be conciliated by any office or gist whatever.” A higher compliment could not have been paid him. The offer however was made, it is said, and rejected. About the year 1773, Governor Gage renewed the experiment. Colonel Fenton waited upon Mr. Adams, with the assurance of Governor Gage, that any benefit he might ask would be conferred on him, on condition that he would forsake the popular faction ; while, at the same time, significant threats were thrown out, of the consequences which might ensue, if he persisted in his opposi. tion to the measures of the ministry. The reply of the undaunted patriot was characteristic: “Go, tell Governor Gage,” said he,“ that my peace has long since been made with the King of kings ; and that it is the advice of Samuel Adams to him, no longer to insult the feelings of an already exasperated people.”
Under the irritation produced by this answer, Governor Gage issued a proclamation, which comprehended the following language: “I do hereby, in his majesty's name, offer and promise his most gracious pardon to all persons, who shall forthwith lay down their arms, and return to the duties of peaceable subjects: excepting only from the benefits of such pardon, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, whose offences are of too flagitious a nature to admit of any other consideration but that of condign punish. ment."
Mr. Adams was a member of the first Continental Con. gress, which assembled in Philadelphia, in 1774; and he
remained an active member of that body until the year 1781. During this period, he was one of the warmest adrocates for the declaration of American independence. After that declaration had been irrevocably adopted, and when the subsequent gloom which overspread the land hau depressed the spirits of the most ardent advocates of liberty, the firmness and enthusiasm of Mr. Adarns were unchanged. His example contributed in a high degree to inspire his countrymen with a confidence of their fina. success. The following encomium upon him is from a work upon the American rebellion, by Mr. Galloway, published in England, in 1780: “He eats litile, drinks litile, sleeps little, thinks much, and is most indefatigable in the pursuit of his object. It was this man, who, by his superior application, managed at once the factions in Congress at Philadelphia, and the factions of New England."
In 1781, Mr. Adams retired from Congress : but having already been a member of the Convention which formed the Constitution of his native State, he was placed in the Senate, and for several years presided over that body In 1789, he was elected Lieutenant Governor, in which office he continued till 1794 ; when, upon the death of Hancock, he was chosen Governor, and was annually reelected till 1797, when he retired from public lise. He died October 20, 1803, at the advanced age of eighty-two.
In his person, Mr. Adams was only of the middle size, but his countenance indicated great decision of purpose and an energetic mind. He was a sincere and practical Christian ; and the last production of his pen was in favor of Christian truth. His writings were voluminous, but as they chiefly related to the temporary politics of the day, few of them remain. He always manifested a singular indifference to pecuniary considerations. He was poor while he lived; and, it has been said, that had not the death of an only son relieved the poverty of his latter days, Samuel Adams would have had to claim a burial from private charity, or at the public expense.
JOSIAH BARTLETT. Josian BARTLETT, Governor of New Hampshire, ind the first from that State who signed the Declaration of Independence, was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in 1729. Without the advantages of a collegiate education, but possessing a competent knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages, he commenced the study of medicine at the age of sixteen. After devoting himself for five years to the acquisition of the necessary knowledge and experience, he commenced the practice of his profession at Kingston, in the year 1750. Here he soon obtained very considerable reputation, and introduced many efficacious changes in the treatment of several diseases.
In the year 1765, Doctor Bartlett was elected to the Legislature of the province of New Hampshire, from the town of Kingston. In his legislative capacity, he was a determined opposer of the mercenary views of the royal Governor, John Wentworth, who, desiring to conciliate him to his interest, appointed him justice of the peace This, though a trivial distinction, was a token of the Governor's respect for his talents and influence. Doctor Bartlett accepted the appointment, but continued firm in his opposition. His attachment to the patriotic side, and the spirit with which he resisted the royal exactions, soon afterwards produced his dismissal from the commission of justice of the peace, as also from a command which he held in the militia.
In 1774, a Convention was convoked at Exeter, for the purpose of choosing deputies to the Continental Congress, which was to meet at Philadelphia. In this Convention, Doctor Bartlett, and John Pickering, a lawyer of Portsmouth, were appointed delegates to Congress ; but the former, having a little previously lost his house by fire, was obliged to decline the honor. The latter gentleman wishing likewise to be excused, others were chosen in their stead. From this time the political difficulties in New Hampshire increased. At length Governor Wentworth found it expedient to retire on board a man-of-war then lying in the harboi of Portsmouth; and soon after issued his proclamation -djourning the State Assembly