페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

his age that he should not undertake it again. But he did, on the very next 4th of July, deliver an oration at Newburyport, aud afterwards by appointment nearly every year to the close of his life engaged more or less in public speaking.

During the fall of 1836 the Congressional election took place in Massachusetts. Mr. Adams was nominated formally by the Anti-Masons, the Whigs often refraining from voting for or against him.

On taking his seat in Congress, in December, he was again made chairman of the Committee of Manufactures. Before leaving Washington in May, 1837, Mr. Adams visited President Van Buren, and had a long conversation with him. This was the first time, he wrote, that he had set his foot in the White House since March 3, 1829.

At the close of his 4th of July oration at Newburyport, this year, an old woman came to Mr. Adams and shook hands with him, and told him that although she had had some doubts on the subject, she was now convinced that he was a Christian. The people of his State more generally and openly approved his course at this time than they had ever done before.

He was becoming more schooled, too, to insult and ill-treatment in Congress, and seemed rather to enjoy the wordy conflicts through which he passed in the House and in the newspapers, taking pleasure in his triumphs, and warlike courage from his defeats.

One of the new members appearing in the special session of 1837, was R. B. Rhett, of South Carolina. Of him Mr. Adams wrote in the Diary:—

"Robert Barnwell Rhett moved a long amendment, and literally howled a nullification speech. I say howled, for his enunciation was so rapid, inarticulate, and vociferous, that his head hung back as he spoke, with his face upward like that of a howling dog."

On the last day of September, 1837, Mr. Adams wrote in his Diary, which was now often neglected :—

"As I was coming down the steps of the Capitol, a man by the name of Towle stopped me, and inquired if I would sit to Mrs. Towle for my portrait. I stopped with him at his house, which is the same where Powers had his molding-room. I saw Mrs. Towle and her collection of portraits, consisting of Van Buren, R. M. Johnson, Polk, the Speaker, T. H. Benton, Amos Kendall, and H. A. Wise, unfinished. I was not over-ambitious to appear in such company. . . . Nor was I much charmed with Mrs. Towle's execution of portraits. Yet, as an act of courtesy, I promised to sit, if, during the winter session, I should have leisure."

Not long after this he was sitting to another "artist," showing that in this vulgar custom he was not different from most other public men, like all distinguished democrats, having, however, some scruples about his associates.

Early the first winter, Mr. Adams thought it necessary to exercise some caution in his friendly relations with President Van Buren. So decided were the circumstances that he was not among the callers at the White House on New-Year's day. He was not always accurate or consistent in his judgment of men, at one time comparing Mr. Van Buren with Aaron Burr, at another with Mr. Madison. These varying and extravagant notions, however seldom they were uttered, laid him liable to charges of ulterior purposes, or unnecessary trifling.

Soon after the close of Congress in 1838, Mr. Adams accepted an invitation to deliver an address in New York City, at the jubilee of the inauguration of General Washington as first President of the United States. This address was delivered at Middle Dutch Church, on Cedar Street, at noon, Tuesday, April 30, 1839, Mr. Adams having gone from Washington for the purpose. Morgan Lewis, Colonel John Trumbull, and perhaps some other soldiers of the Revolution were present, besides a vast assemblage of the fair women and patriotic men of New York. The oration was preceded by the singing of the following ode, prepared for the occasion by William Cullen Bryant:—

"Great were the hearts, and strong the minds,
Of those who framed, in high debate,
The immortal league of love that binds
Our fair broad empire, State with State.

And ever hallowed be the hour,

When, as the auspicious task was done,

A nation's gift, the sword of power,
Was given to glory's unspoiled son.

That noble race is gone; the suns

Of fifty years have risen and set;
The holy links those mighty ones

Had forged and knit, are brighter yet

Wide—as our own free race increase—

Wide shall it stretch the elastic chain,
And bind, in everlasting peace,

State after State, a mighty train."

Inspired by the oration, Mr. Bryant composed, on the spot, another poem which was read in the evening at the "big dinner" given in "honor " of Mr. Adams at the City Hotel. Mr. Adams's oration on this occasion, " The Jubilee of the Constitution," was at once copyrighted and published in a book of one hundred and twenty octavo pages, and was deemed one of the most scholarly and patriotic performances of his life. The following are his closing remarks :—

"It has been my purpose, fellow-citizens, in this discourse to show:—

"1. That this Union was formed by a spontaneous movement of.the people of thirteen English Colonies; all subjects of the king of Great Britain—bound to him in allegiance, and to the British Empire as their country; that the first object of this Union was united resistance against oppression, and to obtain from the government of their country redress of their wrongs.

"2. That failing in this object, their petitions having been spurned, and the oppressions of which they complained, aggravated beyond endurance, their delegates in Congress, in tiieir name and by their authority, issued the Declaration of Independence; proclaiming them to the world as mie people, absolving them from their ties and oaths of allegiance to their king and country; renouncing that country; declaring the United Colonies independent States, and announcing that this One People of thirteen united independent States, by that act, assumed among the powers of the earth that separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitled them.

"3. That in justification of themselves for this act of transcendent power, they proclaimed the principles upon which they held all lawful government upon earth to be founded—which principles were, the natural, unalienable, imprescriptible rights of man, specifying among them, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that the institution of government is to secure to men in society the possession of those rights; that the institution, dissolution, and reinstitution of government belong exclusively to The People, under a moral responsibility to the Supreme Ruler of the universe; and that all the jud powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed.

"4. That under this proclamation of principles, the dissolulution of allegiance to the British king, and the compatriot connection with the people of the British Empire, were accomplished, and the one people of the United States of America became one separate, sovereign, independent power, assuming an equal station among the nations of the earth.

"5. That this one people did not immediately institute a government for. themselves. But instead of it, their delegates in Congress, by authority from their separate State Legislatures, without voice or consultation of the people, instituted a mere confederacy.

"6. That this confederacy totally departed from the principles of the Declaration of Independence, and substituted, instead of the constituent power of the people, an assumed sovereignty of each separate State, as the source of all its authority.

"7. That as a primitive source of power, this separate State sovereignty was not only a departure from the principles of the Declaration of Independence, but directly contrary to and utterly incompatible with them.

"8. That the tree was made known by its fruits. That after five years wasted in its preparation, the confederacy dragged out a miserable existence of eight years more, and expired like a candle in the socket, having brought the Union itself to the verge of dissolution.

"9. That the Constitution of the United States was a return to the principles of the Declaration of Independence, and the exclusive constituent power of the people. That it was the work of the One People of the United States; and that those United States, though doubled in numbers, still constitute, as a Nation,

but ONE PEOPLE.

"10. That this Constitution, making due allowance for the imperfections and errors incident to all human affairs, has, under all the vicissitudes and changes of war and peace, been administered upon those same principles during a career of fifty years.

"11. That its fruits have been, still making allowance for human imperfection, a more perfect union, established justice, domestic tranquillity, provision for the common defense, promotion of the general welfare, and the enjoyment of the blessings of liberty by the constituent people, and their posterity, to the present day.

"And now the future is all before us, and Providence our guide.

"When the children of Israel, after forty years of wanderings in the wilderness, were about to enter upon the promised land, their leader, Moses, who was not permitted to cross the Jordan with them, just before his removal from among them, commanded that when the Lord their God should have brought them into the land, they should put the curse upon Mount Ebal,

« 이전계속 »