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enthusiasm which inspired the American bosom; which prompted her voice to proclaim defiance to the thunders of Britain; which consecrated the banners of her armies; and finally erected the holy temple of American liberty, over the tomb of departed tyranny. It is from those who have already passed the meridian of life, it is from you, ye venerable asserters of the rights of mankind, that we are to be informed, what were the feelings which swayed within your breasts and impelled you to action, when, like the stripling of Israel, with scarce a weapon to attack and without a shield for your defence, you met, and undismayed, engaged with the gigantic greatness of the British of the British power. Untutored in the disgraceful science of human butchery; destitute of the fatal materials which the ingenuity of man has combined, to sharpen the scythe of death; unsupported by the arm of any friendly alliance; and unfortified against the powerful assaults of an unrelenting enemy, you did not hesitate at that moment, when your coasts were infested by a formidable fleet, when your territories were invaded by a numerous and veteran army, to pronounce the sentence of eternal separation from Britain, and to throw the gauntlet at a power, the terror of whose recent triumphs was almost coextensive with the earth. The interested and selfish propensities, which in times of prosperous tranquillity have such powerful dominion over the heart, were all expelled; and in their stead, the public virtues, the spirit of personal devotion to the common cause, a contempt of every danger in comparison with the subserviency of the country, had assumed an unlimited control. The passion for the public, had absorbed all the rest; as the glorious luminary of heaven extinguishes in a flood of refulgence the twinkling splendor of every inferior planet. Those of you, my countrymen, who were actors in those interesting scenes, will best know, how feeble, and impotent is the language of this description to express the impassioned emotions of the soul, with which you were then agitated; yet it were
injustice to conclude from thence, or from the greater prevalence of private and personal motives in these days of calm serenity, that your sons have degenerated from the virtues of their fathers. Let it rather be a subject of pleasing reflection to you, that the generous and disinterested energies, which you were summoned to display, are permitted by the bountiful indulgence of heaven to remain latent in the bosoms of your children. From the present prosperous appearance of our public affairs, we may admit a rational hope that our country will have no occasion to require of us those extraordinary and heroic exertions which it was fortune to exhibit. But from the common versayour tility of all human destiny, should the prospect hereafter da ken, and the clouds of public misfortune thicken to a tempest; should the voice of our country's calamity ever call us to her relief, we swear by the precious memory of the sages who toiled, and of the heroes who bled in her defence, that we will prove ourselves not unworthy the prize, which they so dearly purchased; that we will act as the faithful disciples of those who so magnanimously taught us the instructive lesson of republican virtue.
Seven years of ineffectual hostility, a hundred millions of treasure fruitlessly expended, and uncounted thousands of human lives sacrificed to no purpose, at length taught the dreadful lesson of wisdom to the British government, and compelled them to relinquish a claim which they had long since been unable to maintain. The pride of Britain, which should have been humbled, was only mortified. With sullen impotence, she yielded to the pressure of accumulated calamity, and closed with reluctance an inglorious war, in which she had often been the object, and rarely the actor of a triumph.
The various occurrences of our national history, since that period, are within the recollection of all my hearers. The relaxation and debility of the political body, which succeeded the violent exertions it had
made during the war: the total inefficacy of the recommendatory federal system, which had been formed in the bosom of contention: the peaceable and deliberate adoption of a more effectual national constitution by the people of the union, and the prosperous administration of that government, which has repaired the shattered fabric of public confidence, which has strengthened the salutary bands of national union, and restored the bloom and vigor of impartial justice to the public countenance, afford a subject of pleasing contemplation to the patriotic mind. The repeated unanimity of the nation has placed at the head of the American councils, the heroic leader, whose prudence and valor conducted to victory the armies of freedom: and the two first offices of this commonwealth, still exhibit the virtues and employ the talents of the venerable patriots,* whose firm and disinterested devotion to the cause of Liberty, was rewarded by the honorable distinction of a British proscription. Americans! the voice of grateful freedom is a stranger to the language of adulation. While we wish these illustrious sages to be assured that the memory of their services is impressed upon all our hearts, in characters, indelible to the latest period of time, we trust that the most acceptable tribute of respect, which can be offered to their virtues, is found in the confidence of their countrymen. From the fervent admiration of future ages, when the historians of America, shall trace from their examples the splendid pattern of public virtue, their merits will receive a recompense of much more precious estimation than can be conferred by the most flattering testimonials of contemporaneous applause.
The magnitude and importance of the great event which we commemorate, derives a vast accession from its influence upon the affairs of the world, and its operation upon the history of mankind. It has already
* John Hancock and Samuel Adams, the two distinguished leaders of the republicans in Massachusetts.
been observed that the origin of the American revolu-. tion bears a character different from that of any other civil contest, that has ever arisen among men. It was not the convulsive struggle of slavery to throw off the burden of accumulated oppression; but the deliberate, though energetic effort of freemen, to repel the insidious approaches of tyranny. It was a contest involving the elementary principles of government—a question of right between the sovereign and the subject which, in its progress, had a tendency to introduce among the civilized nations of Europe, the discussion of a topic the first in magnitude, which can attract the attention of mankind, but which, for many centuries, the gloomy shades of despotism had overspread with impenetrable darkness. The French nation cheerfully supported an alliance with the United States, and a war with Britain, during the course of which a large body of troops and considerable fleets were sent by the French government, to act in conjunction with their new allies. The union, which had at first been formed by the coalescence of a common enmity, was soon strengthened by the bonds of a friendly intercourse, and the subjects of an arbitrary prince, in fighting the battles of freedom, soon learned to cherish the cause of liberty itself. By a natural and easy application to themselves of the principles upon which the Americans asserted the justice of their warfare, they were led to inquire into the nature of the obligation which prescribed their submission to their own sovereign; and when they discovered that the consent of the people is the only legitimate source of authority, they necessarily drew the conclusion, that their own obedience was no more than the compulsive acquiescence of servitude; and they waited only for a favorable opportunity to recover the possession of those enjoyments, to which they had never forfeited the right. Sentiments of a similar nature, by a gradual and imperceptible progress, secretly undermined all the foundations of their government; and when the necessities of the sove
reign reduced him to the inevitable expedient of appealing to the benevolence of the people, the magic talisman of despotism was broken, the spell of prescriptive tyranny was dissolved, and the pompous pageant of their monarchy, instantaneously crumbled to
The subsequent European events, which have let slip the dogs of war, to prey upon the vitals of humanity; which have poured the torrent of destruction over the fairest harvests of European fertility; which have unbound the pinions of desolation, and sent her forth to scatter pestilence and death among the nations; the scaffold smoking with the blood of a fallen monarch; the corpse-covered field, where agonizing nature struggles with the pangs of dissolution-permit me, my happy countrymen, to throw a pall over objects like these, which could only spread a gloom upon the face of our festivity. Let us rather indulge the pleasing and rational anticipation of the period, when all the nations of Europe shall partake of the blessings of equal liberty and universal peace. Whatever issue may be destined by the will of heaven, to await the termination of the present European commotions, the system of feudal absurdity has received an irrecoverable wound, and every symptom indicates its approaching dissolution. The seeds of liberty are plentifully sown. However severe the climate, however barren the soil of the regions in which they have been received, such is the native exuberance of the plant, that it must eventually flourish with luxuriant profusion. The governments of Europe must fall; and the only remaining expedient in their power, is to gather up their garments and fall with decency. The bonds of civil subjection must be loosened by the discretion of civil authority, or they will be shivered by the convulsive efforts of slavery itself. The feelings of benevolence involuntarily make themselves a party to every circumstance that can affect the happiness of mankind; they are ever ready to realize the sanguine hope, that