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Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Signers of the Declaration of Independence

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Lives of the men who signed this historical document, and the price they paid.
Lives of the men who signed this historical document, and the price they paid.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on May 11, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE author has had it in contemplation for several years, to present to thepublic a work of the following kind; but, until recently, he has not had leisure to complete his design. He was incited to the undertaking, by a belief that he might render an important service to his countrymen, especially tothe rising generation, by giving them, in a volume of convenient size, someaccount of the distinguished band of patriots, who composed the congressof 1776 ; and to whose energy and wisdom the colonies, at that time, owedthe declaration of their independent political existence. -o nation can dwell with more just satisfaction upon its annals, thanthe American people. The emigrants, who settled the country, were illustrious men; distinguished for their piety, wisdom, energy, and fortitude.ot less illustrious were their descendants, who served as the guides andcounsellors of the colonies, or who fought their battles during" the revolutionary struggle. o one who admits the intervention of a special providence in the affairs of nations, can hesitate to believe, that the statesmen andheroes of the revolution were raised up by the God of heaven, for the important and definite purpose of achieving the independence of America of rescuing a people, whose ancestors had been eminently devoted to the dutiesof piety, from the thraldom under which they had groaned for years and olpresenting to the monarchical governments in the eastern hemisphere, theexample of a government, founded upon principles of civil and religiousliberty.For the accomplishment of such a purpose, the statesmen and heroes of the revolution were eminently fitted. They were endowed with minds oldistinguished power, and exhibited an example of political sagacity, andof high military prowess, which commanded the admiration of statesmen andheroes, throughout the world. Their patriotism was of a pure and exaltedcharacter ; their zeal was commensurate with the noble objects which theyhad in view ; and amid the toils, and privations, and sufferings, which theywere called to endure, they exhibited a patience and fortitude, rarely equal
led in the history of the world.Of the revolutionary patriots, none present themselves with more interestto the rising generation, than those who composed the congress of 1776; andupon whom devolved the important political duty of severing the tics, whichbound the colonies to the mother country. The lives of this illustriousband, we here present to our readers. Although the author regrets that hismaterials were not more abundant, he indulges the hope, that the subsequentpages will not be found devoid of interest. Even an unadorned recital of the virtues, which adorned the subjects of these memoirs ; the piety of somethe patriotism and constancy and courage of them all can scarcely fail of imparting a useful lesson to our readers. The obligations to cherish theirmemory, and to follow their example will be felt ; nor can our readers failto realize the debt of gratitude w,e owe in common, to that benignant providence, who fitted these men for the important work which was assignedthem.All the material facts, recorded in the following pages, the author hasreason to believe are authentic, and entitled to credibility. Most of themare matters of public record. Some of the sketches will indeed be found tocontain but few incidents ; because, in respect to a portion of the signers,but few existed ; and, in respect to others, the accurate knowledge of themhas been irrevocably lost. The sources from which he has drawn the materials of the volume are too numerous to be particularly mentioned in this place;yet he would be doing injustice, not to express his special obligations to theauthors of the following works : viz. Fitkiii s Political and Civil History of the United States, orth American Review, Walsh s Appeal, Marshall s Life4 PREFACE.of Washington, Botta s History of the Revolution, Allen s Biographical andHistorical Dictionary, Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, Thatcher s Medical Biography, Austin s Life of Gerry, Tudor aLife of Otis, Witherspoon s Works, Select Eulogies, &c. &c.While writing 1 the following 1 biographical notices of the signers to thedeclaration, the author has been struck with their longevity, as a body of men. They were fifty-six in number ; and the average length of their fiveswas about sixty-five years. Four of the number attained to the age of ninety years, and upwards; fourteen exceeded eighty years; and twenty-three, or one in two and a half, reached three score years and ten. The longevity of the ew-England delegation, was still more remarkable. Theirnumber was fourteen, the average of whose lives was seventy-five years.Who will affirm that the unusual age to which the signers, as a body, attained, was not a reward bestowed upon them, for their fidelity to their country,
and the trust which they in general reposed in the overruling providence of God. Who can doubt the kindness of that Providence to the Americanpeople, in thus prolonging the lives of these men, till the principles for whichthey had contended, through a long series of years, had been acknowledged,and a government had been founded upon them ?Of this venerable body, not a single one survives They are now nomore. "They are no more, as in 1776, bold and fearless advocates of independence. They are dead. But how little is there of the great and goodwhich can die. To their country they yet live, and live for ever. They live,in all that perpetuates the remembrance of men on earth; in the recordedproofs of their own great actions, in the offspring of their intellect, in thedeep engraved lines of public gratitude, and in the respect and homage of mankind. They live in their example; and they live, emphatically, and willlive, in the influence which their lives and efforts, their principles andopinions, now exercise, and will continue to exercise, on the affairs of men,not only in our own country, but throughout the civilized world.""It remains to us to cherish their memory, arid emulate their virtues, byperpetuating and extending the blessings which they have bequeathed. Solong as we preserve our country, their fame cannot die, for it is reflectedfrom the surface of every thing that is beautiful and valuable in our land.We cannot recur too often, nor dwell too long, upon the lives and charactersof such men; for our own will take something of their form and impressionfrom those on which they rest. If we inhale the moral atmosphere in whichthey moved, we must feel its purifying and invigorating influence. If weraise our thoug hts to their elevation, our minds will be expanded and ennobled, in beholding the immeasurable distance beneath and around us.1 Can we breathe thcTpure mountain air, and not be refreshed ; can we walk abroad amidst the beautiful and the grand of the works of creation, and feelno kiaoiiiig of devotion.
COTETS.Introduction, ........... 7MASSACHUSETTS DELEGATIO.John Hancock, --------- 71

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