Изображения страниц

a young country, just emerging from the ravages and evils of war, much was still to be done by each separate state, for its particular improvement and welfare.

In his public address to the legislature, in May, 1789, which was soon after the federal government was established, Governor Hancock spoke of the important benefits to be expected from it, to the country and the state; and expressed his opinion that it deserved the confidence and support of the people. "But it ought ever to be remembered, (he said) that no form of government, or mode of administration, can make a vicious people happy, and that the public welfare will in a great measure depend on the practice of the social and private virtues by the people of this extensive republic; and that this commonwealth, which constitutes an important part of the general government, may increase its own prosperity, while it promotes that of the union. We must support and encourage the means of learning, and all institutions for the education of the rising generation an equal degree of intelligence being as necessary to a free government, as laws are for an equal distribution of property. Our wise and magnanimous ancestors, impressed with this idea, were very careful and liberal in the establishment of institutions for this purpose; among which, the university in Cambridge, and grammar schools in the several towns, were believed highly important. Every necessary attention, I trust, will be paid to the former; and I can not but earnestly recommend to your inquiry, the reason why the latter is so much neglected in the state. Should any new laws be necessary on this subject, you cannot do your country a more essential service than by providing them."

A law was soon after passed, requiring all towns with two hundred families to support a grammar school; which was, in fact, but a revival of a statute enacted in the early days of the colony. By this law, towns with two hundred families and upwards, were required to employ public teachers of youth, who could instruct in the Latin and Greek languages, and who had been educated at a college. In towns containing only a less number of families, the teacher of youth was required to have a correct knowledge of the English language. Great advantages were derived from this and former laws with similar provisions, to the whole people. The teachers for all classes. of children were then of a more literary and elevated character, than many have been in later periods, when towns are divided into many districts, and the teachers are scarcely thoroughly acquainted with the English language. Schools of a high order have indeed been multiplied; but the public instructers of the

[ocr errors]

lower class of children have not always been sufficiently educated.

The county of Lincoln, in Maine, which was of great extent, was this year divided into three counties: the two eastern received the names of Washington and Hancock. About the same time, there was a proposition again for the separation of Maine, and for forming it into a new state. A similar plan had been proposed in 1785. The petition was some time before the general court, but was not granted, as the majority in favor of the measure did not appear sufficiently large to justify it.

In October, 1789, General Washington, then but recently chosen President of the United States, made a tour through the New England States. He had not been in Massachusetts after March, 1776, when the British troops left Boston. His reception by the people and by the rulers of the state, was such as had never been given to any individual. All were desirous of testifying their gratitude for his public services, and their respect and admiration of his exalted character. There was a universal opinion prevailing, that to him, more than to any other individual, the country was indebted for a successful termination of the arduous struggle for liberty. There were indeed many brave men in the field, and many able men in the cabinet, and very many sincerely patriotic among the common people; or the efforts of the country never had succeeded. But so far as the issue depended upon military skill and force, the praise of victory was preeminently due to General Washington. It was not mere courage which decided the contest; but the prudence, caution, and untiring fidelity of the commander-in-chief were necessary to the success of the cause; and the people were fully sensible of the value of his essential services, and of their peculiar obligations to him for liberty and independence. The selectmen of Boston addressed him in behalf of the citizens of that ancient town, and in very respectful and affectionate terms; to which he replied, in his peculiar manner, honorable both to his feelings and his patriotism. The governor and council addressed him as follows:"We meet you, sir, at this time, with hearts replete with the warmest affection and esteem, to express the high satisfaction we feel in your visit to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We can never forget the time, when, in the earliest stage of the war, and in the day of our greatest calamity, we saw you at the head of the army of the United States, commanding troops determined but undisciplined; by your wisdom and valor, preventing a sanguinary and well-appointed army of the enemy from spreading devastation through the country; and, sooner

than we had reason to expect, obliging them to abandon the capital. We have since seen you in your high command, superior to the greatest fatigues and hardships, successfully conducting our armies through a long war, till our enemies were compelled to submit to terms of peace, and acknowledge the independence of these United States, which congress had asserted and proclaimed. We have now the pleasure of seeing you in a still more exalted station, to which you have been elected by the unanimous suffrages of a free, virtuous, and grateful country. From the attachment, which you manifested, while in military command, to the civil liberties of your country, we do assure ourselves that you will ever retain this great object in view, and that your administration will be prosperous and happy. It is our earnest prayer, that the divine benediction may attend you here and hereafter; and we sincerely wish, that through life you may continue to enjoy that greatest of earthly blessings, to be accepted by the multitude of your brethren.'

[ocr errors]

To this address, General Washington replied "Gentlemen: To communicate the peculiar pleasure which I derive from your affectionate welcome to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, requires a force of expression beyond that which I possess. I am truly grateful for your goodness towards me; and I desire to thank you with the unfeigned sincerity of a feeling heart. Your obliging remembrance of my military services is among the highest rewards they can receive: and if rectitude of intention may authorize the hope, the favorable anticipations which you are pleased to express of my civil administration will not, I trust, be disappointed. It is your happiness, gentlemen, to preside in the councils of a commonwealth where the pride of independence is well assimilated with the duties of society, and where the industry of the citizen gives the fullest assurance of public respect and private prosperity. I have observed, too, with singular satisfaction, such a becoming attention to the militia as presents the fairest prospect of support to the invaluable objects of national prosperity and peace. Long may these blessings be continued to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And may you, gentlemen, in your individual capacities, experience every satisfaction, which can result from public honor and private happi



*No particular title is given to the President of the United States by the constitution; though the term "Excellency" is often applied to him. When General Washington visited Boston in 1789, every one was desirous of manifesting their great respect for his character; and they could


Opposers of the Federal Constitution-Federal Officers declared ineligible as Legislators of the State-Debt of United States-Congress assumed the Debts of the States-Expenses of war to Massachusetts-Public Taxes-Lotteries disapproved-Governor Hancock's views of Federal Government-Prosecutions against persons concerned in the Slave Trade-Justices of Supreme Judicial Court-Plan for a Theatre-Canal proposed across Cape Cod-Internal Improvements-Laws for keeping Lord's Day-The suability of a State-Death of Governor HancockSamuel Adams Lieutenant Governor-His opinion of the Federal Gov


AUSPICIOUS as was the commencement of the federal government, and high as was the confidence of the people generally, in the rectitude and patriotism of those who administered it, there was with many a jealousy of its extensive powers, or an apprehension of a tendency to encroach on the authority and influence of the individual states. This jealousy and this fear might have arisen entirely from republican feelings, and from an honest desire to prevent an individual having too great power, or holding places of trust under different governments, which might present temptations to violate or neglect one class of political duties. When the federal government was established, every citizen at once owed allegiance to that, and to the state where he lived. There was not necessarily, indeed, any collision or interference between the duties owing respectively to each. For the homage and fealty of every citizen was first and chiefly due to the commonwealth of which he was a member. His allegiance, and his duty to obey the laws of the

hardly find words fully expressive of their feelings. Governor Bowdoin, a man of plain manners, and not liable to excitement, had him at his house to dine, with a large company, when he addressed him, "Your Highness." He apologised for using the appellation; but said his feelings prompted him to use an expression more honorable than that applied to any other ruler or magistrate in the country.

United States, were particular and definite, and clearly pointed out by the constitution; or, in other words, his allegiance and obedience were due to the federal government in cases, where power was given to `it, by his natural parent state, for the general good. The oath required by the constitution of Massachusetts explains this subject. It imposes allegiance, faith and obedience to the commonwealth, (excluding all other govern ments and powers and states) except in those cases, where authority was or should be vested, by the states, in the congress of the United States. Samuel Adams also well explained the subject, when he took and subscribed the oaths required, on his being elected lieutenant governor, in 1790. After taking and subscribing the oath of allegiance to the commonwealth, and before taking the oath to support the constitution of the United States, he observed, "that he considered them perfectly compatible; and that he felt himself bound by the constitution and laws of Massachusetts, except in cases, in which the state had delegated power, by the federal constitution, to be exercised. by congress for the benefit of all the states, or of the union."

This jealousy and these feelings, respecting the federal government, proved the occasion of warm debates in the general court of Massachusetts, in 1790, as to the eligibility of some members elect to seats in the legislature, who were in office under the federal government. Jonathan Jackson, who was a marshal under the general government, was returned as a member of the senate from the county of Essex; David Sewall, a judge of the federal district court for Maine, and Christopher Gore, attorney of the federal district court for Massachusetts, were chosen members of the house of representatives. The senate and house acted separately on this occasion. In the former, their committee made a report unfavorable to Mr. Jackson; but the report was rejected, in the senate, by a vote of thirteen to eleven. The house decided against the two gentlemen holding their seats in that body, by a vote of one hundred and thirty-seven to twenty-four. But the question was not presented in the same form in the house as it had been in the senate. Instead of a report, the following proposition was presented in the house: "Whether persons holding offices under the federal government, similar to those declared by the constitution of the commonwealth incompatible with their having seats in the legislature thereof, have a constitutional right to retain their seats in this house?" A long and animated discussion took place, when the vote was in the negative, according to the numbers above-mentioned. By this change of the question, the objection to their holding a seat in the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »