Изображения страниц

When the news arrived, that the negotiations with Great Britain had issued in amity, the general court was assembled in the capital; and the members of both houses joined in celebrating the joyful event, by a procession, in which the citizens of all grades and classes united; and by attending religious service, in which the chaplains of the legislature were requested to give thanks to Almighty God, for the restoration of so great a national blessing.

During the war of 1812-14, uncommon attention was given to the manufacture of woollen and cotton cloths in Massachusetts. The manufacture was much increased, in 1812. At the session of the legislature, in January, 1815, twenty-four companies were incorporated for these purposes; the greater part being for the manufacture of cotton cloths. The long period of non-importation and war, had the effect to raise such goods to a very high price: and many enterprising citizens vested their capital in these establishments. The result was unfortunate to them, as the early return of peace filled the country with similar products, and at a lower rate than they could be afforded from the infant factories in the United States. In July, 1816, the federal government afforded encouragement to these manufactures, by a heavy duty on such products as were imported from other countries. But another reason for imposing high duties, at this time, was the great debt of the nation, which the war had created, and which it was important to lessen by all just and practicable means.

Governor Strong was re-elected in 1815, though he expressed a wish to retire from public office. He was nearly seventy years of age; and he had never earnestly coveted political life. But he was a sincere patriot; and therefore ready, at the call of the people, to render service to the commonwealth in all critical periods. The solicitation of many highly respectable citizens prevailed with him to be a candidate for the chair once more, and he was chosen by a great majority of votes. His prudence and firmness, during the war, had increased the respect and attachment of the people for him, as their chief magistrate. Most of those opposed to his political opinions and measures, readily declared their respect for the character of the man. He was censured chiefly for withholding the militia, when they were called for by the executive of the United States. But there could be no doubt, that his course was the result of mature reflection, and agreeable to his views of the provisions and articles of the constitution. He appeared fully disposed to employ the militia for the defence and protection of the state; but he felt himself bound to


employ them in such way and under such circumstances only as he was authorized and required by the constitution, which was his guide. In his public speech to the general court, in June, 1815, Governor Strong referred to his course during the war, and said, "be believed the experience and reflection of future times would confirm the correctness of the construction which the government of Massachusetts had put on the constitution, in regard to the militia." * "The members of the general government in 1812 and 1814, he presumed would have adopted the same construction, at any period during the administration of Washington and Adams." The senate and house of representatives, in their answers to the governor's speech, expressed their entire confidence in the correctness of the views he had given, and declared their opinion of the wisdom and patriotism of his conduct as the executive of the commonwealth, during the alarming and critical period of war.

In his address to the legislature, in January, 1816, the governor referred to the numerous manufactories, then recently established in the state; and suggested the propriety of the legislature making legal provision, that the youth employed in them should be duly instructed, before entering, or while members of them. He also spoke of the ease with which laws. were multiplied, and observed, that the people were in danger of treating the ancient forms and usages of the state with too little respect. "While we encourage a spirit of genuine improvement, let us do justice," said he, "to the usages which we and our fathers have approved, and guard against a spirit of unceasing innovation. Let us cherish those principles of government and those systems of education, which have been derived to us from our ancestors; and especially, the institutions, which have a tendency to preserve in the minds of the people that reverence for the Deity, without which neither public nor private virtue can subsist, nor the welfare of a community be secured."


Governor Brooks-His character, and political opinions-Extracts from his public speeches-Candid and magnanimous-Recommends the interests of Education and Religion; and a veneration for the Republican Institutions of the Commonwealth-State Prison-Separation of Maine-Revision of the Constitution-Society of Cincinnati-Claim of the State on the United States.

GOVERNOR STRONG positively declined being a candidate for the chair, in 1816, and was succeeded by General Brooks. He was the first governor, after the revolution, who had not been educated in the University, except Mr. Sullivan. But the education and long practice of Mr. Sullivan in the law, rendered him well qualified to be the chief magistrate. And General Brooks, also, by an able administration of the government for seven years, proved his entire fitness for that high station. His early education, was such as the public grammar schools in Massachusetts afforded; and he studied medicine with a gentleman distinguished as a scholar and a physician. He engaged in the cause of liberty and his country early in 1775. The rank he held in June of that year, was that of major: and he accompanied Colonel Prescott to the heights of Charlestown, on the night of the 16th. The next year, he received a commission as lieutenant colonel; and afterwards commanded a regiment in the Massachusetts line; and he continued in military service till the peace. He was also major general of the militia, and member of the legislature, and of the executive council several years. In the war of 1812, Governor Strong appointed him adjutant general, and placed great confidence in his patriotism and judgment. As a military officer, General Brooks was intelligent, discreet, and brave; and as chief magistrate, he was distinguished for his impartiality, candor, and firmness. His public speeches discovered correct and profound views on political subjects, a thorough knowledge of the principles of civil liberty, and of the theory of the federal

government. He was not quick in making up his judgment; but he usually decided correctly, and was very firm in adhering to his opinions thus maturely formed. In his appointments to office, and in his treatment of political opponents, he was truly candid and magnanimous. In his deportment, he exhibited the manners of an accomplished military gentleman. But this was his smallest praise. He possessed honorable feelings, and a sense of moral obligation surpassed by no one.

His views were alike republican and practical. He adopted no wild theory of human perfectibility; nor pleaded that human freedom would be sufficiently restrained for the purposes of social welfare, by mere public opinion. Though an ardent friend of civil liberty, he was not therefore the enemy of law. Indeed, he never dreamed that liberty and law were antagonist principles. It would be most unjust to charge him with favoring the doctrine of legitimacy; or, to use a more modern phrase, the conservative system. And yet he was as decided a supporter of law and order, as Washington or Strong.

He was a true and faithful representative of New England opinion and manners; and warmly attached to the literary, religious, and political institutions of his native state. The following paragraphs from his public speeches to the general court, while he was chief magistrate, will best illustrate the political and republican character of this excellent man; and, though the sentiments have not the claim of originality, they are sufficiently important to be preserved, for the recollection of the free citizens of Massachusetts.

"The institution of civil government is essential to human happiness without it, existence would cease to be a blessing. But as we can discern no ground, in nature, for the assumption of a right in one individual to control the actions of another, we conclude that all men are originally equal; and therefore that legitimate government must be derived trom the will of the people. How little other governments of the world may correspond with these positions, we have the satisfaction to reflect, that Massachusetts and her sister states, separately and conjointly, have realized, and are now enjoying the right of self government.

"The people of this state have been favored by Providence with an opportunity for framing for themselves a constitution of government on the broad basis of equal rights: and we should rejoice in the reflection, that the great questions involved in forming a system of fundamental rules and maxims, which may last for an indefinite period, were discussed with a degree of intelligence, and a spirit of candor and mutual concession,

which mark an age of wisdom and virtue. Power was imparted to public agents, with great caution; and, in every practicable instance, limited with precision. Enough, however, was conceded in favor of delegated authority, to ensure tranquillity and a due execution of the laws. It is obviously, one of the leading objects of the constitution to counteract the tendency of office to accumulate power, and so guard against the abuse of delegated trust. Principles are immutable; and our system is so framed, as to leave as little as possible to construction.

"It is foreign to my intention, as it would be to the occasion, to attempt an analysis of the constitution: but such provisions of that instrument as are vitally important to the public happiness, cannot be too frequently brought into view and impressed on the public mind. A sense of the value of first principles ought to be sacredly cherished. Avarice and ambition wage external war with equal rights and civil liberty. This was the doctrine of our fathers, and is founded in the nature of man. It is the doctrine of the constitution, illustrated and confirmed by the unequivocal testimony of experience. Virtue is the great conservative of republics; and, coincident with other profound views, developed in the constitution and as auxiliary to their attainment, that instrument assigns an elevated rank to moral and religious principles. The happiness of the people, the good order and preservation of civil government are declared essentially to depend on piety, religion, and morality; and wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, are considered necessary for the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people.

"The constitution of the United States is without precedent and without parallel. In its composition and form, it partakes of the federative character: but from the extent of its fiscal, executive, and other powers, possesses the essential attributes of an integral government. The confederation was a government of courtesy. The national interests demanded one of efficiency. The just mean between a too limited, and an indefinite grant of power, was assiduously sought; and the result submitted to the test of experience. The national compact, like the constitutions of the individual states, is an emanation from the same pure and legitimate source: and the spirit of freedom, which pervades and animates the state constitutions, is manifested in the national pact; and all powers, not expressly delegated, are declared to be retained by the people, or the states.

"This express reservation of rights, besides being a condition, without which the constitution would not have been adopt

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »