Page images
PDF
EPUB

pied in spreading his fame; every tongue was pronouncing his eulogies, and the whole collected mass of citizens was endeavouring to render him that homage he so justly merited.

Hail to the hero !-shout millions of voices,
Enjoying the freedom secured by his toil;
Hail to the hero !-a nation rejoices
To welcome its guest, returned to its soil.

Having celebrated, at Bunker Hill, the anniversary of the first conflict of the revolution, and, at Yorktown, that of its closing scene, in which he himself had borne so conspicuous a part, and taken leave of the four ex-presidents of the United States, he received the farewell of the president in the name of the nation, and sailed from the capital in a frigate named, in compliment to him, the Brandywine, September 7, 1825, and arrived at Havre, where the citizens, having peaceably assembled to make some demonstration of their respect for his character, were dispersed by the gendarmerie. In December preceding, the Congress of the United States made him a grant of $200,000, and a township of land,“ in consideration of his important services and expenditures during the American revolution.' The grant of money was in the shape of stock, bearing interest at six per cent., and redeemable December 31, 1834, In August, 1827, he attended the obsequies of Manuel, over whose body he pronounced a eulogy. In November, 1827, the chamber of deputies was dissolved. Lafayette was again returned a member by the new elections. Shortly before the revolution of 1830, he travelled to Lyons, &c., and was enthusiastically received—a striking contrast to the conduct of the ministers towards him, and an alarming symptom to the despotic government. Dur. ing the revolution of July, 1830, he was appointed general-in-chief of the national guards of Paris (q. V.,) and, though not personally engaged in the fight, his activity and name were of the greatest service. To the Americans, Lafayette, the intimate friend of Washington, had appeared, in his late visit, almost like a great historical character returning from beyond the grave. In the eyes of the French, he is a man of the early days of their revolution—a man, moreover, who has never changed side or principle. His undeviating consistency is acknowledged by all, even by those who do not allow him the possession of first rate talents. When the national guards were established throughout France, after the termination of the struggle, he was appointed their commander-in-chief, and his activity in this post was admirable. August 17, he was made marshal of France. His influence with the government seems to have been, for some time, great, but whether his principles were too decidedly republican to please the new authorities, (a few days after the adoption of the new charter, he declared himself against hereditary peerage, and repeatedly called himself a pupil of the American school,) or whether he was considered as the rallying point of the republican party, or whatever may have been the reason, he sent in his resignation in December, 1830, which was accepted, and Count Lobau appointed chief of the national guards of Paris. Lafayette declared from the tribune, that he had acted thus in consequence of the distrust which the power accompanying his situation seemed to excite in some people. On the same occasion, he also expressed his disapprobation of the new law of election. Shortly before his resignation, he exerted himself most praiseworthily to maintain order during the trial of the ex-ministers.

Dissatisfied with the system of resistance to further political progress, or, in other words, with the system styled by its supporters the “juste milieu,” adopted by the government, Lafayette occupied, during the latter years of his life, the same position in the chamber of deputies that he had done under the restoration, namely, on the extreme left. Though already suffering from disease, he conceived it to be a duty which

he owed to his political friends to follow on foot to the grave the body of the liberal member Dulong, who had been killed by General Bugeaud in a duel (January 30th, 1834.) Overcome with fatigue, on his return to his residence he took to his bed, which he never again quitted till his death on the following 19th of May.

JOHN HANCOCK.

JOHN HANCOCK, president of Congress, and a distinguished patriot, was born near Quincy, Massachusetts, about the year 1737. After receiving the honours of Cambrid geuniversity, he entered as a clerk in the counting-house of his uncle, and was regarded by his friends as an amiable young man; but he discovered no prominent traits of character which could lead his acquaintance to prognosticate the conspicuous figure he was afterwards to make in society.

At the death of his uncle, he inherited his immense estate, and soon after commenced his public career. He was first chosen selectman of the town of Boston, ard in the year 1766, he was elected with Otis, Cushing, and Samuel Adams, a member of the general assembly of the province.

On taking his seat, he was flattered by marks of confidence and distinction: he was generally chosen on committees, and was chairman upon some occasions when the deliberations involved the highest interests of the community.

As soon as the controversy with Great Britain grew warm, and all hopes of accommodation had vanished, he entered into the non-importation agreement, and all other acts which were expedient to keep inviolate the liberties of the people.

In consideration of his zeal and attachment to the rights of his country, he was called to preside over the provincial assembly, and was afterwards elected a member of the general Congress which met at Philadelphia in May, 1775; and before the close of the session, he was elected president of that august body, in the place of Peyton Randolph, who was under the necessity of returning home.

In this office, as the head of the illustrious Congress, of 1776, he signed the declaration of independence. In

consequence of the ill state of his health, he took his leave of Congress in October, 1777, and received their thanks for his unremitted attention and steady impartiality in discharging the duties of his office. Henry Laurens was his successor.

On the adoption of the present constitution of Massachusetts, he was chosen the first governor, in October, 1780. He was annually continued in that office until the year 1785, when he resigned ; and after an intermission of two years, during which he had been succeeded by Mr. Bowdoin, was re-elected, and remained in the chair until the conclusion of his life.

In 1787, he was chosen president of the state convention, which met to ratify and adopt the federal constitution. His influence and agency in promoting its adoption may be mentioned with the objects which most recommend him to esteem amongst his cotemporaries, and which entitle him to the regard of posterity.

The latter years of his administration were very popular, on account of the public tranquillity. The federal government became the source of so much prosperity, that the people were easy and happy.

He died suddenly on the 8th October, 1793, in the fifty-sixth year of his age.

Mr. Hancock was above the middle size, of excel. lent proportion of limbs, and of extreme benignity of со nance. He was easy in his address, polished in manners, affable and liberal; and as president of Congress, he exhibited a dignity, impartiality, quickness of conception, and constant attention to business, which secured him respect. Of his talents it is a sufficient evidence, that, in the various stations to

which his fortune had elevated him in the republic, he acquitted himself with an honourable distinction and capacity. His communications to the general assembly, and his correspondence as president of Congress, are titles of no ordinary commendation.

As an orator, he spoke with ease and propriety on every subject. Being considered as a republican in principles, and a firm supporter of the cause of freedom, whenever he consented to be a candidate for governor, he was chosen to that office by an immense majority. In private life he was charitable and generous_indeed, there are few lives, either ancient or modern, that afford, of disinterested generosity, more frequent and illustrious examples. Charity was the common business of his life. From his private benevolence, a thousand families received their daily bread; and there is perhaps no individual mentioned in history, who has expended a more ample fortune in promoting the liberties of his country. He was also a generous benefactor of Harvard college.

PATRICK HENRY.

PATRICK Henry, a distinguished patriot and statesman, was born at the seat of his ancestors, Hanover county, Virginia, May 29, 1736. After making some proficiency in mathematics and the languages, he was placed with a country merchant, and at the age of eighteen commenced husiness on his own account.

His genius, however, like Shakspeare's, moulded for a nobler and more exalted sphere of action, and destined to guide the councils of a great republic, abandoned the drudgery of the counter, and at the age of four-and-twenty, commenced the study of the law.

In a very short time, he was qualified, and commenced the practice of his profession. It was not, however, till the year 1763, that his genius burst her fetters and brought into action for the first time, the

« PreviousContinue »