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SECOND PERIOD. .1750-1800.
HENRY LAURENS, one of the patriot-fathers of our country, was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He was educated in his native city, and, becoming a merchant, amassed a fortune in business. In 1771 he travelled with his children in Europe in order to educate them. Returning home he became in 1775 a member of the Provincial Congress, and on Hancock's resignation, president of the Continental Congress. He was appointed in 1779 minister to Holland, and on his way was captured by the British and confined in the Tower fifteen months. He became acquainted with Edmund Burke while in London. He was twice offered pardon if he would serve the British Ministry, but of course he declined. During this imprisonment, his son John, called the “Bayard of the Revolution” for his daring bravery, was killed in battle.
After his release, being exchanged for Lord Cornwallis, he was appointed one of the ministers to negotiate peace in 1782. His health was so impaired by the cruel treatment of his jailers, that he could take no further active part in affairs, and he passed the rest of his life in the retirement of his plantation. On his death, his body was burned, according to his express will, the first instance, in this country, of cremation.
His daughter Martha married Dr. David Ramsay, the historian.
WORKS. Political Papers (some of which have been published by the South Carolina Historical
Society.) These are of great value in a study of the Revolutionary times.
A PATRIOT IN THE TOWER.
(From Narrative of his Confinement in the Tower.) About ii o'clock at night I was sent under a strong guard, up three pair of stairs in Scotland Yard, into a very small chamber. Two king's messengers were placed for the whole night at one door, and a subaltern's guard of soldiers at the other. As I was, and had been for some days, so ill as to be incapable of getting into or out of a carriage, or up or down stairs, without help, I looked upon all this parade to be calculated for intimidation. My spirits were good and I smiled inwardly. The next morning, 6th October, from Scotland Yard, I was conducted again under guard to the secretary's office, White Hall.
I was first asked, by Lord Stormont, "If my name was Henry Laurens.” “Certainly, my Lord, that is my name."
His Lordship then said, “Mr. Laurens, we have a paper here” (holding the paper up), “purporting to be a commission from Congress to you, to borrow money in Europe for the use of Congress.”
I replied, “My Lords, your Lordships are in possession of the paper, and will make such use of it as your Lordships shall judge proper.” I had not destroyed this paper, as it would serve to establish the rank and character in which I was employed by the United States.
From White Hall, I was conducted in a close hackney coach, under the charge of Colonel Williamson, a polite, genteel officer, and two of the illest-looking fellows I had ever seen.
The coach was ordered to proceed by the most private ways to the Tower. It had been rumored that a rescue would be attempted. At the Tower the Colonel delivered me to Major Gore, the residing Governor, who, as I was afterwards well informed, had previously concerted a plan for mortifying me. He ordered rooms for me in the most conspicuous part of the Tower (the parade). The people of the house, particularly the mistress, entreated the Governor not to burthen them with a prisoner. He replied, “ It is necessary. I am determined to expose him.” This was, however, a lucky determination for me. The people were respectful and kindly attentive to me, from the beginning of my confinement to the end; and I contrived, after being told of the Governor's humane declaration, so to garnish my windows by honeysuckles, and a grape-vine running under them, as to conceal myself entirely from the sight of starers, and at the same time to have myself a full view of them. Governor Gore conducted me to my apartments at a warder's house. As I was entering the house, I heard some of the people say, “Poor old gentleman, bowed down with infirmities. He is come to lay his bones here.” My reflection was, “I shall not leave a bone with you."
I was very sick, but my spirits were good, and my mind foreboding good from the event of being a prisoner in London. Their Lordships' orders were :
- To confine me a close prisoner ; to be locked up every night; to be in the custody of two wardens, who were not to suffer me to be out of their sight one moment, day or night; to allow me no liberty of speaking to any person, nor to permit any person to speak to me; to deprive me of the use of pen and ink; to suffer no letter to be brought to me, nor any to go from me,” etc. As an apology, I presume for their first rigor, the wardens gave me their orders to peruse.
And now I found myself a close prisoner, indeed; shut up in two small rooms, which together made about twenty feet square; a warder my constant companion ; and a fixed bayonet under my window; not a friend to converse with, and no prospect of a correspondence.
September 23d. For some time past I have been frequently and strongly tempted to make my escape from the Tower, assured, “It was the advice and desire of all my friends, the thing might be easily effected, the face of American affairs was extremely gloomy. - That I might have eighteen hours' start before I was missed; time enough to reach Margate and Ostend ; that it was believed there would be no pursuit," etc., etc. I had always said, “I hate the name of a runaway.” At length I put a stop to farther applications by saying, "I will not attempt an escape.
The gates were opened for me to enter; they shall be opened for me to go out of the Tower. God Almighty sent me here for some purpose.
I am determined to see the end of it.”
1732-1799. George WASHINGTON's life is so well known, it is so simple, so grand, that a few words can tell it, and yet volumes would not exhaust it. His mother's remark, George was always a good son,” sums up his character; and his title, “Father of his Country,” sums up his life-work.
He was born at Pope's Creek, Westmoreland County, Virginia, and became a surveyor, being employed in that capacity at the early age of sixteen by Lord Fairfax, governor of Virginia. He joined the English troops sent under General Braddock against the French in 1756, and his bravery and good sense in this expedition gained him great renown. In