Page images
PDF
EPUB

millions of people armed in the holy cause of liberty and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston ! The war is inevitable—and let it come!! I repeat it, sir, let it come !!!

“ It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, peace, peace,—but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms ! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God-I know not what course others may take; but as for me,” cried he, with both his arms extended aloft, his brows knit, every feature marked with the resolute purpose of his soul, and his voice swelled to its boldest note of exclamation,“give me liberty, or give me death !” See also under Wirt.

WILLIAM HENRY DRAYTON.

1742=1779. WILLIAM HENRY DRAYTON was born at "Drayton Hall,” on the Ashley River, South Carolina, and was sent in 1753 to England to be educated. He went in the care of

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Fort Moultrie, s. C.

Fort Sumter in the Distance.

Chief-Justice Charles Pinckney, who was taking his two sons, Charles Cotesworth and Thomas, for the same purpose. He returned home in 1764, studied law, and in 1771 was appointed by the king privy-councillor for South Carolina. He espoused, however, the cause of the Revolution, with ardor, and was chosen president of the Council of Safety and of the Provincial Congress. As Chief-Justice of the State, he declared that the king

" had abdicated the gove ernment and had no more authority over the people of South Carolina.” He also dealt with the Indians and exercised a wholesome influence over them in behalf of the State.

He left in manuscript valuable state papers and a narrative of the early part of the Revolution, which his son, Governor John Drayton, edited and published, and from which the extract is taken. His style is clear, simple, and flowing:

GEORGE III.'s ABDICATION OF POWER IN AMERICA.

[From the Charge to the Grand Jury of Charleston District, 1776.] Thus, as I have on the foot of the best authorities made it evident, that George III. King of Britain, has endeavoured to subvert the constitution of this country, by breaking the original contract between king and people; by the advice of wicked persons has violated the fundamental laws; and has withdrawn himself by withdrawing the constitutional benefits of the kingly office, and his protection out of this country; from such a result of injuries, from such a conjuncture of circumstances—the law of the land authorizes me to declare, and it is my duty boldly to declare the law, that George III. King of Britain, has abdicated the government,

, and that the throne is thereby vacant; that is, he has no authority over us, and we owe no obedience to him. The new constitution is wisely adapted to enable us to trade with foreign nations, and thereby, to supply our wants in the cheapest markets in the universe ; to extend our trade infinitely beyond what it has ever been known; to encourage manufactures among us; and it is peculiarly formed, to promote the happiness of the people, from among whom, by virtue and merit, the poorest man may arrive at the highest dignity.-Oh, Carolinians! happy would you be under this new constitution, if you knew your happy state.

Possessed of a constitution of government, founded upon so generous, equal, and natural a principle,-a government expressly calculated to make the people rich, powerful, virtuous, and happy, who can wish to change it, to return under a Royal government; the vital principles of which, are the reverse in every particular! It was my duty to lay this happy constitution before you, in its genuine light-it is your duty to understand—to instruct others—and to defend it.

I think it my duty to declare in the awful seat of justice and before Almighty God, that in my opinion, the Americans can have no safety but by the Divine Favour, their own virtue, and their being so prudent, as not to leave it in the power of the British rulers to injure them. Indeed the ruinous and deadly injuries received on our side ; and the jealousies entertained, and which, in the nature of things, must daily increase against us on the other; demonstrate to a mind, in the least given to reflection upon the rise and fall of empires, that true reconcilement never can exist between Great Britain and America, the latter being in subjection to the former.

The Almighty created America to be independent of Britain ; let us beware of the impiety of being backward to act, as instruments in the Almighty Hand, now extended to accomplish his purpose ; and by the completion of which alone, America, in the nature of human affairs, can be secure against the craft and insidious designs of her enemies who think her prosperity and power already by far too great. In a word, our piety and political safety are so blended, that to refuse our labours in this divine work, is to refuse to be a great, a free, a pious, and a happy people !

And now having left the important alternative, political happiness or wretchedness, under God, in a great degree in your own hands; I pray

Arbiter of the affairs of men, so to direct your judgment, as that you may act agreeable to what seems to be his will, revealed in his miraculous works in behalf of America, bleeding at the altar of liberty !

the supreme

THOMAS JEFFERSON.

1743-1826.

THOMAS JEFFERSON, the “Sage of Monticello," and founder of the University of Virginia, was born at Shadwell, Albemarle County, Virginia. He was educated at William and Mary College, and early developed a rare taste for study, music, and general culture. His is one of the greatest and most interesting figures in our history. He received and adorned all the positions in the gift of his fellowcitizens, from that of member of the State Legislature to that of President of the United States, which office he twice filled. He is considered the founder of the present Democratic party in politics; and he gained imperishable fame as the author of the Declaration of Independence. He spent five years in France, succeeding Benjamin Franklin as minister to that country, and he introduced into the United States the decimal system of currency.

« PreviousContinue »