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patriots. In this assembly his genius rapidly developed itself, and he became conspicuous for the purity of his principles, and the excellence of his abilities.
The arrival of a vessel belonging to Mr. Hancock, in 1768, which was said to be loaded contrary to the revemue laws, produced a violent ebullition of popular feeling. This vessel was seized by the custom-house officers, and placed under the guns of the Romney, at that time in the harbor, for security. This seizure greatly exasperated the people, and, in their excitement, they assaulted the revenue officers, and compelled them to seek safety on board the armed vessel, or in the neighboring castle. The boat of the collector was destroyed, and several of the houses of his partisans were razed to the ground. Mr. Hancock, although in no wise concerned in the transaction, received from it a considerable accession of popularity.
A few days after the affray, which is usually termed " the Boston Massacre," and to which we have briefly adverted in the sketch of Samuel Adams, Mr. Hancock was appointed to deliver an address in commemoration of the event. After speaking of his attachment to a just government, and his detestation of vyranny, he proceeded to describe the profligacy and abandoned life of the troops quartered amongst them. Not satisfied with their own shameful debauchery, they strove to vitiate the morals of the citizens, and “ thereby render them worthy of destruction.” He spoke in terms of unmeasured indignation of the massacre of the inhabitants; and in appalling language forewarned the perpetrators of the deed, of the vengeance which would overtake t'iem hereafter, “ if the laboring earth did not expand her jaws; if the air they breathed were not commissioned to be the immediate minister of death.” He proceeded in the following spir- . ited strain
" But I gladly quit this theme of death. I would not dwell too long upon the horrid effects which have already followed from quartering regular troops in this town; let our misfortunes instruct posterity to guard against these evils. Standing armies are sometimes, (I would by no means say generally, much less universally,) composed
of persons who have rendered themselves unfit to live in civil society; who are equally indifferent to the glory of a George, or a Louis ; who, for the addition of one penny a day to their wages, would desert from the Christian cross, and fight under the crescent of the Turkish Sultan; from such men as these what has not a State to fear? With such as these, usurping Cæsar passed the Rubicon ; with such as these he humbled mighty Rome, and forced the mistress of the world to own a master in a traitor. These are the men whom sceptred robbers now employ to frustrate the designs of God, and render vain the bounties which his gracious hand pours indiscriminately upon his creatures."
The intrepid style of this address removed all doubts as to the devoted patriotism of Mr. Hancock. His manners and habits had spread an opinion unfavorable to his republican principles. His mansion rivalled the magnificence of an European palace. Gold and silver embroidery adorned his garments; and his carriage, horses, and servants in livery, emulated the splendor of the English nobility. But the sentiments expressed by him in the above address were so public, and explicit, as to cause a complete renovation of his popularity. From this time, he became odious to the governor and his adherents. Efforts were made to get possession of his person, and he, with Samuel Adams, was excluded from the general pardon offered by Governor Gage, to all who would manifest a proper penitence for their opposition to the royal authority.
In 1774, Hancock was unanimously elected to the presidential chair of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts. The following year the honor of the presidency of the Continental Congress was conferred upon him. His recent proscription by Governor Gage, no doubt, contributed to his popularity in that body. In this station Hancock continued till October, 1777; when his infirm health induced him to resign his office. He was afterwards a member of the Convention appointed to frame a Constitution for Massachusetts, and in 1780 was chosen first governor of the Commonwealth, to which station he was annually elected, until the year 1785,
when he resigned. After an interval of two years, he was re-elected to the same office. He continued in it till the time of his death, which took place the 8th of October, 1793, in the fifty-fifth year of his age.
Mr. Hancock was a firm and energetic patriot, and though possessed of immense wealth, devoted himself to the laborious service of his country. It has been remarked, that by the force with which he inscribed his name on the parchment which bears the declaration of independence, he seems to have determined that his name should never be erased. His liberality was great, and hundreds of families, in times of distress, were daily fed from his munificence. He has been accused by his enemies of a passion for popularity, but whatever may have been the truth of the charge, a fondness for being beloved can be hardly reckoned among the bad traits of a man's character. Å noble instance of his contempt of wealth, in comparison with public expediency, is recorded.
At the time the American army was besieging Boston to expel the British, who held possession of the town, the entire destruction of the city was proposed by the American officers. By the execution of such a plan, the whole fortune of Mr. Hancock would have been sacrificed. Yet he readily acceded to the measure, declaring his willingness to surrender his all
, whenever the liberties of his country should require it.
BENJAMIN HARRISON. BENJAMIN HARRISON was born in Berkley, Virginia. He was the descendant of a family distinguished in the history of the State, and was a student in the College of William and Mary at the time of his father's death. In consequence of a misunderstanding with an officer of that institution, he left it before the regular period of graduation, and returned home.
The management of his father's estate now devolved upon him, and he displayed an unusual degree of prudence and ability in the discharge of his trust. He was summoned at an early date, even before he had attained the age required by law, to sustain the reputation acquired by his ancestors, in state affairs. He was chosen a member of the Legislature about the year 1764, a station which he may be said to have held through life, since he was always elected to a seat, whenever his other political avocations admitted of his occupying it. His fortune being ample, and his influence as a political leader very considerable, the royal government proposed to create him a member of the executive council of Virginia. Mr. Harrison was not to be seduced, however, by the attractions of rank and power. Though young, he was ardently devoted to the cause of the people, and remained steadfast in his opposition to royal oppression.
Mr. Harrison was a member of the Congress of 1774, and from that period, during nearly every session, represented his native State in that assembly. In this situation he was characterized for great firmness, good sense, and a peculiar sagacity in difficult and critical junctures. He was likewise extremely popular as chairman of the committee of the whole House. An anecdote is related of him on the occasion of the Declaration of Independence. While signing the instrument, he noticed Mr. Gerry, of Massachusetts, standing beside him. Mr. Harrison himself was quite corpulent; Mr. Gerry was slender and spare. As the former raised his hand, having inscribed his name on the roll, he turned to Mr. Gerry, and facetiously observed, that when the time of hanging should come, he should have the advantage over him. “ It will be over with me,” said he, “ in a minute ; but you will be kicking in the air half an hour after I am
Towards the close of 1777, Mr. Harrison resigned his seat in Congress, and returned to Virginia. In 1782, he was chosen Governor of the State, to which office he was twice re-elected, when he became ineligible by the provisions of the Constitution. In 1788, when the new Constitution of the United States was submitted to Virginia, he was returned a member of her Convention. In 1790, he was again proposed as a candidate for the executive chair; but declined in favour of his friend, Beverly Ran. dolph. In the spring of 1791, Mr. Harrison was attacked
by a severe fit of the gout, a recurrence of which malady shortly after put a period to his life.
Mr. Harrison became connected by marriage with Miss Bassett, a niece to the sister of Mrs. Washington. He had many children, and several of his sons became men of distinction. His third son, William Henry Harrison, has honourably served his country, in various official capacities, and died April 4, 1841, one month after his inauguration as President of the United States.
JOHN HART. John Hart was the son of Edward Hart, of Hopewell, in the county of Hunterdon, in New Jersey. He inherited from his father a considerable estate, and having married, devoted himself to agricultural pursuits, and became a worthy and respectable farmer.
The reputation which he acquired for integrity, discrimination, and enlightened prudence, soon brought him into notice, and he was often chosen a member of the Colonial Assembly. Although one of the most gentle and unobtrusive of men, he could not suppress his abhorrence of the aggressions of the British ministry. He maintained a fearless and uniform opinion with regard to the rights of the colonies, and did not hesitatr to express it when occasion invited him. On the meeting of the Congress of 1774, Mr. Hart appeared and took his seat; having been elected by a conference of committees from several parts of the colony. During several succeeding sessions, he continued to represent the people of New Jersey in the same assembly. When the question of a declaration of independence was brought forward, he was at his post, and voted for the measure with unusual zeal.
In 1776, New Jersey became the theatre of war, and Mr. Hart sustained severe losses, by the destruction of his property. His children were compelled to flee, his farm was pillaged, and great exertions were made to secure him as a prisoner. For some time he was hunted with untiring perseverance. He was reduced to the most distressing shifts to elude his enemies; being often severely pressed by hunger, and destitute of a place of