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“I am truly very unequal to such an undertaking on many accounts. And you see I labor under the weight of many years, and am borne down with great infirmities of body ; yet, old and weak as I am, I should think it my duty if required, to go to the utmost part of the land, where my service could be of any use in assisting to quench the flame of prosecutions upon informations, set on foot by the government, to deprive the people of the right of remonstrating (and complaining too) of the arbitrary attempts of men in power. Men, who injure and oppress the people under their administration, provoke them to cry out and complain ; and then make that very complaint the foundation for new oppressions and prosecutions. I wish I could say there were no instances of this kind. But, to conclude ; the question before the court and you, gentlemen of the jury, is not of small nor private concern; it is not the cause of a poor printer, nor of New York alone, which you are now trying ; no! it may, in its consequences, affect
every freeman that lives under a British government on the main of America. It is the best cause ; it is the cause of liberty ; and I make no doubt but your upright conduct, this day, will not only entitle you to the love and esteem of your fellow-citizens ; but every man who prefers freedom to a life of slavery, will bless and honor you, as men who have baffled the attempts of tyranny, and, by an impartial and uncorrupt verdict, have laid a noble foundation for securing to ourselves, our posterity, and our neighbours, that to which nature and the laws of our country have given us a right, the liberty, both of exposing and opposing arbitrary power, in these parts of the world, at least, by speaking and writing truth."
- pp. 203 - 205. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty, in the very teeth of an authoritative charge from the chief justice against the defendant.
The decision of the jury was received with shouts of applause. The judges threatened to imprison the promoters of such a disorderly proceeding, but the people were too much excited and entranced by the greatness of the occasion to heed the voice of authority. A son of Admiral Norris rose and called for a renewal of the shouting, which was continued, and could not be repressed. Hamilton, who would receive no pecuniary compensation for his services, was borne in triumph from the court-room. He was carried to a festive entertainment, which was repeated by the city authorities before his return to Philadelphia. The Common Council presented him with the freedom of the city, the certificate of which was
enclosed in a splendid gold box, purchased by subscription, and, as he stepped into the barge, on his departure from New York, the public sense of gratitude and adıniration was expressed by a salute of artillery.
Gouverneur Morris asserted, that Hamilton's argument, and the result of the trial of Zenger, were the germ of American freedom, the morning star of our liberty. The trial took place forty years before the Revolution. Massachusetts and Virginia have indulged in an honorable contention for the glory of having first started the ball of independence. Pennsylvania and New York, on the strength of this trial,—the one having furnished the advocate, the other the jury, -- may not unreasonably put in their claims for the glorious distinction.
We would suggest to Mr. Chandler to prepare a brief sketch of the life and character of Andrew Hamilton, to be placed in his Appendix to the first volume, together with the notices he has given of Stoughton, John Adams, and Josiah Quincy, Jr. He was for a great length of time a leading man in Pennsylvania in the legislative and executive departments of the government, and was long the undisputed head of the bar. Under his direction the State House was erected in the city of Philadelphia, and the square belonging to it laid out. In the month of August, 1739, four years after the trial of Zenger, he retired from the chair of the Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly, and from public life. His speech on the occasion is preserved by the historians. He died near the close of the summer of 1741. His son, James Hamilton, was for many years Governor of Pennsylvania, and as such received the encomiums of General (then Colonel) Washington. Andrew Hamilton, of East New Jersey, was selected in 1701 by William Penn, to be Governor of Pennsylvania, an office which he filled with great honor. We should be obliged to Mr. Chandler, if he would ascertain and inform us, whether this early governor of Pennsylvania was the ancestor of Andrew and James Hamilton. The memory of such a man as the defender of Zenger, of his origin and descendants, ought not to pass into oblivion.
Our limits do not allow us to enter upon the consideration of any of the other trials presented in the work before us. The following is the shortest of the collection, and not without interest. “In the month of April, 1769, a brigantine, the Pitt Packet, - NO. 114.
of Marblehead, was boarded as she was coming in from Europe, seven leagues from land, by a boat from the Rose manof-war, the Boston station ship, then cruising in order to impress seamen. The seainen of the brigantine, four in number, determined not to be impressed, and, having provided themselves with harpoons and other weapons, they shut themselves up in the fore peak, declaring that they preferred death to slavery, and would sacrifice their lives sooner than be taken out of the ship. Panton, the lieutenant of the Rose, seeing the desperate determination of the men, at first endeavoured to persuade them to surrender, and at length promised that he would be content with one of their number. Finding that mild ineasures were of no avail, he informed them that he should make use of force, and they declared that they would resist unto death. A pistol, charged with powder, was then fired at them, which burned the face of Michael Corbett, and immediately afterwards another of the number received a shot in the arm. The seamen now became desperate, and repeatedly asserted that they would kill the first man who offered to approach them; and a man sent in by the lieutenant was considerably wounded, and retreated. “ Lieutenant Panton then declared that he would lead the
Corbett warned him not to approach, and called God to witness, that, if he advanced one step towards them, he should instantly die. The lieutenant, who was a resolute and brave officer, coolly remarked, that he had seen many a brave fellow in his life, but would take a pinch of snuff and consider the matter, which, having deliberately done, he moved towards the seamen, when Corbett, agreeably to his threat, struck him with a harpoon, which cut the jugular vein. The unfortunate officer gasped out that they had taken his life, and immediately expired. The seamen continued to defend themselves, but, having provided themselves with rum, they became intoxicated and were taken to Boston. Their names were Michael Corbett, Pierce Fenning, William Courier, and John Byan.
They were brought up before a special court of vice-admiralty, consisting of crown officers, commissioners for the trial of piracies, robberies, and felonies on the high seas,' which court had always proceeded without a jury. But James Otis and John Adams, counsel for the prisoners, insisted upon a trial by jury as a matter of right. The point was elaborately argued by counsel. Governor Bernard, the president of the court, was inclined to favor the trial by jury, and the King's counsel acceded to it; the only point remaining was the manner of summoning the jurors. But Hutchinson, the chief justice, who was one of the commissioners, being well satisfied
1842.] Theory and Practice of the Federal Government. 211
that the decision was directly against law, drew up a statement of the case, which convinced the court that they ought to proceed without a jury.
Accordingly, on Tuesday the nineteenth of June, 1769, the trial commenced in Boston, before the following commission
-Sir Francis Bernard, governor of Massachusetts ; John Wentworth, governor of New Hampshire ; Samuel_Hood, commodore and commander of his Majesty's ships ; Thomas Hutchinson, lieutenant-governor of Massachusetts ; Jonathan Warner and George Jaffrey, of his Majesty's Council in New Hampshire ; Robert Auchmuty, judge of the court of viceadmiralty for Massachusetts ; John Andrews, judge of the court of vice-admiralty for Rhode Island ; Andrew Oliver, secretary the province ; Robert Trail, collector of the port of Portsmouth ; John Nutting, collector of Salem ; Joseph Harrison, collector of Boston.
“ The trial occupied a week. The fact of the homicide was clearly proved ; but it appeared that neither the lieutenant nor any of his superior officers were authorized to impress, by any warrant or special authority from the Lords of the Admiralty; and the court was unanimously of opinion, that the prisoners had a good right to defend themselves, and that they ought to be acquitted of murder, with which they were charged; and that, at common law, the killing would not have amounted to manslaughter.
“The prisoners were accordingly discharged, and a midshipman of the Rose was immediately arrested in an action for damages for the wound inflicted in the arm of one of them, and gave bail in the sum of three hundred pounds.”—pp. 297 – 300.
Art. VIII. - 1. The Jubilee of the Constitution; a Discourse
delivered at the Request of the New York Historical Society in the City of New York, on Tuesday, the 30th of April, 1839 ; being the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Inauguration of George Washington, as President of the United States, on Thursday, the 30th of April, 1789. By John Quincy Adams. New York: Samuel Col
8vo. pp. 136. 2. An Oration on the Material Growth and Territorial Pro
gress of the United States, delivered at Springfield, Massachusetts, on the Fourth of July, 1839. By CALEB Cushing. Springfield : Merriam, Wood, & Co. 8vo.
3. Representative Democracy in the United States ; an Ad
dress delivered before the Senate of Union College, on the 26th of July, 1841. By BENJAMIN FRANKLIN BUTLER. Albany : C. Van Benthuysen. 8vo. pp. 43.
It is the commonest thing in the world for great schemes to turn out great failures. The Constitution of the United States has been a splendid exception. If we were to break up to-morrow, and go back into the dismal condition from which it drew us, as it were by the hair of the head, still it would have proved a most beneficent institution ; and had it accomplished but a tithe of its actual benefit, it would have perhaps fully met the average expectations of its projectors. With an uncertain future before them, — with a fair chance that its early trials would not be of peculiar hardship, — they were as far as possible from being sanguine as to its sufficiency; could they have looked but a little way into coming time, and seen in what a shaking of the political elements it was to have the training of its infancy, they could scarcely have failed to despair. Nobody was exactly suited; some for one reason, and some for its opposite, - these, because they detested a monarchy, those, because they distrusted a republic, — were all but utterly disaffected. Nothing brought about a union, as to the instrument finally matured, except the soberest "certainty of waking woe." With no credit abroad; no authority, that the rest of the world would treat with; public bankruptcy already incurred; private bankruptcy fast becoming universal ; commerce ruined ; agriculture at a stand ; the administration of justice defied; the States already at feud with one another, and their citizens, – unawed by such a poor shadow of authority as confronted their discontent, mustering for those disorders which want makes unmanageable and goes far to excuse, hardly could the condition of things be made worse by any change. What good and wise men had to do, was to arrange some compromise of their discordant opinions, and give it a fair trial, with the advantage of as much of a spirit of mutual forbearance and accommodation as they were able to diffuse from their own, through the public mind. Their part was, to do for the best, and then hope the best.
That they could not hope confidently, was only their misfortune. That, nevertheless, they deliberated diligently, ac