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ple, and made himself familiar with the elementary principles of legal knowledge, and prepared himself thoroughly to act well his part through future life. ' During his stay, he cultivated an extensive acquaintance with the whigs of England, which gave him an opportunity of acquiring a knowledge of the policy and designs of British ministers with regard to the American colonies.
He took a deep interest in the relative situation of the two countries, and returned home in 1772, prepared and determined to oppose the oppressions of the crown and strike for LIBERTY. As the dark clouds of the revolution gathered in fearful array, the firmness of his purposes increased. These were fostered and encouraged by his patriotic father, and responded to by the people of his parish. Hand in hand did the sire and son march to the rescue of their country from the iron grasp
The first attempt of Thomas Lynch, jr., at public speaking, after his return from Europe, was at a large town meeting at Charleston. His father had just addressed the assembled multitude on the subject of British oppression, amidst the enthusiastic cheers of his fellow citi
As he sat down his youthful son rose. A profound silence ensued. A thousand eyes were turned upon him. For a moment he paused; his eyes were fixed, his bosom heaved; the struggle was over, and a strain of eloquence followed that carried the insulating fluid of patriotism to the hearts of his astonished and delighted audience with irresistible force. Tears of joy ran down the furrowed cheeks of his father, and loud bursts of applause were shouted by the enraptured assembly.
When the final crisis for physical action arrived, Mr. Lynch was among the first to offer his services. In July, 1775, he accepted of the commission of captain, and repaired to Newbern, North Carolina, where he unfurled the star spangled banner, and in a few weeks enlisted the number of men required for his company. His father objected to his acceptance of so low a commission, to whom his affectionate son modestly replied, "My present command is fully equal to my experience;" a reply worthy of the consideration of every young person who desires to build his fame upon a substantial basis. If a man is suddenly placed upon a towering eminence to which he is unaccustomed, the nerves of his brain must be unusually strong if he does not grow dizzy, tremble, totter, and fall. If he ascends gradually, and pauses at the different points of altitude, he may reach the loftiest spire, preserve his equilibrium and be safe. Sudden elevations are uniformly dangerous. On his way to Charleston with his men, Captain Lynch was prostrated by the bilious fever, brought on by the fatigues and exposures of his new mode of life. From this attack he never entirely recovered. Towards the close of the year he so far regained his health as to be able to join his regiment. Soon after, he received intelligence of the dangerous illness of his father, then a member of Congress at Philadelphia. He immediately applied to Colonel Gadsden, his commanding officer, for permission to visit him, which was peremptorily refused, on the ground that the necessity for his services in the army was paramount to all private considerations. This difficulty was unexpectedly removed by his election to Congress, as the successor of his father, by an unanimous vote of the assembly of his state. He received the information with deep emotions of diffidence and gratitude. He promptly repairer to his new and dignified station, and took his seat in the Congress of 1776, composed of sages and statesmen whose combined talents and wisdom have no parallel in ancient or modern history. On his arrival at Philadelphia he found his father partially relieved from his paralytic affection, and in August he attempted to return to South Carolina, but only reached Annapolis, where he expired in the arms of his son who was soon to follow him.
On his entrance in the national legislature, Captain Lynch became a bold and eloquent advocate of the Declaration of Independence, and gained the reputation of being an able statesman and a firm patriot. He most cheerfully and fearlessly affixed his name to the charter of our rights, and did all in his power, and more than his feeble state of health warranted, to promote the glorious cause of FREEDOM. He was finally compelled to yield to increasing disease, and relinquish his public duties. 'Medical skill proved unavailing, and by the advice of his physicians he undertook a voyage to Europe, a change of climate being the only thing that promised him relief. Near the close of the year 1779, himself and lady sailed with Captain Morgan, whose vessel was never heard from after she had been a few days at sea. The last account of the unfortunate ship was from a Frenchman, who left her from some cause unknown and went on board of another, shortly after which a violent tempest arose and unquestionably sent her, with all on board, to the bottom of the ocean.
Previous to his embarking, Captain Lynch, having no issue, willed his large estate to his three sisters in case of the death of himself and wife.
The private character of this worthy man was unsullied, and in all respects amiable. Had his valuable life been spared, he would undoubtedly have rendered his country eminent services, and maintained an elevated rank among the patriots and sages of the eventful era he saw so gloriously commenced. During his short career, he performed enough to immortalize his name. Although his morning sun never reached its meridian, its splendour contributed largely in illuminating the horizon of LIBERTY, and shed a lustre over his memory enduring as time.
The brief but brilliant career of Thomas Lynch, JR., admonishes us that life is held by a slender tenure, and that high accomplishments, like some rich flowers, often bloom just long enough to be admired and revered, then withdraw their beauties from our enraptured sight forever.
In the sages of the American revolution, we recognise every variety of character that ennobles man and confers upon him dignity and merit. To rouse the people to a becoming sense of their inalienable and chartered rights, and to induce them to rise in the majesty of their might and vindicate them, was the first great business of the illustrious patriots who boldly planned and nobly achieved American independence. To effect this important object, all the varied forms and powers of eloquence were necessary, from the mighty torrent of logic that overwhelms, the keen sarcasm that withers, to the mild persuasion that leads the heart a willing captive.
The latter talent was pre-eminently possessed by MATTHEW THORNTON, who was born in Ireland in 1714, and immigrated to this country with his father, James Thornton, in 1717, who settled at Wiscasset, Maine. This son received a good academical education, and was much admired for his industry, correct deportment, and blandness of manners. After completing his course at school, he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Grout, of Leicester, Massachusetts. He made rapid progress in the acquisition of that important branch of science, and gave early promise of future and extensive usefulness. When he became prepared to enter upon the duties of his profession, he commenced practice in Londonderry, New Hampshire, which was principally settled by immigrants from his native country. He soon acquired a lucrative business, and the confidence and esteem of his numerous patrons.
In the expedition against Cape Breton, then belonging to the French, he was appointed surgeon of the New Hampshire division of the invading army, and performed his duty with great fidelity, skill, and credit.
He was an early and prominent advocate of American rights a bold and uniform opposer to the usurpations of the British ministry. He had a great opportunity to disseminate liberal principles among the people, which did not pass unimproved. When the revolutionary storm burst upon the colonies, he had coinmand of a regiment of militia in Londonderry. He also held the cominission of justice of the peace, and had filled various civil offices, His urbanity of manners, sincerity and honesty of purpose, and uncommon powers of persuasion, gave him a rare and salutary influence, both in private parties and public assemblies.
He was appointed president of the first provincial convention of New Hampshire, after the dissolution of the king's government. The people of that state, for a time, did not come up to the line marked out by the patriots of Massachusetts, but Dr. Thornton, and other
leading men, soon brought them into the rank and file of opposition to the invading foe, and redeemed them from the bonds of servitude and fear. In 1774, they sent delegates to the Congress convened at Philadelphia, and in December of that year, when they were apprised of the order of the king in council prohibiting the exportation of gunpowder, the committee of safety in the town of Portsmouth collected a body of men, who, before the governor was apprised of their intention, seized upon the fort and carried off one hundred barrels of that then important commodity.
Soon after the flight of Governor Wentworth upon receiving the intelligence of the battle of Lexington, an address was prepared by a committee of the provincial convention, of which Dr. Thornton was president, which was published over his signature. To the young reader this may seem unimportant, until it is known it was full evidence to convict him of high treason, and would have doomed him to the scaffold had he fallen into the hands of his enemies. Hence, the patriotism and boldness of the act.
The address was couched in strong and feeling terms, well calculated to produce the intended effect. The following extract is a fair sample of the whole: "You must all be sensible that the affairs of America have at length come to an affecting crisis. The horrors and distresses of a civil war, which, till of late, we only had in contemplation, we now find ourselves obliged to realize. Painful, beyond expression, have been those scenes of blood and devastation which the barbarous cruelty of British troops have placed before our eyes. Duty to God, to ourselves, to posterity, enforced by the cries of slaughtered innocents, have urged us to take up arms in our uwn defence. Such a day as this was never before known either to us or to our fathers. We would therefore recommend to the colony at large to cultivate that christian union, harmony, and tender affection which is the only foundation upon which our invaluable privileges can rest with any security, or our public measures be pursued with the least prospect of success."
On the 10th of January, 1776, Dr. Thornton was appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of New Hampshire, and on the i2th of September he was elected a member of the Continental Congress, and when he took his seat affixed his name to the Declaration of Independence. For those who are not correctly informed upon the subject it is natural to suppose that the signers of the chart of our liberty were present on the memorable 4th of July when it was adopted. This was
Messrs. Franklin, Rush, Clymer, Wilson, Ross, and Taylor, as in the case of Dr. Thornton, were not members on that day. Nor does the name of Thomas M.Kean appear upon the printed records of Congress, although he was present and signed on the 4th of July; and the name of Ñenry Wisner, a delegate from Orange county, New York, who signed the original manuscript of the declaration on the day it was adopted, has never been properly recognised. These errors were undoubtedly clerical, not intentional. Mr. Wisner was a highly respectable member, and a pure and zealous patriot.
Dr. Thornton discharged the duties of his important station ably and
not the case.
faithfully until his services were required upon the bench. On the 24th of December of the same year, he was again elected to Congress, and served until the 23d of January, 1777, when he retired finally from the national legislature, highly esteemed by all his associates, enjoying the full confidence and gratitude of his constituents, and the proud satisfaction of having performed his duty towards his country. For six years he served on the bench of the Superior Court, and was also Chief Justice of the Common Pleas; the combined duties of which rendered his task arduous. In 1779, he removed to Exeter, and the following year purchased a plantation upon the banks of the Merrimack river, where he sought that repose that his advanced age required. His friends, however, were not willing to excuse him from acting in public concerns, and induced him to serve as a member of the general court, and also in the state senate during the war, and for two years after its close. On the 25th of January, 1784, he was appointed a justice of the peace and quorum throughout the state, which was an important office under the original constitution of the state, but wbich was abolished in part, and abridged in jurisdiction, by the amendments of 1792. This he held to the day of his final retirement from all public duties; and, after 1785, he took no part in the politics of the day, but continued to afford salutary counsel on all important matters relative to the public weal, about which he was often consulted. During the controversy between his state and Vermont concerning a portion of disputed territory, he wrote several letters to those in power, urging the necessity of conciliatory measures, and an unconditional submission to the decision of Congress in the premises. They were highly ereditable to him as an able patriot, a good writer, and a discreet man.
DR. THORNTON was one of the most fascinating and agreeable men of his age. He was seldom known to smile, but was uniformly cheerful, entertaining, and instructive; similar, in many respects, to the illustrious Franklin. His mind was stored with a rich variety of useful and practical knowledge, which rendered him an interesting companion. He sustained an unblemished private reputation, and discharged all the social relations of life with fidelity and faithfulness. He was opposed to sectarian religion, belonged to no church, but was devoutly pious and a constant attendant of public.worship. a kind husband, an affectionate father, and a good neighbour. He was very exact in collecting his dues, by some thought too severe, and was rigidly scrupulous in liquidating every farthing he owed. He was a large portly man, over six feet in height, well proportioned, with an expressive countenance, enlivened by keen and penetrating black eyes. He died at Newburyport, Massachusetts, on the 24th of June, 1803, whilst visiting his daughter. His remains were conveyed to New Hampshire, and deposited near Thornton's Ferry, on the bank of the Merrimack, where a neat marble slab rests over his dust, with this laconic and significant epitaph—