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written speeches were not read to the speaker and walls of the house: the business of the nation was the order of the day; that business was done faithfully, promptly, and effectually. Posts of honour were then posts of duty; profit was out of the question. The motives and actions of the revolutionary sages and heroes were not based on the seven principles of five loaves and two fishes, but on love of country, social order, and human rights.
By the citizens of his own state the virtues and talents of Mr. Sherman were held in high estimation. In addition to his congressional honours, they continued him a member of council during the
In 1784, when New Haven received a city charter, he was elected mayor, filling the office with dignity and usefulness to the close of his life, when not absent on more important public duties.
At the termination of the war, he, in conjunction with Judge Law, was appointed to revise the judicial code of Connecticut, which duty was performed with great ability, and to the satisfaction of all concerned. He was a member of the general convention that framed the federal constitution. From a manuscript found amongst his papers, it appears
that this instrument of union received many of its original features from Mr. Sherman. To his conceptive mind and practical wisdom, we are much indebted for the towering greatness and unparalleled prosperity we so eminently enjoy, and which will endure so long as we are faithful to ourselves. With all the local and conflicting interests of the colonies spread open to his view, he was enabled to exercise a salutary influence in reconciling difficulties between the members, that, for a time, threatened to hurl back the elements of government into original chaos, and prostrate the fair fabric of liberty.
By examining the profound discussions, the variety of opinions, the multifarious interests, the intense anxiety, the agony of soul, and sacrifices of private views that characterized the formation of the federal constitution, we discover wisdom, discretion and patriotism of the purest, loftiest kind, shining in all the grandeur of bold relievo.
Based upon the declaration of rights, it forms a superstructure towering in sublimity above all others, radiating its heart-cheering influence over sixteen millions of freemen, revered at home, respected abroad, and without a rival in the annals of legislation.
Judge Sherman did much to remove the objections made against this important document by the people of his own and adjoining states. He showed them clearly, and convinced them fully, that to effect and perpetuate the union, private feeling and interest must yield to public policy and public good; and that each state should strive to produce an equilibrium in the government of the whole. The wisdom of the sages who framed, and by their continued exertion and salutary influence effected the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, deserves our admiration quite as much as when they guided our nation through the storms of the revolution. It is often easier to acquire a particular object than to properly enjoy and preserve it.
Judge. Sherman was elected a member of the first congress under the new government, and resigned his judicial station that he might take a seat in that body. His influence had great weight in the national legislature. His exertions to promote the interests of his country were unremitting. Traces of his magnanimity and prophetic policy are upon the journals, and in many of the early laws of our country.
Upon many subjects members differed, and, in some instances, much warmth and acrimony were exhibited. On such occasions, Mr. Sherman was peculiarly happy in his exertions to produce reconciliation. He was emphatically a peace maker.
At the expiration of his representative term, he was elected to the United States Senate, of which he was a member when he closed his useful career, and bade a long adieu, a final farewell, to earth and its toils. He died on the 23d of July, 1793, in the full enjoyment of that religion he had honoured and practised in all the changing scenes of his eventful pilgrimage. He had lived the life of a good man, his closing scene was calm, happy, and serene. He could triumph over death and the grave, reaching forward to receive the enduring prize of immortal glory. He could approach the dread tribunal of the great Jehovah, smiling and smiled upon; and enter into pure and unalloyed bliss, lasting as the rolling ages of eternity.
Thus closed the valuable and useful life of Roger Sherman. He had been a faithful public servant nearly forty years. He had participated in all the trying scenes of the revolution; he had seen his country burst into being, a nation of freemen. He had aided in effecting a consolidation of the government; he had seen the dawnings of prosperity. In all the important measures of the state of his adoption, and of the American nation, he had taken an active and important part, from the commencement of the French war to the time of his death.
As a christian, he was esteemed by all denominations, for his consistent piety and liberal charity. With him, sectarianism was not religion; for him it had no charms. His philanthropy was as broad as creation; it reached from earth to Heaven. He made himself acquainted with the abstrusest branches of theology, and was an esteemed correspondent of several celebrated divines.
In the history of Roger Sherman, we behold one of nature's fairest sheets of purest white,
covered with all the sublime delineations that dignify a man, and assimilate him to his Creator. His life was crowned with unfading laurels, plucked from the rich soil of genuine worth and substantial merit. No ephemeral flowers decked his venerable brow. A chaplet of amaranthine roses . surmounts his well-earned fame. The mementos of his examples are a rich boon to posterity, and, whilst religion and social order survive, the virtues of this great and good man will shine in all the majesty of light. His private character was as pure as his public career was illustrious. He buried none of his talents; he fulfilled the design of his creation.
By his example it is plainly demonstrated, that man is the architect of his own fortune. By industry and perseverance, with the aid of books, now accessible to all, young apprentices and mechanics may surmount the Alpine summit of science, and take their stations, with superior
advantages, by the side of those who have become enervated within the walls of a college. No one in our land of intelligence is excusable for growing up under the dark shades of ignorance. The sun of science has risen, and all who will, may bask in its genial rays. The field of knowledge and path to glory are open to all. The means of acquiring information are far superior to those enjoyed by Sherman and Franklin. Let their bright and shining examples be iinitated by Columbia's sons, and our happy republic will live for centuries. Let ignorance, corruption, and fanaticism predominate, and the fair fabric of our freedom, reared by the valour, and cemented by the blood of the revolutionary patriots, will tremble, totter, and fall. Chaos will mount the car of discord, sound the dread clarion of death, and LIBERTY will expire amidst the smoking ruins of her own citadel. Remember that knowledge is power," wealth the sinews of power," and that honesty, virtue, and integrity are the regulators of them both. Remember that intrigue, fanaticism, and faction may prostrate, at one bold stroke, the fairest, noblest work of years.
The thrilling subject of American Independence is ever welcome to the patriot and philanthropist. The annual celebration of the event is calculated to perpetuate a kindred feeling and a kindred love of liberty. The time may arrive when the day may not be celebrated, but to the end of time the event, and the names of those who achieved it, will be handed down on the historic page with pride and veneration. The names of the Signers of the Declaration, like those of the twelve Apostles, are surrounded by a wreath of glory unfading and untarnished. Among them we find that of EDWARD RUTLEDGE, who was born in Charleston, S. C., in November, 1749. His father, Dr. John Rutledge, was a native of Ireland, who married Sarah Hert, a lady of high accomplishments, piety and good sense. Edward lost his father at an early age, and, like those of many great and good men, his mind was moulded by his mother. After passing through the usual routine of an education, he commenced the study of law with an elder brother, who stood high at the Charleston bar. Whilst he stored his mind with Coke and Bacon, he paid great attention to elocution. In 1769 he went to England, became a student at the temple, made himself familiar with the practice of courts, with the rules of parliament, with the policy, designs and feelings of the British ministry, and cultivated an acquaintance with the celebrated orators and statesmen Chatham, Mansfield and others. In 1773, he returned, richly laden with stock for future use. He commenced a successful practice, uniting an expressive countenance, a good voice, a rich imagination, elegance of action, an honourable mind, and a good heart,
with strong native talent, improved by superior advantages and untiring industry.
He soon acquired a merited eminence as a bold, discreet and able advocate. He was peculiarly happy in his exertions excited by the spur of the moment, a talent always useful to a lawyer, and eminently useful to a statesman during a revolutionary struggle. His lamp was always trimmed and burning, and with true Irish zeal and eloquence, he was always ready to enter the arena where duty called him. had a warm heart for the weak and oppressed.
It was self-evident that talents like his were well calculated to promote the cause of emancipation, and Mr. Rutledge was among the first selected inembers to the continental congress in 1774. This alone was sufficient to place him on the list of imperishable fame; for none but men of superior merit, known fortitude, and of pure patriotism, were selected to represent their country's rights and repel a monarch's wrongs. Such a man was Edward Rutledge. With the ardour of an Emmet, he united great prudence and discretion. By his open frankness of expression he incurred the displeasure of the crown adherents, but imparted the holy flame of patriotism to the friends of liberty in a pre-eminent degree.
With all his ardour and zeal he was a friend to order and opposed to mobocracy. He acted from enlightened and liberal principles, aiming to build every superstructure on the firm basis of reason and justice. To this nobleness of design, conceived and adhered to by all of the signers of the declaration, may be attributed the lofty dignity that pervaded that august body. Revolution is a tornado where prudence seldom enters to neutralize its baneful effects; but when such men as those who constituted the first American congress in Philadelphia combine, men who could command the whirlwind of passion, and conduct the lightning of revenge by the silken cords of reason, and the steel rods of unbending patriotism to a desired and useful destination, revolution is stripped of its bane and is crowned with unfading glory. Such were the signers of the declaration-such was the American revolution. We find Mr. Rutledge associated with several important committees of the continental congress, and among them he was appointed with John Adams and Benjamin Franklin to meet Lord Howe, when he came clothed with authority to offer humiliating terms of peace. No three men could have been selected whose combined talents were better calculated to inspire awe and respect. They were received and treated with marked attention by his lordship, who became convinced, that under the direction of such spirits as these, the rebels would conquer or die. They detested his offers of pardon, for who had they injured? They disclaimed all right of the crown to their allegiance; it had been sacrificed at the shrine of an ambitious ministry. Freedom was their motto-Liberty their watchword, and their terms Independence or death. They had resolved “to do or die."
As a sound, judicious and able statesman, Mr. Rutledge stood high; his brow was also decked by laurels in the field. He had long commanded a company in the ancient battalion of artillery. When the
British landed at Port Royal in 1779, he led his company to the attack with the skill and courage of a veteran. At no battle during the revolution was more personal bravery displayed than at this, nor was the enemy, at any time, more chagrined at a total defeat by raw militia. It was a mystery to them to find in the same man, the statesman, the soldier and the hero. He was at a subsequent period elected colonel. During the investment of Charleston by the enemy in 1780, he was again in the field, but was unfortunately taken prisoner, sent to St. Augustine, and not exchanged for nearly a year. Before his return the dark clouds began to recede, and the horizon of liberty was slowly illuminated by the rays of hope.
He returned to his native state and aided in restoring the civil government that had been paralyzed by the cruel conquering arm of the crown. He was a member of the enraged assembly who met at Jacksonborough in 1782, and with his recent injuries and those of his friends bleeding fresh before him, he sanctioned the bill of pains and penalties, that, under other circumstances, would not have received his approval, and which, during the time it remained in force, he used every exertion to meliorate.
Among those who had been tortured by persecution was his venerable mother, who had been taken from her peaceful home in the country and confined in Charleston, then occupied by the British; a high compliment to her talents and patriotism, placing her on the list of fame with the matrons of Greece and Rome.
During the whole of the doubtful and protracted struggle of the revolution, Mr. Rutledge remained its steady and zealous advocate, and gave his best exertions in its behalf. After its termination, he again returned to the bosom of his friends and the labours of his profession. His private worth took deep root in the affections of the community, and he had the confidence and esteem of a large circle of acquaintances.
In organizing the new government of his native state, he acted a useful and consistent part. Many difficulties were to be overcome, many clashing local interests to be reconciled, and many measures and laws adopted, to restore an equilibrium in private and public con
A great commotion existed between debtors and creditors; specie was out of the question; the paper currency was nearly annihilated, and many who felt that they had shaken off the British yoke, were about to fall into the hands of relentless creditors, who, when prompted by avarice, are as destitute of mercy as the pirate is of compassion. Instances are on record in our own country, (I blush as I write,) where some of those very veterans who bled for our boasted freedom, have been incarcerated in a prison by the cold inquisitorial creditor, for sums so trifling that shame would hide its face to name them.
In this dilemma, Mr. Rutledge was among those who proposed and passed a law, making property a lawful tender for debts; a law purely republican, but so obnoxious to avarice, that most men, who are aristocrats just in proportion to the amount of wealth they acquire above the wants of life, oppose it.