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Green be the graves where her martyrs are lying !
Shroudless and tombless they sank to their rest, While o'er their ashes the starry fold flying Wraps the proud eagle they roused from his nest !
Borne on her northern pine,
Long o'er the foaming brine,
Heaven keep her ever free,
Wide as o'er land and sea
- OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES.
THE BELL OF LIBERTY
The representatives of the people assembled in solemn conclave, and long and anxiously surveyed the perilous ground on which they were treading. To recede was now impossible ; to go on seemed fraught with terrible consequences. The result of the long and fearful conflict that must follow was more than doubtful. For twenty days Congress was tossed on a sea of perplexity.
At length, Richard Henry Lee, shaking off the fetters that galled his noble spirit, arose on the 7th of June, and in a clear, deliberate tone, every accent of which rang to the farthest extremity of the silent hall, proposed the following resolution: “Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and ought to be, free and independent States, and all political connection between us and the States of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
John Adams, in whose soul glowed the burning future, seconded the resolution in a speech so full of impassioned fervor, thrilling eloquence, and prophetic power that Congress was carried away before it, as by a resistless wave. The die was cast, and every man was now compelled to meet the issue. The resolution was finally deferred till the 1st of July, to allow a committee, appointed for that purpose, to draft a Declaration of Independence.
When the day arrived, the Declaration was taken up and debated, article by article. The discussion continued for three days, and was characterized by great excitement. At length, the various sections having been gone through with, the next day, July 4th, was appointed for action.
It was soon known throughout the city; and in the morning, before Congress assembled, the streets were filled with excited men, some gathered in groups, engaged in eager discussion, and others moving toward the State House. All business was forgotten in the momentous crisis which the country had now reached.
No sooner had the members taken their seats than the multitude gathered in a dense mass around the entrance. The bellman mounted to the belfry, to be ready to proclaim the joyful tidings of freedom as soon as the final vote was passed. A bright-eyed boy was stationed below to give the signal.
Around the bell, brought from England, had been cast more than twenty years before the prophetic motto :
6 PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND
UNTO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF.
Although its loud clang had often sounded over the city, the proclamation engraved on its iron lip had never yet been spoken aloud.
It was expected that the final vote would be taken without delay; but hour after hour wore on, and no report came from that mysterious hall where the fate of a continent was in suspense. The multitude grew impatient; the old man leaned over the railing, straining his eyes downward, till his heart misgave him and hope yielded to fear.
But at length, at about two o'clock, the door of the hall opened, and a voice exclaimed, “ It has passed.” The word leapt like lightning from lip to lip, followed by huzzas that shook the building. The boy-sentinel turned to the belfry, clapped his hands, and shouted, “ Ring! ring!”
The desponding bellman, electrified into life by the joyful news, seized the iron tongue, and hurled it backward and forward with a clang that startled every heart in Philadelphia like a bugle blast.
Clang! clang !” the bell of Liberty resounded on, higher and clearer, and more joyous, blending in its deep and thrilling vibrations, and proclaiming in loud and long accents over all the land, the motto that encircled it.
Glad messengers caught the tidings as they floated out on the air, and sped off in every direction to bear them onward. When they reached New York, the bells rang out the glorious news, and the excited multitude, surging hither and thither, at length gathered around the Bowling Green, and, seizing the leaden statue of George III, which stood there, tore it into fragments. These were afterward run into bullets, and hurled against his Majesty's troops.
When the Declaration arrived in Boston, the people gathered to old Faneuil Hall to hear it read ; and as the last sentence fell from the lips of the reader, a loud shout went and soon from height and every battery the thunder of cannon reechoed the joy.
- J. T. HEADLEY.
THE RISING IN 1776
Out of the North the wild news came,
The fife's shrill note, the drum’s loud beat, And through the wide land everywhere
The answering tread of hurrying feet;
The church of Berkley Manor stood;
And some esteemed of gentle blood.
In vain their feet with loitering tread Passed ’mid the graves where rank is naught; All could not read the lesson taught
In that republic of the dead.
The vale with peace and sunshine full