and good Order in the Province, during the Continuance of the present
Great Britain and the Colonies.
By this Time I mortally hated the Words "Province" "Colonies" and Mother
Country and strove to get them out of the Report. The last was indeed left out,
but the other two were retained even by this Committee who were all as high
Americans, as any in the House, unless Mr. Gadsden should be
excepted. Nevertheless I thought this resolution a Tryumph and a most important Point gained.
Mr. John Rutledge was now compleatly with Us, in our desire of revolutionizing
all the Governments, and he broughton forward
immediately, some representations from his own State, when Congress then taking
into consideration, the
State of South Carolina, and sundry papers relative thereto,
being read and considered
Resolved that a Committee of five be appointed to take the same into
Consideration and report what in their Opinion is necessary to be done. The
Members chosen Mr. Harrison, Mr. Bullock, Mr.
Hooper, Mr. Chase and Mr. S.
On November 4th.
The Committee appointed to take into Consideration the
State of South Carolina, brought in their report,
read a number of Resolves were passed, the
last of which will be found in page 235 of the Journals at the bottom.
Resolved that if the Convention of
South Carolina, shall find it necessary to establish a form of
Government in that Colony, it be recommended to that Convention to call a full
and free Representation of the People, and that the said Representatives, if
they think it necessary, shall establish such a form of Government as in their
judgment will produce the happiness of the People, and most effectually secure
Peace And good Order in the Colony, during the continuance of the present
Great Britain and the Colonies.
Mr. John Rutledge united with me and others in persuading the
Committee to report this Resolution, and the distance of
Carolina made it convenient to furnish them with this
discretionary Recommendation, I doubt whether Mr.
Harrison or Mr. Hooper were as yet, sufficiently
advanced to agree to it. -- Mr. Bullock,
and Mr. Samuel
were very ready for it. When it was under Consideration, I
afresh to expunge the Word Colony and
Colonies, and insert the Words States and State, and the Word Dispute to make
Way for that of War, and the Word Colonies for the Word
America or States. But the Child was not yet weaned. -- I laboured
also to get the Resolution enlarged and extended
into a Recommendation to the People of all the States to institute Governments,
and this Occasioned more Interrogations from one part and another of the House.
What Plan of Government would you recommend? &c. Here it would have been
the most natural to have made a Motion that Congress should appoint a Committee
to prepare a Plan of Government, to be reported to Congress and there discussed
Paragraph by Paragraph, and that which should be adopted, should be recommended
to all the States: but I dared not make such a Motion, because I knew that if
such a Plan was adopted it would be if not permanent, yet of long duration: and
it would be extreamly
difficult to get rid of it.
And I knew that every one of my friends, and all those who were the most
zealous for assuming Government, had at that time no Idea of any other
Government but a Contemptible Legislature in one assembly, with Committees for
Executive Magistrates and Judges. These Questions therefore I answered by
Sporting off hand, a variety of short Sketches of Plans, which might be adopted
by the Conventions, and as this Subject was brought into View in some Way or
other, almost every day and these Interrogations were frequently repeated, I
had in my head and at my Tongues End, as many Projects of Government
as Mr. Burke says the Abby
had in his Pidgeon holes,
not however constructed at such Length nor laboured
with his metaphysical Refinements. I took care
always to bear my Testimony against every plan of an unballanced
I had read
Nedham and Lock, but with very little
Application to any particular Views: till these Debates in Congress and these
Interrogations in public and private, turned my thoughts to those Researches,
which produced the Thoughts on Government, the Constitution of
Massachusetts, and at length the Defence of the Constitutions of the
United States and the Discourses on Davila, Writings which have
never done any good to me though some of them undoubtedly contributed to
produce the Constitution of
New York, the Constitution of the
United States, and the last Constitutions of
Georgia. Wh They undoubtedly also contributed to the
Writings of Publius, called the Federalist, which were all Written after the
Publication of my Work in
New York and
Boston. Whether the People will permit any of these
Constitutions to stand upon their Pedastals, or
whether they will throw them all down I know not. Appearances at present
are unfavourable and threatening. I have done all
in my Power, according to what I thought my Duty. I can do no more.
In 1775 The Council of Massachusetts appointed
About the sixth of December
, I obtained Leave of Congress to visit my Family and
returned home. The General Court satt
Watertown, Our Army was at
Cambridge and the British in
Boston. Having a seat in Council, I had opportunity to Converse
with the Members of both Houses, to know their Sentiments and to communicate
mine. The Council had unanimously appointed me, in my Absence, without any
Solicitation or desire on my Part, Chief Justice of the State. I had accepted
the Office, because it was a Post of danger, but much against my Inclination. I
expected to go no more to Congress, but to take my Seat on the Bench. But the
General Court would not excuse me from again attending Congress and again chose
me a Member with all my former Colleagues except Mr.
Cushing who I believe declined, and in his room Mr.
Gerry was chosen, who went with me to
Philadelphia, and We took our Seats in Congress on Fryday
9. February 1776.
In this Gentleman I
found a faithfull
Friend, and an ardent persevering
Lover of his Country, who never hesitated to promote with all his Abilities and
Industry the boldest measures reconcileable with prudence. Mr. Samuel Adams
, Mr. Gerry and myself, now
composed a Majority of the Massachusetts Delegation, and We were
no longer vexed or enfeebled by divisions among ourselves, or by indecision or
Indolence. On the 29 of Feb.
Whipple Esq. appeared as one of the Delegates from
New Hampshire, another excellent Member in Principle and
Disposition, as well as Understanding.
I returned to my daily routine of Service in the Board of War, and a
punctual Attendance on Congress, every day, in all their hours. I returned also
to my almost dayley exhortations to the Institutions of Governments in the
States and a declaration of Independence. I soon found there was a Whispering
among the Partisans in Opposition to Independence, that I was interested, that
I held an office under the New Government of
Massachusetts, and that I was afraid of loosing it, if We did not declare Independence; and that I
consequently ought not to be attended to. This they circulated so successfully
that they got it insinuated among the Members of the Legislature in
Maryland where their Friends were powerfull enough to give an Instruction to their
Delegates in Congress, warning them against listening to the Advice of
Interested Persons, and manifestly pointing me out, to the Understanding of
every one. This Instruction was read in Congress. It produced no other effect
upon me than a laughing Letter to my Friend Mr.
Chace, who regarded it no more than I did. These Chuckles I was
informed of and witnessed for many Weeks, and at length they broke out in a
very extraordinary Manner. When I had been speaking one day on the Subject of
Independence, or the Institution of Governments which I always considered as
the same thing, a Gentleman of great Fortune and high Rank arose and said he
should move, that No Person who held any Office under a new Government should
be admitted to vote, on any such Question as they were interested Persons. I
wondered at the