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- The Eve of the Revolution, - 28/28 -


cast the vote of their colony for the resolution also.

Meanwhile, a committee had been appointed to prepare a formal declaration, setting forth the circumstances and the motives which might justify them, in the judgment of mankind, in taking this momentous step. The committee had many meetings to discuss the matter, and, when the main points had been agreed upon, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were instructed to "draw them up in form, and clothe them in a proper dress." Many years afterwards, in 1822, John Adams related, as accurately as he could, the conversation which took place when these two met to perform the task assigned them. "Jefferson proposed to me to make the draught. I said, 'I will not.' 'You should do it.' 'Oh! no.' 'Why will you not? You ought to do it.' 'I will not.' 'Why?' 'Reasons enough.' 'What can be your reasons?' 'Reason first--You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second--I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third--You can write ten times better than I can.' 'Well,' said Jefferson, 'if you are decided, I will do as well as I can.'" In some such manner as this it came about that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, no doubt doing, as he said, the best he could.

It is the judgment of posterity that Mr. Jefferson did very well--which was doubtless due partly to the fact that he could write, if not ten times better, at least better than John Adams. Yet the happy phrasing of a brief paragraph or two could scarcely By itself have won so much fame for the author; and perhaps much Of the success of this famous paper came from the circumstance That ten years of controversy over the question of political rights had forced Americans to abandon, step by step, the restricted ground of the positive and prescriptive rights of Englishmen and to take their stand on the broader ground of the natural and inherent rights of man. To have said, "We hold this truth to be self-evident: that all Englishmen are endowed by the British Constitution with the customary right of taxing themselves internally" would probably have made no great impression on the sophisticated European mind. It was Thomas Jefferson's good fortune, in voicing the prevailing sentiment in America, to give classic expression to those fundamental principles of a political faith which was destined, in the course of a hundred years, to win the allegiance of the greater part of the western world.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these, are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed. That, whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such Principles and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

It is to these principles--for a generation somewhat obscured, it must be confessed, by the Shining Sword and the Almighty Dollar, by the lengthening shadow of Imperialism and the soporific haze of Historic Rights and the Survival of the Fittest--it is to these principles, these "glittering generalities," that the minds of men are turning again in this day of desolation as a refuge from the cult of efficiency and from faith in "that which is just by the judgment of experience."

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Contemporary Writings; Many of the most important documents for this period are in the following brief collections: W. Macdonald, "Select Charters and Other Documents," 1906; H. W. Preston, "Documents Illustrative of American History," 5th ed., 1900; H. Niles, "Principles and Acts of the Revolution in America," 1822; J. Almon, "Collection of Papers Relative to the Dispute between Great Britain and America," 1777 (commonly cited as "Prior Documents"). The spirit of the times is best seen in the contemporary newspapers, many extracts from which are printed in F. Moore, "Diary of the American Revolution from the Newspapers and Original Documents," 1863. Of the numberless controversial pamphlets, the following are noteworthy: J. Otis, "Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved," 1764; D. Dulaney, "Considerations on the Propriety of Imposing Taxes on the British Colonies" 1765; J. Dickinson, "Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies, "1768 (also in "Writings of John Dickinson," 3 vols. 1895); W. Knox, "The Controversy between Great Britain and her Colonies Reviewed," 1769 (excellent pro-British reply to Dickinson); S. Jenyns, "The Objections to the Taxation of Our American Colonies ...Briefly Considered," 1765; J. Wilson, "Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament," 1774 (also in "The Works of James Wilson," 2 vols. 1896); S. Seabury, "Free Thoughts on the Proceedings of the Continental Congress," 1774; T. Paine, "Common Sense," 1776 (also in "Writings of Thomas Paine," 4 vols. 1894-96). These pamphlets are not available to most readers, but all of them, together with many others, have been admirably described and summarized in M. C. Tyler, "The Literary History of the American Revolution," 2 vols. 1897. The letters and public papers of the leaders of the Revolution have been mostly printed, among which some of the most valuable and interesting collections are: C. F. Adams, "The Works of John Adams," 10 vols. 1856 (vol. II); J. Adams, "Familiar Letters of John Adams and his Wife Abigail Adams," 1875; W. C. Ford, "The Warren-Adams Letters," 1917 (vol. I); A. H. Smyth, "The Writing's of Benjamin Franklin," 10 vols. 1905-1907 (vols. IV-VI); P. L. Ford, "The Writings of John Dickinson," 3 vols. 1895; H. A. Cushing, "The Writings of Samuel Adams," 4 vols. 1904-1908; P. O. Hutchinson, "Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson," 2 vols. 1884. The following works give the history of the time as it appeared to various contemporaries: W. Gordon, "History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of American Independence," 4 vols. 1788 (parts of the work taken bodily from the "Annual Register"); D. Ramsey, "History of the Revolution of South Carolina," 2 vols. 1785; A. Graydon, "Memoirs of His Own Times," 1846; T. Hutchinson, "History of Massachusetts Bay," 3 vols. 1795-1828 (based on documents collected by the author, some of which were destroyed in the Stamp Act riots); Mercy Warren, "History of the American Revolution," 3 vols. 1805 (author was a sister of James Otis); VP. Moultrie, "Memoirs of the American Revolution so far as it Related to North and South Carolina," 2 vols. 1802; J. Drayton, "Memoirs of the American Revolution," 2 vols. 1821; T. Jones, "History of New York in the Revolutionary War," 2 vols. 1879 (by a prominent New York Loyalist); "The Annual Register," 1765-1776 (an English annual giving summaries of political events supposed to have been prepared by Edmund Burke); H. Walpole, "Memoirs of the Reign of George the Third," 4 vols. 1894.

Secondary Works: The best single volume on the Revolution is W. E. H. Lecky, "The American Revolution," 1912. Other good accounts: E. Charming, "History of the United States," vol. III, 1912; G. Howard, "Preliminaries of the American Revolution," 1905; S. G. Fisher, "Struggle for American Independence," 2 vols. 1908 (controverts many traditional ideas. Interesting book by a man who has been bored by the laudation of the heroic and patriotic side of the Revolution). Of the more detailed histories, the best are: G. Bancroft, "History of the United States," 10 vols. 1834-1874 (vols. V-VIII deal with the period 1765-1776. Strongly prejudiced but accurate as to facts; based on documents collected in European archives, some of which are not easily obtainable elsewhere. Revised ed., 6 vols. 1885, omits notes and references, and therefore not so valuable as the original edition); G. O. Trevelyan, "The American Revolution," 6 vols. 1899 1914 (brilliantly written by an Englishman of Liberal sympathies. On the whole the work on the Revolution best worth reading). Studies of the beginnings of the Revolution in particular colonies: C. H. Lincoln, "Revolutionary Movement in Pennsylvania," 1901; H. J. Eckenrode, "The Revolution in Virginia," 1916; C. L. Becker, "History of political Parties in New York,1760-1776," 1909. The best account of the British policy leading up to the Grenville measures is G. L: Beer, "British Colonial Policy, 1754-1765", 1907. The interesting and important subject of the Loyalists is sketched in C. H. Van Tyne, "The Loyalists of the American Revolution," 1902. Interesting biographies well worth reading: W. W. Henry, "Patrick Henry: Life, Correspondence, and Speeches," 3 vols. 1891; J. K. Hosmer, "Life of Thomas Hutchinson," 1896; J. K. Hosmer, "Samuel Adams," 1893; M. Chamberlin, "John Adams," 1884; C. J. Stille, "The Life and Times of John Dickinson," 1891; D. D. Wallace, "Life of Henry Laurens," 1915; P. L. Ford, "The Many-Sided Franklin," 1899; J. Parton, "Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin," 2 vols. 1867.


The Eve of the Revolution, - 28/28

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