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Southern District of New-York, sa
BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the twenty-fourth day of June, A. D. 1829, in the fifty-third year of the Independence of the United States of America, Charles A. Goodrich, of the said District, hath deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as author, in the words following, to wit:-" Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. By the Rev. Charles A. Goodrich."
In conformity to the act of Congress of the United States, entitled, "an act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the time therein mentioned." And also to an act, entitled, an act, supplementary to an act, entitled, an act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."
FRED. J. BETTS,
THE author has had it in contemplation for several years, to present to the public a work of the following kind; but, until recently, he has not had leisure to complete his design. He was incited to the undertaking, by a belief that he might render an important service to his countrymen, especially to the rising generation, by giving them, in a volume of convenient size, some account of the distinguished band of patriots, who composed the congress of 1776; and to whose energy and wisdom the colonies, at that time, owed the declaration of their independent political existence.
No nation can dwell with more just satisfaction upon its annals, than the American people. The emigrants, who settled the country, were illustrious men; distinguished for their piety, wisdom, energy, and fortitude. Not less illustrious were their descendants, who served as the guides and counsellors of the colonies, or who fought their battles during the revolu tionary struggle. No one who admits the intervention of a special providence in the affairs of nations, can hesitate to believe, that the statesmen and heroes of the revolution were raised up by the God of heaven, for the important and definite purpose of achieving the independence of America-of rescuing a people, whose ancestors had been eminently devoted to the duties of piety, from the thraldom under which they had groaned for years—and of presenting to the monarchical governments in the eastern hemisphere, the example of a government, founded upon principles of civil and religious liberty.
For the accomplishment of such a purpose, the statesmen and heroes of the revolution were eminently fitted. They were endowed with minds of distinguished power, and exhibited an example of political sagacity, and of high military prowess, which commanded the admiration of statesmen and heroes, throughout the world. Their patriotism was of a pure and exalted character; their zeal was commensurate with the noble objects which they had in view; and amid the toils, and privations, and sufferings, which they were called to endure, they exhibited a patience and fortitude, rarely equalled in the history of the world.
Of the revolutionary patriots, none present themselves with more interest to the rising generation, than those who composed the congress of 1776; and upon whom devolved the important political duty of severing the ties, which bound the colonies to the mother country. The lives of this illustrious band, we here present to our readers. Although the author regrets that his materials were not more abundant, he indulges the hope, that the subsequent pages will not be found devoid of interest. Even an unadorned recital of the virtues, which adorned the subjects of these memoirs; the piety of some -the patriotism and constancy and courage of them all-can scarcely fail of imparting a useful lesson to our readers. The obligations to cherish their memory, and to follow their example will be felt; nor can our readers fail to realize the debt of gratitude we owe in common, to that benignant providence, who fitted these men for the important work which was assigned them.
All the material facts, recorded in the following pages, the author has reason to believe are authentic, and entitled to credibility. Most of them are matters of public record. Some of the sketches will indeed be found to contain but few incidents; because, in respect to a portion of the signers, but few existed; and, in respect to others, the accurate knowledge of them has been irrevocably lost. The sources from which he has drawn the materi als of the volume are too numerous to be particularly mentioned in this place; yet he would be doing injustice, not to express his special obligations to the authors of the following works: viz. Pitkin's Political and Civil History of the United States, North American Review, Walsh's Appeal, Marshall's Life
of Washington, Botta's History of the Revolution, Allen's Biographical and Historical Dictionary, Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Inde pendence, Thatcher's Medical Biography, Austin's Life of Gerry, Tudor's Life of Otis, Witherspoon's Works, Select Eulogies, &c. &c.
While writing the following biographical notices of the signers to the declaration, the author has been struck with their longevity, as a body of men. They were fifty-six in number; and the average length of their lives was about sixty-five years. Four of the number attained to the age of ninety years, and upwards; fourteen exceeded eighty years; and twentythree, or one in two and a half, reached three score years and ten. The longevity of the New-England delegation, was still more remarkable. Their number was fourteen, the average of whose lives was seventy-five years. Who will affirm that the unusual age to which the signers, as a body, attained, was not a reward bestowed upon them, for their fidelity to their country, and the trust which they in general reposed in the overruling providence of God. Who can doubt the kindness of that Providence to the American people, in thus prolonging the lives of these men, till the principles for which they had contended, through a long series of years, had been acknowledged, and a government had been founded upon them?
Of this venerable body, not a single one survives-They are now no more. "They are no more, as in 1776, bold and fearless advocates of independence. They are dead. But how little is there of the great and good which can die. To their country they yet live, and live for ever. They live, in all that perpetuates the remembrance of men on earth; in the recorded proofs of their own great actions, in the offspring of their intellect, in the deep engraved lines of public gratitude, and in the respect and homage of mankind. They live in their example; and they live, emphatically, and will live, in the influence which their lives and efforts, their principles and opinions, now exercise, and will continue to exercise, on the affairs of men, not only in our own country, but throughout the civilized world."
"It remains to us to cherish their memory, and emulate their virtues, by perpetuating and extending the blessings which they have bequeathed. So long as we preserve our country, their fame cannot die, for it is reflected from the surface of every thing that is beautiful and valuable in our land. We cannot recur too often, nor dwell too long, upon the lives and characters of such men; for our own will take something of their form and impression from those on which they rest. If we inhale the moral atmosphere in which they moved, we must feel its purifying and invigorating influence. If we raise our thoughts to their elevation, our minds will be expanded and ennobled, in beholding the immeasurable distance beneath and around us.
Can we breathe the pure mountain air, and not be refreshed; can we walk abroad amidst the beautiful and the grand of the works of creation, and feel no kindling of devotion?