Annals of Mendon - Resolves, 1773

    The Declaration of Independence... was to some extent anticipated by the action of
    various towns and counties. The first of them all, probably, was the town of Mendon,
    Worcester County, Mass, which in 1773 adopted these resolutions.  William Cullen
    Bryant and Sydney Howard Gay, A Popular History of the United States, volume
    3  p. 472.  

    In a warrant for a town meeting to be held Feb. 10, 1773, the second article is in the
    following words, viz: "To see what the town will act relative to the Letter of
    Correspondence from the Town of Boston to this Town."

    At a town meeting of the freeholders and other inhabitants of the town of Mendon,
    legally qualified, warned and assembled, at the First Precinct Meeting House, in said
    Mendon, February ye 10th, 1773, Mr. John Tyler was chosen Moderator.

    Then was laid before the meeting the letter or pamphlet of the Committee of
    Correspondence of the town of Boston, " Shewing, in Sundry Respects, where sundry of
    our Invaluable Charter Rights and Privileges were Infringed upon, by sundry late Acts of
    the Parliament of Great Britain, Imposing Duties or Taxations on the Colonists in
    America and the Province or Colony of the Massachusetts Bay in particular."

    It was tried by a vote if the town would act on the important matter, and voted in the

    Then voted to choose a committee of seven freeholders of said town " to Consider a
    matter of so Great Importance and prepare Resolves proper for said meeting to Act and
    Resolve on, at the
    adjournment of this meeting.''

    Chose for said committee Joseph Dorr, Esq., James Sumner, John Tyler, Deacon
    Edward Rawson, Lieut. Joseph Johnson and William Torrey, when the meeting was
    adjourned until the first day of March at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, at the meeting house.

    March 1. At a town meeting by adjournment from Feb. 10, 1773, the chairman of the
    committee appointed to prepare resolves to be laid before the town for their
    consideration at this time, relative "to our Rights and Privileges as Men, Christians and
    Subjects, and the Infringement of them by Sundry Acts of the British Parliament,
    acquainted the Moderator that he was ready to make Report and read the same as
    follows, viz:

    (The following resolves were written by Joseph Dorr.)

    1. Resolved, That all men have naturally an Equal Right to Life, Liberty and Property.

    2. Resolved, That all just and lawful Government must necessarily originate in the free
    Consent of the People.

    3. Resolved, That the Good, Safety and Happiness of the People is the great end of
    Civil Government, and must be considered as the only rational object in all Original
    Compacts and Political Institutions.

    4. Resolved, That a principle of Self Preservation, being deeply planted by the God of
    Nature in every human breast, is as necessary not only to the well being of Individuals,
    but also to the Order of the Universe, as Attraclion and Cohesion are to the
    preservation of material bodies and the order of the Natural World, Therefore

    5. Resolved, That a Voluntary Renunciation of any Powers or Privileges, included or
    necessarily connected with a principle of Self Preservation is necessarily acting counter
    to the Great Author of Nature, the Supreme Legislator, Therefore,

    6. Resolved, That a Right to Liberty and Property (which is one of the Natural Means
    of Self Preservation) is absolutely unalienable, and can never, lawfully, be given up by
    ourselves or taken from us by others.

    7. Resolved, That the claim of the Parliament of Great Britain to the power of
    Legislation for the Colonies, in all cases whatever, is extremely alarming and threatens
    the total deprivation of every thing that is dear and valuable in life, and is, we humbly
    conceive, abhorrent from the spirit and
    genius of the British Constitution which is Liberty; destructive of the Immunities and
    Privileges granted us in our Royal Charter, which assures to the Inhabitants of this
    Province all the Liberties and Immunities of free and natural born subjects of England ;
    and in reality is not reconcilable to the most obvious principles of Reason, as it subjects
    us to a State of Vassalage and denies those essential Natural Rights, which, being the
    gift of GOD ALMIGHTY, is not in the power of man to alienate.

    8. Resolved, That the late Revenue Act, by which the. Commons of Great Britain have
    assumed and exercised a Power of Giving and Granting to his Majesty the property of
    the Colonists, without their consent, is a grievous Infringement of the Right of disposing
    of our own Estates.

    9. Resolved, That the unlimited power vested in the Commissioner of the Customs of
    creating inferior Officers and Collectors and the exhorbitant power to these under
    officers and Ministers to enter, at pleasure, any houses or other places and to break
    open trunks, chests, &c. upon bare suspicion
    of goods concealed, is a grievous Violation of the Sacred Right of Domestic Security.

    10. Resolved, That introducing and quartering Standing Armies in a free country in
    times of peace, without the consent of the People, is a violation of their rights as Free

    11. Resolved, That the enormous Extension of the Power of the Courts of Vice
    Admiralty, in a great measure deprives the People in the Colonies of the Inestimable
    Right to Trials by Juries.

    12. Resolved, That the Act passed in the last session of Parliament, entitled "An Act
    for the better preserving his Majesty's Dock Yards, Magazines, Ships, Ammunition and
    Stores," by virtue of which Act the Inhabitants of the Colonies may, for certain supposed
    offences committed against said Act, be arrested and carried, from their families, to any
    part of Great Britain, there to be tried, is an Infringement not only of our Constitutional
    Privileges as Colonists, but of our Natural essential Rights as Men.

    13. Resolved, That the Acts for prohibiting Slitting Mills for manufacturing our own iron
    and restraining the Manufacture and Transportation of Hats, as they deprive us of the
    natural advantages of our own climate, the produce of our own country and the honest
    fruits of our own Labour and Industry are very unreasonable and injurious.

    14. Resolved, That the Act restraining the transportation of Wool (the produce of our
    own Farms) even over a ferry, subjects the Inhabitants of this Province to a great an
    unreasonable Expense, and a violation of our Charter Privileges, whereby all Havens,
    Rivers &c. are expressly granted to the Inhabitants of the Province and their
    Successors, to their own proper use and behoof forever.

    15. Resolved, That the fixing a Stipend to the Office of the Governor of this Province,
    to be paid out of the American Revenue, rendering him independent of the free Grants
    of the People, has a necessary tendency to destroy that Balance of Power which ought
    to exist between the several branches of the Legislature.

    16. Resolved, That the affixing Stipends to the offices of the judges of the Superiour
    Court of Judicature and rendering them independent of the People and dependent on
    the Crown for Support may hereafter (considering the depravity of human nature,) be
    improved to purposes big with the
    most fatal consequences to the good People of this Province.

    17. Resolved, That the wresting out of our hands Castle William, the principal fortress
    of this Province, and garrisoning it with his Majesty's regular Troops is a violation of our
    Charter Privileges.

    18. Resolved, That it is the mind and desire of this Town that the judges of the
    Superiour Court of Judicature and all other Officers who receive grants from the
    Province should have an honourable support agreeable to the dignity and importance
    of their respective stations.

    19. Resolved, That the Representative of this Town be and he is hereby instructed to
    use his utmost endeavours, in a constitutional manner, for the Redress of the
    aforementioned grievances ; and that he in no wise consent to the giving up of any of
    our Rights, whether derived to us by nature or
    by Compact or Agreement.

    Finally, When we reflect on the arduous enterprize of our Forefathers in transporting
    themselves to the wilds of America, the innumerable fatigues and dangers, the vast
    expense of treasure and blood that attended their beginning and carrying on a
    Settlement here among the Savages of the Desert and at the same time consider the
    prodigious accession of wealth and power to the mother Country from their extended
    settlements, it still sets a keener edge on a sense of our numerous grievances and we
    cannot help viewing the late rigorous and burdensome Impositions laid on us by the
    hand of the Parent country, as a departure from those truly noble and magnanimous
    Principles of Liberty which used heretofore to add a distinguishing Lustre and Glory to
    the British Crown.

    Voted that the foregoing Resolves be entered in the Town Book that our Children, in
    years to come, may know the sentiments of their Fathers in Regard to our Invaluable
    Rights and Liberties.

    Voted that the Town Clerk be directed and he is accordingly directed to transmit a fair
    attested copy of the foregoing Resolves and proceedings of the Town to the Committee
    of Correspondence for the Town of Boston. John George Metcalf, Annals of the
    Town of Mendon.

                         Compare to the Declaration of Independence          Mendon Menu  

        Joseph Dorr Jr. and The American Revolution

    Mendon's Joseph Dorr Jr. was an active participant in the American Revolution. His
    service as a representative in the Massachusetts General Court in the 1760s
    introduced him to fellow legislator, Samuel Adams, who had a significant influence on
    his political thinking. The Harvard educated Dorr used his superior writing and oratory
    skills to inspire Mendon voters to approve and endorse the concepts of the Sons of
    Liberty and to lay the groundwork for one of the most important documents of colonial
    times. His devotion to the cause for independence was remarkable.

    Dorr's influence as a leader was most evident at town meetings. On October 14, 1765,
    voters denounced Britain's Stamp Act, and again on May 21, 1767, they agreed not to
    buy, sell, or use any products from Britain that had a tax. He shared letters that he
    received from Boston, and he kept Mendon people informed about revolutionary

    A town meeting held on March 1, 1773, at the meeting house at the north end of Old
    Cemetery, was the setting for his most important oration. He and a committee that he
    chaired prepared nineteen resolutions in response to a letter from Boston's Committee
    of Correspondence. The resolutions clearly defined in writing what the revolutionary
    issues were about. They stated that all men have naturally an equal right to life, liberty,
    and property, and that a just and lawful government must originate with the free consent
    of the people. They also stated that quartering an army in a free country in times of
    peace, without the consent of the people, was a violation of rights of free men. Several
    more resolutions of a similar tone were approved. The eloquence and clarity of Dorr's
    resolutions seemed to strengthen the focus of the revolutionary cause, and drew the
    attention of colonial leaders.

    Three years later, after July 4, 1776, town clerks in every town in the thirteen colonies
    were required to make a hand-written copy of the Declaration of Independence. As
    Mendon town clerk, Joseph Dorr Jr. was copying the document in his exquisite
    penmanship, he most assuredly came across some words and phrases that were  
    familiar to him. He had seen them before.

    The aging Thomas Jefferson, in 1826, left instructions before his death, that one of the
    inscriptions on his tombstone would be that he was the author of the Declaration of
    Independence. Most certainly he was, but several of the principles on which it was
    based were eloquently written, narrated, discussed, and approved at Mendon's March
    1, 1773, town meeting. Historian, William Cullen Bryant, stated in his 1881 book, A
    Popular History of the United States, (vol. 3, p.472) that the first two public documents
    that influenced the Declaration of Independence were Thomas Paine's "Common
    Sense" and Mendon's nineteen resolutions.         

    Joseph Dorr Jr.'s  parents rest in peace in Old Cemetery about twenty feet from where
    the meeting house once stood. The building was sold, dismantled, and rebuilt as a
    residence at 8 Hastings Street. A barn now occupies the historic site. The spirited
    rhetoric and eloquent orations have been replaced with silence.  Mendon historian,
    Reverend Carlton Staples, wrote that the resolutions "embodied the sentiments of the
    Declaration of Independence more than three years before that immortal document
    came from  Jefferson's hand," and that the words describe "the fundamental principles
    of our national existence." The graves of Reverend and Mrs. Dorr are the only
    reminders that long ago, on March 1, 1773, their son and his committee put into writing
    a document of resolutions that helped the colonies to establish their identity.  His active
    participation also included his service as a delegate to the Provincial Congress and as
    a member of the Committee of Correspondence.  He also served as Mendon's
    selectman, town clerk, treasurer, and justice of the peace. Joseph Dorr Jr.'s  
    involvement in the American Revolution had a significant impact on our nation, perhaps
    more than we will ever know!

    The Dorr family lived at a site that is now 59 North Avenue. The house was replaced
    with the present house in the mid 1800s.
    Richard Grady, May 2012

    Above - The gravestones of Joseph Dorr, Jr.'s
    parents, at the Old Cemetery near the center of

    Below - The Dorr stones at the Old Cemetery ,
    and other views of the cemetery.

                     Mendon Resolves and Suffolk Resolves  -- A Timeline

    February 10, 1773 -- Boston's Committee of Correspondence sends a letter to
    Massachusetts towns expressing concern about unjust taxation without representation
    and other injustices from Parliament.

    March 1, 1773 -- Mendon Resolves : Mendon responds to letter with nineteen  
    eloquently written  resolves which clearly identify, define, and focus on injustices of
    Parliament's treatment of colonies. Authors were Joseph Dorr and Edward Rawson.

    December 16, 1773 -- Boston Tea Party in Boston Harbor retaliates for tax on tea.

    March 24, 1774 -- Parliament tries to punish colonies with Intolerable Acts.

    May 20, 1774 -- Parliament tries to control and shut down the Massachusetts colonial
    government by imposing the Massachusetts Government Act.

    July 14, 1774 -- Second set of Mendon Resolves : Mendon responds to the Intolerable
    Acts and Mass. Gov. Act with three new resolves. They resolve not to trade with or
    purchase or consume any imported  products from Great Britain.

    September 5, 1774 -- October 26,1774 --  First Continental Congress is held in

    September 9, 1774 -- Suffolk Resolves : Suffolk County, led by Boston's Joseph Warren,
    responds to Massachusetts Government Act and Intolerable Acts. They call for the
    boycott of imported British goods. Paul Revere rides on horseback to Philadelphia to
    deliver Suffolk Resolves to Continental Congress.

    September 17,  1774 -- First Continental Congress adopts Suffolk Resolves.

    September 28, 1774 -- Mendon votes to create a Committee of  Correspondence.

    October 11, 1774 -- Joseph Dorr and Edward Rawson attend First Provincial Congress
    in Concord, MA. John Hancock is chairman.

                                   Mendon Town Meeting : March 1, 1773

    Mendon's town meeting on March 1, 1773, at the Fourth Meetinghouse, was one of the
    most important  meetings in the town's history. The outcomes had significant impacts,
    not only on our town, but on the thirteen colonies under British rule. A group of six
    scholarly residents  eloquently proposed a document and supported it with fiery orations
    that shook the rafters of the wooden building. The spirited voters gave approval, and
    the document gained the attention of Boston's Committee of Correspondence and  Sons
    of Liberty. The document helped to define and focus on the issues of colonial
    discontent  with Great Britain, and it became an influence on the thinking in the early
    days of the American Revolution.  

    The purpose of the meeting was to respond to a letter that the town had received at a
    February 10 meeting, three weeks earlier. It was from Boston's Committee of
    Correspondence in regards to the punitive Acts of Parliament that had shut down the
    Massachusetts state government and closed the port of Boston. Voters at the February
    meeting created a committee to propose a response and present it on March 1st. The
    committee included Joseph Dorr Esq., Edward Rawson, James Sumner, John Tyler, Lt.
    Joseph Johnson, and William Torrey. The presentation was orated by their chairman,
    Joseph Dorr. It was in the form of nineteen resolves or resolutions. The following are a
    few examples.
    1. Resolved, that all men have naturally an equal right to life, liberty, and property.  2.
    Resolved, that all just and lawful government must necessarily originate in the free
    consent of the people.  3. Resolved, that the good, safety, and happiness of the people
    is the great end of civil government and must be considered as the only rational object
    in all original compacts and political institutions.  10. Resolved, that introducing and
    quartering standing armies in a free country in times of peace, without the consent of
    the people, is a violation of their rights as free men.  19....voted that the foregoing
    Resolves be entered into the Town Book , that our children in years to come, may know
    the sentiments of their fathers in regard to their invaluable rights and liberties.

    Dorr served in the General Court (Mass. Legislature) during the 1760's, and Rawson
    served during the 1770's. With their Boston ties, they were closely acquainted with Sam
    Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, Joseph Warren, and other leaders of the
    revolutionary cause. Mendon had representation at all meetings of the Committee of
    Correspondence and the Provincial Congress. Clamors for freedom from tyranny from
    the radicals in Boston echoed off the walls of Mendon's meetinghouse at the north end
    of Old Cemetery.  Historian William Cullen Bryant wrote that Mendon's Resolves and
    Thomas Paine's  "Common Sense" were the first writings that influenced Thomas
    Jefferson's authorship of the Declaration of Independence. The town meeting on March
    1, 1773 was one of the most important in our town's history. It not only influenced our
    town, but to some extent, the early beginnings of our nation!
    Richard Grady  --  April 13, 2014

    The paragraphs above are from an article by Charles Washburn
    titled Who Was the Author of the Declaration of Independence?  

                                             WHO WAS THE AUTHOR OF
                             THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE?

                                                   BY CHARLES G. WASHBURN

    ON May 20, 1925, it chanced that I was present, in an official capacity, at the celebration, in
    the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the
    adoption of the "Mecklenberg Resolution" which contained a "Declaration of Independence"
    made, it was claimed, more than a year before that of the Congress of July 4,1776. Those
    interested in the Charlotte Convention declared "that the cause of Boston was the cause of
    all" and an order was issued to each Captain's Company in the County of Mecklenburg to
    elect two persons to compose a delegation to meet in Charlotte on May 19, 1775, to devise
    ways and means to aid and assist their suffering brethren in Boston. By an interesting
    coincidence on that day, it is said, official news of the Battle of Lexington, which occurred on
    the 19th day of the preceding month arrived by express. Of the five resolutions adopted by
    the Convention, I will quote the third which runs as follows: 3. Resolved that we do hereby
    declare ourselves a free and independent people, are and of right ought to be, a sovereign
    and self-governing association, under the control of no power other than that of our God
    and of the General Government of the Congress; to the maintenance of which
    independence, we solemnly pledge to each other our mutual co-operation, our lives, our
    fortunes, and our most sacred honor. Since the declaration was first brought to the attention
    of the public in 1819, a lively discussion, at times acrimonious, has arisen as to its
    authenticity. Concerning this I need express no opinion but content myself with introducing
    some correspondence on the subject between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. John
    Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson from Quincy on 22 June, 1819:

    May I enclose you one of the greatest curiosities and one of the deepest mysteries that ever
    occurred to me? It is in the Essex Register of June 5th, 1819. It is entitled the Raleigh
    Register Declaration of Independence. How is it possible that this paper should have been
    concealed from me to this day? Had it been communicated to me in the time of it, I know, if
    you do not know, that it would have been printed in every whig newspaper upon this
    continent. You know, that if I had possessed it, I would have made the hall of Congress echo
    and reecho with it fifteen months before your Declaration of Independence. What a poor,
    ignorant, malicious, shortsighted, crapulous mass is Tom Paine's "Common Sense," in
    comparison with this paper! Had I known it, I would have commented upon it, from the day
    you entered Congress till the fourth of July, 1776. The genuine sense of America at that
    moment was never so well expressed before, nor since. Richard Caswell, William Hooper,
    and Joseph Hewes, the then representatives of North Carolina in Congress, you knew as
    well as I, and you know that the unanimity of the States finally depended on the vote of
    Joseph Hewes, and was finally determined by him. And yet history is to ascribe the American
    Revolution to Thomas Paine ! Sat verbum sapienti.

    In his reply to Mr. Adams dated Monticello, July 9,1819, Mr. Jefferson wrote :

    But what has attracted my peculiar notice, is the paper from Mecklenburg County last, of
    June the 22d. And you seem to think it genuine. I believe it spurious. I deem it to be a very
    unjustifiable quiz, like that of the volcano, so minutely related to us as having broken out in
    North Carolina, some half a dozen years ago.

    in that part of the country, and perhaps in that very county of Mecklenburg, for I do not
    remember its precise locality. If this paper be really taken from the Raleigh Register, as
    quoted, I wonder it should have escaped Ritchie, who culls what is good from every paper,
    as the bee from every flower; and the National Intelligencer, too, which is edited by a North
    Carolinian; and that the flre should blaze out all at once in Essex, one thousand miles from
    where the spark is said to have fallen. But if really taken from the Raleigh Register, who is
    the narrator, and is the name subscribed real, or is it fictitious as the paper itself? It appeals,
    too, to an original book, which is burnt, to Mr. Alexander, who is dead, to a joint letter from
    Caswell, Hughes, and Hooper, all dead, to a copy sent to the dead Caswell, and another
    sent to Doctor Williamson, now probably dead, whose memory did not recollect, in the
    history he has written of North Carolina, this gigantic step of its county of Mecklenburg.
    Horry, too, is silent in his history of Marion, whose scene of action was the country bordering
    on Mecklenburg. Ramsay, Marshall, Jones, Girardin, Wirt, historians of the adjacent States,
    aU silent. When Mr. Henry's resolutions, far short of independence, flew like lightning
    through every paper, and kindled both sides of the Atlantic, this flaming declaration of the
    same date, of the independence of Mecklenburg county of North Carolina, absolving it from
    the British allegiance, and abjuring all political connection with that nation, although sent to
    Congress too, is never heard of. It is not known even a twelve month afteç, when a similar
    proposition is first made in that body. Armed with this bold example, would not you have
    addressed our timid brethren in peals of thunder on their tardy fears? Would not every
    advocate of independence have rung the glories of Mecklenburg county in North Carolina, in
    the ears of the doubting Dickinson and others, who hung so heavily on us? Yet the example
    of independent Mecklenburg county, in North Carolina, was never once quoted. The paper
    speaks, too, of the continued exertions of their delegation (Caswell, Hooper, Hughes) "in the
    cause of hberty and independence." Now you remember as well as I do, that we had not a
    greater tory in Congress than Hooper; that Hughes was very wavering, sometimes firm,
    sometimes feeble, according as the day was clear or cloudy; that Caswell, indeed, was a
    good whig, and kept these gentlemen to the notch, while he was present; but that he left us
    soon, and their line of conduct became then uncertain until Penn came, who fixed Hughes
    and the vote of the State. I must not be understood as suggesting any doubtfulness in the
    State of North Carolina. No State was more fixed or forward. Nor do I affirm, positively, that
    this paper is a fabrication; because the proof of a negative can only be presumptive. But I
    shall believe it such until positive and solemn proof of its authenticity be produced. And if the
    name of McKnitt be real, and not a part of the fabrication, it needs a vindication by the
    production of such proof. For the present, I must be an unbeliever in the apocryphal gospel.

    John Adams wrote to William Bentley from Quincy on 15th July, 1819: A few weeks ago I
    received an Essex Register, containing resolutions of independence by a county in North
    Carolina, fifteen months before the resolution of independence in Congress. I was struck
    with so much astonishment on reading this document, that I could not help enclosing it
    immediately to Mr. Jefferson, who must have seen it, in the time of it, for he has copied the
    spirit, the sense, and the expressions of it verbatim, into his Declaration of the 4th of July,
    1776. Had I seen that declaration at the time of it, it should have been printed in every whig
    newspaper on this continent. Its total concealment from me is a mystery, which can be
    unriddled only by the timidity of the delegates in Congress from North Carolina, by the
    influence of Quakers and proprietary gentlemen in Pennsylvania, the remaining art and
    power of toryism throughout the continent at that time. That declaration would have had
    more effect than Tom Paine's "Common Sense, " which appeared so long after it. I pray you
    to intercede with the printers to transmit me half a dozen copies of that Register, which
    contains it, and I will immediately transmit the money for them, whatever they may cost. That
    paper must be more universally made known to the present and future generation.

    One day in looking over the World's Almanac, that invaluable "Source Book" for amateur
    historians, my eye fell upon the following note : "The earliest known attempt in the American
    Colonies of a Declaration of Independence was at a town meeting at Mendon, Worcester
    County, Massachusetts, in 1773." This, you will observe, antedated the alleged date of the
    Mecklenburg declaration by more than two years. My curiosity being aroused and my doubts
    as well, I examined the record of the action taken at Mendon. The second article of the
    warrant for a town meeting to be held February 10,1773, was as follows:

    To see what the town will act relative to the letter, dated Nov. 20, 1772, of correspondence
    from the Town of Boston to this town (of Mendon) showing in sundry respects where sundry
    of our invaluable charter rights and privileges were infringed upon by sundry late acts of the
    Parliament of Great Britain, imposing duties or taxation on the Colonists in America and the
    Province or Colony of the Massachusetts Bay in particular.
    It was voted to appoint a Committee of seven to consider the matter and report at an
    adjourned meeting. The Committee reported on March 1, 1773, a resolution consisting of
    nineteen sections, not in any sense a declaration of independence but a declaration of
    rights and grievances. Believing that human nature then was very much what it is now and
    that the disposition of the committee in expressing its views would be to go along the lines of
    least resistance, I rather assumed that this resolution would be found to be a paraphrase of
    the declarations contained in the letter of Correspondence from the Town of Boston. I
    cannot refer to all the sections, but only to the following:

    1. Resolved that all men have naturally an equal right to life, liberty and property.

    2. That all just and lawful government must necessarily originate in the consent of the

    3. Resolved that introducing and quartering standing armies in a free country in times of
    peace without the consent of the people is a violation of their rights as free men. These
    three are sufficient for my present purpose. The nine sections of the resolution were
    adopted and also a tenth, which ran as follows :

    Resolved that the representative of this town be instructed to use his utmost endeavors in a
    Constitutional manner, for the redress of the aforementioned grievances and that he in no
    wise consent to the giving up of our rights whether derived to us by nature or by compact or
    agreement. In order to substantiate my theory it was, of course, necessary to examine the
    letter sent to Mendon by the Committee of Correspondence in Boston. The so-called letter
    was, in fact, a pamphlet, no doubt familiar to all of you, issued to the Town of Boston, as the
    result of a Town Meeting held on Wednesday, October 28, 1772, at which a Committee
    consisting of James Otis, Samuel Adams, Dr. Joseph Warren, Dr. Benjamin Church and
    others was appointed to report to the Town, as soon as may be, as a Committee of
    Correspondence to state the rights of the Colonists and of this Province in particular, as
    men, as Christians and as subjects, to communicate and publish the same to several towns
    in this Province and to the world as the sense of the Town, with the infringements and
    violations thereof that have been made or from time to time may be made; also requesting of
    each Town a free communication of their sentiments on this subject.

    The meeting finally assembled in Faneuil Hall on Friday, November 30, 1772, to hear the
    report of the Committee. John Hancock was the moderator. The Chairman of the Committee,
    James Otis, made the report which was in three parts. First. A statement of the rights of the
    Colonies and of this Province in particular. This was considered by Samuel Adams, and the
    first one he mentioned was, A right to life, liberty and property. A natural right. Then came
    the Second part— A declaration of violation of these rights, by Dr. Joseph Warren, and then
    the Third part— A letter of correspondence to the other towns by Benjamin Church.

    Every one of the grievances noticed in the Mendon resolution is found in the pamphlet of the
    Committee of Correspondence. The first point made by Samuel Adams is that man has the
    right to life, liberty and property. A natural right. The first section of the Mendon resolution is
    "Resolved that all men have naturally an equal right to life, liberty and property." Now follow
    on to the recital of grievances in the Continental Congress of 1774 and in the declaration of
    independence adopted on July 4, 1776. Note the first declaration : 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.

    These declarations are found in almost exactly these words in the pamphlet of the
    Committee of Correspondence in the replies made by the towns; also in the Declaration of
    Independence and some of them even in the Constitution of the United States. I turned to
    the records of another and smaller town, feeling certain that I would find there some
    reference to this subject and I was not disappointed. The action was not as elaborate or as
    definite as that taken by the Town of Mendon, but it appears that at a Town meeting held in
    March, 1773, seven days after the Mendon Committee had reported, which was adjourned
    to May 17, 1773, a so-called "Committee of Rights" reported.favoring, in substance, a loyal
    remonstrance and petition to the King, containing an enumeration of grievances and praying
    for their removal and that all acts and ministerial proceedings that might be unconstitutional
    and anti-commercial might cease, and was further of opinion that a proper correspondency
    of towns and colonies would be both salutory and necessary to the end that in a
    Constitutional way, with a proper dependence on Him who has the hearts of all men at his
    disposal, we may obtain the full enjoyment of all our rights and privileges, civil and religious,
    and of having that love and harmony subsist between Great Britain and her Colonies which
    may make both to enjoy and seek each others prosperity. And as to our rights and privileges
    with the infringements on the same, we look upon it that they are truly and well stated by the
    Committee of the Town of Boston, to whom we return our thanks for the early and
    persevering method taken in Constitutional ways for the support of the sariie.

    There is no suggestion here of any desire for independence, but only that "love and
    harmony" may subsist between Great Britain and her Colonies. I cannot dwell upon this
    interesting subject further, but I make the suggestion, not altogether new and perhaps not
    generally accepted, that Thomas Jefferson, in the Declaration, in enumerating the
    grievances under which our countrymen were then suffering, simply gave utterance to the
    common expressions, the common aspirations of the people. I am not seeking to depreciate
    in any way the great gifts of Thomas Jefferson, but merely to point out that the Declaration
    of Independence was the culmination of the thought of years which finally took form in some
    generally accepted expressions which Jefferson skillfully embodied in the " Declaration. " In
    the Continental Congress, Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, made a motion on June 17, 1776
    declaring for Independence. It was seconded by John Adams. A committee was appointed to
    consider the matter, composed of Jefferson, John Adams, Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert
    R. Livingston. Adams gives the following interesting account in his letter to Timothy Pickering
    of August 6, 1822, of a conversation he had with Jefferson as to who should draught the
    declaration: 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." "Very well; when
    you have drawn it up, we will have a meeting. "

    John Adams goes on to say. As you justly observe, there is not an idea in it but what had
    been hackneyed in Congress for two years before. The substance of it is contained in the
    declaration of rights and the violation of those rights, in the Journals of Congress, in 1774.
    Indeed, the essence of it is contained in a pamphlet, voted and printed in the town of
    Boston, before the first Congress met, composed by James Otis, as I suppose, in one of his
    lucid intervals, and pruned and polished by Samuel Adams. . . . The instrument was
    reported, as I believe, in Jefferson's handwriting as he first drew it. Congress cut off about a
    quarter of it, as I expected they would, but they obliterated some of the best of it, and left aU
    that was exceptionable, if anything in it was. I have long wondered that the original draught
    has not been published. I suppose the reason is, the vehement philippic against negro

    Similarly the Constitution of the United States was not, as Gladstone once said, "The most
    wonderful work
    struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man, but the result of a slow and
    painful evolution of thought stimulated by grim necessity. For the earth bringe th forth fruit of
    herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear."

    Such is the method of growth in nature and such must be the method of enduring progress
    in the affairs of men. You may recall the conversation in Dickens' fascinating novel, "The
    Tale of Two Cities," between Defarge and his wife, of cruel heart and relentless purpose, in
    which Defarge, inclining to repine over the slow approach of the French Revolution, said to
    her in a moment of depression:

    "It is a long time." "It is a long time," repeated his wife, " and when is it not a long time, it is
    the rule. " "It does not take a long time to strike a man with lightning, ' ' Defarge ventured to
    reply. " How long, " demanded Madam, composedly, " does it take to make and store the
    lightning, tell me? " "It does not take long," said Madam, "for an earthquake to swallow a
    town. Tell me how long it takes to prepare the earthquake? But when it is ready, it takes
    place and grinds to pieces everything before it. "

    It took a long time to prepare for American Independence. It was a painful and slow process
    to make a nation out of a conglomeration of independent states, a process not fully
    completed until the surrender of Lee to Grant at Appomatox, but once accomplished has
    made us the greatest among the nations of the world. It has been demonstrated, I think, that
    the Committee of Safety in Boston was responsible for the action of the New England towns
    in enumerating their grievances and demanding their redress. What was behind the
    Committee of Safety? The Town Meeting of Boston. Who was behind the Town Meeting?
    Samuel Adams. His was the uncompromising and iron will which turned every event to the
    advantage of the revolting Colonists. The conviction that the independence of the Province
    must be asserted took root among the people very slowly. Not one of the American Agents in
    England imagined that the Colonies would think of disputing the Stamp Act at the point of the
    sword, and even Otis said, "It is our duty to submit." In the instructions to one of our agents
    is found the expression: "We shall ever pray that our sovereign and his posterity may reign
    in British America 'till time shall be no more.' " But Sam Adams was relentless. His goal from
    the first, when he was almost alone, had been complete independence. When it came to
    ratifying the Federal Constitution of 1787 to succeed the impotent confederation of states, it
    also proved to be a slow and tortuous process. Less than one-twentieth of the population
    voted in the election of representatives to the ratifying conventions. The vote of eighteen
    men, ten in Massachusetts, six in Virginia and two in New York would have defeated it. In the
    Convention held in Boston in January, 1788, to consider its adoption by Massachusetts, the
    vote in the affirmative was 187 and in the negative 168. Nothing but its adoption, in an
    hesitating and doubtful spirit, to be sure, saved the country from utter ruin. The Boston
    Gazette of January 28, 1788, contains the following fable in verse which pretty clearly
    expresses the state of mind of many of the people at that time :

    A Fox closely pursu'd, tho't it prudent and meet To a Bramble for refuge, all in haste to
    retreat; He enter'd the covert, but entering he found. That briars and thorns did on all sides
    abound And that tho' he was safe, yet he never could stir. But his sides they would wound,
    or tear off his fur, He shrugg'd up his shoulders, but would not complain. To repine at sráall
    evüs (quoth Reynard) is vain; That no bliss is perfect I very well know, [ But from the same
    source good and evil both flow; And full sorely my skin, though these briars may rend. Yet
    they keep off the dogs, and my life will defend. For the sake of the good, then, let evil be
    borne. For each sweet has its bitter, each bramble its thorn.

    Returning to the main topic, may I venture to put to this learned body a rhetorical question?
    If the person to whom the germinal principle attaches should be considered the father—is
    not Samuel Adams entitled to the distinction of being called the Father of his Country and
    would the fame of Washington, a late convert to independence, suffer in the least if he were
    to be hailed as Savior of his Country? And may not we more accurately, giving due credit to
    Locke and Hooker, attribute to the Conimittee of Correspondence in Boston the authorship
    of certain phrases and principles in the Declaration of Independence and do homage to
    Jefferson as the accomplished editor, or, as he once put it, "the draughtsman" of that
    immortal instrument.

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