The Great Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster: With An Essay on Daniel Webster as a Master of English Style

By Edwin P. Whipple; Daniel Webster | Go to book overview

ADAMS AND JEFFERSON.

A DISCOURSE IN COMMEMORATION OF THE LIVES AND SERVICES OF JOHN ADAMS AND THOMAS JEFFERSON, DELIVERED IN FANEUIL HALL, BOSTON, ON THE 2D OF AUGUST, 1826.

[SINCE the decease of General Washington, on the 14th of December, 1799, the public mind has never been so powerfully affected in this part of the country by any similar event, as by the death of John Adams, on the 4th of July, 1826. The news reached Boston in the evening of that day. The decease of this venerable fellowcitizen must at all times have appealed with much force to the patriotic sympathies of the people of Massachusetts. It acquired a singular interest from the year and the day on which it took place;--the 4th of July of the year completing the halfcentury from that ever memorable era in the history of this country and the world, the Declaration of Independence; a measure in which Mr Adams himself had taken so distinguished a part. The emotions of the public were greatly increased by the indications given by Mr. Adams in his last hours, that he was fully aware that the day was the anniversary of Independence, and by his dying allusion to the supposed fact that his colleague, Jefferson, survived him. When, in the course of a few days, the news arrived from Virginia, that he also had departed this life, on the same day and a few hours before Mr. Adams, the sensibility of the community, as of the country at large, was touched beyond all example. The occurrence was justly deemed without a parallel in history. The various circumstances of association and coincidence which marked the characters and careers of these great men, and especially those of their simultaneous decease on the 4th of July, were dwelt upon with melancholy but untiring interest. The circles of private life, the press, public bodies, and the pulpit, were for some time almost engrossed with the topic; and solemn rites of commemoration were performed throughout the country.

An early day was appointed for this purpose by the City Council of Boston. The whole community manifested its sympathy in the extraordinary event; and on the 2d of August, 1826, at the request of the municipal authorities, and in the presence of an immense audience, the following Discourse was delivered in Faneuil Hall.]

THIS is an unaccustomed spectacle. For the first time, fellow-citizens, badges of mourning shroud the columns and overhang the arches of this hall. These walls, which were consecrated, so long ago, to the cause of American liberty, which witnessed her infant struggles, and rung with the shouts of her earliest victories, proclaim, now, that distinguished friends and champions of that great cause have fallen. It is right that it should be thus. The tears which flow, and the honors that are paid, when the founders of the republic die, give hope that the republic itself may be immortal. It is fit that, by public assembly and solemn observance, by anthem and by eulogy, we commemorate the services of national benefactors, extol their virtues, and render thanks to God for eminent blessings, early given and long continued, through their agency, to our favored country.

ADAMS and JEFFERSON are no more; and we are assembled, fellowcitizens, the aged, the middle-aged, and the young, by the spontaneous impulse of all, under the authority of the municipal government, with the presence of the chief magistrate of the Commonwealth, and others its official representatives, the University, and the learned societies, to bear our part in those mani

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