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unite with some of his friends in speculating on forfeited estates during the war, by which he might easily have enriched himself, and his connexions, without censure or suspicion; and although such speculations were common, yet he would not consent to become wealthy upon the ruin of others.

No," said he, “ I will sooner die a beggar than own a foot of land acquired by such means. In September, 1776, George Clinton, afterwards vice president of the United States, anxious to receive the co-operation of judge Yates, in certain measures, then deemed important and necessary, addressed him a letter, of which the following is an extract: 6. we have, at last, arrived at a most important crisis, which will either secure the independence of our country, or determine that she shall still remain in a state of vassalage to Great Britain. I know your sentiments on this subject, and I am extremely happy to find that they agree so exactly with mine.

But as we are called upon to act as well as to think, your talents and exertions in the common cause cannot be spared.”

After the conclusion of the revolutionary war, he was chosen, together with general Hamilton and chancellor Lansing, to represent his native state in the convention that formed the constitution of the United States; and to his labours in that convention we are indebted for the preservation of some of the most important debates that ever distinguished any age or country. He was also a member of the convention subsequently held in his native state, to whom that constitution was submitted for adoption and ratification. His political opinions were open and unreserved. He was opposed to a consolidated national government, and friendly to a confederation of the states, preserving their integrity and equality as such. Although the form of government eventually adopted, was not, in all its parts, agreeable to his views

and wishes, still, in all his discussions, and especially in his judicial capacity, he deemed it a sacred duty to inculcate entire submission to, and reverence for, that constitution. In the first charge which he delivered to a grand jury, immediately after its adoption, he used the following language:

the proposed form of government for the union, has at length received the sanction of so many of the states, as to make it the supreme law of the land, and it is not, therefore, any longer a question whether or not its provisions are such as they ought to be, in all their different branches. We, as good citizens, are bound implicitly to obey them, for the united wisdom of America has sanctioned and confirmed the act, and it would be little short of treason against the republic to hesitate in our obedience and respect to the constitution of the United States of America. Let me, therefore, exhort you, gentlemen, not only in your capacity as grand jurors, but in your more durable and equally respectable character as citizens, to preserve inviolate this charter of our national rights and safety; a charter second only in dignity and importance to the declaration of our independence. have escaped, it is true, by the blessing of divine Providence, from the tyranny of a foreign foe, but let us now be equally watchful in guarding against worse and far more dangerous enemiesdomestic broils and intestine divisions." Soon after this period he_filled the important trust of com-missioner, to treat with the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut, on the subject of territory, and to settle certain claims of his native state, against the state of Vermont. In 1790, he received the appointment of chief justice of the state of New York, and was twice supported for the office of governor, to which latter office he was, on one occasion, elected by a majority of votes; but, on account of some real or supposed inaccuracy in some

of the returns, he did not receive the certificate of his election.

In January, 1798, having completed his sixtieth year, and with it, the constitutional term of his office, he retired from the bench, of which for twenty-one years he had been its ornament and pride; and resumed the practice of the law. So highly did the legislatvre estimate his former services and usefulness, that it was proposed in that body to fix an annual allowance or stipend on him for life, and the proposition actually passed the senate, but was laid aside in the assembly, as being supposed to savour too much of the monarchical regulation called pensions. Determined, however, to provide for an old and faithful public servant, who had worn out his better days for the good of his country, the legislature appointed him a commissioner to settle disputed titles to lands in the military tract, and this appointment he held till nearly the close of his life, when the law creating it, ceased by its own limitation. On the 9th day of September, 1801, he finished his mortal career, "full of honours and full of years,” placing a firm reliance on the merits of an atoning Saviour, and the goodness of a merciful God. He left a widow and four chil. dren, two of whom only are now living, a son and daughter; the former John V. N. Yates, Esquire, present secretary of state, of the state of New-York. Chief Justice Yates died poor.

He had always been indifferent to his own private interest, for his benevolent and patriotic feelings, could not be regulated nor restrained by the cold calculations of avarice or gain. No man was more esteemed than himself. He never had, it is believed, in the whole course of his life, a personal enemy, and the tears of the widow, the orphan, the destitute and oppressed, followed him to his grave. He was emphatically the honest man and the upright judge. His talents were of the higher order, and his manners


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were plain, attractive and unassuming. His opinions at nisi prius, were seldom found to be incorrect, and on the bench of the supreme court he was distinguished for a clear, discriminating mind, that readily arrived at the true merits of the case before him. It may be safely affirmed, that no single individual ever filled so many high and responsible stations with greater credit to himself, and honour to the state. His memory will be cherished as long as virtue is esteemed and talents respected, and his epitaph is written in the hearts of his fellow-citizens, and in the history of his country.



Friends and Fellow Citizens,

The period for a new election of a citizen, to administer the executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust; it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all tlie considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country: and that, in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply. I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest. no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness: but am supported by a full conviction, that the step is compatible with botha

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped, that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you. But mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety; and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust, were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say, that I have with good intentions contributed towards the organization and administration of the government, the best exertions of which a very fallible ju!gment was capable. Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself : and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstanees have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

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