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house of representatives is the grand inquest of this province, and the council must have the powers of judicature of the house of lords in Great Britain."
After had passed the first surprise excited by this bold proposal, the practicability of such a measure was discussed at length. The company was well agreed in believing that, though the house might impeach the judges, the council, being under the domination of the governor, would either refuse to try the impeachment, or, trying, would not sustain it. As events proved, there was also a general feeling that the experiment should be tried. There seemed no other resort, and, having made a case, if justice could not be obtained, the odium must rest where it properly belonged. On the next day, Hawley, a member of the house, called upon Mr. Adams, and questioned him closely as to the law and authorities bearing upon the matter; examined the English statutes, and consulted the state trials and other reports, in search of authorities. Thence he went directly to see Mr. Trowbridge, the only judge who had refused the purchase money of the king, and discussed the subject with him. Truly an odd situation; calling upon a public officer to consult with him as to the propriety of instituting proceedings for his own impeachment! Trowbridge, although he had renounced the salary of his position, naturally did not highly relish the proposal to so summarily assail the bench, yet he was obliged to admit that there existed unquestionable constitutional and chartered authority for the proceeding.
Reinforced by this opinion, the house appointed a committee to draw up articles of impeachment against Oliver, the chief-justice. Hawley was a member of the committee, and insisted upon having Adams' counsel in the matter. Hence the committee passed evening after evening at his house, examining the impeachment, article by article, in the light of his advice and the authorities, until all was ready. Then the report was made, and the house, adopting the impeachment, sent it up to the council, where it rested without consideration, much to the delight of the tory party. This feeling was, however, very short lived, for, when the superior court met, with Oliver upon the bench, the jurors, both of the grand and petit panel, as their names were called, refused, to a man, to take the oath.
Their reasons being asked, they replied that the chief-justice of the court stood impeached of high crimes and misdemeanors before his majesty's council, and they would not sit as jurors while that accusation vas depending. Jurors at Charlestown, Worcester and other points in the province took the same stand, the courts were necessarily adjourned, never again to meet under royal authority. When next they came together, it was by the call of the governor, after the battle of Lexington, and under the rights granted the province in its charter. Thus the impeachment, received with silent contempt by the king's council, was nevertheless fruitful in results,
so soon as the people having heard, took it upon them to decide it. The judges found their occupation gone ; the effort of the parliament to retain the bench of the province for the cause of the crown, reacted upon its projectors, and the second blow at the liberty of the colonies had failed. Mr. Adams, as the projector of the impeachment, gained greatly in reputation, and was set down by king's officers at home and in England, as the most able and dangerous of all the “rebels.”
With the closing of the courts, closed as well the first epoch of the contest between the king and the colony of Massachusetts. For thirteen years it had continued, and never, during that time, had the administration doubted that by the use of arts and finesse, the councils of the colonies might be divided; the leaders seduced by more or less direct bribes, and, finally, the people be wheedled and cajoled into submission. Lord North now saw his mistake. The destruction of the tea in Boston harbor, and the contumacy of colonists whenever they came in conflict with the king's authority, told him that the time for argument had passed, and he must now resort to sterner measures. The king's authority must be established at any expense of money, or of blood. It seems strange, in looking back, that it should have required all these years to convince the administration that the people of Massachusetts were contending, not alone for the righting of specific wrongs, or the removal of given impositions, but for the establishment of principles, and against the fixing of precedents which must prove destructive to their liberties.
As a result of this tardy recognition of the truth, came, in quick succession, the Boston port bill, the revocation of the charter of Massachusetts, the act for the removal of certain offenders to other colonies, or to England, for trial, the appointment of Gage as military governor, and the order for massing troops in Boston. In other words, the policy of intimidation and punishment had been fully adopted. With this policy, disappeared from the councils of the Massachusetts patriots the last doubtful voice. Many of Hutchinson's friends followed him to England; those who remained were cowed and silent in the presence of the people.
There came, too, with these severe measures, a great change to the life of Mr. Adams. He had before, with the sole exception of his own term in the house of representatives, been but a councillor of the people; thenceforth he was to be a leader. He had determined to avoid politics and public life, and devote himself to his profession, that he might provide for himself, his wife, and children; now, with the enforcement of these tyrannous edicts, courts were closed, commerce and trade cut off, and he found his occupation gone. On the one hand, he was called upon to face the danger of loss of property, loss of life, or, at least, outlawry, in the service of a desperate cause, which seemed almost foredoomed to failure and destruction; on the other, was the ignominy of retreat in the face of
danger, the certainty of earning the contempt of his fellows, and the reproval of his own conscience. All these prospects and possibilities he recognized, but, in his journals and correspondence, we look in vain for any symptom of wavering or timidity. The vital moment had come, and he did not hesitate to cast his all into the scale of liberty.
When met at Salem the last general court of Massachusetts which pretended, even in form, to recognize the authority of the governor, having been banished to that place as a punishment of the recalcitrant citizens of Boston, every patriot in the colonies looked for some signal action from that body, in the direction of uniting the colonies in opposition to the high-handed outrages of the administration. It was not long in coming. On the 17th day of June, the secretary was sent to the general court with a message of dissolution. That body was even then discussing the proposal to send a delegation to meet committees of other colonies at Philadelphia ; this was to be the first Continental Congress, but it had not yet found a
The doors were closed in the face of the honorable secretary, and he was kept, vainly clamoring without, until the matter was concluded, and five gentlemen-Mr. Bowdoin, Mr. Cushing, Mr. Samuel Adams, Mr. John Adams, and Mr. Robert Treat Paine—had been appointed, and instructed to attend the meeting. Then the doors were opened, and the empty form of dissolution was suffered to proceed.
From the time of this choice, Mr. Adams' service was for many years almost continuous, yet it was wider and more important, mingling more with affairs of commonly recorded and familiar history, neither demanding nor permitting so minute and particular account as has been given of his earlier life, and the services which he gave to the cause of liberty within his own colony, in the days of the inception and growth of the spirit which led to the great Revolution. Adams usually saw farther than his neighbors and he now recognized the certainty of complications more serious than any the colonies had ever known, and the probability of bloodshed. He removed his family to Braintree to prepare, as he said, for the coming storm. He placed his affairs in the best condition possible, so that in his absence, longer or shorter, his family might be provided for, then was ready to join his fellows in their pilgrimage to Philadelphia, and to dedicate his prosperity, his time, even life itself, to the cause in which his heart was so ear. nestly engaged.
SERVICE IN CONGRESS.
HE duties of that first Continental Congress, and the responsibilities
placed upon its members, were most peculiar and delicate. The path before them had never been trodden; they were without precedent or authority to guide them. Appointed by the people represented in the various colonial legislatures, as a result of the impulse to do something, which always arises in the face of a dangerous emergency, the majority of those whom they went to represent had no idea as to what that some. thing should be, and, among those who had formulated a policy in their own minds, there was the widest diversity of opinion. The colonies were as different in the spirit and tendencies of their people, as in their origin; nothing but a common peril, of the greatest moment, could ever have brought them together in council, and they looked upon each other with no small measure of distrust. The situation of Massachusetts was more doubtful than that of any other colony. While the principle upon which the contest with the crown arose was one of common significance, the specific acts of oppression which had aroused the colonies were almost entirely confined to that province. It had been the sufferer, and its delegates to Philadelphia went from a people without courts of law, without recognized chartered rights, without a legal existence, from the standpoint of the crown. They went, then, rather to appeal for support and protection, than to consult with their neighbors upon a common footing for the common welfare. This was, of course, a false view, and it did not ultimately prevail to such a degree as to prevent hearty co-operation, but it presented a possibility which caused much anxiety to Adams and his colleagues, and to the tact, caution, and sagacity, which they displayed, was due the substantial unanimity of the Congress. There was still another weight upon the delegation. There existed among the inhabitants of other provinces a prejudice against New Englanders in general and especially against the
citizens of Massachusetts. Hawley, a warm friend and admirer of Adams, writes to the latter warning him against falling into the error attributed to "the Massachusetts gentlemen, and especially of the town of Boston," of assuming to dictate and take the lead in continental matters. This report had been industriously circulated, in advance, by certain tories, in the hope of injuring the Massachusetts delegation, and marring the harmony of the Congress.
How little foundation there was for such a charge, in the case of Mr. Adams, is clearly shown in a letter written by him to his wife, in which he bewails his unavoidable absence from Boston during the weeks immediately preceding the setting out of the delegation. He says: “If I was there I could converse with the gentlemen who are bound with me to Phil. adelphia. I could turn the course of my reading and studies to such sub, jects of law, and politics, and commerce as may come in play at the Con, gress. I might be polishing up my old reading in law and history, that I might appear with less indecency before a variety of gentlemen, whose education, travels, experience, family, fortune, and everything, will give them a vast superiority to me, and, I fear, even to some of my companions." His own feelings and apprehensions were acutely excited by the situation of his country and the prospect of the doubtful and important service before him. His diary is full of passages like the following, expressive of his hopes and anxieties: “I wander alone and ponder; I muse, I mope, I ruminate; I am often in reveries and brown studies. The objects before me are too grand and multifarious for my comprehension. We have not men fit for the times. We are deficient in genius, in education, in travel, in fortune, in everything. I feel unutterable anxiety. God grant us wisdom and fortitude! Should the opposition be suppressed, should this country submit, what infamy and ruin! God forbid! Death in any form is less terrible.”
On the oth of August the delegation, less Mr. Bowdoin, who had asked to be relieved from serving, set out from Boston for Philadelphia. Their journey was an ovation. Throughout Connecticut they were met by successive delegations and escorted from town to town. At Hartford and New Haven they were formally entertained. Arrived at New York the principal citizens vied with each other in extending courtesies. In New Jersey there was almost equal cordiality-especially at Princeton. Five miles from Philadelphia they were met by a committee of citizens and escorted to their quarters in that town. Much of this interest was, in fact, spontaneous and sincere, but, aside from such patriotic manifestation, there existed curiosity, fear, doubt, and distrust. In Connecticut there was less of all this than in the more southerly provinces. New York was one of the most aristocratic of the provinces; the prevailing religion was of the Episcopal form, and fear of what were termed the “leveling tendencies of New England"