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whose earnest attention was engrossed with the consideration of the fearful events that were occurring near them, and in which were involved their own safety, property and freedom, as well as the honour and interests of their country.
In such instances, the immediate friend's have usually cherished the recollection of all the peculiarities in disposition or fortune that are ascribable to the retiring and modest patriot; and however barren of incident his life may have been, there is still something to be gathered with which a natural and rational curiosity may be gratified.
But it has happened, with respect to THOMAS STONE, that since his death, which occurred nearly forty years since, so many changes have taken place among his relatives and immediate friends, that there is no one able, or willing, to describe his particular habits, virtues or achievements, or to testify the incidents of his short and unambitious life.
It is known, however, that he was born at Pointon Manor, in Maryland, in the year 1743; and was educated for the profession of the law, the practice of which he commenced with good prospects of success, and with the reputation of talents and industry.
The excitement produced by the stamp act was shared by him to a degree proportioned to the ardent temperament of youth, and though too young at that time to take any part in public affairs, his political principles were fixed by the discussions to which he was then a listener, and the strong feeling of indig.
nation against the British ministry which he then imbibed.
It was not, however, until after the Boston port bill and the other aggressions of the year 1774, that Mr. Stone came prominently forward into public life.
He was not a member of the congress of that year, but was added, along with Robert Goldsborough, to the delegation of Maryland, by a vote of the provincial deputies on the eighth of December, 1774, and took his seat accordingly on the fifteenth of the following May.
The powers with which these delegates were invested seemed sufficiently ample, they being authorized to consent and agree to all measures which that congress might deem necessary and effectual to obtain a redress of American grievances; and it was declared in the resolution appointing them, that the province bound itself to execute to the utmost of its power, all resolutions which the congress might adopt.
Mr. Stone attended punctually the meetings of the congress, and gave his time and attention faithsully to the duties of his post. In July, 1775, he was reelected, as were his colleagues, for one year further.
Although this was subsequent to the actual commencement of hostilities, the battle of Bunker's Hill, and the appointment of a commander in chief, yet the thought of independence had not yet become at all palatable in Maryland; and the provincial conference did not suppose, when they made this appointment,
that their chosen delegates would suffer themselves to be carried away by what was then deemed so extravagant an enthusiasm, as to vote for such a
Towards the close of the year 1775, however, the question of an entire separation from Great Britain, became the subject of very general discussion, both as to its policy and probability, and it was discovered that the Maryland delegates were much disposed to encounter the risk and venture upon a contest so unequal and even desperate, as it was considered by many of their constituents. Alarmed at this circumstance, the convention determined to restrain them by specific and strict instructions, and the following were accordingly prepared, and received the sanction of the convention, whose sentiments they well represent.
“ The convention, taking into their most serious consideration the present state of the unhappy dispute between Great Britain and the united colonies, think it proper to deliver you their sentiments, and to instruct you in certain points, relative to your conduct in congress, as representatives of this province.
“ The experience we and our ancestors have had of the mildness and equity of the English constitution, under which we have grown up to and enjoyed a state of felicity, not exceeded among any people we know of, until the grounds of the present controversy were laid by the ministry and parliament of Great Britain, has most strongly endeared to us that form of government from whence these blessings have been derived,
and makes us ardently wish for a reconciliation with the mother country, upon terms that may ensure to these colonies an equal and permanent freedom.
“ To this constitution we are attached, not merely by habit, but by principle, being in our judgments persuaded, it is, of all known systems, best calculated to secure the liberty of the subject, to guard against despotism on the one hand, and licentiousness on the other.
“ Impressed with these sentiments, we warmly recommend to you, to keep constantly in your view the avowed end and purpose for which these colonies originally associated, The redress of American grievances, and securing the rights of the colonists.
“ As upon the attainment of these great objects, we shall think it our greatest happiness to be thus firmly united to Great Britain, we think proper to instruct you, that should any proposition be happily made by the crown or parliament, that may lead to or lay a rational and probable ground for reconciliation, you use your utmost endeavours to cultivate and improve it into a happy settlement and lasting amity, taking care to secure the colonies against the exercise of the right assumed by parliament to tax them, and to alter and change their charters, constitutions, and internal polity, without their consent, powers incompatible with the essential securities of the lives, liberties, and properties of the colonists.
“We farther instruct you, that you do not without the previous knowledge and approbation of the con
vention of this province, assent to any proposition to declare these colonies independent of the crown of Great Britain, nor to any proposition for making or entering into alliance with any foreign power, nor to any union or confederation of these colonies, which may necessarily lead to a separation from the mother country, unless in your judgments, or in the judgments of
you, or of a majority of the whole of you, if all shall be then attending in congress, it shall be thought absolutely necessary for the preservation of the liberties of the united colonies; and should a majority of the colonies in congress against such your judgment, resolve to declare these colonies independent of the crown of Great Britain, or to make or enter into alliance with any foreign power, or into any union or confederation of these colonies, which may necessarily lead to a separation from the mother country, then we instruct you immediately to call the convention of this province, and repair thereto with such proposition and resolve, and lay the same before the said convention, for their consideration, and this convention will not hold this province bound by such majority in congress, until the representative body of the province in convention assent thereto.
“Desirous as we are of peace with Great Britain upon safe and honourable terms, we wish you nevertheless, and instruct you, to join with the other colonies, in such military operations as may be judged