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It will have been seen from the various facts and historical details, which have formed a necessary portion of the pre
ROBERT TREAT PAINE.
IN the character of the first settlers of Massachusetts, there was much to approve and venerate. Never were men animated with a more ardent zeal for civil and religious freedom. It was their chief care to provide for the support and extension of the christian religion, by having a learned clergy, and by establishing schools in all the settlements, where the population required, or would justify the measure. And from the earliest history of the colony, we find, that the great body of the people were well informed and carefully instructed in the doctrines and duties of christianity. Nor were they less solicitous of preserving their civil and political rights. It is believed that wherever religious freedom is duly appreciated, there also will be found to prevail a spirit favourable to political liberty. The instruction and information requisite to render men enlightened christians, will also enable them to understand correctly and dispose them to value their civil rights and privileges. It is not therefore impertiment, we trust, in the biography of a distinguished civilian of this part of the country, to observe, that there is a reciprocal influence between liberal sentiments in religion and politics, favourable to the preservation of each.
It will have been seen from the various facts and historical details, which have formed a necessary portion of the preceding biographies, that at different periods and on various occasions, in the history of Massachusetts, previous to the revolution in 1775, a lofty spirit of freedom was called into action; and was displayed, in contending for charter privileges and powers, and opposing the arbitrary measures of the British parliament, which had reference to this country, as well as the attempts of the royal governors to interfere with rights long claimed and exercised by the people and the legislatures of the colonies. While they acknowledged dependence, ultimately, on the king and government of Great Britain, they insisted on the enjoyment of all the rights of Englishmen, and contended for the liberty of self government by legislatures and judges of their own appointment. While they claimed to exercise all the rights given in their charter, or belonging to them as free-born subjects of the parent country, and were thus induced to oppose all arbitrary and oppressive laws, yet was their opposition always conducted with great temper and moderation.
Such was the spirit and such the character of the patriots and citizens of Massachusetts in 1763, when the controversy was revived between this country and England, as to the extent of parliamentary authority, and of the prerogatives of the crown, in governing the colonies. The people, generally, understood their rights, and appreciated the struggles and sacrifices of their fathers, in defending and preserving them. It depended, however, upon a few highly intelligent and patriotic individuals, to go forward in the great work of political freedom. The people of that memorable period were fortunate in having able men to defend and advocate their cause. And those who had the ability to contend with ministerial agents and the friends of arbitrary power, were happy in the support of their fellow citizens, known to be enlightened, virtuous and brave.