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we have proposed; but I think the contest is pretty nearly at an end, and am persuaded that the people of this and the middle Colonies have a clearer view of their interests, and will use their endeavours to eradicate the Ministerial influence of Governours, Proprietors, and Jacobites
On the 28th, Penn, writing to Samuel Johnston, says: “[G2]I arrived here several days ago in good health & found M: Hewes well . . . The first day of July will be made remarcable then the question relative to Independance will be agitated and there is no doubt but a total seperation from Britain will take place this Province [Pennsylvania] is for it indeed so are all57 except Maryland & her people are coming over
In another letter of the 28th, written at ii o'clock at night, he says: “[NC] I wish things may answer our expectation after we are independant. I fear most people are too sanguine relative to commerce; however it is a measure our enemies have forced upon us. I don't doubt but we shall have spirit enough to act like men. Indeed, it could no longer be delayed.”
Hewes, on the same day, writes to James Iredell : “[I] On Monday the great question of independency ... will come on.
It will be carried, I expect, by a great majority, and then, I suppose we shall take upon us a new name.”
On the 29th 5*, Edward Rutledge writes to Jay: “[Z] I write this for the express Purpose of requesting that if possible you will give your attendance in Congress on Monday next ... I am sincerely convinced that ...
[your presence] will be absolutely necessary in this City during the whole of the ensuing Week.— A Declaration of Independence, the Form of a Confederation of these Colonies, and a Scheme for a treaty with foreign Powers will be laid before the House on Monday. Whether we shall be able effectually to oppose the first . . . will depend in a great measure upon the exertions of the sensible part of the Members. I trust you will contribute in a considerable degree to effect the Business and therefore I wish you to be with us. Recollect the manner in which your Colony is at this time represented. Clinton has Abilities but is silent in general and wants (when he does speak) that Influence to which he is entitled. Floyd, Wisner, Lewis and Alsop tho' good men, never quit their chairs. You must know the Importance of these Questions too well not to wish to [be] present whilst they are debating and therefore I shall say no more upon the Subject . If you can't come let me hear59 from you by the Return of the Post.”
DRAFTING THE DECLARATION
OHN ADAMS, in his Autobiography, gives the
following account (written, according to Charles
Francis Adams, in 1805) of the drafting of the Declaration :
[Qy] The Committee had several Meetings, in which were proposed the articles of which the Declaration was to consist, and minutes made of them. The Committee then appointed M' Jefferson and me, to draw them up in form, and cloath them in proper Dress. The Sub Committee met, and considered the Minutes, making such Observations on them as then occurred: when M' Jefferson desired me to take them to my lodgings and make the Draught. This I declined and gave several reasons for declining i that he was a Virginian and I a Massachusettensian. 2. that he was a Southern Man and I a northern one. 3. That I had been so obnoxious for my early and constant Zeal in promoting the Measure, that any draught of mine, would undergo a more severe Scrutiny and Criticism in Congress, than one of his composition. 4thly and lastly and that would be reason enough if there were no other, I had a great opinion of the Elegance of his pen, and none at all of my own. I therefore insisted that no hesitation should be made on his part. He accordingly took the Minutes and in a day or two produced to me his Draught. Whether I made or suggested any corrections I remember not. The Report was made to the Committee of five, by them examined, but whether altered or corrected in any
thing I cannot recollect. But in Substance at least it was reported to Congress where, after a Severe Criticism, and Striking out several of the most oratorical Paragraphs it was adopted on the fourth of July 1776, and published to the World.
A similar account is found in his letter of 1822 to Pickering:
[Ms] The Committee met, discussed the subject, and then appointed M! Jefferson & me to make the draught; I suppose, because we were the two highest on the list. The Sub-Committee met ; Jefferson proposed to me to make the draught, I said I will not; You shall do it. Oh No! Why will you not? You ought to do it.
I will not.
Why? Reasons enough. What can be your reasons ? Reason 18 You are a Virginian and Virginia ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason 24 I am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular; You are very much otherwise. Reason 3! You can write ten times better than I
“Well,” said Jefferson, “ if you are decided I will do as well as I can.” Very well, when you have drawn it up we will have a meeting. A meeting we accordingly had and conn’d the paper over. I was delighted with its high tone, and the flights of Oratory with which it abounded, especially that concerning Negro Slavery, which though I knew his Southern Bretheren would never suffer to pass in Congress, I certainly never would oppose. There were other expressions, which I would not have inserted had I drawn it up; particularly that which called the King a Tyrant. I thought this too personal, for I never believed George to be a tyrant in disposition and in nature: I always believed him to be deceived by his Courtiers on both sides the Atlantic, and in his Official capacity only, Cruel.
I thought the expression too passionate and too much like scolding for so grave and solemn a document; but as Franklin and Sherman were to inspect it afterwards, I thought it would
not become me to strike it out. I consented to report it and do not now remember that I made or suggested a single alteration. We reported it to the committee of Five. It was read and I do not remember that Franklin or Sherman criticized anything. We were all in haste; Congress was impatient and the Instrument was reported, I believe in Jefferson's hand writing as he first drew it . . . As you justly observe", there is not an idea in it, but what had been hackney'd in Congress for two years before. The substance of it is contained in the Declaration of rights and the violation of those rights, in the Journal of Congress in 1774.3 Indeed, the essence of it is contained in a pamphlet, voted and printed by the Town of Boston before the first Congress met, composed by James Otis, as I suppose -- in one of his lucid intervals, and pruned and polished by Sam Adams
This letter was quoted by Pickering in the course of some remarks made at Salem on the succeeding national anniversary.
It brought forth immediately, August 30th (1823), a letter from Jefferson, to Madison, in which Jefferson gave an account quite different.
[S;P] You have doubtless seen Timothy Pickering's 4 of July observations on the Declaration of Independance. if his principles and prejudices personal and political, gave us no reason to doubt whether he had truly quoted the information he alledges to have received from M: Adams, I should then say that, in some of the particulars, mr Adams's memory has led him into unquestionable error.
at the age of 88 and 47. years after the transactions of Independance, this is not wonderful.4 nor should I, at the age of 80, on the small advantage of that difference only, venture to oppose my memory to his, were it not supported by written notes, taken by myself at the moment and on the spot. he says