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bracing all the young and old, of both sexes, who could be moved so far. Aided by bands of music, and uniting all the military of the country and city, in and near Charleston, the ceremony was the most splendid and solemn that ever had been witnessed in South-Carolina.127 It was opened by prayers, offered up to the throne of the Most High, by the Rev. Mr. William Percy, of the Episcopal Church. The declaration was then read in the most impressive manner by Major Barnard Elliott, and closed with an elegant and appropriate address by the same reverend gentleman, inspiring the crowded audience with piety and patriotism. It was followed by a universal burst of applause, by loud huzzas and animating cheers. The infantry responded with a general feu de joie, and the discharge of cannon echoed and re-echoed the general enthusiasm There were always secret enemies and informers in our country, and this ceremony was described soon after in the British prints with as much ridicule as possible. Among other circumstances, the day was said to have been very hot, and the reverend gentleman, while addressing the audience, was shaded by an umbrella, held over him by his servant, a negro man. As the crowd pressed forward, and the orator became warm with his ardor of patriotism, his countenance also glowed with the actual heat of the weather, the ardor of sunshine. The black servant was then observed to be fanning his master, while holding the umbrella over him, and the British Narrator observed on the circumstance: “ Good Mr. Parson, it is not quite civil
To be preaching rebellion, thus fanned by the devil.”
The General Assembly, however, was not in session, and did not convene until the 17th of September — and then only by proclamation of John Rutledge.
On the 19th, Rutledge 123 “ delivered to both Houses a speech in which he said: “Since your last meeting, the Continental Congress have declared the United Colonies free and independent States . . . an event which necessity had rendered not only justifiable but unavoidable. The Declaration, and several resolves of that honourable body received during your recess, shall be laid before you. I doubt not you will take such measures as may be requisite in consequence of them.”
This speech, on the same day, was referred to a committee composed of Rawlins Lowndes, Charles Pinckney, the Attorney General, Rev. William Tennent, John Edwards, John Neufville, Isaac Motte, Phillip Smith and Roger Smith ; and, on the next day, Lowndes reported a draft of a reply, which declared: “It is with the most unspeakable pleasure we embrace this opportunity of expressing our joy and satisfaction in the declaration declaring the United Colonies free and independent States, absolved from allegiance to the British Crown event unsought for, and now produced by unavoidable necessity .. .” Immediately upon the reading of this draft, a motion was made to strike out the words "unspeakable pleasure", and a debate 129 ensued; but the amendment failed of being carried. The draft, however, was amended so that the reply, when adopted, on the same day, read: “ It is with unspeakable pleasure we embrace this opportunity of expressing our satisfaction ... constituting the United Colonies free and independent States
This reply was presented to Rutledge on the 21st, in the Council Chamber, where he had come especially " to receive the House with their Address”; and, when “Mr. Speaker, with the House returned (to its chamber], Mr. Speaker reported that he, with the House, having attended the President in the Council Chamber with their Address in answer to his Speech his Excellency had been pleased to reply in the following words: ' May the happiest consequences be derived ... from the independence of America, who could not obtain even peace, liberty and safety by any other means.'
The Legislative Council replied to the speech, on the 20th: “The Declaration ... calls forth all our attention. It is an event which necessity has rendered not only justifiable but absolutely unavoidable. It is a decree now worthy of America. We thankfully receive the notification of and rejoice at it; and we are determined at every hazard to endeavour to maintain it ..."
Rutledge responded to this reply, on the same day: “Your determination to endeavour to maintain the independence of the United States, at every hazard, proves that you know the value and are deserving of those rights for which America contends."
The Declaration was approved by the grand jury of Charleston on October 15th.
Very naturally, it also was late before Georgia celebrated the action of Congress in declaring independence. On August 1oth, however, “ 130 A Declaration being received from the Honourable John Hancock, Esq. . his Excellency the President [Bullock], and the Honourable the
Council met in the Council-Chamber [in Savannah], and read the Declaration. — They then proceeded to the square before the Assembly House, and read it likewise to a great concourse of people, when the grenadier and light infantry companies fired a general volley. After this, they proceeded in the following procession to Liberty Pole :— The grenadiers in front — The Provost Marshal, on horseback, with his sword drawn — The Secretary with the Declaration — His Excellency the President - The Honourable the Council and gentlemen attending — Then the light infantry, and the rest of the militia of the town and district of Savannah. At the Liberty Pole they were met by the Georgia battalion, who, after the reading of the Declaration, discharged their field pieces, and fired in platoons. Upon this they proceeded to the battery, at the Trustees Gardens, where the Declaration was read for the last time, and the cannon of the battery discharged. His Excellency and Council, Col. Lachlan McIntosh, and other gentlemen, with the militia, dined under the cedar trees, and cheerfully drank to the United, Free, and Independant States of America. In the evening the town was illuminated, and there was exhibited a very solemn funeral procession, attended by the grenadier and light infantry companies, and other militia, with their drums, muffled, and fifes, and a greater number of people than ever appeared on any occasion before in this province, when George the Third was interred before the court-house in the following manner: 'Forasmuch as George the Third, of Great Britain, hath most flagrantly violated his coronation oath, and trampled upon the constitution of our country, and the sacred
rights of mankind, we therefore commit his political existence to the ground, corruption to corruption, tyranny to the grave, and oppression to eternal infamy; in sure and certain hope that he will never obtain a resurrection to rule again over these United States of America; but my friends and fellow citizens, let us not be sorry, as men without hope, for TYRANTS that thus depart; rather let us remember America is free and independent, that she is, and will be, with the blessing of the Almighty, GREAT among the nations of the earth. Let this encourage us in well doing, to fight for our rights and privileges, for our wives and children, for all that is near and dear to us. May God give us his blessing, and let all the people say
AMEN.'" “ 131 With similar joy was the Declaration of Independence welcomed in the other parishes of Georgia. St. John's Parish, the Home of Hall and Gwinnett, two of the signers, was most pronounced in its demonstrations of approval."