Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

powerful to be checked. This new government consisted of a general convention of the province and its council of safety, while in the counties there were mass meetings and committees of observation, with an embryo department of state called a committee of correspondence. HANSON was a member of the convention and served as chairman of both the committee of observation and the committee of correspondence in Frederick County. To these honors was added that of treasurer of the county, and to him were intrusted all the funds to pay the soldiers and the Delegates to Congress.

JOHN HANSON was a silent, but no less effective, power. His activity was of that character as to require secrecy to make his plans effective. When, however, the crisis had been reached, when bold and fearless words were needed to arouse the resolution and strengthen the purpose of his compatriots, he arose in the convention in July, 1775, and with the unflinching determination of Patrick Henry declared that they would "repel force by force," and pledged himself to support the "present opposition." These were timely words. Enthusiasm was rekindled; other colonies heard them and rejoiced. From that day the colonists in Maryland were bound in closer union. Upon John HANSON primarily devolved the task of organizing and equipping the army. Money was scarce, arms and ammunition were scarcer, but his resourceful mind knew no obstacles.

Under his direction two companies of riflemen were sent to join the army at Boston, and these were the first troops that came from the South to Washington's assistance. Forty companies of minutemen were organized, and the whole of Maryland was put upon the defensive. Arms were manufactured, powder mills erected, and money provided through voluntary contributions. So thorough was his work that when 13,800 militia were required to reenforce the army, Maryland furnished much more than her full quota. That he had the confidence of the Government is evidenced from the fact that President Hancock made him one of a committee of two to transmit $300,000 to General Washington for the maintenance of the army in Canada, and by the further fact that he was one of the committee of four deputized to reorganize the Maryland troops, for which purpose Congress furnished the committee with blank commissions to be issued, under the advice of General Washington, to officers who reenlisted after the term of their enlistment had expired.

JOHN HANSON rendered one service to his country that can not be too greatly extolled. Lord Dunmore, the proprietary governor of Virginia, conceived the plan of arming the Indians on the frontier and to make a simultaneous attack upon the colonies from the back country and from the coast. 'It was planned first to fall upon Fort Pitt, in Pennsylvania, and thence to work their way eastward to Alexandria, Va., in which vicinity there was a fleet of 90 British ships prepared to continue the onslaught along the waterways. The designs of Lord Dunmore were soon detected by HANSON and by his vigilance frustrated. Dr. John Connolly, one of the chief conspirators, who had been carrying dispatches from General Gage to Lord Dunmore, and who had been operating with the Cherokee, Swanee, Mingo, and Delaware tribes, with several of his comrades, fell into the hands of the minutemen of Maryland, near Hagerstown, while they were on their way to Detroit. The arrest of these allies of the King and Parliament, of General Gage and Lord Dunmore, was followed by their imprisonment, and the conspiracy died.

About four years later, in 1779, in another sphere of action, JOHN HANSON again proved himself the man of the hour. Maryland had persistently refused to agree to the Articles of Confederation until some provision had been made for settling the question of the Western domain. That Maryland was right in her contention subsequent events have established; but a crisis had been reached upon which may have devolved the very existence of the Union. JOHN HANSON, believing that the failure to effect a union would probably mean the loss of everything that had been achieved and that through union alone the perplexing questions could be solved, set to work to have the bar to a complete union removed. His attitude at this time was not unlike that of President Lincoln at a later period of our national history. HANSON's efforts were rewarded by the passage of an act to empower the Delegates of this State in Congress to subscribe and ratify the Articles of Confederation, and accordingly, on the ist day of March, 1781, JOHN HANSON and Daniel Carroll, as Delegates of the State of Maryland, put their signatures to the document which was the beginning of the indissoluble Union of the United States. This having been accomplished, he threw his entire force into the debate on the Western land question. That question was settled according to the judgment of Maryland, and out of that vast territory which became the common property of all the States were carved the newer States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and a part of Wisconsin.

JOHN HANSON was three times elected to the Continental Congress, and after his third election was elevated to the position of President of that body. During his first and second terms in Congress he was shown the distinction of being elected also to the lower house of the State. After twenty-five years of public service, rich with the honors that become the man with a clear mind and an incorruptible heart, he retired to private life, and spent his last days at Oxon Hill, Prince George County, Md., where he died November 22, 1783.

JOHN HANSON was one of those modest, unassuming great men who seek no glory for themselves, but find their highest reward in the good that accrues from their efforts to the great body of the people. He was essentially a thinker, a contriver, an unraveler of knotty points, a man to whom the people looked when other leaders said, “What shall we do now?" In those days, when there was great diversity of opinion among

[ocr errors]

men of equal ability and patriotism, John HANSON proved himself a master in bringing to the front the central idea and enlisting the support of all men who in their adherence to the chief thought lost sight of minor differences. He was of a reflective temperament, weighing well each proposition, and standing firm by his decisions. Too little tribute has heretofore been paid to those quiet, thoughtful men who have furnished the basic ideas upon which governments have been founded and for which armies have contended. Behind the man behind the gun is the idea, the principle, the conviction, which justifies his use of arms, and without which an army becomes an irresponsible mob. It has been said that it is sweet and beautiful to die for one's country, but it is no less sublime to give to one's country sound doctrine and imperishable tenets, The statue of John HANSON, representing him in a reflective attitude, I now formally present to our country, whose Government he so grandly helped to establish. [Loud applause.]

Mr. Speaker, I move the adoption of the resolution offered by my colleague.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Grosvenor). The question is on agreeing to the resolution offered by the gentleman from Maryland [Mr. Pearre].

The resolution was agreed to.

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »