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PRONOUNCED IN FAYETTEVILLE, NORTH-CAROLINA,
July 20th, 1826.
BY HENRY POTTER.
Friends and feLLOW CITIZENS," How are the mighty fallen," was the song of lamentation, by the immortal Hebrew lyric Poet, over the remains of a devoted friend and an insidious foe. But we have met this day to express our sorrow and sympathies, for the loss, not of enemies, nor of ordi nary friends, but of two illustrious patriarchs and founders of American freedom. It becomes us then, especially, in the spirit of lamentation, to exclaim, "how are the mighty fallen." The immortal spirits of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams have taken their flight from this world, and have winged their way to their God and our God-to return no more forever. And though their material parts shall moulder in the silent tomb, till the morning of the resurrection, yet their deeds shall live in the hearts of their countrymen, and their fame shall survive as long as history lasts.
From the death of Noah, the life of man began gradually to decrease, till it shrunk into its present little measure of three score years and ten. But let it not be said, that because an all-wise and gracious Providence hath seen fit to lengthen out the lives of these distinguished men beyond the ordinary term, they have outlived their usefulness and that their disease, long expected, is not a subject for sorrow. As an aged father is to his little domestic circle, so are these worthy patriots to the whole nation. And if the affections (or weakness if you
please) of dutiful children for a revered and departed parent, however aged and enervated, manifest themselves in grief for the bereavement, why should not the same affections, from the same human nature, flow in sorrow for two departed political fathers and benefactors?-But it must be apparent to all who have marked the character of societies, and "caught the manners living as they rise," that man, while he lives respected, retains much of his influence, even to the greatest age. And it is well known that the names of Jefferson and Adams, were, to their last moments, held in the profoundest respect and veneration. And their minds, though much worn, and even dethroned of the fancy and corruscations of youth, were yet active and sound. Their opinions were highly respected by an intelligent community, and all their conversations and letters were lessons of instruction. They were, indeed, like cities set on a hill, which could not be hid-and the American people were in the habit of looking up to them as the living epistles of practical liberty, to be read of all men. But when we look at the letter of Thomas Jefferson written but a few days before his death, and while he was languishing, who can doubt the energy of his mind? I should look around, perhaps in vain, for a man of any age, who, on such an occasion, could write with more perspicuity and force.-And here we might adopt the sentiments of an eminent poet :
The soul's dark cottage, battered and decayed,
Lets in new light through chinks that time has made.
And now let us pause.-For whom are we sorrowing? Whose eulogy are we attempting to speak? What means your sable altars and your badges of grief? Ah, my friends, they are the mute emblems of woe-they represent the feelings of the nation. And while we are employed in rendering our public demonstrations of honor and respect for the deceased, we are persuaded that the whole "American people are sympathizing with us: for as in water, face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man." It is a national calamity. A
nation mourns a nation's loss. Liberty weeps over her favorite sons, and ages yet to come will bow with reverence and gratitude before the lofty monument which their labors have erected.
Neither time nor opportunity permits me to attempt any thing like a chronicle of these two great men; but as some allusion to their public characters is expected of me I shall cursorily notice some of the leading characteristics and facts in their eventful lives.
John Adams, the venerated patriot and statesman, was born the 19th of October, 1735-he graduated in 1755-commenced the study of the law in 1759, and continued in his profession until 1774, when, his reputation for talents, independence, and Roman energy, attracted public notice and brought him into the public service. As a legislator and as a diplomatist, his talents shone conspicuously; and his stern and unyielding integrity, Fabricius-like, elevated him above all suspicion, and commanded the respect even of his political enemies. His diplomatic services in Europe, in the most critical and trying times, and on the most delicate subjects, were enough, of themselves, to wreath his brow with never withering laurels: but we are to look to Congress Hall for his greatest achievements. There we see the displays of his eloquence and the manifestations of his undaunted patriotism. There we behold him bearing an honorable and conspicuous part in laying the chief corner-stone in the great temple of liberty. And so bold and conclusive were his arguments, enforced by a resistless eloquence, that the wavering were fixed, the timid encouraged, and all were resolved to support the independence of their country, on the pledge of " their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor." In this hour of terror and of darkness, his genius penetrated the gloom, and with a prophetic glimpse through the dim light of distant futurity, foretold the coming glories of his country-and was suffered to witness, at the lapse of half a century, the fulfilment of his prophecy. He entered Congress in '74, was on the Commit
tee that drafted the Declaration of Independence-supported it with all the powers of his mind, and signed it as an earnest of the pledge it contains. He was the first Vice-President of the United States, in '89, and succeeded Washington as Presi dent in '96-exhibiting in every station, superior talents and virtue. And at the protracted age of 91 years and upwards, covered with honors, the good old patriarch literally sunk under the weight of his years. On the morning of the 4th of July, he rose without any marked increase of debility, rejoicing that he had been spared to witness the Jubilee of his country's freedom, but became quite ill about noon, and then gradually grew worse, and at 6 o'clock fell asleep, to wake no more in this world. But the angel of death was not
mitted to call him hence until his heart was cheered with the loud acclamations of the Jubilee-a day precious in his memory-a day hallowed by its mighty deed, and by its mightier consequences the day with which the name of the venerable patriot will ever be identified. With the descending sun he departed.
His defence of the American Constitutions, is a fair specimen of the powers of his mind, and of his talents as a writer—a work, which, considering the time and circumstances under which it was written, places the author in the highest ranks in political science. He is said to have been a most interesting object even in his last days. His extreme old age, though feeble, was still manly and spirited. He conversed with apparent satisfaction, with intelligence, and with a copious memory of events and agents. He had not lost his patriotic fire, nor even the characteristic earnestness of his concern in the affairs of his country. The general effect of his presence was powerful, and almost unique, when to the impressions produced by those circumstances, was added the recollection of the eminent, perilous, intense part which he had borne in proposing and achieving the National Independence; of the various exalted and arduous public stations which he had filled; of his extensive learning, his sound mor
als, his simple personal habits, his warm affections, and his thorough, inflexible Americanism. And the great Mr. Jefferson, his political rival, but private friend, in 1816, emphatically remarked, that his federal predecessor was the very life of the Congress of '76-that he urged the assertion of Independence, privately and officially, with incredible zeal and eloquence, and that no man could love his country more, serve her with keener perseverance, or act with more gen. eral rectitude than John Adams.
Thomas Jefferson was born the 2d of April, 1743. He received the highest honors at William and Mary College, (his Alma Mater) and studied law under the celebrated George Wythe. Before the age of 25, he was a distinguished member of the legislature of Virginia, and took an active part in all the measures they adopted in opposition to the usurpations of Great Britain. In the Congress of '75, he is said to have been the author of the protest against the offensive proposi tions of Lord North. He drew the preamble to the Declaration of Rights adopted in Virginia—but above all, he was the author of the Declaration of Independence. And here, perhaps, we ought to stop; his measure of fame appears to be full-all his other brilliant deeds are merged in this colossal act. Here is a sort of epic point in the great political drama. To be the author of this immortal instrument-this great charter of the rights and liberties of man-this bold and decisive, but wise and necessary exploit, is far more honorable than the conquest of nations; and, in the moral estimate, infinitely more grand than the subjugation of the world. All the chivalrous deeds and heroic achievements of your Alexanders, your Cæsars, and your Buonaparte's, when compared with this, dwindle into nothing.
But I am not permitted to end here; important facts and events press upon me; and the foremost in the train is, the act of religious toleration-drawn up and carried through the Legislature of Virginia, by this great and good man. The world had for centuries been groaning under the burden of