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PRONOUNCED AT RICHMOND, VIRGINIA,
July 11, 1826.
BY JOHN TYLER.
WHY this numerous assemblage-this solemn and melancholy procession-these habiliments of woe? Do they betoken the fall of some mighty Autocrat, some imperial master who hath "bestrided the earth like a Colossus," and whose remains are followed to the grave by the tools and minions of his power? Are they the tokens of a ceremonious woe— a mere mockery of feeling? Or are they the spontaneous offerings of gratitude and love? What mighty man has fallen in Israel, and why has Virginia clothed herself in mourning? The tolling of your dismal bell, and the loud, but solemn discharge of artillery hath announced to the nation the melancholy tidings-THOMAS JEFFERSON no longer lives. That glorious orb which has for so many years given light to our footsteps, has set in death. The Patriot-the Statesman, -the Philosopher-the Philanthropist, has sunk into the grave-Virginia mourns over his remains and her harp is hung upon the willows. Why need I say more? There is a language in this spectacle which speaks more eloquence than tongue can utter. This is the testimony of a well spent life --the tribute of a nation's gratitude. Look on this sight, ye rulers of the earth, and learn from it the lesson of wisdom. Ye ambitious and untamed spirits, who seek the attainment of glory by a scaffolding formed of human suffering, behold a people in tears over the funeral bier of their benefactor, and if true glory be your object, be guided by the light of this example,
In pronouncing the eulogy of the dead, my countrymen, I have no blood-stained banner to present--no battles to recount-no sword or helmet to deposit on his hearse. I have to entwine a civic wreath which Philosophy has woven and Patriotism has hallowed. The achievements of the warrior in the field, attract the attention of mankind and fasten on the memory, while the labors of the civilian too often passes unnoted and unknown. But not so with that man whose death we this day mourn. The results of his policy are exhibited in all around: although his sun has sunk below the horizon of this world, yet hath it left a train of light which shall never be extinguished. At the commencement of his successful career, he manifested the same devotion to the rights of man, which he evidenced in his after life-at an early day he so distinguished himself as the firm and fearless assertor of the rights of colonial America, as to draw upon him the frowns of the Royal Governor :—and had already anticipated the occurrence of the period when the colonies should be elevated to the condition of free, sovereign, and independent States. Having drawn his principles from the fountain of a pure Philosophy, he was prepared to assail the slavish doctrine that man is incapable of self government, and to aid in building upon its overthrow that happy system under which it is our fortune to live. On the coming of that tremendous storm which for eight years desolated our country, Mr. Jefferson hesitated not, halted not. Born to a rich inheritancedestined to the attainment of high distinction under the regular government-courted by the aristocracy of the land, he adventured, with the single motive of advancing the cause of his country and of human freedom, into that perilous contest, throwing into the scale his life and fortune as of no value.The devoted friend of man, he had studied his rights in the great volume of nature, and saw with rapture the era near at hand, when those rights should be proclaimed, and the world aroused from the slumber of centuries. The season was approaching for the extension of the empire of reason and phi
losophy, and the disciple of Locke and of Sidney rejoiced at its approach. Among his fellow laborers, those devoted champions of liberty, those brilliant lights which shall forever burn, he stood conspicuous. But how transcendantly bright was that halo of glory by which he was surrounded on the Fourth of July, 1776! Oh, day, very precious in the recollection of Freemen! now rendered doubly so by the recollection that it was the birth-day of a nation, and the last of him who had conferred on it immortality. Yes! illustrious man! it was given thee to live until the advent of a nation's jubilee -thy disembodied spirit was then upborne by the blessings of ten millions of Freemen, and the day and hour of thy renown was the day and hour of thy dissolution. How inseperable is now the connexion between that glorious epoch and this distinguished citizen? Does there not seem to have been an especial providence in his death? The sun of that day rose upon him, and the roar of artillery and the hosanna of a nation sounded in his ears the assurances of his immor». tality. So precious a life required a death so glorious.Who now shall set limits to his fame ? On the annual recurrence of that glorious day, when with pious ardour millions yet unborn shall breathe the sentiments contained in the celebrated Declaration of Independence-when the fires of Liberty shall be kindled on every hill and shall blaze in every valley, shall not the name of JEFFERSON be pronounced by every lip, and written on every heart? Shall not the rejoicings of that day and the recollection of his death, cause the smile to chase away the tear, and the tear to becloud the smile? But not to the future millions of these happy States, shall his name be confined-that celebrated State Paper will be found wherever is to be found the abode of civilized man: -sounded in the ears of tyrants, they shall tremble on their thrones-while man, so long the victim of oppression, awakes from the sleep of ages and bursts his chains. The day is rapidly approaching, a prophetic tongue has pronounced it, "to some nations sooner, to others later, but finally to all'
when it will be made manifest, that the mass of mankind have not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God." Already has this great truth aroused the one half of this continent from the lethargy in which it has so long reposed. Already are the peans of liberty chanted from the Gulf of Mexico to the Rio de la Plate, and its altars are erecting on the ruins of a superstitious idolatry. A mighty spirit walks abroad upon the earth, which shall in its onward march overturn principalities and powers, and trample thrones and sceptres in the dust. And when the happy era shall arrive for the emancipation of nations, hastened on as it will be by the example of America, shall they not resort to the Declaration of our Independence, as the charter of their rights, and will not its author be hailed as the benefactor of the redeemed?
But my countrymen, this State Paper is not the only lasting testimonial which he has left of his devotion to the rights of Where should I stop, were I to recount the multiplied and various acts of his life, all directed to the security of those rights? The statute book of this state, almost all that is wise in policy or sanctified by justice, bears the impress of his genius and furnishes evidence of that devotion. I choose to present him to you in the light of a mighty reformer. He was born to overturn systems and pull down establishments. He had a more difficult task to accomplish than the warrior in the embattled field. He had to conquer man and bring him to a true knowledge of his own dignity. He had to encounter prejudices become venerable by age-to assail error in its strong places, and to expel it even from its fastnesses. He advanced to the charge with a bold and reckless intrepidity, but with a calculating coolness. The Declaration of which I have just spoken, had announced the great truth that man was capable of self-government, but it still remained for him to achieve a conquest over an error which was sanctified by age, and fortified by the prejudices of mankind. He dared to proclaim the important truths-" That Almighty God had