BOARD OF TRUSTEES GOVERNOR DICKINSON AND DR. BENJ. RUSH DICKINSON'S DONATION SKETCH OF DICKINSON.
THE first Board of Trustees under the act of incorporation, composed of forty members, embraced many men of the highest prominence in the State. More than one third of the number, according to that act, consisted or clergymen. The reason for the presence of so many of the latter, and their general relation to the College, as well as the position of the clergy at that time with reference to higher education, can be best comprehended by an inspection of the following section in the original charter: "..As it has been found by experience that those persons separated from the busy scenes of life, that they may with more attention study the grounds of the Christian religion and minister it to the people, are in general zealous promotors of the education of youth, and cheerfully give up their time and attention to objects of this kind; therefore, whenever a vacancy shall happen, by want of qualification, resignation, or decease of any clergyman hereby appointed a trustee, such vacancy shall be filled by the choice of another clergyman ofany Christian denomination, and so toties quoties such vacancy shall happen, whereby the number of clergymen hereby appointed shall never be lessened." This clause was modified by the Legislature, in 1826, so as to
read: "That not more than one third of the trustees shall, at anyone time, be clergymen."
From the number of the incorporators, there is good reason to select Governor Dickinson and Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, as those to whom, more than all the others, the college owed its origin and its growth. The name of the one, as has been stated, was given to it by the Legislature, on account of his great and important services to his country, and in commemoration of his very liberal donation. The other, by his unwearied, enthusiastic personal efforts., extending over more than a quarter of a century, perhaps contributed more largely to the permanent establishment of the institution. There is scarcely a subject connected with the organization and successful conduct of a college that has not been touched upon in the fragments that remain of his voluminous correspondence in regard to it. At one time deeply concerned about the selection of a principal or of an instructor, at another time about the healthfulness of the location, about suitable provisions for instruction in the way of philosophical apparatus, books, &c, , and at all times about the collection of funds, and their most judicious investment or expenditure, he was not wanting in generous contributions of money, as well as time. At times he appears to have been almost the life as well as the inspiration of the corporation. When others became disheartened, his faith in the ultimate success of the enterprise seemed unshaken, and his tone was as cheerful and enthusiastic as in the earlier days. As late as 1808, twenty-five years after the founding of the College, he closes a long letter in regard to some business connected with it, as follows: "My dear old friend, in writing you upon the subject of our College, I feel now all the ardor I felt at its establishment." The italics are his.
It would be difficult to find two individuals more widely diverse in many leading traits of character and in opinions than
the two named as leading spirits in this enterprise, in regard to which they were singularly in accord. Both were highly educated, polished gentlemen; both had had unusual prominence in public life during a time calculated to display more fully than usual a man's whole character, and though the patriotism of neither could be called in question, they had differed, radically, upon the leading question of that day. No more satisfactory reason for attaching the name of Dickinson to the College could be desired, than that just given from the charter. His position as a trusted political leader was calculated to give character to the young institution, whilst the more substantial aid of his liberal donation, perhaps, alone rendered its inauguration possible. The exact nature and extent of the donation alluded to, is not known. A " plantation " of two hundred acres on Marsh creek, York county, now Adams county, at least formed apart of it. A valuable collection of books from his library, which was one of the most valuable in the country, accompanied it. He subsequently added a" plantation " of five hundred acres in Cumberland county, with the condition of an annuity to Doctor Nisbet. The term "plantation" characterized improved lands, which were readily saleable, and therefore equivalent to cash. With thousands of acres of wild lands in its possession, donated by different individuals, the Board of Trustees at an early day disposed of the plantation first alluded to for £200. There were doubtless other similar minor evidences of his interest in the College. After a friendly visit of Doctor Nisbet to him at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1792 , he notified him on his return to Carlisle, that $500 had been deposited in one of the Philadelphia banks subject to his order, to defray the expense of future visits which he had solicited. But taking all his donations together, although the sum may have been all that it was described to be for that day, it would scarcely be considered large at this time. Large donations from individuals
to higher institutions of learning were hardly known a century ago, not only because accumulated private fortunes were not as great then, but, also, because there did, not appear to be the same necessity for them when such institutions were more especially regarded as entitled to the fostering care of the State, and were aided by it as their necessities seemed to require. It was expected that Dickinson would receive such recognition from the State, an expectation that was not disappointed. A true estimate of Governor Dickinson's donation can, perhaps, best be made by a comparison, as with that of Yale, that gave his name to a college already established, which did not exceed £500 in "goods" and books.
Although the name and prominence of an individual may contribute much to the early character and success of an institution, the direct potency of personal association ceases with the lapse of a generation or two, the name becomes a secondary matter and presents but a feeble claim to public patronage or confidence. And yet the somewhat sentimental attachment that imparts an importance to even the most trifling incidents connected with a literary Alma Mater, must continue to invest the name and character of its most prominent patron with some interest for the sons of old Dickinson, and demand for him more than simply a brief mention in connection with any sketch of the College.
The name of John Dickinson is encountered very frequently in turning the pages of American history, from the earliest period of colonial restiveness under the unwarranted interference of the goverment of the mother country up to the final act, and subsequent hostilities, that completely severed their political connection. But, whilst the task of the historian has been comparatively easy and pleasant in dealing, with the characters of the leading patriots of that period who advocated independence, it has often been a matter of exceed-
delicacy to assign their proper influence to those who seem to stand out as obstacles to the popular current, With regard to the former the errors of crtical judgment are necessarIly confined to what, by comparison, might be termed the minor details of character, whilst with the latter all the leading traits of unselfish patriotism, of courage, of political sagacity, and honor are more or less involved, Thus there are acts in the public life of Dickinson which the kindly disposed may see only as the subordinate features of a pure, beautiful, and consistently patriotic character, but which others may keep in such undue and continual prominence as to produce a distorted impression, and do great injustice to a man who, in his way, performed a part perhaps as effective in realizing the fondest wishes of the most ardent patriots of that day as any other who figured in the history of those times, and a part demanding as great a measure of courage, especially of moral courage, as many acts that seem bolder. At the same time, no greater tribute to his ability as a popular leader can be made than that involved in the great influence attributed to him by those who would most detract from his character. A brief consideration of the most salient points of his history, after the lapse of a century, it is believed, will exhibit him as a far-sighted statesman, as well as a thorough American in all his sympathies and conduct.
A native of Maryland, born in 1732, of Quaker parentage, he became identified in his interests and political history with the States of Pennsylvania and Delaware, by the removal of his father, a few years after his birth, to Kent county, in the latter State, where he was Presiding Judge, and proprietor of a large landed estate. Thus, although a Quaker by descent, he neither adhered rigidly to their peculiar form of speech, nor to their practices in regard to military service. but in the correspondence of his later years with his intimate friends this
Quaker element in his character crops out in his language, and is a factor never to be lost sight of in interpreting his public as well as private life. Little is known in regard to his early education, except that Chancellor Killen, when a young man was his tutor. The loss, by death, of two of his brothers in England, whither they had been sent, as was common at that time, to be educated, undoubtedly influenced the father in the education of this son; but the wonderful classical attainments manifested in all his literary productions leave no doubt as to the thoroughness of his instruction. The opinjon expressed by Jefferson, that he was "one of the most accomplished scholars that the country has produced," was but the prevalent opinion of his eminent political associates. After pursuing the study of law in Philadelphia, he spent three years in the Temple in London, and subsequently practiced his profession in Philadelphia. As a lawyer he was profoundly read and of clear judgment, and enjoyed a recognized prominence in the Colonies. He began his political career as one of the members of the Assembly of Pennsylvania from the county of Philadelphia, in 1764, where he opposed a petition for a change of the government of the Province from Proprietary to Royal, in a very effective speech. Although this was three months before the passage of the Stamp Act, he suggested forcibly the designs of the British Ministry upon the liberties of the Colonies, and urged that "with unremitting vigilance, with undaunted virtue, shuuld a free people watch against the encroachments of power and remove every pretext for its extension."
In 1765, as one of the three deputies from Pennsylvania to the first Colonial Congress in New York, he drafted the principal resolutions passed by that body. His eloquent pen was frequently effectually employed in discussing the great questions that were thrusting themselves into prominence in the
Colonies, and he unquestionably holds the position as the leading essayist upon those questions. The letters over the signature of "A Farmer," published in 1767, were, perhaps, most widely known, as well as the most effective. They were re-published by Franklin, in England, and were also translated into French, so that that nom de plume became his title whereever the American question was discussed. Clear, simple, eloquent, and forcible in style, abounding in illustrations, founded upon an examination of all the statutes since the settlement of the Colonies, they set forth, exhaustively, their rights and grievances, and in such a way as to impress the Colonists that a "most dangerous innovation" upon their liberties was about to be attempted by the British ministry; and whilst his recommendation was "immediately, vigorously, and unanimously to exert themselves in the most firm, but the most peaceable manner, for obtaining relief," he added, "if an inveterate resolution is formed to annihilate the liberties of the governed, English history affords examples of resistance by force." As Bancroft says: "The Farmer's letters carried conviction through the Thirteen Colonies." They accomplished much in uniting the Colonies in sympathy and action. Their effect may be very properly estimated in connection with the essay entitled "Common Sense," of a later date, to which exaggerated prominence is so frequently given. The former preceded public sentiment, and, in a great measure, formed it; they were a calm, dispassionate appeal to reason, to love of liberty, and patriotism; the latter was not only based on public opinion already formed, but owed its popularity, in great degree, to its consonance with excited public feeling, inflamed and ready for war. But above all, behind the former was a character acknowledged to be pure, honest, irreproachable, and unpurchasable, very apparently permeated with love of country and humanity, and withal of known conservatism; a character to
which the Continental Congress often deferred, even when he stood almost alone in his views and wishes in regard to measures of greatest public moment. The author of the other was a political and social adventurer, a low, intemperate and untruthful fellow, a venial writer, without principle, a product of the worst influences of French society. He was termed by John Adams, " a disastrous meteor," and he, perhaps, best estimated his pamphlet as having had little effect in converting those to the cause of independence, who would not have followed Congress with zeal, whilst it repelled some of the most influential from the cause.*
Nowhere was the appreciation of the Farmer's opportune help more sincere than at Boston. A letter of thanks reported to an adjourned town meeting by a committee, which included Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Doctor Warren, unanimously adopted, and ordered to be published, set forth the obligations of America to him "for a most seasonable, sensible, loyal, and vigorous vindication of her invaded rights and liberties." The College of New Jersey also added its testimonial in 1769, according to a letter of Madison, then a student there, to his father, by conferring the then unusual honor of LL.D. upon " John Dickinson, the Farmer." As events " rapidly developed, his position as an acknowledged political leader in Pennsylvania gave him still more decided prominence in Colonial affairs. It required no ordinary ability to occupy such a position in Pennsylvania, on account of the numerous, conflicting, irreconcilable political factors. Whilst he seems at times to check a popular tendency toward a rupture with Great Britain, and consequent independence, a closer study of the situation shows that he was in advance of the control-
*Life and Works of John Adams, Boston, 1854. Vol. ii, p. 153; p. 507; Vol.iii, p. 421; Vol. x, p. 380
ling elements of the State in this respect, and comprehended fully the character, influence, and numbers of those who "cherished a passionate desire for reconciliation with the mother country." The difficulties and influence of his surroundings are at times hardly appreciated, and even Bancroft, in his admiration for and comprehension of the more rugged virtues of the Adamses, frequently imparts a tInge of unmeant unkindness and severity to his criticisms of the course of Dickinson. Thus whilst he speaks of him as having been taught from his infancy to love humanity and liberty, of his claims to public respect as indisputable, of the honor showed for his spotless morals, of his eloquence and services in the Colonial Legislature, and of the writings that had endeared him to America as a sincere friend of liberty, he speaks of his maturing a "scheme in the solitude of his retreat" to control the meeting at Philadelphia after the receipt of the Boston port bill, and that he embodied "with calculating reserve," in a letter to Boston, the system which for the coming year was to form the policy of America, a general Congress, and a petition to the King. The course of Dickinson at this meeting was deliberately fixed upon consultation with, and with the hearty approval of, Charles Thompson, Secretary of Congress, and styled for his radical patriotism, the Sam Adams of Philadelphia. The letter, although it did embody the policy of Dickinson, and was long attrIbuted to him, proves to have been written by another, and after all, although it was received with impatience in Boston, was indorsed by Samuel Adams, who confessed himself "fully of the Farmer's sentiments; violence and submission would at this time be equally fatal." The Governor of Pennsylvania having declined to convene the Assembly, the Committee of Correspondence of Philadelphia, of which Dickinson was a member, called a meeting of a Provincial Committee. Among the delegates from the city and county of Philadelphia, was
Dickinson. Without arrogating any authority, this convention passed resolutions highly loyal, but equally determined for the rights of America, and recommending the appointment, by the Assembly, of delegates to a Continental Congress, and it also appointed a committee on instructions to the delegates that might be chosen, as well as to the Assembly, to define the wishes and policy of the people. In all these measures Dickinson heartily concurred, and the instructions were written by him in his usual style, and accompanjed by a lengthy argument. As a result, the Assembly, which was then under the control of Galloway, appointed delegates in order to prevent the selection of them by the Provincial Convention, in case it refused to unite.
The statement of Bancroft, that Dickinson's "elaborate argument, with its 'chilling erudition,' allayed the impassioned enthusiasm of patriotism to such an extent that he was passed by for Galloway, whose loyalty to England was not suspected," hardly fully explains the case. By the intrigue of Galloway, Dickinson, togetller with the other gentlemen recommended by the convention, was excluded from the number of candidates by a resolution of the Assembly to confine the selection to members of their own body. The absence of Dickinson from the delegation was so marked, that at the ensuing election in October, he was with practical unanimity elected to the Assembly, and that new body, on the day of its organization, added him to the delegation of the State in the Continental Congress. Here he was at once added to the Committee on the Address to the King, and drafted the paper which, with but little amendment, was adopted by the Congress. "It was a paper penned with extraordinary force and animation, and frequently rising to a high strain of eloquence," and was one of the papers i which elicited the celebrated encomium of Chatham upon the Continental Congress. Its authorship was attributed to Adams,
Henry, and Lee, and even at a comparatively recent date, was ascribed by an eminent individual, in an historical address, to John Adalns; but there is no longer any question upon this point. He also wrote the "masterly address" to "The Inhabitants of Quebec," a matter of considerable delicacy, in view of the recent acquisition from France.
At this time he resided at his fine country seat of Fair Hill, then one of the suburbs, now a densely populated portion of the city of Philadelphia, surrounded by all the comforts and advantages of wealth, and high social and professional position. His marriage with Miss Mary Norris, the daughter of the Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly, had no tendency to repress his literary or political activity. His mode of life is frequently indicated by John Adams, in his diary. In noting his first meeting with him, he states: "The Farmer of Pennsylvania came in his coach with four beautiful horses to see us." His residence he afterward characterized as " very fine, with its beautiful prospect of the city, the river, the country, fine gardens, and very grand library." The latter was largely the accumulation of his wife's father, and the book-plate of Isaac Norris is found in many of the volumes that formed a part of his donation to the library of the College. With the magnificent hospitality of the Philadelphla of that day, in common with the other leading patriots, he welcomed the delegates from the sister colonies, and earnestly and anxiously discussed the crisis in public affairs. The mansion of Fair Hill was subsequently destroyed by the British, after the battle of Germantown, as the property of the Rebel Dickinson.
After the adjournment of Congress he attended the Assembly ~ and secured the approval of the proceedings of Congress, in spite of the opposition of Galloway. He was a member of the next Congress, as well as of the Provincial Convention; and upon the receipt of the exciting news from Lexington, he ac-
cepted the command of one of the volunteer regiments raised in Philadelphia.
The Congress that met in May, 1875, proceeded cautiously. After many days of anxious discussion, largely in deference to Dicikinson's opinions, in spite of the earnest protest of John Adams, it agreed to again petition the King, and the document was prepared by Dickinson, with the only result of causing him to be included by the King, in his proclamation, as a dangerous and designing man. But, besides the petition to the King, which looked toward reconciliation, there were continued preparations for defense by force, and " a declaration of the causes and necessity for taking up arms," was ordered by Congress, and also prepared by Dickinson. Although it sought to quiet the fears of those who were unfavorable to independence, by asserting that " necessity had not driven them into that desperate measure," it also declared, "we cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them, if we basely entail hereditary bondage upon them. We most solemnlyand before God DECLARE that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance, employ for the preservation of our liberties, being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than live slaves." According to Bancroft, this declaration was read, on the 15th of July, by the President of Harvard College, to the army of Washington, at Cambridge, and on the I8th it was read at Prospect Hill, amid such shouts that the British on Bunker Hill put themselves in array for battle. It is proper to add that a portion of it is ascribed, by the same eminent authority, to Jefferson, and without mentioning Dickinson' s name in connection with it at all, although it appears
in full, in the writings of the latter, publcished in1 1801. During this time he was also a member of the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania, the moving patriot organization of the State, as well as a member of the Assembly. At all times his opinions carried great weight. In Congress, he was also prominent on the Committee on Correspondence with Foreign States, and as a member of that on Confederation, he drew up the plan of Conftederation reported to Congress, and entered heartily into all military preparations for the defense of the rights of the Colonies.
Although in commenting on the Farmer's Letters, Bancroft remarks that he came forth before the Continent as the champion of American rights, he at the same time none too strongly stated the other side of his character, as an' 'enthusiast in his love for England," " who accepted the undefined relations of the Parliament to the Colonies as a perpetual compromise." In this he was sustained by the whole country. In the language of the Boston letter of thanks to him, it was by "leaning on the pillars of the British Constitution" that he had instructed America in the best means to obtain redress." Although the second petition to the King was regarded with impatience by many, it was in accordance with the judgment and ardent wishes of many eminent patriots, and was most certainly consistent with every utterance of Dickinson's, from his entrance into political life. Upon its rejection by the King, the question of independence assumed at once great prominence, and Dickinson became the ablest opponent of an immediate declaration, as John Adams may be regarded as the ablest advocate of that measure. The patriotism, as well as the ability, of neither could be called in question. They were the products and representatives of essentially different political, social, and religious conditions. The impulse for independence came from New England. Those colonies, with
Royal governors, were in frequent conflict with the Crown. their interests clashed continually with Royal prerogative, they became familiarized with the language of opposition and rebellion, and they were the first to feel the oppression and realize the designs of the British Ministry. Pennsylvania, on the other hand, under its proprietary form of government, with many special privileges, in its disputes with the Proprietaries was accustomed to look to the King for relief. Again, Adams was of a people that had always regarded war as a means to accomplish the divine purposes; their acquisitions from the natives were by war, whilst Dickinson was surrounded by influences adverse to war as an agent of good, and the peaceful conquests of his State were regarded by many as the proudest incidents of its history. Add to these influences the conservatism natural to wealth, high social position, and literary tastes, and it seems natural that the Pennsylvania leader should differ on many points from the New Englander. Both were deeply thoughtful, as well as earnest and sincere. Adams no less than Dickinson realized the momentous character of the measure advocated. The petitions to the King were not mere skirmishes for diplomatic position on the part of Dickinson, in a conflict regarded as inevitable. They were sincere in every expression of loyalty, and were written with the earnest hope that they might accomplish their purpose, and that "England might be induced to return to her old good humor, her old good nature." At the same time he was jealous of every right as a British subject under the British constitution, and willing to defend them by force, if necessary. Neither was his view of the destiny of America more contracted or more wanting in range than that of the other. He did not look upon the Continent as an appendage to the British State, but as an integral part of a grand British Empire. An American was to him not simply a reproduced Briton.
"Here," he wrote, as quoted from the first number of "The Progress," lately published, "individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the Western pilgrims who are carrying along with them that great mass of arts, sciences. vigor, and industry which began, long since in the East. They will finish the great ,circle." Whilst it seems natural that Adams, coming from suffering New England, with his conclusions as clearly reached in regard to the ultimate issue as the q. e. d. of a mathematical demonstration, should have been impatient of any measure or any man that delayed the inevitable, it was equally natural for Dickinson to court delay as long as any hope of reconciliation could be entertained. And yet there was no reason why their common, earnest, and unselfish interest in the welfare of what they regarded as their common country should not have made these leaders fast friends, in spite of their decided differences on many points. They met first during the Congress of 1774. Adams, to use his own words, had found Dickinson a very modest man and very ingenious, as well as agreeable, with an excellent heart and the cause of his country near it; he had spent delightful time with him, had had sweet communion in which Dickinson gave his thoughts and correspondence very freely. In the foreign policy of the Colonies, they were fully in accord. It was during the debate upon the second petition to the King that an accidental capture of letters written by Adams, and their publication by the British, led to a lifelong estrangement, which no one regretted more than Adams. The fact of the letter, as given by Bancroft, without an intimation of the regret of Adams for it, hardly does justice to that statesman. He explains in his diary, that he wrote the letter hastily on account of the importunity of a friend, and at a time when he was provoked at what he considered a magisterial lecture
from Mr. Dickinson, and smarting even more over his defeat by him in Congress. It the correspondence of his later years, he admits the important part the petitions to the King played, as overlooked by him at the time, and speaks of the reputation of these compositions as a splendid distinction. Considered in all its bearings the statement that Dickinson was the leading opponent of the declaration, impeaches neither his courage, his patriotism, nor his statesmanship. He regarded it as premature. He recognized a great want of unanimity among the colonists, and an earnest faithful body of able friends of America in England. In his view, many measures should have preceded so decisive a step. As he read history, he found cause for fear in the diverse interests and characters, and the jealousies of the several Colonies, and that without an umpire such as they had had in England, they might become a prey to foreign domination. He desired that the most threatening of inter-colonial questions should be settled, and a firm form of confederation established, so that the weight of a united country could be thrown into the contest. He also thought that more favorable terms could be secured from foreign governments before than after a declaration, and was opposed to any measure that looked like sacrificing independence of foreign governments for independence of England. In addition, as a Pennsylvania politician, he understood the great bitterness as well as diversity of feeling existing in that Colony. He felt that he had the confidence of all parties. He had been re-elected after hls advocacy of the second petition practically without opposition, in spite of the censures of New England men. Patriots, loyalists, quakers, and the proprietary party had all voted for him. He knew, as Doctor Rush has stated it, that John Adams, after the intercepted letter reflecting on him had been published, had " walked the streets of Philadelphia alone an object of nearly universal scorn and detestation." The instructIons of the Assembly that
appointed him, were explicit against a declaration of independence. The majority of the Pennsylvania delegation were opposed to it. The Convention called to supersede the regular government of Pennsylvania he regarded as unnecessary and consequently usurpation. The Constitution it adopted on Tom Paine's model was impracticable, and kept the State in a condition bordering on anarchy during the whole war, and for years afterward. However necessary revolutionary measures may have been in other States with royal Governors, the government of Pennsylvania was in the hands of the people, and its patriot leaders felt that they were bringing the people with them to the point, at which the State, through its regularly constituted government, would throw its whole and great weight into the contest. It seemed worth a few months time to accomplish this. It is natural, too, that the interference and dictation should not have been kindly received on the part of the recognized leaders of the State. This view of Dickinson's motives and policy is in accordance with the account of Charles Thompson, the Secretary, who expressed the opinion that "had the whigs in the Assembly been left to pursue their own measures, there is every reason to believe they would have effected their purpose, prevented that disunion which has unhappily taken place, and brought the whole province as one man, with all its force and weight of government, into the common cause."
In the final debate upon independence, when, as Bancroft remarks, he would have held it guilt to suppress his opinions, the ruling motives of his whole public life were condensed in this prefatory remark 'I value the love of my country as I ought, but I value my country more; and I desire this illustrious assembly to witness the integrity if not the policy of my conduct." In considering the effects upon foreign nations of the declaration, he regarded them as immense, and remarked that they " may vibrate around the globe." His position of
hesitation is expressed and explained in closing remarks: "Upon the whole, when things shall be thus deliberately rendered firm at home, and favorable abroad, then let America, 'Attollens humeris famam et fata nepotum,' advance with majestic steps, and assume her station among the sovereigns of the world.'
This opposition of Dickinson to the Declaration is regarded by Hildreth as "an example of moral courage, of which there are few instances in our history."
The vote of Pennsyllvania was then cast against the preliminary resolution for independence by a vote of four to three, and on the final vote, on the following day, Dickinson and Morris, though present in the hall, were not formally present on roll-call, and by thus refusing to vote, permitted the three delegates in favor of independence to out vote the other two, and make the vote on the declaration, by colonies, unanimous. But his whole course is relieved from any suspicion of want of personal courage, or of patriotism, or of disposition to share the fortunes of his colleagues, for he immediately accompanied his regiment to the field, at the fiying-camp organized in New Jersey, an act identifying him as clearly with the patriot cause as the most legible signature to the declaration. It is stated as a curious fact, that this, the ablest opponent of independence in Congress, "was the only member of that body, 'who immediately took up arms to face the enemy." The action is the more marked by its contrast with that of other prominent Pennsylvanians, among them Galloway, his old opponent, and Chief Justice Allen, who soon found their way within the British lines as loyal subjects.
After a short retirement from office, he was again found in the Congress of the nation as a delegate from Delaware. In 1779 he wrote the address to the several States ordered by Congress. In 1782, after one of the most bitter political contests, he was triumphantly elected Executive of Pennsylvania,
although occupying at the time a similar position in Delaware. The two States were so intimately connected that citizens of one were eligible to offices in both. This complete vindication of his character was as gratifying to his friends as it was mortifying to his opponents. After three years he was succeeded in the office by Benjamin Franklin, and took up his residence at Wilmington, Delaware. He was president of the Annapolis convention of delegates from several adjoining States, in 1786, to consider a uniform system of commercial relations between the States, out of which grew the convention to revise the Articles of Confederation, in 1787 .He was a member of the latter convention, and shared largely in its discussions. Although one of the wealthiest men in the Convention, he was one of the most decided opponents of a property qualification for holding office. According to Hildreth, "he doubted the policy of interweaving into a republican constitution a veneration for wealth. It seemed improper that any man of merit should be subjected to disabilities in a republic, where merit was understood to form the great title to public trusts, honors, and rewards." After the promulgation of the constitution he exerted himself in every way to secure its adoption. The "Letters of Fabius" in its advocacy, were written by him
The last years ofhis life were passed at Wilmington. Never very robust in health, frequently taxed beyond his physical endurance, he retired from political life a number of years before his death. In person he has been described as "tall and spare, his hair white as snow, his garb uniting with the severe simplicity of his sect a neatness and elegance peculiarly in keeping with it." He was loved and respected of all. In social life, as a conversationalist, his wide range of miscellaneous information, his habitual elegance and eloquence of language, combined with his sincerity of heart, made him exceedingly agreeable. In his sympathy he was practical as weIl as warm-hearted. Upon the
death of his friend, George Read, in 1799, he modestly accompanied his expressions of sympathy with a deed for a valuable farm, with brick dwelling-house and other improvements, and one hundred and eighty acres of valuable wood land. All his public papers exhibit a supreme trust in an overruling Providence in the affairs of nations. In a letter to Doctor Nisbet, Doctor Rush alludes to him as "a gentleman who unites with the finest accomplishments of the man and the patriot a sacred regard to the doctrine and precepts of Christianity." He died at Wilmington, in 1808. Had he been more ambi-tious and less scrupulous in the use of means for his own advancement, he might have reached higher political position, but as it is, he has left a record of unimpeachable purity in private and public life, as well as of great influence and usefulness.