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when the words of the recognizance, “our sove. reign lord the king," were read to Mr. Laurens, he distinctly replied in open court, “not my sovereign!" With this declaration, he, with Messrs. Oswald and Anderson, as his securities, were bound for his appearance at the next court of king's bench for Easter term, and for not departing without leave of the court, upon which he was immediately discharged. When the time appointed for his trial approached, he was not only exonerated from obligation to attend, but solicited by lord Shelburne to depart for the continent to assist in a scheme for a pacification with America. The idea of being released, gratuitously, by the British vernment, sensibly moved him, for he had invariably considered himself as a prisoner of war. Possessed of a lofty sense of personal independence, and unwilling to be brought under the slightest obligation, he thus expressed himself, “I durst not accept myself as a gift; and as congress once offered general Burgoyne for me, I have no doubt of their being now willing to offer carl Cornwallis for the same purpose.
Close confinement in the Tower for more than fourteen months, had shattered his constitution, and he was, ever afterwards, a stranger to good health. As soon as his discharge was promulgated, he received from congress a commission, appointing him one of their ministers for negotiating a peace with Great Britain. Arrived at Paris, in conjunction with Dr. Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay, he signed the preliminaries of peace on the 30th of November, 1782, by which the independence of the United States was unequivocally acknowledged. Soon after this, Mr. Laurens returned to Carolina. Entirely satisfied with the whole course of his conduct while abroad, it will readily be imagined that his countrymen refused him no distinctions within their power to bestow;
but every solicitation to suffer himself to be elected governor, member of congress, or of the legislature of the state, he positively withstood. When the project of a general convention for revising the federal bond of union, was under consideration, he was chosen, without his knowledge, one of its members, but he refused to serve. Retired from the world and its concerns, he found delight in agricultural experiments, in advancing the welfare of his children and dependants, and in attentions to the interest of his friends and fellow citi
He expired on the 8th of December, 1792, in the sixty-ninth year of his age. .
Colonel Laurens, his interesting son, having executed his commission in France, returned to resume his place in the army. He was killed in the very last days of the war, in an insignificant skirmish, just when the liberties of his country were decided.
LEE, RICHARD, HENRY, president of congress, was a native of Virginia, and from his earliest youth devoted his talents to the service of his country. His public life was distinguishedby some remarkable circumstances. He had the honour of originating the first resistance to British oppression in the time of the stamp act in 1765. He proposed in the Virginia house of burgesses, in 1773, the formation of a committee of correspondence, whose object was to disseminate information, and to kindle the flame of liberty throughout the continent. He was a member of the first congress, and it was he who made and ably supported, the motion for the declaration of independence, June 10, 1776. The motion was seconded by Mr. John Adams, of Massachusetts. Mr. Botta, in his history of the American revolution, says, Mr. Lee, spoke as follows, in support of his motion to declare the colonies independent, and was listened to with the most profound attention:
"I do not know, most prudent men and virtuous citizens, whether among the transactions handed down to us by historians, which originated in civil discord, and excited either a love of liberty in the people or ambitious desires in their rulers, any can be found more interesting and important than that which now engages our attention, whether we consider the future destiny of this free and virtuous people, or that of our enemies, who, notwithstanding this cruel war and unaccustomed tyranny, are our brethren, and descended from acommon stock; or that of other nations, whose eyes are intent upon this great spectacle, and who anticipate from our success more freedom for themselves, or from our defeat apprehend heavier chains and a severer bondage. For the question is not whether we shall acquire an increase of territorial dominion, or wickedly wrest from others their just possessions; but whether we shall preserve or lose forever, that liberty which we have inherited from our ancestors, which we have sought to preserve by crossing a wide and tempestuous ocean, and which we have defended, in this land, against barbarous men, contending, at the same time, against the beasts of the wilderness and the discases of an ungenial clime. And if so many and distinguished praises have always been lavished upon the generous defenders of Greek and Roman liberty, what will be said of us, who defend, not that freedom which rests upon the capricious will of an unstable multitude; but on immutable statutes and our tutelary laws; not that which was the exclusive privilege of a few patricians, but that which is the property of all: not that, finally, which is stained by unjust ostracisms or the decimation of armies; but that which is pure, temperate, and gentle, and conformed to the mild manners of the
age in which we live. Why then, why do we procrastinate, and to what purpose are these delays ? Let us finish the undertaking so well begun; and since 'we cannot hope to secure that liberty and peace, which are our delight, in a continuance of the union with England, let us break the ties which bind us together, and perfect that which we enjoy already, I mean, our entire and absolute independence. Nor must I here, in the beginning of my discourse, omit to say, that if we have reached that fatal extremity, where nothing else can exist between America and England, but such war or such peace as may exist between nations foreign to each other, this can only be imputed to the insatiable cupidity, the tyrannical proceedings, and reiterated outrages of the British ministry. On our part, nothing was omitted that might preserve the ancient state of peace and harmony. Who has not heard our prayers, and who is ignorant of our supplications? England alone was deaf to our complaints, and wanted that compassion which was generously bestowed upon us by other nations. And as at first our forbearance, and then our resistance have been equally insufficient; since our prayers were unavailing, as well as the blood lately shed; we must go further, and secure our independence. Nor let any one believe that this alternative can be avoided. The time will undoubtedly come, when the fatal separation will take place, whether you will or no; for such will be the inevitable consequence of the nature of things; of our always increasing population; of the fertility of our land; of the extent of our territory; of the industry of our countrymen; of the wiưe intervening ocean; of the distance of the two countries. And if this be true, as it is most true, who does not see that the sooner it takes place the better; and that it would be not only imprudent, but the height of folly not to seize the present occasion,
when British injustice has filled all hearts with indignation, inspired all minds with courage, produced concord, convinced the understandings, and made us fly to arms to defend our lives? And how long shall we be compelled to traverse three thousand miles of a tempestuous sea to ask of hậughty and insolent men for counsel or commands respecting our domestic concerns? Does it not become a great, rich, and powerful nation, as we are, to look at home, and not abroad, for the government of our affairs? How can a ministry of strangers judge correctly of our concerns, respecting which it has no knowledge, and in which it has no interest? The past justice of the British ministers should make us beware of the future, if they should again fix their iron fangs upon us. Since it has pleased the cruelty of our enemies to place before us the alternative of slavery or independence, where is the generous minded man, and the lover of his country, who can hesitate to choose? With these perfidious men no promise is secure, no pledges sacred. Let us suppose, which Heaven avert! that we are conquered, or are obliged to come to terms. What assurance have we of the British moderation in victory, or good faith in treaty? Is it their having enlisted, and let loose against us the ferocious Indians of the forest, and the merciless soldiers of Germany? Is it that faith, which has been so many times pledged, and so many times broken, during the present contest? Is it the British faith, which is considered more false than punic? Have we not rather reason to expect, that when we have delivered ourselves naked and unarmed into their hands, they will wreck their vengeance upon us, will bind us with heavier chains, in order to deprive us not only of the power, but even of the hope of again casting off the yoke? But let us suppose that there will happen in the present case, what has never happened in any oth