thumbnail of Prospect of a union; The great declaration
Transcript
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
It'll prospect of a union with the Eastern educational radio network. There's a prospect of a union. A view of the American Revolutionary period and a series of readings from the letters of the second president of the United States. John Adams his wife Abigail.
Part 12 the great declaration result that it be recommended to the respective assemblies and conventions of the United Colonies where no government sufficient to the existences of their affairs have hitherto been established to adopt such governments as shall in the opinion of the representatives of the people best conducive to the happiness and safety of the constituents in particular and America in general. John Adams had been the most important architect of this resolution of the 15th of May 1776. The matter of delegates to the Second Continental Congress were furious at its passage. Mr Duwayne of New York confronted Adams after the debate. You are aware I presume of what you have done this day. You have created a machine for the fabrication of Independence not a mere machine Duane Adams replied. This is Independence itself in relation to the internal politics of the Congress. Adams was right. There was not a
clear majority for a declaration of independence. But at this juncture the Congress must go back to the people. All 13 colonies must declare for independence if the war against Great Britain was to be won and the trouble was as Adams cautioned his impatient New England constituents. You can't make thirteen clock strike precisely alike at the same second. The loud chimes of New York and Pennsylvania were still silent in May. In contrast to Virginia whose convention had rung out on the same fifteenth of May with the instructions to declare for independence and their delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced to the Congress the resolution for independence on the 7th of June. The moderates however succeeded in postponing the debate and vote on the resolution for three weeks and both sides use the interval to persuade wavering delegations. Arlo's Adams wearily said. What can I say that hasn't been hackneyed back and forth a hundred
times in this room incessantly busy Adams nevertheless fired off letters to friends and constituents laying down the arguments for and against an immediate declaration of independence to John Winthrop. Philadelphia June 23rd 1776. Your favor of June 1st is before me. It is now universally acknowledged that we are and must be independent. But still objections are made to a declaration of it. It is said that such a declaration will arouse and unite Great Britain. But are they not already aroused and united as much as they will be. We're not such a declaration a rousing United friends of liberty the few who are left in opposition to the present system. It is also said that such a declaration will put us in the power of foreign states that France will take advantage of us when they see we cannot recede and demand severe terms of us. That she and Spain too will rejoice to see Britain and America wasting each other. But this reasoning has no weight with me because I am not for soliciting any political connection or
military assistance or indeed naval from France. I wish for nothing but commerce mere Marine treaty with them and this they will never grant until we make the declaration. And this I think they cannot refuse. After we have made the advantages which will result from such a declaration are in my opinion very numerous and very great. After that event the colonies will hesitate no longer to complete their governments they will establish tests and ascertain the criminality of Toryism the presses will produce no more seditious or traitorous speculations slanders upon public men and measures will be lessened. The legislators of the colonies will exert themselves to manufacture saltpetre sulphur powder cannon mortars clothing and everything necessary for the support of life. Our civil governments will feel a vigor hitherto unknown military operations by sea and land will be conducted with a greater spirit privateers will swarm in vast numbers. Foreigners will then exert themselves to supply us with what we want. A
foreign court will not disdain to treat with us upon equal terms. Nay father in my opinion such a declaration instead of uniting the people of Great Britain against us will raise such a storm against the measures of administration as will obstruct the war and throw the kingdom into confusion. A committee is appointed to prepare a confederation of the colonies ascertaining the terms and ends of the compact and the limits of the continental Constitution. Another committee is appointed to draw up a declaration that these colonies are Free and Independent States and other committees are appointed for other purposes as important these committees will report in a week or two and then the last finishing strokes will be given to the politics of this revolution. Nothing after that will remain but war. To William Cushing Philadelphia June 9th 1776 it would give me great pleasure to ride this eastern circuit with you and pray to be for you at the bar as I used to but I am destined to another fate to drudgery
of the most wasting exhausting consuming kind that I ever went through in my whole life. Objects of the most stupendous magnitude and measures in which the lives and liberties of millions yet unborn are intimately interested are now before us. We are in the very midst of a revolution the most complete unexpected and remarkable of any in the history of nations. A few important subjects must be dispatched before I can return to my family. Every colony must be induced to institute a perfect government. All the colonies must Confederate together in some solemn band of union. The Congress must declare the colonies free and independent states and ambassadors must be sent abroad to foreign courts to solicit their acknowledgment of us as sovereign states and to form with them at least with some of them commercial treaties of friendship and alliance. When these things are once completed I shall think I have answered the end of my creation and seeing my new Demetrius return to my farm family
ride circuits played lawyer judge causes just what you please. John Adams evidently realized that with the signing of the Declaration of Independence his greatest contribution to creating a United States of America would have been completed. And as Thomas Jefferson said forty seven years later no man's confident and fervent address is more than Mr. Adams encouraged and supported us through the difficulties surrounding us which like the ceaseless action of gravity weighed on us by night and by day. Adams was as another said a colossus for independence and his was the last great speech for independence on July 1st 1776. The Congress assembled to debate the resolution that these United States are and other right ought to be free and independent states that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown and that all political connection between them and the State of Great
Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved. The leader of the opposition to this resolution John Dickinson rose to give his last plea for delay as a counterpoint to his speech the message arrived that one more state Maryland had voted for independence. Adams who had once called Dickinson a certain great fortune and piddling genius was in spite of himself impressed with the man's courage. Then against the background noise of a violent rainstorm and with a dramatic interruption of dripping delegates come to cast their votes with his for independence. John Adams came out with a power of thought and expression that aroused us from our seats as Jefferson said years afterwards Adams himself called the day an idol misprints of time. The next day the 2nd of July. The days of repetitious arguments were ended for so long reluctant and Furlong
prodded by the sweep of events that Congress passed unanimously the resolution for independence. The third and fourth of July were spent debating the draft declaration that Thomas Jefferson had produced much later in eight hundred twenty three. Adams gives an amusing account of how and why the job was given to Jefferson instead of presumably to John Adams to Timothy Pickering August 6 18 23. Mr Jefferson came into Congress in June 1775 and brought with him a reputation for Literature Science and a happy talent of composition writings of his were handed about remarkable for the peculiar felicity of expression though a silent member in Congress he was so prompt frank explicit and decisive
upon committees and in conversation not even Samuel Adams was more so that he soon seized upon my heart and upon this occasion I gave him my vote and did all in my power to procure the votes of others. I think he had one more vote than any other and that placed him at the head of the committee. I had the next highest number and that placed me the second the committee met to discuss the subject and then appointed Mr. Jefferson and me to make the draft I suppose because we were the two first on the list. The subcommittee Mr. Jefferson proposed to me to make the draft. I said I will not. You should do it. Oh no. Why will you not. You ought to do it. I will not. Why. Reason enough. What can be
your reasons. Reason first. You are as a genuine and a Virginian ought to be the head of this business reason. Second I am obnoxious suspected and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason. You can write ten times better than I can. Well said Jefferson if you are decided I will do as well as I can. Very well I said when you have drawn it up we will have a meeting a meeting we accordingly had and come to the paper over. I was delighted with its high tone and the flights of oratory with which it abounded especially that concerning negro slavery which though I knew his Southern brethren would never suffered to pass in Congress. I certainly never would oppose. There were other expressions which I would not have inserted if I had drawn it up particularly that which
call the king the tyrant. I thought the expression too passionate too much like scolding for so grave and solemn a document. But as Franklin and Sherman went to inspect it afterwards I thought it would not become me to strike it out. Consented to report it and do not now remember that I made or suggested a single alteration. We are not too surprised to hear Jefferson call this conversation in accurate. Particularly when Adam ends the letter by saying there was not an idea in the Declaration but what had been hackneyed in Congress for two years before. Writing in a more judicious style than Adams Jefferson ends his retort. This however I will say for Mr. Adams that he supported the declaration with zeal and ability fighting fearlessly for every word of it. Congress not only excise the polemic against slavery but also
some of the high flights of oratory that so delighted Adams the draft that Adams had first read began a declaration of the representatives of the United States of America in General Congress Assembled. When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for people to advance from that subordination in which they have hitherto remained and to assume among the powers of the earth the equal and independent station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the change. We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable that all men are created equal and independent. That from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable among which are the preservation of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The declaration that the Congress finally passed was shortened and sharpened but nevertheless for ever recognisable as the
work of one man in Congress. July 4th 1776 the unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America. When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness that to secure these rights Governments are instituted among Men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed That whenever any Form of Government
becomes destructive of these ends it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish it and to institute new Government laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence indeed will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. And accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism it is their right it is their duty to throw off such Government and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies and such is now the necessity which constrains them to
alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated Injuries and Usurpations all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this let Facts be submitted to a candid world. He has refused his Assent to Laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained and when so suspended he has utterly neglected to attend to them. He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual uncomfortable and distant from the depository of their public Records for the sole purpose of fatiguing them
into compliance with his measures. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people he has refused for a long time after such dissolutions to cause others to be elected whereby the Legislative powers incapable of Annihilation have returned to the people at large for their exercise the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without and convulsions within. He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states for that purpose obstructing the Laws of naturalization of foreigners refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing judiciary powers. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices and the amount and payment of their salaries. He has erected a multitude of New Offices and sent hither swarms of Officers to
harass our people and eat out their substance. He has kept among us in times of peace Standing Armies without the consent of our legislature. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the civil power. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us for protecting them by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these states for cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world For imposing Taxes on us without our consent for depriving us in many cases of the benefits of trial by jury for transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses for abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring province establishing therein an Arbitrary government and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same
absolute rule into these colonies for taking away our Charters abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our government for suspending our own legislature and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. He has abdicated government here by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us. He has plundered our seas ravaged our coasts burnt out towns and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting the large armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death desolation and tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation. He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country to become the executioners of their friends and brethren or to
fall themselves by their hands. He has excited domestic insurrections among us and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages sexes and conditions. In every stage of these Oppressions We have petitioned for redress in the most number of terms. Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. Nor have we been wanting an attention to our British brother. We have learned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations which would
inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consing going at it. We must therefore acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind Enemies in War are in Peace Friends. We therefore the Representatives of the United States of America in General Congress Assembled. Appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions do in the name and by the authority of the good people of these Colonies solemnly publish and declare That these United Colonies are and of Right ought to be free and independent states that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved and that as Free and Independent States they have full Power to levy War conclude Peace contract Alliances
establish Commerce and do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do and for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our Lives our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. To Abigail Adams Philadelphia July 3rd 1776 yesterday the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America and a great or perhaps never was or will be decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony. That these United Colonies are and of Right ought to be free and independent states. And as such they have and of Right ought to have. For power to make War conclude Peace establish Commerce and to do all the other Acts and Things which other states may rightfully do. You will see in a few days a declaration setting forth the causes which have impelled us to this mighty revolution and the reasons which will justify it
in the sight of God and man a plan of Confederation will be taken up in a few days. When I look back to the year 1761 and recollect the argument concerning writs of assistance in the Superior Court which I've had to considered as the commencement of the controversy between Great Britain and America and run through the whole period from that time to this and recollect the series of political events the chain of causes and effects. I am surprised at the suddenness as well as the greatness of this resolution. Britain has been filled with folly and America with wisdom. At least this is my judgement time must determine. It is the will of Heaven that the two countries should be sundered forever. It may be the will of Heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting and distresses yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case it will have this good effect at least it will inspire us with many virtues which we have not and corrected many errors follies and vices which threaten to disturb dishonor and destroy us. The furnace of
affliction produces refinement in states as well as individuals and the new governments we are assuming in every part will require a purification from our vices and an augmentation of our virtues or they will be no blessing. People will have unbounded power and the people are extremely addicted to corruption and venality as well as the Great. I am not without apprehensions from this quarter but I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence in which unfashionable as the faith may be I firmly believe. To Abigail Adams Philadelphia July 3rd 1776 had a Declaration of Independence E then made seven months ago it would have been attended with many great and glorious effects. We might before this hour have formed alliances with foreign states. We should have mastered Quebec and been in possession of Canada. You will perhaps wonder how such a declaration would have influenced our
affairs in Canada. But if I could write with freedom I could easily convince you that it would on the other hand the delay of this declaration to this time has many great advantages attending it. The hopes of reconciliation which were fondly entertained by multitudes of honest and well-meaning though weak and mistaken people have been gradually and at last totally extinguished. Time has been given for the whole people maturely to consider the great question of independence and to ripen their judgments dissipate their fears and allure their hopes by discussing it in newspapers and pamphlets by debating it in assemblies conventions committees of safety and inspection in town and country meetings as well as in private conversations so that the whole people in every colony of the thirteen have now adopted it as their own act. This will cement the union and avoid those heats and perhaps convulsions which might have been occasioned by such a declaration six months ago. But the day is past. The second day of July 1776 will be the most
memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be a solemn Nies with pomp and parade with shows games sports guns bells bonfires and Illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forevermore. You will think me transported with enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this declaration and support and defend the states. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means and that posterity will triumph in that day's transaction even although we should rue it which I trust in God we shall not.
Be a good. Dollar rig. All right Bob. Oh oh oh oh oh oh. Prospect of a union is produced and written by Elizabeth Spiro for WFC are the four college radio station of Amherst Smith and Mount Holyoke colleges and the University of Massachusetts from whose faculties the cast of prospect of a union was drawn. Stephen Coyle was hurt as John Adams and Beverly Mae as Abigail Marjorie Kaufman was the narrator. The letters of John and Abigail Adams were taken from the Adams Family correspondence published by the Harvard University Press. The song Free American Day was written by Dr.
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
Series
Prospect of a union
Episode
The great declaration
Producing Organization
WFCR (Radio station : Amherst, Mass.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip/500-pk07247p
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-pk07247p).
Description
Episode Description
This program presents dramatic readings from the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams.
Series Description
A first-hand account of the founding of the United States, described through the correspondence of John and Abigail Adams.
Date
1968-02-20
Topics
History
Media type
Sound
Duration
00:29:51
Credits
Narrator: Kaufman, Marjorie
Producing Organization: WFCR (Radio station : Amherst, Mass.)
Writer: Spiro, Elizabeth
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-6-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:38
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Citations
Chicago: “Prospect of a union; The great declaration,” 1968-02-20, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 6, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-pk07247p.
MLA: “Prospect of a union; The great declaration.” 1968-02-20. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 6, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-pk07247p>.
APA: Prospect of a union; The great declaration. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-pk07247p