« PreviousContinue »
ping. The son Nathaniel, being prompted by a laudable ambition and a thirst after knowledge while a boy, learned the Latin, chiefly by his own industry, and with very little heip. He procured a small library, and improved his mind by reading. He had a prevailing taste for military history; which he indulged by borrowing such publications, when it did not suit him to purchase. He was, at an early period of life, chosen a member of the Rhode-Island assembly ; and discharged his trust so as to give the highest satisfaction to his constituents. Though educated in the peaceable principles of quakerism, yet he thought himself called, by the peculiarity of the times, to take an active part in the defenceof American liberty. Upon his assuming the military character, the quakers renounced all connection with him as a member of their particular body, by reading him out of the meeting. He was chosen general, to command the regiments raised by Rhode-Island, for the assistance of the Massachusetts. He was at length honored with the confidence of gen. Washington: but his influence was limited. He was of a humane disposition ; but resolutely severe when the same was necessary. He was of a firm, intrepid, and independent mind. He abhorred the cruel* ties that were practised by the partizans of each side, and stronly inculcated a spirit of moderation. To a prevailing knowledge of this disposition, he ascribed his being spared by the tories in Carolina, who, he thought, could have shot him repeatedly, had they been so minded. The same amiable temper influenced him to declare against the measure which the South-Carolina legislature adopted, when they passed the confiscating act at Jacksonborough.*
The present letter is intended for the last upon the affairs of the United States; and shall close with some account of their respective constitutions. You
* In October, 1785, the honorable Nathaniel Greene filled fromRhode-Ifl* and to Georgia, where he had a confiderable eftate not far dittant from Savannah. Here he pa (Ted away his time, occupied in demefiic concerns, as the private citizen. In June, 1786, while walking without an umbrella, the intenfe rays of the fun upon his bead overpowered him, and brought on an inflammation of the brain, which in a few days carried him off. Thus be died* by a ftroke of the fun—probably the diforder that proved fatal to the fon of the Shunaruite. When the account of his death arrived at Savannah, the inhabitants were flruck with the deepeft forrow. All bufincfe was fufpended. The fhops and ftores throughout the town were fliut; and the fhips in the harbour had their colours half mailed on the mournful occasion. The body was brought to Savannah, and interred on the aoth—In Auguft the United States in congrefs aflsmbled came to the following refolution—" That a monument be erected to the memory of Nathaniel Greene, efq- »t the feat of the federal goTr ctaraent, with the following, inferiptieu.
You may recollect, that in the course of our correspondence, no account of New-Hampshire state's having agreed upon a constitution, has been forwarded. The event itself did not take place till the 3 1st of last October. The returns from the several towns being examined, and it appearing, that the bill of rights and form of government laid before the people were approved of by them, the same were on that day established by the dele.gates of the people, and declared to be the civil constitution for the state of New-Hampshire, to take place the first Wednesday of next June; and in the mean time, the general court under the -present government is to make all the necessary arrangements for introducing the said constitution, at the time and in the manner therein described.
New-Hampshire reckons the rights of conscience amofig the unalienable natural rights of mankind ; and with her neighboring ■•sister state, the Massachusetts, declares that " no subject shall be imrt, molested or restrained, in his person, liberty or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments— provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship." Both empower the legislature to authorise the several towns, parishes, bodies politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provision at their own expence, for the support an9 maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be tirade voluntarily. But the towns, Sec. are, at all times, to have
Sacred to the memory of
in the service of the United States,
Commander of their Army
PATRIOTISM, VALOR AND ABILITY,
have erected this Monument,
the exclusive right of choosing their own public teachers, and of contracting with them for their support and maintenance. Instead of adding " And all persons, whatsoever opinions concerning religion they may profess;" their words are—" And entry den emulation of christians demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good • subjects of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law; and no subordination of one sector denominationto another, shall ever be established by law." The president, council, senate and house of representatives of New-Hampshire, are to be of the protestant religion. The governor, lieutenantgovernor, counsellor, senator and representative of the Massachusetts, are to declare their belief in the christian religion. *. .
The foundation principle on which Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations united, has been early mentioned. A similar sentiment was introduced into the charter of the 15th of Chariest II. by which it is provided," That no person within the said colony, at any time hereafter, shall be any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences of opinion in matters of religion, who does not actually disturb the civil peace of the said colony." The state of Rhode-Island has continued its government since ceasing to be a colony, according to the gene- • ial design of thecharter. The constitution admits not of religious, estabiibhments, any further than the same depend upon the voluntary choice of individuals ; and no particular sect tan claim pie-r. eminence. . .'
Connecticut has changed itsformer mode of government,, onlj • so for us Lo accommodate it to the separation which has taken place between that and the parent state. Religious liberty is nearly, if not exactly, upon the same footing there as in the Massachusetts.
The New-York constitution, "to guard against that spiritual oppression and intolerance, wherewith the bigotry and ambition of weak and wicked priests and princes, have scourged mankind,'* ordains, determines, and declares, " that the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimina-: tion or preferance, shall forever hereafter be allowed within the said state to all mankind. Provided, that the liberty of conscience hereby granted, shall not be so construed, as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the state."
The state of New-Jersey established, "That no person shall ever within the same be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshipping Almighty Godin a manner agreeable to the dictates.' of his own conscience isnor^-unjler any pretence whatever, be
compelled to attend any place of worship, contrary to liis own faitli and judgment; nor shall any person ever be obliged to pay tithes, taxes or any other rates, for the purpose of building or repairing any other church or churches, place or places of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry, contrary to what he believes to be right, or has deliberately or voluntarily engaged himself to perform ;—That there shall be no establishment of any one religious sect in preference to another; and that no Protestant inhabitant shall be denied the enjoyment of any civil right, merely on account of his religious principles; but that ail persons professing a belief in the faith of any Protestant sect,* who shall demean themselves peaceably under the\goveinment as hereby established, shall be capable of being elected into any office of profit or trust, or of being a member of either branch of the legislature, and shall freely and fully enjoy every privilege and immunity enjoyed by others their fellow subjects," The 17th' article declares, "That the estates of such persons as shall destroy their own lives, shall not, for that offence, be forfeited ; but shall descend in the same manner as they would have done, had such persons died in the natural way ; nor shall any article which may occasion accidentally the death of any one, be henceforth deemed a deodand, or in any wise for forfeited on account of such misfortune." A similar article was afterward introduced into the New-Hampshire constitution.
The 2d article of the Pennsylvania declaration of rights asserts "That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding: and that no man ought, or, of right, can be compelled to attend any religious worship; or erect or support any place of worship; or maintain any ministry contrary to, or against his own free will and consent: nor can any man who acknowledges the being of a God, be justly deprived orabiidged of any civil right as a citizen, on account of his religious sentiments, f or peculiar mode of religious worship ; and that no authority can, or ought to be vested in, or assumed by, any power whatever, that shall, in any case interfere with, or in any manner
* « This is a more enlarged toleration than EuropeaB policy has yet in almoft any infUnce admitted; but perfeel confiftency would not confine it Protcftanta, or to any fyftem of religion.'
■f This however did not prevent a grnfa incorfiflency in the frame of government, which by the ioth section requires thit in order for admiffioh into ifce houfenf representatives, each member ftould subfcribe,btfide a declaration of h s faith in one God, his acknowledgment of the fcriptures of the Old an* iLNw T^flanient at of divine infpiratjaa.
control that right of conscience, in the free exercise of religion* worship." The 15th article declares, "That all men have a natural inherent right to emigrate from one state to another that will receive them, or to form a new state in vacant countries, or in such countries as they can purchase, whenever they think that thereby they may promote their own happiness." . The second article of the Delaware declaration is substantially the same with that ■of Pennsylvania. The third says, "That all persons professing the christian religion, ought forever to enjoy nqual rights and privileges in the state ;* unless under colour of religion, any man disturb the peace, the happiness, or safety of society." By the 29th section in the system of government, it is fixed—" That there shall be no establishment of any one religious sect in the state in preference to another."
The Maryland declaration is remarkably full, particular, and pointed as to the objects of constitutional right and security. The 33d article relates to religious liberty, and expresses, "That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to him, all persons professing the christian religion are equally entitled to protection in their religious liber* iy; wherefore no person ought, by any law, to be molested in his person or estate, on account of his religious persuasion or profes* sion,orforhis religious practice ; unless, under colour of religion, any man shall disturb the good order, peace, or safety of the states 4>r shall infringe the laws of morality, f or injure others in their' natural, civil, or religious rights: nor ought any person to be compelled to frequent, or maintain, or contribute (unless on contract) to maintain any particular place of worship, or any particular ministry : yet the legislature may, in their discretion, lay a-general and equal tax, for the support of the christian religion? leaving to each individual the power of appointing the payment of the money collected from him, over to the support of any particular place of worship, or minister, or for the benefit of the? poor of his own denomination, or the poor in general of any par* ticular county. But the churches, chapels, glebes, and all other property now belonging to the church of England, ought to re*
■ * Thefyftem of government requires notwithftanding, that every perffaa chosena member of either houfe, or appointed to any office or place of truft, lhould formally declare his faith in the Trinitarian doctrine, an<J in the divine inspiration of the Old and New Teftament.
■f « This claufe is certainly vague, and open to opprcfGng ccuftruction f all that can come under the legal punifhment to be inflicted by a state, it cx«
preffed in the preceding and fubscquent clause;.