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a rebel, through fear of retaliation; and they were unwilling to release him, lest he should accomplish the object of his mission. The discoveries found in his papers led to a war with Great Britain and Holland, and Mr. Adams was appointed in his place to carry on the negotiation with the United Provinces.
Many propositions were then made to him, which were repelled with indignation. At length, news being received that his eldest son, a youth of such uncommon talents, exalted sentiments, and prepossessing manners and appearance, that a romantic interest is still attached to his name, had been appointed the special minister of congress to the French court, and was there urging the suit of his country, with winning eloquence, the father was requested to write to his son, and urge his return to America; it being farther hinted, that, as he was held a prisoner, in the light of a rebel, his life should depend upon compliance. “My son is of age," replied the heroic father of an heroic son, and has a will of his own. I know him to be a man of honour. He loves me dearly, and would lay down his life to save mine; but I am sure that he would not sacrifice his honour to save my life, and I applaud him.” This veteran was, not many months after, released, with a request from lord Shelburne that he would pass to the continent, and assist in negotiating peace
between Great Britain and the free United States of America, and France their ally.
Towards the close of the year 1781, his sufferings, which had, by that time, become well known, excited the utmost sympathy for himself, but kindled the warmest indignation against the authors of his cruel confinement. Every attempt to draw concessions from this inflexible patriot having proved more than useless, his enlargement was resolved upon, but difficulties arose as to the mode of effecting it. Pursuing the same highminded course which he had at first adopted, and influenced by the noblest feelings of the heart, he obstinately refused his consent to any act which might imply a confession that he was a British subject, for as such, he had been committed on a charge of high treason. It was finally proposed to take bail for his
at the court of king's bench, and when the words of the recoge
nisance, our sovereign 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 government, 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 must 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 earl 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 bis discharge was promulgated, he received from congress a commission, appointing him one of their ministers for negotiating a peace with Great Britain. Arriving 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 legisla. ture 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 re. fused 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 interests of his friends and fellow citizens.
He expired on the 8th of December, 1792, in the sixty-ninth year of his age.
LAURENS, John, a brave officer in the revolutionary war, was the son of the preceding, and was sent to England for his education. He joined the army in the beginning of 1777, from which time he was foremost in danger. His first essay in arms was at Brandywine. At the battle of Germantown, he exhibited prodigies of valour, in attempting to expel the enemy from Chew's house, and was severely wounded. He was engaged at Monmouth, and greatly increased his reputation at Rhode Island. At Coosawhatchie, defending the pass with a handful of men, against the whole force of Prevost, he was again wounded, and was probably indebted for his life to the gallantry of captain Wigg, who gave him his horse to carry him from the field, when incapable of moving, his own having been shot under him. He headed the light infantry, and was among the first to mount the British lines at Savannah; and displayed the greatest activity, zeal and courage, during the siege of Charleston. He was present, and distinguished himself in every action of the army under general Washington, and was among the first who entered the British lines at York town. Early in 1781, while he held the rank of lieutenant-colonel, he was selected by congress on a special mission to France to solicit a loan of money,
and to procure military stores. He arrived in March, and returned in August; having been so successful in the execution of his commission, that congress passed a vote of thanks for his services. Such was his despatch, that in three days after he repaired to Philadelphia, he finished his business with congress, and immediately afterwards rejoined the American army. On the twenty-seventh of August, 1782, in opposing a foraging party of the British, near Combahee river, in South Carolina, he was
mortally wounded, and he died at the age of twentyseven years.
His gallantry in action was highly characteristic of his love of fame. The post of danger was his favourite station. His polite and easy behaviour, insured distinction in every society. The warmth of his heart gained the affection of his friends, his sincerity their confidence and esteem. An insult to his friend, he regarded as a wound to his own honour. Such an occurrence led him to engage in a personal contest with general Charles Lee, who had spoken disrespectfully of general Washington. The veteran, who was wounded on the occasion, being asked “How Laurens had conducted himself?" replied, “I could have hugged the noble boy, he pleased
The following eulogium on the character of lieutenant, colonel Laurens, we copy from Marshall's Life of Wash ington.
“This gallant and accomplished young gentleman had entered at an early period of the war into the fainily of the commander in chief, and had always shared a large portion of his esteem and confidence.
Bravę to excess, he sought every occasion in addition to those furnished by his station in the army, to render services to his country, and acquire that military fame which he pursued with the ardour of a young soldier, whose courage seems to have partaken of that romantic spirit which youth and enthusiasm produce in a fearless mind. Nor was it in the camp alone he was fitted to shine. His education was liberal; and those who knew him, state his manners to have been engaging, and his temper affectionate. In a highly finished portrait of his character, drawn by Dr. Ramsay, he says, that a dauntless bravery was the least of his virtues, and an excess of it his greatest foible.'
LEE, RICHARD Henry, president of congress, was a native of Virginia, and from his earliest youth devoted