Your sincere Friend
1 The draft at this point reads: “as in their own enlightened Judgments shall best serve the great End of Government the good of the whole People.”
TO THE LEGISLATURE OF MASSACHUSETTS.
January 17, 1794.
[Independent Chronicle, January 20, 1794; the text is in W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. iii., pp. 324-328, and in the Massachusetts Archives.]
FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE
Two branches of the legislature,
It having pleased the Supreme Being, since your last meeting, in His holy providence to remove from this transitory life, our late excellent Governour Hancock, the multitude of his surviving fellow-citizens, who have often given strong testimonials of their approbation of his important services, while they drop a tear, may certainly profit by the recollection of his virtuous and patriotic example.
You are sensible, that on this melancholly event, our Constitution directs that the Lieutenant Governour,1 for the time being, shall perform all the duties which were incumbent on him, and exercise all the powers and authorities, during the vacancy of the chair, which by the Constitution, he was vested with when personally present. Diffident as I am of my abilities, I have yet felt myself constrained, to undertake the performance of those duties, and the exercise of those powers and authorities, in consequence of a sovereign act of God. To Him I look for that wisdom which is profitable to direct. The Constitution must be my rule, and the true interest of my Constituents, whose agent I am, my invariable object.
The people of this Commonwealth, have heretofore been possessed of the intire sovereignty within and over their own territories. They were “not controul-able by any other laws than those to which their constituted representative body gave their consent.” This, I presume, was the case in every other State of the Union.—But, after the memorable declaration of their Independence was by solemn treaty, agreed to and ratified by the British King, the only power that could have any pretence to dispute it, they considered themselves decidedly free and independent of all other people. Having taken rank among nations, it was judged that their great affairs could not well be conducted under the direction of a number of distinct sovereignties. They therefore formed and adopted a Federal Constitution; by which certain powers of sovereignty are delegated and entrusted to such persons as they shall judge proper from time to time to elect; to be exercised conformably to, and within the restrictions of the said Constitution, for the purposes of strengthening and confirming the Union, and promoting the safety and happiness of the confederate Commonwealth. All powers not vested in Congress, remain in the separate