The Path to Public Service at SEAS


Should Supreme Court Justices Have Term Limits? That ‘Would Be Fine,’ Breyer Says at Harvard IOP Forum


Harvard Right to Life Hosts Anti-Abortion Event With Students For Life President


Harvard Researchers Debunk Popular Sleep Myths in New Study


Journalists Discuss Trump’s Effect on the GOP at Harvard IOP Forum



There is a popular superstition that college bred men are not quite up to the requirements of an active, business life; that although they may manage to learn the pursuits of peace so as to make oaws, write books and perform the duties of magistrates, they nevertheless cannot adapt themselves to new changes such as take place in times of war and civil excitement. In fact, this superstition assumes that he who wields the pen ably, cannot also handle the sword skillfully. In order to see how little foundation there is to this idea, I turn to the period of the revolutionary war, and to the men who were leaders at that time, Of course "Our beloved George" stands alone; he is an accepted exception. Several generations have already decided that no amount of knowledge could have improved his natural greatness. Still, among those who made it possible for Washington to have a congress on which to call for supplies; who furnished his army with generals, and his troops with money, there many who called Harvard their alma mater. Preceding the revolution, however, were those who developed the idea of a republic and who first proclaimed that "All men are created free and equal." The most notable of these was John Wise, "The first great American democrat." "He had every quality that gives distinction among men. He was of towering height, of great muscular power, stately and graceful in shape and movement; in his advancing years, of an aspect most venerable." On one occasion he threw a famous wrestler in Massachusetts who had desired to test his strength. But he had an intellect proportioned to his strength of body; for in 1687 when the infamous Sir Edmund Andros sent for a province tax, the young minister "braved the tyrant's anger by advising his people not to comply with that order; for which he was arrested, tried, deposed from the ministry, fined and thrown into prison." He was in fact, a type of the revolutionary minister which Thomas Buchanan Read has described in his poem on "The Revolutionary Rising."

The pastor came; his snowy locks

Hallowed his brow of thought and care;

And calmly, as the shepherds lead their flocks.

He led into the house of prayer.

Then soon arose, the prayer was strong;

The psalm was warrior David's song;

The text, a few short words of might-

"The Lord of hosts shall arm the right!"

He spoke of wrongs too long endured,

Of sacred rights to be secured;

Then from his patriot tongue of flame

The startling words for freedom came.

Two other ministers who also show "the vast political influence of the New England clergy in the agitations of those times" are Jonathan Mayhew and Charles Chauncey. Jonathan Mayhew was "in the pulpit, a sort of tribune of the people." Charles Chauncey was "a man of leonine heart, of strong, cool brain, of uncommon moral strength. He bore a great part in the intellectual strife of the revolution; but before that strife opened, he bad moulded deeply the thought of his time, both by his living speech and by his publications." Coming now nearer to '76 we meet the brothers, Samuel and John Adams; of the classes of 1740 and 1755, respectively. So active was Samuel Adams in behalf of the people that he was called by his opponents "Samuel the Publican." From 1765-'74 he was constantly at work organizing political clubs, delivering speeches and publishing articles in the newspapers. Immediately after the 'Boston massacre," he was the speaker, of a committee sent to Gov. Hutchinson to demand the removal of the British troops from Boston. It was his words that made Hutchinson grow pale and tremble. His brother, John Adams, the second president of the United States, was the "Author of Instructions of the town of Braintree to their representatives "which was adopted verbatim by more than forty towns. He was one of the committee of Naval Affairs who drew up the rules and regulations which are the basis of our present naval code, and was the ablest advocate of the Declaration of Independence during the three days debate in congress. He was supposed to have greatly hastened business by the unparalleled oratorical outburst of; "Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my heart and my hand to this vote."


Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.