Reminiscences of Seventy-Five Years (Classic Reprint)

Reminiscences of Seventy-Five Years (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Reminiscences of Seventy-Five Years

I have been asked to prepare for the Society some reminiscences of my life and I do it with considerable hesitation. They must contain much that is personal, they will have much that is trivial, but it is possible that it may be of interest to note some of the changes in our social and business life that have occurred within the lifetime of a single individual.

I was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, on January 4, 1826; consequently I have nearly completed my eighty-seventh year. Beverly was a town of considerable importance in the Commonwealth. It was, as a part of Salem, one of the earliest of the Colonial settlements, many of its citizens had been engaged in foreign commerce sailing from Salem and Boston as well as from Beverly, and some had taken important parts in the political life of State and nation.

The leading citizen of that time, and probably for all time, was Nathan Dane, the author of the Ordinance of 1787 for the government of the Northwestern territory, by which slavery was forever excluded from what now constitutes the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. Seldom is it given to man to become the instrument in legislation of such transcendent importance as this which consecrated that vast region forever to Human Freedom.

To Dr. Dane also is due the provision in the Constitution prohibiting any State from passing laws impairing the obligation of contracts.

I remember him very well, an old gentleman with a serene and kindly face. I used to carry to him the North American Review and other periodicals for which he and my grandfather, Robert Rantoul, with Dr. Joshua Fisher, were joint subscribers.

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