Discourse In Commemoration Of Adams And Jefferson Quotes

Daniel Webster

"Sink Or Swim"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The sensibility of the entire nation was touched beyond comparison when, on July 4, 1826, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died. The various circumstances of their association which marked the characters and careers of these great men were dwelt upon with melancholy but untiring interest. Solemn rites of commemoration were observed throughout the country; the city council of Boston appointed August 2, 1826, for such an event, and in the presence of an immense audience Daniel Webster, the famous American politician and orator, delivered the major eulogy. During the address, Webster imagines John Adams's characteristic reply to John Hancock's suggestion that the Colonies refrain from open war with Great Britain. Adams had described a conversation with Jonathan Sewell in 1774 in this manner: "I answered that the die was now cast; I had passed the Rubicon. Swim or sink, live or die, survive or perish with my country was my unalterable determination."

"Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my hand and my heart to this vote. It is true, indeed, that in the beginning we aimed not at independence. But there's a Divinity which shapes our ends. The injustice of England has driven us to arms; and, blinded to her own interest for our good, she has obstinately persisted, till independence is now within our grasp. We have but to reach forth to it, and it is ours. . . ."