Daniel Sharp (1783-1853) immigrated from England to America in 1805. He was a pastor of a Baptist Church in Newark, NJ (1809-1812) and a Baptist Church in Boston (1812-1853). Sharp was also a Brown University fellow (1828-1853). The following election sermon was preached by Sharp in Massachusetts on May 26, 1824.











MAY 26, 1824.




House of Representatives, May 27th, 1824.

Ordered, That Messrs. Thurber of Mendon, Train of Framingham, and Bassett of Boston, be a Committee to wait on the Rev. Daniel Sharp, and to return him the thanks of this House for his Excellent Discourse delivered yesterday before the Governor and Council and both Branches of the Legislature, and to request of him a Copy for the Press.



And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving, and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them and they shall not be small. Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their Congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them. And their Nobles shall be of themselves, and their Governor shall proceed from the midst of them.

In this chapter the Prophet foretells the deliverance of the Jews from captivity in Babylon, and the blessings connected with their return to the land of their fathers. When we recollect the deep-toned anguish with which he elsewhere records the sufferings of his countrymen, it is easy to conceive, that he should announce the termination of their calamities, and the commencement of a happy era in their history, with all the glow of patriotic delight.

And as a man of piety, his delight must have been greatly increased, when he foresaw, that in the enjoyment of profusion of blessings, the author of them would not be forgotten. He was told, that the voice of joy and thanksgiving should be heard, and that the people would have such a conviction of the kindness of their deliverer, as to engage their hearts to approach unto Him.

There can be nothing more pleasing to God, or more in unison with a spirit of enlightened piety, than a devout and grateful acknowledgment of his benefits. This is a duty which we all owe to our Maker. But if we would perform this duty acceptably, and make it a reasonable service, we must meditate on our personal and relative condition; we must ponder on the nature, extent, and variety of our blessings; and not only review the history of the past, but look forward to the cheering prospects of the future. When our thoughts are thus employed, whatever may be our situation, whether we dwell in the shades of private life, or are elevated by the suffrages of our fellow citizens to public and honorable station, we shall feel innumerable reasons for thanksgiving to Almighty God.

As the Civil Authorities of the Commonwealth are assembled in this house, to render homage to the Governor of the World, and to pray that he would guide their Counsels and bless their measures for the public good, it will not perhaps be deemed unsuitable to the occasion, should I remind them, and my fellow citizens who are present, that the past kindness of Providence to our Country, and the excellent nature of our Civil Institutions, have special claims on our gratitude.

It would be impossible in one discourse, to enumerate all the blessings of our social and political condition. I shall therefore confine myself to such topics as are suggested by the prediction in our test. In doing this you will not fail to observe, a remarkable coincidence between the blessings that were promised to the Jews, and those for which our nation is so highly distinguished.

1st. it was predicted, that their population should greatly increase. “I will multiply them and they shall not be few.” In the sacred writings, nothing is more common, than to describe the prosperity of a nation by the number of its inhabitants. The promise made to Abram, that his seed should be as the stars of Heaven for multitude, was an assurance that they would become a mighty and prosperous people. When Moses was about to resign the cares of office, he expressed his desires for the prosperity of the Israelites in the following prayer; “The Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you.” It was also mentioned by another prophet as a special token of divine favor, that a little one should become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation.

There may indeed, be such a state of society, and such arrangements concerning the distribution of property, that an increase of population may be viewed with dread. Even men of enlarged and philosophical minds, may only consider it, as the introduction of so many human beings to swell the tide of misery and vice which already flows through the poorer classes of the community.

But there is nothing in our political Institutions, or the possible limitation of our means of subsistence, which can make an increase of population, a subject of gloomy foreboding to us. So far from this, when we read the history of our country, and learn from how small a beginning we have already become a numerous people, we are sensible that we have great cause for gratitude.

When the pious but feeble band of Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, and asked as a boon, that they might be permitted to dwell among savages; who among them could have thought, that their posterity would have extended over so many States? Had any of the number been endowed with the gift of prophecy, and like the bards of old described, what would be the condition and increase of their descendants after the lapse of two hundred years, he would have been to them as one that dreamed. They could not have believed him for joy. But God has multiplied us, so that we are not few. There are at this time more than a million and a half of inhabitants in New-England; and it has been stated by respectable authority, 1 “that there are now more than a million of people, descendants of New-England ancestry, living free and happy, in regions which sixty years ago, were tracts of unpenetrated forest.” And what is still more gratifying, these people have carried with them from the home of their Fathers, the love of literature and religion; and those habits of industry virtue and economy, for which New-England has been so justly celebrated.

When from the sons of the Pilgrims, we direct our attention to the present number of inhabitants in the United States, we shall find, that the population of no other modern nation has advanced with equal rapidity. At the commencement of the war of the Revolution, there were about three millions of people, and now there are nine millions enjoying the blessings of rational freedom; and having the means of support within their power. There are also physical and moral causes peculiar to this country, now in operation, which render it certain, that in the ordinary course of Providence, its inhabitants, will become exceedingly numerous.

Now as a great population must bring within our reach more of the necessaries and comforts of life; and by facilitating to a greater extent the distribution of labour, must also make us less dependent on other nations, and less liable to insult and wrongs; we cannot do otherwise, than view it as a great blessing, that God has multiplied us and we are not few.

I need not tell you, my respected hearers, that the real glory and prosperity of a nation does not consist in the hereditary rank, or titled privileges of a very small class in the community; in the great wealth of the few, and the great poverty of the many; in the splendid palaces of nobles and the wretched huts of a numerous and half-famished peasantry. No! such a state of things may give pleasure to proud, ambitious, and selfish minds, but there is nothing here on which the eye of a patriot can rest with unmingled satisfaction. In his deliberate judgment;

“Ill fares the land, to hast’ning ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay;
Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade;
A breath can make them, as a breath has made;
But a bold peasantry their country’s pride,
When once destroy’d, can never be supplied.

It is an intelligent, virtuous, free and extensive population, able by their talents and industry to obtain a competent support, which constitutes the strength and prosperity of a nation.

2d. One of the advantages arising to a community possessing the character I have just described, is, the impression made on other nations of their greatness and power.

Here we perceive a very distinct resemblance between the promise made to Israel, and the commanding attitude in which the United States stand forth to the view of the kingdoms of the earth. The Lord said, concerning his ancient people; “I will also glorify them and they shall not be small.” That is, he would make them appear great and formidable in the eyes of surrounding nations. The same promise in substance had been made to their ancestors, just before they entered Canaan. “This day, said the Almighty, will I begin to put the dread of thee, and the fear of thee, upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee.” You can easily suppose, that this must have operated as a powerful check on the unjust and ambitious designs of neighbouring princes, and thus have contributed much to the peace of the nation. In the same manner God has glorified the American people. And the fruits of this blessing are seen in the quiet repose they enjoy at home, and he unrivalled prosperity of their commerce abroad.

Events have taken place in the history of our country, which have indelibly impressed every European Government with the conviction of our power. It was remarked, by one of your most eminent statesmen, more than half a century ago, when referring to the difficulties which finally terminated in the Independence of his country; “Our Fathers were a good people, we have been a free people, and if you will not let us remain so any longer, we shall be a great people.” 2 Whether these words were written in the spirit of prophecy or not, they have literally been fulfilled. God has exalted us in the sight of the nations. They have had the most indubitable proofs of the wisdom and sagacity of our statesmen; they have seen the skill and valor of our warriors; they have acknowledged the prowess of our navy; they have been convinced of the universal patriotism of our citizens; they have heard of the enterprise of our merchants; the ingenuity of our artisans; the industry and happiness of our husbandmen; and the respectability of our men of literature and science.

Now the estimation in which we are held by foreign powers, lays us under special obligations of gratitude to God. To this cause, we may in a great measure ascribe our peace and prosperity; the preservation of our fellow citizens from the toils and dangers of war; and the undisturbed endearments of domestic life. It is because God has glorified us, that our rights are not infringed; and that no wicked design of subjugating us or of dictating to us; under what kind of government we shall live, has been attempted. I have made these statements, not to excite within you a spirit of national pride, but the feelings of joy and humble gratitude to the author of all good.

3d. The permanency of their Civil Institutions is enumerated among the causes why the people of Israel would be thankful. “Their children also, shall be as aforetime, and their Congregation shall be established before me.” They shall be restored to the blessings which their Ancestors enjoyed. The people at large shall be established. The compact which binds them together, shall be indissoluble. And is there I ask, a people under Heaven, who in this respect have equal cause of thankfulness with ourselves? We have a government founded in reason, and the fitness of things. It emanates from the will of the Sovereign People. It is adapted as all Governments should be, to promote the greatest good of the whole. And while it wisely provides for the honour and dignity of the Officers of State, yet it also provides, that all their power and authority shall be derived from, and dependent upon the people.

When our social compact was first formed, the enemies of freedom predicted its speedy destruction. They asserted, that it was too weak to hold the distant and diversified parts of the union together; and denounced it as an experiment of doubtful tendency, and were fearful that it could not be permanently established. But not one of these gloomy predictions have been verified. The Demon of Anarchy has not desolated our land. Our social compact has held the different parts of the Union together. It is firmly established. And it proves to be a wise and beautifully organized system; diffusing its salutary influence from the north to the south, and from the east to the west. It blesses alike the rich and the poor, and has this distinctive excellence, that it neither favours nor oppresses any particular denomination of professing Christians. While it is perpetually conferring the most substantial benefits upon us at home; it is viewed from abroad, by the Philosopher and Philanthropist of every other Country with wonder and delight.

What cause have we my hearers for thankfulness. While the political Institutions of other countries are tottering under the infirmities of age; ours just in their prime, are receiving firmness and solidity by the addition of years. While wise men in other nations are hoping, and yet fearing a change; while they are expecting, and yet dreading alterations in the social edifice; we are dwelling in ours with security. Relying on the continued kindness of Providence, we are neither agitated by the fear of storms from without, or strife from within.

Our satisfaction would indeed be greatly diminished, could we perceive anything in the character or condition of the community, that portends the probability of a change in our rational form of Government. But we are confident that our political Institutions will be permanent. Scarcely any of those causes exist in our Country, which have been so unfavourable to the attainment or preservation of Civil Liberty in other nations.

We have no great Military power to awe us into submission to unjust and arbitrary measures; or to put on us chains of bondage, and make us wear them. The means on which we chiefly rely for national defense consists in a Militia, whose interests and happiness are identified with those of the people, and who in fact are the people. There can therefore be no danger, that an organized body of men, who are habitually engaged in the peaceful and profitable avocations of life, should ever use their arms for the insane purpose of destroying their own sacred rights and dear bought liberties.

It is also a circumstance peculiarly favourable to the permanency of our free Institutions, that we have no established Priesthood. It is a melancholy fact, that wherever a union between Church and State has been the last in granting a particle of liberty to the people; and always the first in aiding to take it from them. This has not happened because they were worse than other men, but from the very nature of their connection with the State. They have felt, that it was only dutiful and grateful to strengthen the hand that fed them. And they have known, that it was in vain to aspire at clerical dignity, or the smiles of Court favour, unless they were strenuous supporters of the prerogatives of Princes. Hence both interest and inclination have made them the unblushing advocates of the divine right of Kings and of the Doctrine of non-resistance and passive obedience.

We sincerely bless God, that the ministers of every denomination in this Country, are shut out from all hope of ever being connected with the State; and that they are under no temptation to degrade Religion by employing it as an instrument of secular power. We hope few have the disposition, and we are glad that none have the ability either to control the consciences, or abridge the liberties of their fellow men on account of their religious opinions. It is the glory of our social compact that it leaves truth and error, equally unshackled, to contend against each other; and that it knows nothing of that monstrous system which inflicts fines, imprisonment and tortures on the body under the hypocritical pretence of doing good to the soul. An entire separation of the Church from the State, is then, a subject of congratulation, because this circumstance is favourable to the permanency of the freedom of our Government.

Neither is there with us, that utter destitution of knowledge in the poorer classes of the community, which, were it exists, renders them incapable of self-government, and of discerning the nature and proper boundaries of Civil Liberty. Notwithstanding all that has been written on the semi-barbarous state of Society in this Country, there is not a nation on the Globe, with perhaps, the exception of Scotland, where the means of Education are so free and extensive, and where the people so generally avail themselves of them, as in the United States.

“By the Constitution of the United States, says Mr. Ingersoll, it is the duty of government to promote the progress of science, and the useful arts. Not one of the eleven new States has been admitted into the Union without provision in its Constitution for Schools, Academies, Colleges, and Universities. In most of the original States large sums in money are appropriated to Education, and they claim a share in the great landed investments, which are mortgaged to it in the new States. Reckoning all those contributions, federal and local, it may be asserted, that nearly as much as the whole national expenditure of the United States, is set apart by laws to enlighten the people. Besides more than half a million of pupils at public Schools; there are considerably more than three thousand under graduates matriculated at the various Colleges and Universities, authorized to grant academical degrees; not less than twelve hundred at the Medical Schools; several hundred at the Theological Seminaries; and at least a thousand Students of law,” with a population thus informed, and who feel all the lofty consciousness of being freemen; we may well be confident that “their children shall be as aforetime; and their congregation shall be established.”

Nor ought we to omit a consideration of the fact, that as a people, we are strangers to that extreme poverty which, by creating a sense of dependence is unfriendly to the liberty of the citizen. When a large population, however virtuous and industrious they may be, find it difficult to obtain the necessaries of life, they must have cares which claim their attention much more effectually than the consideration of government and laws. Hence to procure a bare subsistence, they are frequently obliged to give their suffrages in support of measures which are subversive of the dearest rights of man. But where the state of property is different; where the great body of the people are possessors of the soil; and feel that they have a personal interest in all the enactments of the State which affect the liberty or property of the individual; they will be careful that the blessings they enjoy shall be transmitted to their posterity unimpaired.

And I may add that the infrequency of elections which has operated against the rights and liberties of the subject in other countries, is an evil which does not exist here. The frequency of elections produces a sense of responsibility in those who are appointed to office; it prevents in a great degree that abuse of power and inattention to the interests of their constituents which has frequently marked the conduct of Legislators when they have held their office for a long term of years, or for life; and it also gives the people an opportunity of expressing in a silent but forcible manner, their views of the public measures which have been pursued. From this general, but rapid view which we have taken of our situation, we may anticipate with pleasure the permanency of our political Institutions. We cannot perceive in them any elements of decay; nor anything in the condition or future prospects of the Republic, that should lead us to expect they will be changed.

4th. It was stated by the Prophet, that his people would be joyful, because their Nobles should be of themselves, and their Governor should proceed from the midst of them.

Such a change in their political condition, must have appeared to them an invaluable blessing. They had been long under a foreign yoke. The nobles who had governed them, were regardless of their welfare. They took their young men to grind, and the children fell under the wood. They also added insult to injury. For they that carried them away captive, required of them a song; and they that wasted them required of them mirth. It was therefore impossible for them to be restored to liberty and independence, and to have rulers from among themselves, without sensations of unutterable joy.

Nor can the possession of similar blessings be overlooked by us without incurring the guilt of ingratitude. There was a time which some off you are not too old to remember, when your nobles came from abroad, and strangers exercised authority over you. Men whose feelings, habits, and pretensions were dissimilar to your own, held the highest offices in the State. Many of them no doubt, were persons of much private worth and general excellence of character. But the source from whence they derived their dignity and power, and the conditions on which they retained them, forbade their taking that earnest and undivided interest in the welfare of the Commonwealth, which may always be expected from men of principle, when chosen by the people.

The right to choose our Governors from the midst of us, when wisely exercised, is attended with many and great advantages.

It gives the people an opportunity of placing in the Chair of State, men of talents, integrity and patriotism. Nor can any good reason be assigned, why our civil rulers should not always be persons, of clear and comprehensive views, capable of discerning the complicated interests of the community, and determined impartially to promote them. If we are just to ourselves, our social condition must be superior to that of any nation whose Chief comes to the possession of supreme authority by natural descent. In this case it is altogether uncertain, whether he who is to reign will be wise or foolish; devoted to his pleasures or the welfare of his country. Notwithstanding the general joy that is manifested at his birth, no one can tell whether he will be a blessing, or a scourge; a benefactor, or a tyrant. It is then a right, not to be valued lightly, that we can select the ablest and best citizens amongst us to direct the affairs of the Commonwealth.

There is another advantage in the election of our Civil Rulers from the midst of us, perhaps as great as the one I have just mentioned. They must feel a greater interest in the welfare of the people, and exercise a deeper sympathy in their situation, than could be expected under any other form of government. In other nations, Rulers are not from the midst of the people. In their own estimation at least, they form a distinct and higher order of beings. They pride themselves in their birth and blood; and look upon all others as an inferior race of mortals. Hence they do not consider themselves as occupying important stations for the good of the people. They consider them as a vulgar herd, made to minister to their pride and pleasure. They view their own interests not only as separate, but at variance, with the interests of the common people. Under the influence of these views and feelings the most powerful Monarchs on the Continent of Europe, have entered into what we believe to be a base and unholy alliance against the rights and liberties of all their subjects. When the Empress Catharine of Russia wrote a letter of advice and sympathy, to the unfortunate Queen of France just before the Revolution; she expressed it as her opinion that, “Kings ought to proceed in their career, undisturbed by the cries of the people, as the moon pursues her course unimpeded by the howling of dogs.” While the feelings of horror come over us at a recollection of the atrocious cruelties of the French Revolution, yet we cannot but detest the cold hearted selfishness that could dictate such counsel as this. And yet, what is it, but the proud, unfeeling, and despotic spirit of Catharine, which governs the Cabinets of continental Europe?—Whatever may be the oppression and sufferings of the people there, they must stifle their groans and endure all with patience. For should they seek a redress of their grievances, this misnamed Holy Alliance has determined, that for every such presumptuous attempt, their chains shall be doubly riveted. While we devoutly pray, that He who sitteth in the heavens, would break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us,” let us also be thankful, that our Governors proceed from the midst of us, and not from a rank of men, who because they are elevated by the artificial distinctions of society, are gazing down on the multitude with the aspect and feelings of utter contempt. Instead of this, they feel that they belong to the people; that they have with them a common interest; and that whatever measures will affect the rights, liberties and happiness of their fellow citizens will also affect their own. They also expect in the course of events to resign the cares and honors of office, and again appear as private citizens. Now all these considerations combined, will have such an influence on their feelings, that they will labor to promote the best interests of the Commonwealth. Proceeding from the midst of us, notwithstanding the honorable station which they hold, and the respect that is justly shewn them, yet they cannot forget their accountability to the people who have chosen them. This supplies them with motives to diligence and fidelity, which owing to the imperfection of our nature the very best of men sometimes need.

And although last mentioned, yet perhaps, it is not the least advantage of a popular government, that it brings into operation a greater amount of talent than any other. It is acknowledged by everyone, that the occurrence of great events, awakens the dormant energies of the human mind, and calls forth the most splendid and powerful abilities. It was the momentous question whether your country should be free and independent, and the declaration that it was so, which gave to you, Orators, Statesmen and Generals, whose names all future ages will delight to honor. The characters of men are generally moulded by the circumstances in which they are placed.—They seldom put forth all their strength without some powerfully exciting motives. But what motives can those have to qualify themselves for stations from which they are forever excluded on account of Plebeian extraction? How can those be expected to prepare themselves for the service of their country when they know, that their services would be rejected, because unfortunately, they dissent from the established religion, and have honesty to avow it? But in a country like ours, where the most obscure individuals in society, may by their talents, virtues, and public services, rise to the most honorable distinctions, and attain to the highest offices which the people can give, the most effectual inducements are presented. It is indeed true, that only a few who run in the race for political honor can obtain the prize. But although many come short, yet the exertions and progress which they make are not lost either on themselves or society. The suitableness of their characters and talents for some other important station may have been perceived; at least the cultivation of their minds, and the effort to acquire an honorable reputation may render them active and useful members of the community. These are some of the benefits peculiar to a popular government. Benefits which we have long enjoyed. And if we form any just estimate of their value, from us will “proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry.”

His Excellency will permit us on this occasion to offer him our respectful salutations. During a long life spent in the public service of his Country, he must have witnessed her increasing prosperity at home, her fame abroad, and he permanency of her free institutions with inexpressible satisfaction. It must be gratifying to his Excellency, that he is not indebted for his present elevation to noble birth, but to the suffrages of a free and enlightened people.

Republics have been charged with ingratitude.—And if to erect magnificent palaces, and make large grants of money, be necessary expressions of national gratitude, then, we have been ungrateful. But such as the people have had, they have freely bestowed on the distinguished Patriots and Heroes of their country. All the Presidents, and nearly all the Vice Presidents of the United States, have been persons who either by their wisdom or valor, assisted in achieving our Independence. And who, possessing any greatness of soul would not prefer to be like Washington, “first in the hearts of his countrymen;” or like the venerable sage of Quincy, happy in the unfeigned respect and gratitude of nine millions of freemen, rather than receive a price for his services, which should release his country from more honorable obligations?

It is only necessary to look over the list of governors in our own State, to be convinced that gratitude for public services has not been an inactive principle here. Our last Chief Magistrate for whose private and public character men of all parties feel a sincere and profound respect, was a soldier of the revolution. Nor has it been forgotten by the people that his Excellency held an important station in the army during the whole of that eventful period. Besides other considerations which I need not name; gratitude has had its influence in assigning to his Excellency the distinguished office which he now occupies.

The resignation of his honor the Lieut. Governor, would have been a source of regret to his fellow citizens, had they not known, that his services for the State are not withdrawn. Having acceptably discharged Legislative and Executive duties, he is now clothed with Judiciary power. We doubt not that his Honor will fill the seat of justice, with high reputation to himself, and add another name to the eminent men in that department. Should he need any incitement in the performance of new and arduous duties, he will call to recollection his learned, able and upright predecessor.

The honourable Council, the Senate the House of Representatives, will please to receive our congratulations. Proceeding from the midst of the people, and appointed for the express purpose of superintending the public interests, the objects of your labors are clearly defined. But how to attain these objects in the most effectual and satisfactory manner will frequently be a subject of painful solicitude. In cases which are brought before you, where there are interfering claims, you will find it of great advantage to divest yourselves as much as possible of local and sectional prejudices, and to act under the impression, that you represent the whole, and not merely a part of the Commonwealth. There is one statute of our common Lawgiver, which if sacredly regarded, will often do more in giving a right direction to your measures than the most able and eloquent arguments. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

It has been a part of the system of despotic governments to keep the people in a state of gross ignorance. But a polity like ours can exist to no valuable purpose unless knowledge be generally diffused. Our Legislators have always perceived this; and to their honor it should be recorded, that they have made liberal provision for our Schools and Colleges. As our wealth and population have increased, Literary Institutions have arisen in different parts of the State; nor have they been left to wither and die from an apprehension, that they would impede the growth of those already planted.

Believing that knowledge and virtue, are the pillars which support our political Fabric, we indulge the hope that our Civil Rulers will continue to bestow, impartial, and liberal aid to Seminaries of learning. The multiplication of these, is an indication that the people are rising in the scale of intellectual improvement, and one of the best pledges that we shall remain virtuous and free. And it may be expected that each College in exciting an honorable rivalry, will be ambitious to enlarge its foundation, and provide more ample means for the instructions of its Students. But these considerations, have no doubt, already occurred to you and will have their due weight in your deliberations.

With the congratulations of this day, the Governor and Council, and the two branches of the Legislature will allow me to suggest that they need the blessing of God. Whatever experience and talents, you may bring to the Councils of State, your best efforts will be fruitless without the favor of the Almighty. “Except the Lord build he house: they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the City, the watchmen waketh but in vain.” It was a conviction of his entire dependence on God for prosperity, which caused a Chief Magistrate of Judah to pray; “Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.”

Influenced by the same views, are we not ready with one consent, to offer the supplication; “O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.”



1. Vide Hon. Daniel Webster’s discourse at Plymouth.

2. Hon. James Otis, Esq.