1902 Encyclopedia > Josiah Quincy, Jr.

Josiah Quincy, Jr.
American lawyer and revolutionary
(1744-75)




QUINCY, JOSIAH, JR. (1744-1775), born in Boston, Mass., 1744, is the most eminent of a well-known family whose founder emigrated to New England in 1633. At the time of his death, at the age of thirty-one, he had won distinction as a lawyer, and his place was secured in history as among the most eloquent, the most clear-sighted, and the most devoted of the men who led the American colonists in the measures preliminary to the revolution In 1767 he entered upon the public discussion of political questions, maintaining with great ability and courage the duty of his countrymen to resist any encroachments upon their right to self-government. In 1770 he wrote An Address of the Merchants, Traders, and Freeholders of Boston. in favour of a non-importation Act, asserting, about the same time, in a newspaper article that Americans would " know, resume, assert, and defend their rights " by the " arts of war " if " the arts of policy " should fail. In December 1773 he took an active and leading part in the town-meeting which virtually ordered the destruction of the cargoes of the tea-ships in Boston harbour. 'The appeal to the other towns for help to sustain Boston against the enforcement of the consequent Acts of Parliament was written by him ; and soon after there appeared under his own name Observations on the Boston Port Bill, with Thoughts on Civil Society and Standing Armies, his longest and most important political paper, which made him a marked man both in England and America. He sailed a few months afterwards for England with the approval of the leading revolutionists, to present, though unofficially, to the ministry and other public men the grievances and the determination of the colonists. After six months failing health - he had long been threatened with consumption - compelled him to return home, and he died on shipboard as the vessel was entering the harbour of Gloucester, Massachusetts, April 26, 1775.

A memoir written by his only son, JOSIAH QUINCY (1772-1864), containing his life, correspondence, and the Observations on the Boston Port Bill, was published in 1825 (2(1 ed. 1874). This only son of Josiah Quincy, jun., born in Boston in February 1772, lived to be three times the age of his father, and filled public stations for more years than his father lived ; he was a member of Congress during the eventful period from 1805 to 1813 ; as the second mayor of Boston his sagacity and energy insured the future prosperity of that city ; in Congress he maintained at the head of the Federal party the struggle with the disastrous foreign policy of the administrations of Jefferson and Madison, and the dangerous growth of the slave-power, which he never ceased to oppose ; as president of Harvard College for sixteen years (1829-45) he increased the usefulness and added to the influence of that seat of learning. He wrote a history of the college for two hundred years, which was also largely a history of Massachusetts. He died in June 1864 in the ninety-third year of his age. A life of him, by his youngest son Edmund Quincy, an accomplished scholar and well-known author, was published in 1867.







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