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Page 4

George Clymer

1739-1813


   "When posterity shall ponder on the declaration of July, 1776, and admire, with deep amazement and veneration, the courage and patriotism, the virtue and self-devotion of the deed, they will find the name of Clymer there. When the strength and splendor of this empire shall hereafter be displayed in the fullness of maturity, (heaven grant we reach it,) and the future politician shall look at that scheme of government, by which the whole resources of a nation have been thus brought into action; by which power has been maintained, and liberty not overthrown; by which the people have been governed and directed, but not enslaved or oppressed ; they will find that Clymer was one of the fathers of the country, from whose wisdom and experience the system emanated. Nor was the confidence, which had grown out of his political life and services, his only claim to the station which he held in this institution. Although his modest, unassuming spirit never sought public displays of his merit, but rather withdrew him from the praise, that was his due; yet he could not conceal from his friends, nor his friends from the world, the extraordinary improvement of his mind. Retired, studious, contemplative, he was ever adding something to his knowledge, and endeavoring, to make that knowledge useful. His predominant passion was to promote every scheme for the improvement of his country, whether in science, agriculture, polite education, the useful or the fine arts. Accordingly, we find his name in every association for these purposes; and wherever we find him, we also find his usefulness. Possessed of all that sensibility and delicacy, essential to taste, he had of course a peculiar fondness for the fine arts, elegant literature, and the refined pursuits of a cultivated genius. It was in the social circle of friendship that his acquirements were displayed and appreciated, and although their action was communicated from this circle to a wider sphere, it was with an enfeebled force. His intellects were strong by nature, and made more so by culture and study; but he was diffident and retired. Capable of teaching, he seemed only anxious to learn. Firm, but not obstinate; independent, but not arrogant; communicative, but not obtrusive, he was at once the amiable and instructive companion. His researches had been various, and, if not always profound, they were competent to his purposes, and beyond his pretensions. Science, literature, and the arts, had all a share of his attention, and it was only by a frequent intercourse with him, we discovered how much he knew of each. The members of this board have all witnessed the kindness and urbanity of his manners. Sufficiently fixed in his own opinions, he gave a liberal toleration to others, assuming no offensive or unreasonable control over the conduct of those with whom he was associated."
   In a subsequent part of his discourse, Mr. Hopkinson, alluding to the value of a punctual performance of our promises, remarks: "In this most useful virtue, Mr. Clymer was preeminent. During the seven years he held the presidency of this academy, his attention to the duties of the station were without remission. He excused himself from nothing that belonged to his office; he neglected nothing. He never once omitted to attend a meeting of the directors, unless prevented by sickness or absence from the city; and these exceptions were of very rare occurrence. He was indeed the first to come; so that the board never waited a moment for their president. With other public bodies to which he was attached, I understand, he observed the same punctual and conscientious discharge of his duty. It is thus that men make themselves useful, and evince that they do not occupy places of this kind merely as empty and undeserved compliments, but for the purpose of rendering all the services which the place requires of them."

Source: Rev. Charles A. Goodrich Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 284-291. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)

See also:

  • The biography of Elizabeth Meredith Clymer, George Clymer's wife

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    Last modified September 24, 2005