(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
|NORTHAMPTON, February 14.|
Extract of a letter from a gentleman in one of the eastern counties, to his friend,
an officer in General Lincoln's army.
"In monarchies, mercy to rebels may be the highest magnanimity—In
republics, it assumes a different character, and becomes a weakness. Insurrection
in a monarchy effects but the extremities and limbs. In a republic, the disease
is in the head; the disease therefore, must not only be removed, but the seeds
of it rooted out for one or two returns may bring on a political dissolution.
And it is not enough to hang two or three to terrify the rest—many must
be cut off, because it is dangerous to society that they should live. The poor
wretches I pity, God knows. It is melancholy their vices and follies should
plunge them into such deep distresses. Pardon ought, I think, to be granted
upon these conditions and disqualifications, that they petition—the petition
be preferred before __ days. That the pardon be available to them, but upon
condition that they keep the peace, and are of good behaviour, for a certain
number of years. That the petitioner be ineligible to any office or to vote
for others for a certain number of years. How absurd is it, that the very men,
whom you have this day declared rebels, shall on the morrow, merely from the
circumstance of defeat, have a right to appoint magistrates, and constitute
a part of the supreme authority? The present appearance of the General Court
is highly favourable. They speak out.—Some cunning men however, are wriggling
about among them: Their vices are pitiful. They are known and marked; some with
the business to be but half finished, because they flourish most in confusion.
Some fear to be decided, least they should shake their popularity. Others are
desirous of having the business taper off, to throw an odium on the present
administration. But the current in favor of exertion, sets so strong at present
in the court, that the characters I have described, are obliged to grin their
teeth and vote—they dare not stand in opposition.
Last Monday evening was committed to gaol in this town, a John Wheeler, of
Hardwick, who has acted in the capacity of an Aid to Capt. Shays.—Nine
others were also committed the same evening.
Yesterday was brought to this town and committed to gaol, a Capt. Clark, of
Contact us for information about using this image.
This letter, supposedly from a "gentleman in the eastern counties" to a friend serving in General Benjamin Lincoln's army of militia, was printed in the Hampshire Gazette in February, 1787. Its author agreed with Samuel Adams that, while "In monarchy the crime of treason may admit of being pardoned or lightly punished, but the man who dares rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death." He favored pardoning repentant rebels so long as they "uphold the peace," but recommended withholding the vote from them "for a certain number of years." To do otherwise would be foolhardy: "How absurd is it, that the very men, whom you have this day declared rebels, shall on the morrow, merely from the circumstance of defeat, have a right to appoint magistrates, and constitute a part of the supreme authority?" The writer was pleased to report that the representatives to the Massachusetts General Court were "highly favorable" to taking strong action against the insurgents who had taken up arms against the government. He referred contemptuously to the few who opposed such measures as "cunning men" whose "vices are pitiful." William Butler began publication of the Hampshire Gazette on September 6, 1786, in Northampton, Massachusetts. The mission of the newspaper was to inform the public about the issues pertaining to the ongoing conflicts of 1786-87. Butler was decidedly on the government side of the issues.
top of page
Extract of a Letter regarding fate of the insurgents published in the Hamsphire Gazette
| creator Unidentified
| publisher Hampshire Gazette
| date Feb 14, 1787
| location Northampton, Massachusetts
| height 7.5"
| width 3.0"
| process/materials printed paper, ink
| item type Periodicals/Newspaper
| accession # #L04.087
Send an e-Postcard of this object