746 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.
THE "WESTMINSTER MASSACRE."
Referred to on p. 241.
The more accessible sources from which the account of the "Westminster Massacre" has been drawn, are named in the annexed list.
March 21st, 1775. MS. Council Minutes in office Sec. State N. Y., 1765-1783, xxvi. 425, 426. Doc. Hist. N. Y., iv. 903, 904.
" 22d, 1775. Depositions of Oliver Church and Joseph Hancock, in Doc. Hist. N. Y., iv. 904-910. Brattleborough (Vt.) Semi-Weekly Eagle, Thursday Evening, September 20th, 1849, vol. iii., No. 13.
" 23d, 1775. "A relation of the proceedings of the people of the County of Cumberland and Province of New York," by Reuben Jones, in Slade's Vt. State Papers, 55-59. American Archives, Fourth Series, 1775, vol. ii., cols. 218-222. Journals of the General Assembly of the Province of New York.
" 28th, 1775. Deposition of John Griffin, in Doc. Hist. N. Y., iv. 910-914. Brattleborough (Vt.) Semi-Weekly Eagle, Monday Evening, September, 17th, 1849, vol. iii., No. 12.
" 30th, 1775. Journals of the General Assembly of the Province of New York. American Archives, Fourth Series, 1775, vol. i., cols. 1321-1324.
April 3d, 1775. See authorities cited under March 30th, 1775.
" 5th, 1775. Dispatches of Lieutenant Governor Colden to Lord Dartmouth, in MSS. London Documents in office Sec. State N. Y., xlv. Doc. Hist. N. Y., iv. 914-916.
May 5th, 1775. MSS. Council Minutes in office Sec. State N. Y., 1765-1783. xxvi. 435. Doc. Hist. N. Y., iv. 917, 918. Brattleborough (Vt.) Semi-Weekly Eagle, Monday Evening, September 24th, 1849. vol. iii., No. 14.
The "State of the Facts" made by the judges of the court, and epitomized on p. 223, is in these words :—
"New York County of Cumberland court of common Pleas, And court of General Sessions of the Peace holden at the court House in Westminster this Fourteenth Day of March A. D. 1775. Whereas a very melancholly and unhappy affair Happened at this Place in the evening, of yesterday The thirteenth Instant and Whereas it may be that the Same may Be represented very Different From what The same really was We his majesty's Judges and Justices of the said Courts being chiefly there Present have Thought it our Duty thus to relate a true state of the Facts Exactly as they happened.
"Many threats having for several Terms past been Thrown out by evil minded persons that they would With Violence break up and Destroy the courts of our Sovereign Lord the king in this county and threats of A more Daring and absolute nature than formerly having been thrown out by certain Evil Minded persons Against the setting of this present Court the Sheriff tho't it Essentially necessary to raise a Posse For the Courts Protection and having Raised about sixty Men armed some With Guns and some with staves he arrived At there head before the Court House about five o'clock In the afternoon of yesterday When to the Great Surprise of the said Sheriff and Posse they found the court house Taken into Possession and the several Doors thereof Guarded By a large number of Rioters (supposed to be about an Hundred in the whole) armed With clubs and some Few fire arms. The Sheriff
APPENDIX I. 747
then endeavored to Go in at the Door of the court-house, but was prevented by Threats And menaces; whereupon he read the King's Proclamation, with a very loud voice commanding In his Majesty's name all persons unlawfully assembled Immediately to Depart, and thereupon Demanded Entrance again But was again refused and Prevented by threats and menaces as Before. The Sheriff then told the Rioters that he would Leave them a short time to consider of their behaviour And to Disperse, and if they would not afterwards allow Him Entrance into the said courthouse That he would Absolutely Enter it by force. But the Rioters made scoff at this Measure replying the hardest must fend off. The Rioters a little time afterwards wanted to choose committees to Parley but was answered that they could not Parley to consider whether the King's Court Should proceed or not. Judge Chandler informed them that if they had any real grievances to complain of if they would Present a Petition to the court when sitting it should be heard the Sheriff then gave the Posse Liberty To refresh themselves and about two Houers afterward He Brought the said Posse Before the courthouse again and then again Demanded Entrance in his majesty's Name but was again refused in like manner as Before. Whereupon he told them that he would Absolutely enter it Either Quietly or by force and commanded the Posse to follow close to him which they Accordingly Did and getting near The Door he was struck several Blows with clubs, which he had the Goodness in General to fend off so far at least as not to Receive Any very Great Damage but several of their clubs striking Him as he was goeing up the steps, and The Rioters Persisting in maintaining Their Ground, he ordered some of the Posse to fire, which they accordingly did. The Rioters then fought Violently with their clubs and fired some few fire arms at the Posse by which Mr. Justice Butterfield received a slight shot in the arm and another of the Posse received a slight shot in the head with Pistol Bullets: but happily none of the Posse were mortally wounded. Two persons of the Rioters were Dangerously wounded (one of whom is since dead) and several others of the Rioters were also wounded but not Dangerously so. Eight of the Rioters were taken prisoners (including The one which is since Dead) & the wounded were taken care of by Doct. Day, Doct. Hill and Doct. Chase. The latter of which was immediately sent for on Purpose. The rest of the Rioters Dispersed giving out Threats that they would collect all the force Possible and would return as on this Day to revenge themselves on the Sheriff and on several others of the Posse.
"This Being a true state of the facts without the least Exaggeration on the one side or Diminution on the other We humbly submit to Every Reasonable Inhabitant whether his majesty's courts of Justice the Grand and only security For the life liberty and property of the publick should Be trampled on and Destroyed whereby said persons and properties of individuals must at all times be exposed to the Rage of a Riotous and Tumultuous assembly or whether it Does not Behove Every of his Majesty's Liege subjects In the said county to assemble themselves forthwith for the Protection of the Laws and maintenance of Justice.
"Dated in open Court the Day and Year Aforesaid.
S. Gale, Clk."
The following account of the affray was published at Salem, Massachusetts, in the Essex Gazette, under the date of March 14th-21st, 1775:—
"We hear a body of people armed with clubs and some few fire arms, to the number
748 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.
of about one hundred, assembled at Westminster in the County of Cumberland in the province of New York, on the evening of the 13th day of this instant, being the evening before the day of the sitting of the Court of Common Pleas for said County, for the purpose of preventing the Courts sitting there, and took possession of the Court House. The Sheriff of the County being previously advertised of their design, raised the Posse Comitatus to oppose them, and came up to the Court House a short time after the rioters had seized it and attempted to enter the same, but was opposed by them. He informed the rioters that the Court House was the property of his Majesty, and that he was the keeper of it, and demanded entrance into it, and ordered them to disperse, which they peremptorily refused to do. Several attempts were made by the Sheriff and the Posse to enter the house without force, which were resisted by the mob. The Sheriff then informed the rioters that he was determined at all events, to have possession of the house; if he could not get it without, he would get it by force. He then read the riot act to them, and ordered them to disperse within one hour, and told them, that if they did not disperse within that time, and cease their opposition to his entrance into the Court House, he would most certainly order the Posse to fire on them; to which they replied, 'Fire and be damned! If you do, the hardest fend off.' The Sheriff told the rioters he would not have them flatter themselves that he would not fire on them, for he was absolutely determined to do it if they continued obstinate. He then with his Posse, left the house for the space of about three hours, during which time all possible arguments were used to dissuade the rioters from their purpose, which they treated with neglect. They then sent to those of the Judges of the Court then in the town, to know if they would treat with a committee from their body, whether the Court should do business. The Judges returned this answer That they could not treat with them whether his Majesty's business should be done or not, but that if they thought themselves aggrieved and would apply to them in a proper way, they would give them redress if it was in their power. But this was by no means satisfactory to them. At the expiration of the three hours, the Sheriff and Posse returned to the Court House and again attempted to enter it, but were beat back by the rioters with their clubs. He told them he would most certainly fire on them, if they did not desist. They answered, 'Fire and be damned! Fire and be damned!' The Sheriff then ordered his men to fire upon them, which they did and wounded one mortally (who is since dead) and several others very badly, one of whom is thought to be dangerous. The Sheriff, after a few shots, ordered the fire to cease, and his men to enter the house with clubs, which they did, when a stout resistance was made by the rioters for some time; but they were finally dispossessed and nine or ten of them taken prisoners. The rioters fired once or twice on the Sheriff's party, but did no damage. The next day the rioters were reinforced by a large number, armed with muskets, and being much superior to the Sheriff's party, took him and about twelve others and confined them in close gaol."
Another newspaper account was given by John Holt, in his New York Journal or General Advertiser, under date of Thursday, March 23d, 1775. It may be found in the American Archives, Fourth Series, 1775, vol. ii. cols. 214, 215. The following is a copy
"On Monday afternoon, expresses arrived in Town from the County of Cumberland, in this province, who bring accounts from thence of a very extraordinary and alarming nature. On the Monday afternoon preceding, March 13th, the day for holding the Inferiour Courts, several rioters and disorderly persons, to the number of between 80 and 90, assembled at the Court House, of which they took possession, with an avowed intent of preventing the Court from being held the next day; many of them had arms, and those who were unprovided for, were collecting both arms and ammunition with all possible dispatch. Many of the Magistrates having come
APPENDIX I. 749
to Town, it was thought advisable that the Sheriff-should make the usual proclamation against riotous assemblies, and demand possession of the Court House and Jail; which being refused several times, about 9 o'clock at night a party assembled in order to disperse the rioters. These proceeded with the Sheriff and some magistrates to the Court House where proclamation was again made by the Sheriff for the rioters to disperse, and sundry attempts were made to get in, without using fire arms, but this proving ineffectual, three guns were fired over the door in hopes the rioters would be intimidated and retire; but so determined were they in their undertaking, that the fire was immediately returned from the Court House, by which one of the Magistrates was slightly wounded, and another person shot through his clothes. The Magistrates seeing the imminent danger they were in, so well exerted themselves that they forced the front door, and after a very smart engagement, wherein one of the rioters was killed, and many persons on both sides wounded, the Court House was cleared, and proper measures taken to preserve the peace for that night. The next morning all was tumult and disorder. The Judges, however, opened the Court at the usual hour, and adjourned till 3. o'clock in the afternoon; but by this time, the body of rioters beginning to assemble in large parties from New Hampshire, and places adjacent, and particularly from Bennington, in the neighboring County of Albany, with a hostile appearance, and the Court foreseeing no probability of being able to proceed to business, adjourned till next June term. The body of rioters, which soon amounted to upwards of 500, surrounded the Court House, took the Judges, the Justices, the Sheriff, the Clerk, and as many more of their friends as they could find, into close custody, and sent parties out, who were daily returning with more prisoners. The roads and passages were guarded with armed men, who indiscriminately laid hold of all passengers against whom any of the party intimated the least suspicion; and the mob, stimulated by their leaders to the utmost fury and revenge, breathed nothing but blood and slaughter against the unfortunate persons in their power. The only thing which suspended their fate was a difference of opinion as to the manner of destroying them. And from the violence and inhumanity of the disposition apparent in the rioters, it is greatly to be feared that some of the worthy men in confinement will fall a sacrifice to the brutal fury of a band of ruffians, before timely aid can be brought to their assistance."
The annexed extracts from the Journal of the New York Provincial Congress show that strenuous measures would have been adopted by the British, to quell the insurrectionary spirit in Cumberland county, evinced by the events: of the 13th of March, had not more important scenes demanded the attention of the Crown.
"Tuesday, 9 o'clock, A. M.
"September 12th, 1775.
"Ordered, That Samuel Wells, Esq., of Cumberland county, be requested to attend before this Committee of Safety*; at five o'clock this afternoon.
"Tuesday, 4 ho. P. M. Sept. 12th, 1775.
"Samuel Wells, Esq., according to order, attending at the door was called and examined. Says, 'That no arms were sent to Cumberland county by government — did hear that Gov. Colden applied to Gen. Gage for arms, and heard the arms came — but the affair at Lexington put an end to it — of the £1,000 granted for Cumberland county, £200 of the money has been received — it was employed to reimburse the sheriff and Mr. Gale, the expense of themselves and the other prisoners and expresses — heard the arms were put on board the King's Fisher — has forgot how he heard it, and does not know how they were disposed of.' " — i. 144, 145. See also, American Archives, Fourth Series, 1775, vol. iii. col. 890.
* A Committee of Safety usually sat during the recess of the Provincial Congress, with temporary powers equal to those of the latter body.
750 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.
In the "Records of Dummerston," reference is frequently made to the affray. The feelings to which it gave birth may be judged of by the language employed in these records. In one instance the Court-house is styled, "that blood Stained Star-chamber in Westminster." In an account of a meeting of the inhabitants of that town, held on the 22d of August, 1775, occurs an entry which shows that the people of the county were engaged in preparing an elaborate account of the disturbances which had happened in the month of March previous. The entry is in these words:— "Votid that it tis the SenCe of this toun that the Letters that are in the hand of Dr Soloman Har-vy are Not any EvidanCe in the Case which the Commite is Colectting for the Evidance whiCh tha are to ColeCt is the Bad ConduCt of the Cort from its fust Setting up the Cort Doun to the fust of MarCh Last and that those Letters only Shue that the Peple ware Displeaised at the Earbitary ConduCt of offiseirs of the Cort and ware Raday to Rise and Stop the Cort be fore that time: and those Letters Show Like wise the unity of the People and purfix the time: and we think it Best not to have those Letors goe to Westminister." On the 12th of March, 1776, a meeting was held at Brattleborough for the purpose of securing the punishment of those of the Court party and Sheriff's posse, who had been engaged in the "Westminster Massacre." This appears by the following passage from the old records before mentioned. At a town meeting held on the 26th of February, 1776, "Votid to Send a man to Jine the County Comitte on the twelfth of marCh at the hows of Mr. John Sergants at Brattleborough at Nine of the o Clock in the fore Noon to Draw up a Remonstrance to Send to the Contanalshall Congras at Phile Dalpha Consarning those that perpatratid the Blody Massecree on the thurteeinth of march Last."
In a pamphlet written by Ira Allen, entitled, "Miscellaneous Remarks on the Proceedings of the State of New York against the State of Vermont, &c.," and published in the year 1777, the author referring to the colonial government of New York, observes:— "In open violation to the laws of the crown, the legislative and executive powers, assumed to themselves authority to hold courts: their conduct was so notorious that it was the cause of that odious and never to be forgotten massacre at the Court House in said Cumberland County, on the evening of the thirteenth of March 1775, in which several persons were actually murdered. O! horrid scene! "
Another pamphlet, entitled, "Vermont's Appeal to the Candid and Impartial World," the production of Stephen Row Bradley of Westminster, which was published early in the year 1780, contains an allusion to the events under consideration, in these words:— "But above all, have they [the people of Vermont] suffered, from the cruelty of Great Britain and her emissaries. — For the truth of these things we can appeal to many undeniable facts. So late as March, 1775, previous to the battle of Lexington, the judges of New York, were led in fetters of iron, within the gates of their own city, for shedding innocent blood at Westminster, in murderously attempting to enforce the laws of that province upon the people of Vermont."
Six years after the affray, on the election of certain men to civil offices in Windham county, who previous to the Revolution had been obnoxious to the mass of the people, some of the inhabitants of Rockingham requested the Governor and Council of the state to keep back their commissions, inasmuch as they were "known Enemies to this and the United States." In proof of this charge they declared that these men had been "active and accessory to the shedding the first Blood that was shed in America to support Brittanic Government, at the Horrid and Never to be forGot Massacre Committed at Westminster Cortt House on the Night of the 13th of March, 1775. O horred Cean [scene]."
In the year 1781, Vermont increased her territory, by admitting within her jurisdictional limits thirty-five towns which had seceded from the government of New Hampshire. This movement aroused the apprehensions of the people of the latter
APPENDIX I. 751
state, and strenuous attempts were made to recover the seceding towns. Among the memorials prepared by the citizens of New Hampshire on this subject, was one, entitled, "An address to the people of New Hampshire, and of the other United States." In this paper the events connected with the "Westminster Massacre" were referred to as follows:—
"The Inhabitants of a certain Tract of Land west of Connecticut River, commonly known by the name of the New Hampshire Grants, being by the order of the King of Britain in Council, annexed to the Province of New York, and put under that government, did so continue, not without some uneasiness, chiefly in the Western part of sd Territory, until the March 1775, preceding the ever memorable commencement of Hostilities between us and Britain at Lexington; where some Persons disaffected to the New York Government, attempting to break up the court at Westminster, one of their number being slain and another mortally wounded by the Sheriff and his Posse, in his endeavors to Suppress the insurgents, that unhappy event so occasioned the addition of Spirit and numbers to the opposers of that Government as enabled them to effect their design. The People concerned in that transaction, Supposed themselves to be engaged in the Common cause of the Colonies, and generally expected the Court party to be opposed to the same, and as many of them afterwards either from principle or by reason of what they esteemed persecution, proved to be Tories, this served to give a more plausible colouring to the truth of the above supposition. In addition to the Name of Tories which the generality of the Court supporters had obtained, the Title of Yorkers was joined, and to serve a turn were made synonymous. The other part of the People under the direction of some warm Leaders always inimical to New York, taking advantage of the times when this and York state who each had claims of Jurisdiction over them, were busily engaged against the common Enemy, did erect themselves into an Independent State by the name of Vermont. The Yorkers were pretty generally deniers of the pretended authority of said Vermont State and acted as they were able under the Government of New York.
"The principal and most zealous promoters of this Union [the union of the New Hampshire towns with Vermont], are the Yorkers on the other side, with the Tories on this side of the river, together with many of those who formerly persecuted the former mentioned persons as Murderers and enemies to their Country. Men put and now lying under bonds, others subjected to imprisonment and confinement with their judges and witnesses against them, are now preferred to the first offices of Government. The former not retracting or professing a change of Sentiments as to the justice of our common cause, but rather avowing their opinion to be right that our cause is not good, and consider in the conduct of people towards them in their present preferment as a compensation for their former ill treatment for acting the part of honest men in refusing to follow the multitude in what they thought and still think not right.
"On the other side of the River the authority departing from their Constitution (not the first time) to the infringement of the Freedom of Election did in print nominate to the choice of the Counties for civil officers, if not Military also, men by them before esteemed (being Yorkers) enemies to their Country, nay Murderers for being concerned in the Westminster affray."
In his "Descriptive Sketch" of Vermont, published in 1797, Dr. John Andrew Graham has, with his usual inaccuracy and superficialness, recounted the events of the affray in these words :—
"Westminster is a delightful place, and contains several superb houses. Hero were formerly held the Courts of Judicature, under the State of New York, but the settlers, in March, 1775, were so highly exasperated at the oppressive conduct and insolence of the Governor of that State, and his junto of land-jobbers, that they
752 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.
assembled in arms, stopped the Court from sitting, drove them from their territory, and would never after suffer the Government of New York to have the slightest jurisdiction over. them." — p. 107.
Ira Allen, in a pretentious volume, entitled, "The Natural and Political History of the State of Vermont," &c., published in 1798, has disposed of the "Westminster Massacre" in a summary manner:
"In March, 1775, an attempt was made to hold a court of justice at Westminster, in the county of Cumberland, which was prevented by the people, who had early taken possession of the Court-house, and the Judges were refused entrance at the usual hour when the Courts were opened; therefore they and the officers of the Court retired, until about eleven o'clock at night, when they returned, and were again refused admittance; whereupon they fired into the house, and killed one man and wounded several. This inflamed the minds of the people to a high degree, who next day flocked from every part of the county; a coroner's inquest sat on the body, and brought in a verdict that the man was wilfully murdered by the Court party some of whom they seized, and sent to Northampton gaol in Massachusetts, but who, were released on application to the Chief Justice of New York." — pp. 55, 56.
The epitome of the transactions connected with the 13th of March, 1775, as given by the Rev. Hosea Beckley, in a little work called, "The History of Vermont," resembles the citations from Graham and Allen. Of the person who was killed on this occasion, Mr. Beckley observes:— "His name was William French, of Brattleborough; where and in Dummerston branches of his family have since resided in respectable standing; and from which several enterprising individuals have gone forth into the Union; and one, a missionary under the American Board, to Asia." — pp. 70, 99.
In an anonymous ballad published in the year 1779, the original of which is now in the possession of Frank Moore, Esq., the genial editor of the "Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution," reference is made to the death of William French. The stanza in which the allusion occurs and the note of illustration accompanying it, are in these words:—
"But Vengeance let us Wreak, my Boys,
For Matron, Maid, and Spinster:
Whose joys are fled, whose Homes are sad,
For the Youth* of Red Westminster."
Although the courts in Cumberland county were badly managed in many instances, previous to the time when they were stopped, yet the administration of justice in this portion of the province of New York was not wholly neglected by the provincial judges. There is still extant an affidavit of Richard Morris, clerk of the court of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery in the province of New York, dated the 26th of August, 1774, in which that gentleman testified before Lieut.-Gov. Cadwallader Colden, that the Hon. Robert R. Livingston, one of the judges of the Supreme Court of judicature for the province of New York, attended the session of the court of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery, held at Westminster in My, 1774.
In the east parish of Westminster, "the Liberty men" were few and far between. In the west parish, the majority of the inhabitants were "pure Whigs." The men who served under Capt. Azariah Wright on the 13th of March, were mostly from the latter parish. Captain Wright's company was organized between the years 1768 and 1770. It is not known whence he obtained his captaincy, but it is evident that
* "A young man who was killed by the Tories, near the Great Falls of the river Connecticut, in the spring of the year 1775."
APPENDIX I. 753
his force at the time of the outbreak, was of the people and supported the people's cause. For several years he had been accustomed to call his company together for drill, at his own house, and if the policy of the Whigs had not interdicted the use of fire arms, his men would have evinced their skill as marksmen in such a manner as would have caused no discredit to their leader. As far as can now be ascertained, the organization of the company was as follows:— Captain, Azariah Wright; Lieutenant, Jabez Perry; First Sergeant, Simeon Burke; Second Sergeant, Jesse Burke.
Jacob Albee, Francis Holden,
John Albee, John Holt,
Lemuel Ames, Ichabod Ide,
Asa Averill, Israel Ide,
John Averill, Joseph Ide,
Thomas Averill, Robert Miller,
Jabez Bates, John Petty,
Silas Burke, Atwater Phippen,
Atherton Chaffee, Joseph Phippen.
Andrew Crook, Samuel Phippen,
Robert Crook, Robert Rand,
William Crook, James Richardson,
David Daley, Nathaniel Robertson,
Jonathan Fuller, Reuben Robertson,
Seth Goold, Edmund Shipman,
William Goold, Jehiel Webb,
The officers of the Rockingham company were, as far as remembered, Captain, Stephen Sargeant; Lieutenant, Philip Safford; Surgeon, Reuben Jones. Nothing is known of the organization of the companies from Guilford or Walpole. It had long been the custom of Judge Thomas Chandler, to procure commissions of one kind and another from New York, and bestow them on such as he favored. In this way several military officers had been appointed in different parts of the county. Those persons in Westminster who had obtained the titles which they bore in this manner, were Major John Norton, Captain Benjamin Burt, Lieutenant Medad Wright, and Ensign William Willard, but it is believed that no company was ever organized under these officers.
The manner in which the Court party treated the "rioters" on the night of the affray, was to the former an especial topic of congratulation among themselves. One of them, William Willard, a justice of the peace, even while a prisoner in the Courthouse, "made a brag that he struck French" and knocked him down. After his enlargement, he went to New York, and on his return, appeared in a new suit of clothes, which, it was said, had been given him by the Lieutenant Governor, in acknowledgment of his valiant conduct. He died at Brattleborough. In his last days he was insane, and his final sickness, being hemorrhagic in its character, was regarded by the old people as a judgment upon him from God, for the part he had taken in shedding the blood of French.
A door of the old Court-house, which was perforated by a bullet on the memorable night of the rencontre, was for many years preserved by a citizen of Westminster and did him good service as a door in his own dwelling.
Concerning Dr. Reuben Jones who acted so prominent a part among the Whigs,
754 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.
but little is known. That he was a man of intelligence, is proved by his "Relation of the proceedings of the people of the County of Cumberland, and Province of New York," which has been already referred to. At the meeting held at Westminster on the 11th of April, 1775, for the purpose of devising means to resist the progress of oppression, Dr. Jones served as clerk. On account of his facility in composition and his general accuracy, he was often chosen to similar positions on more important occasions. He was the delegate from Rockingham in the convention held at Dorset on the 25th of September, 1776, and represented the former town in the General Assembly of Vermont during the sessions of 1778, 1779, and 1780. He then removed to Chester, and in 1781 was the representative from that town in the General Assembly. Like many of the early settlers of Vermont, he became involved in debt. Having been seized in New Hampshire, at the instance of an inhabitant of that state, he was confined in the jail of Cheshire county, during a part of the summer of 1785. On the 16th of August, in that year, he effected his escape from prison. On the 22d, a warrant was issued by Simeon Olcott, a justice of the peace for Cheshire county, directing his arrest if found within the bailiwick of the sheriff of that county. To evade the officers of the law, Dr. Jones repaired to Vermont. Simon Stevens, a justice of the peace for Windsor county, issued an order for his arrest on the 27th, and on the 29th the unfortunate physician was taken at Chester by John Griswold of Springfield. But even now his friends did not desert him. As Griswold was taking him off, John Caryl and Amos Fisher, citizens of Chester, made an attack upon the officer, and delivered Dr. Jones from his hands. At the session of the Supreme court held at Windsor, "on the second Tuesday, next following the fourth Tuesday of August," 1785, the grand jurors found a true bill against the Doctor and his two friends for resisting an officer, but the result of the trial which followed does not appear.
It may not be generally known that an attempt has already been made, by many of the most distinguished and patriotic citizens of Vermont, to obtain from the Legislature of that state an appropriation for the purpose of erecting a monument to the memory of William French. At the session in 1852, the following petition was read in the house:—
"To the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
"The undersigned citizens of this State, believing that it is not only a duty, but inseparable from the love of country and the support of free institutions, to cherish the memory of those who, on momentous occasions, have offered up their lives for the public good, beg leave to call the attention of the Legislature to the perishing state of the memorial erected at Westminster, in 1775, over the body of William French, the proto-martyr of Vermont independence, if not that of America. We think that there is a turning point in every revolution, giving it a fixed and decisive character, namely, the first resistance unto blood; and it is almost needless to say with what spirit and patriotism this was done by the young man just mentioned, or what an immense impulse was given by his devoted sacrifice to the followers of Chittenden, Allen, and Warner, resulting at last in the freedom and independence of the State of Vermont. The monument of crumbling slate, with its rude but emphatic inscription, erected by what we may now call the pious hands of the men of those days, is now fast perishing away, and, unless some steps are taken to save it, will soon wholly disappear. Feeling that this ought not to be, and that the duty of preventing it will be performed in a more honorable and imposing manner, and be much more indicative of the spirit of our whole people, if done by the State, we venture to pray that such means may be taken by the Legislature as are most meet and proper for that purpose."
To this petition were appended the names of Charles K. Williams, William C.
APPENDIX J. 755
Bradley, Carlos Coolidge, Daniel Kellogg, Jacob Collamer, Charles K. Field, and fifty-seven other persons, together with the names of eighteen of the relatives of William French. The subject was referred to a select committee, composed of George W. Grandey, George Lyman, Jarvis F. Burrows, Hiram Ford, and Thomas Browning. A very able report, favorable to the request of the petitioners, and containing much historical information of value, was prepared by these gentlemen, and presented to the House on the 9th of November. At the same time they reported the following bill, and respectfully recommended its passage:—
"An Act making an appropriation for a Monument to William French.
"It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont, as follows:
"Section 1. A sum not exceeding twenty-five hundred dollars is hereby appropriated, to be expended under the direction of the Governor, in the erection of a granite Monument over the grave of William French, at Westminster; and the Auditor of Accounts is directed to audit the accounts of the Governor for the expenditure herein provided, and draw orders on the Treasurer of the State for the same.
"Section 2. This act shall take effect from its passage."
The petition, report, and bill were laid on the table, and the clerk was "ordered to procure the printing of five hundred copies for the use of the house." On its introduction subsequently, the bill was advocated by the Hon. William C. Bradley, of Westminster, in a speech replete with patriotic sentiments, forcible arguments and historic facts of the most interesting character. To the great regret of a very large minority the bill was defeated by a few votes, on its third reading.