ENEMIES WITHIN AND WITHOUT.
Attempts to unite in one District the territory in New Hampshire and Vermont bordering the Connecticut — Convention at Charlestown — Eastern and Western Unions — Cumberland and Bennington Counties divided — Boundaries of Windham, Windsor and Orange Counties — The County of Washington — Gen. Jacob Bailey — Col. Thomas Johnson — Johnson taken at Peacham — Sufferings of Jonathan Elkins — Treatment of Johnson — Alarm at Newbury — Elections in Windham County — Dissatisfaction of the Patriots of Rockingham with the Officers elected — Their Petition — Remonstrance from Dummerston — Law against Defamation — Alarm at Bethel — The "Hazen Road" — The Canada Negotiations — Popular Surmises — Opinions delivered in Conversations — Gov. Clinton writes for information — Seth Smith indicted for Treason — Citizens of Guilford address Gov. Clinton — The "Representation" of the New York Party — Proceedings in Congress, and in the New York Legislature — Smith discharged from his Indictment — Attempts to effect a settlement of Difficulties — Remonstrance from three of the southern Towns in Windham County to the New York Legislature — Convention of the same Towns — Vermont Militia Law — The Republic of Guilford — The Constancy of its Citizens to the interests of New York — William Shattuck — The Triumph of the Yorkers.
FAILING in their efforts to obtain assistance either at home or on the floor of Congress in resisting the demands of Vermont, the inhabitants of Cumberland county who owed allegiance to New York were now ready to adopt other measures for ensuring their personal and political safety. By a resolution of Congress passed on the 27th of September, 1780, the further consideration of the question respecting the jurisdiction of the New Hampshire Grants had been postponed; and the prospect of a settlement seemed, after the discussions of many months, to be no nearer than at the outset. At this juncture a majority of the inhabitants of the towns in the western portion of New Hampshire, expressed a wish to be received into union with Vermont. A proposition for the establishment of a jurisdiction of another character, was at the same time promulged by the New York adherents residing in Cumberland and Gloucester counties, and
1780.] CONVENTION AT CHARLESTOWN. 401
a convention of town committees from the former county was called on the 31st of October. On this occasion Luke Knowlton, Hilkiah Grout, Oliver Lovell, Col. John Sargeants, Micah Townsend, Maj. Jonathan Hunt, Simon Stevens, Charles Phelps, Benjamin Henry, James Clay, Maj. Elkanah Day, Thomas Cutler and Barzillai Rice, were appointed a committee to take into consideration the feasibility of a new government, and to meet such persons as should be authorized to consult upon the same question by a convention or committee of the people of Gloucester county on the west, and Grafton county on the east side of Connecticut river. The design of Cumberland county in these proceedings, was "to devise and carry into execution such measures" as should be deemed best calculated "to unite in one political body all the inhabitants from Mason's grant on the east to the height of land on the west side the said river." The idea thus brought forward of establishing the western line of a new district at the ridge of the Green Mountains, manifested clearly the unwillingness of the New York adherents to acknowledge the jurisdiction of Vermont, provided they could ensure their own safety in any other way.*
Delegations from three counties having by previous agreement met on the 8th of November, at Charlestown, New Hampshire, measures were taken to learn the sentiments of the inhabitants residing in the towns included in the district which it was proposed to establish. Until the result of this inquiry should be declared, ultimate action was postponed. Desirous of engaging in the union, the towns in the county of Cheshire, New Hampshire, sent delegates to a meeting which was held at Walpole, on the 15th of November. On this occasion a committee of five were appointed to confer with gentlemen from any of the towns on the "Grants" on the subject of establishing the jurisdiction of that district. The result was a general meeting of representatives from the counties of Cumberland, Gloucester, Cheshire and Grafton. The project of a union of the towns bordering the Connecticut, in Vermont and New Hampshire, was freely discussed, and various arguments were alleged in support of the right to establish the territory designated, as a separate and independent state. That time might be given for reflection, and that the people — the source of power — might be consulted before any decisive step should be taken, letters were
* Slade's Vt. State Papers, pp. 122, 123, 124. Journals of Am. Congress, Sept. 12th-27th, 1780. Pingry MSS.
402 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1781.
sent from this meeting of the counties, inviting the attendance of representatives from all the towns interested, at a convention to be held at Charlestown on the third Tuesday of January, 1781.*
On organizing the convention which assembled in pursuance of this call, it was found that there were present, representatives from forty-three towns. The primary object of the assembly was declared to be, the formation of a union of the whole of the "Grants," consolidated upon such principles as the majority should think best. A committee of twelve from the counties of Cumberland, Gloucester, Grafton and Cheshire were appointed to confer with the General Assembly of Vermont at their next session on the subject of this union, and a declaration of the views of the convention in regard to the propriety and legality of the proposed measures, was at the same time drawn up and published. The proceedings of the convention were not, however, unanimous, the members from eight New Hampshire towns entering their protest against them. During the two following months, extraordinary efforts were made to effect the consolidation, and on the 6th of April, thirty-five representatives, from as many towns in the western part of New Hampshire, took their seats in the General Assembly of the state of Vermont. In addition to the terms agreed to by the New Hampshire towns and the state of Vermont in view of this union, it was settled in regard to the towns in Cumberland and Gloucester counties which should join in the consolidation, that a general and full act of oblivion should be passed by the Legislature of Vermont in behalf of those persons who, on the 1st of October, 1780, although residing in Vermont were avowed subjects of New York that all judgments against them for fines and forfeitures on account of their opposition to the authority of Vermont should be annulled that no judgments should be hereafter rendered against them for any state offences committed before the time above specified and that no civil suits should be hereafter maintained against them for trespasses perpetrated previous to the time aforesaid. The representation from Cumberland and Gloucester counties in the Vermont Legislature was not increased in consequence of the consolidation. The only immediate effect of the proceeding, in Eastern Vermont, was to beget a more kindly feeling towards the self-created state, in the minds of those who were almost ready to refuse any longer to yield allegiance to New York.
* Slade's Vt. State Papers, pp. 126, 127.
1781.] THE "UNIONS." 403
Soon after the completion of the Eastern Union, as it was called, some of the inhabitants residing in that part of New York situated north of a line drawn west as far as Hudson river, in continuation of the northern boundary of Massachusetts, and between Hudson river and the western boundary of Vermont, who had asked to be admitted within the limits of Vermont, received an answer favorable to their petition. On the 16th of June representatives from ten towns took their places in the Assembly of Vermont, and the Western Union was declared a constituent portion of the state. During the few months that these Unions were considered as a part of Vermont, they were a source of continual trouble and expense. Happy was the hour, when on the 23d of February, 1782, the unfortunate connections were dissolved, and the revolted districts were left free to return to their right and natural jurisdictions.*
Another important act of the February session, was the subdivision of the counties of Cumberland and Bennington. Since March, 1778, the former on the east and the latter on the west side of the Green Mountains, had comprised within their combined limits the whole state. On the 16th of February, Cumberland was divided into three counties. To Windham county on the south were assigned limits which, with the exception of a few changes on the western line, are the same as at present. A similar qualification being made in respect to the western line of Windsor county, the same statement may be made with regard to its limits as then constituted, and as now preserved. Orange county comprised all the land lying between the north line of Windsor county and the forty-fifth parallel of north latitude, and extended from Connecticut river on the east to a line commencing at a point near Lake Memphramagog, fifty miles from the centre of the "deepest channel" of Lake Champlain; and running thence south to the north-east corner of the town of Worcester; thence south on the east lines of the town of Worcester, Middlesex, and Berlin, to the south-east corner of the latter town; thence on a straight line to the north-west corner of Tunbridge; thence on the west line of Tunbridge to the south-west corner of that town, at which place it struck the north boundary of Windsor county. To attempt to describe accurately the alterations which were continually made in the county lines which stretched
* Slade's Vt. State Papers, pp. 128-141, 169. Papers relating to Vt. Controversy, in office Sec. State N.Y., p. 36.
404 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1781.
through the length of the state, now on the western, anon on the eastern slope of the Green Mountains, and sometimes on its very ridge, would be to undertake a task as difficult as it would prove practically useless. As has been already remarked, the more mountainous portions of the state were for years unsettled, and for this reason a description of them would add no value to an historical narration. On account of the addition of the Eastern Union, Orange and Windsor counties were temporarily enlarged. By an act of the General Assembly, passed in April, 1781, all the lands within Vermont on the east side of Connecticut river, "lying and being opposite the county of Orange," were annexed to that county. With the county of Windsor was incorporated the new territory on the opposite side of the river, south of that which had been added to Orange county, and north of the north lines of the towns of Claremont, Newport, Unity and Wendall. The remaining district, situated to the south of these towns, was erected into a county by the name of Washington. When in the beginning of the next year the Eastern Union was dissolved, the counties resumed the limits which had been assigned them previous to the consolidation.*
During the whole of the war of the revolution, Vermont, especially the eastern section, was but rarely subjected to extended or disastrous incursions of the English or their Canadian allies. Very often, however, scouting parties would enter houses under cover of night, either for the purpose of plunder, or of taking some American whose strenuous opposition to the King of Great Britain had marked him as a dangerous person. Among those who had long been noted as zealous patriots, Gen. Jacob Bayley and Col. Thomas Johnson of Newbury were preeminent. The former not only possessed great influence with his own countrymen, but was regarded by the neighboring Indians as a father. Serving as quarter-master-general for the troops stationed at and about Newbury, he never failed to engage in any honorable enterprise which might serve to advance the interests of the common cause. A large reward was offered by the British for his person. Many were the plans
* Journals General Assembly, Vt. Slade's Vt. State Papers, p. 427. On the 19th of February, 1781, by an act of the General Assembly, Windham county was divided into half-shires, called respectively Westminster and Marlborough, and the courts were held alternately in the shire-towns of the same name. Windsor county was constituted a shire by itself, and the town of Windsor was the shire-town. In Orange county, the shire-towns of Thetford and Norwich were situated within the half-shires of the same name.
1781.] CAPTURE OF COL. THOMAS JOHNSON. 405
arranged for his capture, and equally numerous were the failures of the attempts made to take him. Col. Johnson was also a man whose influence upon the circle in which he moved, was such as to excite the fears of the enemy. By order of Gen. Lincoln, he, at the head of a volunteer company, had in September, 1777, proceeded towards Ticonderoga for the purpose of diverting the attention of the enemy, while Colonel Brown was engaged in releasing the American prisoners at Lake George. Not only did he succeed in this undertaking, but in connection with others, assisted in recovering many important stations on Lake Champlain, in liberating more than one hundred Americans, and in capturing two hundred and ninety-three of the enemy. Of these prisoners, a hundred had been placed in his charge. Instead of securing them near the Lake, he had marched them back into the country where they would not be liable to be retaken, and where provisions could be more readily obtained. By this and other acts Col. Johnson had greatly troubled the British, who now eagerly sought for an opportunity to make him their prisoner. He succeeded, however, in eluding their vigilance until the spring of 1781, when he was taken in the following manner.
Having contracted to erect a grist-mill in the town of Peacham, situated fifteen miles northwest of Newbury, Col. Johnson set out from the latter place on the 5th of March, 1781, taking with him two mill-stones. Owing to the lameness of his oxen, and a temporary illness with which he was affected, he was occupied three days in performing the journey. On reaching Peacham he stopped at the house of Deacon Jonathan Elkins. Being awakened on the morning of the 8th, between twelve and one o'clock, he arose and found the house surrounded by a party of the British, consisting of eleven men including Capt. Pritchard the commander. His first impulse was to draw on his stockings, clear the window, and run. But, before he could accomplish this object, the muzzles of two guns were brought in unpleasant proximity to his person, and he was claimed by two men as their prisoner. Surrendering himself as such, and having promised to give his captors no trouble, he was permitted to accompany them without being bound. Jonathan and Moses Elkins, sons of the Deacon, and Jacob Page were also made captives, but by the intercession of Johnson, who discovered among the British two "old acquaintances," Moses, who was feeble in body, was permitted to return after he had pro‑
406 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1781.
ceeded about eight miles. Taking in their course Lamoille river, Grand Isle, Point au Fer, and L'isle au Noix, the party reached St. John's on the 13th, after a journey of six days. Page was immediately sent on to Montreal, but of his after life, if he was permitted to live, nothing is known.
Jonathan, then a youth, known afterwards as Col. Elkins, was imprisoned at Quebec, and after enduring for eight months the most grievous privations, was sent to England with one hundred and fifty others. During the voyage the prisoners were distributed throughout the fleet with which they sailed, and were obliged to do duty. On arriving at Plymouth, Elkins and his fellow-sufferers were confined in the old Mill prison, and there remained from the 9th of February, 1782, until the 24th of June following. During this period they were allowed only two-thirds the rations of common soldiers, and most of them were miserably clad. Having been informed of their condition, Dr. Franklin, who was then the American minister at France, sent to each prisoner, one shilling sterling per week, which gift was of great service in relieving the misery of their condition.* Referring to this noble act, and the good results which followed it, Col. Elkins wrote:— "There were among us forty captains of vessels, and many others who had some learning and when we got our shilling a week from Dr. Franklin, it was proposed that we, who had no learning, should pay four coppers a week for schooling, and soon many schools were opened. Among the rest, I procured paper, pen and ink, and a slate, and paid my four coppers a week for tuition. By this means, many who could neither read nor write got so much learning, that they were capable of transacting business for themselves, and a number of us learned the mariner's art, so as to be capable of navigating a ship." This confinement having been brought to an end by an exchange of the American prisoners for the captured troops of Cornwallis, one thousand seven hundred and thirty-three of the former were put on board a cartel and sent back to the United States. Among this number was young Elkins, who afterwards returned to his home in Peacham.
The treatment which Johnson received during his captivity, was far different from that experienced by his unfortunate friend, Elkins. He was regarded by the British as a man who might
* This circumstance is mentioned in the "Memoirs of Andrew Sherburne" in connection with an account of the old Mill prison, pp. 78-96.
1781.] ADVENTURES OF JOHNSON DURING CAPTIVITY. 407
be of great service to them, provided he could be induced to renounce his allegiance to the United States. For the purpose of leading him to take this step, he was allowed many privileges not often granted to prisoners, and was treated with great urbanity and kindness. While at St. John's, he was allowed a camp parole, and was permitted to live with Capt. Sherwood, a gentleman noted for the humanity which he uniformly displayed towards those whom the fortune of war placed in his power. Notwithstanding the attentions which he received, his quarters were often shifted from St. John's to Montreal, from Montreal to Chambly, and from Chambly to Three Rivers. At each of these places, he was interrogated by different officers as to the "views and feelings of the inhabitants of the 'Grants,' " and as to his own opinions of the prospects of the colonies. Careful and guarded in his answers, he spoke with apparent carelessness of the American cause, but never divulged anything which would be of advantage to the enemy or detrimental to his friends. He afterwards ascertained that his answers were noted by those with whom he conversed, and sent to the commander for comparison and inspection.
On one occasion, a young officer, in whose charge he had been placed, had been drinking too freely, and had left a letter exposed, which Johnson took the liberty to peruse. It was from a person high in command, and expressed a hope that the young officer was possessed of "too much sense and intelligence to be imposed upon by the prisoner." Knowing from this, and other circumstances, that his words, as well as actions, were the subject of critical examination, Johnson resolved to affect an indifference towards the American cause, trusting that the result would prove personally beneficial. In this he was not disappointed. Having been detained a prisoner for seven months, he was finally released on parole, on the 5th of October, having first signed an instrument in which he pledged his "faith and word of honor" to Gen. Haldimand that he would "not do or say any thing contrary to his Majesty's interest or government," and that, whenever required so to do, he would repair to whatever place should be designated by proper authority, and would there remain until legally exchanged. After his return to his family at Newbury, he would, now and then, receive letters from his friends in Canada, but was never ordered to change his residence or to surrender his parole. He freely communicated his views to Gen. Washington in regard to the negotiations which,
408 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1781.
for a time, were carried on between the British in Canada and the principal men in Vermont, and although mistaken in his conclusions that the state was to become a British province, proved himself a true patriot by the jealousy with which he regarded an intercourse which, to all but those concerned in it wore the aspect of contemplated, if not of incipient, or nearly consummated treason. His unpleasant connection with the enemy continued in force by virtue of the agreement he had signed, until the 20th of January, 1783, when the treaty of peace released him from his parole of honor, at the same time that it gave independence to the United States.*
On the 16th of March, a few days after the capture of Johnson and his friends, another alarm was experienced at Newbury, the cause and character of which are not known. It was sufficient, however, to excite the apprehensions of Gen. Bayley, who immediately ordered the militia from the adjacent towns to march to the place threatened by invasion. The only records of the affair which are known to exist are the pay-rolls. From these it appears that eighteen men from Westminster, belonging to the companies of Capts. Jesse Burk and Michael Gilson, but commanded by the former, "marched in the alarm" at Newbury, fifteen miles towards that place and returned, having been for three days in service; that Capt. John Mercy of Windsor, led twenty-eight of his townsmen twenty-one miles on the same errand and then returned, after an absence of three days; and that a company of nineteen men, headed by the fiercely-named Samuel Stow Savage, performed a journey similar in all respects to the last, and brought his gallant followers in safety to their homes.†
The necessity of establishing the internal government of Vermont on a firm basis had been deeply felt at the February session of the General Assembly. In order to secure, in part, this desired result, the times and places for holding the county elections had been selected and ratified by legislative enactment, and notified to the most important towns. At this time there resided in Windham county a number of gentlemen of ability, who, previous to the year 1775, had been connected either as judges, lawyers, or in some subordinate capacity, with the established courts. When the power of the King had been
* Powers's Coos Country, pp. 193-216. Thompson's Vt., Part III. p. 137.
† MS. Muster-Rolls, etc.
1781.] DISSATISFACTION AT ROCKINGHAM. 409
declared a nullity, these gentlemen still retaining their loyal feelings, had retired from the struggle which ensued, and during the six years that followed had, from their seclusion, observed with interest the changes which day by day gave a new aspect to the political affairs not only of their immediate neighborhood, but of the whole United States. The time had now come when these men must decide between "the King and the Congress," as the phrase of the times was. Aware that their mental attainments would give them a place in the new government, and viewing the condition of royalty as doubtful and desperate, they declared their willingness to embrace the cause of America, and avowed their allegiance to the state of Vermont. At the elections which were held on the 27th of March, several of these gentlemen were elected to the highest and most important offices of the county. When the result was made known, great indignation was felt by those who from the beginning had resisted the encroachments of Great Britain, and who now beheld men who had for years remained neutral raised to office, and placed in positions which were justly due to those who had suffered in, and sustained the now triumphing cause.
Among the people of Rockingham this feeling of dissatisfaction was manifested in terms most significant. Many of the inhabitants of that town had been at Westminster on the night of the memorable "massacre," or on the day succeeding that event, and had there become penetrated with aversion to anything which bore the insignium of the Crown, and to any person who derived authority from it. Although illiterate men, yet they could not acknowledge that to be justice which should grant favors to him who but yesterday had sworn allegiance to America, while it neglected the brave soldier who six years ago had taken his place with eagerness and enthusiasm, among the handful whom King George denounced as rebels. Influenced by these feelings, they drew up a petition on the 9th of April, addressed to Governor Chittenden and to the Council of the state, remonstrating against the election to office of the "friends to Ministerial Tirrany and Usurpation," who until within a few days had been the "a Vowed Enemies to all authority save that Derived from the Crown of Great Britton," and the "known Enemies to this and the United States of America." "If there is proof wanted of this," they continued, "we will bring in their being active in and accessory to the shedding the first Blood that was shed in America to support Brittanic Government, at
410 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1781.
the Horrid and Never to be for Got Massacre Committed at Westminster Cortt House on the Night of the 13th of March, 1775." They further declared that they could perceive no difference "between being hailed to Great Britton for Tryal or being Tryed by these Tools amongst our Selves," and asked for a new election, or for the retention of the commissions of Noah Sabin Jr., as judge of probate; of John Bridgman, Luke Knowlton, and Benjamin Burt, as judges of the county court; of Oliver Lovell and Elias Olcott as justices of the peace; and of Jonathan Hunt, as high sheriff, in order that the petitioners might have an opportunity "to Enter a proper Impeachment and prove that Said persons are Not onely Disquallefied for holding any public Station By their own bad Conduct but Cannott be freemen of the State of Vermont by the Constitution thereof." To this paper were appended about fifty signatures written in scrawls, as ragged as the composition of the document was unique.
On the 12th of April, and before the presentation of the Rockingham petition, a remonstrance similar in import, signed by Leonard Spaulding and a number of the inhabitants of Dummerston and the neighboring towns, was brought before the Council for immediate consideration. The request contained in this instrument was answered in part, and the commissions of Noah Sabin Jr., as judge of probate, and of Samuel Knight, as a justice of the peace, were withheld for the present. The Rockingham petition was considered on the 16th of April, but the Council refused to accede to the wishes of the petitioners and the subject was dismissed. At the fall session of the Legislature in the same year, the case of Sabin and Knight was reviewed, and their election was confirmed on the 25th of October by regularly executed commissions. Although there was still a lingering suspicion in the minds of many as to the patriotism of several of the county officers, yet their conduct was without fault, and their duties were performed agreeable to the wishes of the most loyal supporters of the American cause.*
In enforcing the laws of the state, the courts sometimes experienced difficulties by reason of the nature of the offences which they were required to notice. By a statute passed in February, 1779, it had been enacted that whoever should defame "any court of justice, or the sentence or proceedings of the same; or
* MS. Remonstrance, Council Records, &c.
1781.] ALARM OF THE NORTHERN TOWNS. 411
any of the magistrates, judges, or justices of any such court, in respect of any act or sentence therein passed," should, on conviction, be punished by fine, imprisonment, disfranchisement, or banishment at the discretion of the court. Wholly disregarding this law and its denunciations, Nathaniel Bennet of Tomlinson, now Grafton, "did, on or about" the 1st of August, while at Athens, "utter and publish these false and defamatory words" in relation to Seth Oaks, a justice of the peace:— "He has given a damned judgment against me, and he has perjured himself; and deserves to be whipped damnably." Complaint having been made against him by Stephen R. Bradley, the attorney for the state, he was arrested on an order from the Superior court, and was brought before that body on the 6th of September, while in session at Westminster. Owing to an apparent reluctance, as it would seem, to try the prisoner at that time, he was admitted to bail, and the cause was put over until the session in January, 1782. It was then carried forward to the June term, on which occasion it was again postponed. The defendant was subsequently ordered to appear at the session in February, 1783, but failing to be present he forfeited his bail bond. No further proceedings were taken in the matter.*
As has been already observed, the easy access to the settlements, afforded by the unprotected condition of the frontiers, was the cause of continual alarms to the northern towns. The anticipation of an irruption from Canada, or of an attack of some nature, induced Capt. John Benjamin, the commandant of the fort at Bethel, to seek assistance from the neighboring militia, early in August, 1781.
In obedience to this application, Capt. Bartholomew Durkee, on the 10th of that month, and at the head of twenty-five of the stout men of Pomfret, marched to his aid, and was joined by Capt. Elkanah Sprague with five men from Hartford. The readiness of the soldiers to fight seems, however, to have been the only method by which they were permitted to evince their bravery on this occasion. The sole record of the expedition which remains, is that which preserves the names of the militia, the number of miles they travelled and the days they were absent on service. But the fortunate issue of this alarm was counterbalanced by an event which happened in the following month.
* MS. Court Records.
412 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1781.
During the summer, Capt. Nehemiah Lovewell was stationed with his company at Peacham. The "Hazen Road" as it was called, which had been commenced by Gen. Bayley, in 1776, and completed by Gen. Hazen in 1779, began at Peacham and extended through the present towns of Cabot, Walden, Hardwick, Greensborough, Craftsbury, Albany, and Lowell. Up this road, Lovewell sent a scout of four men, during the month of September, for the purpose of ascertaining the locality of the enemy. While on the route, they were ambushed and fired upon by the Indians. Two of the party were killed and scalped, the other two were captured; and on the tenth day after they left Peacham, were prisoners in Quebec with Colonel Elkins, who had been carried away in the preceding spring. This was the last of the depredations by which the inhabitants of the eastern settlements were disturbed during the year.*
Although the frequent incursions of the Indians and Tories had kept the people on both sides of the Green Mountains in a state of perpetual alarm, yet the Canada negotiations and the delays in Congress in the adjustment of the jurisdictional rights of the different claimants to the "Grants," were the cause of anticipations more gloomy than the sad realities of the present hour. Among the majority of the inhabitants, so little was known concerning the relations existing between the government of Vermont and the British, that the most extravagant surmises were promulged by those who, in other matters, were esteemed for their prudence. Stories which, at any other time, would have been discredited without hesitation, were repeated with additions and exaggeration, and received as the truth. Whatever may have been the opinion of Washington and his advisers as to the course pursued by the leading men in Vermont during this period of doubt and danger, there is now no question that the secrecy with which the negotiations with the enemy were conducted, notwithstanding the evil reports which were caused thereby, was the safest method which could have been adopted. Vermont — claimed by New York, regarded with hatred and fear by New Hampshire, suspected of treason by Congress, and eagerly watched by Canada, — held a situation so peculiarly delicate, that one false step might have destroyed all the plans of her protectors, and rendered vain her hopes of existence as a separate and independent state. In the minds of
* MS. Muster Rolls. Thompson's Vt., Part III. p. 137.
1781.] UNPATRIOTIC SENTIMENTS. 413
many, the distrust evinced towards Congress was far greater than the fear of subjection to British dominion. To such an extent did this distrust prevail, that not a few among those who represented Vermont in her own Legislature, regarded with evident satisfaction the idea of becoming allegiant to the Crown. From the language held by men who, although violent in their expressions, were still the exponents of the views of a large class of the community in which they resided, a more definite idea may be gained of the ideas which, at this time, prevailed.
In a conversation which took place at Brattleborough, during the month of May, between Col. Samuel Wells, who had been one of the royal judges in Cumberland county, for many years an adherent to New York, and afterwards a representative in the Assembly of Vermont — in a conversation which took place between him and Elijah Prouty, the latter having observed that in his opinion, "the state would not stand a state," Wells replied, that he was mistaken, that Vermont would continue a state because it was established a state by the King of Great Britain, and further declared, that in case the United States should levy war against it, it "could be supported by 10,000 or 15,000 troops out of Canada." Similar to this, was the assertion of Capt. Oliver Cooke who, in the month of July, assured a friend, that Vermont was a state, and that he could "in less than twenty-four hours" show that it had been "established by the King of Great Britain." The language of John Bridgman, of Vernon, a judge of the quarter sessions, and a member of the state Assembly, when conversing in relation to the powers of Congress, was violent in the extreme. "Congress has no business" to interfere with the present union of Vermont and New Hampshire, said he, to that renowned Yorker, Timothy Church of Brattleborough, as they chanced to meet on a November's day, at Matthew Martin's mill. Church expressed a contrary opinion. Thereupon, Bridgman replied: "Damn the Congress. Curse the Congress! Haven't we waited long enough on them? A pox on them. I wish they would come to the mill now; I would put them between these mill-stones or under the water-wheel. They have sold us like a cursed old horse. They have no business with our affairs. We know no such body of men!"
So fearlessly were opinions expressed respecting the condition of the state, that Edward Smith declared openly, at the public house of Josiah Arms, in Brattleborough, that "as long as the
414 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1781, 1782.
King and Parliament of Great Britain approved of, and would maintain the state of Vermont, he was determined to drive it, and so were its leaders." Verbal reports of these, and similar declarations, were borne to Governor Clinton, who regarded them as proofs of a treasonable conspiracy with the enemy. In order to obtain the exact truth, he wrote on the 3d of January, 1782, to Capt. Timothy Church and his wife, Lieut. Jonathan Church, Elijah Prouty, Benjamin Baker, Israel Field, and Joseph Dater, in whose presence these sentiments had been uttered. "As I am informed," said he, "that you are acquainted with facts that tend to prove that the leaders of the usurped government of Vermont are in league with the common enemy, I have therefore to request, that you will appear before a civil magistrate, authorized to take the same, and make affidavit of all such matters as shall have come to your knowledge, respecting the same, in order that they may be transmitted to me. The good opinion I have of your patriotism, forbids my using any arguments to induce you to a compliance with a measure in which the safety and general interest of America is obviously and essentially concerned." In conformity with this request, those who had heard the remarks before narrated, committed the facts to writing in the form of affidavits, and sent them to Governor Clinton.*
Although the New York adherents experienced great difficulty in upholding the government to which they owed allegiance, yet they did not hesitate to express their views on the subject whenever an opportunity was offered. On the 5th of November, 1781, Seth Smith, Elijah Prouty, Daniel Shepardson, and hezekiah Stowell informed Governor Clinton, by letter, of their disapprobation of the "present basis of government" as established in Vermont, and of the threatenings with which they had been menaced by the people of that state. They further declared, that "vast numbers" still held to the state of New York and to the authority of Congress, but were constrained to suppress their sentiments from regard to personal safety. In proof of these statements, they referred the Governor to Lieut. Israel Smith, the bearer of the letter. The nature of this correspondence having become known, Seth Smith, who was regarded by the Vermonters as a dangerous person, and who
* George Clinton Papers, in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xv. doc. 4265. MS. Depositions.
1781, 1782.] ADDRESS OF THE GUILFORDITES. 415
had also been charged with being engaged in some riotous proceedings, was indicted in December, 1781, before the court in Windham county for "conspiring and attempting an invasion, insurrection, and public rebellion" against the state of Vermont, and for "attempting the alteration and subversion" of its "frame of government by endeavoring the betraying the same into the hands of a foreign power."
Aroused, no doubt, by this exercise of power, and aware that the agreement they had made to sustain the jurisdiction of Vermont at the time of the addition of the Eastern Union, had tended but little to increase their personal or political safety, the inhabitants of Guilford, on the 8th of January, 1782, drew up an address to the Governor and Legislature of New York and to the "American Continental Congress." In this paper they expressed regret that they had been compelled by circumstances to unite with Vermont. In defence of their conduct, they argued from "the eternal and irresistible laws of self-preservation, which are ever prior to all social laws, or the laws of a particular society, state, or commonwealth," that when a body of men were oppressed, and the state to which they owed allegiance could not assist them, it was "forever justifiable for that oppressed people to procure their own redress and relief by terms of composition with their oppressors," as favorable as could be obtained. They then referred to the inconveniences to which they had been subjected in early years by the "tyrannic administration of the Crown;" to the persecutions they had endured on account of their allegiance to New York; and to the consequences which would ensue, should Congress cut off the Eastern and Western Unions and establish Vermont as an independent state. Without these wings, "Vermont," said they, "if filled up in its utmost extension," would never be able to maintain inhabitants enough to support the "charges, honor, power and dignity of an inland state;" or to build such defences at the north as are needed; or to man, victual, and support them, in case they should be erected. Should the dissolution of the Unions follow, and should Vermont be recognized by Congress as the fourteenth state, they declared that the result to them would be but little short of a natural death. Accompanying this address was a communication, dated the 10th of January, from Daniel Shepardson, Henry Hunt, Capt. Asa Rice, Capt. Daniel Wilkins, Newhall Earll, and Lieut. David Goodenough, asserting that almost all the Vermonters in Guilford, and many in the
416 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
adjacent towns, had lately "turned against Vermont," and were desirous of owning the jurisdiction of New York and submitting to the decisions of Congress.
To excite, if possible, an additional interest in their situation, the New York party in the townships of Guilford and Brattleborough, drew up a "Representation" as it was called, of their situation, and committed it to Seth Smith their agent, with orders to present it to the Legislature of New York, and to the Congress of the United States. In this document, which was composed with much care and apparent truthfulness, Smith, as representant, declared that a "very great majority" of the inhabitants of Brattleborough and Guilford, and "at least three-fourths" of the people living within the "usurped jurisdiction of Vermont, on the east side of the Green Mountains and west side of Connecticut river," were desirous of returning to the "rightful jurisdiction of the state of New York," from which by the violent measures of the new state government, and the want of necessary protection and assistance from Congress and New York, they had "much against their inclinations, been obliged to appear to depart;" that the towns which he represented, and a majority of the inhabitants of the New Hampshire Grants, were, as he believed, firmly determined to oppose by arms the "usurped jurisdiction of Vermont;" and that there was full evidence of the disaffection of "the leaders and abettors in the assumed government of Vermont" towards the United States, and of a "league of amity" between them and the enemy in Canada. In support of the last statement, he alluded to the fact that Vermont commissioners had held frequent interviews with commissioners from Canada, both in the latter province and on the "Grants;" that the leading men in Vermont had established a neutrality with Canada, publicly disavowed the authority of Congress, and authorized the transmission into Canada of prisoners belonging to Gen. Burgoyne's army, without receiving any in exchange; that the "staunch whigs and those well affected to the true interests of the United States" were exceedingly alarmed at this friendly intercourse which they could not prevent unless by force of arms, since, as supporters of New York, they were not eligible to office under Vermont; and that the "ill-gotten powers" of the supporters of the new state "were wantonly and arbitrarily" exercised, to the "inconceivable oppression of the best friends of the American cause" in that portion of the nation.
1782.] CHARGES AGAINST THE VERMONTERS. 417
In addition to these charges, he stated that the Vermonters had committed many acts of violence, under color of law, against the well-affected subjects of the state of New York; that they had proceeded so far against him, as to cause him to be charged — in an indictment for high treason against "their assumed government" — with an attempt to introduce a "foreign power" into Vermont, meaning undoubtedly by these words the government of New York and the authority of Congress; that they had "debauched" into a union with themselves, portions of New York and New Hampshire; that, although exempt from the "common burthens of the American war," they still exercised an "exorbitant power in taxation and arbitrary drafts, to support their usurpations against two of the states in the American confederacy;" and that this latter proceeding was intolerably grievous to the great body of the true friends of America, who were compelled to endure, since they were not able to resist. To support these declarations, the representant offered to adduce the "most regular and conclusive proofs," provided he and his friends should be protected while collecting the evidence. He also suggested the propriety of sending congressional commissioners to make inquiries and return a full report, and added his assurance that they would be upheld and respected by the majority of the people. In conclusion, he gave as his firm opinion that unless Congress seasonably and vigorously interpose, the well-affected to the state of New York and the United States will fly to arms in opposition to the usurpation of Vermont."
On reaching Poughkeepsie, Smith waited on Gov. Clinton, apprised him of his business, and bespoke his assistance. Clinton, at once, approved of the undertaking in which Smith was engaged, and on the 21st of January presented him with a letter of introduction to William Floyd, one of the delegates from New York in Congress. In this communication, Clinton recited in brief the information which Smith designed to communicate, and desired Floyd to aid that gentleman in fulfilling his commission. "You will be able, I presume, from the temper of Congress," wrote he, "immediately to determine what effect Mr. Smith's representation is likely to have, and if it should not appear probable that any measures will be taken in consequence of it, I wish he may not be detained in Philadelphia a single hour longer than is necessary for you to prepare your dispatches." Agreeable to this request, the representation was
418 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
laid before Congress on the 28th of January, and was referred with other papers to a special committee. Without waiting to see the issue, Smith returned home. On the 19th of February the first report was made on the subject, and was re-committed. On the presentation of their second report by the grand committee, on the 1st of March, nearly the whole day was spent in the discussion of the Vermont question, and of the conduct of the inhabitants of that state in admitting the Eastern and Western Unions within their jurisdictional limits. The result of these proceedings was the passage of a number of resolves declaring the boundaries of the New Hampshire Grants to be henceforth, as they were understood to have been, previously to the admission of the territory comprised within the acknowledged limits of New York and New Hampshire. Although these resolves were to a certain extent due to the statements of Smith, yet the main object of his mission was not accomplished, since no direct measures were taken to secure those whom he represented the rights which they claimed as citizens of New York.
On his way home, Smith left with Governor Clinton a copy of the representation which he had brought before Congress, and a petition, dated February 11th, addressed to the Legislature of New York. In the latter document, he stated that he had been authorized by his constituents to apply both to Congress and to the New York Legislature "for their respective interposition on the subject matter of his representation;" that the well-affected on the "Grants" would cheerfully render obedience to New York, provided they could be protected; that by the laws of Vermont they were deprived of civil and military power and that they were determined to resort to "the natural means of defence by arms," unless interposition should be made in their behalf. In view of these difficulties he prayed the Legislature to employ "seasonable and vigorous" measures, and thus free his constituents from the necessity of repelling force by force, a step which "by the rights of mankind" they would be justified in taking. The Legislature were to have met on the 10th of February, but at that time and for several days following there was not a quorum present. As soon as a sufficient number had congregated, the petition and representation were read in the Assembly, and, on the 23d of February, were referred to a joint committee of the Senate and Assembly "on the papers relative to the New Hampshire Grants," consisting of Messrs. Hathorn, Tompkins, De Witt, L'Hommedieu, and Adgate, from the latter
1782.] DILATORINESS OF CONGRESS. 419
body. When, on the 26th, the documents were presented to the Senate, they were disposed of in a similar manner, Messrs. Oothoudt, Whiting, and Ward being the members of the joint committee to whom they were referred.
As in Congress, so in the New York Legislature, no direct results followed this effort made by the constituents of Smith to obtain justice for themselves and protection from the people of Vermont. The attention of both of these bodies was too much engaged in investigating the reports which were daily pouring in upon them, of a treasonable correspondence between Vermont and Canada, to allow of an examination of the inconveniences of which the Guilfordites and their colleagues complained. But the declarations which were made were not entirely lost. Their influence was discernible in the course which New York, at a later period, determined to adopt in establishing government in the late county of Cumberland. Soon after his return home, Smith presented a petition to the General Assembly of Vermont, praying to be released from the charge of treason which had been brought against him. The request was referred to a committee, who reported favorably thereon, and by an act of the Assembly, passed on the 23d of February, he was discharged from the indictment "for conspiring and attempting an invasion, insurrection and public rebellion" against the state, on condition that he should appear at the court in Windham county and answer to other charges which might be brought against him, and take the oath of allegiance to Vermont. The, disappointment which he had experienced at Congress, was undoubtedly the cause of his application to the General Assembly. It does not appear, however, that he accepted the proposals which were offered him, and, judging from the conditions on which they were based, it is probable they were rejected.*
As soon as Vermont by her own act had dissolved all connection with the Eastern and Western Unions, many of the residents in several of the towns of the former county of Cumberland, again declared themselves citizens of New York. At a town meeting held at Brattleborough, on the 12th of March, the people assembled and declared by vote, that in their opinion a treaty had been
* George Clinton Papers, in office Sec. State N. Y., vol. xiv. doc. 4129: vol xv., docs. 4301, 4334, 4352. Journals of Am. Cong., Feb. 19th, March 1st, 1782. Vt. Council Records. Journal Gen. Ass. Vt., Feb. 1782. Journals Ass. N. Y. Various MSS.
420 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
"entered into with the enemy;" that the inhabitants of the New Hampshire Grants justly owed their allegiance to New York; that it was their own duty "to withdraw all allegiance or obedience to the state or authority of Vermont;" and that in case a sufficient number of the inhabitants of the other towns in the county should adopt similar sentiments, they would petition the Governor of New York to appoint civil and military officers for their guidance, and to establish a civil government under the authority of that state. On the 13th, a similar meeting was held at Guilford, and was followed by the same results. The inhabitants of Halifax assembled on the 14th, for the purpose of consulting upon the question of their connection with New York, and arrived at conclusions of a like nature.
On the 20th, a convention of the committees of the three towns above named met at Brattleborough, for the purpose of concerting such measures as the peculiar situation of the county demanded. Elijah Prouty of Brattleborough was chosen moderator of the meeting. Samuel Avery, as agent, was directed to repair to the Legislature of New York, and lay before them "a just and true state" of the "oppressions and grievances" to which their constituency on the "Grants" were subjected. Certain persons were also appointed to write to those towns which were not then represented, for the, purpose of eliciting their sentiments respecting the course which had been adopted by the convention. In regard to Hinsdale, Newfane, Putney, Westminster, Rockingham, and Weathersfield, the convention declared their opinion that, if those towns had been allowed proper time and sufficient notice, they would have agreed to and sanctioned the objects and actions of the meeting. In the instructions which were afterwards given to Avery, he was directed to deliver the papers which should be entrusted to him to the Legislature of New York, and pray for their "advice and assistance;" to endeavor to influence them to establish actual civil government on the "Grants," "with sufficient authority and force to carry it into execution;" and, if he should receive encouragement, to proceed to Congress, and lay the whole subject before the members of that body.*
These measures contributed, in a certain degree, to influence the conduct of those to whom personal appeals were made, but they brought no immediate redress of the evils complained of.
* MS. Minutes of meetings held at Brattleborough, Guilford, and Halifax.
1782.] PERSEVERANCE OF THE YORKERS. 421
The return of the inhabitants in the Western Union to their allegiance, and the question of land titles on the New Hampshire Grants, were now occupying the attention of the New York Legislature, and the prayers of the few were unheard among the applications, petitions, and remonstrances of the many.
Although the Yorkers in the townships of Brattleborough, Guilford, and Halifax received but little encouragement from the government whose authority they acknowledged, yet they did not cease, by addresses and agents, to importune the Legislature of New York for assistance. However men may disagree as to the merits of their cause, no one can deny to them a perseverance of itself almost worthy of a successful issue. On the 26th of April, a remonstrance in behalf of these towns was prepared by Charles Phelps of Marlborough. He and his sons were violent opponents of the Vermont jurisdiction, and subsequently became active leaders in the New York party. A treasonable correspondence between the principal men in Vermont and the British in Canada was boldly asserted in this document, and the former were charged with an agreement to raise a force to be employed under British pay for "the destruction of the liege subjects" of the United States. Complaint was made at the same time, because of the taxes which the friends of New York were compelled to pay towards the support of a government whose authority they denied. The inconveniences and suffering ensuing therefrom were also set forth in the plainest terms. These statements were accompanied by a request that one regiment or more might be raised and officered in the county of Cumberland, under the pay and authority of New York; that probate judges, justices, coroners, and "all other civil officers" might be commissioned, for the "good regulation" and "compleat protection" of the people; that Judge Richard Morris might be exhorted to visit the county, for the purpose of encouraging the loyal, and disheartening their opponents; and that the worst criminals might be carried to Albany or Poughkeepsie. In closing, the committee, in whose name the remonstrance was drawn, expressed a desire that Governor Clinton should send his answer "in writing, and no more by word of mouth," in order that the people might see his declarations in his "own hand." *
At a convention of the committees of these three most faith‑
* George Clinton Papers, in office Sec. State N. Y., vol. xv., doc. 4482.
422 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
ful towns, held on the 30th of April, the remonstrance was accepted as the expression of the people, and Daniel Shepardson was appointed to carry it to Poughkeepsie, and endeavor to obtain a favorable response. He was also entrusted with a list of the names of those best qualified to fill civil and military offices, and was directed to submit it to the New York Council of Appointment for their guidance in selecting officials for the county. In the execution of his commission, Mr. Shepardson repaired to Poughkeepsie, and received from Governor Clinton a reply to the remonstrance. In this communication, dated the 6th of May, the Governor assured the associated committees, that, as soon as the Council of Appointment could be convened, he should use his "best endeavors" to obtain commissions for "the requisite civil and military officers." He then referred to the act of Congress of the 24th of September, 1779, which expressly declared it to be the duty of the inhabitants on the "Grants" owing allegiance to Vermont, to abstain from exercising any power over those who were subjects of New York and vice versâ. In view of the conduct of New York and of the rights guaranteed by this enactment, he observed: "This state has, during the whole of the time since the controversy was submitted to Congress, hitherto strictly observed this recommendation of Congress; and should any person under pretence of authority from the assumed government attempt to enforce their laws, you will perceive that resistance by force is, in every point of view; justifiable, and the faith and honor of Congress is pledged for your support." In regard to the suspicions which were afloat as to the course which Vermont was pursuing with the British in Canada, he declared that there was the fullest evidence of a "criminal and dangerous intercourse" between them, and presented this fact as an additional reason why the friends of America should "interest themselves in prevailing with their fellow citizens to return to their allegiance, and by that means disappoint the views of a combination who from motives of self-interest and ambition would enter into a league with the enemy, and sacrifice the liberties of their country." He stated, moreover, that in case persuasive measures should prove ineffectual in the re-establishment of peace, and Congress should delay or wholly decline to decide the question of jurisdiction, no alternative would be left to New York. Necessity, he declared, would then force the adoption of "compulsory means" to maintain the rights and enforce the authority so essential to the future peace
1782.] THE REPUBLIC OF GUILFORD. 423
and security of the state. With this letter were sent the two late acts of the Legislature, one of which had been passed for the purpose of extending pardon to those who had been the supporters of the Western Union, and to all others who should return to their allegiance; and the other for confirming grantees in the titles by which they held their lands.*
Hardly had the contents of this letter transpired, when an opportunity was offered for those who should choose so to do, to attest their adherence to the government of New York. By an act of the Legislature of Vermont, passed a few months previous at the February session, orders had been issued for raising "three hundred able-bodied, effective men, for the ensuing campaign." In case any town should refuse to raise their quota of men, power was given to the selectmen to hire the required number, and to issue their warrant to the sheriff of the county, directing him to levy on "so much of the goods and chattels, or estate" of the inhabitants as should be necessary both to pay the wages of those who should be hired, and to satisfy all the necessary charges which might arise. The friends and supporters of the government of New York, who, until the year 1780, had composed a large portion of the population of the towns in the southeastern part of Vermont, had been gradually decreasing in power and numbers. At this period, a majority of the inhabitants of Guilford, a minority of the inhabitants of Brattleborough and Halifax, the family of Charles Phelps in Marlborough, and here and there an individual in Westminster, Rockingham, Springfield, and a few other towns, represented their full strength. Although in town elections they were sometimes placed in nomination against citizens of Vermont, yet the latter were, with rare exceptions, successful in obtaining office on those occasions.
Guilford had been for several years, and was at this time, the most populous town in the state. This was not owing to any superior natural advantages, either as to situation or soil, but to the greater liberty which its citizens enjoyed. On the 19th of May, 1772, the inhabitants, at a district meeting, had refused longer to be bound by the terms of the charter they had received from New Hampshire; had declared by vote, that Guilford was in the county of Cumberland, and province of
* Doc. Hist. N. Y., iv. 1010-1012. Slade's Vt. State Papers, pp. 173-176. Papers relating to Vt. Controversy, in office Sec. State N. Y., p. 46.
424 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
New York; and had chosen town officers agreeable to the laws of that province. "Having renounced their charter," observes Thompson, "and there being no government which really exercised authority over them, they continued to legislate for themselves, and tradition says that good justice was done." One principle in their abandoned charter was, however, adhered to, and "none but proprietors, or those who held under them, had a right to rule, or vote in their meetings." Thus did this little republic continue from year to year to be governed by the decisions of town meetings, and the excellent administration of its affairs and the inducements which were offered to settlers, clothed its fields with waving harvests, and adorned its hill-sides with cheerful dwellings. Not until the year 1777, when Vermont was declared an independent state, did those rivalries commence which for years afterwards disturbed the peace of this happy community, and finally resulted in its dissolution.*
In accordance with the terms of the act for enlisting soldiers in the service of Vermont, it had been reported that drafts would be made from Guilford. At this juncture the letter from Governor Clinton, declaring "resistance by force" to be justifiable, was circulated among the people. A meeting was immediately called in Guilford, which was largely attended by the Yorkers, the dominant party in that town, and the instructions from New York were adopted. A vote was passed by which the people declared their determination "to stand against the pretended state of Vermont, until the decision of Congress be known, with lives and fortunes." As an evidence of their sincerity, Henry Evans, Daniel Ashcraft, and Nathan Fitch were directed to forbid the constable to act. Although the New York adherent were in the ascendant, yet the citizens of Vermont were by no means backwards in asserting their rights. One result of this loyalty was, that the affairs of the town were regulated by two distinct sets of officers, the one appointed in accordance with the customs of the former state, and the other in accordance with those of the latter.
Instead of selecting the soldiers who were to serve in the Vermont militia from the citizens of that state residing in Guilford, the officers chose them from the opposition. Those who were drafted refused to serve, or to bear the expenses of a
* Thompson's Vt., Part III. p. 81.
1782.] SYMPTOMS OF A STORM. 425
substitute. An open rupture could be no longer avoided. On the 10th of May, Simeon Edwards, William Marsh, and Ephraim Nicholls, the selectmen of Guilford by the choice of the citizens of Vermont, directed the sheriff of Windham county, in the name of the state, to take the goods and chattels of Samuel Bixby, William White, Josiah Bigelow, Joel Bigelow, and Daniel Lynde, to the value of £15, that being the amount which had been expended by the state in hiring a man to do military duty in their behalf. The sheriff was further instructed to sell whatever he should seize, at public vendue, and return the proceeds to the selectmen, "with all convenient dispatch." The warrant authorizing these proceedings was placed in the hands of Barzillai Rice, one of the sheriff's deputies, who determined to execute it immediately. On reaching the house of Hezekiah Stowell, a most violent Guilfordite Yorker, he found a large company assembled, and among the number some whom he wished to see. Supposing himself secure from the danger of an attack, both by his official character and by the presence of two of the selectmen who had drawn the warrant, he made known his business, and his determination to obtain either the fines or their equivalent.
This declaration created much confusion, and angry words were heard from every part of the room. Opposition to the unjust demands of Vermont was loudly proclaimed, and it was plainly evident that words were to be but the prelude to action. William Shattuck, of Halifax, a leader among the Yorkers, failed not on this occasion to strengthen the minds of his friends. Mingling in the crowd, he counselled them to protect their rights; to stand by their liberties; and to repel the invasions of a usurped power. "I am a supporter of the opposition," he declared, "both in public and in private. I deny the authority of Vermont. The cause that I maintain is just, and I have done and will do all in my power to uphold it." With Shattuck the majority coincided. A few were disposed to settle the fines, provided satisfactory terms could be agreed on. For the sake of a more private interview, the deputy, selectmen, and those interested in the proceedings, repaired to the house of Josiah and Joel Bigelow. Henry Evans and William White, who acted for the five delinquents, having considered the subject at length, were finally agreed as to the course they should pursue, and requested the deputy to delay the execution of the warrant for twenty days, that they might have an opportunity to send
426 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782
to New York for instructions. This the deputy refused to do, and forthwith proceeded to carry off a cow belonging to Joel Bigelow, having first ordered all who were present to assist him in the execution of his office.
Evans, who had now become excited, interposed, ordered the deputy to be gone, threatened him with violence in case he should persist, and "damned the authority" under which he was presuming to act. Disregarding these expressions, the deputy persisted in the attempt, and took possession of the cow. Determined to release the animal and return her to her owner, a large crowd followed the deputy, awaiting a favorable opportunity to accomplish their purpose. At length the voice of Capt. Joseph Peck of Guilford was heard ordering his men, who were present in the dress of citizens, to "embody to rescue." The command was obeyed, the deputy was surrounded by a mob of forty or fifty men, and the cow was seized and driven away in triumph.* Such was the result of this determination to resist the execution of the laws of Vermont. While the supporters of the claims of New York exulting in the success which had attended this effort, were making every exertion to add to their strength and increase their efficiency, the citizens of Vermont were rejoicing that this forcible resistance had placed them in possession of an argument which would henceforth warrant them in punishing their opponents as disturbers of the peace and contemners of lawful jurisdiction.†
* In the presentment of the grand jurors of Windham county, made in September, 1782, the following persons were charged with being engaged in the transaction mentioned in the text; Jotham Bigelow, Daniel Lynde, Joel Bigelow, Josiah Bigelow, William White, Samuel Bixby, Giles Roberts, Dean Chase, Benjamin Chase, Nathaniel Carpenter, Edward Carpenter, Asaph Carpenter, Daniel Shepardson, Adonijah Putnam, Nathan Avery, Josiah Rice, David Goodenough, John Stafford Jr., James Packer, Stephen Chase, Joshua Nurse, Noah Shepardson, Joseph Peck, Joshua Lynde, Shubael Bullock, Israel Bullock, Samuel Melendy, Joseph Dexter, Moses Yaw, Amos Yaw Jr., and Hezekiah Broad, all of Guilford; and Elijah Prouty and Benjamin Baker of Brattleborough. Besides these, there were present, Timothy Church of Brattleborough, William Shattuck of Halifax, Henry Evans of Guilford, and others whose names did not appear.
† MS. Court Records. Thompson's Vt. Gazetteer, ed. 1824, p. 141.