THE CIVIL SUSTAINED BY THE MILITARY ARM.
Convention of town representatives favorable to New York — Petition and remonstrance — Credentials — Charles Phelps — Novel punishment at Hertford — Letter of Richard Morris — Council of Appointment — Civil and military officers — Advice of Gov. Clinton to Col. Timothy Church — Act of the General Assembly of Vermont for the punishment of conspiracies — Isaac Tichenor's visit to the Yorkers — Anticipations of trouble — Meeting at Guilford — Letters from Gov. Clinton to Col. Church and to the supporters of the jurisdiction of New York — Determined conduct of the Yorkers — Col. Church resists the laws of Vermont — The command of the Vermont troops given to Ethan Allen — Preparations for attack and defence — The expedition — Col. Ira Allen's adventure — Bravery of Mrs. Timothy Phelps — Effects the escape of her husband — An amusing scene — Mr. Phelps is afterwards taken by Ethan Allen — The onset of the Guilfordites — Ethan Allen's famous proclamation — His force receives additions — The Yorkers imprisoned at Westminster — First day of the trial — Proofs of the seditious behavior of Church, Shattuck, Evans, and T. Phelps — Their sentence — Another attempt to take Charles Phelps — His library — Second day of the trial — Boasting of Ethan Allen — Remainder of the court session at Westminster — A special session at Marlborough — Trials and sentences — Samuel Ely's offence — His trial and punishment — Sufferings of the Yorkers.
THE excitement caused by this disturbance having partially subsided, representatives from the towns of Brattleborough, Guilford, Halifax, and Marlborough assembled in convention, on the 17th of May, and prepared a combined "remonstrance and petition" for the consideration of Governor Clinton. This production did not embody a specific narrative of the late resistance, hut, in the most general terms, disclosed the fact that "intrigues, conspiracies, and insurrections" were "daily perpetrated" by the Vermonters that warrants were frequently issued for the seizure of the persons and property of the petitioners and that usurpations had been "valiantly opposed" by the friends of New York. The petitioners declared it to be their intention to defend their rights by force, until "proper authority" should be instituted. At the same time they acknowledged that their
428 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
defeat was certain, unless they should receive external aid. For these reasons they prayed the Governor to use his influence in obtaining the appointment of a sufficient number of "prudent, just, and faithful officers, both civil and military, of every kind necessary or proper for all the purposes of an organized government," who should be forthwith sworn into office, and permitted to enter upon their duties. They also asked for permission to convey prisoners to any jail in the state of New York. That the Vermonters might have no cause to charge them with indifference to the common cause, they desired the Governor to command his subjects in Cumberland and Gloucester counties to raise a reasonable quota of men for the war, and collect means for their payment and support.* The establishment of courts of civil and criminal jurisdiction was declared to be indispensable to their safety, and the only means by which their enemies could be punished for the violation of the rights of the subjects of New York.
Appended to this document were the credentials of Charles Phelps, who had been selected to carry it to Poughkeepsie. In these credentials the subjects discussed in the petition were rehearsed in brief, and a few topics were considered which had been omitted in the latter. Mr. Phelps was directed "to urge" the Governor "with all possible assiduity and zeal" to send Judge Morris and his associates into the county of Cumberland, for the purpose of holding a court of Oyer and Terminer. Such a course, it was argued, would tend to the speedy establishment of legal rights and would prove to the citizens of Vermont the determination of the government of New York to protect its subjects from the ill treatment to which they were continually exposed. In the same paper Mr. Phelps was recommended as a proper person for first justice of the Inferior court of Cumberland county, whenever such a tribunal should be established.
The documentary force of the agent was completed by a third paper, entitled, "Reasons to Induce His Excellency the Governor, Judge Morris, the Attorney-General, and the Council of Appointment, to go into Cumberland and Gloucester Counties to appoint Civil and Military officers for the complete organizing them, and instituting civil and military Government and Courts
* Although the government of Vermont had divided the eastern portion of that state into the counties of Windham, Windsor, and Orange, as before stated, the supporters of the jurisdiction of New York recognised only the old divisions.
1782.] CIVIL AND MILITARY APPOINTMENTS. 429
of Justice, as fully to all intents and purposes as in any other Counties in the State." These reasons were two in number. In the first place it was stated, that such a visit would "fully convince the New York state subjects" that the Legislature had determined to defend them from the encroachments of a rival power, and would "naturally embolden" them to exert themselves "in every possible, lawful, prudent manner," to support the government which offered them protection. A second result, it was declared, would be to "sink the hearts and deaden the resolution of all the Vermont party; intimidate their guilty and dejected minds; enfeeble their resolutions against us, and wholly enervate all their ambitious, malignant, avaricious, and despotic designs, so arrogantly formed against us and the righteous administration of the state." Such were the consequences which were expected to follow the exhibition in Vermont of some of the state officials of New York. The petition, credentials, and reasons, were all composed by Charles Phelps, and in style and argument, evinced an originality worthy of notice. Armed with these missives, the agent set out for Poughkeepsie, resolved to save the "half-ruined state" as he called New York, provided eloquence and logic were allowed to exert their proper influence.*
While in Windham county the difficulties which prevailed, seemed to spring principally from political causes, there would sometimes happen in other portions of the eastern section of the state disturbances originating in a dislike of the delay which usually accompanied the execution of law. An incident which occurred at Hertford, originated in a sentiment of this nature. John Billings of that town, having been guilty of some contemptible act, was threatened with punishment. This was inflicted in such a manner as to cause considerable physical suffering, and was humiliating in the extreme. On the night of the 30th of May, a party of men composed of Jedediah Leavins, Phinehas Killam, James Williams, Timothy Lull Jr., Aden Williams, Timothy Banister, Simeon Williams, Joab Belden, and William Miller, all of Hertford, and Moses Morse and Amos Robinson of Windsor, "with force and arms, unlawfully, riotously, and routously" assembled and assaulted the unfortunate citizen. As was more clearly set forth in the presentment of the grand jury, they "did beat, wound, and ill-treat" him by "placing him on
* George Clinton Papers, in N.Y. State Lib., vol. xv. doc. 4527.
430 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
an old horse without a saddle, tying his feet under the belly of said horse, and hanging to his feet a very heavy weight, and in that situation causing him to ride to a considerable distance, by which he suffered great pain and inconvenience." Scenes of violence are necessary concomitants of a new settlement. Vermont, it is seen, did not present an exception to the general rule. In the present instance, however, the law asserted its power, and the disturbers of the public peace and the infringers of Mr. Billings's personal rights, were, punished by pecuniary mulcts, and were compelled to bear the costs of the prosecution:*
On his way to Poughkeepsie, Mr. Phelps visited Chief-justice Richard Morris at Claverack, and made known to him the object of his mission. He also detailed the events which had lately occurred in the southern part of Vermont; laid before the Judge the different papers with which he had been entrusted; informed him that the Governor, the Attorney-General, and the Council of Appointment were to start immediately for the disaffected district for the purpose of organizing a government and establishing courts of justice on a solid basis; and assured him that it was absolutely necessary that he should accompany them. Although several of these statements were gratuitous on the part of Phelps, yet they were pressed with so much urgency that they received immediate attention. "I cannot find out," wrote Morris to Clinton, on the 2d of June, with reference to Phelps, "that he wants me for any other purpose than to talk to the people, and I am sure that he so far excels me in that business, that I shall rather expose myself than be of any advantage. But jokes apart, if you are going into that country, and you think my presence will be useful, though I can illy spare the time or money that must be spent, I will, with pleasure, accompany you." He also expressed his concurrence in the contemplated movement to appoint officers in the counties of Cumberland and Gloucester.†
On reaching Poughkeepsie, Mr. Phelps committed the papers with which he had been entrusted to Governor Clinton. The Council of Appointment who were then in session, evinced a disposition suited to the emergency. They decided in the outset, that the loyal inhabitants of the northern district of the state were entitled to protection, and to the actual presence in
* MS. Court Papers.
† George Clinton Papers in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xv. doc. 4565.
1782.] POWERS OF JUSTICES. 431
their counties of proper civil and military officers selected from their own number. On the 5th of June, Charles Phelps, James Clay, Eleazer Patterson, Hilkiah Grout, Simon Stevens, Elijah Prouty, Michael Gilson, Samuel Bixby, Daniel Shepardson, Hezekiah Stowell, Bethuel Church, John Pannel, Nathan Fish, Joseph Winchester, and Daniel Kathan, were appointed justices of the peace for Cumberland county. In their commission, power was given them to order the arrest of those persons who should threaten any of "the good people" of the state, "in their persons, or in burning their houses," and to keep them "in prison safe," until they should find security for their good behavior. To the first seven persons named in the justices' commission, were also given the name and power of justices of the quorum; and to any three of this number was entrusted the "right to enquire by the oaths of good and lawful men," residents of the county, concerning such offences as were within the cognizance of a justice of the peace, and to determine upon them. They were also empowered to examine into the conduct of those who should "presume to go, or ride in company with armed force," for the purpose of opposing the people of the state of New York, or who should lie, in wait with intent to maim or kill any of them; and they were further directed to take notice of all attempts to set aside the laws and ordinances of the state. The justices of the quorum were also appointed justices of the court of Oyer and Terminer, and general jail delivery. To Charles Phelps, James Clay, and Hilkiah Grout, was given power, as commissioners, to administer the oath of office to all civil and military appointees.
Of the regiment which had been established for several years in the southern part of the county of Cumberland, Timothy Church was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant; William Shattuck First Major, Henry Evans Second Major, and Joel Bigelow Adjutant. The commissions of all the officers were prepared without delay, and delivered to Mr. Phelps, who immediately set out on his return. He was also the bearer of two letters from Governor Clinton, one for the convention of the committees, and the other for Colonel Church. In the former, his Excellency stated that it had not been deemed advisable to appoint judges for the courts of Common Pleas, as the opening of those courts was not then "essential to the preservation of peace and good order," and might be attended with inconvenience; that it was not the intention of the state to
432 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
delay the "complete organization" of government in Cumberland county, but to await the proper time for such action; and that the proceedings of the Council of Appointment had been in accordance with the course which was deemed best calculated to advance the interests of the county. In the other letter, the Governor notified to Colonel Church his appointment; requested him to consult with others, and decide upon proper persons for captains and subaltern officers, in order that the formation of his regiment might be completed; exhorted him to protect the country from the depredations of the enemy, by sending out detachments of men whenever their presence would be of service; and desired him, in the execution of his office, to pay strict attention to the recommendations of Congress, by extending his authority over such only as professed allegiance to New York, "unless the conduct of the usurped government in contravening" those recommendations, should render "a contrary conduct indispensably necessary for the immediate protection and safety" of those whom he was bound to defend.*
At the session in June, the General Assembly of Vermont, knowing well what preparations the Yorkers were making to resist the execution of the laws of Vermont, determined to check their proceedings by persuasive measures, if possible, and if these should not succeed by compulsory laws. As an inceptive step, a resolution was adopted on the 19th of June, in which Isaac Tichenor was requested to repair to the towns of Brattleborough, Halifax, and Guilford, for the purpose of explaining the proceedings of Congress "to the disaffected, in a true light;" and using his "utmost exertions to unite the people in those towns" to the government of Vermont. On the same day an act was passed "for the punishment of conspiracies against the peace, liberty, and independence" of the state. Upon this act were based the indictments which were found against those who a few months later were declared guilty of treason. Its framers seem to have presupposed in its preparation, the very condition in which the state was so soon to be placed by the conflicts between the government and the opposition. The positions which were assumed in it, were sufficiently broad to answer the ends of those who had resolved to maintain the integrity of Vermont. Its terms were as follows:—
"Whereas, unanimity — the great strength and security of a
* George Clinton Papers in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xv. doc. 4574. MS. Commissions.
1782.] ACT FOR THE PUNISHMENT OF CONSPIRACIES. 433
free and independent people — is necessary for the existence of a sovereign state; and whereas, insurrections may rise among the inhabitants of this state, fomented and stirred up by some designing persons, with a manifest intent to subvert and destroy the liberties and independence of the same — which evil to prevent —
"Be it enacted, and it is hereby enacted, by the representatives of the freemen of the state of Vermont in General Assembly met, and by the authority of the same, that when, and so often as, six or more persons shall assemble with weapons of terror, with a manifest intent to impede, hinder or disturb any officer of this state, in the execution of his office; or shall rescue any prisoner, in the custody of the law; or any goods, or chattels, legally distrained; and there shall be among said persons six, or more, who do not yield allegiance to the authority of this state, or have, and do deny the jurisdiction of the same; all and every person so offending shall suffer banishment or imprisonment, at the discretion of the Superior court, before whom said offenders shall be tried: and their goods, chattels, and estates, shall be seized, condemned, and sold, by order of the Superior court, as forfeited to the use of this state.
"And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that if any person or persons shall conspire or attempt any invasion, insurrection, or public rebellion against this state; or shall treacherously and perfidiously attempt the alteration or subversion of our frame of government, fundamentally established by the constitution of this state, by endeavoring the betraying of the same into the hands of any of the neighboring states, or any other power, and be thereof convicted before the Superior court, [such person or persons] shall suffer banishment or imprisonment, at the discretion of the said court; and the goods, chattels and estates of such offenders, shall be seized, condemned, and sold, as forfeited to the use of this state.
"And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any person or persons, so banished, shall neglect to depart when ordered; or, when departed, shall return to this state, without first obtaining liberty from the General Assembly, and shall be thereof convicted, he or they shall suffer death."*
In conformity with his appointment, Mr. Tichenor visited the most fractious of the southern towns in Vermont, and endeavored
* Journals Gen. Ass. Vt. Slade's Vt. State Papers, p. 454.
434 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
to expound to the people the proceedings of Congress relative to the affairs of the contending states. He informed them that Vermont was a state in every sense of the term; that their safety consisted in acknowledging its jurisdiction; that the law would inflict punishment in case they should not submit; and that the promises of protection and defence from New York were unreliable and fallacious. Although many believed that New York would not willingly desert her subjects in the hour of trial, yet the idea was also prevalent that she would be finally compelled to pursue this course.* Whatever may have been the effect of Mr. Tichenor's reasoning on those who had become wearied with resisting the authority of Vermont, there were some in whose minds it aroused a spirit more decided in its opposition to the new state. "I have sounded the minds of Vermonters," wrote Charles Phelps to Governor Clinton, on the 10th of July, "and find that they dare not at present, in the four towns where the committees dwell, meddle with us Yorkers, if people don't come from Bennington county with weapons of terror to scare or frighten or fight us." He stated his belief that "people of property" would not dare to attack the Yorkers; and that those who should be so rash as to make any warlike demonstrations would be slaughtered as readily as the common enemy. To render the condition of the opposition more secure, he suggested that General Washington should order four field-pieces to be sent from Springfield to Brattleborough. A demonstration of this nature, he contended, would have more effect in preventing trouble, than a militia force of three hundred Yorkers raised without the sanction and orders of Washington. Further to encourage the Governor to sustain the friends of New York, Daniel Shepardson informed him, on the 15th of July, that some of the more northern towns in Vermont would unite in favor of the
* In reference to Mr. Tichenor's embassy, Gov. Clinton wrote to the Hon. James Duane, from Poughkeepsie, on the 5th of August, 1782, in these words: "Mr. Tichenor was sent among them [the friends of New York] by the leaders of the revolt, to endeavor to prevail upon them to submit to their government, and for this purpose made a very unfair use of the last report of the committee of Congress, by endeavoring to deceive them into an opinion that it was the general sense of Congress, and that a determination would accordingly soon be made in favor of their independency. Tho' I have reason to believe that Mr. Tichenor did not succeed in his intentions, yet by these acts and by inducing the people who live more exposed to believe that, while they continue connected with them, they have nothing to apprehend from the common enemy, they have in some degree defeated the effect which the pacific measures of our Legislature would have had on them." George Clinton Papers, in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvi. doc. 4697.
1782.] ACTIVITY OF THE VERMONT LEGISLATURE. 435
New York jurisdiction, provided assurances could be given of assistance from headquarters.*
From the activity displayed by the Vermont Legislature in passing and promulgating laws aimed directly at the extinction of the faction which refused to pay Vermont taxes or recognize Vermont legislation, and which was determined to resist by force the execution of measures not originating with the government of New York — it was evident that a blow was soon to be struck which would cripple the strength of the faction, or crush it for ever. The committees of the few towns which still continued loyal to New York were aware of this state of things when they assembled at Guilford on the 15th of July, to consult upon the course which they should adopt in case an appeal was had to arms. In their petition to Governor Clinton — the inevitable result of a meeting — they rehearsed the occurrences of the few weeks previous, and hinted their disquiet in words which almost announced it. That their own courage might be strengthened, the enemy terrified, and their "wavering brethren" encouraged, they besought the Governor to order the militia in the western part of New York to march against the Vermonters in case they should cross the mountains and commence hostilities upon the Yorkers in Cumberland county. They also asked for definite commands "to fight and stand" in their own defence. In order to nullify the arguments and eloquence which had been employed by Vermont in misconstruing the meaning of the resolves of Congress, they desired his Excellency to send an intelligent man to counteract the efforts of "Esquire Tichenor," and to certify to the people to what extent they night depend upon New York in the support of her own jurisdiction. This petition and the other papers accompanying it, were forwarded by Mr. Cutbeth, who took the place of the regularly appointed messenger. In explanation of this substitution, the committees observed that they expected to have business for Major Shattuck, the Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant, "about home."†
The messenger reached Kingston on the 24th of July. The Council of Appointment were again summoned, and the official list of the southern regiment was completed. Elisha Pierce was chosen Quarter-master, and six companies were
* George Clinton Papers in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvi. docs. 4647, 4655. George Clinton Papers in N.Y. State Lib., vol. xvi. doc. 4654.
436 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
formed — two in Brattleborough, three in Guilford, and one in Halifax — each with a captain and the proper complement of subalterns. The commissions were immediately prepared and intrusted to Mr. Cutbeth, who was also the bearer of a letter from the Governor to Colonel Church. In this communication, dated the 26th of July, all who sided with the Colonel were earnestly exhorted to "preserve unanimity and firmness" among themselves, and reject the artifices which might be employed by their adversaries to "deceive and amuse" them. To the committees of the towns who had petitioned for aid in their extremity, Governor Clinton, in a letter of the same date, defined his position in terms full and explicit. As an explanation of the course which he had been obliged to pursue towards those who amid change and misfortune, had still remained loyal to the government of New York, it must be admitted that his language, though strictly true, was neither encouraging nor satisfactory.
"From the whole of my conduct respecting the controversy between the government of this state and its subjects on the 'Grants,' " wrote he, "you must be persuaded of my sincere wishes and disposition to afford you every possible aid and support, though at the same time you can easily conceive that in our present condition, when every effort and attention is requisite to defend the remaining part of the state from being wholly ruined by the common enemy, it is not in my power positively to stipulate that any body of troops or militia shall march for your defence, should the usurped government of Vermont attempt to compel you by force of arms to submit to their jurisdiction. In being thus explicit with you, I would wish not to be understood as discouraging you in your opposition to the usurpation, for you may be assured that however the distresses we have experienced, and are still subject to from the war, may at present prevent us from employing the forces of the state in vindication of our rights, yet I have no reason to believe that the Legislature will ever relinquish their just claim to the territory in question, unless impelled thereto by the most inevitable necessity; neither do I think it probable, from the latest accounts I have received, that Congress will ever decide in favor of the pretensions of Vermont to independency, and candor induces me to declare also, that there is little prospect of their deciding in favor of us. The truth is, that the evidence in support of our claim to the jurisdiction of the
1782.] LETTER FROM CLINTON. 437
country, is so full and conclusive that there is no possibility of withholding a conviction from it; and although there may be individuals in Congress who, from motives of interest and policy, would wish to contract our limits, yet it is highly improbable that they will ever be able to influence Congress to make a decision favorable to their views, and especially as it is not submitted to Congress to determine arbitrarily, whether the 'Grants' shall be a separate, independent state, but only to make a judicial adjudication, on evidence, relative to the boundary of this state; nor have they by the confederation, power to create a new state.
"These matters you may rely on, notwithstanding the assertions of Mr. Tichenor and the other leaders of the revolt, and who, to countenance their assertions, may produce reports of committees which were introduced into Congress, not in expectation that they ever would b adopted, but solely with a view to keep the spirit of defection alive, and to counteract the endeavors of this state for the re-establishment of its jurisdiction by pacific, conciliatory measures.
"Congress, as I observed in a former letter to you, have expressly prohibited these people from the exercise of any authority over you, and have enjoined a similar prohibition on us with respect of persons who dispute our jurisdiction. This prohibition is not repealed by any subsequent act of Congress, and ought, therefore, to be observed by both parties, and you are sensible we have in every instance strictly observed the recommendation on our part, and should the usurped government of Vermont attempt to enforce their jurisdiction over you, by having recourse to compulsory, violent measures, your own prudence and virtue will dictate the mode and measure of opposition. The faith and honor of Congress while you conduct yourselves agreeable to their recommendation is concerned for your protection, and I now renew to you my assurances of every aid which may be in my power to afford you. Your interest and happiness are deeply concerned in the event of this controversy, and the success of it depends much on your zeal and prudence, on which I place great reliance."*
On the return of the messenger, the views of Governor Clinton were disclosed to all the principal leaders of the opposition. Efforts were now made to concentrate the strength of those who
* George Clinton Papers in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvi. docs. 4679, 4680.
438 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
were unfriendly to the jurisdiction of Vermont. The "mode and measure" of the resistance which was to be employed, had been left to the "prudence and virtue" of those who still continued loyal to New York; but so unpleasant had their situation become, that the few plans which they arranged partook more of the spirit of revenge, than of a desire to defend themselves from the further imposition of the taxes and decrees emanating from Vermont. They openly declared that they expected assistance from New York, and that there would be "terrible times," should a force from the other side of the mountains be sent to oppose them. On one occasion, when they were assembled to consult upon the adoption of measures for defence, a proposition was made that a vote should be taken for the purpose of ascertaining the number of those who were willing to "disannul all the authority of Vermont." This method of expressing a determination so important not being deemed sufficiently demonstrative by those who were most violent in their antipathy to the new state, a pledge was substituted in place of the vote, and the majority of those present bound themselves to "oppose the state of Vermont even to blood." Some, who desired to render the pledge more binding, at the close of the meeting formed a ring on the green which fronted the building in which they had been assembled, and renewed and confirmed the pledge in a solemn and imposing manner. Aware that preparations were on foot to withstand any attempts that might be made to enforce the laws of Vermont, Ira Allen was sent to Brattleborough and Guilford on the 14th of August, with directions to "observe the motions of the people" who were favorable to New York, in order that Governor Chittenden might determine upon the proper time to carry into effect the act of the Legislature concerning conspiracies which had been passed with special reference to the present condition of the southern section of Windham county. Scarcely had he accomplished the object of his journey, when an event occurred which proved that the new government could not be too active in its intended operations.
In a Justice's court in Windham county, organized by authority derived from the laws of Vermont, and held by John Bridgman, judgment had been rendered, on the 29th of July, against Timothy Church of Brattleborough, at the suit of Gershom Orvis. A writ of execution was accordingly issued on the 8th of August, and Jonathan Hunt, the high sheriff of the county by appointment of Vermont, was directed to levy on the
1782.] THE MILITARY BROUGHT INTO REQUISITION. 439
goods of said Church, and in case of a deficiency to commit him to prison. Church, being a Yorker, did not recognize the authority of Vermont and determined to resist it. On the 22d of August, the sheriff waited on Church and made his demand. Church refused to satisfy it, and declared that nothing should be taken off his farm unless the sheriff should prove the "stouter" man of the two. The sheriff then approached Church and claimed him as his prisoner. By this time, there had assembled at Church's dwelling a number of his friends, who had resolved that he should not be taken unless by a voluntary submission. When the sheriff endeavored with the help of some of his assistants to drag Church from the house, the latter resisted and plainly told the sheriff that he would not go. In the further exercise of his authority, the sheriff commanded Joseph Chamberlain, Joseph Whipple, and Jonathan Church, to aid him. "He is not agoing to take Church, my word for it," said Chamberlain to his companions, and, before the sheriff could secure his prisoner, the three Yorkers whom he had ordered to assist him, had blocked up the door-way and released Church from the grasp of the law. Content to await the time when the civil should be supported by the military arm, the sheriff and his assistants departed, not at all displeased that the resistance with which they had met, was to furnish them with a most potent argument in pursuing the course upon which the state had already determined.
On the 21st of June, the time of the passage of the act for the "punishment of conspiracies," another act had been adopted, by which authority was given to the Governor as Captain-General, to direct any officer in the state to raise men, and employ them in assisting the sheriffs, in their respective counties, in the performance of their duties. By the same act, the Commissary-General was authorized to furnish the men so raised with the necessary stores. Having been foiled in his attempts to enforce the laws of the state, the sheriff of Windham county made application for a military force to support him. At a meeting of the Council, held on the 29th of August, his application was presented, and a resolution was passed recommending to Governor Chittenden "to raise one hundred and fifty men as volunteers" within Col. Ebenezer Walbridge's regiment on the west side of the mountains for the purpose of aiding the civil authority of the state in Windham county. The Governor was also requested to place the volunteer troops, and all others which should be
440 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
raised for this service, in the command of Brig.-Gen. Ethan Allen. On the 2d of September, the Governor, willing to employ efficient means to quell the insubordination of the Yorkers, empowered Ethan Allen to raise two hundred and fifty men; one hundred and fifty in Walbridge's regiment, and one hundred in the regiment commanded by Col. Ira Allen, and to march them into Windham county, as a posse comitatus for the assistance of the civil authority. Consultations were now held; ammunition and provisions were collected; the order of march was settled; and messengers riding post, between Bennington and Brattleborough, kept the friends of Vermont on both sides of the mountains informed as to the measures which were then in progress. Precautions were also taken that the plans of the Vermonters should be kept secret. Guards were placed on the several roads crossing the mountains, who detained all persons going eastward with the exception of the messengers. So effective was this vigilance, that the Yorkers were only apprised by faint and uncertain rumors, of the events which were so soon to happen.
A week had passed since Ethan Allen had been placed in command of the troops, and the preparations which he and his associates had been making were now completed. On the evening of Sunday the 8th of September, the various companies from the towns in Bennington and Rutland counties, began to collect at Bennington, which place had been selected as a rendezvous for the troops. Portions of the regiments of Colonels Walbridge and Allen had volunteered their services on behalf of the state, and although the force was not as large as that which Governor Chittenden had wished to raise, its appearance was in no measure contemptible. Long before sunrise on Monday the 9th, the whole party numbering about two hundred men, mounted, and under the command of Ethan Allen, were under full march towards the seat of conflict. On reaching Marlborough, Ira Allen, with a force of twenty men, was dispatched to arrest Timothy Phelps who resided in that town, while the rest of the company pushed forward to engage in exploits of equal daring.
Being a warm friend and hearty supporter of the jurisdiction of New York, Timothy Phelps had for a long time been regarded with especial hatred by the Vermonters. His late acceptance of the office of high sheriff of Cumberland county had not tended to lessen this impression, and the violence of his temper had rendered him, in the opinion of his opponents, as much an
1782.] COL. WILLIAM WILLIAMS. 441
object of fear as of dislike. Already had one officer acting under Vermont experienced the unpleasant effects of his rage, and felt the force of his nerved and steady arm. The circumstance was on this wise. One morning as Mr. Phelps, pitchfork in hand, was feeding his oxen, a constable with a few attendants appeared, made proclamation that he should distrain the oxen for taxes, and proceeded to drive them off. Determined not to submit without a struggle, to a power which he scorned to recognize, Phelps placed himself before the oxen, armed with his pitchfork, and ordered the constable to desist at his peril. To this command the constable paid no attention, but persisted in his attempt to take the cattle. Enraged at this conduct, Phelps raised his fork, and, swinging it with good effect, laid the officer senseless on the ground. Seeing their leader fall, the assistants fled, while Phelps after securing his property went about his business, leaving the discomfited constable to depart at his leisure.
Such was the man whom Ira Allen was now seeking to encounter. Desirous of availing himself of every means which would increase his chance of success, he determined to secure the co-operation of some of the residents of the town, and for this purpose waited on Col. William Williams, and explained to him the cause of his visit. This gentleman, remarkable for manly beauty, elegance of form, and agreeableness of manners, was also distinguished for his bravery and enterprise, and had been more active and useful in the settlement of the town than any of his contemporaries. At the battle of Bennington, he had distinguished himself at the head of his regiment, and was now an open and avowed supporter of the government of Vermont. His pleasant residence, built upon an eminence west of Mill brook, was in full view of the dwelling of Mr. Phelps, between whose family and his own, notwithstanding the difference in their political opinions, an intimacy existed which had not yet been embittered by jealousy or distrust. He was now called on as a citizen of the state to assist in the execution of its laws, and he could not consistently with loyalty or honor refuse to obey the summons.
In accordance with her usual custom on this day, sacred to the rites of the wash-tub and the pounding barrel, Mrs. Phelps with three attendants, namely, a maid-servant, a little flaxen-haired alms-house boy about ten years of age, named Caleb Pond — who then, as in after life, manifested that prudence,
442 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
keenness, artifice, and tact, which were the basis of his success in whatever work he engaged — and her son John, had repaired to a little arbor near the fording of Mill brook, for the purpose of "doing up the weekly washing." She had hardly got well into the suds when her attention was attracted by the tramp of feet, and looking up from her work she saw, splashing into the ford-way, more than forty armed men, (for the party had been doubled since it entered Marlborough) all, mounted, with swords glittering in the sunlight, piloted and conducted — as she noticed with sorrow and surprise — by her old friend and neighbor Colonel Williams. As soon as they had reached the spot where she was stationed, with the spirit of a noble woman whose privacy had been invaded, and with an air as undaunted as that of a hero, she stepped forward and said: "Colonel Williams, you grieve and amaze me. I had not expected such meanness and treachery from a friend like you." With these words, and without waiting to hear the apology which Williams was striving to stammer out, she took her son by the hand, and having ordered her maid to run on, proceeded with quickened step towards her residence a quarter of a mile distant. Meantime the attentive little flaxen-haired youth, having, as if by instinct, snuffed the object of this warlike movement, betook himself off with greyhound speed, in the same direction, but by another route. Favored by the cover of a grove of poplars, he succeeded in reaching the house without attracting attention, and warned his master of the danger which threatened. No second intimation was needed, and in a few minutes Phelps had gained a place of concealment, as satisfactory to himself as it was difficult of detection by his pursuers.
Crestfallen and ashamed, Williams had disappeared by some obscure pathway, leaving Allen and his company to act as their own guides. Arriving at their destination, the gallant horsemen wheeled in great military display, and having ridden around the house two or three times, dismounted, forced the door, and went in. Mrs. Phelps, who with her son had approached by a shorter route, entered her dwelling a few moments later, to find it filled by the soldiers whom she had encountered at the brook. "Cowardly miscreants!" she exclaimed, as she glared upon them with a look of scornful contempt. A volley of angry eloquence followed this fierce beginning, and the downcast looks and uneasy movements of the party showed but too plainly how poorly they were prepared to bear
1782.] FIRM AND PRUDENT CONDUCT OF MRS. PHELPS. 443
the taunts of a justly enraged woman. Many of them were gentlemen of true spirit, yet on this novel occasion, generous and gallant though they might be, they were perplexed to know how to act. Wishing to end their unpleasant task as speedily as possible, they desired Mrs. Phelps to conduct them to her husband. Her reply was a refusal to gratify their wishes, and a defiance of their power. Enraged at their persistence in searching and inquiring for Mr. Phelps, his loyal wife endeavored to drive them from the house. Armed with a large kitchen fire-shovel, she warned them to leave, in a firm though stormy and indignant manner. With her little boy at her apron strings, she pursued her unwelcome visitors not only with fierce looks, but with quickened steps and threatening gestures. At one time one might have seen them dodging into a corner, as if to escape an impending blow at another, endeavoring to provoke a laugh by some affected attempt at wit. But such a scene could not long continue. Her opponents were men whose lessons in the school of humanity had not tended to make them proficients in the employment in which they were now engaged, or taught them to make war on a defenceless woman, or ruthlessly break the door of her private chamber. The affair had by degrees assumed a farcical aspect. A smile was seen on this face and a smile on that. Pleasant expressions of countenance multiplied in all directions. A laugh followed — a general laugh, in which not only the brave soldiers, but the heroic woman and her little boy all joined. Good feeling was restored, and then the party were told by Mrs. Phelps in a solemn manner, that her husband was not in the house. Satisfied with this statement, which was true, they apologized for the conduct which they had been obliged to exhibit, and departed with words of courtesy and respect.
Although Phelps had escaped the present danger, through the interference of his wife, yet his prudence did not avail to protect him from the search of his pursuers. Whether a guard was set to watch for his appearance, or whether, as is most likely, he chose to suffer with his friends, and with this design showed himself in public, does not plainly appear. Before the day had closed he was a prisoner in the hands of the Vermonters. The circumstances of his capture rest partly on tradition. As Ethan Allen approached him, Phelps in a loud voice announced himself as the high sheriff of Cumberland county, bade Allen go about his business, denounced his conduct and
444 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
that of his men as riotous, and ordered the military to disperse. With his usual roughness, Allen knocked the hat from the head of the doughty sheriff, ordered his attendants to "take the d — d rascal off," and galloped away to superintend the operations of other portions of his forces.
Since morning the strength of the Vermonters had been considerably augmented by the militia of Windham county. Captain Warren of Marlborough had brought twenty-seven men into service; Captain Duncan of Dummerston eighty-three; Captain Wheeler of Wilmington forty-six; Lieutenant Moor of Cumberland twenty; and another officer twenty. By these additions from the brigade of Brig.-Gen. Samuel Fletcher, who commanded in person, and who was supported by Col. Stephen R. Bradley, Lieut.-Col. Charles Kathan, and Adj. Elkanah Day, the Vermonters were able to present a force of four hundred men, ready to act as should best serve the purposes and welfare of the state. Detachments had been sent into the towns of Brattleborough, Halifax, and Guilford. In the latter place, Ethan Allen towards the close of the day awaited the arrival of prisoners from the neighboring towns. Col. Walbridge, who, with a party of men, had been sent into Halifax, succeeded in arresting Maj. William Shattuck, Capt. Thomas Baker, and Ensign David Lamb, three of the leading Yorkers in that town, and conducted them under a strong guard to head-quarters. In Guilford, Maj. Henry Evans and a number of others were taken, and although resistance was offered, yet the Vermonters were not only too numerous, but were also too free in the use of powder and ball to be overcome by their surprised and unarmed opponents.
In the evening, with the view of reaching Brattleborough that night, Ethan Allen, with his troops and prisoners, left Guilford. Meantime the Guilfordites had assembled, with a determination to defend their lives and property, and to the number of forty-six had stationed themselves by the side of the road over which the Vermonters were to pass. As the latter came in sight, they were received by a volley from which they were glad to retire with all the speed which they could command from their jaded horses. Having reached a place of security, a consultation was held, and propositions of a savage nature were discussed during the half hour they were in conclave. Some demanded of their leader that a prisoner should be sacrificed for each one of his men who should be killed by the Yorkers, while others advocated the observance of the common rules of war‑
1782.] DOINGS OF ETHAN ALLEN. 445
fare. Aware of the power of his presence, and of the terror which he was able to inspire in others, Allen again placed himself at the head of his men, and having ordered that mercy should be shown to no one who should offer resistance, returned on foot to Guilford. He advanced without molestation, and on reaching the town made proclamation to the people in these words:— "I, Ethan Allen, do declare that I will give no quarter to the man, woman, or child who shall oppose me, and unless the inhabitants of Guilford peacefully submit to the authority of Vermont, I swear that I will lay it as desolate as Sodom and Gomorrah, by God." Words like these uttered by one whose name was a terror, and supported by men enraged and resolute, could not be disregarded with impunity. No sooner did the attack begin than the terrified Guilfordites fled in the utmost confusion, leaving behind them neither the dead, the dying, nor the wounded — leaving nothing but the remembrance of their presence and the prints of their retreating footsteps. Allen and his detachment, satisfied with their victory, were allowed to make their journey to Brattleborough without further molestation.
On reaching this place, the party was augmented by the detachments which had been sent in pursuit of offenders, and by a number of prisoners. Among the latter was Timothy Church, Lieut.-Colonel Commandant by appointment of Governor Clinton, of the militia in Cumberland county. On the 10th, the prisoners set out under a strong guard for Westminster. To ensure protection to his men, general orders were given by Ethan Allen to kill without quarter any person who should fire upon the troops; and the greatest precaution was taken to prevent a rescue on the part of the Yorkers. As soon as the irruption of Allen and his troops became known, many of the military companies in the county immediately marched to his aid, and placed themselves at his service. The militia of the west parish of Westminster, though regularly organized, were for some time in doubt as to the course they ought to take. True to the cause of Vermont, they were still unwilling to assist in disturbing their neighbors, who differed from them on the question of jurisdiction. But on the morning of Tuesday the 10th, although their captain, Deacon Ephraim Ranney, refused to lead them, they concluded to wait on Gen. Allen, and with this intention were advancing towards Brattleborough, when, on the "edge of Dummerston" they met him and his forces.
446 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
Turning about they joined his retinue and accompanied him to Westminster where the prisoners, twenty in number, were lodged in the jail which was guarded by a strong force.
Though deprived of their liberty, the captives were not restrained in the use of the tongue. Phelps declared, that as sheriff of Cumberland county he had a right to command the jail, but the assertion had no perceptible effect, either on Jonathan Hunt the sheriff of Windham county or on George Foot the jailer. "You have used us well," said Church to the guards, "and I expect soon to have you confined, and I will treat you likewise. To-morrow morning, by nine or ten o'clock, you shall be here in our stead, and we will be walking about." Evans entertained the same opinion; and they all announced with confidence the speedy arrival of a force from New York which would release them from prison, and punish the mob for their insolent and seditious behavior.
But their predictions, with whatever sincerity they might have been uttered, were not to be fulfilled. On the 11th, a special term of the Superior court was commenced at Westminster. The bench was occupied by Moses Robinson, the chief judge, and by Dr. Jonas Fay, John Fassett, and Paul Spooner, side judges. Stephen Row Bradley appeared as the state's attorney, and William Gould as clerk. A grand jury was drawn of which William Simonds was foreman, and the court was declared duly organized. In the means which had been employed to arrest the obnoxious Yorkers, little attention had been paid to legal forms, and the civil had been almost wholly superseded by the military arm. For this reason great care was now taken that all omissions should be supplied, lest the disregard of laws and statutes which had been manifested should be quoted as a precedent on some future occasion. The principal offenders were first brought to trial. The presentment made by the grand jury, contained charges against Timothy Church, William Shattuck, Henry Evans, Timothy Phelps and Charles Phelps. In the quaint, but emphatic language of the old forms, "not having God before their eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil," it was asserted that, on the 1st of August preceding, at Guilford, and on other occasions, both before and after that time, they did "with force and arms treacherously and perfidiously conspire an invasion, insurrection, and public rebellion against this state, by their treacherously assembling together, consulting and
1782.] TRIAL OF THE YORKERS. 447
advising together of the means to destroy the constitution of this state, and subvert the freedom and independence of the government thereof." It was also charged, that in order to accomplish these ends, and to bring the government into the hands of the people of the state of New York, they had written letters and sent messengers to Governor George Clinton, calculated to incite him to invade the state of Vermont; and that they had often met for the purpose of imprisoning the freemen of the state, and withstanding its lawful authority. Strenuous efforts had been made to arrest Charles Phelps, whose name was included in this indictment, but he had succeeded in eluding the vigilance of the militia. All the others against whom charges were found were called to the bar, and being put to plead, pleaded not guilty, and for trial "threw themselves on the country." A jury was accordingly empanelled and the trial began.
In support of the charges alleged, fifteen witnesses appeared who testified to the seditious behavior of the accused both in word and act, on many occasions during the preceding six months. It was shown that Church had refused to submit to an execution which had been levied upon his property (or, in case this could not be seized upon, himself), and, that he, with the aid of his friends, had resisted and repulsed the sheriff when he endeavored to arrest him; that he had received the civil and military commission papers which had been sent from New York, and had distributed them as directed; that he had always been at the committee meetings of the Yorkers, and had encouraged the people to opposition by asserting that Gov. Clinton had engaged to send an armed force into the county, and by adding his opinion that the Governor would be as good as his word. But it also appeared that he had distrusted the issue of the cause in which he was engaged, for he had once stated that if the Yorkers could not carry their points, he would submit to the government of Vermont. It was proved that Shattuck, when starting for New York early in the summer, had boasted that he should obtain assistance from government, and would "drive the matter warmly" when he returned; that he had counselled the people to continue their opposition to Vermont; had declared that he would do all that he could both in public and private to oppose the state; and had verified this declaration by his acts. The testimony concerning Evans showed that he had often avowed his determination to with‑
448 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
stand the jurisdiction of Vermont even "unto blood," and to use his own words, had declared his readiness "to try it on whenever the Vermonters should see fit to fight; that he had resisted Vermont constables; had assisted in rescuing property that had been lawfully seized by the sheriff; and had expressed his hatred of the new state and its officers in the most violent and seditious terms. Evidence was also adduced, proving that Timothy Phelps, in the capacity of high sheriff of Cumberland county by appointment of New York, had often said that he would execute warrants "at the risk of his life;" that he had even endeavored to seize a Vermont constable, and had in one instance arrested a man, conveyed him to his (Phelps's) house, and there kept him under guard until he was retaken by his friends.
Such was the nature of the testimony introduced by the prosecuting attorney. It does not appear that any attempt was made by the defendants to disprove the statements of the opposing witnesses, and in this condition the cases were left with the jury. By their verdict the delinquents were found "guilty of the facts charged in the indictment." The court therefore gave judgment "that Timothy Church, William Shattuck, Henry Evans and Timothy Phelps be each of, them taken from the bar of this court back to the common gaol of this county, there to remain in close imprisonment until the 4th day of October next; and that they be then taken by the sheriff of the said county from the said common gaol and carried without the limits of this state; and that they be then and there forever banished from this state, not to return thereto on penalty of death; and that all their goods, chattels, and estates be condemned, seized and sold, as forfeited to the use of this state." The first part of this sentence was immediately carried into execution, and the prisoners were confined in the jail rooms on the lower floor in the north part of the building in which the court were convened. Attachments were also issued, and officers were dispatched to take the property of the criminals. Of the effects of Shattuck, a constable made return that he had attached "about eighty acres of land in Halifax, with the buildings thereon standing; about ten tons of hay; a small quantity of rye in sheaf; a considerable quantity of flax spread on the ground; and about two or three acres of Indian corn standing on the ground." In the words of Timothy Phelps, "all his goods were sold, except his wife's apparel, the beds, and one cow." The estates of the others were taken in like
1782.] PROCEEDINGS AGAINST CHARLES PHELPS. 449
manner, and the proceeds of the sales which followed, were appropriated to the use of the state.
Although Ethan Allen and his men had failed in their attempt to arrest Charles Phelps, another effort, instigated by the state's attorney, was made to take him. In the complaint presented to the court in this case, charges similar to those which had been brought against the other offenders were preferred. In addition to these it was stated that Phelps had brought into the state of Vermont, "a seditious libel, tending to stir up a public rebellion;" that he had written, printed, and published abroad, "a seditious libel, with a manifest intent, wittingly and designedly to raise an insurrection and public rebellion" against the state; and that there was the highest reason to believe that there were in his possession "a number of books, writings, and manuscripts," whose tendency was to weaken and destroy the government and constitution as established. A warrant for his arrest, and for the seizure of his books, was accordingly issued. The search for Phelps was unsuccessful, but his books and manuscripts were seized, and having been brought into court were retained as confiscated to the state. Such of them as were obnoxious were probably destroyed or concealed, and the remainder were sold under the hammer.*
On the 12th a number of the other delinquents were brought to trial. Complaint was made against Joseph Chamberlain, Joseph Whipple, and Jonathan Church, who, on the 22d of August previous, had rescued Timothy Church from the hands of the sheriff as has already been related. Chamberlain was adjudged guilty of participating in this act, and was sentenced
* The library of Charles Phelps, was, it is supposed, the most valuable in the state of Vermont, at the period to which allusion is made. The sale of this collection, enriched many a previously scantily-supplied shelf. Even now the old volumes of this uncompromising Yorker, are to be found scattered here and there in the farm houses of the descendants of those who bought them in those troublous times. Among the works seized by the sheriff, were a number belonging to Mr. Phelps's son, Solomon. By a special order of the court granted at the session in February 1783, it appears that "Salkeld's Reports, 1 vol., Milton's Paradise Lost, Telemachus, 2 vols., Lord Bacon's Essays, and such other books as the said Solomon Phelps's name is inserted in," were restored to that gentleman. This disposition to make restitution did not long continue. By an entry in the Journals of the Assembly of Vermont under date of the 14th of October, 1783, it appears that "the petition of Solomon Phelps representing that a number of his books, seized by order of the Supreme court, are in the possession of Stephen R. Bradley, Esq., and praying an order of this House for the restoration thereof," was read, and dismissed by a resolution.
450 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
to pay a fine of £20, also the costs of prosecution, and to stand committed until judgment should be complied with. Of those who had been engaged at Guilford on the 10th of May preceding, in rescuing a cow which had been taken on execution by deputy sheriff Barzillai Rice, Joseph Peck who acted as a ringleader on that occasion, was declared guilty of the charges preferred against him, and was mulcted in the sum of £30 and costs. Asaph Carpenter, Edward Carpenter, and Shubael Bullock who had assisted in the rescue, were fined £20 and costs. Stephen Chase who pleaded guilty to the same charge, was released on giving bail to the amount of £30, to be forfeited in case he should leave town without the order of the court. On the following week he was fined £4 and costs.* A presentment was then made by the grand jury charging that Joseph Peck, "on the 1st day of July last past, not being a continental officer, did accept and hold a commission, not derived from the authority of the people of this state, to wit, a commission of captain of part of the militia of Guilford, under the authority of the people of the state of New York, contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the freemen of the state of Vermont." The charge was not, however, sustained. Peck was declared not guilty, but was obliged to discharge the costs of prosecution. This failure to prove the accusation, arose from an error in the indictment. It was charged that he held a captaincy under New York, "on or about the 1st day of July last past." His commission, on the contrary, bore date the 24th of July, and he did not receive it until the beginning of August. Twenty other persons were presented by the grand jury as holding commissions derived from New York, but as many of them had not been arrested, it was thought best to delay the prosecution, and the cases were for the present reserved.
The circumstance and result of the irruption of the Vermonters, were early made known to the border residents of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and were accompanied with earnest and oft-repeated applications from the Yorkers for assistance. Some of the inhabitants of Massachusetts were disposed to grant the desired aid, and letters and messengers were dispatched in various directions to ascertain the opinions of
* In answer to an application made by Chase, the fine was remitted by a resolution of the Council of Vermont, passed June 8th, 1785.
1782.] NOISY BOASTFULNESS OF ETHAN ALLEN. 451
those with whom rested the power of deciding upon the propriety of interference. One officer wrote to another in these words:— "I recommend it to your wise and prudent consideration, if it be not our duty to recommend it to our officers and soldiers to ride up, armed well, to Guilford where they are committing those war hostilities." Then, referring to the Yorkers, he added:— "You and I are, with all the United States, bound by the confederacy to protect them from all such violence." But a sentiment adverse to interference prevailed, and Vermont and New York, occupying now a position clearly antagonistic, were left to pursue the course which strength or policy might dictate.
Flushed with success, Ethan Allen was unable to restrain his blatant boasting and vulgar oaths. Against Clinton, in particular, did his wordy rage vent itself in torrents of abuse. "Had I but the orders," said he, "I could go to Albany and be head monarch in three weeks, and I have a good mind to do it." In an interview which he held with Shattuck, he endeavored to persuade him to renounce his allegiance to New York, and unite with Vermont; assured him that Congress had no right to pass any resolutions respecting Vermont; and employed a variety of arguments to show that Congress were in reality willing that Vermont should be a separate state. This latter argument was also made use of by the state's attorney. "You are deceived by Congress," said he to the prisoners; "you have placed your dependence upon the hope of obtaining from them a decisive resolution favorable to your desires, and have been duped."
The remainder of the session was occupied in disposing of such minor matters as required immediate attention. Knowing that the arrest of many of those who had been charged with seditious behavior would be attended with great difficulty, the court chose to pursue towards them a method more stringent even than that which had been already adopted. By a stretch of power they resolved on the 13th, to seize and confiscate the estates of the Yorkers against whom they held warrants but whose persons they could not find. To enforce this resolution, Ethan Allen determined to make a new levy, and requested Gen. Fletcher to raise in his brigade "two hundred able, effective men, equipt for war to assist the civil authority in carrying into execution" the laws of the state. Of this number, Fletcher desired Col. Stephen R. Bradley to raise in his regiment one
452 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
half, either "by draft or volunteers;" to supply them with three days' provisions; and march them "so as to rendezvous at Landlord Arms's in Brattleborough on Monday evening next in order to advance to Guilford on Tuesday morning."
Aided by a posse comitatus of such power, the sheriff and his assistants experienced but little difficulty, and no opposition, in performing the task assigned them. The result of their foray was entirely successful. The terrified Yorkers fearing Ethan Allen "more than the devil" as some of them declared, fled from their farms and dwellings at his approach, leaving everything at the mercy of their opponents. Upon these deserted premises the Vermonters entered, taking in the name of the state whatever they desired. They drove off one hundred and fifty head of cattle besides sheep and hogs unnumbered. They took possession of barns well filled with produce, thrashed out the grain and carried it away. They left warrants for those whose property they had despoiled, but whose persons they had not yet taken, and informed them by message that they would be bound for trial or committed to jail should they be once arrested. On Saturday, the 14th, the court adjourned sine die, and the prisoners who had not yet been brought to trial, and who had been taken since the session began, numbering thirteen in all, were subsequently marched to Marlborough there to await the further order of their captors.
In order to satisfy the demands of justice, another special session of the court was commenced at Marlborough, on Tuesday, the 17th. On this occasion the indictments were drawn with care, and no difficulty was experienced in obtaining a conviction. Hezekiah Broad, Daniel Lynd, Joshua Lynd, and Samuel Melendy, all of Guilford, pleaded guilty to the charge of having been engaged in rescuing a cow from the hands of the deputy sheriff on the 10th of May previous. Broad was fined £12; Daniel Lynd, £4; and Melendy £3. Each was required to discharge the costs of his suit, and to enter into a recognizance to the amount of £50 "to be of good behavior towards all the good and liege subjects of this state, till the 1st day of February, A. D. 1783." Joshua Lynd was mulcted in the sum of £2 and costs. Thomas Baker confessed to the acceptance from the state of New York, of a captaincy in the militia company of Halifax; David Lamb to the acceptance of an ensigncy in the same organization; Simeon Ferrel and Isaac Weld to the acceptance, the one of an ensigncy and the other of a lieutenancy
1782.] FURTHER PROCEEDINGS AGAINST YORKERS. 453
in the Guilford militia; and John Alexander to the acceptance of a lieutenant's commission in one of the companies of Brattleborough. Baker's fine and costs were fixed at £7 15s. 6d.; those of Lamb, at £7. Weld was fined £2 10s. and costs. Ferrel* and Alexander were mulcted the one in the sum of £2, and the other in the sum of £20; both were charged with costs and were required to enter into a recognizance of £50 each, to be forfeited in case they should not act with propriety during the next four months and a half. Joseph Coleman and Eleazer Church charged with disobedience to the laws of the state, gave bonds for their good behavior and were acquitted without fine.
On the 19th, the last day of the session, Samuel Ely of Conway, in the county of Hampshire, Massachusetts, but lately a resident in the town of Wilmington, Vermont, was brought to the bar for trial. A bold, but rash and impetuous man, he had served in the battle of Bennington as a volunteer, and being connected with no company or regiment had fought without the advice or direction of any person. He had been court-martialed after the action on account of his singular conduct in retaining a large amount of valuable plunder, but had been honorably discharged on proof that he had taken only such articles as he had won in his own independent method of warfare. Since that period his restlessness had engaged him in many scenes of an unpleasant nature, and had finally resulted in his arrest under the laws of Vermont. In the presentment of the state's attorney, it was charged that the prisoner, "not having God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil; and little regarding the laws of this state or the penalties in the same contained; and being a pernicious and seditious man, and a person of depraved, impious and disquiet mind, and of a seditious disposition and conversation; and contriving, practising, and falsely, maliciously, turbulently, and seditiously intending the peace and common tranquillity of the freemen of the state of Vermont to disquiet, molest, and disturb; and to bring his Excellency, Thomas Chittenden, Esq., Governor of said state, the Honorable Council and House of Representatives (being the general supreme court of justice in the afore‑
* At the conclusion of the trial, Weld took the oath of allegiance to Vermont in open court. By an entry in the Council records of the state, dated Westminster, October 18th, 1783, and signed by Lot Hall, secretary pro tempore, it appears that the fines of Weld and Ferrel were remitted on that occasion, upon the plea of Thomas Cutler.
454 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
said state of Vermont,) and the proceedings of the same into great hatred, contempt and scandal with all the good and faithful subjects of this state; and the magistrates, judges and justices within said state, and the generals, colonels, captains and other military officers of this state to scandalize, villify and bring into contempt" — in the presentment it was charged that the prisoner influenced by these unworthy motives, and in order "his most wicked contrivances, practices, and intentions aforesaid to compleat, perfect and render effectual," did on the 10th of July preceding, and at other times, "say, assert, affirm and. pronounce, and with a loud voice did declare these false, malicious, seditious and opprobrious English words following, that is to say:— 'The state of Vermont is a damned state, and the act for the purpose of raising ten shillings upon every hundred acres of land is a cursed act, and they that made it are a cursed body of men.' " It was also asserted that "in further prosecution of his malice" he did publicly declare "that the general or supreme court aforesaid were a pack of villains, and that if no other person would undertake to overturn or destroy the government of Vermont, he, the said Ely, would do it, and he had got that in his pocket which would overset them." In addition to these charges it was alleged that he did "damn the state of Vermont and all its officers, and did curse the laws of the same as passed by the General Assembly thereof." Such were the accusations which the redoubtable Ely was called upon to confront.
Witnesses from Wilmington testified to the truth of the charges, and the jury announced to the court through their foreman Jonathan Underwood, their decision that the prisoner was guilty of a breach of an act of the state, entitled "An act for the punishment of defamation." In conformity with the choice vested in the court to punish defamers by fine, imprisonment, disfranchisement or banishment, according to the nature of the offence, Ely was ordered to be taken to the guard house in Marlborough; thence, on the morrow to be conveyed to the limits of the state; to be then banished and forbidden to return until eighteen months from date should have expired, on penalty of being imprisoned the same length of time.
With this trial ended the first resolute attempt of the government of Vermont to enforce obedience to the laws of the state by the civil and military arm combined. The proceedings attendant upon this manifestation, were, in some instances,
1782.] UNNECESSARY SEVERITY. 455
unnecessarily severe and cruel. Many of the prisoners during their confinement at Westminster and Marlborough, suffered severely from want of food and other necessaries. Two of them, during eleven days' imprisonment, were allowed but four meals of victuals by their guards. Ethan Allen himself acknowledged, that the method which had been pursued by him was "a savage way to support government." At the same time he declared that he could not have carried his point in any other manner. Satisfied with the policy that had induced these acts, he and his friends exchanged congratulations at the part they had taken in the Guilford war, and made known their determination to present to Congress a full report of their doings.*
* MS. Records of Superior court of Vt., Sept., 1782. MS. Depositions. Laws of Vt. Various MS. Testimony, Letters, Affidavits, etc. Thompson's Gazetteer, p. 143.