ATTEMPTS TO OBTAIN THE INTERFERENCE OF CONGRESS.
Charles Phelps and Joel Bigelow repair to Poughkeepsie — Public and private letters of Gov. Clinton to the New York delegates in Congress — Clinton to Bigelow — New York delegates to Clinton — Depositions of Yorkers — C. Phelps proceeds to Philadelphia — Church, Shattuck, Evans, and T. Phelps — Statement of grievances by the New York adherents — Shattuck and Evans with Gov. Clinton — C. Phelps before Congress — Shattuck and Evans visit Philadelphia — Action of Congress — Persistence of C. Phelps — Congressional resolves — Destitution of Shattuck, Evans, and C. Phelps — Resolutions of the 5th of December — Further action of Congress — Gov. Clinton to the convention of committees — Strife between the Yorkers and Vermonters — Proposal for a temporary settlement of difficulties — John Bridgman taken, and released on parole — Governor Chittenden's letter about the Yorkers — Report that Col. Church was to be hanged — Effect of the resolves of the 5th of December — Correspondence between the Yorkers and Gov. Clinton — Letter from Governor Chittenden to the President of Congress — Remonstrance of the General Assembly of Vermont to Congress.
ON the 11th of September, the day on which the trials of the prisoners taken by Ethan Allen commenced at Westminster, a number of the citizens of New York, in Cumberland county constituted Charles Phelps their agent to visit Governor Clinton, to repair to Congress, and to act for them in matters pertaining to the controversy, "as he in his prudence and discretion," should think proper. Knowing that a warrant had been issued for his arrest, and that the militia were endeavoring to take him, Phelps strove to avoid their vigilance and ultimately succeeded. Though desirous of visiting his family before proceeding on his mission, he was obliged to leave without seeing them. While on the road and before he had left the state, he was pursued by eight or ten men for several miles, but fortunately escaped. Having obtained a supply of clothing from his friends in Hadley, he made the best of his way to Poughkeepsie. On the same day Joel Bigelow, of
1782.] ADVICE OF CLINTON. 457
Guilford, left for the same place, for the purpose of acquainting Governor Clinton with the late proceedings. Travelling with greater expedition than Phelps, he reached Dutchess county before him, and, on the 15th of September, made a deposition before Justice Melancton Smith, concerning the conduct of the Vermonters, and the manner in which they had been received by the Yorkers. This deposition was immediately transmitted to the delegates in Congress from New York, with a request that it might be communicated to Congress as soon as possible, inasmuch as it clearly evinced the necessity of a speedy determination of the boundary dispute, or at least of an interference which should preserve the public peace until the controversy could be finally decided.*
In a letter dated the 16th of September, and accompanying the deposition, Governor Clinton announced it as a fact, "undeniably true," that the government of New York and its subjects on the "Grants," had strictly adhered to the recommendation of Congress "in abstaining from the exercise of any authority over persons professing subjection to the pretended state of Vermont." He detailed the advice which he was about to transmit to his oppressed fellow-citizens in Cumberland county; referred in a pointed manner to what he deemed the duty of Congress; and concluded in these words:— "From the spirit and determination of the inhabitants of several towns on the east side of the mountains who have resolved to experience every inconvenience rather than swerve from their duty and allegiance to the state [of New York], until Congress declares the 'Grants' not to be comprehended within our boundaries, I am induced to believe this [outrage] will lead to more serious consequences for which, however, I do not consider either the state or myself responsible." In a supplementary note of a private nature, the Governor requested the delegates, "without mentioning this intimation," to read his communication publicly in Congress when the deposition should be introduced. "In a letter to you," he observed in explanation, "I can use a freedom which in an address immediately to Congress might be conceived rather derogatory to their dignity . . . I feel the honor of the state and myself hurt, that my repeated applications to them for a decision of the controversy have been not only ineffectual but even unnoticed. You are fully sensible of
* MS. Commission and Deposition.
458 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
my situation, and of the condition of the state to assert its rights, and I flatter myself you feel for our unfortunate fellow-citizens who are thus exposed to outrage and injury. I have, therefore, only to add an earnest request, to use every means for inducing Congress to attend to this very important business. The unfortunate people who are now made prisoners by the insurgents, having in every instance religiously adhered to the recommendation of Congress, conceive they have a just claim to their protection, and consequently look up to them for a speedy and effectual interposition for their relief."*
Having dispatched the letters and deposition to Philadelphia, Governor Clinton placed in the hands of Mr. Bigelow a communication directed to him, and intended for the perusal of the unfortunate sufferers by the "late outrage." The advice which he gave was well in keeping with the character of the man. "I would as heretofore," said he, "recommend to our friends, still to persevere in the line of conduct pointed out by the resolve of Congress, in abstaining from all acts of force or violence except when their immediate self-defence shall compel them to have recourse to resistance by arms. At the same time, should the government of the pretended state continue to hold the prisoners in confinement, I would then think it justifiable and advisable that attempts should be made for their release; and if this cannot be effected, then that an equal number of the insurgents should be taken and brought to this† or any other place of security in the state, where they can be detained as hostages for the security and indemnity of the subjects of this state whom they have made prisoners of."‡
The dispatches of Governor Clinton having been received at Philadelphia on the 20th, an attempt was made by the New York delegates to read them in Congress without delay, but a pressure of business of greater importance rendered this course impracticable. The person by whom the papers had been sent being apprehensive that his poverty would not permit him to tarry long in Philadelphia, left without the information of which Clinton had hoped he would be the bearer. Assurances were however conveyed to the Governor of the interest which others beside himself felt in the result of the late occurrences.
* George Clinton Papers, in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvi. docs. 4761, 4762
‡ Doc. Hist. N. Y., iv. 1012, 1013. Papers relating to Vt. Controversy, in office Sec. State N. Y., p. 47.
1782.] BIXBY'S COMMUNICATION TO GOV. CLINTON. 459
"This new and unexpected violence," wrote the delegates, "offered in direct opposition to the recommendations of Congress to those peaceable citizens who have always strictly adhered to the same, and the dangerous consequences which may ensue from such evil examples, will, we trust, induce Congress immediately to interpose and exert their authority for the relief and protection of those unhappy people, our fellow-citizens, now made prisoners by a lawless power. Your Excellency may rest assured that we shall exert ourselves to the utmost for their relief, and that measures may be adopted for the future protection of the adherents to our state who reside in that district of country."*
In order that Governor Clinton might be fully informed of the conduct of the Vermonters, the depositions of Thomas Baker and David Lamb, two of the sufferers by the "late outrage," were sent to him by Samuel Bixby, the clerk of the New York convention of committees. In an accompanying communication, dated the 22d, Bixby stated that the sentence which the prisoners had received was contrary to the laws of Vermont, as they were not taken under arms, which was the only condition on which their conduct was to be adjudged criminal. On this point, however, he was at fault, for the particular act under which they were arrested, denounced punishment against any one who should conspire against the liberty of the state, whether with arms or otherwise. He also referred to the illegality of the proceedings, whereby the same tribunal had held and swayed both the legislative and the executive power. And in this particular his remark was just, for it was by order of the court, and not by legislative enactment, that the officers were empowered to seize the property of those against whom charges had been preferred, when it was ascertained that their persons could not be secured. The reply of the New York delegates, a part of which has been already recited, was received by Governor Clinton on the 27th, and the information which it contained was immediately transmitted by him, to the convention of Cumberland county. In the few words of advice which he added, he, as on former occasions, counselled his friends to behave peaceably, and "not to have recourse to violence or force," unless the immediate defence of their persons and property should demand the employment of such measures. At
* George Clinton Papers, in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvi., docs. 4772, 4773.
460 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
the same time he wrote to Jonathan Hunt, who, as sheriff of Windham county, had taken an active part in arresting the subjects of New York. He reminded him that the proceedings in which he had been engaged were in "direct opposition and contempt of the recommendations of Congress," and warned him of the "dangerous consequences" which would ensue should he attempt to execute process against those who refused to obey the laws of Vermont.*
Soon after Governor Clinton had dispatched the messenger to Philadelphia with the information which Bigelow had brought from Guilford, Charles Phelps arrived at Poughkeepsie with accounts confirmatory of the reports which had preceded him. Here he remained until the messenger returned from Philadelphia, when he made known his intention of paying a visit to Congress. Conceiving that his presence there would be of no service to the cause he was eager to advocate, and apprehending he would be troublesome and perhaps burthensome" to those with whom he would necessarily be brought most in contact, Governor Clinton endeavored to dissuade him from going. Nothing could change his determination. Though the Governor declined writing by him, lest the delegates should suppose that his visit was made by the Governor's approbation, Phelps departed on the 1st of October, depending on his own resources for the assistance he should require.
In conformity with the sentence that had been passed upon them, Church, Shattuck, Evans, and Timothy Phelps were released from imprisonment on the 4th of October. They were then taken under a strong guard across Connecticut river into New Hampshire, where the sentence of banishment was read to them by Samuel Avery, a Vermont deputy sheriff. To this the penalty of death was added, provided they should ever return. On the 24th, the sheriff of Windham county was directed by a resolution of the General Assembly, to sell their estates as confiscated property, and accept in payment, "due bills, pay-table orders, or hard money." He was also directed to sell as much of the estates of those persons who had been indicted by the grand jurors of Windham county, as should
* Soon after the receipt of this letter, instigated either by fear or by doubts as to the legality of his course, Hunt resigned his office. Dr. Elkanah Day was appointed in his place on the 16th of October, 1782. MS. Accounts. Doc. Hist. N. Y., iv. 1013, 1014. George Clinton Papers, in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvi. doc. 4781. Papers relating to Vt. Controversy, in office Sec. State N. Y., p. 48.
1782.] REPORT OF THE COMMITTEES OF FOUR TOWNS. 461
serve to pay the expense of the posse comitatus; and was instructed to "take the advice of the principal men of the county, and endeavor to levy such expense in proportion to the crimes and abilities of such delinquents."
During the confinement of the prisoners, the committees of Brattleborough, Guilford, Halifax, and Marlborough, had been engaged in preparing a report of the grievances to which they had been subjected by reason of their adherence to the government of New York. This document was full in its details, and embraced the discussion of topics relating as well to the condition of the whole state, as to the condition of Windham and Windsor counties. Among other criminations contained in it, the General Assembly of Vermont were accused of entering into a treaty with the enemies of the United States, without the knowledge or consent of the people at large, and, when charged with the offence of flatly denying that any such treaty had ever been commenced. Announcement was also made of the current belief that negotiations had been initiated with the British in Canada, for the purpose of transferring Vermont to the common enemy. The secret policy of the state was condemned. Governor Chittenden's conduct was pronounced arbitrary. The acts of the Vermont Legislature were declared unauthorized. Taxes which had been levied for the purpose of supporting the government of Vermont were branded as unjust. The finances of the state were represented as impoverished in condition, and the officers to whom the duty of collecting money had been entrusted were denounced as exacting and heartless men. In view of these charges, the committees expressed their sentiments in language plain and definite. "By a resolution of the Assembly of the state of New York, in October, 1781, and one of March, 1782," said they, "it appears that the state of New York are determined to support their jurisdiction over this territory and it being our opinion that it was guaranteed to them in the confederation by the other states, and that to them we owe our allegiance, we therefore conceive we shall be highly to blame and of course involve ourselves in certain ruin, by resisting or opposing the authority of New York, since by so doing we shall oppose and resist the authority of Congress and of the thirteen United States, and bring inevitable destruction upon ourselves. To avoid these evils, we think it our indispensable duty to submit ourselves to the authority of the state of New York."
462 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
In the course of this statement of grievances, other actions of the government of Vermont were unsparingly condemned. The late legal enactments concerning those who acknowledged the jurisdiction of New York, were stigmatized with especial bitterness. "We are of opinion," said they, "that the most capital of all the proceedings of this old Green Mountain Core,* is their preparing a law especially for a certain set of people — who, while this territory was under the jurisdiction of New York, were orderly, good subjects to the state of New York, and who never before, when that jurisdiction was regularly supported here, nor since the setting up of this pretended new state, have ever joined the new state, but have ever adhered to the state of New York — by which law they have made it treason to join any of the other states, or to refuse to adhere to the new state of Vermont." Conduct such as this they denounced as particularly heinous, since Congress had expressly ordered that the rulers of Vermont should exercise no authority over any person who was unwilling to acknowledge the jurisdiction of that state. Continuing in this strain, they detailed the general effects of the treatment they had been compelled to undergo, and of the sufferings they had borne in behalf of New York, and concluded their statements in these words:— "We conceive there can be no way to ensure peace and prosperity to the people of these 'Grants,' but to put an end to their present policy and government. Perhaps in some future day it may be for the happiness of this part of the country to be made a separate jurisdiction, within such bounds and under such regulations as the United States in their wisdom shall see fit. We think it will be very easy for Congress to point out a way in which justice may for the present be done to all the contending and different claims but should matters be suffered to go on in the course they have now taken, we cannot imagine where they will end, unless it be in riots, tumults, disorder, and confusion, and most probably in bloodshed among ourselves."†
This statement of the associated committees was entrusted to Majors Shattuck and Evans on the 7th of October, to be by them presented to Governor Clinton and the Legislature of New York. The two officers reached Poughkeepsie on the 14th of October, and were courteously received by the Governor,
† George Clinton Papers, in N. Y State Lib., vol. xvi. doc. 4788.
1782.] COURSE OF PHELPS IN PHILADELPHIA. 463
who listened with interest and attention to their representations. They furnished him with affidavits in which were embodied a full relation of the events which had led to the trial and imprisonment of themselves and friends; a particular statement of the conduct of Ethan Allen during the "late violent proceedings;" and a few suggestions as to the cause of the appearance of the British at the northward and westward. In their own defence they stated that they had never "made use of any force or violence to compel such of the inhabitants on the district called the New Hampshire Grants, who professed allegiance to the said usurped government, to renounce their allegiance thereto, or to submit to the government or authority of the said state of New York; or by any act of force or violence interrupted or prevented the exercise of any authority under the said pretended state of Vermont over such persons as professed allegiance thereto." Governor Clinton immediately notified the information he had received to the New York delegates in Congress. In his letter to them, he enclosed copies of the papers which had been furnished him by Shattuck and Evans. "I think they cannot fail," wrote he, referring to the depositions, "of making an impression on the minds of Congress, not unfavorable to us."*
Meantime Charles Phelps having reached Philadelphia, was busied in detailing his misfortunes to those who he hoped would be interested in relieving them. By his own solicitation he obtained permission to appear before the committee of Congress to whom had been referred the consideration of the troubles in Cumberland county, and on the 8th of October, at an evening session, was engaged for "two or three hours, with very little interruption," in recounting the transactions which had been the cause of his visit. So important were the affidavits which he presented on this occasion, that the committee refused to report upon them until they should have been read in Congress. To this arrangement Ezra L'Hommedieu and James Duane — the two New York delegates then in attendance — were obliged to submit, although by so doing the presentation of the report upon the statements made more than two weeks before was necessarily deferred. Not content with these efforts, Phelps in character of agent for the convention of committees from the towns in Vermont loyal to New York, presented a memorial to
* George Clinton Papers, in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvi. doc. 4802.
464 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
Congress on the 10th, in which he stated that his constituents on the "Grants" had considered themselves protected by the resolutions of Congress passed on the 24th of September, 1779, and on the 2d of June, 1780, and for this reason had acted in accordance with those resolutions. He also declared his belief that the persons who had been imprisoned for refusing to acknowledge the jurisdiction of Vermont would be sent to Canada. In his own behalf he prayed that measures might be taken to effect the restoration of his property.*
On the 16th of October — one month from the date of Governor Clinton's letter to Congress containing a notification of the outbreak in Cumberland county — the committee appointed by Congress presented their report. At the same time another report was proposed as a substitute. These proceedings ended in a recommitment of the whole subject. A third report made by John Rutledge, on the 22d, in which he and his colleagues recommended to the people on the "Grants" to abstain from all measures calculated to create disturbance, was amended and laid aside for further consideration.
Since their arrival at Poughkeepsie, Shattuck and Evans had remained in the vicinity of that place, hoping to receive "accounts of the issue of the controversy on the 'Grants;' and that Congress had taken decided measures for the relief of their fellow citizens in Cumberland county, and their protection in future against the violence of the Vermont party." Having been assured by a letter from Mr. L'Hommedieu of the 16th of October, that "no effectual measures" had been or probably would be taken in Congress until the general question respecting jurisdiction should be determined, they concluded to extend their journey to Philadelphia and there await the event. In the letter of introduction which was furnished them by Governor Clinton, full approbation was expressed of the course they had resolved to adopt. "They, with several others, their neighbors," wrote the Governor to the New York delegates, "are stript of all their property and banished, and under the circumstances cannot think of seeing their families till they have made every effort for obtaining redress. They have determined therefore to go on to Philadelphia, in hopes that their presence, and the information they can communicate, may assist in bringing about a more speedy settlement of this busi-
* George Clinton Papers, in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvi. docs. 4796, 4797.
1782.] THE FEELING IN CONGRESS. 465
ness. I have helped them to a small sum of cash to defray their expenses and to prevent their being burthensome to you. It is unnecessary to recommend them to your countenance and assistance. The cause they are engaged in, gives them the best assurance of this."
While Governor Clinton exercised especial care to send to Philadelphia copies of all the papers concerning the controversy which he received, the New York delegates never neglected to bring his dispatches to the notice of Congress on the earliest occasion. By this means the topic of greatest interest to the persecuted adherents of New York was kept in continual agitation. Though Congress were desirous that "internal peace should be preserved, as well between the respective members of the Union as within each district thereof," and even favored the appointment of a day for the final disposition of the question of jurisdiction, still they were unwilling that any measure should be taken in the present emergency tending to prejudice the decision of Congress on the general question. To this cause must be attributed, in part, the delay with which every proposition for a thorough examination of the relative position of the two parties claiming jurisdiction on the "Grants," was met. While sentiments like these were prevailing in the minds of many of the delegates, Shattuck and Evans appeared in Philadelphia, and on the 28th of October laid their petition before Congress. In this document they briefly rehearsed the history of the difficulties which they had been obliged to encounter; referred to the "fifty persons having families;" who had been driven from their homes, and who were then "'wandering about in the utmost distress;" mentioned the forbearance which the sufferers had exhibited in refraining from "acts of retaliation;" and asked for aid, and for the restoration of their possessions to those who had been deprived of them by the late transactions of the people of Vermont. Nor did they scruple to refer to their own destitution, and to the immediate inconveniences to which they were exposed, on account of a want of money, and of the difficulty of supporting themselves in Philadelphia where necessity had obliged them to repair for justice. Though but little was to be expected from Congress until the general course which they were to follow in the controversy should be fixed, yet the petitioners were not allowed to suffer. "They are very decent men
* George Clinton Papers, in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvi. docs. 4809, 4826. MSS. in office Sec. State Vt.
466 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
and are treated with respect," wrote Mr. L'Hommedieu, and subsequent events proved that private means were at their service, though the aid of Congress was denied them.*
The committee of Congress to whom had been referred the letter of the 16th of September from Governor Clinton, the deposition of Joel Bigelow, the memorial of Charles Phelps, and a number of other papers, presented another report on the 5th of November, in which several important alterations and additions had been made. At the same time the consideration of the report which had been made to Congress on the 17th of April previous, recommending the admission of Vermont into the Union, was called for. After a lengthened discussion, all that portion of the subject relating to an ultimate adjustment of difficulties by an acknowledgment of the independence of Vermont as a separate state was postponed. The consideration of the question whether "the people inhabiting the territory called Vermont" had relinquished their claims to the Eastern and Western Unions was declared necessary and proper before arguing the questions which depended upon it. Referring to the action of Congress on this occasion, Mr. L'Hommedieu expressed a wish that since the general question had been thus laid aside, Congress would take measures to preserve the peace of the disturbed district. The constituency of his own state, many of the inhabitants on the "Grants," and no inconsiderable number of the members of Congress avowed the same desire, and anxiously awaited the time when the present difficulties at least, should be ended.
Believing fully in the innate strength of petition, Charles Phelps did not cease to besiege Congress with missives supplicatory, missives memorial, and missives remonstrative. On the 6th of November he besought Congress "for a continental relief of money and clothing for his necessitous circumstances." In order to prove the validity of the grounds upon which he asked for assistance, he stated that when leaving home in some haste, he had been pursued several miles by eight or ten of the Vermont light infantry;" that he barely made his escape from "those armed pursuers;" that be was "necessitated to borrow a great part of his necessary apparel fifty miles from home;" that his garments were now nearly worn out, his money almost exhausted, and the debts which he had been forced to contract
* George Clinton Papers, in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvi. docs. 4828, 4831, 4833, 4842.
1782.] RESOLUTIONS OF THE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE. 467
for the support of himself and horse unpaid. Although his condition required the aid for which he sought, yet Congress did not deem themselves bound to heed his requests, and the petition was dismissed. It is probable that a similar petition preferred by Shattuck and Evans was treated in a similar manner. On the 13th of November, the day preceding that on which the congressional committee were to report concerning the condition of the "Grants," Mr. L'Hommedieu wrote to Governor Clinton. Referring to the 14th, he observed:— "After that time I shall advise Messrs. Phelps, Shattuck, and Evans to return, as it will answer no purpose for them to continue longer in this expensive place. They have spent all their money and are considerably in debt, which in their petition they have mentioned, but I believe will have no relief in that respect, more than in the other, from Congress."
A portion of the report on Governor Clinton's letter of the 16th of September, and on the petitions of Phelps, Shattuck, and Evans, had been already referred to a committee of three for further consideration. In a second report presented on the 14th of November, the committee stated "that the measures complained of in the papers above mentioned, were probably occasioned by the state of New York having lately issued commissions, both civil and military, to persons resident in the district called Vermont." With this opinion for a basis, they proposed the following resolutions:—
"That it be recommended to the state of New York to revoke all commissions, either civil or military, which have been issued by the said state since the month of May last, to persons residing in the district called Vermont, as described in the resolves of the 7th and 20th of August, 1781.
"That it be recommended to the persons exercising the powers of government within the said district, to make full and ample satisfaction to Charles Phelps, William Shattuck, and Henry Evans, and to all others in a similar predicament, for the damages which they have sustained in person and property, in consequence of the measures taken against them in the said district, and to suffer them to return to their habitations, and to remain unmolested in the district aforesaid.
"That it be recommended to the state of New York, and to the persons exercising the powers of government within the
* Journals of Am. Congress, iii. 102. George Clinton Papers, in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvi., doc. 4887.
468 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
district aforesaid, to adhere to the recommendations of Congress contained in their resolve of September 24, 1779, until a decision shall be had by Congress on the subject referred to them by the said state of New York and the said district of Vermont."
However just these resolutions might have appeared to those who proposed them, yet they failed to obtain the concurrence of Congress. A motion to agree to the first resolution was lost, a motion to recommit the second was negatived, and, on a final vote, the consideration of the remainder of the report was postponed. On none did the immediate effects of this refusal to reimburse the suffering Yorkers fall more heavily than on the three petitioners, who, for several weeks, had awaited at Philadelphia, patiently and amid poverty, the decision of Congress. Their indebtedness, owing to the expensiveness of living, had increased to such an extent that they were unable to meet it. On the 15th of November an attempt was made by the New York delegates to relieve their necessities by borrowing a hundred dollars on the credit of the state. "If this plan fails," wrote James Duane, "it is more than probable they will lose their liberty, as they have already done their property, for it is out of my power to aid them." On the 17th the same gentleman informed Clinton that "the distress of Phelps having been brought to a crisis," nothing was left but to borrow "for his and his unfortunate companions' support." The desired loan was effected; the debts of the trio whose visit had given "infinite uneasiness" to their friends in Philadelphia were discharged; and the fear of imprisonment for debt was brought to an end.
As there was but little expectation that any resolution could now be obtained which would prove favorable to the Yorkers, the main reason for the delay of their agents in an expensive city was removed. Desirous of visiting their families, provided they could do so with safety, Shattuck and Evans set out on their return home on the 19th. Phelps, on the contrary, hoping to be able to accomplish by importunity what he had failed to perform by petition and remonstrance, determined to remain. The two former reached Poughkeepsie on the 23d detailed to Governor Clinton an account of their visit; and confirmed the report which had already reached him of their failure to impress upon Congress the necessity of prompt and decisive action in restoring to the Yorkers their homes and possessions.*
* Journals of Am. Cong., iv. 105, 106. George Clinton Papers in N. Y. State Lib,, vol. xvi. docs. 4856, 4857, 4858.
1782.] RETURN OF EVANS TO GUILFORD. 469
Evans now determined to return to Guilford, in spite of the penalties denounced against him in case he should ever again enter within the borders of Vermont. Shattuck, more cautious, concluded to obey the decree of banishment until he should receive further accounts from Philadelphia. With his accustomed kindness, Governor Clinton wrote a letter to Col. Timothy Church, on the 24th, as an endorsement of any statements which Shattuck or Evans might make relative to the views of Congress concerning the present unfortunate troubles. "These gentlemen," observed Clinton, referring to them, "have had an opportunity which I long wished them to have of being acquainted with the sentiments of the different members of Congress respecting our controversy with the pretended state of Vermont, as they are thereby enabled to form a judgment, founded on their own knowledge of facts, of what will be the probable issue of a dispute in which they are so deeply interested. This renders it unnecessary for me to say anything on a subject of which they will be able to give so full and satisfactory information, and I have therefore only to repeat what I often suggested, that much will depend on the conduct of the good subjects of this state on the 'Grants,' whose firm and steady adherence to their duty and allegiance I would flatter myself will soon be rewarded by a determination that will relieve them from their present distresses, and guard them against future oppression." Reaching home on the 1st of December, Evans, to use his own language, "found the people in a very broken situation." It was observed, however, that the effect of his statements, and of the clear and honest declarations of Governor Clinton, were temporarily beneficial in removing the gloom which had been caused by long continued disappointment.*
Various attempts were made to resume the consideration of the report of the committee to whom had been referred the report of a former committee on the letter of Governor Clinton, of September 16th, and the accompanying documents. The subject was at length brought before Congress on the 5th of December, but its consideration was again postponed. Following the declaration of this postponement, a motion was made by Thomas McKean, of Delaware, and seconded by Alexander Hamilton, of New York, in these words:—
"Whereas it appears to Congress, by authentic documents,
* George Clinton Papers in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvi. doc. 4862.
470 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
that the people inhabiting the district of country on the west side of Connecticut river, commonly called the New Hampshire Grants, and claiming to be an independent state, in contempt of the authority of Congress, and in direct violation of the resolutions of the 24th of September, 1779, and of the 2d of June, 1780, did, in the month of September last, proceed to exercise jurisdiction over the persons and properties of sundry inhabitants of the said district, professing themselves to be subjects of, and to owe allegiance to the state of New York, by means whereof divers of them have been condemned to banishment, not to return on pain of death and confiscation of estate; and others have been fined in large sums and otherwise deprived of property; therefore,
"Resolved, That the said acts and proceedings of the said people, being highly derogatory to the authority of the United States, and dangerous to the confederacy, require the immediate and decided interposition of Congress, for the protection and relief of such as have suffered by them, and for preserving peace in the said district, until a decision shall be had of the controversy, relative to the jurisdiction of the same.
"That the people inhabiting the said district claiming to be independent, be, and they are hereby, required, without delay, to make full and ample restitution to Timothy Church, Timothy Phelps, Henry Evans, William Shattuck, and such others as have been condemned to banishment and confiscation of estate, or have otherwise been deprived of property since the 1st day of September last, for the damages they have sustained by the acts and proceedings aforesaid; and that they be not molested in their persons or properties, or their return to their habitations in the said district.
"That the United States will take effectual measures to enforce a compliance with the aforesaid resolutions, in case the same shall be disobeyed by the people of the said district.
"That no persons holding commissions under the state of New York, or under the people of the said district claiming to be independent, exercise any authority over the persons and properties of any inhabitants in the said district, contrary to the forementioned resolutions of the 24th of September, 1779, and the 2d of June, 1780.
"That a copy of the foregoing resolutions be transmitted to Thomas Chittenden, Esq., of Bennington, in the district aforesaid, to be communicated to the people thereof."
1782.] VARIOUS MEASURES IN CONGRESS. 471
Before the vote was taken on this motion, an attempt was made to amend the first resolution, and to strike out the whole of the resolution relating to the determination of the United States to enforce the decrees which Congress had passed on the subject of the controversy. These suggestions were not received with favor, and on the question to agree to the original motion, an affirmative decision was obtained.
The hostility of Congress at this time towards the leading men in Vermont, was made especially apparent in connection with these transactions. As the Secretary of War was about to visit his family in Massachusetts, David Ramsay of South Carolina, moved a resolution on the 10th or December, instructing that gentleman "to take Vermont in his way," and carry a report of the doings of the 5th of December to Mr. Chittenden. Although it was urged that such a course would insure the delivery of the papers, serve to conciliate the opposition, and afford the means of obtaining certain knowledge of the Vermonters, yet the proposition was strenuously resisted, the opinion of many being that such an act would tend to degrade a high servant of the United States, and to give an unwarranted importance to the claims of Vermont to sovereignty and independence. The objections prevailed, and as Congress appeared unwilling to make special provision for transmitting the resolutions, the President of Congress gave notice that he should send them to the commander-in-chief to be forwarded by him to their place of destination. Though they were regarded as an index of the sentiments of Congress, yet the condition of the United States, and the dread of the common foe tended greatly to diminish their effect. In their letter, announcing the action of Congress, the New York delegates frankly confessed that they could not "absolutely rely upon the execution of the coercive part" of the resolutions. A. similar opinion was entertained by all who were best acquainted with the political condition of the Union.*
As was his custom, whenever any measure was adopted pertaining to his constituents on the "Grants," Governor Clinton transmitted a copy of the late resolves, to the convention composed of the committees of the towns of Brattleborough, Guilford, Halifax, and Marlborough. Accompanying the
* Journals Am. Cong., iv. 112, 113, 114. Madison Papers, i. 228, 229, 230. George Clinton Papers, in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvi. doc. 4883. Slade's Vt. State Papers, pp. 177, 178. Papers relating to Vt. Controversy, in office Sec. State N. Y., p. 49.
472 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
resolves, was a letter, dated the 23d of December, whose contents were evidently intended for the guidance and consolation of those who had been and who still were faithful to New York. The sound, energetic, and scholarly ideas of the patriot Governor, as expressed in this thoughtful and well-prepared production, were in these words:—
"I have the pleasure of transmitting you sundry resolutions of Congress, passed in consequence of the outrages lately committed by the usurped government of Vermont on the subjects of this state in Cumberland county. I should have been happy could a final determination of the controversy respecting the jurisdiction of the district of the New Hampshire Grants, have been obtained; but as this could not at present be effected, I flatter myself the present measure, as it is calculated to preserve the peace of that district until such a decision can be had, and ensure justice to our distressed fellow citizens for the damages they have sustained, will prove acceptable, and the more especially as it evinces a disposition which promises an equitable and favorable issue to the controversy, which issue I have the fullest confidence will ere long take place.
"You will observe that one of the present resolutions prohibits the exercise of authority by either party over the other, contrary to the resolutions of the 24th of September, 1779, and the 2d of June, 1780. This repetition of the sense of Congress, became necessary to remove the false impression which the leaders of the usurped government had made on the minds of the people by insinuations which you well know they industriously propagated that those resolutions no longer existed, and that Congress never intended to enforce them. By these means, they not only led many into the violent and unwarrantable measures which they had in contemplation, but discouraged our friends from a justifiable resistance. My sentiments are so fully and explicitly expressed as to the line of conduct to be pursued by those in your district holding commissions or offices under this government, as to render it altogether unnecessary now to repeat them. The good consequences which have already resulted from the part you have acted, as well as respect for the great Council of America, will, I am persuaded, induce those holding commissions under this state, still to persevere in paying a strict compliance to the recommendations of Congress, by exercising authority only over those professing themselves to be subjects of, and to owe allegiance to this state.
1782.] ABLE LETTER OF GOV. CLINTON. 473
"To obviate any excuse that may be offered by the pretended state, in case they should delay complying with the resolution directing restitution to Colonel Church and the other sufferers, I would suggest the propriety of immediately causing fair and reasonable accounts to be made out, of the damages sustained by them respectively would have the same attested to, by the parties, before a magistrate and (retaining true copies), would transmit the originals by a person who will be able to swear to the delivery thereof, to Thomas Chittenden, Esq. That these accounts may have every appearance of truth and candor, I would advise that besides the attestations of the party, they be also testified to be just and reasonable, by as many persons of reputation as from their knowledge of the charges can with propriety give such certificates.
"By the resolution directing restitution, you will also observe that the persons banished are not to be molested in their persons or property on their return to their habitations. They would, therefore, be justifiable in returning immediately, but I would advise a delay sufficient for the promulgation of the resolutions of Congress on this subject in the district, lest insults might be committed upon them by there volters, and ignorance pleaded in excuse. It is probable, however, that the resolutions will be sufficiently known before this can reach you, and that a further delay in a matter so interesting to the sufferers may not be necessary.
"I would fain flatter myself with a hope of a voluntary return of the mass of the people in your county to their duty and allegiance. I am convinced that there are many in your county well attached to the cause of America at large, that have been led from their duty and allegiance by the artful insinuations of designing and wicked men, who either wish to subjugate that district to British tyranny, or to gratify their own ambition and pride by establishing an independency which, while it would enrich and aggrandize a few, would distress and ruin the great bulk of the people. These men I could wish might be recovered from their delusion, and that the conduct of our friends towards them might at all times be such as shall appear most likely to effect so desirable an end. You must be sensible of the unalterable determination of the state to secure the inhabitants their property under whatever title it may be desired and should the late act for this purpose be defective in any particular, or subject to the least reasonable objection, I may venture to assure them, that on their discovering a disposition to return to their
474 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
duty, every just cause of complaint (if any still exists) will be heard and removed; and this idea I wish may be impressed upon their minds, as well as the danger to which they are exposed by persevering in their present unjustifiable opposition. Be watchful at the same time of the conduct of those that are disaffected to the liberties of America, of whom, from late as well as former discoveries, I have the best reason to believe there are many leading characters in your quarter.
"The Legislature will meet the first Tuesday of next month at Kingston, and it would afford them much satisfaction to find that the measures they have adopted for quieting the disorders in the northeastern parts of this state have not proved ineffectual."
Such were the principles which, in the view of Governor Clinton, were to be maintained by his constituents. Such the course of conduct they were bound to pursue, until they should find themselves unable to withstand the collected force of the government and people of the new state of Vermont. But before this letter had reached its destination, or Governor Chittenden had been informed of the passage of the resolves of the 5th of December, an event had occurred, within the disputed territory, which evinced the determination not only of the Vermonters to enforce the decrees with which they had threatened those persons whom they had banished from the state, but of the Yorkers also to resist the efforts made to subdue them.
The return of Evans had already induced the belief that the rigorous punishment which had been denounced against him and his companions would not be carried into execution. This belief was strengthened, and new life was now given to the adherents of New York, by the arrival of Colonel Church and Major Shattuck. The latter reached his home in Halifax on the 15th of December, and on the same day was informed that the authorities of Vermont had determined to dispossess Daniel Shepardson of Guilford, a subject of New York, or pull his house down. Aroused by these reports, Shattuck and a number of his friends met on the evening of the 17th, and resolved to protect Shepardson from violence. While preparations were on foot for carrying this design into execution, intelligence was received, on the morning of the 18th, of the capture of Church by the Vermonters. Upon this Shattuck changed his plan, pro‑
* George Clinton Papers, in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvi. doc. 4894.
1782.] MANŒUVRES OF THE CONTENDING PARTIES. 475
ceeded to Guilford, raised two companies of men, and, for the purpose of retaliation, endeavored to arrest Col. Benjamin Carpenter and a certain Major Shepardson, the former the late Lieutenant-Governor of Vermont, and the latter a staunch supporter of its authority. Failing in this undertaking, Shattuck and his men entered the dwellings of those whom they had intended to capture, seized their arms, committed other depredations of a similar character, and returned home. Not content with the result of this expedition, Shattuck and his party made another on the night of the 20th, took John Bridgman, one of the judges of the county court, prisoner, and brought him to Guilford. On the following day Bridgman was released on parole. By the terms of the parole agreement he was allowed to visit the State's Attorney, the Governor, and the Council of Vermont, for the purpose of procuring the freedom of Col. Church. Should he succeed, his own liberty was to be granted him. Should he fail he was to return by the 2d of January, 1783.
Fearing that a civil war was about to break out, Col. John Sergeant of the Vermont militia ordered several companies in his regiment to rendezvous at Brattleborough, in order, as was afterwards stated in the muster rolls, "to suppress insurrections and disturbances then subsisting in those parts." The Yorkers meanwhile continued to hold their men under arms. On the night of the 23d of December, they received information that the Vermont soldiery were preparing to attack them. Having placed his men in ambush, Shattuck awaited the approach of his opponents. But his expectations were not realized. The Vermont militia, while on their march, were surprised by a party of six men, the vanguard, as they supposed, of a concealed enemy, but in reality a detachment of their own friends. Dispersing in all directions, they did not discover their error until it was too late to correct it. Convinced that no benefit could arise to either party from the pursuit of hostile measures, the Vermonters on the following day sent a messenger to the Yorkers, with proposals for a treaty. The Yorkers replied that, if the Vermonters desired peace, they might come to them and propose the terms.
The result of these negotiations was the confirmation of an agreement which had been drawn up and signed on the 20th, by Zadock Granger, and Simeon Edwards, in behalf of the Vermont party. In the preamble to this document, the signers rehearsed the considerations which had induced them to engage
476 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1782.
in an agreement of this character; referred to the "unhappy differences about the right of jurisdiction," as the cause of all the difficulties between the conflicting parties; alluded to the probability of the "decisive determination by Congress," of the long continued dispute; deprecated the hostile measures which had been, and were then pursued by men who were in arms against each other;" and expressed a desire to prevent "mischiefs and miseries," and to ensure peace and the public good. In view of these reasons, and in consideration of the engagement of the leaders of the New York party, that their adherents should be immediately dispersed, and should "rise no more" to disturb the people of Vermont unless molested by them, and on the further condition that either Colonel Church, or Judge Bridgman should return by the 2d of January, 1783 — they, as men of honor and influence, agreed to exert their "utmost endeavors" in preventing the people of Vermont from molesting the New York party; promised to inform Joseph Peck of Guilford, a captain in the New York militia, should any force be sent by the Vermont party to oppose the New York party before the 1st of February, 1783; and bound themselves to write to Governor Chittenden, requesting him to "let matters rest" according to this engagement.
Repairing to Governor Chittenden, Bridgman endeavored to obtain from him, and the Council of Vermont, advice as to the course he should pursue in this emergency. But the oracles were dumb, and after nine days of useless expostulation he returned. His parole was renewed on the 2d of January, 1783, but his success in endeavoring to learn the sentiments of the rulers of the state, as to the means by which he should procure permanent relief, was no better on a second attempt. On the 18th of January his parole was again renewed, to continue "during the good pleasure" of Governor Clinton. The reluctance of Governor Chittenden to reply categorically to the inquiries of Bridgman was not strange. Many of the Vermonters in the towns where the Yorkers were most numerous, were inclined to treat them kindly, hoping in this manner to effect what could not be accomplished by force. Chittenden's views towards them were severe in the extreme. In this dilemma policy dictated silence as to his opinion of the condition and conduct of Bridgman.
An idea of the peculiar character of this unique Governor, who, although partially deprived of sight, and for this reason
1782.] A CHARACTERISTIC EPISTLE. 477
familiarly known as "One-eyed Tom," was possessed of all the penetration, common sense, discretion, and policy, which his peculiar position demanded, may be obtained from a perusal of one of his characteristic epistles. As soon as Church — who had dared to return to the place whence he had been for ever banished — was arrested, he was delivered to Col. Stephen R. Bradley, who sent him under a strong guard to Governor Chittenden at Arlington. In answer to a note from the Colonel detailing the reasons of the arrest, Chittenden, on the 24th of December, 1782, replied:— "I received your letter with the prisoner, and approve of your conduct. Have sent to Colonel Robinson to call the Superior court immediately for his trial, and I hope and trust justice will be done him. I have sent twelve pounds powder agreeable to your request. As to sending or ordering a standing force to Guilford, I had rather hang them [the Yorkers] one by one, until they are all extirpated from the face of the earth. However, I wait for the returns of the officers that commanded the posse (which will soon be) to send orders to the sheriff to collect the fines and cost, when, if they continue obstinate, a force must accompany the sheriff sufficient to silence them. I am not without hopes that the consequences of Church's trial will have some good effect on his connections." Such was the aspect in which the Governor of Vermont viewed the conduct of his opponents.
Hoping to obtain a remission of the punishment to which he had become amenable, Church addressed a petition to the people of Vermont on the 28th of December, in which he detailed the reasons which had led him to return. Knowing well the nature of the risk which he incurred by his rashness, he declared that his visit had been instigated not by any contempt for state authority, but by the tender feelings" natural to a parent, who, when his family are destitute of the necessaries of life and borne down by sickness, desires to relieve their distresses. He owned that be had at one time subscribed the "freeman's oath," and acknowledged that he had subsequently opposed the government of Vermont. Though studiously refraining from any confession of error, he prayed for "pardon and forgiveness," and that he might be admitted to his former freedom, liberty, and privileges." But his concessions, artful and non-committal, were ill-calculated to influence the minds of Governor Chittenden and the Council in his favor; while the faithlessness to which he confessed, tended to lower
478 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1783.
him in their estimation. "The Vermonters over the mountain," wrote the committee of Guilford, on the 17th of January, 1783, "still hold Colonel Church as prisoner; and Colonel Samuel Fletcher, one of the Vermont Council, informs us that Colonel Church is to be hanged." His prospects had not improved in the beginning of February, for on the 6th of that month Governor Clinton, in a letter to Colonel Floyd, said of Church: "He is still held in close confinement and threatened with execution." On the 22d of the same month William Shattuck testified in an affidavit, that "it was the intention of the Vermonters to execute Col. Timothy Church, who was still in confinement in Bennington Gaol." Though neither Governor Chittenden nor the Council would have dared to punish the prisoner with death, yet they deemed it of advantage to promulgate a report of this nature, hoping thereby to intimidate others who were ready to oppose the authority of Vermont.*
The resolutions of the 5th of December, 1782, having been industriously published throughout the extent of Vermont, received from those who owed allegiance to that government the fullest condemnation. Thomas Frink, a physician, residing in Keene, New Hampshire, in detailing a conversation which he had held in January, 1783, with Paul Spooner, at that time the Deputy Governor of Vermont, declared that the latter had avowed his determination to support and defend the state; to execute its laws peremptorily; to aid in punishing offenders; and to act as heretofore he and his friends had done, notwithstanding the late congressional resolves. To Frink's question whether the Vermonters would dare to put to death those persons whom they had banished, provided they should return, Spooner answered that the people had made laws, and would be fools if they did not execute them when transgressed. On the 16th of the same month, Colonel Bradley of Westminster, with some of his townsmen, being in company with a number of men from Walpole at the former place, the anger of the party rose to so high a pitch, while discussing the character of the late resolves, that many of them "damned the Congress, and for the toast drank their confusion, and the health of King George the Third of England." Bradley then asked his Walpole friends whether they would assist the Vermont party in
* George Clinton Papers in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvii. docs. 4909, 4910, 4926. MS. Muster Rolls. Various MSS.
1783.] REPORTS CIRCULATED BY THE VERMONTERS. 479
case a continental force should be sent to enforce the decrees of Congress. At the same time he declared that the Vermont people would resist any force which should be sent against them for that purpose, and that the inhabitants of Berkshire county, in Massachusetts, would aid them in the struggle. In language characteristic and expressive, Samuel Robinson, of Bennington, a leading man in the state, remarked that "the Vermonters are a Fixen a Pill that will make the Yorkers hum." Other Vermonters declared that "they would make Congress bite their fingers." With a similar reference to some project yet undefined, Phineas Freeman, an ensign in the Vermont militia, prophesied in January, that "something would turn up within a month more detrimental to the Yorkers than anything that had ever happened to them before," and added that "the Yorkers would not be so fond a month hence of calling themselves Yorkers as they had been heretofore." A deposition of Charles Phelps confirmed these statements. The people of Vermont "are determined to fight," said he, "in opposition to the resolves, if any forces are sent to impel them to a submission thereto."
In Windham county the citizens of Vermont were at special pains to spread reports of the measures they were prepared to adopt, should any demonstrations be made against them. In order to weaken the cause of their opponents, they endeavored to persuade them that there was no honor in the character of Governor Clinton; no faith in the promises of Congress; and that Congress possessed no ability to carry their resolves into execution. They also asserted that New York was unable to defray the expenses of her militia service; was destitute of any legislative acts by which to regulate it; and that there was no provision of Congress relative to false imprisonment or banishment, which gave the right to pass such decrees as those of the 5th of December. To these representations they added threats of a nature which not only excited suspicions unfavorable to their loyalty to the American cause, but implanted in many minds the belief that Vermont would become a British province provided Congress should endeavor to divide her territory between the contending states, or enforce laws which she deemed obnoxious or unjust.
The views of Governor Clinton at this period were ill calculated to lessen the despondency of the New York adherents. "The usurped government of Vermont," wrote he, on the 6th of February, to Col. Floyd, then in Congress, "have not, and I
480 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1783.
may venture to assert will not, comply with the late resolutions of Congress, which their leaders feign to treat with the utmost contempt. I am informed they openly assert that they have intimations from members of Congress, that notwithstanding the threats held out in the resolutions, no coercive measures will be pursued to enforce obedience to them. By these means they encourage their adherents, who begin to despond, to the show of resistance." Numerous affidavits from reliable sources confirmed the opinions here expressed, and enforced the conviction that Congress were powerless to compel obedience to the resolves of the 5th of December, within the territory of the New Hampshire Grants. In a few instances an opposite sentiment was entertained. On one occasion a certain Samuel Warriner, a Vermont justice of the peace, declared that he did not believe Vermont could "stand a state" unless the leading men in her government should submit to the late determination of Congress.
Unwilling to yield while the least chance of success remained, the convention of committees from the towns owing allegiance to New York assembled at Guilford on the 17th of January, and appointed Daniel Shepardson their agent and bearer of dispatches to Governor Clinton. "We understand," said they, in one of the communications with which he was entrusted, "that the Vermonters do not intend to pay any regard to the resolutions of Congress, and we humbly beg and pray that the United States will take very speedy measures that the resolves of Congress be put into execution; for unless they are, we must of necessity fall a prey to Vermont, and we would inform your honors that the major part of the people this side of the mountain will renounce Vermont provided Congress will protect them." Referring to the peculiarity of their situation, they acknowledged their inability to act without giving offence, and as they had done on former occasions, so now, they begged his Excellency to point out to them that course of conduct which would be of most advantage to themselves and least displeasing to their opponents.
By the same messenger went a letter, dated the 19th of January, from Henry Evans, one of the four against whom sentence of banishment had been passed, but who, having dared to return home, was allowed to remain unmolested. Comparing the sentiments of the people of Eastern and Western Vermont, he observed:— "I am credibly informed that the Vermont authority over the mountain holds Congress and all their resolves
1783.] LETTER OF CHITTENDEN TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. 481
in scorn and contempt. The Vermonters on this side the mountain say they will adhere to Congress, though they should renounce Vermont." For these reasons which he deemed correct, although, as far as the majority of the inhabitants residing on the Connecticut were concerned, they were unwarranted and untrue, for these reasons, and because of a report that the people in and about Bennington, Manchester, and Arlington were threatening to make a hostile incursion for the purpose of distressing the Yorkers, he besought the Governor to use his influence to ensure the immediate enforcement of the resolves of the 5th of December. To these and other similar earnest entreaties, Clinton was unable to respond fully, both on account of the timidity of the government of his own state, and because of the uncertainty which Congress seemed to manifest concerning their right to enforce a compliance with the resolutions. Although cognizant, by affidavits and depositions, of many acts done in opposition to these resolutions, he was unwilling to send the proofs to Philadephia, lest they should be found to contain evidence of the evil conduct of individuals only, and not of the government of the state. Still he did not cease to write cheeringly to his unfortunate constituents, begging them to "persevere in the line of conduct heretofore pointed out to them;" prophesying "a favorable issue" to their difficulties and assuring them that nothing that might tend to their interest should be neglected by him.*
The opposition to the late action of Congress, though at first manifested only in the conduct of individuals, as Clinton had suggested, was not long in assuming a more authoritative form. Upon the receipt of a copy of the obnoxious resolves, Governor Chittenden, in a long and elaborate letter to the President of Congress, under date of the 9th of January, remonstrated against the positions therein taken, and supported his remonstrance by reciting the "solemn engagements" into which Congress had entered with Vermont by quoting from the letter which General Washington had addressed to him on the 1st of January, 1782; and by a method of reasoning which, if it was not entirely just, was yet plausible and clever. Referring to the transactions which had led to the passage of the resolutions of the 5th of December, his language was as follows:— "Al-
* Various MS. Depositions, Affidavits, etc., in office Sec. State Vt. George Clinton Papers in N. Y. State Lib., vol. xvii. docs. 4909, 4910, 4921, 4926. Papers relating to Vt. Controversy, in office Sec. State N. Y., p. 50.
482 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1783.
though this state is not amenable to the tribunal of Congress for the management of its internal police, I, nevertheless, will give them a brief narrative of facts relative to those delinquents, in whose behalf Congress, in their resolutions of December last, have interposed. At the session of the General Assembly of this state in February, 1781, a general act of amnesty was passed in favor of such persons, within this state, who had previously made opposition to its authority. Upon this they unanimously submitted to this government, and all opposition to it ceased for more than one year, when the Legislature having ordered a certain quota of men to be raised in the several towns throughout this state, for the defence of its frontiers, evil-minded persons in the town and vicinage of Guilford, in the southerly part of the county of Windham, opposed the raising and paying of them; and Governor Clinton of the state of New York, by letters to them and otherwise, interfered in their behalf, which caused a second insurrection in this state; and though every prudent and lenient measure was taken by government to reclaim the offenders, they proved ineffectual. In the mean time, Governor Clinton gave commissions, civil and military, to sundry of those disaffected persons, and they had the effrontery to attempt to exercise the laws of the state of New York over the citizens of this state, when a military force was, by the direction of this government, sent to assist the sheriff of Windham county in the execution of the laws of this state; and the procedure of the court relative to the five criminals who were banished, and to sundry others who were amerced in pecuniary fines, was in due form of law.
"The notorious Samuel Ely, who was ring-leader of the late seditions in the state of Massachusetts, a fugitive from justice, was one of the banished. He had left that state, and was beginning insurrections in this, when he was detected, and carefully delivered to the sheriff of the county of Hampshire, in the state of Massachusetts, who, as I have been since informed, has secured him in gaol at Boston, to the great satisfaction and peace of that state. This same Samuel Ely, Timothy Church, and William Shattuck, who were three of the banished, had previously taken the oath of allegiance to this state, and so had a greater part of those who were fined; and every one of the towns in which they resided, had, for several sessions of Assembly, previous to their insurrection, been represented in the Legislature of this state." Following up these statements by
1783.] ADDRESS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY. 483
arguments based upon various congressional enactments, he strove to show that in the rulers of Vermont alone, was vested the right of exercising governmental powers within the boundaries which they claimed as the boundaries of the state. His concluding remarks related to the question of the sovereignty of Vermont. "But admitting," said he, "that Congress have a judicial authority to control the internal police of this state, this state has an incontrovertible right to be heard in its defence, as a party (in law), and should, on this thesis, have been cited by Congress to a hearing at their tribunal, previous to their having passed their resolutions of the 5th of December last, that this state might have had the privilege of vindicating its cause. But that Congress, at the special instance of Charles Phelps (a notorious cheat and nuisance to mankind, as far as his acquaintance and dealings have been extended), should come to a decision of so important a matter, ex parte, is illegal, and contrary to the law of nature and nations."
Similar in tone, but more brief and less comprehensive, was the communication to Congress from the General Assembly of Vermont, dated the 26th of February. An expression of astonishment at the means by which the passage of the resolves had been obtained — an expression resembling, and probably suggested by, that employed by Governor Chittenden in his letters, served to point the closing sentence of their remonstrance. "As we have, from the commencement of the war," wrote they, "braved every danger and hardship, against the usurpations of Britain, in common with the United States; as our inherent right of sovereignty and jurisdiction stands confessed upon the principles of the revolution, and implied by the solemn transactions of Congress, we cannot but express our surprise at the reception of the late resolutions of Congress of the 5th of December, obtained ex parte, and at the special instance of an infamous person." Such was the decided manner in which Governor Chittenden and the General Assembly maintained their rights, in spite of the rage of New York and the enactments of Congress.
Now that the government of Vermont had declared the late resolves obnoxious, the affidavits and depositions which Governor Clinton had been at first unwilling to make public were sent to Philadelphia. Congress became cognizant of the fact that the authorities of Vermont not only, but the majority of the people as well, were not to be subdued by paper edicts or
484 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1783.
stern resolves. Chittenden had truly said that Vermont was present in the disputed district, and in the actual possession and exercise of power, while New York and Congress were afar off. The significance of his language was now more painfully apparent than all were willing to confess.*
* Slade's Vt. State Papers, pp. 178-187.