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Jensen, Merrill; Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Pennsylvania
(1976)

B. The Carlisle Riot and its aftermath, 26 December 1787-20 March 1788,   pp. 670-708


Page 670

IV. AFTERMATH OF RATIFICATION
B. THE CARLISLE RIOT AND ITS AFTERMATH
26 December 1787-20 March 1788
On 26 December at Carlisle in Cumberland County a Federalist cele-
bration of Pennsylvania's ratification of the Constitution was broken
up by a riot, and the next day opponents of the Constitution burned
effigies of Chief Justice Thomas McKean and James Wilson, the two
principal speakers in behalf of the Constitution in the state Convention.
Depositions were collected and sent to the Supreme Court which
issued a warrant on 23 January for the apprehension of twenty-one
named rioters, including John Jordan, presiding judge of the CuLm-
berland County Court of Common Pleas. The men named in the
warrant appeared before two justices of the Court of Common Pleas
on 25 February. Most of the men accepted the offer of a parole until
their cases could be heard, but seven men refused and were jailed.
Shortly thereafter hundreds of Cumberland County militiamen, and
a few militiamen from Dauphin and York counties, started for Carlisle
to release the prisoners. On Friday, 29 February, some "Anticonstitu-
tionalists" and others offered to provide bail, but the prisoners re-
fused to accept it. Meanwhile, before the militiamen entered the town
early on Saturday morning, 1 March, each militia company had ap-
pointed a man to serve on a militia committee. Furthermore, a
delegation of five men from Dauphin County arrived in Carlisle. They
met with the "new Federalists," and proposed "terms of accommoda-
tion." The "new Federalists" then met with the militia committee
and reached an agreement to request the Supreme Executive Council
to end the proceedings against the men named in the warrant iss ued
by the Supreme Court on 23 January. The prisoners then consented
to leave the jail, the militiamen left town, and on 20 March the
Council instructed the Attorney General to drop the prosecution.
An Old Man, Carlisle Gazette, 2 January 17881
As the riot on Wednesday last [26 December], and the burning
of the effigies of two of the most distinguished characters in :he state,
in the public streets of Carlisle, by a mob on Thursday, has already
made a considerable noise in the county, an impartial spectator de-
sirous of furnishing the public with a just and true state of facts, to
enable them to form a proper judgment of the conduct of the parties
concerned-begs leave to lay before them the following representation,
for the truth of which he pledges himself, and which will a-ppear by
the depositions of a cloud of reputable and respectable witnesses, in
the possession of John Agnew, Esquire.2
670


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