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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 703

B. CARLISLE RIOT/2 MARCH
would not accept the terms which the others had done, but had gone to
gaol, where they might stay and hatch lies till they were tired. A
party consisting chiefly of such boys and fellows of dissolute character
went through town every night afterwards beating the drum, and in-
formation was given that in consequence of a preconcerted plan, riders
had gone out to all quarters warning the friends of freedom to collect
and rescue their persecuted brethren. Very exact intelligence was com-
municated from time to time of their proceedings. Meetings of the
friends of good order were had where it was proposed by some ardent
men to oppose the rescuers by force, and a plan was suggested by the
adoption of which a dreadful carnage might have been made, among
our misguided fellow citizens at the onset. Many lives might have
been lost on both sides afterwards, and at least parts of Pennsylvania
might have been involved in the horrors of a civil war;3 but happily
the most temperate councils prevailed almost universally-not to at-
tempt to prevent a rescue-to avoid giving the most distant pretext
of offense either by word or action; but to be in readiness to repair
with our arms in order at a moment's warning, and to act under proper
command, according to the contingency.
It was known that the people from all parts of the country were
to be in yesterday morning to take the prisoners out of gaol; but on the
preceding day, some Anticonstitutionalists of character and property,
apprehending fatal consequences, came to town and, joining with
people equally disposed to preserve peace and good order, entered
bail for the prisoners; but the obstinate tools refused to go out of gaol
until they were taken out by force of arms.
Yesterday at break of day, according to appointment and expecta-
tion, the bell began to ring, the militia armed and under their officers,
from all parts of the county and a few from Dauphin County and from
the Redlands of York County, came into town to the number of, I
suppose, about five hundred; but I cannot, be very certain as to their
numbers, as they made several ingenious military maneuvers to make
their numbers appear as large as possible, to people unacquainted
with such devices.4 You will now naturally expect to hear that when
so many people met, with minds highly inflamed and irritated by the
numerous aggravating falsehoods which had been industriously propa-
gated among them by designing men, they would not separate without
committing desperate outrage or doing or suffering some mischief.
You will therefore sincerely rejoice when I inform you that a few of
their most intelligent officers met some of the inhabitants, some in
favor of and some opposed to the Federal Constitution, and it being
agreed that the prosecutors should request the Executive Council to
recommend to the Attorney General to enter a nolle prosequi, and
703


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