University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Jensen, Merrill; Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Pennsylvania
2 (1976)

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

Page 675

characters in the state."(a) The vein of misrepresentation and falsehood
that runs through this production renders its legitimacy very dubious.
From its complexion and features it appears to be the brat of some
attorney, who durst not father it himself; therefore procured the old
sage to act as sponsor. However, as his respectableness has pledged
himself for the truth of what is there represented, I shall consider him
as the parent, and treat him accordingly. After having pledged him-
self for the truth of what he represents, he says, "About 5 o'clock on
Wednesday afternoon, public notice being given by ringing the bell,
etc." But I would ask his gravity, if a town meeting was called to
consult the people, whether they approved of the measure or not?
Without this precaution, their public notice was to no purpose. It
is unknown to the borough charter, and therefore the intended re-
joicers were an unhallowed riotous mob. This impartial spectator has
neglected to take notice of a subscription paper that was handed about
the same day, binding the subscribers to illuminate their windows,
with a menace, that such windows as would not be illuminated should
be broken. This was one great cause which induced the people to
oppose the rejoicing; and an order of time ought to have been nar-
rated before the ringing of the bell, etc. if the spectator had acted
an impartial part; but perhaps the old man was not trusted with
the secret; for tho a very good spy, he may be a bad secretary. A
man cannot be expected to possess talents suitable to every sphere of
life. It is necessary to observe as we go along, that when it was remon-
strated to the intended rejoicers, by a number of respectable inhabi-
tants in the most peaceable manner, that their conduct was contrary
to the minds of three-fourths of the inhabitants, and must therefore
produce bad consequences if they persisted; their reply was, "They
would fire the cannon in spite of any who would oppose them; and
if they would not clear the way, they would blow them up in the
air." Such imperious language was too grating for the ears of free-
men, and produced a short conflict which ended in the total rout of
the new Federalists. The old sage further says, "that three gentlemen
were appointed to make the necessary arrangements"; in this business
they employed a certain John Rinn, and promised him five shillings
for his service, but ran away without paying him; to revenge which
he collected such of the rabble as the intended rejoicers had gathered
together to assist them in hauling the cannon from Mr. Forster's tavern
to the courthouse (but deserted them when they were defeated), and
with their assistance burnt the sledge and cannon carriage, contrary
to the express prohibition of such of the inhabitants who opposed
the rejoicing as were then present. This old man says, "The persons
met for the purpose of the celebration were altogether unprepared

Go up to Top of Page