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

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

Page 683

the state; the person from whom he received this information must
have derived his law knowledge from being some bum bailiff, or
perhaps have disgraced the more dignified office of a justice of the
peace. But let me inform him, that the Chief Justice is the first
judicial magistrate in the state, and the vile subterfuge of burning
him, not as Chief Justice, but as a member of the Convention, will
not serve their turn. The label affixed to his breast was in these
words, "THOMAS M'KEAN, Chief Justice," and their conduct is ap-
proved by the authors of their contemptible and scurrilous justifica-
tion; for they have the audacity to declare, that his conduct in the
Convention has given the state a greater wound-a greater wound
than he has given the state in his judicial character is the obvious
meaning; and that he surely merits the resentment of the people, that
is, the mob have done right in burning his effigy. But it seemed the
old man looked with an envious eye, upon the rising consequence and
dignity of the newcomers (some of the newcomers are respectable
characters, and reprobate the conduct of their apostate countrymen);
poor old man, he must be envious indeed! What qualities and pos-
sessions he envies them for, I wish the public had been informed. He
would scarcely wish to barter respect for contempt; good report for
infamy; an unembarrassed situation for poverty. Old as he is, he is
not reduced to that state of dotage. There is some reason in their
opposition to the proviso in the Constitution, which requires a resi-
dence of fourteen years, as a qualification for thQ President of the
United States. Had the Federal Convention known, that in Carlisle
there lived persons who possessed the understanding and abilities of
a Solon or a Lycurgus, a Montesquieu or an Adams, they would,
unless they had beheld them with the envious eye of the old man,
have made a reservation for those enlightened men, who have since
the Revolution honored America with their habitations, and chosen
Carlisle as the spot on which to commence their political career. If
the representation of the 9th of January was true, then those people
may be under no apprehension from a prosecution, but if it con-
tained not one syllable of truth, then they may justly tremble! So
conscious of the latter being the case were their four counselors (per-
haps secret instigators) that they, with the most anxious solicitude,
pressed the justice [John Agnew] before whom the depositions were
taken to destroy them and bury the whole transaction in oblivion; and
accompanied their request with a menace, that if this was not done,
Carlisle might be laid in ashes. Had this the appearance of that inno-
cence which they now proclaim to the world [---] [---] [---]
[---] the terror of guilt, and dread of punishment; this insidious
proposition was spurned at with contempt by the upright magistrate.

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