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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 702

IV. AFTERMATH OF RATIFICATION
had made the attack on them the preceding day perceiving that it
would be dangerous to renew it, appeared soon after the federal friends
had separated and paraded the streets with the effigies of the Chief
Justice of this state [Thomas McKean] and of Mr. [James] Wilson,
which they afterwards committed to the flames. That complaints were
afterwards made to a justice of the riot, assault and battery committed
the first day. That the parties injured demanded a warrant irom the
justice against the rioters. That the justice being a cautious, prudent,
and rather a timid man, transmitted the affidavits, which were made in
the premises, to the judges of the Supreme Court. That two of the
said judges granted a warrant to apprehend the rioters (it is pre-
sumed that the Chief Justice declined acting in the affair, because his
own political character had been attacked next day by the same party).
The warrant came up two or three weeks ago, directed to the sheriff
[Charles Leeper]. The rioters had notice of it immediately, although
no attempt was made, I believe, to take them for about ten days, dur-
ing which time they had an opportunity of forming combinations, and
it will appear that they instantly embraced and made the best of it,
by riding, and sending their emissaries through the country inflaming
the minds of the people by representing themselves as in danger of
becoming victims in the cause of liberty, and for daring to lift up
their voices against the most detestable system of tyranny and arbi-
trary power that was ever devised for the total and final destruction
of freedom. Although the sheriff is by no means a decided character,
I can hardly impute his improper conduct to corrupt motives-he
asked the advice of every person and was too timid to act with firm-
ness, and the advice of those to whom he applied was so various,
that it distracted his irresolute mind. About a week ago he gave notice
to all the rioters to appear the same afternoon before Justice [John]
Agnew. Mr. Agnew, believing the affair to be of some importance and
delicacy, requested the assistance of the three nearest justices. Jus-
tice [Samuel] Irwin attended-the others did not. Those named in
the warrant appeared-they started some objections to the form and
effect of it. The justices, being cautious, thought it proper to give the
parties day until the 25 March in order that they might in the mean-
time apply for the directions of the judges, on the points in question;
but six [seven] of the rioters refused to have the matter postponed
and insisted on being discharged altogether or of going to prison. The
justices told them they could not discharge them, therefore they went
to gaol the same evening. Immediately the drum beat to arms and the
bell was rung. A few creatures of no character and a number of the
blackguard boys collected;2 but not being joined by the parity whom
they expected, they dispersed in a short time-damning the fools, who
702


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