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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 706

IV. AFTERMATH OF RATIFICATION
a rumor circulated in Philadelphia that 5,000 men were moving toward the town
from every direction (Mfm:Pa. 479).
5. Others also blamed Philadelphia Antifederalist leaders for the march on
Carlisle. For instance, John Vaughan declared that "The pupils of our nveterate
town [Philadelphia] leaders and teachers have shown themselves at Carlisle" (to
John Dickinson, Philadelphia, 9 March, RC, Dickinson Papers, PPL).
John Shippen to Joseph Shippen,
Carlisle, 3 March'
I know not how to introduce the present subject, nor, incLeed, do
I think it is in the power of words to express fully the transactions
of the people of Cumberland. However difficult it may be, I shall
attempt it, hoping to give you the outlines, after a fashion, that you
may complete the picture and have some small idea of their conduct.
It will not seem a credible story to people who are unacquainted with
the inhabitants of the county, but when attested by the hand and name
of your son, you can have no doubt of the truth of it.
I presume papa remembers the contents of a Carlisle Gazett, which
I sent him, with respect to the riot of December.2 The sherifE of this
county [Charles Leeper], receiving warrants (state) from tLe Chief
Justice, [Thomas] McKean, against twenty-one rioters, took said per-
sons before Mr. [John] Agnew and Mr. [Samuel] Erwin (justices),
who being in some doubt with respect to the warrants, offered them
a privilege to remain on parole a month, viz., to the 25th of March,
till they should have opportunity to consult the Chief Justice. The
twenty-one taking into consideration the above offer, seventen [sev-
en] of them insisted upon a trial, refused to give bail, though they
might have obtained it, and declared they would rather go. to jail
than accept of a parole, as others did in the same situation. They
were accordingly committed. The report of their imprisonmnt hav-
ing spread through the country, Mr. Agnew and Mr. Erwin thought
it expedient to publish in the paper the above account, which by the
country people was thought to be a lie, as well as the procession in
the town of Boston. I may here remark that whatever account favor-
able to the Federalists appears in the paper, it is esteemed as a lie and
a falsehood by the adverse party-I mean the Antifederalists. Of the
conduct of the latter I mean now to treat.
On Saturday [1 March], by daylight, a company from the lower
settlement entered the town singing "Federal Joy" (a song composed
by one of their party and published in the newspapers),3 took posses-
sion of the courthouse, and rung the bell all the morning. (1E should
have mentioned, they were armed.) Several other companies came in
from different parts of the country, the last of which about ten o'clock.
706


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