Manuscript
Page: Front

Clemency Petition from Henry McCulloch to James Bowdoin

Page: Front | Back
Date: May 7, 1787
Publisher: Mass Archives
About this artifact

Henry McCulloch of Pelham, Massachusetts, was sentenced to death for his part in the Massachusetts Regulation that became known as Shays' Rebellion. Soon after his death sentence for high treason, he petitioned Governor Bowdoin to plead for his life. Not only does he apologize for his "foolish and wicked expressions," but he also seeks to dissociate himself from the other Regulators and the movement in general, claiming that he "had really no appointment to any office in the Rebel Army." The only reason he had been taken to be an officer, "was because he rode a good horse and had a foolish fondness to be thought active and alert." McCulloch points out that his actions were no worse than those of others who had already received pardons. He appeals to the Governor's sense of family, claiming that his "Heart is human." He also cited his "domestick Circumstances" and his "distressed Situation," probably referring to his aged stepmother for whose care and maintenance he was responsible.

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Courtesy Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, MA