Printed Material

Extract of a Letter Urging Stern Measures Against Rebels

Date: February 14, 1787
Creator: Unidentified
Publisher: Hampshire Gazette
About this artifact

This letter, supposedly from a "gentleman in the eastern counties" to a friend serving in General Benjamin Lincoln's army of militia, was printed in the Hampshire Gazette in February, 1787. Its author agreed with Samuel Adams that, while "in monarchies the crime of treason and rebellion may admit of being pardoned or lightly punished?the man who dares rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death." He favored pardoning repentant rebels so long as they "uphold the peace," but recommended withholding the vote from them "for a certain number of years." To do otherwise would be foolhardy: "How absurd is it, that the very men, whom you have this day declared rebels, shall on the morrow, merely from the circumstance of defeat, have a right to appoint magistrates, and constitute a part of the supreme authority?" The writer was pleased to report that the representatives to the Massachusetts General Court were "highly favorable" to taking strong action against the insurgents who had taken up arms against the government. He referred contemptuously to the few who opposed such measures as "cunning men" whose "vices are pitiful." William Butler began publication of the Hampshire Gazette on September 6, 1786, in Northampton, Massachusetts. The mission of the newspaper was to inform the public about the issues pertaining to the ongoing conflicts of 1786-87. Butler was decidedly on the government side of the issues.

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Courtesy Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield, MA