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Petition from the Town of Pelham on Behalf of Henry McCullough

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Date: May 8, 1787
Publisher: Mass Archives
About this artifact

After Henry McCulloch of Pelham was sentenced to death for his part in Shays' Rebellion, townspeople grew angry and alienated at the prospect of Henry going to the gallows for an action many others had shared. This letter to Governor Bowdoin was signed by almost all of Pelham's males. It mentions his youth, inexperience, community pressure on him to participate, and ease of influence by other insurgents. Pelham neighbors agreed with Henry's step-mother and assured the Governor that their fellow townsman was a "benevolent and useful citizen," deserving of "merciful and compassionate consideration to the distresses of an aged and impotent parent." Pelhamites also suggested to the Governor that if he showed Henry clemency, then there was a greater likelihood that the town would be more law-abiding in the future.

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Courtesy Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, MA