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Proclamation of John Hancock

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Commonwealth of Massachusetts



Governour of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,

A Proclamation.

WHEREAS the Legislature of this Commonwealth, with an intention, "not only to adopt very vigourous and efficacious method, necessary to suppress the present traiterous opposition to the laws, and to restore peace and harmony to the Commonwealth, but also to repeat the offers of grace and mercy to the penitent citizen, and to extend the same as far as may be consistent with the true interest of the Commonwealth, and the security of her citizens in future;" have, a resolve of the thirteenth day of June, instant, made provision for the raising and supporting a force, to defend the Commonwealth; against all wicked and rebellious men; and have also with a very extensive elemency, by the same resolve provided, that, "each and every citizen of this Commonwealth, who have committed any treasons or misprisions of treason against the same, since the first day of June, A. D. 1786, be, and they thereby are indemnified for the same, and for all felonies which had been perpetrated by any of the said citizens in the commissions of treasons, and which are overt acts of the same; and each and every citizen aforesaid, are thereby discharged of all pains, penalties, disqualifications and disabilities of the law in such case, made and provided: Provided, that pursuant to the said resolve such of said offenders, who have not taken and subscribed the oath of allegiance to this Commonwealth, since the first day of June, A. D. 1786, shall take and subscribe the said oath, before any Justice of the Peace within the Commonwealth, on or before the twelfth day of September next; excepting out of the same indemnification, as well all such persons as had been convicted of such crimes by due course of law, as Daniel Shays, of Pelham, Gentleman, Luke Day, of West-Springfield, Gentleman, both of the county of Hampshire, and Lieutenant-Colonel William Smith, of the same county, Eli Parsons, of Adams, Gentleman, Perez Hamlin, of Lenox, Yeoman, Elisha Manning, of a place called the Eleven Thousand Acres, Yeoman, David Dunham, of Sheffield, Yeoman, Ebenezer Crittenden, of Sandisfield, Yeoman, Jacob Fox, of Washington, Gentleman, all within the county of Berkshire, whose crimes are so attrocious, and whose obstinancy so great, as to exclude them from an offer of that indemnification, which is extended to those who have been misled, and are not so flagrantly guilty.

I HAVE THEREFORE, by and with the advice of Council, and at the request of the General Court, thought fit to issue this Proclamation, that the extension of mercy and indemnification offered by the Legislature, may be fully known, to those unhappy offenders who are the objects of it, and who have been deceived by wicked and designing men, and to give them assurances of their indemnification for all past treasons, misprisions of treason and felonies, and of being again renewed to the arms of their country, and once more enjoying the rights of free citizens of the Commonwealth.

As the lenient measures taken by the General Court, coinciding with the wishes of all good men who love their country, and ardently wish for the perfect restoration of peace and tranquility, cannot fail to convince the people of the whole State, that should the unhappy and deluded offenders, the subjects of said indemnity, again spurn at the clemency of government, and continue their attrocious and traiterous exertions to overthrow the Commonwealth, the most spirited and decisive measures must be adopted: And I cannot but believe, that the good sense of my fellow-citizens, the regard the people have for the Constitution of civil government established by themselves; their knowledge of their true interest; the obvious necessity of good government, and the unhappy and distressing consequences of supporting government by the sword, will unite all ranks and orders of men, in the pursuit of peace, good order and due obedience to the laws.

AND all officers civil and military, who may be called upon in the duty of their offices to carry the resolve aforesaid, into execution, are hereby strictly enjoined to yield a ready and punctual attention to the same.

GIVEN at the COUNCIL-CHAMBER, in BOSTON, the fifteenth day of JUNE, in the year of our LORD, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, and in the eleventh year of the INDEPENDENCE of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA.


By his Excellency's Command,

JOHN AVERY, jun. Secretary