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“2d. A disclaimer in writing, publicly, plainly, and unequivocally given, of all claims to their lands held under title from Connecticut. Then follow the merciful terms.
“ 3d. The settler to take a lease of half his farm for about eleven months, giving up possession at once of the other half. On the first of April following to abandon claims, home, possession, to his adversary.
• 4th. The widows of those who had fallen by the savages, to be indulged in half their possessions a year longer.
“And 5th. The Rev. Mr. Johnson to be allowed to occupy his grounds (under disclaimer and lease, of course) for two years."- Miner's History, pp. 324, 325.
The settlers remonstrated, and stood firmly to their positions. The agents of the government of Pennsylvania proceeded to constitute townships, and take possession of the lands. The settlers were not subdued by the dangers and troubles through which they had passed. Though war had diminished and weakened them, they were not prepared tamely to submit to downright usurpation and oppression. The soil which had drunk the blood of their dear friends-fathers, brothers, and sons-was too sacred to be lightly abandoned. Their homes they were determined to hold, peaceably if they could, forcibly if they must. Seeing themselves likely to fail of maintaining their rights, the law being in the hands of those interested, they seized their old rusty guns and hurled defiance at their oppressors. Col. Butler, Col. Jenkins, and Col. Franklin led on the Connecticut people in the maintenance of their rights, always exhausting negotiation and diplomacy before they had recourse to forcible measures. Col. Armstrong, the author of the famous “Newburg Letters," was commissioned to visit the scene of strife, with an armed force of four hundred men, and restore peace. Finding the Pennamites and Yankees in the field in the attitude of war, he required both parties to give up their arms and cease hostilities, promising “impartial justice and protection.” The Yankees feared "treachery," but Col. Armstrong “ pledging his faith as a soldier and his honor as a gentleman” that the opposite party should also be disarmed, they finally submitted.
“They paraded, were ordered to 'ground arms--they were then commanded right about-march ten steps-halt-right about!' which they obeyed; when Col. Armstrong ordered his men to advance and take up the grounded arms. Thus far was according to their expectations; but their surprise was merged in bitterest mortification, when Col. Armstrong, gave rapid orders, as rapidly obeyed, to surround the disarmed seitlers, and make them all prisoners-resistance was vain, and escape hopeless. Not a musket was taken from Patterson's forces, but they beheld the successful treachery of Col. Armstrong with unrestrained delight, and taunting exultation. A soldier's faith should be unsullied as the judicial ermine—the pledged honor of a gentleman, more sacred than life. Both were basely violated, and language is too poor to paint in proper colors the detestable deed.”—Miner's History, pp. 354, 355.
The poor fellows were now bound with cords, and hurried off, some to Easton, and others to Northumberland, and thrown into prison. Armstrong returned to Philadelphia to herald his triumph; but to his great mortification he almost immediately learned that most of the Yankees were released on bail, and were again in the field. Skirmishes ensued, and lives were lost on both sides.
A sympathy was now quite general in Pennsylvania for the settlers. Armstrong's perfidy was known and execrated, and when he returned to Wyoming, having been authorized to raise a force sufficient to reduce the Yankees, he could only bring into the field about one hundred men. In an assault upon a party who occupied three block houses at Tuttle's Creek he was repulsed, and one of his subalterns, a Capt. Bolen, was killed. This was the last blood that was spilt in these unfortunate conflicts. September 15, 1784, the legislative assembly of Pennsylvania “ordered the settlers to be restored 10 their possessions."
A portion of the settlers had, by means of the oppressive measures of Pennsylvania, become wholly disaffected with her; and led on by Col. Franklin, a most active and able political demagogue, they made a stand against the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania, and actually commenced incipient measures for the organization of the disputed territory into a new state. The settlers were now themselves divided into two factions; one under the influence of Col. Pickering, who acted under the authority of Pennsylvania, and the other led on by Col. Franklin, who acted partly for himself, and partly for the dear people. The feud was, however, finally terminated by the apprehension and imprisonment of Franklin, who, after he had lain in jail in Philadelphia for several months, so far lost his ardor as to ask pardon of the legislature, and promise allegiance to the state; which promise he, for many years, faithfully fulfilled. So terminated all the wars of the valley of Wyoming.
Of various other interesting particulars connected with the history of this far-famed spot, we have not space to speak. The reader will find ample satisfaction in the perusal of the works at the head of this paper, in relation to a multitude of important and interesting matters to which we have not been able to make the least allusion. To them we refer our readers, and particularly to the work
of Mr. Miner. The “Appendix” will by no means be found the least interesting. There are many personal adventures, and particular memoranda relating to the original families of the valley, which are especially interesting to their descendants. And here, too, is a just tribute of respect to the forefathers of the present generation of the Wyoming people. Of.“ Mrs. Myers,” the daughter of Thomas Bennet, who was in Forty Fort at the time of the battle, Mr. Miner makes very respectful mention. As this lady is our mother-in-law, we ought to feel, and do feel, personally obliged to our friend for a tribute of respect which he doubtless considers a piece of sheer justice. This lady is still living, and though eighty-three years of age, and has not seen the sun, nor the faces of her children and grand-children smiling around her for the last twelve years, being entirely blind, yet she enjoys the unimpaired exercise of her intellectual faculties, and converses as intelligently as ever of the scenes of her youth and the stirring events of early times. We have in MS. her whole story, taken from her own lips, from which we have drawn occasionally in this paper. The whole may possibly see the light at some future period; but at what time and in what form we cannot now definitely say.
ART. VII.-Capital Punishment.
We advocate no undue severity in penal legislation. On the contrary, we hail with delight that spirit of philanthropy which has wrought such mighty changes in the penal codes of the Christian world. From the time of its appearance, in the immortal labors of Sir Samuel Romilly, down to its glorious triumph in 1837, we have followed it with a profound sympathy. Through its trials and difficulties, through all its conflicts with ignorance, and sophistry, and prejudice, and passion, and indifference, we have followed it with the most lively interest. We have felt its defeats; we have rejoiced in its victories. Above all, have we rejoiced in its recent, most decisive, and brilliant triumph in the kingdom of Great Britain ; by which it has transformed the once bloody code of that great nation, and stricken more than two hundred offenses from her list of capital crimes. And no philanthropist, we think, can fail to rejoice at this bright and beautiful manifestation of the spirit of the age.
But, like every other great and powerful impulse, it should be restrained within proper limits : “the spirit of the age" should be
kept in strict subordination to the Spirit of God. There is the greater need for this, as having broken loose from a blind admiration of the past, it is in danger of being dazzled and misled by false visions with respect to the future. We have reason for this fear, we think, when we listen to the confident and glowing predictions of statesmen and philosophers in regard to the happy results which are to flow from the entire abrogation of capital punishment. We would pause, then, and consider these prophecies, whether they be true prophecies; whether they appeal to the mere blind feeling of humanity, or to that calm and enlightened benevolence which is the highest attribute of the Christian statesman. This is one of the great problems of the day; and there is no other problem in the whole range of penal jurisprudence more worthy of the deep, calm, patient, and earnest consideration of the philanthropist and the philosopher.
It is well known that the entire abrogation of capital punishment has been advocated by a Beccaria, a Livingston, a Roscoe, and a Dymond, as well as by other names of equal distinction. If they have not shown their cause to be strong, it must be because it is intrinsically weak. Whether they have done so or not, we trust will in some degree appear when we come to examine their arguments. These arguments may be arranged under three general heads :
I. The argument from abstract principles.
I. The argument from abstract principles.- It is contended that no human government has a right to inflict capital punishment. This position is assumed by Beccaria, as well as by other distinguished writers; and he endeavors to determine this question of right by an appeal to what he calls the social compact-a splendid fiction, which may serve to amuse the merely speculative reasoner, who is accustomed to found laws and governments upon pure abstractions, and to regulate all their workings by the rules of logic, without the least regard to actual events, or to the manifold wants and passions of mankind. Governments are not founded upon social compacts, or upon any such airy and unsubstantial formation; they spring up spontaneously and irresistibly from the nature and the necessities of man. In its outward development government may be made to yield, if you please, to the form and pressure of a social compact, to the plastic power of the nation's will; but its foundation hath been established by the same hand which hath laid the
foundation of nature itself. If it were necessary, we might easily expose this fallacy-this figment of the brain-this dream of the imagination by which its foundation and its authority are sought in the abstractions of the closet; but, for our present purpose, we may safely concede to our opponents that civil government is based upon a social compact, from which it derives all its powers.
Granting, then, for the sake of argument, that government is based on a social compact, what is this compact ? and what are its terms? According to Beccaria and his followers, when men enter into society, each agrees to give up "the smallest possible portion" of his natural liberty, in order that he may the more securely enjoy the rest. He does not agree that his life may be taken away, and therefore he cannot be deprived of it without a violation of the terms of his contract.
This may appear specious; for how plain is the premise, and how irresistible the conclusion: but yet a fallacy must lurk somewhere in the logic. For, if each man has given up only "the smallest possible portion" of his natural liberty, and if society can take from him only what he has agreed to surrender, how can it wrest the whole of that liberty from him by imprisonment for life? Is it not plain, that if society derives all its power and authority from such a contract, it no more has the right to incarcerate the murderer for life than it has to put him to death?
Admitting, as we have done, the truth of the doctrine of a social compact, we may yet deny that Beccaria's view of it is correct. No government should ask the individual member of society in what way, and to what extent, he is willing to be punished for the public good; if all civil authority is derived from consent, it is certainly not from the consent of each and every individual member of society, but from the consent of the majority. Hence, when government is ratified and confirmed by such consent, the individual is bound by its provisions. How bitterly soever he may hate them, and how fiercely soever he may denounce them, he is just as much subject to their control as if they had received his free, full, and perfect consent. His submission does not result from the terms of any contract made by him on his entrance into society; it is a matter of stern and inexorable necessity. The right to inflict punishment, whether it be imprisonment or death, is not derived from his consent, but from the general consent of the community in which he lives. Indeed, by referring to the individual consent of the criminal, as the foundation of the right to punish, Beccaria deprives law of all its majesty, and reduces civil government to one of the most inconceivably weak and crazy things on earth.