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subject, or whether it reads like the setting forth of an unlettered, though strong-minded farmer, the reader will determine.
Furthermore, the petition says: “ Thus have we stated the grounds on which our title was established, which though determined to be ill grounded, etc. Assuredly the settlers would not, could not, deliberately and understandingly declare, that the decision of jurisdiction pronounced their title “ill grounded.” “If we have committed faults, we pray for mercy and forgiveness.” Was this the style and tone proper for the brave and suffering Wyoming settlers to assume, who had defended the country through a seven years war, or that of conscious criminals?
Again: “ If the greatest misfortunes can demand pity and mercy, we greatly deserve them.”
Speaking of a trial, as provided under the ninth article of Confederation, they are made to say, “ Reduced in every respect, we are unable to maintain a trial against an opulent State.” “Our only resource is your decision; if that is unfavorable we are reduced to desperation. Unable to purchase the soil, we must leave our possessions and be thrown into the wide world, our children crying for bread.” And again: They pray for an act “of oblivion and indemnity,” as if they had been robbers, instead of being upright, hardy settlers, on property they honestly believed to be their own. Certainly if an understanding existed between the Agents of Pennsyl. vania and Connecticut, that, not only jurisdiction should be given up, but the Wyoming people abandoned to the mercy of the landholders ; a course of proceeding could not have been adopted, and especially a petition framed to be signed by the settlers, more completely calculated to effect the dishonorable sacrifice. Bearing in mind, that in every other controversy, in this and in every other State, where lands were settled under claims from different States, the actual settlers were quieted in their possessions, it would seem that this benevolent principle, if not measure of justice, should have been unhesitatingly extended to the Wyoming people.
A paper, before adverted to, bearing on this point, is too important not to be noticed in this connexion : namely, the Letter of the Court, at Trenton, to the President and Executive Council of Pennsylvania. It will doubtless be regarded as extraordinary, that, for twelve years, this paper remained in the Secretary's Office, unnoticed and unknown beyond its walls. How much weight it was imagined the settlers would have derived from the letter, is attested by the scrupulous care with which its contents were concealed. In
1795, thirteen years afterwards, in the trial of Vanhorne vs. Dor. rance, it was discovered and made public.
“TRENTON, 31st Dec. 1782. “Sir-We take the liberty to address your Excellency, as private citizens, lately honored with a commission to hear and determine the controversy between the States of Pennsylvania and Connecticut, relative to a dispute of territory. In the course of executing this commission, we have found that many persons are, or lately have been, settled on the land in question. Their individual claims could in no instance come before us, not being in the line of our appointment. We beg leave to declare to your Excellency, that we think the situation of these people well deserves the notice of government. The dispute has long subsisted. It may have produced heats and animosities among those living in or near the country in contest, and some imprudencies may take place, and draw after them the most unfavorable consequences. With all deference therefore, we would suggest to your Excellency and Council, whether it would not be best to adopt some reasonable measures to prevent any, the least disorder or misunderstanding among them, and to continue things in the present peaceable posture, until proper steps can be taken to decide the controversy respecting the private right of soil, in the mode prescribed by the Confederation. We doubt not an early proclamation from the Executive of Pennsylvania, would have all necessary good effect; and we feel ourselves happy in the fullest confidence that every means will be adopted, or acquiesed in by the State, to render the settlement of this dispute complete and satisfactory, as far as may be, to all concerned. “We have the honour to be with great respect, “ Your Excellency's most obedient and humble servants,
The explicit declaration that “ their individual claims could in no instance come before us, not being in the line of our appointment;" The suggestion that the settlers be permitted to remain in undisturbed possession, "until proper steps can be taken to decide the controversy respecting the private right of soil, in the mode pre
scribed by the confederation,” evinces a lively sense of justice and humanity, and shows that the court, who, in the investigation, must have as thoroughly understood the parties' claims to the soil, as that of the States to jurisdiction, did not doubt the perfect right of the settlers at least to a trial.
Acting on the petition of the settlers, the Assembly declared that the persons now settled at Wyoming, yielding obedience to the laws, are undoubtedly entitled, in common with other citizens of . this State, to protection, and the benefits of civil government.
“ Therefore Resolved, That commissioners be appointed to make full inquiries into the cases respectively, and report to the House.
“ That in order to make the inquiry effectual, the committee have authority to send for persons, papers and records.
“ That they be instructed to confer with all or any of the claimants under Pennsylvania, of any land now in the possession of, or claimed under the State of Connecticut, by persons now being actual settlers, as well as with the said settlers, or any of them, and to endeavour as much as possible, by reasonable and friendly compromises between the parties claiming; and where this cannot be done, to consider of and report such plans of accommodation as may be most advisable for accomplishing an equitable and final adjustment of all difficulties.
“ That as soon as may be, after the commissioners shall report, an act be passed providing fully for the cases of the inhabitants of the said country; more especially for the extending to them of the advantages of civil government, for authorizing and directing the choice of Justices of the Peace; for appointing places for holding their annual elections ; for giving time for entering their slaves, if any, according to the spirit of the act for the gradual abolition of slavery; for consigning to oblivion all tumults and breaches of the peace, by whatsoever name they may be called, which have arisen out of the controversy between the colony, or State of Connecticut, and the said settlers on the one part, and the Province or State of Pennsylvania, and the inhabitants thereof, or any of them, on the other part; and for such other purposes as circumstances shall appear to require. • “ That an act be immediately passed for staying proceedings at law, during said inquiry, against the settlers, for dispossessing them by writ of ejectment or otherwise, until this House shall decide upon the report, so to be made by the said commissioners.
“ And as the guard of continental troops which has been stationed at Wyoming, is about to be withdrawn, it is necessary for the pro
tection of the said settlement against the savages, to replace the guard immediately with the two companies of Rangers commanded by Captains Robinson and Shrawder."
In accordance with these resolves, an act was forthwith passed to stay the prosecution of suits against the settlers; and on the 25th of February, commissioners were appointed, consisting of Joseph Montgomery, William Montgomery, and Moses M-Clean.
Notwithstanding the recall of the continental guard, and the doubtful measure of sending Robinson and Shrawder's companies to Wilkesbarre, the proceedings were received at Wyoming by many with no little satisfaction; by the sanguine with joy; by a few with misgivings and distrust: for the two military companies, as the war with Great Britain was regarded at an end, and the danger of Indian incursions no longer existed, awakened the jealousy of the more sagacious old men, who remembered the invasion of Plunket, and who saw, or thought they saw, in this array, not protectors, but agents of a hostile interest experience had shown them they had great reason to dread. But the highly respectable names of the Montgomery's were pledges of honour and fairness, that on the whole inspired confidence, and hope of an honorable adjustment.
Prompt to obey orders, Robinson and Shrawder, with their respective companies, marched immediately to Wyoming, and took possession of the fort, which they named “ Fort Dickinson,” in honour of the President of the Supreme Executive Council.
On the 15th of April, the commisioners arrived at Wilkesbarre, where they were met, and welcomed by a committee of the settlers. It was a moment of intense, of painful anxiety. Negotiations were immediately opened by a letter from the committee. It is deemed proper to publish the whole correspondence, as necessary to a perfect understanding of the matter, and more especially as it was the prelude to re-opening the civil, or “ Pennymite and Yankee war,” which the revolutionary conflict had suspended.
“To the commissioners appointed by the Honorable Legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to inquire into the circumstances of the Wyoming inhabitants of said State.
“GENTLEMEN,—We are happy to find that the Legislative body of the State, have condescended to treat our late petition lying before them, with that coolness and candour, as to appoint commissioners to come and make full inquiry into our cases, and make report to the House. And as we shall think it our duty, straitly, strictly and truly, to adhere to our petition, and shall think ourselves happy to
give every true information to any inquiries that shall be thought
Committee." The Hon. Commissioners. OBADIAH GORE,
Letter from the Pennsylvania Commissioners to the Committee of Settlers :
“GENTLEMEN,—As it is our duty, so we will with pleasure pay attention to every piece of necessary information with respect to your settlements at this place.
Although it cannot be supposed that Pennsylvania will, nor can she consistent with her constitution by any ex-post facto law, deprive her citizens of any part of their property legally obtained ; yet, willing to do every thing in her power to promote the peace and happiness of her citizens, wishes to be informed fully of your case, that if your peaceable demeanour and ready submission to Government render you the proper objects of clemency and generosity, she may be prepared to extend it to you.
Therefore we wish you to communicate to us as speedily as pos. sible, the names and numbers of those who first settled at Wyoming, who are now alive, and by whom those that are dead are represented.
The names and number of those now actual settlers here, the quantity of land they respectively occupy, and time they last came and settled at this place.
Signed in behalf of the Commissioners,
JOSEPH MONTGOMERY, Chairman."
The distinct declaration, “ It cannot be supposed that Pennsylvania will, nor can she consistent with her constitution, by any expost facto law, deprive her citizens of any portion of their property legally obtained, etc.," was perfectly comprehended. Expulsion, the entire abandonment of their possessions was understood as prelimi