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who, acting under pretence of power assumed by a neighboring State, never derived from GoD or nature, being mostly enemies to the prosperity of America, have imposed their tenets upon the credulous, whereby many have been led to follow their pernicious ways, in consequence of which, many of my faithful subjects have been influenced to oppose the authority of this State,* and obstruct the course of civil law, thereby incurring the penalties of the law of society, which requires obedience to the powers that are.
And whereas the supreme authority of this State are ever willing to alleviate the miseries of those unhappy subjects who act through mistaken notions, and remit the penalties thereof; and inasmuch as the tares in this world cannot be separated from the wheat, without punishing the righteous with the wicked:
I have thought fit, by and with the advice of my Council, and at the desire of the representatives in General Court assembled, to declare this my gracious design of mercy; and do hereby publish and declare to all person or persons residing within this State, a full and free pardon of all public offences, crimes and misdemeanors, heretofore committed within the limits of this State against the honor and dignity of the freemen thereof; remitting to all and singular the person or persons aforesaid, all penalties incurred for breaches of the peace,-such as riots, mobs, tumultuous assemblies, contempt to, and opposition of, authority;-excepting only, the crimes of high treason, and misprisons of treason, against this, or the United States :-and all persons indicted, informed against, or complained of, for any of the offences aforesaid, may plead this act in discharge thereof.
Provided, nothing herein contained, be construed to extend to any person against whom judgment has been already rendered; nor to bar any person from recovering private damage, any thing contained herein, to the contrary notwithstanding.
And I do further recommend, and enjoin upon every denomination of men, strict obedience to the laws; as the executive authority are determined to carry into execution every good and wholesome law made by the freemen of this State. At the same time, I do assure the subjects that it is not the design of their rulers to take from any the peaceable enjoyment of his own possessions, acquired by the sweat of his brow,-whatever falsehoods, wicked, designing men may have spread, to disquiet the minds of the faithful subjects of the State of Vermont.
Given under my hand and seal at arms, in Windsor this third day of June, 1779.†
*His Excellency, probably had reference to the disturbances in Cumberland county. See page 106-3
This proclamation is copied from what appears to have been the original draft found in the office of the Secretary of State Though unauthenticated by the Governor's signature, it is presumed to have been promulgated, substantially as it is here given; as we find it noticed in the journal of the General Assembly under date of June 4, 1779, as follows-Resolved, that his Excellency be requested to issue a proclamation of pardon to all rioters, &c.; which proclamation was read and approved of."
Gentlemen of the Council and Assembly :
THE honor conferred on me by the freemen of this State, in appointing me their chief magistrate, demands a return of my warmest thanks at the same time, I regret my inabilities to support the character of so important a station. Notwithstanding, as my appointment appears so unanimous, it affords me the highest satisfaction, and is to me a confirmation of their general approbation of my former conduct; therefore, I shall consider it my duty to serve the ensuing year, and by Divine assistance, shall labor to continue an equal, steady firmness, and impartial administration of justice, which has hitherto governed my conduct; relying on the candor and assistance of my Council and the Legislature for my support. Gentlemen:
The Legislature having constitutionally met, I cannot forbear expressing to you my highest satisfaction in the many great and important advantages arising from the due execution and careful administration of the laws, since they took place, and cannot but rejoice when I reflect on the infinite difference between a state of anarchy, and that of a well regulated government; the latter of which we daily experience. And I most earnestly recommend to all magistrates, and others in authority under me, together with the freemen over whom I have the honor to preside, to persevere and let their conduct be uniformly just, and upright, and encourage one another to unite in the supporting and maintaining their common rights; which cannot fail to recommend this State to the impartial world. At the same time am unhappy to inform you that, notwithstanding the generous and lenient measurest with which the disaffected inhabitants in the lower part of Cumberland county,‡ have been indulged, yet they continue in their unjustifiable obstinacy against the authority of this State; I shall, however, recommend the suspension of the laws intended to have been executed on those offenders, at present, in consequence of a letter received from his Excellency John Jay, Eqsuire, President of Congress, inclosing certain acts passed by that honorable board, relating to a final settlement of all difference subsisting between
This speech is copied from the original, found in the office of the Secretary of State, and filed as follows:-" A speach of His Excellency Thos. Chittenden, Esq. 14th October, 1779."
+ See Governor's proclamation, page 556.
For some account of the disaffection in Cumberland County, here referred to, see page 106-9.
The law probably here alluded to, may be found, page 389,
See the acts here referred to, and the proceedings of the Legislature of Vermont thereon, page 110-14.
this and the adjacent States, which I now submit to you for your consideration; a subject of the greatest importance, and demands your most serious attention.
Your agents to Congress have attended, agreeable to their instructions, from time to time. Their proceedings I shall now lay before you for your perusal and approbation; which, I hope, will prove satisfactory. From every circumstance, I think we have the highest reason to believe that from the efforts of our agents and the interposition of Congress, our unhappy disputes with the neighboring States, will soon terminate in a final and happy issue.
With respect to the present situation of the domestic affairs of the State, it is with pleasure that I inform you that the measures pursued by the Board of War, by the assistance of Divine Providence, have proved effectually sufficient to defend our frontiers, against the ravages of the common enemy, while they have been permitted to execute their horrid vengeance on many of the innocent inhabitants of the different parts of the continent; which, in some measure, proves the approbation of Heaven to our Independence, and justifies the measures pursued to support and defend it. As the time for which the troops now in service, are engaged, expires the middle of November next, you will be careful to make such provisions for future defence, as your wisdom shall direct.
Gentlemen of the Assembly:
I shail, from time to time, during the session, digest and communicate to you, such other matters as shall appear to me to require your attention, in a full confidence that the same zeal to promote the common cause, for which the inhabitants of this State have hitherto been distinguished, will be equally conspicuous in your deliberations.
CONFISCATION OF ESTATES.
The confiscation of estates forms a prominent feature in the early history of the government of Vermont. This extraordinary power seems to have been exercised at a very early period,* and was continued during a number of years after the government was organized under the Constitution. The compiler has been unable to find the records of the "Court of confiscation," or any papers connected with its proceedings, except the few which here follow, which have been discovered among the ancient files in his office, and which seem to have found their way there
*See Journal of the Council of Safety.
See page 406.
See note, page 530.
rather by accident than otherwise. These papers, however throw considerable light on the history of those proceedings, and are therefore preserved in this collection.
FOR THE SALE OF CONFISCATED ESTATES.
Whereas, the General Assembly of the Representatives of the freemen of the State of Vermont, did, at their last session, order the confiscation and sale of the estates, both real and personal, of the enemies of this and the United States, living within this State, who have distinguished themselves, by repairing to the enemy, or other treasonable conduct, and did appoint the Governor of this State and the members of the Council, living in Bennington county, to be a court to confiscate and order the sale of said estates, in Bennington county, any four of whom should be a quorum.
To JOHN BURNHAN, JUN. Gentleman,
You being, by said Court, appointed, a commissioner to sell said lands, &c. you are hereby authorised and fully impowered, to sell at public vendue, or at private sale, all or any such lands, improvements, possessions, houses, mills or other buildings, or such part of them as you can sell to the advantage of this State, lying in the probate district of Bennington, formerly belonging to the persons whose names are in the list to this affixed, and is, by this court, confiscated, to the use of this State. You will give deeds in the name, and in behalf of the representatives of the freemen of this State. If the title was derived from the government of New Hampshire, you will warrant the purchaser the said New-Hampshire title; and if the forfeiter had only the New-York title, where there is a Hampshire grant on said lands, you will sell the possession and improvement only. If the forfeiter had his title from the government of New-York, and there is no other grant or claim on the lands, you will warrant the premises from all claims under New-York. You will not sell on any other terms than for cash down; except you first have liberty in writing, from this court. You will take care to sell to persons who are known friends to this and the United States, and such persons as are disposed to settle and improve the lands, soon. Such of said lands, as are, by bargain or lease, actually made by any of the commissioners of sequestration, let out to any person or persons, for any term of time, you will sell, under such incumbrances; making such reserves as will be necessary to keep good the bargain or lease of said commissioner of sequestration. You will take all proper means to make public that you have such lands to sell. You will take the advice of the select-men of the town where you sell lands, &c, in what manner it is best to sell, before you determine the sale of any of the aforesaid lands, &c. If you choose to buy any of said lands, &c. yourself, you will make application to some other of the
With this commission has been found another, drawn in the same form, directed to The mas Chandler, jun. Esq. as commissioner for the county of Cumberland, sigued, "Thomas Chittenden, Governor," and dated Bennington, February 23, 1779.
† See page 267.
commissioners of sale of lands, who shall be authorised to sell to you any of said lands lying in the probate district of Bennington; and you are hereby authorised to sell lands, &c. to any of the commissioners for sale of lands, lying in any part of the county of Bennington, under the same restrictions and regulations, as you are, by this commission, authorised, to sell in Bennington probate district. You will take care to ascertain the bounds and quantity of lands you sell, in the deeds you give. You will take care to obtain all the writings that did belong to the persons, whose names are in the annexed list, in order to enable you to ascertain the proper title to the lands; as also the debts and credits of said persons. If any person or persons, within this State, is by you suspected to have in custody, or have any knowledge of, any papers that did belong to any of said persons, you are hereby empowered, by a summon or warrant, to call him or them before some assistant, judge of court or justice of peace, or chairman of committee, and examine him or them, under oath, relative to the matter. You will take a certificate, on oath, from the persons to whom you sell lands, &c. certifying the exact sum or sums of money they pay unto you for any of the aforesaid lands, &c.; also ascertaining the bounds and quantity-in what town-in what part of the town, and who was the forfeiter. You will mention in the deeds you give, the exact sum you receive. The aforesaid certificate you will transmit to this court, for record. You will lodge the moneys, arising from such sales, together with such moneys as you collect, being due by bond, note or otherwise, to such persons (which debts you are hereby authorised to collect) with the treasurer of this State, or his substitute: and after you have sold the whole of the estate of any of the aforesaid persons, you will apply to the Governor of this State or any one member of this court, who shall appoint two respectable freeholders of this State, commissioners, who shall advertise the creditors of said estate or estates, in the Hertford news paper, three weeks successively, at least one month before they shall meet, of the time and place of their meeting, their business, and to bring in their accounts against said estate or estates; also set a copy of said advertisement up in some public place in the town where the person last resided ; where said commissioners will proceed to receive and examine the accounts against said estates, and determine the just debts due from such estate or estates, and a true list of them to you deliver; which list, together with a list of the collectable debts due to the forfeiter, you will forthwith transmit to the treasurer of this State. Said meeting you will attend in behalf of this State. Said commissioners to be paid a reasonable reward for their service. You will keep a just and true account of the time and money you spend in performing the business herein enjoined on you, and exhibit the same to this court for settlement.
Given under my hand in Arlington, April 30, 1778.
THOS. CHITTENDEN, President of the Court of Confiscation.
Attest, M. LYON, Clerk.
[Note. Here follow the names of fifteen persons, constituting the list mentioned in the foregoing commission.]