John Fries Rebellion
Part 3: President Adams' Proclamation of March 12, 1799
Regarding the Insurrection in Pennsylvania in 1799
BY JOHN ADAMS, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
"Whereas combinations to defeat the execution of the laws for the valuation of lands and dwelling houses within the United States have existed in the counties of Northampton, Montgomery, and Bucks, in the State of Pennsylvania, and have proceeded in a manner subversive of the just authority of the Government, by misrepresentations, to render the laws odious, by deterring the public officers of the United States to forbear the execution of their functions, and by openly threatening their lives; and
Whereas the endeavors of the well affected citizens, as well as of the executive officers, to conciliate a compliance with those laws have failed of success, and certain persons in the county of Northampton aforesaid have been hardy enough to perpetrate certain acts which I am advised amount to treason, being overt acts of levying war against the United States, the said persons, exceeding one hundred in number and armed and arrayed in a warlike manner, having, on the 7th day of this present month of March, proceeded to the house of Abraham Lovering, in the town of Bethlehem, and there compelled William Nichols, marshal of the United States in and for the district of Pennsylvania, to desist from the execution of certain legal process in his hands to be executed, and having compelled him to discharge and set at liberty certain persons whom he had arrested by virtue of criminal process duly issued for offenses against the United States, and having impeded and prevented the commissioner and the assessors, appointed in conformity with the laws aforesaid, in the county of Northampton aforesaid, by threats and personal injury, from executing the said laws, avowing as the motives of these illegal and treasonable proceedings an intention to prevent by force of arms the execution of the said laws and to withstand by open violence the lawful authority of the Government of the United States; and
Whereas by the Constitution and laws of the United States I am authorized, whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed or the execution thereof obstructed in any State by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings or by the powers vested in the marshals, to call forth military force to suppress such combinations and to cause the laws to be duly executed; and
Whereas it is in my judgment necessary to call forth military force in order to suppress the combinations aforesaid and to cause the laws aforesaid to be duly executed, and I have accordingly determined so to do, under the solemn conviction that the essential interests of the United States demand it:
Wherefore I, John Adams, President of the United States, do hereby command all persons being insurgents as aforesaid, and all others whom it may concern, on or before Monday next, being the 18th day of this present month, to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes; and I do moreover warn all persons whomsoever against aiding, abetting, or comforting the perpetrators of the aforesaid treasonable acts; and I do require all officers and others, good and faithful citizens, according to their respective duties and the laws of the land, to exert their utmost endeavors to prevent and suppress such dangerous and unlawful proceedings.
In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same with my hand.
Done at the City of Philadelphia, the 12th day of March, A. D. 1799, and of the Independence of the said United States of America the twenty third. "
(signed) By the President: John Adams.
(signed) Timothy Pickering, Secretary of State.
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