These men returned to their homes. Some were regarded as heroes. They had shown courage to stand up to what was then considered an oppressive tax. Fries returned to Lower Milford where he lived another 18 years. At his death, a list of money he owed, showed he had lived out the rest of his life mainly on borrowed money. Fries was the scapegoat of the times. Someone had to pay the price for this insurrection, and Fries was the man. This tax was unwarranted and there never was a war with France. The tax money was never returned to the people and it is not surprising that this whole area voted against Adams and for Jefferson – an admitted Francophile.
This was the first case of treason tried under the notorious Sedition and Alien Acts. Fries resided in an almost completely German area, where many of the people were considered aliens. Contact with the outside area was little and most communication was in German. A German newspaper in circulation, was printed in Milford. These people were endowed with a great sense of liberty. They deeply resented the Tories that were in their midst. Most of these Germans had fought in the Revolution and they were always aware of the fact that families such as the Foulkes and the Roberts had not fought for the nation’s independence. The term “stampler” which inferred that one was favorable to the actions of the government did not come into existence until 1798. It was conferred on any government sympathizer especially the Quakers in the area. It is interesting that the Germans felt that Foulke, a Quaker, was an assessor and only in it for the money and that his sense of justice could be bought by the government.
The Germans who had been welcomed into an English colony had brought embarrassment and trouble. Fries would pay for this and set an example. Judge Samuel Chase would later be impeached and stand trial himself, for the charges of high misdemeanors. It was alleged that too many times he sat on the bench in a state of intoxication. His lawyer was Aaron Burr, who defended him successfully. There was little prestige to holding a position on the Supreme Court at that time. Chase refused to resign after the trial, but afterwards judged only unimportant cases. Fries wrote his will on June 6, 1815 which was filed for probate on October 28, 1819. In it, he makes bequests to his wife, grandson, and children. He is buried in the old Reformed Church in Trumbauersville… The whole episode, dusted under the rug, a blight on American jurisprudence.
*** Condensed, with permission from: “The Saga of John Fries”©1977 Media Dynamics and Adams Apple Press, all rights reserved
** Condensed, with permission from: “The Direct Tax of 1798 Upper Bucks”©1994 Adams Apple Press, all rights reserved
See also: The Complete Transcript of the “The Two Trials of John Fries for Treason . 1800” published 2005, by the Constitution Society. (this link will take you off site)