77. Justitia
American Herald, 10 December 1787

Looking over [several?] papers, on the subject of the late commotions, which are now so happily allayed, I have made the following extracts, from a number of causes assigned in them, for these unhappy transactions; which I beg you to insert in your free and impartial paper.


“This view of affairs, suddenly taken, and imperfectly digested, is not intended to excuse, for this is impossible; but it will most undoubtedly extenuate the guilt of the late opposition to the laws in this Commonwealth: There, are, however, other circumstances which have been equally influential and important, in the production of these melancholy events, and which have not been enumerated. Among this number, first in the list, stands the detested mode of direct taxation; which, however suited it may have been considered to our republican form of government, and however sanctioned by antiquated experience in this country, was absurd, unproductive, oppressive, and wholly incompetent to answer the demands of the State, in such a trying conjuncture.—When, from the immense accummulation of the public debt, the annual interest to be paid, was more than the interest and principal of any sums due from the public to individuals, at any period anticedent to the war with England.—This obvious defect, in the means of collecting the revenue, induced Congress, at an early period, to recommend the impost, to sustain the public credit. If there was ever a moment when unanimity was required, this was the period. We had then a powerful and implacable enemy in the heart of the Continent. The treasury was exhausted, the old and decided friends of the revolution, whose zeal in the dawn of the conflict with the British was extreme, were now empoverished by their confidence in the public; the army, that gallant band of veterans were then balancing between their virtues and necessity; the danger was imminent, and the exigency deplorable. At this interesting and alarming instant, when the fear of impending ruin, and the invincible necessity of new measures, to cement the Union of the States, and to give dignity and energy to the Fœderal Government carried doubt and despondency to the breast of every true and disinterested whig, an aversion to this salutary expedient, was literally created in this and a neighbouring State, on the most selfish and despicable motives. Unfortunately the MEN most active in the opposition to Fœderal measures, were then in the Legislature, in either State, and of course their resistance was too fatally successful. The proposed Impost was perplexed in every stage, till it was finally rejected.

“To remedy this misfortune the States by a formal requisition were called on to furnish their quotas of the National expenditure. Some complied, and others rejected the application: And it is very certain, that the people of this in particular, owing to their loyalty and attachment to the Fœderal Government, have individually paid twice the amount in proportion to their property with those of the neighbouring States, by which they are immediately surrounded. This circumstance has been a fertile source of discontent in the upper counties adjacent to New-York, Connecticut and New-Hampshire.

[“]Thus the false and contemptible politics of some of our mercantile characters, then in the Legislature, have injured the community severely and deeply. They have discouraged our manufactures, they have increased the importation of foreign goods, and have consequently accellerated the effusion of our money; they have diminished and prevented the influence of the Fœderal Head; they have substituted a commercial to a political dependence on G. Britain, they have kept alive and extended the present unequal and destructive mode of taxation; they have soured the public mind, and have contributed most powerfully by their fatal opinions to the guilt and ignominy of the late Rebellion.”