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Letter from the Committee of Somerset County, on the conduct of Atkinson


The following Letter, from the Committee of Somerset County to the Eastern Shore Council of Safety, is without date; but being in reply to the aforegoing Letter, is therefore transcribed immediately following it, and is as follows, viz:

GENTLEMEN: Yours of the 18th instant lies now before us; and we are a good deal surprised to hear that Mr˙ Atkinson should rest his defence upon a point which he did not rely on during any of his appearances before this Committee. At the same time, as Mr˙ Atkinson' s friends are in general now hearty in the common cause, and as he himself always supported a reputable character till his present misconduct, we should be glad to give every thing its full weight, that he may offer in his own justification upon his approaching trial. But, as we are to do justice to the community as well as to individuals, we cannot omit to inform you that, in the course of our proceedings against this unhappy man, whom we always pitied, he had every indulgence that the nature of his offence could entitle him to. His trial was put off from day to day, and an opportunity always given of confronting the evidences against him, in hopes that he might be able to exculpate himself to the satisfaction of the publick.

With regard to his plea of intending only to oppose those of the Presbyterian persuasion, it is certain that this County has been long divided in religious sentiments, and that this division has been productive of much disturbance we have too much reason to remember. It is a prevailing opinion, amongst the members of the Church of England, that the Presbyterians are enemies to their present establishment, greedy of power, and oppressive in executing it, which makes them jealous of every measure, however laudable, that the Presbyterians engage in; and as this set of people (we speak it to their honour) were amongst the foremost in the country to espouse the cause of Boston, so the over-zealous ones of the Church persuasion, for this reason alone, became averse to it. But we are unwilling to enter upon a subject whose candour might perhaps be called in question.

There is an honourable gentleman in your own neighbourhood, (William Hayward, Esq˙,) as much a stranger to the narrow spirit of party as he is superior to malice and detraction. To him, therefore, as he has an universal acquaintance in this country, we beg leave to refer you. At the same time, as we wish to furnish you with every possible information, we have taken the liberty to lay before you a letter which we this day received from Jacob Adams,


an honest and reputable planter of this County. We have issued summonses for all the evidences to wait on you, agreeable to your adjournment, on Thursday next, at Talbot Court-House, and have no doubt of their punctual attendance.

With the most entire confidence in your justice and wisdom, we have the honour to subscribe ourselves your most obedient and obliged humble servants.

Signed per order: PETER WATERS, Clerk.