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Letter from Thomas Smith, Bedford, to Joseph Shippen



Bedford, April 13, 1774.

SIR: If you have received my letter, which I did myself the favour to write by Colonel Wilson, you will not be surprised to be informed of the continuation of the outrages committed by the Virginians. They have now arrested three of the Magistrates of Westmoreland county, who are now on their way to Augusta jail, exposed to the insults of the rabble who are sent as their guard. The crime alleged against them is, I am informed, the answer which the Court gave to Conolly' s modest address and proposals I hope, for the honor of this Province, that it will not set calmly looking on and see its Magistrates, as its Magistrates, taken by a set of lawless men, when they were within its known limits, and hurried away like criminals to the jail of another Province, there to be confined contrary to all law and justice, to satisfy the whim and caprice of a man who seems either to have totally divested himself of any regard of natural justice, (I was going to say to the law of nations, if I might be allowed the expression.) or else be made the tool of a set of desperate men, who have more cunning than himself — for I have many reasons to think that this scheme was hatched at Fort Pitt. The reasons that could induce any man of common sense to take such a step I am at a loss to guess.

The bearer of this was sent down to go to Philadelphia with the account of these proceedings. I thought it my duty to enable him to pursue his journey, by accommodating him with money; he has acted some time as Under Sheriff, and if the High Sheriff had conducted himself in the same spirited, unsuspected manner, that this man has done, I am persuaded that these disturbances might have been prevented. But he, in the first place, had so little regard to his duty, that he let Conolly at liberty on his promise to return at the court, and when he was ordered to raise the posse, his conduct was a little mysterious, and he was extremely backward and remiss. The bearer can give you further information in this particular.

I am sir, your very humble servant,