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Account of the Riots in Cumberland County, New-York


New-York, Thursday, March 23, 1775.

On Monday afternoon, expresses arrived in Town from the County of Cumberland, in this Province, who bring accounts from thence of a very extraordinary and alarming nature, on the Monday afternoon preceding, March 13th, the day for holding the Inferiour Courts, several rioters and disorderly persons, to the number of between eighty and ninety, assembled at the Court-House, of which they took possession, with an avowed intent of preventing the Court from being held the next day; many of them had arms, and those who were unprovided for were collecting both arms and ammunition with all possible despatch. Many of the Magistrates having come to Town, it was thought advisable that the Sheriff should make the usual proclamation against riotous assemblies, and demand possession of the


Court-House and Jail, which being refused several times, about nine o' clock at night a party assembled in order to disperse the rioters; these proceeded with the Sheriff and some Magistrates to the Court-House where proclamation was again made by the Sheriff for the rioters to disperse, and sundry attempts were made to get in, without using fire-arms, but this proving ineffectual, three guns were fired over the door in hopes the rioters would be intimidated and retire; but so determined were they, in their undertaking, that the fire was immediately returned from the Court-House, by which one of the Magistrates was slightly wounded, and another person shot through his clothes. The Magistrates seeing the imminent danger they were in, so well exerted themselves, that they forced the front door, and after a very smart engagement, wherein one of the rioters was killed, and many persons on both sides wounded, the Court-House was cleared, and proper measures taken to preserve the peace for that night. The next morning all was tumult and disorder; the Judges, however, opened the Court at the usual hour, and adjourned till three o' clock in the afternoon; but by this time, the body of rioters beginning to assemble in large parties from New-Hampshire, and places adjacent, and particularly from Bennington, in the neighbouring County of Albany, with a hostile appearance, and the Court foreseeing no probability of being able to proceed to business, adjourned till next June term. The body of rioters, which soon amounted to upwards of five hundred, surrounded the Court-House, took the Judges, the Justices, the Sheriff, the Clerk, and as many more of their friends as they could find, into close custody, and sent parties out, who were daily returning with more prisoners; the roads and passages were guarded with armed men, who indiscriminately laid hold of all passengers against whom any of the party intimated the least suspicion; and the mob, stimulated by their leaders to the utmost fury and revenge, breathed nothing but blood and slaughter against the unfortunate persons in their power. The only thing which suspended their fate was a difference of opinion as to the manner of destroying them. And from the violence and. inhumanity of the disposition apparent in the rioters, it is greatly to be feared that some of the worthy men in confinement will fall a sacrifice to the brutal fury of a band of ruffians, before timely aid can be brought to their assistance.