History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches
By H. C. Bradsby, 1891
If You Have Photos of People Mentioned on the Page, Send Them In For Inclusion
INTELLECTUAL PROGRESS IN THE COUNTY.
INTRODUCTORY—REPUBLICAN-FEDERALISTS AND REPUBLICAN-DEMOCRATS—POLITICAL QUESTIONS—NEWSPAPER AND OTHER ADVANCEMENTS—MISCELLANEOUS.
"—A few agree
To call it freedom when themselves are free."
A MERE compilation of the records is not exactly what is at this day required of even the local historian. The genealogies, traditions and recorded facts are interesting and valuable matter, and deserve the most careful preservation. These things can not be too full and explicit. Of themselves, however, they are not true history, but rather materials in the hands of the historian. The truth is real history in an account of cause and effect; the growth and spread of new ideas, customs, habits and laws; the why and wherefore of the movements of men's minds. The first essential in the hunt for cause and effect, tracing them with any certainty, is time or permanency in their application; the next important item is numbers or quantity. The great law of averages must have full play, and this beautiful and unvarying principle can have no application to one or two or three, or scarcely any to one hundred or one thousand, instances or persons. Thus in a
large number of people, existing socially and politically, for a long
time as a distinct body, there is necessarily a true science in the study
of all their movements. This real history is the true philosophy of the
movements of the human mind; too abstruse often to be perceived by even
the ablest historian, while the mere annalist is content to simply give
dates and records, with no attention whatever to the deeper truths of the
study. Yet a family, even an individual, may be truly historical. The permanent
effects of a single person's life may be great, either for good or bad,
and thus he may give influences that shape history, but the effects even
here flow out upon the many, and in the long lapse of years. It is a modern
growth, the idea that history deals mostly with things that are somewhat
permanent in their effects, and passes lightly by those things, however
notable or notorious in their time, that are but transient in their influences.
A great battle may mean very little, compared to Fulton's steamboat; the
battle of Waterloo was as the death of a house fly to the discovery of
Columbus. This, like all thoughts that are new, has had a slow growth;
it has yet to dawn upon the average mind, but that it will come in time
in all its fullness need not be doubted; that pretty much all history is
a true account of the struggle in the world that has gone on and will go
on between right and wrong—truth and error—ignorance and knowledge; that
rather frightful picture of the conditions of mankind given us by the most
modern schools of philosophy wherein men are caged beasts forever fighting
and struggling and only "the fittest survive" is most true.
After all, this is but a new form of expressing the old truth that right and wrong must be at perpetual war, and in that war truth is always in the minority, and ignorance and wrong are not only in an overwhelming majority, but are panoplied in power, and are supreme and pitiless. Ignorant force organizes armies and levies war, and to-day it has made of Europe a vast military encampment; and cruel, cruel Russia has liberated its millions of serfs, and made many more millions of its people political prisoners, suspects, and the most wretched of sufferers. The world's scandal, its unspeakable monster to-day, is Russia, religious Russia, educated Russia and its public and compulsory schools, its freed serfs and its Kremlin and cathedrals and Siberia. The concensus of mankind should rise up and blot out that infernal despotism. It is a wrong that has slowly grown and fattened on its cruelties; and now that the usurper can usurp no farther, like all wrong it reacts as well on the government itself as it has for centuries inflicted its cruelties on the people. Yet "truth is mighty and will prevail," but there need be no reference to the long, long time that must elapse before there comes about any noticeable "prevailing" of limping and slow-going truth or justice. Another form of stating this "struggle," is that of "precedent and doubt." Every oppressor and every usurper clings to precedent, while every movement toward liberty is preceded by doubts as to the wisdom of precedent. Hence, we find the tyrant always vigorously suppressing doubt—outlawing and turning loose upon it his armed police, and in the end his army, where there are no William Tells when ordered to
fire. The Czar a prisoner—a miserable nightmare, trembling in fear, immured in the great palace walls, driven by his phantoms to madness; his condition might call down the pity of his dumb brutes; and at the other end are his miserable subjects in the mines, in the gloomy iron casements, driven through the winter's storm where men, women and children—the most pitiful sight beneath the bending heavens—are shot down or bayoneted or knouted, and by the long wayside are dying and freezing. Here is wrong and usurpation ripened to the full, and commencing with the Czar and running through all classes is but an unending horror. This is all the dreadful handiwork of ignorant ambition—grasping for power, greed for supposed greatness, ambition to be the great rulers, has in time brought these Dead Sea apples to both King and subject—the whole group is the progeny of ignorance—following blindly precedent and rigorously suppressing doubt. The people are "my children;" heaven pity them! that "my government must care for and protect." The King "is divinely appointed to rule over us—the King can do no wrong," is the fatuous education of the people, of every people that have groaned under the most shocking tyrannies. To this fatality both King and subject are educated. A remarkable feature of the development of tyranny, is that both ruler and subject are educated in the faith that it all comes of God, and could not and should not be otherwise; that any doubt, therefore, is blasphemy added to treason. Hence, to-day, if the best man in the world was made the Czar of all the Russias, he would be helpless to relieve his suffering people, who have been so long trained and educated, out of all conception of man's natural rights to liberty and justice.
The war of the Colonies for Independence—that long and cruel war—commenced in the unconscious struggle of the people for human rights against the divine order of kings—the infallible rulers, and a standing army. There are abundant evidences that our noble fathers had but little idea of the falseness of the doctrine of the divinity of kings, in the early stages of the struggle with the mother county. We can have but little conception, even now, how the fate of mankind hung trembling in the balance at that awful moment when the "crown was offered Washington." Here was the most eventful moment in all history. Washington and Franklin, supplemented by Jefferson, gave the world practically the sublime truth that man can best care for himself; that the ruler is not only fallible, but is the servant of those who appoint him, and must render to his masters an account of his stewardship. We can now know that there was but a little remnant of all those who buckled on their armor and offered their lives as a sacrifice for their country, who clearly perceived that it was in fact a struggle of the people against the "divine order." They mostly, no doubt, demanded "no taxation without representation," and, had the king granted this, results might have been radically different. Long preceding circumstances had tended to educate the colonists away from that fatal king-school. They had been driven across the face of the world by religious persecution, when the king was heaven's vicegerent on earth, to kill and crush out heresy. The State and the Church were one, and dissent from either by so much as a look or a wink, a breath or
a secret thought, even, was to call down upon the victim the cruelest conceivable torture and death; the world was full of the church militant, but was without charity and without mercy, and civilization was in a condition of petrifaction that most surely could never have advanced one jot or tittle without the timely revolt of the American Colonies, where men fought and died for liberty—blessed liberty! the supremest thing in this world, whose chief enemy always has been the ruler-—the governing power, who has started out on the false and malignant motto: The king can do no wrong, the people can do no right. The truth is the people of themselves can do no wrong; if wrong comes from them, it is done through their representative rulers always, and this has been preceded by a long course of mis-education enforced among the people.
These preliminary explanations are deemed necessary before entering upon the consideration of the fact in American history that, when our fathers had emerged from the long war, and their independence had been granted, and they were confronted with the greater task of founding a democracy, there should arise two political parties—the Republicans and Federalists. In Bradford county, at the very beginning of its existence as a civil body, these parties were called Republican-Federalists and Republican-Democrats.
In forming our government they had nearly literally transplanted the English government, simply leaving out a king and giving the people the right to choose their ruler for stated periods. The departure from the mother government was very slight, but little as it was the sole question between the two political organizations arose over the slight change there was in the fundamentals of government between the new democracy and the old monarchy. The seed, of course, of this division among the people had come from the first day of the rebellion against King George. There were many good people who loyally opposed the movement in its inception, and continued their opposition during life. The honest Tory would have, of course, been more easily reconciled to his new surroundings had we crowned our own king at the end of the war, and gone on in the adoration of the national fetich—the good King. This sentiment was modified into one of eventual striving, for as near an approach as possible to the old forms of government. The opposite of this was that broader idea that regards the hereditary king with contempt and anchored in the faith that the people were everything. In short, they held that the people, if allowed to freely express themselves, knew as well or better what they wanted for their own good, than could any born king. Both believed in the necessity of a head, a controlling, ruling power in government. These questions among parties had received the modifications of the years that constitute nearly the life-time of a generation. When Bradford county was formed the original Tories had become wild Federalists, and the Republican-Democrats had fed upon the bold democracy of Jefferson and learned to more and more have faith in the people—which, after all, was but another name for a greater and a growing love of liberty. Indeed, it is highly probable that by the time of the first action in Bradford county, as soon as this was after the establishment of our
government, there was not a man here who would, under any conceivable circumstances, have offered Washington, or any other mortal, the crown. All had tasted the blessing of freedom, a free press, free speech, free religion, and the untrammeled right of going and coming when he pleased. Yet they divided on the question of a strong central government and a stronger central government. Equally earnest, honest and intelligent, they were arrayed in opposing ranks, but pelting each other with nothing more dangerous than ballots and the mutual lashings of tongue and pen. The mists of nearly a century have come between us and the times of the first social and political life of our people. None are now living to tell us what they then thought about the questions over which they were divided. This need not be regretted for the reason that one can not know their unreasonable prejudices, nor can we very easily be influenced by the passions that stirred them, no doubt deeply. Men then, much as they do now, went to the polls and voted in the implicit faith that the future welfare, at least of Americans, depended largely upon their being able to outvote their political opponents. The hate of Rebel and Tory was just dying out, but party fealty and distrust of political opponents may have been then as strong or even more bitter than it is now. The Tories had become peaceful Federalists, and were as full of wrath and hatred of the King of England, a feeling that they had been taught by bloody events, to extend to the whole people of England, as were the most radical Republicans, and yet they believed a sleepless vigilance necessary to prevent their opponents from rushing the country into a mere headless mob, or to anarchy itself. Both parties looked to precedent as a guide in all government affairs. The authority of precedent was strong among all the people, possibly less so among Republicans than their opponents, but practically this was the authority of highest resort, on the part of all; in the church, the school and in state-craft, precedent was nearly supreme in all mooted subjects.
"Larger boats may venture more,
But little ones must keep near shore."
was the philosophy of "Poor Richard," which, at the time Dr. Franklin gave it expression, contained much of the philosophy of the day. If, in an emergency, you could find no precedent to guide you, then stand still and await developments. Men were more cautious and conservative in political opinions then than we find them now. Adam Smith's book on Political Economy was then just published, and was an unknown and unheard of thing to most Americans, especially on the frontiers. Our democracy was a new thing in the world, hardly yet more than a doubtful experiment. There were no radical Democrats, and there were many apparently unanswerable reasons for the faith of those who believe in a greater stability of government, that meant greater centralization of power.
The beginning of the second war with England and the civil formative steps of Bradford county were contemporaneous events. Madison was President. He was one of Jefferson's ablest lieutenants in the cause of the new democracy, and picked up the gauntlet of war offered so haughtily by England.
Political questions were now rapidly recast, and men were for or against the policy that had led to war. All were in favor of its vigorous prosecution—this is true even in the face of the calling of the notable Hartford convention, yet there was a division of parties on the policies that had brought on actual hostilities. The war commenced in June, 1812, and ended in February, 1815. Our country was invaded by a ruthless foreign foe, our cities burned and captured, and shocking cruelties inflicted, but our land, and especially our naval forces, had conducted some of the most brilliant campaigns then known to warfare. The infant nation met the proud mistress of the seas, and with her war-ships, that were little more than extemporized wooden tubs, blew up her armadas and brought her ships as rich prizes to our shores. The splendid victories of Perry and Jackson were the all-sufficient answers to those who opposed the war, as final victory and peace was the death of the anti-war element in the land,--a demonstration that Greeley was right when he said, "nothing succeeds like success," and in war the opposite of this it seems would be, that "nothing fails like defeat."
We fortunately can know the prevalent thoughts and emotions of the people of Bradford county in these three stirring years of her young life, by carefully consulting the files of the Bradford Gazette that commenced publication the same year of the war, and of the organization of the county. A newspaper then was very different from one of this day and time. There was not a daily paper that then found its way into Bradford county and fewest of any kind that were then accessible to the people. The weekly local paper was their chief reliance. This was mostly distributed by private hands; it was made up of extracts from other papers, published in the cities, and was without local or general editorials, but there is but little trouble in examining the ancient files of the Gazette in finding out the editor's opinions on all important questions. The advances in newspaperdom from that time to the present are immense; now there are many dailies to where there was one weekly formerly; the great dailies come damp from the press by the fast-mail train; the telegraph has obliterated space and time in gathering the hourly news, and morning, noon and evening, night and day, year in and year out, the great perfected presses are literally showering the land with papers like as the winter snowflakes fly. The rapid rise and growth of the newspaper is truly phenomenal, but you must not therefore conclude our people are so immensely favored over those of the day of the little weekly without a line of editorial comment. The editor's responsibility then was greater than now; his paper was not only carefully, read, but was studied and laid away—men met and read it over and discussed it, and families did the same. This was well understood by the publisher, and he governed himself accordingly; he studied thoroughly his few exchanges and reprinted articles that were written in solemn earnest by men of vigorous intellects—men who treated the few subjects in hand exhaustively, elaborating to their heart's content. No difference what subject the writer had in hand, he proposed to probe to the very bottom of it. One of the little old, yellow
Gazettes, with but four columns to the page, and, of course, but four pages, is before me, and it has a communication clipped from the Democratic Press, on the subject of "The Washington Benevolent Society," that fills six columns. It is highly probable that article was copied in nearly every little four-column weekly paper then published in the land, and thus it became a national factor; it was carefully filed away, and fortunately preserved for our examination—a handy and unfailing index of the history of the times. There was more power and effect in the little, dingy four-column country weekly than there is to-day in the great 46-page daily; and there is, after all, a question as to whether, so far as the people in general are concerned, the ancient country weeklies were not better in filling the demands of their time than is the modern metropolitan press. A man now is compelled to read his mammoth dailies in a few spare minutes, while waiting for his meal to be served; he gathers the news, all he has time to wait, by scanning the head-lines of the telegraphic dispatches. There are dailies issued that a man, to read them as our fathers read their papers, would require the entire twenty-four hours intervening between the issues. It is usual to count these changes as simply advances for the better, but whether they are or not is questionable; as educators, there is no doubt but that the old style was far preferable to the new in newspapers, for the simple reason that thoroughness has been supplanted by skimming superficiality; the average man read less and confined himself to fewer subjects, but he was thorough—at least far more so than now, so far as he attempted to go. The telegraph was then hardly so much as a dream, and there was and has been nothing that so thoroughly diluted our literature, as it comes from the daily and weekly publications, as this. And the whole tendency now is sensational; pandering in every column to the pruriency that has come of the possibilities of the harnessed thunderbolts. Who would now sit down to read six columns of his paper under such a caption as "The Washington Benevolent Society?" But, on the other hand, who will skip a flaming headlight type announcing a "Rattling Prize Fight," or "A Brave Man Pounded to Death in the Ring?" There were more people who read, day by day, for months, page after page of the papers about the Beecher trial than there were living souls in America when Burr Ridgeway was publishing his Weekly Gazette, except when the printer had unexpectedly migrated. One of the largest metropolitan dailies is now edited entirely by telegraph; that is, it, like the old Gazette, has abandoned its editorial page, and boasts that it "gives all the news;" and as for opinions, its readers may "hustle and find each one for himself." Our fathers were content with column after column of "foreign news," that was generally three months old. It was a month after Commodore Perry's immortal victory on Lake Erie before the full particulars were published in Bradford county. Its splendors were not fully comprehended for years.
Prompted by curiosity I read carefully "Consistency's" article in the Gazette, filling over six columns about the "Washington Benevolent Society." The writer starts out with a well-drawn contrast between the conditions of the rich and the poor; the rich man
wallowing in the lap of luxury, while the poor must submit to the cruel decree, and grin and bear it. Then he plunges deeply into his subject by asking in big capitals the question "What is the form of government best calculated to ameliorate the condition of the poor?" A very important question indeed. To give every one an equal chance in life; to allow everyone to enjoy "the fruits of the sweat of his brow;" appealing, in capitals again, to "the constitution of nature," and to produce in the body politic justice and equity of all men. Summing up all these great and very practical suggestions he appeals to the members of the Association, to tell the people what form of government will best bring these blessings:
"Ye friends of truth, ye statesmen who survey
The rich man's joys increase, the poor's decay,
"Tis yours to judge how wide the limits stand
Between a splendid and a happy land."
These are his broad premises, and they sound somewhat of the prophetic visions of the ancient fisherman. His premises are the greatest political problems that were ever presented to mankind—justice and liberty to all men—perfect equality of right, or, in other words, A good Government, something to be hoped for, even before a "splendid" one. The people to whom these grave words were addressed were then founding our government—free to shape it as they willed. Would they make it a good government rather than a splendid one? The writer had heard perhaps of the splendors of India, where the royal elephants fairly blazed with diamonds and rubies with which they were decorated, and the wealthy women were clothed in fabrics so rich and delicate that they were called "the woven weird;" they toiled not, and yet in this land of gorgeous splendors more than six million people, the toilers and produces, starved to death in one season of famine. Whether he had nor not, certain it is, he had thought profoundly and well on that supreme problem of the world, how to attain a good government. The article was surely written by a Republican Democrat, and he addressed his appeal to the opposition—the Republican-Federals. The year 1816, at the very hour this article was given the readers of the Bradford Gazette, it should be remembered that our country was in its infancy of untried experiments, and it is now openly said by history that among some of the greatest men of that time there were divisions on the subject of a centralized government, or a greater power allowed to the people—an aristocracy of rulers, made rich and powerful by government—and that these were to be pampered by the powers and they in turn would care for and protect the people—those who hewed the wood and carried the water. It is not at all curious that this and similar questions should arise among our great ancestors; all were fresh from the very extreme of paternalism in government, when to question the divinity, the infallibility of any ruler in any country or government, was treason and deserved quick and ignominious death. An aristocracy of some kind, rich and powerful, and, if good, the necessary friends and protectors of the people, was deemed a thing of a matter of course; the few superiors, the many subalterns; the wisdom
and love of parents guiding and caring for their helpless and innocent brood; a lord fed, clothed and cared for in sickness his dependents or serfs
"----a few agree
To call it freedom when themselves are free,"
exclaim "consistency!" The king and nobles always agree that when they are happy the country is blessed; courtiers, minions, sycophants, and dependents back in the favor of the ruler, and all scheme to secure the most money from the sweat and toil of the people. It was battling these chronic old ideas that the writer was going through so many columns of the paper—it was illuminating the Democratic ideas of Jefferson; the greatest liberty to the greatest number.
It should be borne in mind that at that time it was different from now, especially in the matter of the divine right of kings and rulers, and even though this country has destroyed the office of king, and substituted a constitutional government, yet all were agreed that the people must be protected—their liberties carefully guarded by those in control. In the matter of regulating, controlling, making laws to care for, and protect both the public and private affairs of community; the country has gone on and on, as the years have rolled by, and customs, habits, and statute laws have been piled one upon another, mountain high. Jefferson's democracy readily joined hands in this work of regulating; even discovering pretexts, plausible and otherwise, for new laws and new and more officials; protecting the dear people—mistaken good men and great patriots—were the labors day and night of all men. The people grew clamorous for more government, more, more! One regulating law would require two, three, or a dozen amendments or new laws, and each would require more officials, and they in turn required more and more taxes; but men felt they were happy, happy always when they could more and more feel the weight or actual presence of the law, and the government ever pressing closer and closer about their individual persons. In other words, there was little division among men on the vital question of the true conditions between subjects and rulers, but they parted lines in other directions.
For instance, when Bradford county was organized, as an evidence of what the people were contending about, is found some reference in the first issues of the Gazette to the subject of paper currency. The Federalists evidently were the men who were accounted as being in favor of government providing a supply of paper money for circulation, while their opponents, the Republican-Democrats, were for the more solid gold and silver.
Following this was the question of the intensity of everyone's advocacy of the late, the present or perhaps the future or next war. They were divided in their sympathies between Great Britain and France, or Napoleon, in the wars then raging. The more liberal Democrats were heart and soul for Napoleon, while others were openly or secretly favoring England. The war of 1812 had emphasized the division between the two political parties. Monroe was president, and those opposed to the war vented their anger at him.
Chiefly in Bradford county, when it had become organized and officered, the divisions were the Republicans, Democrats and the Federal-
Republicans—the differences were far more in name than in fact; the former, though New Englanders, were severe in their criticism of the Puritan and his fanatic religious pretensions. Although the country had then recovered from the era of the abundant drowning of witches, no one party, it seems, had its skirts clean enough on this subject to taunt or abuse anyone else, for either mistakes or crimes in this direction. The Gazette, during its first six months' existence, published a most remarkable ghost story, without a word of comment, as it was taken from some other paper. In that particular case the shadow was that of a man who had been murdered foully, of course, and the same story is now common stock in much of our light and vicious fiction, to harrow the souls of credulous children and weak-minded men. It is safe to assume that there was far more credulity, and a consequent much less disposition to doubt on the subject of supernatural extravaganzas among the first settlers in the county than there is now. The people read their Bibles with a faith and a literal belief in even its detached sentences, that the most thorough-going church members of today can hardly understand. No doubt entered their minds when listening to the severe dogmatics of their doughty preachers, and the same was true as the head of the family or the school teacher read aloud the weekly issues of the Bradford Gazette. The greatness and goodness of the minister was measured mostly by the length of his sermons and his tireless lung power. There was a strong combination of superstition in religious subjects, and on political subjects among those who built the frame-work of society in the Susquehanna valley—an important item when we come, in this day, to weighing and estimating their lives; in other words the true history of any people or time, lies,often (sic), beneath the surface facts and incidents. You see a madman in irons, held by his strong guards while he raves and froths and would murder any living thing, and you ask his keepers the cause, and they would probably tell you that family trouble, death of wife or children, financial difficulties, or that it was religion, excitement or any of the other commonly assigned reasons. This answer might be the true one, but as often it is not; it all may have come from some ancestor generations ago—the cause is often the seed, planted deep from view, in long preceding time of the hour that we gather the full and ripened fruit.
In 1813 the question of trade with England was laid before the people of Bradford county. The Gazette copied an article from the Baltimore Patriot, under the head of "The Embargo," at which the writer is overjoyed, and pronounces it a wise and good measure, "a law called for alike by national honor and national interest;" and he proceeds to say that it will prove more hurtful to England than "even the thunder of a Hull or a Decatur"—a law which is to "nurture our infant into giant manufactures," shorten the war by years, and "rescue the souls of millions of neutral agents from the deep damnation of habitual perjury;" and then proceeds to say: "We present the tribute of our humble applause to the men who wisely and resolutely spurned the thraldom of an abused name and passed a wise measure." This Republican continues in the vein of exultation, and is bold to say that the declaration of war was the wisest American measure since the
Declaration of Independence, and the enforcement of the "Embargo" will prove to be the most cogent and prudent measure since the declaration of war, and the writer sincerely hopes the measure will not, like a former one, "become a mere perch for birds of prey." To the "speculators" who cried out against it, saying, "how are we to employ our capital now?" he answers "establish manufactures"—"fit out privateers."
As a war measure, it may be readily gleaned from the article referred to, that the Republicans warmly favored the embargo while the Federalists, it may be assumed, opposed it, at least indirectly, and the writer denounces "he who would sell his birth-right for a gay coat or any coat ought forever to be a slave in buff," and, in his judgment, the "meanest peasant in America, blessed with these sentiments is a happy man compared with a Tory."
About this time appeared in the Gazette a long article signed "Farmer," discussing the dangers of Americans suffering themselves to continue dependent on the use of foreign goods, and the urgency of securing domestic manufactures of every kind; he accuses merchants of exacting double prices, if not more, for every foreign article they have for sale. He shows that the tendency is upward in price for foreign goods; and that merchants are rapidly making enormous fortunes. "Farmer" lays down some rather striking propositions in economics, that is, they would be novel now, after seventy-five years of discussion of the subject of trade with foreign nations. "Such are the mournful results," he exclaims, "of your listening to the artful tales of merchants concerning the subserviency of commerce to agriculture, such the painful and mortifying issues of neglecting domestic manufactures and encouraging those of foreign nations. Nor sort of commerce favorable to agriculture is beneficial to the farmer, but exportation alone; importation and foreign trade are ruinous. * * * The war has no tendency to impoverish the nation; it sends not a cent out of society, it merely occasions the transfer of property from one to another; it takes from the central and conveys to the frontier; taking from the mechanic and giving to the soldier. * * * Only push domestic manufactures and cease to frequent the stores of men who vend foreign goods and send your wealth abroad and then your impoverishment becomes impossible.
In December, 1813, the people read carefully, Madison's message addressed to Congress. This was a rapid review of what had transpired in the then war with England; it was read and reread with infinite pleasure by, doubtless, nearly all the leading Republicans of the county, and, if read at all by the Federalists, it was not with pleasure, but largely for the purpose of finding fault with it.
The strongly Democratic-Republican paper of the county in 1813 laid before its readers nearly three columns of reading, that even told of now sounds curious, but is full of suggestions as to the public mind of that time. It is no less than an account, copied from the National Advocate, of a public dinner, given at Tammany Hall, New York, "under the direction and superintendence of the Republican General Committee of New York," to Maj.-Gen. William H. Harrison. This
was the greatest social and, no doubt, political event of the time, and although it was twenty-seven years preceding the elevation of Harrison to the great office of President of the United States, it was, probably, the first round in the ladder that he eventually climbed to the top. The very curious thing about it is that Harrison was nominated and elected, and was always a self-proclaimed pro-slavery Democratic-Republican, yet his election was a Whig victory and a triumph of the memory, the shades, of the old Federalist party. Time unfolds curious conditions, even in politics.
While these old pioneer fathers were rigid and strong in every article of political faith, they were equally so, if not more, severe in matters of religion. In politics they quarreled fiercely about war measures, the proper defense of the flag, the building of domestic manufactories and like propositions; but in matters of religion they were unanimous in the deepest seated faith, the very savagery of dogmas and the pitiless extirpation of heresy, however radically they might differ on points of doxy. Sternly and even severely religious were these American pioneers; the representatives of the church militant, glorying in self-inflicted penances, and with the sword of Gideon smiting sin hip and thigh; rare bundles of inconsistency, full of fight and religion; shoulder to shoulder battling with an invading army; two souls as one in hating England or fighting Satan and his imps, yet always ready in the fiercest of the struggle even to turn and rend each other on the flimsiest questions of polemics. So full of the spirit of dissent were they that the laymen were ever ready to quarrel with the shepherds, and without a qualm of conscience they split, divided and subdivided their church organizations.
Thomas Simpson, the first publisher of the Gazette, understood well the demands of his patrons, as may be seen from the fact that with his paper filled with war and politics, he yet found frequent occasion to publish long religious sermons that bristled generally with doctrinal points, and animus of which is noticed in the opening sentence of one now before us: "How long, O inhabitants of the earth! will you suffer yourselves to be deceived by false teachers, delusive spirits, and doctrines of devils?" Then follows a number of "How longs," concluding with "How long will you catch at perishable things, outward ordinances or water baptism? when you are commanded not to touch, taste or handle those things that perish with the using, after the doctrines and commandments of men! * * * Why follow phantoms that can not save you at the hour of death?----take nothing with you that you can not carry into the gates of Heaven: Can you carry water there? NO! my friend."
There is food for reflection in this ancient sermon. It was the earnest words of a very earnest man, addressed to a people in active accord with the speaker. It is a marked characteristic of the times and the people, and yet how can we reconcile the fact that only a few years before this preacher preached, Goldsmith had evolved from his brain that lovable character, the immortal "Vicar of Wakefield"—the ideal of a preacher and his family, and their simple daily home life, as drawn from the fancy of the strolling musician, who played his flute
through Europe, to the servant girls and the stable boys, for a chance crust of bread. The demands of mankind called forth the sermon of the living preacher; the divine genius of Goldsmith warbled as the birds of the wilderness carol to the skies. To-day this good man and his sermons on baptism would, in one of our very fashionable city churches, be laughed at; but you must not imagine that, therefore, Goldsmith would, on the other hand, be lifted up and lionized by all people. On Broadway, he would be much the poor, wretched outcast he was one hundred years ago in the streets of London—just as likely to freeze and starve in a garret to-day as he did then; but the preacher and his great sermon would be haughtily directed by the bishop's butler to apply at the "Little Church Around the Corner."
In the early part of 1813, three men were arrested and examined in the preliminary court in New York, on the charge of treason. The Bradford Gazette published the account of the trial, under the head of "More Treason," and is content to simply give the facts and the gist of the testimony, without a word of comment. The parties tried were Abijah and Jacob Biglow and J. W. Jenkins, and, except Abijah, were convicted and bound over to the court, but, when the time for trial came on, these men had fled to Canada. Their treason consisted in having aided in the escape of some British prisoners. As remarked, there were no comments in the Gazette, no vituperation of Americans, who, in the hour of the country's peril, were giving significant aid and comfort to the invading foe, unless, indeed, the words "more treason," that stood at the head of the article, might be construed as a comment—a solemn reflection that there were others in the country who had been playing the part of Judases toward their Government. The moderation of the paper is significant of the manner of our fathers—a strong contrast indeed to the temper of the people in our late Civil War.
This leads us to a notice of the fact that Bradford county, when it was formed, had men in it who were well known to all the people as Tories during the War for Independence. They were never molested, there did not seem to be any thought of ill-treating them. They were neighbored with as were other people; assisted in sickness and in emergencies as were others, as even kith and kin, and if the fact was ever thrown offensively in their faces there is no record or mention of it. These men so tolerant toward the poor Tories—the men so viciously ignorant as not to sympathize with the liberties of their fellow-men, and who committed treason to God and man by their blind adherence to and sympathy for the vile oppressor, and esteemed the fathers as simply rebels deserving the most ignominious death—were never molested, it seems, and it is doubtful if they were greatly discriminated against by the very neighbors who held themselves so ready to punish blasphemy, or even a mild form of heresy—a people who would punish the husband for kissing his wife on Sunday; that had enacted and mercilessly enforced the Blue Laws, and yet so readily forgave treason. In the accounts of the bloody massacre that followed the battle and surrender of Wyoming, are to be found the sickening details of a brother in cold blood shooting to death his pleading
brother, who had escaped unarmed from the fort, and was skulking and hiding, in the vain attempt to get away. The unnatural monster, in answer to the prayer of his brother to spare his life, and he would therefore humbly serve him all his days as menial slave, was the incredibly brutal one of, "You are a d---d rebel," and the rifle finished the sentence. In behalf of the brave revolutionists there is nothing of such infernalism as this charged against them during the long seven years of war; even the invading enemy were human, and the painted savages were guiltless of that depth of horror—it was a Tory. Not a representative one of course, for such a villain represented nothing of man or beast, except himself—he stands alone in his matchless infamy.
When there were enough permanent settlers here to form a new county, they had reached a time when men began to draw away from that intense age of religious fanaticism, that wild craze on the subject that had whelmed the civilized world in the five hundred years of the Dark Ages, and were inclined to mix in their thoughts and purposes some of the more practical affairs of life. They were rapidly extending the view of life, and the beliefs in supernatural powers in the most trivial affairs among men were loosening their long clutch of men's minds. The representatives of the church, while they had lost none of men's devotional respect for the cloth, for the sacred office they exercised, yet their power in the family circle and in the State, and in the material concerns of the individual were slowly waning. The influence of the churchmen was thereby signally bettered. A century preceding, the church had ruled the State and unfortunately wielded the gleaming sword, and interminable religious wars had blasted the bloom of earth, and the most horrid persecutions had filled the air with the wails of the dying, innocent victims. From these cruel ages the world was slowly emerging, but resistlessly, because slowly, like the rise of the continents from the great ocean's depths, men were tasting the right of self-government; feeling the power and the good of regulating their own private and social affairs. Would they rush to the other extreme?
The people of Bradford county were deeply interested in the cause of education, even before the county was formed. Their attention was called to the fact that Virginia had already taken steps for the early establishment of public free schools, and appeals were sent to the Legislature to consider the subject. In nearly every rude log church a short term of school was taught, at first by the preacher in charge,and (sic) in time by his assistant. These were the most primitive subscription schools, to which each parent or guardian paid the bills monthly of the children they sent, and so rigid was their economy that the expense of sending a child to these pay-schools was but a fraction of what it now costs to send one to our supposed perfected free schools. A dollar's worth of text books then would supply a large family of school children their entire school days; in this as in other things, it is left to us to estimate the changes from that time to this.
A striking illustration of the prevalent credulity of the times the Gazette of 1814 publishes an obituary which is dressed in the extraordi-
nary circumstances of being in mourning, that it is ornamented with an inverted rule at each end of the article. It is an account of the death of a Maj. Richard Elliott, of Ohio. Evidently it was not that they knew the man or had a personal interest in him, but it was the manner of the man's death that made it of such vital importance. The name of the man who gave the account is given as a voucher of its truth and credibility. The substance is that on a certain Sabbath evening the man was passing along the highway, when he saw two lights in the shape of half-moons coming toward him; when the lights met him they seemed to close him in a circle about the breast, when a voice pronounced these words: "Are you prepared to die?" Without hesitation, the man answered "If it is God's will, I think I am." The lights then passed on, but turned and followed him until he came opposite the graveyard where they made a stand; he could see them, by looking back, for half a mile. When the man arrived at home he told his wife, and assured her that he had but a short time to live; he related the same to several people, and announced to all that he was about to die. The lights were met on Friday evening,about (sic) 9 o'clock; on Tuesday following, the man was raving insane, and in twenty-four hours died. The lugubrious story concludes with the words: "This is a simple statement of the circumstances of his sickness and death."
The story is circumstantially told, and is quite ghostly. The men of that day, in their leather jerkins, and the dames at the looms and the spinning-wheels must have read and heard it with complete awe, and the children, no doubt, were freshly alarmed at the dark, and would shut their eyes in the fear of seeing the dreaded moon-shaped lights. The poor man was simply mad—insane beyond question from the first, and then, as now, there were no certain medicaments for the mind diseased. The moon-shaped lights were but witches in another form—men were moving slowly away from the suttee of the East, or when "Auld Clootie" would daily come up through the hot crater's mouth to waylay the innocent people on the road, as he had been often caught in the act of finding a person alone, near a graveyard, and seized him, and, despite his struggles and cries, had carried him off, and with his precious burden had plunged into the vomiting volcano, on his return visit to his realms with his trophy. Men's beliefs were emerging slowly from these frightful conjurings—the travail of the dreary ages. The story of man's frightful superstitions—shadows to us, but horribly real to them—is one of the most painful chapters in human history; it had filled the world to the mountains' peaks with the deepest gloom, and in trembling and despair they literally called upon the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them and hide them forever from the face of an angry God. However, they were slowly approaching this age in the idea that the Supreme was not always so unreasonably angry with his children, and that he is all love and justice. "I thy God am a jealous God" is now more generally read "And He so loved the world, etc." The pendulum swings; it can never be at rest—the ebb and flow of the wind, as it rises, slowly and spirally, toward God's throne. The opposing theories: inappeasable wrath, implacable hate or mad, convulsive, unreasoning love—the orthodox, with clubs and
knocks, the altruist sweating blood over the innocent failings of ignorance, and offering up the great vicarious sacrifice, are but the ceaseless moan of the great ocean of men's troubled souls moving through the unending eternities. Possibly, here, as everywhere, when the historian comes, great enough, wise enough, and fearless enough to point out the truth that ever lies in the mean of all extremes, then may mankind begin to feel and know that our civilization is safe, founded upon the rock against which the winds and the storms may beat in vain, and foolish good men will cease to heart-bleed and wail in sadness over the cruel contentions of men—over these beastly struggles to trample upon each other. "All's well!"
Adjusting the prophecies, was in the early part of this century the serious work of many of the world's holy seers; these cabalistic interpreters were a very important feature of the times, and they burned the midnight oil, and the press teamed with their books for all men to read. For a period of twenty years or more these things raged with the utmost activity, like everything of the kind in answer to a popular demand. The obscure parts of the books of Daniel and the Revelations of John, were the fruitful sources of supply for the remarkable output of the press of that day. These ranged in all degrees from the most learned and solemn to the serio-comic, but all intended to show that the great oracles of the church were still abroad in the land; their erudition was astounding, their secular flavoring overpowering, and their demonstrations startling, ludicrous and whimsical.
A man named Kett wrote and published a book entitled, "History, the best interpreter of Prophecy," and he seriously demonstrates "The man of sin" is at once "both the Papal power and the French infidelity;" that the "little horn of Daniel's fourth beast" designates Mohammedanism, Popery and French infidelity; the beast of the bottomless pit which slays the two witnesses spoken of in the 11th Chapter of Revelations typifies the same infidel power; that Daniel's little horn of the goat and of his third beast, the leopard, symbolize Mohammed and the French infidelity; and the second beast of St. John, which is to arise out of the earth and "the images to which he is to give life" are "infidelity and democracy;" that the two horns of the beast are "the German illuminati and French pseudo philosophers; that the particular democratic tyranny, symbolized by the image of the beast, is the revolutionary Republic of France, and that the mark of the beast is the tri-colored cockade.
A contemporary of Kett's was one who called himself Galloway. This oracle read that the earth out of which John's second beast arose was France; the beast himself the French Republic—his head the legislature; his two horns the committee of safety, and the fire he was to call down was the wrath of God; his marvelous performances were the French victories; the image he was to set up, the prostitute goddess of reason and liberty; his mark the cap of liberty and the cockade; that his number latinized, is 666, the name of the monarch Louis XVI.
One of our New England prophet interpreters transposed Napoleon's name into this same mystical number, and a wag set about it and made the same translation of the signs apply to Jefferson's red plush breeches. That irreverent but clever wag deserves a bright immortality. He struck the whole gang of lunatics a staggering blow; in the language of the ring, "an uppercut," so neat and deft that it must have brought a grin of approval from even the severest old gospelers of that day.
In December, 1815, Benjamin Austin, of Boston, addressed a long letter to ex-President Jefferson, propounding very important questions on subjects that were then coming to the surface in this country. To this Mr. Jefferson replied at length, and both were deemed of sufficient importance to republish in the Gazette. The opening paragraph of Mr. Jefferson's reply refers to the existing horrible conditions in France; blames much of this on Napoleon, who failed to use his legitimate powers in the establishment and support of free government, and predicts that the great French people will come in time out of the fiery ordeal in signal triumph and ultimate freedom and democracy.
He then says:
"You tell me I am quoted by those who wish to continue our dependence on England for manufactures. There was a time when I might have been so quoted with more candor, but within the thirty years since elapsed how are things changed? We were then in peace, our independent place among nations was then acknowledged; a commerce which offered the raw materials in exchange for the same material, after receiving the last touch of industry, was worthy the attention of all nations. It was expected that those especially to whom manufacturing industry was important would cherish the friendship of such customers by every favor. * * * Under this prospect the question seemed legitimate, whether with such an immensity of unimproved land, courting the hand of husbandry, the industry of agriculture or that of manufactures, would add most to that of the national wealth. And the doubt on the utility of American manufactures was entertained on this consideration chiefly; that to the labor of the husbandman a vast addition is made by the spontaneous energies of the earth on which it is employed; for one grain of wheat committed to the earth she renders twenty, thirty and even fifty fold—whereas the labor of the manufacturer falls in most instances vastly below this. * * * What a field it did promise for the occupation of the ocean—what a nursery for that class of citizens who were to exercise and maintain our equal rights on that element. This was the state of things in 1785, when the 'Notes on Virginia' were first published; when the ocean being open to all nations, and their common right in it acknowledged and exercised. * * * But who in 1785 could foresee the rapid depravity which was to render the close of that century a disgrace to the history of civilized society? Who would have imagined that the two most distinguished in the rank of nations for science and civilization would have suddenly descended from that honorable eminence, and setting at defiance all those moral laws established by the Author of nature between nation and nation, as between man and man, would cover earth and sea with robberies and piracies merely because
strong enough to do it with temporal impunity, and that under this disbandonment of nations from social order, we should have been despoiled of a thousand ships and have thousands of our citizens reduced to Algerine slavery?" He proceeds to show that the French joined England in this crusade against American commerce on the seas. Being thus excluded from the free interchange of nations, he reaches the question of making ourselves independent for the comforts of life, and declares "we must fabricate them for ourselves." "We must now," he continues, "place the manufacturer by the side of the agriculturist. The former question is suppressed or rather assumes a new form. The grand inquiry now is, shall we make our own comforts or go without them, at the will of a foreign nation? * * * I am proud to say I am not one of these [opposed to American manufactures]. Experience has taught me that manufactures are now as necessary to our independence as to our comfort, and if those who quote me as of a different opinion will keep pace with me in purchasing nothing foreign, where an equivalent of domestic fabrics can be obtained, without regard to difference of price, it will not be our fault if we do not soon have a supply at home equal to our demand. If it shall be proposed to go beyond our supply, the question of '85 will then recur, viz.: Will our surplus labor then be more beneficially employed in the culture of the earth or in the fabrication of art? We have time yet for consideration before that question will press upon us; and the maxims to be applied will depend on the circumstances that will then exist. For in so complicated a science as political economy, no one axiom can be laid down as wise and expedient for all times and circumstances."
To this beginning of the subjects concerning our foreign commerce we
have now added our seventy-five years of experimenting and much continuous
discussion. At certain periods the question would be laid temporarily aside
for other issues, yet when these had their time and passed away, then the
two great political parties would resume the never-ending discussions of
the questions of the tariffs. Is not much of the same uncertainty among
the people to be found now that there was three-quarters of a century ago?
At the National fall election of 1888, after more than a year of continuous
discussion of the subject of high tariff and low tariff on imports, a year
of discussion in which there were less of side issues than had ever before
been connected with the tariff question, and the vote of the country sustained
the advocates of tariff—President Harrison was elected on this issue in
1888, and this was emphasized by the election of a majority in Congress
of that political faith. The three co-ordinate branches of government were
now in accord, and it was claimed, with much apparent truth, that the question
was now happily settled—the people had declared for that policy. But in
two short years, 1890, with the issue still more sharply defined, in the
election of a new Congress, the results of 1888 were overwhelmingly reversed.
Thus one election "settles" this important question, and immediately following
the next election will completely unsettle it, it seems. These whirligigs
of time are not only interesting to the historian, but they are the poised
scales in which he may best weigh
and judge the important movements of the American people. These remarkable changes, something approaching a quick revolution of the public judgment, may render the lives of the professional politicians a burden, delicious to the "outs," calamitous to the "ins;" but they are on the whole a good sign—they bespeak the activity of the public mind on questions of the common weal where numerous mistakes are atoned in final justice and truth.