Peter Hog to Go: Nelson.
August 2, 1781
I have the honour to enclose to your Excellency a petition from John Claypole and others, concerned in the late Insurrection in Hampshire County; which I wish from motives of good policy, as well as humanity may have the desired effect. As I apprehend it would be attended with pernicious consequences to hold out pardon to those who denied to surrender themselves to Justice, or delayed to submit to the Laws of their Country, untill they were sure of escaping punishment; and at the same time to prosecute those who readily submitted the Investigation and punishment of their crimes, to the Laws of the Land: since it would certainly operate as an Encouragement to future offenders to stand out untill they were assured of Indemnity.
Another political reason I beg leave to assign, is the many relations & connexions that the Claypole Family have in that part of the Country: as there is the Father * sons, with many grand children, who by inter-marriages are connected with the most considerable Families on those waters, and the strongest friends to our present Constitution, and to prosecute him with vigour, whilst the ringleaders have evaded Justice by flight, and those in similar circumstances of Guilt are pardoned, would probably sour the minds of his numerous connexions, and perhaps be regarded by them as pointed and partial.
I must also add, that he has a Letter from Genl: Morgan engaging to procure his pardon, on his returning to his Duty - Humanity also pleads strongly in their behalf, for on my attending the intended Court of Oyer the 10th ult: for the Trial of those Miscreants, as directed by your Excellencies Letter, I had the opportunity of viewing the distressing Scenes of aged mothers, wives, & children crowding to the Court house to take the last Leave of their unhappy Sons, husbands & fathers, apprehending that Execution would be immediate on the Sentence of Death, which, in spite of all my aversion to Tories, strongly affected my feelings I need not mention to a Gentleman of your approved Goodness of Heart, the maxim of a celebrated Writer - that it is the Enormity, or dangerous Tendency of a Crime that alone can warrant any Earthly Legislature in putting him to Death, that commits it. And tho the crime of the petitioners was of the most dangerous Tendency, yet they transgressed more thro Ignorance than Design, and their offence proceeded rather from Error & prejudice, than any deliberate Intention of injuring the State, or disturbing Government: from all which considerations I would humbly presume that the honble Board will extend the Act of Indemnity, as well to the petitioners herein referred to, as to all those, who were by the Examining Court, bound over to be indicted at the next grand Jury for the County &c &c.
I have the honour to be, Your Ecelly's
most obt & very humble Servt.
Claypool's Rebellion: Primary Documents