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Tudor, William (1779-1830) [Jury decision of the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC06417.01 Author/Creator: Tudor, William (1779-1830) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Manuscript document signed Date: circa 1815 Pagination: 4 p. ; 33 x 20.3 cm.

Summary of Content: Also signed by Daniel Davis as Solicitor General of Massachusetts, and Andrew Cunningham as Foreman. Contemporary copy of the decision in the case of two printers, Thomas Rowe and Joshua Hooper, accused of sedition against the government of the United States. Hooper and Rowe were publishers of a newspaper, "The Yankee." On 20 January they printed a slanderous and malicious article criticizing the legislature of Massachusetts for weakening on the issue of Massachusetts seceding from the United States. Describes the content of the newspaper article and details the seditious accusations made by the printers. Quotes the article, "It is now ascertained to be a fact that they [the Massachusetts Legislature] are a factious but lifeless body, that is, they have shewn all possible disposition to prostrate the National Government of the United States and sever themselves from the Union but they have neither the nerve or the courage to do it." Date inferred from content. See GLC06417.02 for a clipping of the newspaper article in question.

Background Information: The New England states were opposed to the War of 1812 because of their close mercantile ties to Great Britain. Despite an embargo enacted in 1813, New Englanders continued to trade with ...the British. The New England Federalists felt they were losing power in the national government to the Republican party. In 1814, the Hartford Convention was called to deal with this issue. A number of Federalists wanted to threaten secession but the proposal was defeated by the delegates. The convention and the discussion of secession was criticized by many, which weakened the Federalist party.See More

Full Transcript: Commonwealth of Massachusetts
At the Supreme Judicial Court begun & holden at Boston within the said County of Suffolk & for the said Counties of Suffolk & Nantucket on the forth ...Tuesday of November in the Year of our Lord One thousand Eight hundred & fourteen, & continued in Session from that Day untill the 24th Day of January in the year of our Lord Eighteen hundred & fifteen.
The Jurors for said Commonwealth of Massachusetts upon their oath present, that Thomas Rome of Boston, in the said county of Suffolk, Printer & Joshua Hooper, of Boston, in said county of Suffolk, Printer, being malicious turbulent, ill disposed & seditious persons & being greatly disaffected & inimical to the Legislature of the said Commonwealth of Massachusetts and to the government & administration thereof & wickedly, maliciously & seditious by contriving devising & intending to stir up & excite discontents divisions & sedition's among the citizens of said Commonwealth & from the Legislature and government thereof and to insinuate & cause it to be believed that the Legislature of said Commonwealth was a factious body & that the members thereof had wickedly & unlawfully & in violation of their oaths to support the Constitution of the United States endeavored to destroy the Government & Constitution of the United States endeavor to destroy the government and to divide and separate themselves & the people of this Commonwealth [2] from the constitutional government of the said United States on the twentieth day of January now current with force & arms at Boston aforesaid in the county of Suffolk aforesaid, wickedly, maliciously and seditiously did print and publish and cause & procure to be printed & published in a certain newspaper called the "Yankee" (of which said newspaper they the said Rowe & Hooper were then & there the publishers) a certain false scandalous malicious & seditious Libel of & concerning the said Legislature of said Commonwealth of Massachusetts which said false scandalous & malicious & seditious libel is of the following purport & effect that is of said the Massachusetts legislature (meaning the members of the Senate & of the House of Representatives of the said Commonwealth of Massachusetts who then & belonged to & did compose the Legislature of said Commonwealth) "met on Wednesday" (meaning Wednesday the eighteenth day of January now current) "We" (meaning then the said Rowe & Hooper) "never have witnessed within our " (meaning their the said Rowe & Hooper's) "recollection so little notice taken of this body" (Meaning the said Legislature of said Commonwealth) as appears at be of the present" (Meaning the body of which the said legislature then was & now is composed) "It is now ascertained to be a fact that they" (Meaning the members of said Legislature of said Massachusetts) are a factious but lifeless body, that is , they "(meaning again the members of said Legislature of Massachusetts) "have shewn all possible Disposition to prostrate the National Government (Meaning the [struck] [inserted: Constitutional] Government of the United States) "and serve themselves" (meaning again the [3] members of said Legislature of Massachusetts) "from the union" (meaning of the Constitution government & people of the said United States) "but they" (meaning against the aid members of the Legislature of Massachusetts) "have neither the nerve nor the courage to do it. And they (meaning said members of said Legislature) "{struck: have neither the nerve nor the courage to do it] [inserted: "frankly acknowledge it."] "No body of men now look towards them" (meaning again the said members of the said Legislature of Massachusetts) "for any great effort either against the national government" (meaning the said government of the United States) "or even against the enemy" (meaning the fleets & armies of the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland with whom the said United States then were & now are at open war) "who" (meaning the aforesaid fleets & armies) "are now in quiet possession of one third of the Territory of Massachusetts," (meaning that the members of said Legislature of Massachusetts possessed the will but not the power to destroy the constitution & government of the said United States & to separate & ___ themselves & the people of this Commonwealth from the said government of said United States & meaning also that the people of this Commonwealth & the constituents of them the said members of said Legislature of said Commonwealth had no confidence in the said members & in the said Legislature, & that they did not expect & did not look to them, the said members & to the said Legislature for any great effort to provide for them the means of protection and [4] defense against the invasions & depredations of the fleets & armies & of the enemy aforesaid) to the evil & pernicious example of others in like care to offend & against the peace & dignity of the Commonwealth aforesaid.
Dan' Davis, Sol. Fen'
A true bill,
Andrew Cunningham, Foreman
A true Copy Attest, Wm. ___ _______
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People: Tudor, William, 1779-1830
Davis, Daniel, 1762-1835
Cunningham, Andrew, fl. 1815
Rowe, Thomas, fl. 1815
Hooper, Joshua, fl. 1815

Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Subjects: JournalismSeditionLawJudiciarySecessionGovernment and CivicsWar of 1812Hartford Convention

Sub Era: The Age of Jefferson & Madison

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