By Muriel Bristol | July 31, 2022
Three hundred and fifteen inhabitants of Rochester, NH, signed a remonstrance petition, August 30, 1785, intended for an October 1785 Concord, NH, session of the NH General Court.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines a remonstrance as being
an earnest presentation of reasons for opposition or grievance, especially: a document formally stating such points.
The British surrender at Yorktown, VA, had marked the end of Revolutionary War land operations in October 1781, although the formal Treaty of Paris had not been signed until September 1783. Under the Articles of Confederation, the separate states had still considerable latitude over foreign relations, including tariffs, duties, regulations, etc., and the petitioners of August 1785 evidently found New Hampshire’s restrictions burdensome.
The petitioners presented themselves as being involved with the lumber industry and sought repeal of several recently enacted NH lumber laws and regulations, as well as restrictions and duties on overseas lumber sales, especially those destined for the British West Indies.
Less prudent was their proposed alternative that a fresh round of NH paper currency, or “Bills of Credit,” be issued. Merchants and lenders tended to lose under such a paper currency regime, while borrowers, including often farmers, tended to gain, as they could repay their nominal debts in depreciating inflationary currency. In the following year, the NH legislature would be literally besieged by an armed crowd demanding issuance of paper currency in the “Exeter Riot” or “Paper Money Riot” of September 1786 (for some details of which see Milton Justice William Palmer, Esq. (1757-1815)).
New Hampshire was at this time under “The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union,” which preceded the U.S. Constitution. Several years later, the U.S. Constitution would forbid issuance by the states of Bills of Credit.
Article I, Section 10, Clause 1 prohibits the states from issuing Bills of Credit. The prohibition of states issuing Bills of Credit came in direct response to how states managed their financial policy during the era of the Articles of Confederation. While all states in theory recognized the American Continental as their official currency, in reality, nearly every state issued its own Bills of credit, which further devalued the Continental and led to its eventual collapse as a currency (Wikipedia, 2022).
The salutation was directed initially to “His Excellency the President,” as New Hampshire’s Governor was then known. Paper was much more expensive then than it is now, so frugal Yankees might simply line out a mistake when changing course, rather than starting anew with a fresh piece of paper.
As for spelling, dictionaries were not commonly available. The first English one, with 3,000 of the more difficult words only, had been published in 1604, and Samuel Johnson’s famous two-volume English dictionary, regarded when completed as the definitive source, had been published in 1755, although the fully revised editions came only years later. These would have been quite expensive. Noah Webster’s initial “American” dictionary would be published in 1806, although his more comprehensive editions would not appear until 1828.
Contractions were (and are) regarded as a spoken usage rather than something that should be written out, especially in a formal document. Nevertheless, one may note the contraction “don’t” for “do not” rendered without its apostrophe as “dont” in the final paragraph.
Familiar names from what are now Milton and Farmington, NH, are present also in this remonstrance, as those towns were at this time the Northeast and Northwest parishes, respectively, of Rochester, NH. (See Northeast Parish in the First (1790) Federal Census and Northeast Parish in the Second (1800) Federal Census).
State of New Hampshire, Strafford Ss. }
To His Excellency the President and the To the Honorable the Senate & House of Representatives, and General Assembly Convened at Concord on the 3d Wednesday in October 1785 ~
The Petition of us the Subscribers, free Holders and Inhabitants of the Town of Rochester, Humblely Sheweth, that we are largely Concerned in Lumber, and we understand your
Excellency & Honours has passed some late acts at your last Session, verry hurtfull and Injurious to us and we believe to all Other Towns Concerned in the lumber way therefore and pray you would repeal the act that requires all boards to be Inch thick And Square Edgeed and Other lumber in propotion ~ And likewise to repeal the new acts prohibiting any Vessel Carrying Lumber [to] the Brittish Islands in the West Indies that can procure Brittish papers for that purpose ~
And to repeal the Other act with regard to the Duty Layed on tunnage on Ships or Vessells belonging to foreigners which Duty we Look Upon to be Equal to Shuting up our ports against them, but if your
Excellency and Honours Dont see fit to grant the prayer of this Petition Wee would request a paper Currency on a Loan or in Such other way as your wisdom may Direct you to Support the Credit of Said Moneys, as in Duty bound we ever pray ~
Rochester, Augst 30th 1785
James Jennes, David Place, Abner Hodgdon, Ebenezer Place Junr, Ebenzr Place Senr, Moses Place, Amos Place, Joseph Thompson, Joseph Thompson Junr, Alexander Hodgdon, Eleazer Hodgdon, Joseph Pearl, Moses Hammet, John Hammet, Dimon Pearl, James Young, Joseph Clark, Tobias Ricker, Cornelius Jenness, Jonathan Place, Moses Waymoth, Thomas Drew, John Richson, James Dearing, Moses Varney, Jonathan Leighton, John Place, Jonathan Place, Thomas Varny, Elijah Varney, Reubin Heard, Benjami[n] Meder, Ephraim Ham, Eleazer Ham, James Ham, Isaac Brown,
George Place, Moses Roberts, Epharim Wentworth, William Wentworth, Wentworth Hayes, Daniel McNeal, Joshua Merrow, Josiah Folsom, Edward Rollins, John Goodwin, Benja Odiorne, Paul Harford, Daniel Watson, Jonathan Heard, Richard Hilton, Ebenezer Horn, Benjamin Rollins, Ebenezer Ricker, Joseph Dame, Peter Cushing, Eleazar Ham, Joshua Knight,
John Place the 3d, Jonathan Wallingford, Stephen Lee, Benjamin Hoyt, John Randall, John Ham, Simon [Herd?], Paul Place, John Russet Place, James Jackson, Caleb Jackson,
Joshua Downing, Epharim Trickey, Paul Cook, Timothy Ricker, William Jones, Nathaniel Jones, Samuel Palmer, Robert M[—], James Wentworth, Thomas Plumer, John Glidden, Barnabas Palmer, Gersum downs, David Morrison, John Bickford, Daniel Calef, John Roberts, Ephraim Parker, Elazar Ham, Joseph Runels, James Rogers the third, William Huntress, Jona Norris, Josiah Wentworth, Samuel Richards, Timothy Robarts, Francis Meder, Daniel Brewster, Samuel Plummer, Moses goodwin, Zebulon dam, Richerd Perkins, Silas Dame,
Enoch Burnham, Lemuel Richardson, William McDuffee, John Richards, Jona Richard Jr, Jonathan Laighton,
Joseph Knight, Daniel goodwin, nehemiah kimbel, Solomon Perkins, Bening Colbath, Geo: R. Downing, Ebenezer Varney, Joseph Bickford, Ebenezer Varney Ju, John Bickford, Samuel Varney, Moses Varney, John Rawlings, Anthony Rawlings, Joshua Rawlings, John Cloutman, Ebenr Twombly, Isaac Libby, George Snell Hayes, David Corson, John Bergon, Jonathan Twombly, Elijah Horn, Benjamin Copps, Richard Manson, William Hanson, Paul Copps, Beard Plumer, Enoch Hayes, Daniel Cook,
Nich Wentworth, David Horn, John Carr, Ebenezer Wentworth, Daniel Garland, Ephraim Twombly, Daniel Kimbal, John walker, John Hanson, Jeams Edley, Nathan Nock, Mark Miler, Joseph Chapan, John Wentworth, Elihu Wintworth, Samuel Jennes, Garsom Downs Jnr, Joseph Plumer, David Walanford, Moses hamblin, Ha[tevil] Knight, Joseph Roberts, Simon Torr, Timo Courson, James McDuffee, Robert Walker, David Langley, Ephraim Perkins Jr, Jonathan Richards, William Wingate, Benjamin Varney, James Chesley, John Place Jr,
Thomas Roberts, James Downs, William Palmer, Saml Nute, Isaac Wentworth, [—-] place, barnebas Palmer Junr, Richard Wentworth, Peter Horn, Moses Horn Junr, Joseph Walker, Tristram heard, Nathaniel Heard, Tristram Heard, Jas Adams, Samuel Austin, Jacob Elles, Samuel Wingate, Benja Wingate, Elijah Tebbetts, John Trickey, Samuel Door, Silas Tebbets, Heard Roberts, David Tebbets, Joseph Tebbets, Ichabod Cossen, William Elles, David Wingate, Samuel Allen, Joshua Allen, Micah Allen, Samuel Downing, Stephen Furnald,
Benjamin Forse Junr, Josiah Main, Saml Furbur, Ephraim Kimbel, David Twombly, Daniel Page, Nathanel Garland, Benjamin Page, Moses Jennes, Joseph Drown, Richard Furbur Junr, Tobias Twombly Junr, John Knowles, Joseph Heard Junr, Thoms Virney, Aaron Downs, Ephram Down Junr, Wentworth Twombly, Moses Downs, Ebenezr Ricker Junr, Edmund Tebbets, Joseph Knight, Dudley Wentworth, Daniel Bruster, Stephen Wentworth Junr, Eleazer Coleman, James Coleman, James Rogers Junr, Moses Horn, Jeams Bery, John Bery, Willam Bery,
David Hanson, John Tanner,
Abraham Cooke, Richd Walker, John Wentworth Jr, Hunking Colbath, Abraham Cooke Junr, Rueben Heard, Jacob Wallingford, Morris Alles, Thomas Peavey, Daniel Peavey, Anthony Peavey, David Watson, Edmund Wingate, Jonathan Merry, Benjamin Chase, Ezekiel Ricker, Nathnil Jonson, Richard Nutter Junr, Joseph Holmes, Jonathan Wentworth, Joseph Heard Junr, Enoch Hoyt, Ichabod Corson Junr, Thoms Pinkam, Jona Pinkham, John Rand, John Ham, John Stanton, Daniel Page Junr, Joseph Page, Valetine Rallins, David Jenness, Joseph Meader Jnr, Winthrop Nutter, William Whitehouse, Aaron Whitehouse, George Meader,
Pelatiah Cartlan, John Tucker, Jacob Hanson, Isaiah Jenkins, Joseph meder, Hatevil Laighton, Solomon Drown, John Drown, Joseph Tasker, natthel meedor, William Heard, Jonthan Meder, William hodgdon, Robert Evans, James Place, Paul Jennes, Samuel Robeson, Gorge Laighton, timothy Richson, Clem hays, Stephen harfot, John Davis, Joshua Corson, Dodavah Garlan Junr, Dodavah Garlan, Jonathan Elles, Joshua Elles, Richd Furber, Benja Furber, Robart tebets, Benjamin Wentworth, David Allard, Job Allard, James Runnels, Jona Bigford, James French, Edward Varney 3, Moses Varney Junr, Thoms Davise, James Twombley, John Palmer, Amos place.
Hammond, Isaac W. (1884). Provincial Papers. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=OFgSAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA342
NH Department of State. NH Government Petitions, 1700-1826: Box 20: June 12, 1785-Oct 21, 1785. Concord, NH
Wikipedia. (2022, July 5). Articles of Confederation. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Articles_of_Confederation
Wikipedia. (2022, July 17). Bills of Credit. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bills_of_credit
Wikpedia. (2022, July 18). A Dictionary of the English Language. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Dictionary_of_the_English_Language
Wikipedia. (2022, April 26). Webster’s Dictionary. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webster%27s_Dictionary