Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Let the World Know

On April 20, 1776, The Pennsylvania Ledger (Philadelphia) carried an essay by the pseudonymous writer, "A Watchman."  The Watchman warned that as "rebels," American prisoners might suffer the same cruelty suffered by Scottish rebels after the 1745 rebellion.

Americans had not yet witnessed the horrific condition of the many prisoners taken by the British in the last few months of 1776.  By April 1776, however, Americans knew of many cases of mistreatment involving smaller numbers of American prisoners.  The mistreatment of Ethan Allen, for instance, was notorious.   

Watchman wrote, "Let the world know that altho we have thus suffered, yet we have not learnt to partake of their cruelty, those whom chance of war hath put into our hands, and whose lives are entirely at our mercy, are not otherwise confined than by parole: And such who refuse to give their parole, instead of being confined in dark dungeons...inhabit the chambers of the best inn this city affords; to whom also their friends and acquaintances have free access."

A Watchman was glad his countrymen showed mercy to enemy prisoners: "Such acts are recorded in Heaven...."
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