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The Trials of AllegianceTreason, Juries, and the American Revolution$
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Carlton F.W. Larson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190932749

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190932749.001.0001

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Resentment and Betrayal, 1779–1781

Resentment and Betrayal, 1779–1781

(p.177) 8 Resentment and Betrayal, 1779–1781
The Trials of Allegiance

Carlton F.W. Larson

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the aftermath of the Philadelphia acquittals, which generated enormous resentment, leading to vituperative newspaper exchanges over the jury’s role in treason cases, interference with a misprision of treason trial, and the armed attack on the home of James Wilson. The state introduced a new noncapital offense of treasonable misdemeanor. Benedict Arnold’s notorious betrayal led to Pennsylvania’s last two wartime executions for treason. One was ordered without a trial under the attainder proclamations. The other, of a man charged with joining the Indians and prosecuted by Arnold’s brother-in-law, Edward Burd, was a dubious extension of Pennsylvania treason law and explicable only in the context of the fervor over Arnold. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court asserted its authority to issues writs of habeas corpus, and issued an important opinion about the duty of allegiance to Pennsylvania. The court also addressed a significant tax revolt in Berks County, a precursor to the more well-known rebellions of the 1790s.

Keywords:   treason, Samuel Rowland Fisher, David Franks, James Wilson, Fort Wilson, executive detentions, habeas corpus, Benedict Arnold, bills of attainder, allegiance

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