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13 > Page 13 of Account of some of the proceedings of the legislatures of the states of Kentucky and New Hampshire, --1828 -- in relation to the people called Shakers

13 ineory extended not back to the period when, if ever military services were required of them, or of any who were conscientiously scrupulous of performing such services. The laws regulating the militia have been frequently revised since 1808, and the attempt has been made to subject the Shakers to fines and penalties on account of their scruples. On this subject they have been heard by the Legislature, and the rights and the exemptions which the constitution gave them the Legislative power has never been prevailed upon to wrest from them. Prosecuted and persecuted as they have been, it would seem that they might now be permit- ted to live in peace, and that none should be allowed to disturb them on account of their religious opinions, or hold them to answer again and again to charges which have again and again been considered and refuted. It is certainly unjust and cruel to compel them year after year to attend on the Legislature to answer to charges which originated in pre- judice, and altogether unsupported by evidence. In June last one of the petitions on your table was presented to the House of Representatives setting forth that the public was -much aggrieved by the doctrines and practices of the Shak- ers, and that the public good required Legislative inter- ference. It is, by the way, somewhat strange, if the pub- lic were so much interested in this as is represented, that the petitioners should find it necessary to become public informers. The Shakers live in the face of day-they are not so much in the dark as to escape the notice of the re- presentatives of the people and the guardians of the pub- lic interests. If their sins are so heinous, and their prac- tices so destructive to the best interests of society, it would not have required the complaining petition of fifty-six citi- zens of Enfield and its vicinity to call the attention of the Legislature to the subject. But the petition was present- ed and committed, and considered, and postponed to the present session. The ground work was thus laid for pro- ceedings against the Society. The petitioners knew it; and knew their duty to prepare for a hearing. The So- ciety by its agents are before you, and ask no delay. They are at all times ready to meet the charges which are made against them. They shrink from no investigation and wish for no concealment. Early this session the time and place of trial was agreed upon by the parties, and approved by the committee. This is the day and this the hour, anY, punctual as usual to their engagements, the Shakers are be-