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-