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Elizabethtown Riot – Judge Hampton

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

The scene opened between 12 & 1 o’clock, with seizing a poor Staten Islander, for no other crime than landing some goods from Captain Watson’s Scotch ship after the day limited by the Congress for the importation of goods.February 18. –A few days ago a riot occurred at Elizabethtown in Jersey. The scene opened between twelve and one o’clock, with seizing a poor Staten Islander, for no other crime than because some people of that ever loyal island were supposed to have been ready to assist in landing some goods from Captain Watson’s Scotch ship, which lately left New York, and is departed with his cargo for Jamaica, having arrived at New York after the first of February, the day limited by the Congress for the importation of goods. The man’s boat was dragged ashore, and his oysters distributed to the hungry vagabonds, who were visibly headed in the centre of the town, by Jonathan Hampton, a Justice of the Peace, a Judge of the county court, and chairman of the committee. Hampton was the man who attempted lately to obstruct the passage of his Majesty’s royal regiment of Ireland, over the ferries, and prevented wagons from carrying their baggage; this same Hampton was the man who raised a riot lately in Sussex county, attacked a peddler, and destroyed his property. About four o’clock, when the mob discharged the poor oyster man, they proceeded to abuse all the people in the town who were known to be well affected to the constitution; they erected a gallows, in order more particularly to insult them, and fixed up a liberty pole in the middle of the town. It must be observed, that the worshipful Judge, Jonathan Hampton, was, as usual, completely drunk when the riot commenced. For the honor of the police, it must be recorded, that two of the aldermen, Messrs. Blanchard and Dayton, exerted themselves greatly to suppress those violences, but they were only able to check them. Two of the Delegates contributed towards a collection that was made for their ever-staunch friends the mob. Mr. Alderman Blanchard ordered the gallows to be demolished, after it had existed two hours; and their deity, the liberty pole, was struck by an order from the committee, without the consent of that exemplary and able guarantee of American freedom, the righteous and immaculate Judge Jonathan Hampton.

This was a glorious day to the sons of licentiousness; and it was also a glorious day to the sons of loyalty; for it has made in Elizabethtown more proselytes to the side of order and government, than all the other endeavors that have been exerted to abate the fever of the times. 1

 

1 Rivington’s Gazette, March 2.