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Kittera, John Wilkes (1752-1801)
Autograph Letter Signed, Philadelphia March 22, 1794 to Jasper Yeates, Lancaster.

Folio, two pages inscribed on a four page bi-folium, paper browned, some paper loss on integral address leaf, else in good, legible condition.

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Letter from John W. Kittera, Federalist member of Congress from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Jasper Yeates (1745-1817) jurist and justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, also from Lancaster, in which Kittera relates some of the growing tensions arising from the Proclamation of Neutrality in 1793 after the declaration of war by France against Great Britain, and the extension of the wars of the French Revolution into a greater maritime war, and the resultant seizure of American shipping by the British as well as the French.

" At this most critical and alarming period when the public bodies are in a perfect state of uncertainty whether our common country shall long enjoy the blessings of peace or soon be involved in all the horrors of war, you will excuse me for intruding on you a few sentiments that have strongly impressed my mind. - While the government have declared this country in a state of neutrality, the people by their public rejoicings at the success of the French arms, by the secret aid furnished to the French, by their town meetings, hasty resolves, and newspaper publications are evidently endangering the peace of the Country. The depredations committed on our trade, particularly in the West Indies, have so provoked the mercantile part of the community that their resentments can, in many parts of the Union, with difficulty be restrained. The Judge of the island of Montserrat, an unprincipled rascal, who is said to be interested in most of the privateers, condemns all the American vessels that are tried in his Court. Injuries to our trade, of the grossest kind, are not only received from the British, who have really received some provocation, by the frauds of our merchants, and the conduct of our Citizens, but the French have detained in Bordeau above one hundred sale of American merchantmen, by an imbargo for near six months. [sic] In this State of things what is best to be done is a question of immense difficulty. Congress have had their doors shut for three or four days past, and I am at liberty to inform you that a question was taken respecting the laying of an imbargo [sic] and carried in the negative by a small majority. At first, I confess, I felt favorably disposed towards the measure, but on the discussion changed my sentiments. I never saw Congress reduced to so many difficulties - You have seen the resolves of our town meeting. Dallas and Swanart harangued the crowd from the State House window, and received a general huzza at the conclusion of each resolution. One drunken sailor had the assurance to say No for which he had two of his ribs broken, and otherways much abused. But few of the respectable Citizens attended another meeting is to be had this evening. The mob at New York assembled on Sunday week, entered the Roman Chapel playing the time of Caira drove the priest from the altar & the worshippers from the Church. These violent measures are productions of the worst of all evils, and if, instead of intrusting the management of the government in the hands of the Representatives of the people, designing men are thus frequently to assemble the people to legislate for themselves, the objection made by Despots to a republican form of government, that it is good in theory but bad in practice is a good objection. Those things are particularly improper at a time like the present. Excuse the freedom of these sentiments..."   

For further information on Kittera and Yeates see:

Dictionary of American Biography, vol. x, part two, p. 606                 

Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, pp., 297; 601