Moses Austin to Citizens of Jefferson County, 01-10-1820

Summary: Concerning attack on his house by the sheriff, George Hammond.

To the Citizens of the County of Jefferson


When the civil rights of a Citizen are invaded, when the sanctuary of his Dwelling is beset by a Posse under the command of a man clothed with the ensigns of authority. It is taken for granted that the man has been guilty of some Criminal Offense against the laws of his Country. Considering myself bound by the strongest ties of Justice to myself, my family and society—I take the liberty to address you this letter in Explanation of the assault made on my house this day by Geo. Hammond—Sheriff of your County, It is not my intention to go into a full exposition of this mans conduct but confine myself to the transactions of this day.

About two O Clock P. M. Geo Hammond with a posse of men came to the frunt door of my house in this place and demanded to enter the House, his business being asked he said he had a suit against me wherein James Rankins, John Giger and John Findly were Pltf and myself Deft for my donation subscribed to aid in building your courthouse. I was given the alternative either to acknowledge he had legally Served said writ on me some time between the 15 and last of Nov. and I was also required to agree that I made this acknowledgment fully and with out restraint, on my refusal he swore he would force his way into my house by Brakeing Down my door with an ax which he had then uplifted ready to execute his denounciation

I resisted his threats until the last extremity when by the solicitations of some of the persons present I consented to accept of the lesser evil to avoid the greater and to agree to any terms or do anything he might dictate to me to say, knowing that the loss of life would be the consequence. If my door was forced, the laws of our Country has marked out the duty of her officers and at the same time secured to every Citizen his civil and religious liberties and for a violation of those rights I hold the sheriff and his Securities accountable. When our rights are invaded it is of no Consequence to the Citizen or subject whether it comes by the hand of an Emperor King or Demon in office under a Republic, they are alike distructive of all security to person and property. I do now most solemnly declair that the acknowledgements I made to George Hammond During the time my house was beset by himself and posse were extorted from me to avoid a violation of my House and for the safety of my wife and family and to prevent consequences which would have been Dreadful in the extreme.

I do also most solemnly declare that the writ which he says he executed between the 15th and last of November was never served on me as stated.

Moses Austin [Rubric]

Jany-10th, 1820

Dear Emily—Copy this and hand a Copy to Dr Andrews and lett any person see it that you think proper I hope Mr Bryan will come and see me as soon as he arrives Affectionately Your father

Moses Austin

[Addressed:] Mrs James-Bryan Hazel Run