Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention, 23 October 1837

Benjamin Martin wondered if they could turn down the heat a bit:

This whole objection to the existing Constitution was removed by the vote striking out that clause which, though intended to relieve the members of the Society of Friends, had, as they represented to us, resulted in their oppression. That clause placed them in a very unpleasant position. They were made to appear as a privileged class, or being exempted for military service, while other people had to fight for them; but yet they were subjected by the non-performance of the duty, to the most odious, fraudulent, and oppressive exactions, from the collectors of militia fines. This was a system which worked badly as to all citizens, but more in regard to the Friends than any other class.

John J. M’Cahen said he “was sorry to hear [Martin] say that the Society of Friends had made a complaint which was nothing more than a justifiable complaint of oppression and plunder”:

The laws of the State, he believed, protected the rights of every citizen of the Commonwealth. Then if these people have been plundered, they have the law for their redress. But if he understood the matter rightly, these people rebelled against the law. Instead of remaining good citizens, and acknowledging and obeying the laws, they chose to rebel against them, and therefore they have no right to claim the protection of the laws of the Commonwealth which they had set at defiance. The State of South Carolina had conscientious scruples about paying certain taxes in the form of duties levied by the General Government, and they rebelled against the laws of that government; but they were compelled to submit and obey the laws. This goes to prove that neither a State of the confederacy nor an individual had a right to set the laws at defiance. The doctrine that the supremacy of the laws must be maintained is a good and wholesome doctrine, and every citizen of the Commonwealth ought to obey the mandates of the laws of the Commonwealth. If these people have been oppressed, the proper mode would have been for them to petition the Legislature, or this Convention, as they have now done for redress — obeying the laws of the Commonwealth in the mean time, and not to rebel against those laws and refuse to submit to them until compelled to do so.