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Elizabeth I (England) (1533–1603; Ruled 1558–1603)

ELIZABETH I (ENGLAND) (15331603; ruled 15581603)

ELIZABETH I (ENGLAND) (15331603; ruled 15581603), queen of England and Ireland. The daughter of Henry VIII by his second wife, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth was rendered a bastard by Henry's repudiation and execution of Anne in 1536. She was, however, reared as a princess and received the same education in the classical curriculum as her half-brother, Edward VI. In her father's will Elizabeth was placed third in succession to the throne after her two siblings, Mary and Edward. In her Catholic half-sister Mary's reign, Elizabeth fell under suspicion for her supposed Protestant sympathies and, in the wake of the 1554 revolt led by Sir Thomas Wyatt (in which she had refused to participate), she was imprisoned in the Tower of London. However, Philip II of Spain, Mary's husband, protected her. Freed from the tower and then confined at Woodstock House in Oxfordshire, she was finally released.

ELIZABETH'S RELIGIOUS POLICY

Elizabeth acceded to the throne on 17 November 1558. In her first Parliament she restored the Edwardian religious settlement reestablishing Protestant worship and doctrine, which the nation at large accepted, although many looked nostalgically to the past. Elizabeth, unwilling to force consciences, demanded only outward obedience, counting on the operation of time to dissolve old loyalties. This easygoing attitude continued until the Papal Bull of deposition (1570), the subsequent Jesuit missionary campaign, and plots against the queen's life led to harsh legislation, crushing fines on the Catholic laity, and prison or the scaffold for clerics. By 1603 all but a small percentage of the populace had accepted Protestantism, some with enthusiasm but many out of obedience to the regime.

For zealous Protestant reformers the queen's ecclesiastical policy was disappointing. For them the Edwardian program had been only half complete at the king's death. They looked in vain for further measures of change under his sister, but Elizabeth's prime concern was not for purity of doctrine or practice but public order, a goal that demanded religious uniformity. Continuing change in the religious establishment would unsettle the political order. The queen's opposition to further change led to (unavailing) Parliamentary agitation and ultimately to the formed opposition of the Puritan movement.

ELIZABETH THE POLITICIAN

Elizabeth's greatest problem was, of course, male disbelief in the very possibility of a female sovereign. It was assumed she must find a husband to relieve her of an impossible burden by taking on the active exercise of rulership. For a while it looked as though she would respond to this call by marrying her favorite courtier, Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester (by her creation). This was unpopular in many circles. (Repeated Parliamentary appeals that she marry were skillfully evaded by the queen, and the match did not transpire.)

In the conduct of government Elizabeth showed her talent both in her choice of ministers and in their performance and the trust she reposed in them. Virtually all were to die in office, witness of her confidence and their ability. Although all of them felt the rough side of her tongue at times and wrung their hands at what they thought were wrong decisions (or lack of them), the underlying respect on both sides was not shaken.

The lively court worldwith its endless succession of masques, balls, plays, and jousting, all centered on a highly accessible royal presencefocused the social and political life of the English aristocracy, noble and gentle; but Elizabeth cultivated a wider public still. She reached out to the country at large in "progresses," her annual visits to a succession of aristocratic country houses, displaying herself en route to the country and townsfolk of much of southern England. By 1570 there had grown up spontaneously local celebrations on 17 November, her accession day, with bonfires, fireworks, and general jollitycelebrations that would continue long after 1603.

This was the regime that shaped itself in the first ten years of the reign. It was at the end of the decade that a testing time came. Various causes contributed to a crisisjealousy within the court of the dominant role of Sir William Cecil, the secretary of state, the alienation of the great northern earls, the Percies of Northumberland and the Nevilles of Westmoreland with their Catholic sympathies, but above all by the presence of the refugee queen of Scots, Mary Stuart, from May 1568.

At the beginning of Elizabeth's reign, Mary, then queen of France as the wife of Francis II, had asserted a claim to the English succession (if not to the throne itself), backed by a substantial French force in Scotland. Mary was the granddaughter of Henry VIII's sister Margaret Tudor, her descent untainted by the bastardy that her adherents claimed disqualified Elizabeth. That bid had been crushed by English arms. The widowed Mary's return to her homeland in 1562 had inaugurated a phase of uneasy but civil intercourse between the queens in which Elizabeth offered her favorite, Leicester, as a husband for Mary. When Mary's match to Henry, Lord Darnley, ended in bloody melodrama, she fled to England, hopefully seeking support for her restoration, but Elizabeth, faced with the dilemma of backing either Mary or the rebel regime in Edinburgh, chose the latter, retaining her unwanted guest in genteel confinement. Mary would spend the remaining nineteen years of her life in England. In 1572, she unwisely linked herself with the English malcontents, lending herself to a scheme for marrying the premier noble, Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk. Elizabeth scotched this plot, but Norfolk foolishly engaged himself in a replay of the same plan, thereby losing his head while Mary became the target of an enraged Parliament that was clamoring for hers. Previous to these events the two northern earls organized a rising in 1569 that appealed to Catholic sentiment. They got no response to their appeal and fled without striking a blow; their followers were duly punished. The event had proved the strength of the Elizabethan regime and the acceptance of the new religious order. There followed a long epoch of domestic peace.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

At the opening of the reign it was France that gave concern to the new government. In the 1540s Henry VIII had sought to match his son Edward with the infant queen of Scots. His "rough wooing"successive invasions of Scotlandthrew the Scots into the arms of the French; the young queen, spirited off to France, was married to the Dauphin, who succeeded his father as Francis II in 1559. As we saw above, the French then asserted Mary's rights in the English succession, backed by a French army; it was imperative it be expelled. The opportunity arose when a consortium of Protestant Scottish lords took up arms and sought English aid. Elizabeth, reluctant to support rebels against a fellow sovereign, grudgingly agreed to send an army in 1560. The action was successful; the traditional Scottish alliance with France was broken, and a Protestant regime dependent on English support was established at Edinburgh.

The next encounter with France came in 1562 in response to a French Huguenot plea for aid. Elizabeth sent money and an army that occupied Le Havre, the latter to be held as a security, for the return of Calais, lost by England in Mary Tudor's reign. The expedition was a failure. The Huguenots pocketed the English cash, reconciled themselves to the French crown and joined in expelling the English from Le Havre. This disaster confirmed the queen's distaste for aid to Protestant rebels in her neighbors' kingdoms. Henceforth she repelled emphatically all pleas to act as continental Protestantism's protector.

From the 1560s France, embroiled in religious civil war, ceased to be a threat. Attention gradually shifted to Spain. Here the religious difference counted since Philip II, wholly committed to the Catholic faith, regarded the English regime with intolerance and looked for opportunities to overthrow it. In addition there were clashes of interest in two theatersthe Low Countries and the Spanish West Indies. The former area, already stirring with religious discontent, was the main center of English trade. The latter was the scene of unwelcome English expeditions, half slave trade, half piracy. When in 1572 Dutch rebels under William of Orange organized large-scale, sustained revolt, Elizabeth resolutely opposed open assistance to them but turned a blind eye to English volunteers and encouraged Sir Francis Drake and Sir William Hawkins in their exploits in the Spanish New World.

Matters came to a head when French intervention in the Low Countries, headed by François, duke of Alençon/Anjou, the French king's brother, threatened. Elizabeth responded by encouraging the duke's courtship, hoping to tie him to her leading strings. The proposal aroused opposition; Elizabeth yielded to popular opinion, abandoning the match. Then in 1585 the plight of the Dutch rebels became so desperate that she reluctantly agreed to a military alliance with them. Philip in turn began to prepare an invasion fleet, the Great Armada.

The invasion threat and conspiracies against the queen's life brought patriotism to a pitch. Mary Stuart unwisely allowed herself to become involved in a plot against the queen. Its discovery led to a clamor for her death that Elizabeth found hard to resist. She sought to avoid signing Mary's death warrant by vainly encouraging private assassination. Her desperate ministers seized a momentary yielding to their pleas and beheaded Mary before Elizabeth's inevitable change of mind. All she could do was wither them with her impotent wrath.

In July 1588 the armada approached English shores; Elizabeth characteristically pushed herself to the fore, visiting her army stationed at Tilbury in Essex. Riding among her troops she addressed them, declaring herself to have the stomach of a king, "aye, and of a king of England."

The English victory of 1588 was in many ways the climax of the reign. A burdensome war continued to be fought to its end, in the Low Countries, in France (assisting the beleaguered Henry IV) and in Ireland, where a major rebellion was crushed with difficulty. Taxes were at record heights; Parliament had to be coaxed into new levies while the Commons complained vigorously about fiscal practices, and the queen, in an adroit speech, politely acceded to some of their demands. Her own generation of familiars, the trusted councillors on whom she had relied for decades, was dying off. Finally there was the Essex affair. Robert Devereux, earl of Essex, the favorite of her declining years, betrayed her doting indulgence and ended on the headsman's block in 1601, an event that darkened the last phase of her life. It was also, however, in these last decades of her life that the flowering of English literature, dramatic and poetic, began, thanks in part to the patronage of the queen and her court.

Elizabeth, against the odds posed by her gender and by the formidable problems facing her kingdom in 1558, had reigned for almost half a century, triumphantly surmounting one challenge after another. Well aware of the liabilities posed by her gender, she fashioned a complex personality that at once awed and charmed her subjects and impressed on the English historical memory an image that is still vital after four centuries.

See also Cecil Family ; Church of England ; England ; English Literature and Language ; Henry VIII (England) ; Mary I (England) ; Puritanism ; Stuart Dynasty (England and Scotland) ; Tudor Dynasty (England) .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources

Camden, William. History of the Most Renowned and Victorious Princess Elizabeth, Late Queen of England. London, 1630, 1635, 1675, 1688. Selections from the work are edited by W. T. MacCaffrey. Chicago, 1970.

Elizabeth I. Collected Works. Edited by Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose. Chicago, 2000. Contains poems, letters, and speeches.

The Letters of Queen Elizabeth. Edited by G. B. Harrison. London, 1968.

Strong, Roy C. The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth. Oxford, 1963.

Secondary Sources

Brigden, Susan. New Worlds, Lost Worlds: The Rule of the Tudors, 14851603. London, 2000. Best recent study of sixteenth-century England.

Doran, Susan. Monarchy and Matrimony: The Courtships of Elizabeth I. London and New York, 1996.

Dunlop, Ian. Palaces and Progresses of Elizabeth I. London, 1962.

Guy, John, ed. The Reign of Elizabeth I: Court and Culture in the Last Phase. Cambridge, U.K., 1995. A study of Elizabeth's declining years.

MacCaffrey, W. T. The Shaping of the Elizabethan Regime, 15581572. Princeton, 1968. An account of the first phase of the reign.

Neale, J. E. Elizabeth I and Her Parliaments. 2 vols. London, 1957.

. Queen Elizabeth. London, 1934; reprinted 1967, 1971. Best modern biography.

Read, Conyers. Lord Burghley and Queen Elizabeth. London, 1960.

. Mr. Secretary Cecil and Queen Elizabeth. London, 1955.

. Mr. Secretary Walsingham and the Policy of Queen Elizabeth. 3 vols. Oxford, 1925. Detailed accounts of politics and foreign relations.

Starkey, David. Elizabeth: Apprenticeship. London, 2000. Elizabeth's career up to her accession.

Wernham, R. B. The Making of Elizabethan Foreign Policy, 15581603. Berkeley, 1980.

Wallace MacCaffrey

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Elizabeth Fry

Elizabeth Fry

Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) was a British reformer and Quaker lay evangelist, who worked for prison reform, particularly to relieve the physical misery and moral degradation of women prisoners.

An evangelist who relied on prayer and Bible-reading to inculcate virtue, Elizabeth Fry epitomized the reformer inspired by religious motives. She also relied on her access to the politically powerful, an advantage she enjoyed as a member of a well-connected Quaker family and enhanced by the celebrity status that she quickly attained through her prison visits. Her work on behalf of women prisoners caught the popular fancy, and she enjoyed a prestige in her country and in other European countries that few women in a society ruled by men could match. On the other hand, England soon rejected her approach to prison reform.

People worried about the increase in crime that had started with the Industrial Revolution; it had increased even more after the end of the long wars with France brought extensive unemployment. A combination of the 18th-century Enlightenment critique of traditional institutions and a humanitarianism largely rooted in Evangelical (and Quaker) religion encouraged a fresh look at crime and punishment.

Fry inspired confidence as a devout, motherly woman of unquestionable sincerity. Her prison visits belonged to a tradition of well-off, benevolent women visiting the unfortunate, a kind of unpaid social work. Helping women prisoners appeared to be a respectable philanthropy for pious women with time, energy, and money to spare. Although the Society of Friends had an English membership of less than 20,000 during Fry's lifetime, Quaker women took a disproportionate role in charity and reform.

Elizabeth Fry was born into a happy, prosperous family, the Gurneys, at Norwich in eastern England, blighted only by the early death of her mother. Her father's relaxed Quakerism abandoned many of the restrictions identified with that religion, such as the requirement to wear only simple clothing and to avoid worldly society. She grew up enjoying fashionable parties and dances that earlier Quakers would have avoided. Some of her sisters would eventually withdraw from Quakerism to join the state Anglican Church, and her banker brothers would greatly add to the family riches.

Fry was in her teens in 1798 when an American member of the Society of Friends attacked the luxurious "gayness" of the local Quakers and awakened in Fry a sense of God that began her conversion to a strict Quakerism. This was not the common Evangelical conversion experience— a realization of guilt, followed by a sense of God's forgiveness—but instead a mystical communion with God. She never desired religious ceremonies or theology or a highly organized church. Her religion was a very personal one, founded on silent meditation, aided by the reading of the Bible, that sometimes led to informal but eloquent sermons. Virtually alone among religious denominations of the early 19th century, the small Society of Friends allowed women and men an equal right to speak at religious services because of the Quaker principle of direct inspiration.

Fry gradually adopted the strict Quaker policies on dress and Quaker peculiarities of speech (such as saying "thee" and "thou" instead of "you"). She became what contemporaries called a plain Friend. By 1799, she rejected singing as a distraction from true piety. (Her younger brother Joseph John Gurney followed her in reviving many of the old distinctive practices of the Quakers that separated them from other people; although as the leader of the Evangelical Quakers, he encouraged good relations with all Evangelical Protestants.)

After her father's death in 1809, Fry began to speak at Quaker meetings and was recognized officially as a full minister two years later. Her marriage in 1800 to a London Quaker, Joseph Fry, delayed her wider public career; she bore ten children between 1801 and 1816 (and an 11th in 1822).

Although at the urging of an American Quaker she had visited Newgate Gaol (jail) in London during 1813, it was at the end of 1816 that Elizabeth Fry began her systematic work as a prison reformer. She visited many prisons in the British Isles during the following years, but she made her special mission the reform of the women imprisoned in Newgate. Approximately 300 women and children were crowded in a women's ward comprising 190 square yards. Hardened criminals guilty of serious crimes were mixed with those jailed for minor offenses. Children lived in the prison with their mothers, in rags, filth, and idleness. As the prison furnished no uniforms, many poverty-stricken women existed half-naked. Prison policy combined occasional brutality with a permissiveness that allowed inmates considerable freedom—tolerating drinking and fighting— and made no attempt at rehabilitation, such as training the women for jobs outside prison walls.

In 1817, Fry organized the Association for the Improvement of Female Prisoners in Newgate. Two members visited the prisoners everyday to read the Scriptures aloud. When Fry read from the Bible (and preached) at Newgate, so many people wanted to attend that the London magistrates authorized her to issue tickets. Association members adopted a personal approach toward women prisoners and tried to gain their active cooperation through kindness and persuasion. Fry's association put the women prisoners to work, sewing and knitting, under the supervision of prisoner monitors. With a prisoner as the instructor, it also organized a school for the women (and their children) to teach them to read the Bible. One of Fry's rules for the Newgate women declared "that there be no begging, swearing, gaming, card-playing, quarrelling, or immoral conversation."

Fry's work was not confined to Newgate. In 1818, she made a tour of prisons in northern England and Scotland with her brother Joseph John Gurney, described in a book published under his name, Notes on a Visit Made to Some of the Prisons in Scotland and the North of England in Company with Elizabeth Fry. Middle-class ladies' committees sprang up to visit prisons all over the country. In 1821, they joined together as the British Ladies' Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners.

Fry was an activist, not in most respects an original thinker. Ironically, most of her ideas resembled that of Jeremy Bentham, an earlier prison reformer who often is contrasted with Fry because he despised religion. Like Bentham, Fry favored classifying prisoners (in contrast to the prevalent mixing of all types), providing productive work for them, and establishing healthful living conditions. Her more distinctive opinions favored the employment of matrons to supervise women prisoners, rejected capital punishment (and flogging) in principle, minimized the role of unproductive hard labor such as working the treadmill, and repudiated bread-and-water diets. She tried, with modest success, to mitigate the sufferings of the women sentenced to transportation to Australia, a form of penal exile. Above all, she insisted that women criminals could be redeemed.

For a few years, Fry had the ear of Cabinet ministers and parliamentary committees, but she soon lost her influence. Overestimating what she could do, she offended those whom she wanted to persuade. This was the case in 1818 when she lobbied the Home Secretary, Lord Sidmouth, to stop the execution of a Newgate prisoner.

By 1827, when she published the short book Observations on the Visiting, Superintendence and Government of Female Prisoners, based on her practical experience, her time of importance had already passed. She continued to argue for the importance of local ladies' committees; the influence of public-spirited women was needed to supplement and correct the laws and regulations established by men. For the prisoners themselves, she urged the women visitors to show a spirit of mercy: "Great pity is due from us even to the greatest transgressors among our fellow-creatures."

Fry lost prestige (and money for her prison charities) when her husband's businesses failed in 1828. As a bankrupt, he was excluded from the Society of Friends, and the Fry family became dependent on the financial generosity of the wealthy Gurneys.

By the mid-1820s, other prison reformers increasingly advocated policies contrary to Elizabeth Fry's. Many Quakers (including two of her brothers-in-law) were prominent in the Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline and the Reformation of Juvenile Reformers (founded in 1818), but after a brief period when it supported her, the Society lobbied for a centralized professional prison administration and detailed bureaucratic rules that left no place for the visits of "meddlesome" ladies' committees. Fry's rivals campaigned for the harsh prison policies pioneered in the United States at Philadelphia, such as solitary confinement and exhausting hard labor. These principles became law when Parliament adopted the Prison Act of 1835.

Although lacking any practical influence, Fry remained a celebrity, particularly on the continent of Europe. Acclaimed in 1838 and 1841 when she visited France and the German states, she was also honored in 1842 by the king of Prussia who visited her Bible-reading at Newgate and lunched at her home.

Two years after Elizabeth Fry died in 1845, two of her daughters published a Memoir of the Life of Elizabeth Fry with Extracts from her Journal and Letters, an abridgment in two volumes of her 44 volumes of handwritten journals. The Memoir sought to make Fry a saint and left out whatever the daughters regarded as not fitting that image. Until 1980, Fry's biographers failed to read the original journals.

Fry was not the perfect woman that her daughters presented. She embodied many contradictions. She adhered to a strict Quakerism that required plain living and the rejection of worldly vanities; yet, as some fellow Quakers grumbled, her simple clothes were cut from expensive fabrics, and she rejoiced in her opportunities to mingle with politicians, aristocrats, and royalty. Nothing was more important for her than her religion, yet, to her great anguish, she failed to nurture a commitment to Quakerism among her children, nearly all of whom left the Society of Friends when they grew up.

Despite her limitations, Elizabeth Fry deserves to be remembered as a genuinely good woman, as her contemporaries acknowledged, and a much wiser one than the men who belittled her as a naive amateur realized. In the early 19th century, women reformers were loved more often than they were respected. Although far from perfect, Fry's philosophy of prison reform avoided numbing bureaucracy and dehumanizing brutality and encouraged the participation of members of the general public in the conduct of prison life.

Further Reading

Cooper, Robert Allan. "Jeremy Bentham, Elizabeth Fry, and English Prison Reform," in Journal of the History of Ideas. Vol. 42. (1981): 675-90.

Dobash, Russell P., R. Emerson Dobash, and Sue Gutteridge. The Imprisonment of Women. Basil Blackwell, 1986.

Kent, John. Elizabeth Fry. B.T. Batsford, 1962.

Rose, June. Elizabeth Fry. Macmillan, 1980.

Ignatieff, Michael. A Just Measure of Pain: The Penitentiary in the Industrial Revolution, 1750-1850. Pantheon, 1978.

Isichei, Elizabeth. Victorian Quakers. Oxford University Press, 1970.

McConville, Sean. A History of English Prison Administration, 1750-1877. Vol 1. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981.

Prochaska, Frank K. Women and Philanthropy in Nineteenth-Century England. Clarendon Press, 1980.

Punshon, John. Portrait in Grey: A Short History of the Quakers. Quaker Home Services, 1984. □

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Elizabeth I (1533–1603)

Elizabeth I (15331603)

Tudor dynasty queen of England from 1558 until her death in 1603. The daughter

of King Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn, she was educated at court and showed a talent for languages, learning several as a young girl. She lost her place in the succession when the king had Anne Boleyn executed on false charges in 1536. In 1544, however, she was restored to the succession by an act of the English Parliament. Her half brother Edward became king after Henry's death in 1547; the sickly Edward's reign was short-lived, however, and in 1553 Mary Tudor became the first reigning queen of England. A devout Catholic, Mary suspected the Protestant Elizabeth of harboring ill intentions toward her. In 1554, when a revolt led by Sir Thomas Wyatt challenged the queen, Mary had her sister thrown into the Tower of London, then held under house arrest at the royal palace of Hatfield, where Elizabeth continued her study with the scholar Roger Ascham.

In 1558, on the death of Mary, Elizabeth became the queen of England. The nation was militarily weak, struggling with debt, and the scene of violent conflict between Catholics and the supporters of the Church of England, the Protestant sect established by Henry VIII. Elizabeth also faced a threat from her cousin Mary, a Catholic grandniece of Henry VIII and the queen of Scotland. The wife of King Francis II (Francois) of France, Mary was supported in her claims to the English throne by several wealthy English nobles and a French army stationed in Scotland. Her claims were supported by the fact that Elizabeth refused all offers of marriage, throwing the succession into doubt. In 1568 Mary abdicated her throne during a rebellion and fled to England. Elizabeth held her prisoner for the next nineteen years, and finally in 1587, fearing Mary's plots against her, allowed her execution.

Elizabeth's enforcement of laws against Catholics inspired several plots against her life; in 1570 the pope officially declared her deposed from the English throne by a bull (proclamation) that sanctioned open rebellion among Catholics in England. The queen responded by enforcing harsh laws against Catholics and having several prominent clergy executed. In 1588, the Catholic king Philip II sought to bring England to heel and counter English support of Protestant rebels in the Spanish-held Low Countries. Philip sent a massive naval fleet, known as the Spanish Armada, against England. The fleet arrived in the English Channel but was soon at the mercy of stormy weather and the skillful assaults of the English captains. As the Armada fled, Elizabeth's prestige in Europe soared. With Elizabeth's encouragement, the English settled new colonies in the Caribbean and North America and English captains, including Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins, carried out raids and piracy against Spanish ports and ships. At home, Elizabeth held a lively court, engaging musicians and playwrights to entertain her and holding processions in towns throughout the realm. Elizabethan poetry and drama brought the English language to a peak of its expressive intensity. The end of Elizabeth's reign in 1603 also brought about the end of the Tudor dynasty, as Elizabeth had remained unmarried throughout her life and left no heirs. James I, the first of the Stuart dynasty, ascended the throne.

See Also: Henry VIII; Spanish Armada; Tudor dynasty

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Fries, John

John Fries, c.1750–1818, American rebel, b. Montgomery co., Pa. After serving in the American Revolution, Fries became a traveling auctioneer. Strongly opposed to the federal property taxes levied (1798) for a possible war with France, he stirred the Pennsylvania Germans into an uprising (called Fries's Rebellion) against assessors and collectors. He hid from federal troops, but his hiding place was betrayed by his dog. He was arrested and sentenced to death, but President John Adams pardoned him.

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