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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Yankee Pass

By William Leete Stone (1792–1844)

[From Life of Joseph Brant. 1838.]

JUDGE STARING died in 1810, a few months before the author commenced his residence in that portion of the Mohawk Valley, and many were the amusing anecdotes in those days related of him. One of these was the story, now familiar to everybody, of the celebrated “Yankee Pass.” While in the commission of the peace, the Judge was old-fashioned enough to think that the laws ought not to remain a dead letter upon the statute-book; and, being a good Christian, he was zealous in preventing a violation of the Sabbath. It happened that on a Sunday morning the Judge saw a man, in the garb of a traveller, wending his way from the direction of the Genesee country toward “the land of steady habits.” The wayfarer was indeed a member of the universal Yankee nation, and one of the shrewdest of his cast, as will be seen in the sequel. The Judge promptly called him to an account for breaking the Sabbath, and summarily imposed the penalty of the law—seventy-five cents. The Yankee pleaded the urgency of his business; and suggested that, as he had paid the penalty, he had an unquestionable right to travel during the remainder of the day. The magistrate saw nothing unreasonable in the request, and assented to the compromise. Jonathan then suggested, that, to avoid any farther difficulty in the premises, the Judge ought to supply him with a receipt for the money, and a passport as the consideration. This request likewise appeared to be no more than reasonable, and was granted by the worthy magistrate, who, not being able to write himself, requested the stranger to prepare the document for his signature, by the honest sign of the X.

Nothing loath, Jonathan took the pen in hand, and might have written a veritable pass perhaps, had it not been for the sudden influence of an invisible agency. Under this influence, he wrote an order upon Messrs. James and Archibald Kane, the principal frontier merchants at Canajoharie, for goods and money to the amount of twenty pounds. The credit of the Judge was the best, and the draft was honored at sight. Some months afterward the Judge took his wheat to the Messrs. Kanes for sale as usual, when, to his surprise, a claim was preferred to the aforesaid amount of twenty pounds. The Judge protested that he owed them not, having paid every dollar at their last annual settlement. The merchants persisted, and, as evidence that could not be gainsaid, produced the order. The moment the eyes of the Judge rested upon the document, his countenance fell, as he exclaimed, “Dunder and blixum! Itsh be dat blaguey Yankee Pass!”