6th. to the 12th. Employed in Organizing the several detachments, which had come in from different Counties of this State, in a very disjointed & loose manner; or rather I ought to have said in urging & assisting Genl. Mifflin to do it; as I no otherwise took the command of the Troops than to press them forward, and to provide them with necessaries for their March, as well, & as far, as our means would admit.1
To effect these purposes, I appointed General Hand Adjutant General on the 7th.2
On the 9th. William Findley and David Redick—deputed by the Committee of Safety (as it is designated) which met on the 2d. of this month at Parkinson Ferry arrived in Camp with the Resolutions of the said Committee; and to give information of the State of things in the four Western Counties of Pennsylvania to wit—Washington Fayette Westd. & Alligany in order to see if it would prevent the March of the Army into them.3
At 10 oclock I had a meeting with these persons in presence of Govr. Howell (of New Jersey) the Secretary of the Treasury, Colo. Hamilton, & Mr. Dandridge: Govr. Mifflin was invited to be present, but excused himself on acct. of business.
I told the Deputies that by one of the Resolutions it would appear that they were empowered to give information of the disposition & of the existing state of matters in the four Counties above men[tioned]; that I was ready to hear & would listen patiently, and with candour to what they had to say.
Mr. Findley began. He confined his information to such parts of the four Counties as he was best acquainted with; referring to Mr. Reddick for a recital of what fell within his knowledge, in the other parts of these Counties.
The substance of Mr. Findleys communications were as follows —viz.—That the People in the parts where he was best acquainted, had seen there folly; and he believed were disposed to submit to the Laws; that he thought, but could not undertake to be responsible, for the re-establishment of the public Offices for the Collection of the Taxes on distilled spirits, & Stills—intimating however, that it might be best for the present, & until the peoples minds were a little more tranquilized, to hold the Office of Inspection at Pitsburgh under the protection—or at least under the influence of the Garrison; That he thought the Distillers would either enter their stills or would put them down; That the Civil authority was beginning to recover its tone; & enumerated some instances of it; That the ignorance, & general want of information among the people far exceeded any thing he had any conception of; That it was not merely the excise law their opposition was aimed at, but to all law, & Government; and to the Officers of Government; and that the situation in which he had been, & the life he had led for sometime, was such, that rather than go through it again, he would prefer quitting this scene altogether.
Mr. Redicks information was similar to the above; except as to the three last recitals—on wch. I do not recollect that he expressed any sentiment further than that the situation of those who were not in the opposition to government whilst the frenzy was at its height, were obliged to sleep with their Arms by their bed Sides every night; not knowing but that before Morning they might have occasion to use them in defence of their persons, or their properties.
He added, that for a long time after the riots commenced, and until lately, the distrust of one another was such, that even friends were affraid to communicate their sentiments to each other; That by whispers this was brought about; and growing bolder as they became more communicative they found their strength, and that there was a general disposition not only to acquiesce under, but to support the Laws—and he gave some instances also of Magistrates enforcing them.
He said the People of those Counties believed that the opposition to the Excise law—or at least that their dereliction to it, in every other part of the U. States was similar to their own, and that no Troops could be got to March against them for the purpose of coercion; that every acct. until very lately, of Troops marching against them was disbelieved; & supposed to be the fabricated tales of governmental men; That now they had got alarmed; That many were disposing of their property at an under rate, in order to leave the Country, and added (I think) that they wd. go to Detroit. That no person of any consequence, except one, but what had availed themselves of the proffered amnesty; That those who were still in the opposition, and obnoxious to the laws, were Men of little or no property, & cared but little where they resided; That he did not believe there was the least intention in them to oppose the Army; & that there was not three rounds of ammunition for them in all the Western Country. He (& I think Mr. Findley also) was apprehensive that the resentments of the Army might be productive of treatment to some of these people that might be attended with disagreeable consequences; & on that account seemed to deprecate the March of it: declaring however, that it was their wish, if the people did not give proofs of unequivocal submission, that it might not stop short of its object.
After hearing what both had to say, I briefly told them—That it had been the earnest wish of governmt. to bring the people of those counties to a sense of their duty, by mild, & lenient means; That for the purpose of representing to their sober reflection the fatal consequences of such conduct Commissioners had been sent amongst them that they might be warned, in time, of what must follow, if they persevered in their opposition to the laws; but that coercion wou’d not be resorted to except in the dernier resort: but, that the season of the year made it indispensible that preparation for it should keep pace with the propositions that had been made; That it was unnecessary for me to enumerate the transactions of those people (as they related to the proceedings of government) forasmuch as they knew them as well as I did; That the measure which they were not witness to the adoption of was not less painful than expensive—Was inconvenient, & distressing—in every point of view; but as I considered the support of the Laws as an object of the first magnitude, and the greatest part of the expense had already been incurred, that nothing Short of the most unequivocal proofs of absolute Submission should retard the March of the army into the Western counties, in order to convince them that the government could, & would enforce obedience to the laws—not suffering them to be insulted with impunity. Being asked again what proofs would be required, I answered, they knew as well as I did, what was due to justice & example. They understood my meaning—and asked if they might have another interview. I appointed five oclock in the After noon for it. At this second Meeting there was little more than a repeti[ti]on of what had passed in the forenoon; and it being again mentioned that all the principal characters, except one, in the Western counties who had been in the opposition, had submitted to the propositions—I was induced, seeing them in the Street the next day, to ask Mr. Redick who that one was?—telling him at the same time I required no disclosure that he did not feel himself entirely free to make. He requested a little time to think of it, and asked for another meeting—which was appointed at 5 oclock that afternoon—which took place accordingly when he said David Bradford4 was the person he had alluded to in his former conversations.
He requested to know if a Meeting of the people, by their deputies, would be permitted by the Army at any given point, on their March into that Country (with fresh evidence of the sincerity of their disposition to acquiesce in whatever might be required). I replied I saw no objection to it, provided they came unarmed; but to be cautious that not a gun was fired, as there could be no answering for consequences in this case. I assured them that every possible care should be taken to keep the Troops from offering them any insult or damage and that those who always had been subordinate to the Laws, & such as had availed themselves of the amnesty, should not be injured in their persons or property; and that the treatment of the rest would depend upon their own conduct. That the Army, unless opposed, did not mean to act as executioners, or bring offenders to a Military Tribunal; but merely to aid the civil Megistrates, with whom offences would lye. Thus endd. the matter.
On the 10th. the light & legionary Corps under the immediate Command of Majr. McPherson5—The Jersey Regiment & Guiney’s6 from Philadelphia commenced their March under the Orders of Governor Howell; and the day following the whole body of Cavalry (except the three Troops of Phila. Horse commanded by Captn. Dunlap,7 as part of the legion above mentioned) under Genl. White8—a new formed Corp of Independant uniform Companies under [ ] & several other Corps under the Command of Govr. Mifflin Marched—all for the rendezvous at Bedford.
The Rank of the principal officers of the Army being first settled by me, as follow.
- First—Govr. Lee of Virginia to be commander in chief if I do not go out myself.
- Second—Govr. Mifflen.
- Third—Govr. Howell.
- Fourth—Majr. General Danl. Morgan,9 or Majr. Genl. Irvine,10 according to the dates of their ⟨Militia⟩ Commissions.
The Brigadiers in like manner, according to seniority.11
1. On 6 Oct. GW wrote Secretary of State Edmund Randolph: “As I reached this place Saturday only, & have no very precise information from the Insurgent counties I cannot decide definitely at this moment whether I shall proceed into them with the Troops, or return in time for the meeting of Congress. As soon as I can ascertain the true state of the Troops & other matters at this place I intend to proceed to Williamsport, & probably from thence to Fort Cumberland and Bedford; at one or other of which my ulterior resolution must be taken and in either case communications must be prepared for the meeting of Congress” (NIC). By 9 Oct. he had decided to go on with the army at least as far as Bedford and ordered Bartholomew Dandridge to request that Henry Knox send on “sundry Articles such as tents, &ca. &ca.” Knox was to forward only such articles “as you conceive will be absolutely necessary for the President’s accommodation. . . . As the President will be going, if he proceeds, into the Country of Whiskey he proposes to make use of that liquor for his drink, and presuming that beef and bread will be furnished by the contractors he requires no supply of these Articles from you” (Dandridge to Knox, 9 Oct. 1794, List of Supplies, 11 Oct. 1794, and GW to Daniel Morgan, 8 Oct. 1794, DLC:GW).
On 6 Oct. the citizens of Carlisle presented an address to GW, supporting the laws of the United States. The address and GW’s reply are in DLC:GW. See also Gaz. of the U.S. [Philadelphia], 18 Oct. 1794.
2. After an outstanding military career during the Revolution, Edward Hand (see entry for 3 July 1791) resumed the practice of medicine. In GW’s view he was “a sensible and judicious man . . . and was esteemed a pretty good Officer. But, if I collect rightly, not a very active one” (WRITINGS description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed. The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799. 39 vols. Washington, D.C., 1931–44. description ends , 31:510).
On 8 Oct. there was a general review of the New Jersey horse “at a sight of which the President was pleased to express his great satisfaction” (FORD  description begins David Ford. “Journal of an Expedition Made in the Autumn of 1794, with a Detachment of New Jersey Troops, into Western Pennsylvania, to Aid in Suppressing the ‘Whiskey Rebellion.’” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society 8 (1856-59): 75–88. description ends , 85).
3. On 2 Oct. a meeting was held at Parkinson’s Ferry, composed largely of the same individuals as the 14 Aug. meeting. Its members agreed to a series of conciliatory resolutions in an effort to prevent the army from marching into the insurgent counties and sent two emissaries to present the resolutions to GW at Carlisle (GALLATIN description begins Albert Gallatin. The Speech of Albert Gallatin, A Representative from the County of Fayette, in the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, on the Important Question Touching the Validity of the Elections Held in the Four Western Counties of the State, on the 14th day of October, 1794. With Notes and an Appendix, containing sundry Documents relative to the Western Insurrection. Philadelphia, 1795. description ends , 22–23). For the resolutions and a description of the Parkinson’s Ferry meeting, see BRACKENRIDGE  description begins H. M. Brackenridge. History of the Western Insurrection in Western Pennsylvania, Commonly Called the Whiskey Insurrection. 1794. Pittsburgh, 1859. description ends , 253–54.
William Findley (d. 1821), one of the meeting’s representatives, was born in Ireland, immigrated to the United States, and settled in Westmoreland County, Pa., soon after the Revolution. He served in the Pennsylvania legislature, in the 1790 state constitutional convention, and in 1791 was elected to the United States House of Representatives where he became a vigorous opponent of administration policies (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 2d ser., 4:41n). His colleague, David Redick (d. 1805), also a native of Ireland, had settled in Washington County, Pa., where he began the practice of law in 1782. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council 1786, vice-president of the state 1788–89, and prothonotary of Washington County in 1794 (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 2d ser., 4:39n).
Findley and Redick approached Carlisle with some apprehension, having heard on their way “alarming accounts of the army, rendezvoused at that place, being very ungovernable and exceedingly inflamed against the people of the western country indiscriminately”; they were even strongly advised by nearby residents not to venture into the town. After their arrival in the town, “having early in the morning waited on the President to deliver the papers, and obtained an appointment for an interview, we withdrew in a short time. This was to have been expected; it was about seven o’clock; but before ten the report was current through both the town and the army, that the President had driven us out in six minutes, and was not to see us again; and notwithstanding the President’s established character for discretion and politeness, and the frequent interviews to which we were admitted, this ridiculous story was believed by many in the army” (FINDLEY description begins William Findley. History of the Insurrection, in the Four Western Counties of Pennsylvania: In the Year M.DCC.XCIV. With a Recital of the Circumstances Specially Connected Therewith: and an Historical Review of the Previous Situation of the Country. Philadelphia, 1796. description ends , 140–42). When they met GW to deliver the resolutions, he was alone and received them well. After a short conversation he informed them he had some pressing duties and after breakfast “was going to see a division of the army march” but would see them at ten. For Findley’s account of the succeeding meeting, much more detailed than GW’s, see FINDLEY description begins William Findley. History of the Insurrection, in the Four Western Counties of Pennsylvania: In the Year M.DCC.XCIV. With a Recital of the Circumstances Specially Connected Therewith: and an Historical Review of the Previous Situation of the Country. Philadelphia, 1796. description ends , 169–89. As the second meeting drew to a close, the representatives expressed a wish that GW would remain with the army if it continued on its western march. “He replied on this occasion, that if when at Bedford he discovered that his presence would be necessary, and he was not under the necessity of returning to Philadelphia, he possibly would stay with the army, if it advanced into the western country.
“I do not pretend that we were treated with attention, from any peculiar attachment to us, whether that was so or not is a matter of no importance in this case. The attention however that he paid to us was the result of sound discretion. He was anxious to prevent bloodshed, and at the same time to enforce due submission to the laws, with as little trouble as possible. . . . The President was very sensible of the inflammatory and ungovernable disposition that had discovered itself in the army before he arrived at Carlisle, and he had not only laboured incessantly to remove that spirit and prevent its effects, but he was solicitous also to remove our fears. As often as we suggested apprehensions of danger from that quarter, he consoled us with assurances of good discipline and subordination to the laws being enforced, and of the disorderly corps being dispersed among such as were more orderly, or if that would not do, that they should be discharged with infamy. Orders were actually given to this effect, and at least in some instances punctually executed” (FINDLEY description begins William Findley. History of the Insurrection, in the Four Western Counties of Pennsylvania: In the Year M.DCC.XCIV. With a Recital of the Circumstances Specially Connected Therewith: and an Historical Review of the Previous Situation of the Country. Philadelphia, 1796. description ends , 187–88).
For a description of various incidents involving the behavior of the soldiers toward the civilian population, see BRACKENRIDGE  description begins Hugh H. Brackenridge. Incidents of the Insurrection in the Western Parts of Pennsylvania, In the Year 1794. Philadelphia, 1795. description ends , pt.2, 30–33; FORD  description begins David Ford. “Journal of an Expedition Made in the Autumn of 1794, with a Detachment of New Jersey Troops, into Western Pennsylvania, to Aid in Suppressing the ‘Whiskey Rebellion.’” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society 8 (1856-59): 75–88. description ends , 84; FINDLEY description begins William Findley. History of the Insurrection, in the Four Western Counties of Pennsylvania: In the Year M.DCC.XCIV. With a Recital of the Circumstances Specially Connected Therewith: and an Historical Review of the Previous Situation of the Country. Philadelphia, 1796. description ends , 143–44.
Findley was correct in believing that other, and contradictory, versions of the meeting were circulating. Capt. David Ford of the New Jersey militia noted that the “committee consisted of the damned scoundrel Finley, who most certainly was the first founder of the opposition to law in the four western counties, and of a Mr. Reddick. . . . The President received them; coldly told them he was determined . . . to march the army to the seat of rebellion, and told them, if they met with the least resistance, he would not answer for the consequences. This stern reply seemed to discompose the old villan, and to please every federalist” (FORD  description begins David Ford. “Journal of an Expedition Made in the Autumn of 1794, with a Detachment of New Jersey Troops, into Western Pennsylvania, to Aid in Suppressing the ‘Whiskey Rebellion.’” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society 8 (1856-59): 75–88. description ends , 86).
4. David Bradford, one of the most popular and vocal of the insurgent leaders, was a native of Maryland but moved to Washington County, Pa., in 1773 or 1774 and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1783. He was elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1792. Bradford, who was specifically exempted from the amnesty extended to the other insurgents after order was restored, eventually fled to Louisiana (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 2d ser., 4:333–34; MULKEARN AND PUGH description begins Lois Mulkearn and Edwin V. Pugh. A Traveler’s Guide to Historic Western Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh, 1954. description ends , 322).
5. William Macpherson (1756–1813), a native of Philadelphia, was a graduate of Princeton. He had served as an officer in the British army before the Revolution but joined the Continental Army in 1779. In Sept. 1789 GW appointed him surveyor for the port of Philadelphia; in 1792, Philadelphia port inspector; and in 1793, Philadelphia naval officer (EXECUTIVE JOURNAL description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends , 1:25, 104, 143, 144). During the Whiskey Insurrection he was in command of a battalion of Philadelphia volunteers called “Macpherson’s Blues” (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 2d ser., 4:317).
6. Francis Gurney (1738–1815), a native of Bucks County, Pa., served in the French and Indian War, and as a colonel with Pennsylvania troops during the Revolution. After the war he became a merchant in Philadelphia and for a time was warden of the post of Philadelphia, a Philadelphia alderman, and a member of the city council (Pa. Mag., 47 , 175–76). In 1794 he was in command of the 1st Regiment of the Philadelphia Brigade with the rank of colonel. Apparently Gurney had considerable difficulty maintaining discipline among his troops, for GW wrote Hamilton, 26 Oct., on his way back to Philadelphia, that “I heard great complaints of Gurney’s Corps (& some of the Artillery) along the road to Strasburgh. . . . In some places, I was told they did not leave a plate, a spoon, a glass or a knife; and this owing, in a great measure I was informed, to their being left without Officers. At most if not all the encampments, I found the fences in a manner burnt up. I pray you to mention this to Govr. Mifflin” (DLC: Hamilton Papers).
7. John Dunlap (1744–1812), born in County Tyrone, Ire., came to the United States as a child and was apprenticed to his uncle, William Dunlap, a prominent Philadelphia printer. In 1771 he became printer of the Pennsylvania Packet and in 1784 joined with David C. Claypoole to publish the paper as a daily. Dunlap & Claypoole were printers to the Continental Congress during the Confederation and in 1794 were publishing the Daily Advertiser in Philadelphia. Dunlap had served in the 1st Troop of Philadelphia Light Horse during the Revolution and was captain of the troop during the insurrection (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 2d ser., 4:324; THOMAS description begins Isaiah Thomas. The History of Printing in America, With a Biography of Printers & an Account of Newspapers. Edited by Marcus A. McCorison. New York, 1970. description ends , 386–87, 393–94).
8. In 1793 Anthony Walton White moved from New York to New Brunswick, N.J., and in 1794 was commissioned brigadier general of cavalry in the campaign against the whiskey insurgents (Pa. Mag., 47 , 172–73). See also entry for 1 Jan. 1787.
9. After the Revolution, Daniel Morgan had returned to his estate Saratoga in Frederick County (see entry for 3 Sept. 1784). Now 58 and plagued by ill health, he came out of retirement to serve with the Virginia militia in the 1794 campaign. After the insurrection was repressed, he remained in command of some 1,500 troops which remained in western Pennsylvania to keep order during the winter of 1794–95.
10. William Irvine, who held the rank of major general in the Pennsylvania militia, was in command of a brigade composed of troops from Cumberland and Franklin counties (TOUSEY description begins Thomas G. Tousey. Military History of Carlisle and Carlisle Barracks. Richmond, Va., 1939. description ends , 165).
11. On 10 Oct. “the Philadelphia horse, Macpherson’s blues and a number of other corps were formed into a legion, to be put under the command of Gen. [Frederick] Frelinghuysen, to lead the van of the army. This corps began their march and was reviewed with a critical eye, by the President. They were followed by the train of artillery, and were to have been followed by the Jersey horse, but by some mistake or other the wagons for transporting our baggage were not provided. This default was severely censured by the President” (FORD  description begins David Ford. “Journal of an Expedition Made in the Autumn of 1794, with a Detachment of New Jersey Troops, into Western Pennsylvania, to Aid in Suppressing the ‘Whiskey Rebellion.’” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society 8 (1856-59): 75–88. description ends , 86).