George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Edmund Randolph, 24 November 1792

To Edmund Randolph

United States [Philadelphia] November 24th 1792


It appears to me necessary,1 that processes should issue without further delay upon the Indictments found at the last Circuit Court held at York Town in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in reference to the laws laying a duty on Spirits distilled within the United States2—and proper, that they should be served by the Marshal of the District of Pennsylvania, in person. I am to desire, that the requisite arrangements, with the Attorney & marshal of the before mentioned District,3 may be taken for these purposes; in doing which, you are authorised to signify to the latter,4 my expectation of his immediate agency in the business.5

Df, in Tobias Lear’s writing, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW. Lear apparently received Hamilton’s draft, copied it over, and then decided, or was instructed by GW, to make changes, which he noted on both his own copy and Hamilton’s draft.

1At this place in his draft, Hamilton struck out the word “proper” and inserted the word “necessary.” Lear retained Hamilton’s change.

2For background on the resistance in western Pennsylvania to the excise tax on distilled spirits and the subsequent indictments against William Kerr and Alexander Berr by the U.S. circuit court that met at York on 11 Oct. 1792, see Hamilton to GW, 1 Sept., and notes, GW to Hamilton, 7 Sept., and note 2, Edmund Randolph to GW, 10 Sept., and note 3, GW to Randolph, 1 Oct., and note 1, and GW’s proclamation of 15 Sept. 1792.

3Lear inserted the phrase “with the Attorney & marshall of the before mentioned District,” before the words “may be taken” on Hamilton’s draft, but his interlineation of this phrase on his own draft does not indicate its precise placement, and it appears after “may be taken” in the letter-book copy.

4Although Lear substituted the word “and” in place of “in doing which” on Hamilton’s draft, he did not do so on his own draft, nor does this substitution appear on the letter-book copy. Lear replaced “Marshall” on his own draft and on Hamilton’s draft with the word “latter,” which also appears on the letter-book copy.

5For Clement Biddle’s reluctance to perform his duties as U.S. marshal of Pennsylvania and GW’s insistence on his cooperation, see Biddle to GW, 27 Nov., and notes. On 13 Mar. 1793, GW instructed William Rawle, U.S. district attorney for Pennsylvania, to dismiss the indictments against Kerr and Berr.

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