George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 15 November 1794

From Alexander Hamilton

Town of Washington November 15. 1794.


I had the honor of writing to you three Days since by Mr Vaughan.1 Nothing material has since occurred; except that a number of persons have been apprehended. Twenty of them are in confinement at this place—others have not yet arrived.2 Several of those in confinement are fit subjects for examples and it is probable from the evidence already collected & what is expected that enough for that purpose will be proved. The most conspicuous of these for character or crime are understood to be The Reverend John Corbly, Col. Crawford, Col. John Hamilton, Thomas Sedgwick, David Lock, John Munn, John Laughery3—The evidence has not yet fixed the situation of Col. Hamilton.

A warrant has been sent after Col. Gaddis of Fayette another very fit subject but from the lapse of time I fear he has escaped.

The bad spirit is evidently not subdued. Information is just received that within the last three Days a Pole has been erected about 16½ miles from this place on the road to Muddy creek—measures are taking on the subject.4

But it is more and more apparent that for some considerable time to come a military force in this Country is indispensable. I presume the temporary one meditated will be accomplished.

Tomorrow I leave this place for Pittsburgh. If nothing extraordinary happens I shall leave that place for Philadelphia on the 19th—By that time every thing will have taken it’s shape. with true respect & affect. attachment I have the honor to be Sir Your obed. Servant.

Alx. Hamilton

Transcript, DLC: Alexander Hamilton Papers. This transcript was one of sixteen created in 1827. A certification of June 1827 states that James A. Hamilton “compared and collated” them with the original letters and found them to be “true copies thereof word for word and figure for figure” (DLC: Alexander Hamilton Papers). The other fifteen transcripts are of Hamilton’s letters to GW of 22 June; 2 Aug.; 25, 26, 29, and 31 Oct.; 3, 8, 17, and 19 Nov. 1794; and 4 Feb., 16 and 26 Oct., and 5 and 19 Nov. 1795.

1Hamilton probably was referring to his letter to GW of 11 November. The letter carrier may have been John Vaughan, a Philadelphia merchant.

2A list of these twenty men, in Hamilton’s writing, is to be found in DLC: GW. It most likely was enclosed with this letter. The names, as they appear on the list, are: Col. John Hamilton, Col. William Crawford, Major John Powers, The Reverend John Corbly, Thomas Sedgwick, James Kerr, John Laughery, David Lock, John Munn, William Porter, John Flannigin, John Crawford (son of Col. Crawford), John Gaston, John Husy, John McGill, Robert Martin, Nathaniel Martin, David McComb, James Robinson, and William Johnson.

For an account of the prisoners who arrived at Pittsburgh on 16 Nov. and the journey of some of the prisoners to Philadelphia, see Robert Porter’s narrative in Brackenridge, Western Insurrection description begins H. M. Brackenridge. History of the Western Insurrection in Western Pennsylvania, Commonly Called the Whiskey Insurrection. 1794. Pittsburgh, 1859. description ends , 328–32.

3John Corbly (Corbley; 1733–1803), one of the pioneer Baptist preachers of western Pennsylvania, was at this time pastor of a congregation near Muddy Creek in what is now Greene County. An attempt to indict him for treason in connection with the assembly at Braddock’s Field on 1 Aug. failed, but in May 1795 he was indicted on misdemeanor charges in connection with the insurrection. The government dropped prosecution of that charge in April 1796 (DNA: RG 21, Criminal Case Files of the U.S. Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1791–1840).

William Crawford (1744–1826), of Cumberland Township in what is now Greene County, was a militia captain during the Revolutionary War and a lieutenant colonel of militia in later Indian campaigns. The attempt to indict him for treason was rejected.

John Munn, Sr. (died c.1802) and John Munn, Jr. (died c.1807) were both residents of Nottingham Township in Washington County; which man was referenced here is unclear. No federal attempt to indict either man has been identified.

The government sought indictments for treason or misprision of treason against the other four men but obtained them only against Locke and Laughery (DNA: RG 21, Minutes of the U.S. Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1790–1844).

4Hamilton probably was referring to the Muddy Creek in what is now Greene County, running northeast from near Carmichaels to the Monongahela River.

Index Entries