To George Washington1
[August 5] 1794
The disagreeable crisis at which matters have lately arrived in some of the Western counties of Pensylvania, with regard to the laws laying duties on spirits distilled within the UStates and on Stills,2 seems to render proper a review of the circumstances which have attended those laws in that scene, from their commencement to the present time and of the conduct which has hitherto been observed on the part of the Government, its motives and effect; in order to a better judgment of the measures necessary to be pursued in the existing emergency.
The opposition to those laws in the four most Western Counties of Pensylvania (Alleghany Washington Fayette and Westmoreland) commenced as early as they were known to have been passed. It has continued, with different degrees of violence, in the different counties, and at different periods. But Washington has uniformly distinguished its resistance by a more excessive spirit, than has appeared in the other Counties & seems to have been chiefly instrumental in kindling and keeping alive the flame.
The opposition first manifested itself in the milder shape of the circulation of opinions unfavourable to the law & calculated by the influence of public disesteem to discourage the accepting or holding of Offices under it or the complying with it, by those who might be so disposed; to which was added the show of a discontinuance of the business of distilling. These expedients were shortly after succeeded by private associations to forbear compliances with the law. But it was not long before these more negative modes of opposition were perceived to be likely to prove ineffectual. And in proportion as this was the case and as the means of introducing the laws into operation were put into execution, the disposition to resistance became more turbulent and more inclined to adopt and practice violent expedients.
The officers now began to experience marks of contempt and insult. Threats against them became frequent and loud; and after some time, these threats were ripened into acts of ill-treatment and outrage.
These acts of violence were preceded by certain Meetings of malcontent persons who entered into resolutions calculated at once to confirm inflame and systematize the spirit of opposition.
The first of these Meetings was holden at a place called Red Stone Old Fort, on the 27 of July 1791 where it was concerted that county committees should be convened in the four Counties at the respective seats of Justice therein.3 On the 23 day of Aug following one of these committees assembled in the County of Washington4 consisting (as appears by their proceedings published in the Pittsburgh Gazette) among others of James Marshall Register & Recorder of the County—David Bradford Deputy Atty. General for the State—Henry Taylor & James Edgar now Associate Judges—Thomas Crooks5 & William Parker then or shortly before Magistrates & Militia Officers, Thomas Sedgwick and Alexander Wright Magistrates and Peter Kidd an officer of the Militia. This Meeting passed some intemperate resolutions, which were afterwards printed in the Pittsburgh Gazette, containing a strong censure on the law, declaring that any person who had accepted or might accept an office under Congress in order to carry it into effect should be considered as inimical to the interests of the Country; and recommending to the Citizens of Washington County to treat every person who had accepted or might thereafter accept any such office with contempt, and absolutely to refuse all kind of communication or intercourse with the Officers and to withold from them all aid support or comfort.6
Not content with this vindictive proscription of those, who might esteem it their duty, in the capacity of Officers, to aid in the execution of the constitutional laws of the land—The Meeting proceeded to pass another resolution7 on a matter essentially foreign to the object, which had brought them together, namely the salaries & compensations allowed by Congress to the Officers of Government generally, which they represent as enormous; manifesting by their zeal, to accumulate topics of Censure that they were actuated not merely by the dislike of a particular law, but by a disposition to render the Government itself unpopular and odious.8
This Meeting in further prosecution of their plan deputed three of their Members to meet Delegates from the counties of Westmoreland Fayette and Alleghany on the first Tuesday of Sepr. following for the purpose of expressing the sense of the people of those counties, in an address to the Legislature of the UStates, upon the subject of the Excise Law and other grievances;9 naming for that purpose James Marshall David Bradford & David Philips.10
Another Meeting accordingly took place on the 7th of September 1791 at Pittsburgh in the County of Alleghany, at which there appeared persons in character of delegates from the four Western counties;11 from Westmoreland Nehemiah Stokely & John Young, from Fayette Edward Cook Nathaniel Breaden12 & John Oliphant, from Alleghany Thomas Moreton13 John Woods & Wm. Plume,14 from Washington, the three persons above named.
This Meeting entered into resolutions more comprehensive in their objects & not less inflammatory in their tendency, than those which had before passed the Meeting in Washington. Their resolutions contained severe censures not only on the law which was the immediate subject of objection; but upon what they termed the exorbitant salaries of Officers, the unreasonable interest of the public debt, the want of discrimination between original holders & transferrees and the institution of a national Bank.15 The same unfriendly temper towards the Government of the UStates which had led out of their way the Meeting at Washington produced a similar wandering in that at Pittsburgh.16
A representation to Congress and a remonstrance to the Legislature of Pensylvania against the law more particularly complained of were prepared by this Meeting—published together with their other proceedings in the Pittsburgh Gazette & afterwards presented to the respective bodies to whom they were addressed.17
These Meetings composed of very influential Individuals and conducted without moderation or prudence are justly chargeable with the excesses, which have been from time to time committed; serving to give consistency to an opposition which has at length matured to a point, that threatens the foundations of the Government & of the Union; unless speedily & effectually subdued.
On the 6th of the same Month of September, the Opposition broke out in an act of violence upon the person & property of Robert Johnson Collector of the Revenue for the Counties of Alleghany & Washington.
A party of men armed and disguised way-laid him at a place on Pidgeon Creek in Washington county—seized tarred and feathered him cut off his hair and deprived him of his horse, obliging him to travel on foot a considerable distance in that mortifying and painful situation.
The case was brought before the District Court of Pensylvania out of which Processes issued against John Robertson John Hamilton & Thomas McComb: three of the persons concerned in the outrage.18
The serving of These processes was confided by the then Marshall Clement Biddle to his Deputy Joseph Fox, who in the month of October went into Alleghany County for the purpose of serving them.19
The appearances & circumstances which Mr. Fox observed himself in the course of his journey, & learnt afterwards upon his arrival at Pittsburgh, had the effect of deterring him from the service of the processes and unfortunately led to adopting the injudicious and fruitless expedient of sending them to the parties by a private Messenger20 under cover.
The Deputy’s Report to the Marshall states a number of particulars evincing a considerable fermentation in the part of the country, to which he was sent, and inducing a belief on his part that he could not with safety have executed the processes. The Marshall transmitting this report to the District Atty makes the following observations upon it “I am sorry to add that he (the Deputy) found the people in general in the Western part of the State, and particularly beyond the Alleghany Mountain, in such a ferment, on account of the Act of Congress for laying a duty on distilled spirits & so much opposed to the execution of the said Act, and from a variety of threats to himself personally, although he took the utmost precaution to conceal his errand, that he was not only convinced of the impossibility of serving the process, but that any attempt to effect it would have occasionned the most violent opposition from the greater part of the Inhabitants, & he declares that if he had attempted it, he believes he should not have returned alive. I spared no expence nor pains to have the process of the Court executed & have not the least doubt that my Deputy would have accomplished it, if it could have been done.”
The reality of the danger to the Deputy was countenanced by the opinion of General Neville,21 the Inspector of the Revenue, a man who before had given & since has given numerous proofs of a steady and firm temper. And what followed, announced in a letter of that officer of the 27th of October 179122 is a further confirmation of it. The person who had been sent with the processes was seized whipped tarred & feathered, and after having his money & horse taken from him was blind folded and tied in the woods, in which condition he remained for five hours.
Very serious reflections naturally occurred upon this occasion. It seemed highly probable, from the issue of the experiment, which had been made, that the ordinary course of civil process would be ineffectual for enforcing the execution of the law in the scene in question—and that a perseverance in this course might lead to a serious concussion. The law itself was still in the infancy of its operation and far from established in other important portions of the Union. Prejudices against it had been industriously disseminated—misreprepretentations diffused, misconceptions fostered. The Legislature of the UStates had not yet organised the means by which the Executive could come in aid of the Judiciary, when found incompetent to the execution of the laws.23 If neither of these impediments to a decisive exertion had existed, it was desireable, especially in a republican Government, to avoid what is in such cases the ultimate resort, till all the milder means had been tried without success.
Under the united influence of these considerations, it appeared adviseable to forbear urging coercive measures, ’till the law had gone into more extensive operation, till further time for reflection & experience of its operation had served to correct false impressions and inspire greater moderation, and till the Legislature had had an opportunity, by a revision of the law to remove as far as possible objections, and to reinforce the provisions for securing its execution.
Other incidents occurred from time to time, which are further proofs of the very improper temper that prevailed among the inhabitants of the refractory counties. Mr. Johnson was not the only officer who about the same period experienced outrage. Mr. Wells Collector of the Revenue for Westmoreland & Fayette was also illtreated at Greensburgh & Union Town.24 Nor were the outrages perpetrated confined to the Officers. They extended to private citizens, who only dared to shew their respect for the laws of their country.
Sometime in October 1791 an unhappy man of the name of Wilson, a stranger in the county, and manifestly disordered in his intellects imagining himself to be a Collector of the Revenue, or invested with some trust in relation to it, was so unlucky as to make inquiries concerning the Distillers who had entered their stills; giving out that he was to travel through the UStates to ascertain & report to Congress the number of Stills &c. This man was pursued by a party in disguise, taken out of his bed, carried about five Miles back to a Smith’s Shop, stripped of his Cloaths which were afterwards burnt, and after having been himself inhumanly burnt in several places with a heated Iron was tarred and feathered—and about day light dismissed—naked wounded and otherwise in a very suffering condition. These particulars are communicated in a letter from the Inspector of the Revenue of the 17th of November,25 who declares that he had then himself seen the unfortunate maniac, the abuse of whom, as he expresses it, exceeded description and was sufficient to make human nature shudder. The affair is the more extraordinary, as persons of weight and consideration in that county are understood to have been actors in it, and as the symptoms of Insanity were, during the whole time of inflicting the punishment apparent—the unhappy sufferer displaying the heroic fortitude of a man, who conceived himself to be a martyr to discharge of some duty.26
Not long after a person of the name of Roseberry underwent the humiliating punishmt of tarring & feathering with some aggravations; for having in conversation hazarded the very natural and just, but unpalatable remark, that the inhabitants of that County could not reasonably expect protection from a Government, whose laws they so strenuously opposed.27
The audacity of the perpetrators of these excesses was so great that (as appears by a letter from Mr. Nevil of the 22 of December)28 an armed banditti ventured to seize and carry off two persons, who were witnesses against the rioters in the case of Wilson; in order, as was inferred, to prevent their giving testimony of the riot to a Court then sitting or about to sit.29
Designs of personal violence against the Inspector of the Revenue himself, to force him to a resignation, were repeatedly attempted to be put in execution by armed parties, but by different circumstances were frustrated.30
In the session of Congress, which commenced in October 1791, the law laying a duty on distilled spirits and on stills came under the revision of Congress as had been anticipated. By an act passed the 8th of May 1792,31 during that session, material alterations were made in it. Among these, the duty was reduced to a rate so moderate, as to have silenced complaint on that head—and a new and very favourable alternative was given to the Distiller, that of paying a monthly, instead a yearly rate, according to the capacity of his Still, with liberty to take a license for the precise term which he should intend to work it, and to renew that license for a further term or terms.
This amending Act, in its progress through the Legislature, engaged the particular attention of members who themselves were interested in distilleries, and of others who represented parts of the Country in which the business of Distilling was extensively carried on. Objections were well considered and great pains taken to obviate all such as had the semblance of reasonableness.
The effect has in a great measure corresponded with the views of the Legislature.32 Opposition has subsided in several districts where it before prevailed; and it was natural to entertain and not easy to abandon a hope that the same thing would by degrees have taken place in the four Western Counties of this State.
But notwithstanding some flattering appearances at particular junctures, and infinite pains by various expedients to produce the desireable issue the hope entertained has never been realized, and is now at an end, as far as the ordinary means of executing laws are concerned.
The first Law had left the number and positions of the Offices33 of Inspection, which were to be established in each District for receiving entries of Stills, to the discretion of the Supervisor.34 The second, to secure a due accommodation to Distillers, provides peremptorily that there shall be one in each County.35
The idea was immediately embraced, that it was a very important point in the scheme of opposition to the law to prevent the establishment of Offices in the respective Counties. For this purpose, the intimidation of well disposed inhabitants was added to the plan of molesting and obstructing the Officers by force or otherwise, as might be necessary. So effectually was the first point carried, (the certain destruction of property and the peril of life being involved) that it became almost impracticable to obtain suitable places for Offices in some of the Counties—and when obtained, it was found a matter of necessity in almost every instance to abandon them.
After much effort The Inspector of the Revenue succeeded in procuring the house of William Faulkner a captain in the army for an Office of Inspection in the County of Washington. This took place in August 1792. The office was attended by the Inspector of the Revenue in person, till prevented by the following incidents.
Capt Faukner, being in pursuit of some Deserters from the troops, was encountered by a number of people in the same neighbourhood, where Mr. Johnson had been ill treated the preceding year, who reproached him with letting his house for an Office of Inspection—drew a knife upon him, threatened to scalp him, tar and feather him, and reduce his house and property to Ashes, if he did not solemnly promise to prevent the further use of his House for an Office.
Capt Faulkner was induced to make the promise exacted—and in consequence of the circumstance wrote a letter to the Inspector dated the 20th of August countermanding the permission for using his house—and the day following gave a public notice in the Pittsburgh Gazette that the Office of Inspection should be no longer kept there.36
At the same time, another engine of opposition was in operation. Agreeable to a previous notification, there met at Pittsburgh on the 21st of August a number of persons stiling themselves “A Meeting of sundry Inhabitants of the Western Counties of Pensylvania”37 who appointed John Canon Chairman and Albert Gallatin Clerk.
This Meeting entered into resolutions38 not less exceptionable than those of its predecessors. The preamble suggested that a tax on spirituous liquors is unjust in itself and oppressive upon the poor—that internal taxes upon consumption must in the end destroy the liberties of every country in which they are introduced—that the law in question, from certain local circumstances which are specified, would bring immediate distress & ruin upon the Western Country, and concludes with the sentiment, that they think it their duty to persist in remonstrances to Congress, and in every other Legal measure, that may obstruct the operation of the Law.
The Resolutions then proceed, first, to appoint a Committee to prepare and cause to be presented to Congress an address, stating objections to the law and praying for its repeal—secondly to appoint Committees of correspondence for Washington Fayette, and Alleghany, charged to correspond together and with such Committee as should be appointed for the same purpose in the County of Westmoreland, or with any Committees of a similar nature, that might be appointed in other parts of the UStates, and also if found necessary to call together either general Meetings of the people, in their respective Counties, or conferences of the several Committees: And lastly to declare, that they will in future consider those who hold Offices for the collection of the duty as unworthy of their friendship, that they will have no intercourse nor dealings with them, will withdraw from them every assistance, withhold all the comforts of life which depend upon those duties that as men and fellow Citizens we owe to each other, and will upon all occasions treat them with contempt; earnestly Recommending it to the People At Large to Follow the Same Line of Conduct Towards Them.
The idea of pursuing legal measures to obstruct the operation of a Law needs little comment. Legal measures may be pursued to procure the repeal of a law, but to obstruct its operation presents a contradiction in terms. The operation, or what is the same thing, the execution of a law, cannot be obstructed, after it has been constitutionally enacted, without illegality and crime. The expression quoted is one of those phrases which can only be used to conceal a disorderly & culpable intention under forms that may escape the hold of the law.
Neither was it difficult to perceive, that the anathema pronounced against the Officers of the Revenue placed them in a state of virtual outlawry, and operated as a signal to all those who were bold enough to encounter the guilt and the danger to violate both their lives and their properties.
and likewise directed that prosecutions might be instituted against the Offenders, in the cases in which the laws would support and the requisite evidence could be obtained.
Pursuant to these instructions, the Atty General42 in cooperation with the Attorny of the District43 attended a Circuit Court which was holden at York Town in October 1792 for the purpose of bringing forward prosecutions in the proper cases.
Collateral measures were taken to procure for this purpose the necessary evidence.
The Supervisor of the Revenue was sent into the opposing survey44 to ascertain the real state of that survey—to obtain evidence of the persons who were concerned in the riot in Faulkeners case—and of those who composed the Meeting at Pittsburgh—to uphold the confidence and encourage the perseverence of the Officers acting under the law—and to induce if possible the inhabitants of that part of the survey, which appeared least disinclined, to come voluntarily into the law, by arguments addressed to their sense of duty and exhibiting the eventual dangers and mischiefs of resistance.
The mission of the Supervisor had no other fruit than that of obtaining evidence of the persons who composed the Meeting at Pittsburgh—and of two who were understood to be concerned in the riot45—and a confirmation of the enmity, which certain active and designing leaders had industriously infused into a large proportion of the inhabitants, not against the particular laws, in question, only, but of a more antient date, against the Government of the UStates itself.
The then Attorney General being of opinion,46 that it was at best a doubtful point, whether the proceedings of the Meeting at Pittsburgh contained indictable47 matter, no prosecution was attempted against those who composed it; though if the ground for proceeding against them had appeared to be firm, it is presumed, that the truest policy would have dictated that course.
Indictments were preferred to the Circuit Court and found against the two persons48 understood to have been concerned in the Riot, & the usual measures were taken for carrying them into effect.
But it appearing afterwards from various representations supported by satisfactory testimony, that there had been some mistake as to the persons accused—justice and policy demanded that the prosecutions should be discontinued, which was accordingly done.
This issue of the business unavoidably defeated the attempt to establish examples of the punishment of persons who engaged in a violent resistance to the laws—and left the officers to struggle against the stream of resistance, without the advantage of such examples.49
The following plan, afterwards successively put in execution, was about this time digested for carrying if possible the laws into effect, without the necessity of recurring to force.
1. To prosecute delinquents in the cases in which it could be clearly done for non compliances with the laws 2 to intercept the markets for the surplus produce of the distilleries of the non complying counties, by seizing the spirits in their way to those markets, in places where it could be effected without opposition 3 by purchases through Agents for the Government50 for the use of the army (instead of deriving the supply through contractors as formerly) confining them to spirits in respect to which there had been a compliance with the laws.
The motives to this plan speak for themselves. It aimed, besides the influence of penalties on delinquents, at making it the general interest of the distillers to comply with the laws, by interrupting the market for a very considerable surplus, and by, at the same time, confining the benefit of the large demand for public service, to those who did their duty to the public, and furnishing through the means of payments in Cash that medium for paying the duties, the want of which, it was alleged, was a great difficulty in the way of compliance.
But two circumstances conspired to counteract the success of this plan—one, the necessity towards incurring the penalties of non compliance of there being an office of Inspection in each County, which was prevented in some of the counties by the means of intimidation practiced for that purpose—another,51 the non extension of the law to the territory N West of the Ohio52—into which a large proportion of the surplus beforementioned was sent.
A cure for these defects could only come from the legislature. Accordingly in the session which began in November 1792, measures were taken for procuring a further revision of the laws. A bill containing amendments of these53 defects was brought in;54 but it so happened that this object, by reason of more urgent business, was deferred ’till towards the close of the session and finally went off, through the hurry of that period.
The continuance of the embarrassments incident to this state of things naturally tended to diminish much the efficacy of the plan which had been devised. Yet it was resolved as far as legal provisions would bear out the Officers to pursue it with perseverance. There was ground to entertain hopes of its good effect—and it was certainly the most likely course which could have been adopted, towards obtaining the object of the laws by means short of force; evincing unequivocally the sincere disposition to avoid this painful resort and the steady moderation, which have characterised the measures of the Government.55
In pursuance of this plan, prosecutions were occasionally instituted in the mildest forms—seizures were made, as opportunities occurred—and purchases on public account were carried on. It may be incidentally remarked, that these purchases were extended to other places, where though the same disorders did not exist, it appeared adviseable to facilitate the payment of the duties by this species of accommodation.
Nor was this plan, notwithstanding the deficiencies of legal provision, which impeded its full execution, without corresponding effects. Symptoms from time to time appeared which authorised expectation, that with the aid, at another session, of the desired supplementary provisions, it was capable of accomplishing its end, if no extraordinary events occurred.
The opponents of the laws, not insensible of the tendency of that plan, nor of the defects in the laws which interfered with it, did not fail from time to time to pursue analogous modes of counteraction. The effort to frustrate the establishment of offices of Inspection in particular was persisted in and even increased. Means of intimidating officers and others continued to be exerted.
In April 1793 a party of armed men in disguise made an attack in the night upon the house of a Collector of the Revenue, who resided in Fayette-County,56 but he happening to be from home, they contented themselves with breaking open his house threatening terrifying and abusing his family.
Warrants were issued for apprehending some of the rioters upon this occasion by Isaac Mason and James Finley assistant Judges of Fayette County,57 which were delivered to the Sheriff58 of that County who it seems refused to execute them, for which he has been since indicted.
This is at once an example of a disposition to support the laws of the Union and of an opposite one in the local officers of Pensylvania within the disaffected59 scene. But it is a truth too important to be unnoticed and too injurious not to be lamented, that the prevailing spirit of those Officers has been either hostile or lukewarm to the execution of those laws—and that the weight of an unfriendly official influence has been one of the most serious obstacles with which they have had to struggle.
In June following, the Inspector of the Revenue was burnt in Effigy in Alleghany County at a place & on a day of some public election with much display,60 in the presence & without interruption from Magistrates and other public officers.61
On the night of the 22d. of November, another party of men, some of them armed and all in disguise, went to the house of the same Collector of Fayette which had been visited in April—broke and entered it and demanded a surrender of the officer’s Commission and Official books. Upon his refusing to deliver them up, they presented pistols at him, and swore that if he did not comply they would instantly put him to death. At length, a surrender of the Commission & books was enforced. But not content with this, the rioters before they departed required of the officer, that he should within two weeks publish his resignation, on pain of another visit & the destruction of his house.62
Notwithstanding these excesses, the laws appeared, during the latter periods of this year,63 to be rather gaining ground. Several principal distillers, who had formerly held out, complied; and others discovered a disposition to comply, which was only restrained by the fear of violence.
But these favourable circumstances served to beget alarm, among those who were determined at all events to prevent the quiet establishment of the laws. It soon appeared, that they meditated by fresh and greater excesses to aim a still more effectual blow at them—to subdue the growing spirit of compliance, and to destroy intirely the organs of the laws, within that part of the country, by compelling all the officers to renounce their offices.
The last proceeding in the case of the Collector of Fayette was in this spirit. In January of the present year further violences appear to have been perpetrated. William Richmond who had given information against some of the rioters in the affair of Wilson had his barn burnt with all the grain & hay which it contained—and the same thing happened to Robert Shawhan a distiller who had been among the first to comply with the law and who had always spoken favourably of it. But in neither of these instances (which happened in the County of Alleghany) though the presumptions were violent was any positive proof obtained.
The Inspector of the Revenue in a letter of the 27 of February64 writes, that he had received information that persons living near the dividing line of Alleghany & Washington had thrown out threats of tarring and feathering one William Cochran, a complying Distiller, and of burning his distillery—and that it had also been given out, that in three weeks there would not be a house standing in Alleghany County of any person who had complied with the laws; in consequence of which he had been induced to pay a visit to several leading individuals in that quarter, as well to ascertain the truth of the information as to endeavour to avert the attempt to execute such threats.
It appeared afterwards, that on his return home, he had been pursued by a collection of disorderly persons threatening, as they went along, vengeance against him. In their way, these men called at the house of James Kiddoe, who had recently complied with the laws, broke into his Still-house, fired several balls under his still and scattered fire over and about the house.65
Letters from the Inspector in March announce an increased activity in promoting opposition to the laws—frequent meetings to cement and extend the combinations against it—and among other means for this purpose a plan of collecting a force to seize him, compel him to resign his commission and detain him prisoner—probably as a hostage.66
In May and June, new violences were comitted. James Kiddoe the person abovementioned & Wm. Cochran another complying Distiller met with repeated injury to their property. Kiddoe had parts of his Grist mill at different times carried away, and Cochran suffered more material injuries. His still was destroyed his saw Mill rendered useless by the taking away of the Saw and his Grist Mill so injured as to require to be repaired at considerable expence. At the last visit, a note in writing was left, requiring him to publish what he had suffered in the Pittsburgh Gazette, on pain of another visit in which he is threatened, in figurative but intelligble terms, with the destruction of his property by fire; thus adding to the profligacy of doing wanton injuries to a fellow Citizen, the tyranny of compelling him to be the publisher of his own wrongs.67
June being the month for receiving annual entries of Stills, endeavours were used to open offices in Westmoreland & Washington, where it had been hitherto found impracticable. With much pains and difficulty places were procured for the purpose.
That, in Westmoreland, was repeatedly attacked in the night by armed men, who frequently fired upon it, but according to a report which has been made to this Department it was defended with so much courage and perseverance by John Wells an auxiliary officer & Philip Ragan the owner of the house—as to have been maintained during the remainder of the Month.68
That, in Washington, after repeated attempts was suppressed. The first attempt was confined to pulling down the signs of the office & threats of future destruction. The second effected the object in the following mode. About twelve persons armed & painted black, in the night of the 6th of June, broke into the house of John Lynn,69 where the office was kept, and after having treacherously seduced him to come down stairs & put himself in their power, by a promise of safety to himself and his house—they seized and tied him, threatened to hang him—took him to a retired spot in the neighbouring wood & there after cutting off his hair, tarring and feathering him, swore him never again to allow the use of his house for an Office, never to disclose their names and never again to have any sort of agency in aid of the excise; having done which, they bound him naked to a tree and left him in that situation ’till morning when he succeeded in extricating himself. Not content with this, the malcontents some days after made him another visit, pulled down part of his house—and put him in a situation to be obliged to become an exile from his own home & to find an asylum elsewhere.70
During this time several of the Distillers who had made entries & benifitted by them refused the payment of the duties; actuated no doubt by various motives.
Indications of a plan to proceed against the Inspector of the Revenue in the manner which has been beforementioned continued. In a letter from him of the 10 of July71 he observed that the threatened visit had not yet been made, though he had still reason to expect it.
In the session of Congress which began in December 1793 a bill for making the amendments in the laws, which had been for sometime desired, was brought in, and on the 5th of June last became a law.72
It is not to be doubted, that the different stages of this business were regularly notified to the malcontents, and that a conviction of the tendency of the amendments contemplated to effectuate the execution of the law had matured the resolution to bring matters to a violent crisis.
The increasing energy of the opposition rendered it indispensable to meet the evil with proportionable decision. The idea of giving time for the law to extend itself in scenes, where the disatisfaction with it was the effect not of an improper spirit, but of causes which were of a nature to yield to reason reflection & experience (which had constantly weighed in the estimate of the measures proper to be pursued) had had its effect, in an extensive degree. The experiment too had been long enough tried to ascertain, that where resistance continued the root of the evil lay deep; and required measures of greater efficacy than had been pursued. The laws had undergone repeated revisions of the legislative representatives of the Union; & had virtually received their repeated sanction, with none or very feeble attempts73 to effect their repeal; affording an evidence of the general sense of the community in their favour. Complaints began to be loud from complying quarters, against the impropriety & injustice of suffering the laws to remain unexecuted in others.
Under the united influence of these considerations, there was no choice but to try the efficiency of the laws in prosecuting with vigour delinquents and Offenders.
Processes issued against a number of non complying distillers in the Counties of Fayette & Alleghany; and indictments having been found at a Circuit Court holden at Philadelphia in July last against Robert Smilie & John McCulloch two of the rioters in the attack, which in November preceding had been made upon the house of a Collector of the Revenue in Fayette County, processes issued against them, also, to bring them to trial and if guilty to punishment.74 The Marshall of the District75 went in person to serve these processes. He executed his trust without interruption, though under many discouraging circumstances, in Fayette County; but while he was in the execution of it in Alleghany County being then accompanied by the Inspector of the Revenue (to wit) on the 15th of July last he was beset on the road by a party of from thirty to forty armed men who after much previous irregularity of conduct finally fired upon him but as it happened without injury either to him or the Inspector.76
This attempt on the Marshall was but the prelude of greater excesses.
About break of day the 16th of July, in conformity with a plan which seems to have been for some time entertained, and which probably was only accelerated by the coming of the Marshall into the survey, an attack by about 100 persons armed with guns & other weapons was made upon the house of the Inspector in the vicinity of Pittsburgh. The Inspector though alone vigorously defended himself against the assailants and obliged them to retreat without accomplishing their purpose.77
Apprehending that the business would not terminate here he made application by letter to the Judges Generals of Militia & Sheriff of the county for protection. A reply to his application from John Wilkins Junior & John Gibson Magistrates & Militia officers78 informed him, that the laws could not be executed, so as to afford him the protection to which he was intitled, owing to the too general combination of the people in that part of Pensylvania to oppose the Revenue law; adding that they would take every step in their power to bring the Rioters to Justice & would be glad to receive information of the individuals concerned in the attack upon his house, that prosecutions might be commenced against them and expressing their sorrow, that should the Posse Comitatus of the County be ordered out in support of the civil authority, very few could be gotten who were not of the party of the Rioters.
The day following, the Insurgents reassembled with a considerable augmentation of numbers amounting as has been computed to at least 500 and on the 17th of July renewed their attack upon the house of the Inspector; who in the interval had taken the precaution of calling to his aid a small detachment from the garrison of Fort Pit which at the time of this attack consisted of 11 Men, who had been joined by Major Abraham Kirkpatrick a friend & connection of the Inspector.79
There being scarcely a prospect of effectual defence against so large a body, as then appeared, and as the Inspector had every thing to apprehend for his person, if taken, it was judged adviseable that he should withdraw from the house to a place of concealment—Major Kirkpatrick generously agreeing to remain with the80 11 men, in the intention if practicable to make a capitulation in favour of the property if not to defend it as long as possible.
A parly took place, under cover of a flag, which was sent by the Insurgents to the House to demand, that the Inspector should come forth, renounce his office and stipulate never again to accept an office under the same laws. To this it was replied, that the Inspector had left the house upon their first approach, and that the place to which he had retired was unknown. They then declared that they must have whatever related to his office. They were answered that they might send persons not exceeding six to search the house and take away whatever papers they could find appertaining to the Office. But not satisfied with this, they insisted unconditionally, that the armed men who were in the house for its defence should march out & ground their arms; which Major Kirkpatrick peremptorily refused; considering it and representing it to them as a proof of a design to destroy the property. This refusal put an end to the parley.
A brisk firing then ensued between the insurgents and those in the House, which it is said lasted for near an hour; ’till the assailants having set fire to all the neighbouring & adjacent buildings, Eight in number, the intenseness of the heat & the danger of an immediate communication of the fire to the house obliged Maj Kirk: & his small party to come out & surrender themselves. In the course of the firing, one of the insurgents was killed & several wounded and three of the persons in the house were also wounded. The person killed is understood to have been the leader of the party of the name of James McFarlane,81 then a Major in the Militia formerly a Lieutenant in the Pensylvania line.
The dwelling house after the surrender shared the fate of the other buildings the whole having been consumed to the ground. The loss of property to the Inspector upon this occasion, is estimated and as is believed with great moderation at not less than 3000 pounds.
The Marshall, Col Presly Neville82 & several others were taken by the insurgents going to the Inspector’s House. All except the Marshall and Col Neville soon made their escape; but these were carried off some distance from the place, where the affray had happened, and detained till one or two oClock the next morning. In the course of their detention, the Marshall in particular suffered very severe and humiliating treatment—and was frequently in imminent danger of his life. Several of the party repeatedly presented their pieces at him, with every appearance of a design to assassinate, from which they were with difficulty restrained by the efforts of a few more humane & more prudent.
Nor could he obtain safety or liberty, but upon the condition of a promise guaranteed by Col Neville, that he would serve no other process on the West side of the Alleghany Mountain. The alternative being immediate death extorted from the Marshall a compliance with this condition; notwithstanding the just sense of official dignity and the firmness of character, which were witnessed by his conduct throughout the trying scenes he had experienced.
The insurgents on the 18th sent a deputation of two of their number (one a Justice of the Peace) to Pittsburgh83 to require of the Marshall a surrender of the processes in his possession, intimating that his compliance would satisfy the people & add to his safety—and also to demand of General Neville in peremptory terms the resignation of his Office, threatening in case of refusal to attack the place & take him by force: demands which both these officers did not hesitate to reject as alike incompatible with their honor & their duty.
As it was well ascertained, that no protection was to be expected from the Magistrates or inhabitants of Pittsburgh, it became necessary to the safety both of the Inspector & the Marshall to quit the place—and as it was known that all the usual routes to Philadelphia were beset by the insurgents, those officers concluded to descend the Ohio & proceed by a circuitous route to the seat of Government, which they began to put in execution on the night of the 19th of July.
Information has also been received of a Meeting of a considerable number of persons at a place called Mingo Creek Meeting House in the County of Washington, to consult about the further measures which it might be adviseable to pursue:84 That at this Meeting a motion was made to approve and agree to support the proceedings which had taken place, until the Excise law was repealed and an Act of oblivion passed. But that instead of this it had been agreed, that the four Western Counties of Pensylvania & the neighbouring Counties of Virginia should be invited to meet in a Convention of Delegates on the 14th of the present Month, at Parkinson’s on Mingo Creek in the County of Washington,85 to take into consideration the situation of the Western Country & concert such measures as should appear suited to this occasion.
It appears moreover that on the 26 of July86 last the Mail of the UStates on the road from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia was stopped by two armed men, who cut it open & took out all the letters, except those contained in one packet.87 These armed men, from all the circumstances which occurred, were manifestly acting on the part of the Insurgents.
The declared object of the foregoing proceedings is to obstruct the execution and compel a repeal of the laws, laying duties upon spirits distilled within the UStates and upon Stills. There is just cause to believe, that this is connected with an indisposition too general in that quarter to share in the common burthens of the community—and with a wish among some persons of influence to embarrass the Government. It is a fact of notoriety, that the revenue laws of the State itself have always been either resisted or defectively complied with in the same quarter.88
ADf, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; copy (incomplete), Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; copy, RG 46, Third Congress, 1793–1795, Messages from the President, National Archives; [Philadelphia] Dunlap and Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser, August 21, 1794.
1. The copy in the National Archives was transmitted by the President in his speech to both houses of Congress on November 19, 1794 (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Miscellaneous, I, 83–85, 106–12).
On August 6 and 16, 1794, H wrote to Washington for permission to publish the letter printed above. Permission was granted (Bartholomew Dandridge to H, August 19, 1794), and the letter appeared in Dunlap and Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser on August 21, 1794. It was subsequently published in other newspapers (see, for example, Greenleaf’s New York Journal, & Patriotic Register, August 27, 30, September 3, 6, 1794).
In the draft of this letter H crossed out words, sentences, and paragraphs. When such deletions are substantive, they have been noted below. At the same time there are differences between the draft of this letter and both the copies and the newspaper version. When these differences are substantive, they have been noted below.
For background to this letter, see H to Tench Coxe, September 1, 1792; H to Washington, September 1, 8, 9, 11, 22, 26, 1792, August 2, 1794; H to John Jay, September 3, 1792; Washington to H, September 7, two letters of September 17, September 21, October 1, 1792; “Draft of a Proclamation Concerning Opposition to the Excise Law,” September 7, 1792; Jay to H, September 8, 1792; Edmund Randolph to H, September 8, 1792; Rufus King to H, September 27, 1792; George Clymer to H, September 28, October 4, 10, 1792; Washington to Thomas Mifflin, September 29, 1792; Coxe to H, October 19, 1792; “Deposition of Francis Mentges,” August 1, 1794; “Conference Concerning the Insurrection in Western Pennsylvania,” August 2, 1794; H and Henry Knox to Washington, August 5, 1794.
This letter has been the standard—and often the only—source for those who have written about opposition in western Pennsylvania to the excise laws in the period before August, 1794. William Findley, who in 1796 published a defense of his own activities under the guise of a history of the insurrection, follows H’s account closely (with certain notable exceptions) and on one occasion states: “I have taken this enumeration from the Secretary’s report” (Findley, History of the Insurrection 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 , 60). Henry M. Brackenridge also used H’s letter as a major source for information in the early pages of his book (Brackenridge, Insurrection description begins Henry M. Brackenridge, History of the Western Insurrection in Western Pennsylvania, Commonly Called the Whiskey Insurrection, 1794 (Pittsburgh, 1859). description ends , 21–30). The introduction to the appropriate volume in the Pennsylvania Archives (Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV description begins Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV (n.p., 1876). description ends , 5–18) often reads like a paraphrase of H’s letter, and much the same can be said of the opening pages of the “Statement of Facts” preceding the account of the “Trials of the Western Insurgents” in Wharton, State Trials description begins Francis Wharton, State Trials of the United States During the Administrations of Washington and Adams (Philadelphia, 1849). description ends , 103–11. Finally, Leland D. Baldwin in his relatively recent study of the insurrection, while using a wide variety of sources, on more than one occasion relies either on H’s letter or on those who had used it in their earlier studies (Baldwin, Whiskey Rebels description begins Leland D. Baldwin, Whiskey Rebels: The Story of a Frontier Uprising (Pittsburgh, 1939). description ends ). In fact, the only writer who did not turn to H’s letter for information was Hugh H. Brackenridge (Brackenridge, Incidents description begins Hugh H. Brackenridge, Incidents of the Insurrection in the Western Parts of Pennsylvania, in the Year 1794 (Philadelphia, 1795). description ends ), whose account was an attempt at a personal vindication and as such deals almost exclusively with his own activities.
This letter as well as seven documents relating to the Whiskey Insurrection is printed in The Proceedings of the Executive of the United States, Respecting the Insurgents, 1794 (Philadelphia: John Fenno, 1795).
Before H’s letter was printed in Dunlap and Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser, August 21, 1794, Edmund Randolph wrote to Washington suggesting changes that he thought should be made in H’s letter before its publication. Randolph’s letter, dated August 18, 1794, reads as follows: “The following remarks occur upon the statement of Colo. Hamilton, which you did me the honor of communicating to me this morning.
“1. In what manner is it to be exhibited to the public? or in other words, is it to be introduced under the known or allowed countenance of the President? As I do not see, how the one or the other can be avoided, it seems proper to call his attention to these points.
“The specifying of names in the third page, and the omission of all names, except Cannon and Gallatin in the 16th page, when the names of the other persons assembled at Pittsburg are known, will be interpreted into a kind of warfare waged by the President against individuals in the former case, and a desire of selecting for odium Gallatin, whose hostility against the Secretary of the Treasury is well known. May it not be better to pass over names? They are sufficiently notorious already, and if such an idea, as I have suggested would be endangered, it would be an inconvenient thing without any profit.
“In the 4th page it is objected to these men, that they criticize the salaries of the public officers. This does not absolutely belong to the subject, and the President will readily see, why, if it be not necessary, it may be more delicate to leave out the remark.
“In page 5th I repeat the remark as to names, as well as the last remark about salaries.
“It will occur, on reading the marshal’s letter in page the 8th. that he ought to have tried a posse comitatus, and that it never has been tried; and this will be urged, as an insinuation of eagerness to get at military force. The like observation will arise, upon reading the close of the first paragraph in the 19th page.
“The affair of the maniac in the 11th. page will be exposed to some shafts of ridicule, inserted as it is among the ⟨–⟩ criminations of the insurgents in the appeal of the President to the understanding of the people; which this statement will be considered.
“In page 18th, the reasoning on the terms legal measures to obstruct the operation of a law savours more of the acuteness of a lawyer, than the gravity and solid reasoning of the President. Suppose for instance, they had associated against drinking excised liquors, & keeping stills; would not this have been a legal measure, and would it not have obstructed the operation of a law?
“In page 19th. the supervisor is said to have been sent up with certain objects. Was it known to the President, that he went to obtain evidence of those, who composed the meeting at Pittsburg? This circumstance would be pregnant with many remarks; especially as the attorney general is afterwards said to have been of opinion, that they were not indictable. For why send to enquire into the conduct of men, who were not liable to prosecution? The supervisor and his report will be treated, as they have been, with much contempt.
“The opinion of the attorney general, as stated in page 21st. is not now recollected; but a great doubt is entertained whether there be not an inaccuracy, at least so far as this, that the statement is not as strong as the opinion.
“In page 22d. the representations referred to are, I believe more favorable to government, than as they are quoted.
“In page 37th. an opportunity is offered to rectify, what major Lenox complained of; and besides, it will be considered as uncandid not to notice, that he had served all the processes, except one.
“2. These observations result from the examination, which I have been able to give the paper. There may be more, deserving attention than I have pointed out. But under the possibility of your becoming responsible for what nothing but a repeated examination can secure you: under the facility, with which the facts may be communicated to the public, without your intervention; and after your having given the essence and summary of these facts in your proclamation; I wish that the paper should be communicated to the world, in some other manner than under your auspices. I confess that I never can approve the drawing forth of your name and character without necessity.
“3. If on the other hand, you should be of opinion, that your being supposed to have authorized the publication does not commit you, and that the whole affair rests upon the responsibility of the Secretary of the treasury alone, it may be still expedient to recommend to his notice, such of the preceding remarks as may have any weight, and the word ‘the’ instead of these in the 14th. line of the first page, and the word ‘if’ instead of ‘of’ in the 10th. line of the 27th. page; both of which effect the sense.” (ADfS, RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters, 1790–1799, National Archives; LC, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.)
Randolph is referring to the pagination of the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, which is apparently the letter H sent to Washington.
2. “An Act repealing, after the last day of June next, the duties heretofore laid upon Distilled Spirits imported from abroad, and laying others in their stead; and also upon Spirits distilled within the United States, and for appropriating the same” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 199–214 [March 3, 1791]), “An Act concerning the Duties on Spirits distilled within the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 267–71 [May 8, 1792]), and “An Act making further provision for securing and collecting the Duties on foreign and domestic distilled Spirits, Stills, Wines and Teas” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 378–81 [June 5, 1794]).
3. According to Henry M. Brackenridge, it “was resolved at this meeting, that it be recommended to the several counties to appoint delegates, at least three for each elective district, to meet at the seat of justice, and having collected the sense of the people in each county, from each of these delegates choose three to form a committee. These were to meet at Pittsburgh, on the first Tuesday of September, and there draw up and pass resolutions expressing the sense of their constituents respecting the excise law” (Brackenridge, Insurrection description begins Henry M. Brackenridge, History of the Western Insurrection in Western Pennsylvania, Commonly Called the Whiskey Insurrection, 1794 (Pittsburgh, 1859). description ends , 22). William Findley, who attended the Redstone meeting, wrote: “How this meeting could have been ranked by the secretary of the treasury, in his report to the President, preparatory to calling out the militia, among the causes of the insurrection, and given as one of the instances of unlawful combination, I know not. Surely such a meeting may be held, and such resolves passed, in Great Britain, even after the sedition bills, which have thrown that nation into such a flame, are enacted into laws. I never knew that a meeting to petition government respectfully, was esteemed criminal in any country that had the least pretensions to freedom” (Findley, History of the Insurrection 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 , 42).
4. The remainder of this sentence was crossed out in the copy in the Hamilton Papers and does not appear in the copy in the National Archives or in the newspaper version. See Randolph to Washington, August 18, 1794, quoted in note 1.
5. In the draft under Thomas Crooks’s name H listed and crossed out fourteen names. The names are the same as those who attended the Washington County meeting on August 23, 1791. For these names, see note 6.
6. The resolutions are contained in the following account of the Washington County meeting, which has been taken from a clipping dated August 23, 1791, from an unidentified newspaper; the clipping was enclosed in a letter from John Neville to George Clymer, September 8, 1791 (LS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford):
“Pursuant to resolutions entered into at Redstone Old Fort the 27th of July last, by a number of respectable citizens, recommending to the citizens of Westmoreland, Washington, Fayette, and Allegheny counties to choose county committees to meet at the seat of justice in their respective counties on the 4th Tuesday in August, to collect the sense of the people on the act of Congress impressing a duty on spirits distilled within the United States, the following gentlemen met: Washington district, James Marshal, David Bradford, Henry Taylor. Hill’s district, Thomas Crooks, Eli Jenkins, Joseph Hill. Blazler’s district, David Drennon, James Edgar, Henry Graham. M’Candless’s district, Peter Kidd, Samuel Scott, Alexander Wright. Hamilton’s district, David Philips, John Baldwin, William Parker. Cline’s district, John Flanagan, Thomas Sedgwick, John Badollet. After producing the credentials of their election they proceeded to appoint a chairman, when James Edgar, Esquire, was unanimously elected to the chair. David Bradford was appointed clerk.
“The different members were called upon by the chair to make report of the sense of their respective constituents on the act of Congress under deliberation; when each member seemed to find less difficulty in expressing the indignation and just resentment of his constituents against said act, than to conceal his own.
“Resolved, That in the opinion of this committee the duty laid by Congress on spiritous liquors distilled from the produce of the United States, is a tax not in proportion to property, and if carried into effect will be partial in its operations and inconsistent with that protection which the laws of all nations, even the most savage, but our laws especially, give to the repositories of a man’s house: and that any person or persons whatever, who have or may accept of any office under Congress, in order to carry into effect said act, shall be considered as inimical to the interests of that country.
“Resolved, That it be recommended to the citizens of Washington county, to treat all such persons who have or may hereafter accept any such office or appointment with that contempt they deserve, and that they absolutely refuse all kind of communication or intercourse with them, and that they will withhold all aid, support or comfort from such officer or officers.
“Resolved, That in the opinion of this committee the salaries allowed by Congress to the different officers on the civil list establishment, are far beyond that moderation that ought to have been observed in the disposition of public money taking into view our present circumstances, or indeed any possible affluent circumstances to which the United States might arrive. That such enormous per diem and per annum allowances to officers as estab’shed by said act have a tendency to beget habits of inattention to duty and swell to insolence, men appointed to serve the public and not to roll in affluence, forgetful of duty and obligation.
“Resolved, That this committee will delegate three of their members to meet other delegates from the counties of Westmoreland, Fayette, and Allegheny on the first Tuesday in September next, for the purpose of expressing the sense of the people of these counties in an address to the Legislature of the United States upon the subject of the excise law and other grievances.
“Then the committee, proceeded to the appointment of their members, as agreeable to the forgoing resolution, and James Marshall, Esq, David Bradford. Esq. and the Revd. David Philips, were appointed.
“Resolved, That the aforegoing resolutions be forwarded to the Printer at Pittsburgh for publication.”
“James Edgar, Chairman.”
In describing the Washington County meeting of August 23, 1791, Henry M. Brackenridge wrote: “At the preparatory meeting for the county of Washington, some resolutions of a violent character were adopted by way of instructions for the delegates who were to attend at Pittsburgh. They were modeled after those passed before the Revolutionary War in relation to the stamp act and other excises” (Brackenridge, Insurrection description begins Henry M. Brackenridge, History of the Western Insurrection in Western Pennsylvania, Commonly Called the Whiskey Insurrection, 1794 (Pittsburgh, 1859). description ends , 22).
7. See the third resolution quoted in note 6.
8. In the two copies and in the newspaper version of this letter this paragraph reads as follows: “Not content with this vindictive proscription of those who might esteem it their duty, in the capacity of officers, to aid in the execution of the constitutional laws of the land, the meeting proceeded to accumulate topics of crimination of the government, though foreign to each other; authorising, by this zeal for censure, a suspicion that they were actuated, not merely by the dislike of a particular law, but by a disposition to render the government itself unpopular and odious.” In the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, the words “accumulate topics of crimination of the Government, though foreign to each other; authorising by this zeal for censure a suspicion” are in H’s handwriting. See Randolph to Washington, August 18, 1794, quoted in note 1.
9. The remainder of this paragraph was crossed out in the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, and does not appear in the copy in the National Archives or in the newspaper version. See Randolph to Washington, August 18, 1794, quoted in note 1.
10. David Phillips. In the margin opposite the end of this paragraph H wrote and crossed out in the draft: “B Were there not at this time other county Meetings?” Apparently the Washington County meeting was the only county meeting before the Pittsburgh meeting of September 7, 1791 (Findley, History of the Insurrection 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 , 43).
11. The remainder of this paragraph was crossed out in the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, and does not appear in the newspaper version or in the copy in the National Archives. See Randolph to Washington, August 18, 1794, quoted in note 1.
12. H is referring to Nathaniel Bradly, delegate from Fayette County.
13. Thomas Morton.
14. William Plumer.
15. The delegates at the Pittsburgh meeting of September 7, 1791, “Resolved, That having considered the laws of the late Congress, it is our opinion that in a very short time hasty strides have been made to all that is unjust and oppressive. We note particularly the exorbitant salaries of officers, the unreasonable interest of the public debt, and the making no discriminations between the original holders of public securities and the transferees, contrary to the ideas of natural justice in sanctioning an advantage which was not in the contemplation of the party himself to receive, and contrary to the municipal law of most nations and ours particularly, the carrying into effect an unconscionable bargain where an undue advantage has been taken of the ignorance or necessities of another.… What is an evil still greater, the constituting a capital of nearly eighty millions of dollars in the hands of a few persons who may influence those occasionally, in power, to evade the Constitution. As an instance of this, already taken place, we note the act establishing a National Bank on the doctrine of implication, but more especially we bear testimony to what is a basic offspring of the funding system, the excise law of Congress.…
“Resolved, That the said law is deservedly obnoxious to the feelings and interests of the people in general.… It operates on a domestic manufacture, a manufacture not equal through the States. It is insulting to the feelings of the people to have their vessels marked, houses painted and ransacked, to be subject to informers, gaining by the occasional delinquency of others.…
“Resolved, That there appears to be no substantial difference between a duty on what is manufactured from the produce of a country and the produce in its natural state.… The excise on home-made spiritous liquors, affects particularly, the raising of grain, especially rye, and there can be no solid reason for taxing it more than any other article of the growth of the United States.
“Resolved, That the foregoing representations be presented to the Legislature of the United States.
“Resolved, That the following remonstrance be presented to the Legislature of Pennsylvania …” (Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV description begins Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV (n.p., 1876). description ends , 20–22).
16. In the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, this sentence reads as follows: “The same unfriendly temper which [seemed to have] led out of their way the meeting at Washington [appears to have] produced a similar wandering in that at Pittsburgh.” The words within brackets are in H’s handwriting. The newspaper version and the copy in the National Archives are similar to the copy in the Hamilton Papers.
17. On November 22, 1791, the House of Representatives received and referred to H “A memorial of the Committee of the counties of Washington, Westmoreland, Fayette, and Allegheny, in the State of Pennsylvania … stating their objections to an act, passed at the last session, imposing a duty on spirits distilled within the United States, and praying that the same may be repealed” (Journal of the House description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I, II, III. description ends , I, 458). See H’s “Report on the Difficulties in the Execution of the Act Laying Duties on Distilled Spirits,” March 5, 1792. The remonstrance to the Pennsylvania legislature has not been found.
18. In a letter to Edmund Randolph on July 30, 1794, William Rawle, United States attorney for the District of Pennsylvania, wrote: “The first instance of open resistance to the law imposing duties upon distilled Spirits occurred in the case of Robert Johnson in September 1791. On the 29th. Sept. he made an affidavit of this violence before W. L. Esquire [William Lewis] Judge of the District Court which was transmitted to me with directions to take such measures as the Law required” (ADf, Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia).
John Neville gave the following account of the attack on Johnson in a letter to Clymer, dated September 15, 1791: “The bearer of this is mr. Johnson one of the collectors of the revenue for the counties of Allegheny and Washington, as he will be before you I shall refer you to him altogether for the loss & abuse he suffered by a number of men in disguise (some in womens cloathes) on the 6th of this month, we have been able to find out sixteen of them, a list of which is enclosed.” Neville listed “Col John Hamilton, John Robinson, Thos. McComb (in Womans cloathes), Colo. Wm Parker, Capn Jas. Parker, Danl Hamilton, Docr. Jas. Robinson, Joseph McClary (alias woman), Thos. Hill, Arthur Gardner, McCall, David Hamilton, Saml Scott, John Johnston, Robt. Morrisan, and Jas. Langwell” (ALS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford). To this list H added “John Woods.” H endorsed this letter as follows: “abuse of Collector Johnson Meeting at Pittsburgh resolution.”
21. John Neville.
22. In the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, this letter is dated October 27, 1791, and the phrase “as announced in a letter of that Officer of the 27 of October 1791” is crossed out. The phrase does not appear in the newspaper version or in the copy in the National Archives.
Neville wrote to H on October 27, 1791, but that letter does not deal with the Whiskey Insurrection. The Neville letter to which H is referring was presumably to George Clymer, supervisor of the revenue for the District of Pennsylvania. It has not been found.
23. H is referring to “An Act to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 264–65 [May 2, 1792]).
24. Benjamin Wells. Findley, who disagreed with H concerning the events at Greensburgh and Uniontown, wrote: “… I have passed one instance mentioned by him [H], viz. that Wells the collector was injuriously treated at Greensburgh, in Westmoreland, in 1792. I passed it, because I was convinced it was without foundation. On the most minute enquiry, I have not found the smallest trace of any injury or insult that he received there.…
“The account of his being ill treated at Greensburgh, is connected by the secretary with a similar assertion respecting the treatment he received at Union Town, in Fayette county. This, however, also appears to have but little foundation. On the first day appointed for entering the stills, a number of distillers attended; but the collector did not appear. On the second day, for he was to have attended one day in the week, a greater number of distillers appeared; but the collector was not to be found, though called and diligent enquiry made for him. He was known to be a timid man, and very probably was afraid of their numbers, and this might have been the reason why a greater number attended the second day; but they were neither armed with weapons nor threats. When he undertook the office he ought to have discovered more boldness and less apprehension.…” (Findley, History of the Insurrection 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 , 60–61.)
25. H’s description of the attack on Robert Wilson is based on a letter which John Neville wrote to Clymer on November 17, 1791 (ALS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford). For the indictment against the men who attacked Wilson, see James Brison to Thomas Mifflin, November 9, 1792 (Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV description begins Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV (n.p., 1876). description ends , 44–45). Brison was prothonotary of Allegheny County.
26. In the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, H changed this phrase to read: “who conceived himself to be a martyr to the discharge of some important duty.” The newspaper version and the copy in the National Archives are similar to the copy in the Hamilton Papers.
27. On December 11, 1791, John Neville wrote to Clymer: “… a Person of the name of Roseberry, among many Others was giving his oppinion of the Law, and hapend to Say the People Could hardly Expect protection from Congress Since they were So much opposed to their Laws, upon Which he was imediately Branded as they term it With Tar and Feathers one half of his head Close Shaved and otherwise much Abused, and Let him go …” (ALS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford). H endorsed this letter “Tarring & feathering of one Rosebery.”
28. In the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, the words “(as appears by a letter from Mr. Nevil of the 22 of December)” were crossed out, and they are not in the newspaper version or the copy in the National Archives.
29. On December 22, 1791, Neville wrote to Clymer: “The Same opposition to our law Continues or rather increases. The two persons who gave testimony against the rioters that burnt or abused Willson, was on Saturday and Sunday nights last, taken by a banditry of Armed men, and carryed off, one of them has not been heard of since, the other got from a part of them on Monday last, but can give No Account of the other, this has been our Court Week, and it is Supposed they have taken him over the river to prevent his appearing as a witness against them …” (ALS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford). H endorsed this letter “Wilson.”
30. Neville described one such incident in his letter of December 22, 1791, to Clymer: “… on Saturday the 3rd. of this month a party gathered on the road leading to my house and waited till after dark to Ketch me, but luckily I did not go home that night, nor have I Ventured their since, by which means I have escaped their Vengeance. I have now armed my negros and shall go home tomorrow, If I am Attacked I must defend myself in the best manner I can” (ALS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford).
31. H is referring to “An Act concerning the Duties on Spirits distilled within the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 267–71).
32. On April 1, 1794, the House of Representatives received petitions from the inhabitants of Washington County, Maryland, and Chester and Lancaster counties, Pennsylvania, requesting revision of “An Act concerning the Duties on Spirits distilled within the United States” (Journal of the House description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I, II, III. description ends , II, 109; 1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 267–71). The petitions were referred to a committee consisting of Andrew Moore of Virginia, John Smilie of Pennsylvania, Joseph McDowell of North Carolina, John Beatty of New Jersey, and Thomas Sprigg of Maryland, with instructions to “report to the House, the general operation and effect of the excise in the United States, and the nett amount of revenue arising therefrom” (Journal of the House description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I, II, III. description ends , II, 109). The committee’s report, presented to the House by Andrew Moore on May 16, 1794, stated that opposition to the excise law still existed “in two western surveys of South Carolina, in the survey of Kentucky, and the western survey of Pennsylvania” (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Finance, I, 279).
33. In the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, and in the newspaper version this word is “officers.” In the copy in the National Archives it correctly reads “offices.”
34. See Section 7 of “An Act repealing, after the last day of June next, the duties heretofore laid upon Distilled Spirits imported from abroad, and laying others in their stead; and also upon Spirits distilled within the United States, and for appropriating the same” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 200–01 [March 3, 1791]).
35. See Section 2 of “An Act concerning the Duties on Spirits distilled within the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 268 [May 8, 1792]).
36. This incident was described by Neville in a letter of August 23, 1792, to Clymer (LS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford). See H to Coxe, September 1, 1792, note 3. Faulkner’s deposition describing these events is dated September 28, 1792 (DS, Pennsylvania Miscellany, Whiskey Rebellion, Vol. I, Library of Congress). See also Clymer to H, October 4, 1792.
37. The remainder of this sentence was crossed out in the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, and does not appear in the newspaper version or in the copy in the National Archives. This was a correction which Randolph suggested to Washington in his letter of August 18, 1794. See note 1.
38. For these resolutions and an account of the meeting, see H to Coxe, September 1, 1792, note 5. These resolutions are also printed in Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV description begins Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV (n.p., 1876). description ends , 30–31.
40. Space left blank in MS. In the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, H inserted “15th of September 1792.” These words also appear in the newspaper version and in the copy in the National Archives.
41. At this point in the draft H left a blank space and wrote in the margin “D Proclamation.” In the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, a blank space was also left at this point in which H inserted the following quotation from Washington’s proclamation of September 15, 1792: “earnestly admonishing and exhorting all persons whom it might concern, to refrain and desist from all unlawful combinations and proceedings whatsoever, having for object or tending to obstruct the operation of the laws aforesaid inasmuch as all lawful ways and means would be put in execution for bringing to Justice the infractors thereof and securing obedience thereto; and moreover changing and requiring all Courts, Magistrates and Officers whom it might concern according to the duties of their several Officers to exert the powers in them respectively vested by law for the purposes aforesaid; thereby also enjoining and requiring all persons whomsoever as they tendered the welfare of their Country, the just and due authority of Government and the preservation of the public peace to be aiding and assisting therein according to law.” The quotation from the proclamation appears in the newspaper version and in the copy in the National Archives. For the proclamation, see “Draft of a Proclamation Concerning Opposition to the Excise Law,” September 7, 1792, note 1.
42. Edmund Randolph.
43. William Rawle.
45. Alexander Berr and William Kerr.
47. In the draft H put dashes under the word “indictable” and in the margin wrote: “examine opinion.” In the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, the word is underlined. See Randolph to Washington, August 18, 1794, quoted in note 1.
48. The following account of the activities of Berr and Kerr in the Faulkner riot in Washington County is in Peter Myers’s deposition, dated September 29, 1792 “… And farther this Deponant saith that a Certain Alexander Berr said it would be well done if the house [Faulkner’s] was burnt, for as it stood at some distance from the other houses it might be burnt without Injuring any other house in Town—& farther this Deponant saith that a Certain William Kerr said it would be well done if the house was undermined & thrown down …” (D, Pennsylvania Miscellany, Whiskey Rebellion, Vol. I, Library of Congress). See also Clymer to H, October 4, 1792, notes 9, 10, and 12.
According to Williame Rawle, “the indictment against … [Berr and Kerr] was ordered by the President to be withdrawn upon exculpating affidavits without subjecting them to the trouble & expence of a trial” (Rawle to Randolph, July 30, 1794 [ADf, Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia]).
49. At this point in the draft H wrote and crossed out the following: “Two circumstances in the laws conspired to embarrass the success of measures, short of force, for overcoming this resistance—one the necessity towards incurring the penalties of non compliance of having an office of inspection in each County which was prevented in all the opposing counties but one by the means of intimidation which were employed—the other the questionableness of the right of seizure of casks under twenty gallons upon which the duties might not have been paid.” H is referring to Section 9 of “An Act concerning the Duties on Spirits distilled within the United States,” which provided that “casks and vessels of the capacity of twenty gallons and upwards, containing distilled spirits, which shall be found in the possession of any distiller or dealer in spirits, except at a distillery where the same were made, or in going from one place to another, without being marked according to law, or without having a certificate from some proper officer, shall be liable to seizure and forfeiture …” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 269 [May 8, 1792]).
50. In the two copies and in the newspaper version the words “for the Government” are omitted.
51. In the draft and in the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, the following material was crossed out at this point: “the questionableness of the right of seizure of casks or vessels containing less than 20 Gallons, the general usage of the country being to employ casks of less capacity for sending spirits to Market—a third.” These words do not appear in the newspaper version or in the copy in the National Archives. See note 49.
52. Section 4 of “An Act repealing, after the last day of June next, the duties heretofore laid upon Distilled Spirits imported from abroad, and laying others in their stead; and also upon Spirits distilled within the United States, and for appropriating the same” divided the United States into fourteen districts, one for each state. No provision was made for extending the law to the territories (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 200).
53. In the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, H inserted “and other” at this point. These words appear in the newspaper version and in the copy in the National Archives.
54. On March 2, 1793, the final day of the session, “The House resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole House on the bill marking farther provision for securing and collecting the duties on Foreign and Domestic distilled spirits, stills, wines, and teas; and after some time spent therein, the Committee rose, and were discharged from the further consideration of the said bill” (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings of the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , III, 966).
55. In the margin opposite the end of this paragraph H wrote and crossed out the following: “Instances still continued to influence the non acceptance of the law—Additional opposition.”
56. Similar accounts of the attack on Benjamin Wells’s house may be found in a letter, dated May 24, 1793, from Neville to Clymer (ALS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford) and in Findley, History of the Insurrection 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 , 59. For events which occurred after the attack, see Neville to ——, June 7, 1793 (LS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford), and Rawle to Randolph, July 30, 1794 (ADf, Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia).
57. Isaac Meason and James Findley.
58. Joseph Huston. For the indictment against Huston, see Rawle to Randolph, July 30, 1794 (ADf, Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia).
59. In the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, H crossed out the word “disaffected” and inserted the word “non complying.” This change appears in both the newspaper version and the copy in the National Archives.
60. In describing this incident, Neville wrote the following account to an unidentified correspondent on June 21, 1793: “… it is now the period of electing Militia Officers I had attended some of those Elections, Yesterday there was one in the forks between Mononga. & Yohga. in this County. I had thoughts of being there but was disappointed, my son from the Nature of his Office (being an Inspector) was obliged to be there. There were present about 100 people who had mounted an Effigy with labels purporting it to be ‘Genl. Neville the excise man’ and a great deal of illiberal Stuff against me & the law. They exposed it during the day and in the Evening consigned it to the flames, regretting it was not me instead of an Effigy” (LS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford). H endorsed this letter “appearances of compliance deceitful, Effigy.”
61. At this point in the draft H wrote and crossed out the following paragraphs: “Yet notwithstanding particular excesses, there appeared during the latter periods of this year symptoms in different parts of the discontented Counties of a decrease of the spirit of opposition & of a growing disposition to comply with the laws. The appearances for some time were such as to strengthen the hope that a perseverance in the plan which had been adopted especially when fortified by the additional legal provisions which were contemplated would ultimately procure success.
“The idea of giving time for the laws to go into more full operation in other quarters where they had met with obstructions continued to have weight during all this time in regulating the measures which were pursued towards the Counties in question—and cooperated with the occasionally favourable symptoms there to induce an adherence to the plan of endeavouring by forbearance moderation & collateral expedients to promote the gradual establishment of the authority of the laws.
“But the encouraging symptoms were not of long duration. It began soon to appear, that the probability of success in the plan, which was in execution, had excited alarm with those who were determined at all events to prevent the quiet establishment of the laws—and that they had resolved to renew and increase their efforts to counteract it.
“To make the danger of compliance so great, as completely to deter from it, and absolutely to oblige all the Officers of the revenue to relinquish their Offices appear to have become the fixed objects of the opposition. And they seem to have been for some time determined to bring matters to this issue at every hazard, expecting by it to strike at the root of the laws.”
62. Wells’s deposition concerning this incident is dated January 29, 1794, and reads in part as follows: “… on the night of the 22d. day of November last past, about two o clock, this deponents dwelling house in Franklin township Fayette County was forcibly attacked, the doors broken open and six men, two of them armed with pistols entered the room in which the deponent lay. That they were all disguised by having their faces blacked and four of them had handkerchiefs tied over their mouths. That they advanced to the deponent and required him to deliver up his commission and also his books relative to Excise business, which the deponent refused. They then presented two pistols to the deponent and swore that if he did not produce his said Commission and books they would instantly put him to death. That the deponent being in fear of his life and under the necessity of submitting to superior force told them his commission & books were in another room and that if furnished with a light he would get them. That a light was brought & he went in to the other room followed by one of the said men who had a cocked pistol in his hand which he kept presented towards him and having found the commission & books he returned & laid them on the table. That some of the six men insisted in his delivering the commission into their hands but he refused saying it is there on the table. That they then took the said commission & books and went away first requiring the said deponent to publish his resignation in two weeks other wise they would pay him another visit and would not leave one log upon another at his house.
“That four of the said assailants were wholly unknown to the deponent, that the day after the outrage aforesaid happened this deponent was at Isaac Meason Esquire Iron works where he saw a man whose features instantly struck his attention and upon approaching him to take a nearer view the man endeavored to conceal his face, but from the sight of it which the deponent was able to get he is well satisfied in his own mind that this person whose name is John M’Culloch was one of the six persons guilty of the assault aforesaid. That he is equally well satisfied that Robert Smilie son of John Smilie Esquire was another of the said persons as well from having been able to distinguish his features tho’ blacked as from his tone of voice during part of the time while in the deponents house.” (DS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.) Wells’s deposition was sworn to before Richard Peters, judge of the United States District Court for the District of Pennsylvania.
Washington issued a proclamation, which was published in The Pittsburgh Gazette on March 15, 1794. The proclamation reads as follows: “Whereas by information given on oath, it appears that in the night time of the twenty second day of November a number of armed men having their faces blackened and being other wise disguised, violently broke open and entered the dwelling house of Benjamin Wells collector of the revenue arising from spirits distilled within the United States, in and for the counties of Westmoreland & Fayette in the district of Pennsylvania, and by assaulting the said collector and put[t]ing him in fear and danger of his life, in his dwelling house aforesaid, in the said county of Fayette did compel him to deliver up to them his commission for collecting the said revenue, together with the books kept by him in the execution of his said duty, and did threaten to do further violence to the said collector, if he did not shortly thereafter publicly renounce the further execution of his said office:
“And Whereas several of the perpetrators of the said offence are still unknown, and the safety and good order of society require that such daring offenders should be discovered and brought to justice so that infractions of the law may be prevented, obedience to them secured, and officers protected in the due execution of the trusts reposed in them, therefore I have thought proper to offer and hereby do offer a reward of Two Hundred Dollars for each of the said offenders that shall be discovered and brought to justice for the said offence, to be paid to the person or persons who shall first discover and give information of the said offenders to any judge, justice of the peace, or other magistrate.
“And I do hereby strictly charge and enjoin all officers and ministers of justice according as their respective duties may require, to use their best endeavors to cause the offenders to be discovered, apprehend[ed] and secured, so that they may be speedily brought to trial for the offence aforesaid.”
For information on the earlier attack on Wells’s house, see note 56.
63. At this point in the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, H put an asterisk and at the bottom of the page wrote “1791.” In the newspaper version and in the copy in the National Archives “(1791)” appears at this point.
64. No letter from Neville of this date has been found.
65. In an undated and unaddressed letter, which is endorsed as having been received on March 21, 1794, Neville stated: “In my last I informed you Mr. Johnson and myself had paid a Visit to Some of the most Obstinate distillers, about the line of Washington and this County, and that We had not been interrupted, but we Soon after found that they had Collected after us, to the Number of Sixty or upwards, and followed us Swearing Vengeance against us, Called at one Kildoes who had first entered his Stills, broke into his Still house, fired Several Guns under his Still, Threw the fire over the House and out of the door, and then pursued us who had Luckily got out of their reach, when first hearing of the news we flattered our selves that they Suffered us to Get out of the Way before they began to assemble, but from What has Since happened I believe it was not the Case” (ALS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford). H endorsed this letter: “purposed outrage to him. plan of compelling him to renounce his Com~.”
66. In an undated and unaddressed letter, endorsed as having been received on March 21, 1794, Neville wrote: “On Monday morning, Last … a Carpenter … who has Worked for me better than a year, came to me and told me to take care of myself, that a Wm Smith had Informed him that day that all the Militia Captains had been Sent to by a Number of distillers to raise 4 or 500 men at once, and finish the business, to Come and Seize me and Make me Give up my Commission, and keep me a prisoner…” (ALS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford).
67. See Findley, History of the Insurrection, 59–60.
68. John Wells was a collector of the revenue for Westmoreland County; Philip Reagan was a deputy collector (Baldwin, Whiskey Rebels, 165).
69. A different view of this incident by a contemporary reads as follows: “About the last of June or first of July, 1794, John Lyn, a Deputy Inspector, residing in Canonsburg, Washington county, was taken from his bed, carried into the woods and received a coat of tar and feathers, and he was left tied to a tree but so loosely that he could easily extricate himself. He returned to his house, and after undergoing an ablution with grease and soap and sand and water, he exhibited himself to the boys in the Academy and others, and laughed and made sport of the whole matter” (James Carnahan, “The Pennsylvania Insurrection of 1794, Commonly Called the Whiskey Insurrection,” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, VI , 120). For an account that agrees with H, see Findley, History of the Insurrection, 60.
70. At this point in the draft H wrote and crossed out: “These particulars are contained in three letters from the Inspector of the Revenue of the 6th 13 & 20th of June.” See Neville to Clymer, June 13, 20, 1794 (LS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford). Neville’s letter of June 6, 1794, has not been found.
71. Neville’s letter has not been found.
72. See Annals of Congress, IV, 437, 560, 715, 720, and “An Act making further provision for securing and collecting the Duties on foreign and domestic distilled Spirits, Stills, Wines and Teas” (1 Stat. 378–81).
73. In the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, H crossed out this phrase and above it wrote: “without even an attempt, so far as is now recollected or can be traced.” This correction appears in the newspaper version and in the copy in the National Archives.
74. See note 62.
75. David Lenox.
76. In describing this incident, Hugh H. Brackenridge wrote: “I had supposed they [the insurgents] would have considered the marshal in the light of a sheriff, or a judicial officer, and would not molest him. However, it so happened, that I was mistaken in my confidence of his security; for the evening of the next day [July 15], having been out in company with the inspector of revenue for the district, John Neville, serving some remaining writs upon distillers, in the county of Alleghany, he returned with an unfavorable account of his reception. He had served the last writ he had to serve, in that quarter, and had just quitted the house of a distiller, of the name of [William] Miller, when a number of men were observed to be in pursuit of them and a gun was discharged. The marshal conceiving it not to be with a view to injure, but intimidate, turned and expostulated. But observing a sullenness of countenance, and advised by the inspector, who knew their disposition better, he thought proper to ride off, and escape from them…” (Brackenridge, Incidents description begins Hugh H. Brackenridge, Incidents of the Insurrection in the Western Parts of Pennsylvania, in the Year 1794 (Philadelphia, 1795). description ends , I, 6).
77. In a letter to Tench Coxe, dated July 18, 1794, Neville gave the following account of this attack on his house: “On Wednesday Morning the 26th about day light, my Servants having just gone out to their employments, I discovered my House was surrounded with men, supposed about 100, Sixty of whom was well armed, the others with Sticks and clubs—tho alone being well provided with Arms and Ammunition, I determined to defend myself to the last, knowing that extreeme Insult would be the consequence of my falling into their Hands—An Action accordingly commenced and to make good the old adage ‘that Victory is not always to ye Strong’ after a firing of 25 Minutes, I obliged them to retire having wounded at least five of them, one or two supposedly dangerously—they did me no other damage than firing about 50 Balls into my house, Mrs. Neville, a young lady, and a little girl, the only companions of my danger narrowly escaping” (LS, Neville Papers, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).
Isaac Craig, in a letter to Henry Knox dated July 18, 1794, describes this incident as follows: “About day break in the Morning of the 16th Instant a number of Armed Men Attacked General Nevilles House, he himself only defending it, he however dispersed the party having wounded six or seven, One of whom it is said Mortally…” (LS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford).
78. Gibson was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and a major general of the Pennsylvania militia. Wilkins was a brigadier general of the militia and a justice of the peace. See “Deposition of Francis Mentges,” August 1, 1794, note 2.
79. The contents of this paragraph and those immediately following it closely parallel two letters which Kirkpatrick wrote to Washington on July 25 and 28, 1794 (ALS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford). Kirkpatrick, a major in the American Revolution, was at this time engaged in speculation in Pittsburgh and was a member of the “Neville connection.” See “Deposition of Francis Mentges,” August 1, 1794, note 2.
In his letter of July 28 to Washington, Kirkpatrick wrote: “Last post I wrote the Sec. of the Treasury respecting the Attack on the house of Genl. Nevill Supt. of the Revenue Law, this morning we have heard the post was rob’d. As I seemed to have acted a principal Character in the Transactions of this day—some gentlemen thought it would be proper for me to State such facts as come more particularly under my View & am as follows” (ALS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford).
Kirkpatrick’s letter to H has not been found. The possibility exists, however, that the letter dated July 25, which Kirkpatrick sent to Washington, was a copy of that which he sent to H and which had been lost when the mail was robbed. In any event, the contents of Kirkpatrick’s two letters addressed to Washington (with the exception of the paragraph quoted above from the letter of July 28) are virtually identical.
For this second attack on Neville’s house, see “Deposition of Francis Mentges,” August 1, 1794, note 2.
80. The copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, ends at this point.
81. See “Deposition of Francis Mentges,” August 1, 1794, note 3. In the newspaper version this name is incorrectly given as “McTarlane.”
83. David Hamilton and John Black. Hamilton was the justice of the peace.
84. This meeting was held on July 23, 1794. For a detailed account of its proceedings, see Brackenridge, Insurrection description begins Henry M. Brackenridge, History of the Western Insurrection in Western Pennsylvania, Commonly Called the Whiskey Insurrection, 1794 (Pittsburgh, 1859). description ends , 57–65, and Brackenridge, Incidents description begins Hugh H. Brackenridge, Incidents of the Insurrection in the Western Parts of Pennsylvania, in the Year 1794 (Philadelphia, 1795). description ends , 29–36. See also “Deposition of Francis Mentges,” August 1, 1794, note 5.
86. In the newspaper version and in the copy in the National Archives this date is incorrectly given as “25th of July.”
88. In the draft H wrote and crossed out five additional paragraphs. The final paragraph is incomplete. This additional material reads as follows:
“The very serious and dangerous nature of these transactions need not be dilated upon. The immediate Question is whether the Government of the U States shall ever raise revenue by any internal tax on articles of consumption; the ultimate one whether a small minority of the community shall controul & defeat the will of the majority declared through its constitutional representatives? in other words whether anarchy shall take place of Government?
“Whatever declamation may be indulged on the subject, the practical truth is that without a capacity to exercise the power in question a Government cannot provide for the exigencies of a nation. That of the UStates would feel particular embarrassment from such a privation; if the ideas generally entertained are well founded of peculiar difficulties in laying by its authority taxes on real property. To deprive the Government then of that capacity is in fact, whatever it may be in form, to destroy it.
“Still more manifest is it that to permit a small portion of the community successfully to resist the execution of a law by an armed force is to sacrifice the authority of the laws and to prostrate Government? Who can say when & in what corner resistance to other laws will arise?
“The sacredness of the laws is inculcated by considerations of peculiar obligation upon all true friends to free government. Tis by that alone that the necessity of force as the ordinary instrument of civil obedience is superseded.
“Viewing the subject in the limitted and subordinate light of finance nothing can be more agreeable than the actual situation of”