Minutes of a Meeting Concerning the Insurrection
in Western Pennsylvania1
[Philadelphia, August 24, 1794]
At a Meeting at the Presidents House
City of Philadelphia Aug 24. 1794
The President of The United States.
The Secretary of State
The Secretary of the Treasury.
The President proposed for the opinion and advice of The Secretary of State & the Secretary of the Treasury the following questions.
1 Shall orders issue for the immediate convening of the whole or any part of the Militia ordered to hold themselves in readiness2 to be called forth for suppressing the Insurrection in the Western parts of Pensylvania?
It appears adviseable to send immediate orders to the Governor of Virginia3 to assemble those of that State—recommending to him not to issue his public orders for the purpose ’till the first of September.
Question 2 Shall an additional number of Militia be called for?
It appears adviseable to call for a further number sufficient to complete the whole to fifteen thousand non Commissioned Officers and privates. That of these fifteen hundred be called for from Virginia and that in the call for the purpose it be suggested to the Governor as eligible to endeavour to obtain as many riflemen as may be practicable under Major General Morgan4 and as near the scene of action as they can be had. Five hundred to Maryland with a like intimation as to Riflemen and five hundred to New Jersey.
Question 3 What will be the proper places and time of rendezvous?
The place of general rendezvous to be—For New Jersey, Carlisle; for Pensylvania Carlisle & Chambersburgh. These to have reference to Bedford as an interior point. For Maryland; Williamsport and such other place more Westerly as the Governor of Maryland5 may deem adviseable for the more western Militia of that State. For Virginia; Winchester & the vicinity of Old Fort Pleasant with such other place as The Governor of Virginia may think eligible for the Militia of that State lying beyond the Alleghany. These places (except the one which shall be appointed by the Governor of Virginia for the Militia beyond the Alleghany) in Maryland & Virginia to have reference to Fort Cumberland as an ulterior point. The supplies to be directed towards the points of rendezvous and the Governors to be left at liberty to make duration for local convenience having regard to the places of supply. The time to be aimed at for reaching the ulterior points Bedford & Cumberland to be the first of October.
Question 4th What communication shall be made to The Commissioners in answer to their letter of the 17th instant?6
The Commissioners to be informed7 of what further has been done with regard to the Militia—and to be advised explicitly to remain in that Country till after the proposed Meeting of the 2d. of September and also to be advised to continue there as much longer as may in their opinion promise any public utility & be consistent with their personal safety not exceeding the last of September, as their stay beyond that day can not be supposed necessary for the beneficial purpose of their Meeting and can only be prolonged by a plea of delay on the part of the Insurgents—to instruct them to announce with frankness and explicitness the determination of the Executive Government to exert all the means with which it is invested to produce a compliance with the laws—to encourage the well-disposed to cooperate in their support under a full assurance of the decision & perseverance of the Government; acting under the Conviction that the question concerns the very being of Government of law and order—& to communicate the substance of the information received with regard to the disposition of the Citizens to cooperate effectually with the Government.
D, in the handwriting of H, Pennsylvania Miscellany, Whiskey Rebellion, Vol. I, Library of Congress.
1. For background to this document, see “Deposition of Francis Mentges,” August 1, 1794, note 1; H to George Washington. August 2, 5, 1794. See also H and Henry Knox to Washington, August 5, 1794; Edmund Randolph to Thomas Mifflin, August 7, 1794.
3. Henry Lee.
4. Brigadier General Daniel Morgan of the Virginia militia. Morgan, who was commissioned a captain in a company of Virginia riflemen in 1775, was captured at Quebec on December 31, 1775, and upon his release became a colonel in a Virginia regiment. On October 13, 1780, he was made a brigadier general in the Continental Army and served in that capacity until the end of the war. His daughter Nancy was married to Colonel Presley Neville.
5. Thomas Sim Lee.
6. On August 17, 1794, James Ross, Jasper Yeates, and Attorney General William Bradford, Federal commissioners appointed to confer with representatives from western Pennsylvania, reported to the Secretary of State: “We think it of Importance to take the earliest Opportunity of stating to you the present Situation of the Western Part of Pennsylvania, & to request some eventual Instructions on certain Points which are likely to arise in the Prosecution of our Mission.… We have great Doubts whether we ought to stay in this Country after the 1st September, or confer with any Bodies assembled in this Manner, after that Day; But at the same Time, if the Committee [of insurgents] should deny their Power to call the Body, or refuse to do it, we wish to be instructed, whether we ought to wait the Meeting on the 2d. September” (LS, Pennsylvania Miscellany, Whiskey Rebellion. Vol. I, Library of Congress). This letter is printed in Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV description begins Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV (n.p., 1876). description ends , 163–66.
7. Randolph sent the Federal commissioners these instructions on August 25, 1794 (LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 7, June 27–November 30, 1794, National Archives).