Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to William Rawle, [17–19 November 1794]

To William Rawle1

[Pittsburgh, Nov 17–19, 1794]

Persons to be excepted from the Amnesty2

1 All those actually in arrest at the time of issuing the proclamation
2 David Bradford3
Edward Cook4
Daniel Hamilton5
Benjamin Parkinson6
John Holcroft7
Richard Holcroft
Mc.Kinley8 } of Ohio County
Alexander Fulton10
John Mitchel
William Bradford11
Thomas Spiers12

The Proclamation ought to conform to the idea of the Commissioners13—that is to refer the amnesty to the first of July next then to take effect in favour of all those not excepted who shall demean themselves obediently to the laws till then.14

Mr. Rawle will furnish such other names for exceptions out of the fugitives as the atrocity of their characters & offences may indicate.

Gallatin15 & Brackenridge16 ought not to be excepted out of the amnesty.

Mr. Hamilton requests Mr. Rawle to forward to Judge Addison17 the forms for subscription papers18 copied by Mr. De Haven19 & believed to be with him.

AD, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

1On October 3, 1794, Edmund Randolph had written to Rawle: “The President finding that the pardon offered to those who have been guilty of treason or other indictable offences against the United States committed in the fourth survey of Pennsylvania, before the 22d day of August last, has been only partially accepted, and that so strong a spirit of resistance still exists in that Country as to render it necessary to march the Militia thither, in order to suppress the combinations & to aid the execution of the laws, has thought it proper to direct that measures should, at the same time, be taken to bring to justice such of the offenders as have been influential in exciting the insurrection or particularly active and violent in supporting it. But as the President is desirous of preserving the utmost good faith towards those who have bona fide accepted the terms offered by the Commissioners, care must be taken to except all such persons from prosecution, unless by their subsequent conduct they have forfeited their right to a pardon. Such also, as have in any manner which shall be deemed sufficiently satisfactory and sincere, by the General commanding the Troops, evidenced their repentance, may be excepted.

“Considering the conduct of this business as a matter of delicacy and importance he has thought proper, to commit the superintendance of it to you: and you are hereby accordingly authorized to repair to the Western Counties of Pennsylvania and to take such legal and proper measures, as may in your judgment be necessary to cause the said Offenders or those who have aided them (in the said survey or elsewhere in this district) to be arrested, secured and brought to trial.” (LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 7, June 27–November 30, 1794, National Archives.)

2The list compiled by H in this letter was for Rawle’s use in determining those to whom Henry Lee’s proclamation of pardon on November 29, 1794, should not apply. Lee’s proclamation is printed in Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV description begins Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV (n.p., 1876). description ends , 479–80.

3For information on the activities of David Bradford, see George Clymer to H, October 10, 1792; H to George Washington, September 2, October 25, 1794; Washington to H, October 26, 1794.

4For information on Edward Cook, see H to Washington, August 5, September 2, 1794.

5Daniel Hamilton was involved in the attacks on Robert Johnson, Robert Wilson, and Roseberry. See H to Washington, August 5, 1794, note 27.

6Benjamin Parkinson was a leading member of the Mingo Creek Democratic Society.

8William McKinley.

9William Sutherland. See H to Henry Lee, August 25, 1794, note 11.

11John Mitchell and William Bradford were accused of the mail robbery of July 26, 1794. Fulton took the mail packet to a tavern in Cannonsburg, Washington County, where John Cannon and Thomas Spiers, two local leaders, were present when the mail was opened. See also “Conference Concerning the Insurrection in Western Pennsylvania,” August 2, 1794, note 8.

12See note 11.

13On August 8, 1794, George Washington had appointed three commissioners to deal with the insurrectionists in western Pennsylvania. See H and Henry Knox to Washington, August 5, 1794, note 3. During the latter part of August the Federal commissioners held conferences with a committee appointed by the disaffected citizens of western Pennsylvania. The “idea” to which H is referring was among the concessions made by the United States commissioners and is described as follows: “If there shall be a general and sincere acquiescense in the Execution of the said acts, until the said tenth day of July next, a general pardon and oblivion of all such offenses shall be granted; excepting therefrom, nevertheless, every person who shall, in the mean time, willfully obstruct, or attempt to obstruct the Execution of any of the laws of the United States, or be in any wise aiding or abetting therein” (Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV description begins Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd ser., IV (n.p., 1876). description ends , 192). See also William Bradford to H, August 23, 1794.

14Lee’s proclamation of November 29, 1794, reads: “By virtue of the powers and authority in me vested by the President of the United States, and in obedience to his benign intentions, therewith communicated, I do, by this my proclamation, declare and make known to all concerned that a full, free, and entire pardon, (excepting and providing as hereafter mentioned) is hereby granted to all persons residing within the counties of Washington, Alleghany, Westmoreland, and Fayette, in the state of Pennsylvania, and in the county of Ohio, in the state of Virginia, guilty of treason, or misprison of treason against the United States, or otherwise directly or indirectly engaged in the wicked and unhappy tumults and disturbances lately existing in those counties; excepting nevertheless from the benefit and effect of this pardon all persons charged with the commission of offences against the United States, and now actually in custody, or held by recognizance to appear and answer for such offences at any judicial court or courts excepting also all persons avoiding fair trial by abandonment of their homes; and excepting moreover the following persons, the attrocity of whose conduct renders it proper to mark them by name for the purpose of subjecting them, with all possible certainty, to the regular course of judicial proceedings, and whom all officers, civil and military, are required to endeavour to apprehend and have brought to justice, to wit.

Benjamin Parkinson, Arthur Gardner,
John Holcroft, Daniel Hamilton,
Tho. Lapsley, William Miller,
Edward Cook, Edward Wright,
Richard Holcroft, David Bradford,
John Mitchell, Alexander Fulton,
Thomas Spiers, William Bradford,
Geo. Parker, Wm. Hanna,
Edward Magner, jun. Thomas Hughes,
David Lock, Ebenezer Gallaher,
Peter Lyle, John Shields,
William Hay, William M’Elhenny,
Tho. Patton, Stephenson Jack,
Patrick Jack, and Andrew Hiland, of the state of Pennsylvania, and
William Sutherland, Robert Stephenson,
Wm. M’Kinley, John Moore, and

John M’Cormick, of Ohio County, in the state of Virginia.

“Provided, That no person who shall hereafter wilfully obstuct, or attempt to obstruct the execution of any of the laws of the United States, or be in any wise aiding or abetting therein, shall be entitled to any benefit or advantage of the pardon herein before granted: And provided also, That nothing herein contained, shall extend, or be construed to extend to the remission of mitigation of any forfeiture of any penalty incurred by reason of infractions of, or obstructions to, the laws of the United States for collecting a revenue upon distilled spirits and stills.…” (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, December 6, 1794.)

15For Albert Gallatin’s activities during the Whiskey Insurrection, see Henry Adams, ed., The Writings of Albert Gallatin (Philadelphia, 1879), III, 1–67.

17Alexander Addison was presiding judge of the County Court of the western district of Pennsylvania.

18“subscription paper” was a pledge made by volunteers to join in support of the militia to effect submission to the excise laws. See H to Edmund Randolph, October 6, 1794, note 2.

19This may be a reference to Moses De Haven, a major in the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, militia in 1794.

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