George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Western Pennsylvania Delegates, 2 October 1794

From Western Pennsylvania Delegates

Washington County Pennsylvania
Parkison’s Ferry 2d October 1794

A meeting of the Delegates of Townships of the 14th of August at Parkison’s ferry having been advertised in the Pittsburgh Gazette of last Saturday to be held here this day for the purpose of taking under consideration whether it be necessary that any armed force should advance on the part of government for the purpose of assisting the civil authority in suppressing insurrection and preserving peace.1

Agreeably to the recommendation in the advertisement in the Pittsburgh Gazette several subscription papers with a number of names annexed in the form of submission prescribed by the Commissioners were produced to the meeting by members and laid on the table.2

The meeting having taken those papers into their consideration and communicated their respective knowledge of the sentiments of the people in their townships Resolved, that it is the unanimous opinion of this meeting, that, if the signature of the submission is not universal, it is not so much owing to any existing disposition to oppose the laws as to a want of time or information to operate a correspondent sentiment, and, with respect to the greatest number, a prevailing consciousness of their having had no concern in any outrage, and an idea that their signature would imply a sense of guilt.

Resolved unanimously that we will submit to the laws of the United States that we will not directly nor indirectly oppose the execution of the acts for raising a revenue on distilled spirits and stills and that we will support so far as the law requires the civil authority in affording the protection due to all officers and other citizens Reserving at the same time our constitutional right of petition or remonstrance.

Resolved unanimously that in our opinion in the four counties of Pennsylvania Westward of the Allegany mountains there is a general disposition to submit to all laws of the United States and a determination to support the civil authority in their execution.

Resolved unanimously that William Findley of Westmoreland county and David Redick of Washington county be appointed Commissioners to wait on the President of the United States and the Governor of Pennsylvania with a copy of these Resolutions and to explain to government the present state of this country and detail such circumstances as may enable the President to judge whether an armed force be now necessary to support the civil authority in these counties.3

Resolved unanimously that the secretary of the meeting transmit a copy of these Resolutions by Post to the President of the United States and to the Governor of Pennsylvania, and have a copy printed in the Pittsburgh Gazette.4

Alexr Addison Secy of the meeting

DS, DLC:GW; copy, DLC: Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion Collection; LB, DLC:GW. The document at DLC:GW is in the writing of Alexander Addison and signed by him. The copy is in the writing of Hugh Henry Brackenridge.

1The meeting at Parkinson’s Ferry on 14 Aug. had created a standing committee to draft a remonstrance to Congress for repeal of the excise act and a representation to GW about recent events and “the causes which gave rise thereto.” The committee also was given power “to call together a meeting either of a new representation of the people, or of the deputies here convened for the purpose of taking such further measures as the future situation of affairs may require” (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 2d ser., 4:135–36). The notice in the Pittsburgh Gazette of 27 Sept. stated that “a meeting of a considerable number of the inhabitants of Washington and others of the counties on the west of the mountains” had considered “the present state of this country with respect to the late convulsion” and concluded “that the country was in fast progression, if not wholly arrived, at a state of general submission to the laws; so as to render it unnecessary for any advance of force on the part of the government … and that measures ought to be taken as speedily as may be, to communicate information of this favorable state of affairs to the government.” The meeting of delegates was called “to take the above into consideration.” At the same time it was “recommended that all justices of the peace, and members of the committee obtain and bring forward all signatures of the declaration of submission that may be taken, in order to lay before the committee and, forward to government.”

2For the efforts of the commissioners that GW had appointed to negotiate with the Pennsylvania insurgents to obtain statements of submission, see the Commissioners Sent to Western Pennsylvania to GW, 24 Sept., and notes. Many of those signed statements can be found in DLC: Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion Collection. Though each submission was signed by many people, the wording was individual. Printed forms that were used at some meetings began, “I do solemnly promise, heretofore, to submit,” but invariably the words “solemnly” and “heretofore” were struck out, and the handwritten submissions also lack those words. The remainder of the submission used the language that was copied by the second resolution in this document, lacking the reservation.

3William Findley (c.1741–1821) represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. Congress from 1791 to 1799 and from 1803 to 1817. His History of the Insurrection, in the Four Western Counties of Pennsylvania: in the Year M.DCC.XCIV (Philadelphia, 1796), written in part to vindicate his own conduct, is an important source for historians. David Redick, a former member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council, was at this time prothonotary and clerk of courts for Washington County.

4The five resolutions were printed in the Pittsburgh Gazette of 11 October.

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