Alexander James Dallas to Alexander Hamilton
6 Oct. 1794. Transmits for GW’s “perusal” documents received from Fayette County, Pa., and a copy of the governor’s reply to them.1
ADf, PHarH, Executive Correspondence, 1790–99; LB, PHarH, Executive Letterbooks.
1. Dallas transmitted the enclosures sent with Albert Gallatin’s letter to Thomas Mifflin of 17 Sept. (and probably a copy of the letter itself) and a copy of Dallas’s letter to Gallatin of 26 September.
Gallatin enclosed a copy of the “declarations” submitted to township meetings on 11 Sept. and “the return of the sense of the people of this County, on the question of submission, so far as we have been able to ascertain it.” He claimed that “the present appearances are as favorable as we had any right to expect” and explained that “It was an effort too great, perhaps, to be expected from human nature, that a people should at once pass from an avowed intention of resisting, to the signing a test of absolute submission, & to a promise of giving active support to the Laws.” For a time the “great body” of “moderate men” were “from a want of knowledge of their own strength, afraid to discover their sentiements, & were, in fact, kept in awe by the few violent men.” However, a “decisive change” had taken place and “The general disposition now seems to be to submit.” To encourage this, the Uniontown resolutions that he enclosed had been passed.
Gallatin continued by arguing that as there was “no doubt” of a “perfect submission taking place here, provided it is not interrupted by some new acts of violence elsewhere,” the real question was whether “military coercion” was necessary. He argued that while such coercion might “cause a general, but temporary acquiescence” it would “encrease the discontents, embitter the minds & disgust many good citizens” so that there would be a “danger of new outrages” when the troops were withdrawn. Moreover, there was a “possibility of tumults and riots breaking out on the approach of an army, (even if its march did not again promote actual resistance)” and a danger that “old broils & intestine dissentions” dating from the conflicting claims to the area of Pennsylvania and Virginia might be “renewed.” If government decided to “embrace a measure which must, unavoidably, be attended with great mischiefs,” Gallatin pleaded that they should “lessen the evil” by using only Pennsylvania troops subjected to “the strictest discipline” and “subservient to the civil authority” (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 2d ser., 4:267–69; see also PHarH, Executive Correspondence).
The Uniontown meeting of 17 Sept. recommended that the inhabitants “take such measures as in their opinion will be best calculated to preserve peace and order among themselves” and requested that the committee members “promote such associations among the body of the people as may be necessary for the protection of persons and property of all citizens, and for the support of civil authority” (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 2d ser., 4:269–70).
Dallas replied to Gallatin from Lancaster that the papers would be forwarded to GW, with whom “the whole Business rests,” although it was “thought unnecessary to forward them by express” because “the Bearer of them mentioned that Copies had been sent to the President.” He added his “private Opinion” that “the Exertions of Government will be unremitted” and “the Punishment of the Real delinquents will be exemplary” (PHarH, Executive Correspondence; see also Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 2d ser., 4:310).