George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 25 October 1794

From Alexander Hamilton

Berlin [Pa.] 3d days March
October 25. 1794 7 oClock in the Evening


We arrived here this afternoon. A very heavy rain has rendered the march extremely arduous and distressing; but we find here much better shelter than was foreseen. Our baggage & stores are just beginning to arrive—The Jersey line & Brigade of Cavalry took the right hand road about five miles back.

Tomorrow we shall continue our march & I hope that we shall conform to the general arrangement though we must shorten tomorrows march & lengthen that of the day following.

The troops have shewn all the patience that could have been expected. In short I perceive nothing amiss.

Bradford & Fulton it is said are gone off. By tracing time, it is not probable they were at all influenced by the arrest of Husbands & Philson.1 with the highest respect & truest attachment I have the honor to be sir Your obed. ser.

A. Hamilton


1Alexander Fulton had served as a justice of the peace in Washington County. According to William Findley, he was originally from Maryland, a large distiller, and a former supporter of the excise law (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 , 96). Fulton was among those excepted from the general pardon offered by Henry Lee on 29 November. In a letter to Judge Alexander Addison of 24 Dec., Pennsylvania District Attorney William Rawle summarized the charges against Fulton: “at Neville’s; privy to robbing the mail; signed circular letter to convene the meeting at Braddock’s Field” (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 2d ser., 4:402–3, 420–21). Fulton was indicted for treason in May 1795, but he was given a pardon by GW on 3 March 1797 (DNA: RG 21, Minutes of the U.S. Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1790–1844; DNA: RG 59, Copies of Presidential Pardons and Remissions, 1794–1893).

Herman Husband (1724–1795) was a former leader of the Regulators in North Carolina in their attack on Gov. William Tryon’s taxation policies. He was forced to flee to Pennsylvania in 1771. Settling in the part of Bedford County that is now Somerset County, he served two terms in the Pennsylvania legislature, 1777–78 and 1789–90. At the meeting at Parkinson’s Ferry on 14 Aug., he was appointed as Bedford County’s representative on the committee of conference that was to meet with the U.S. commissioners sent to western Pennsylvania.

Robert Philson (1759–1831) was a storekeeper at Berlin who was also at the 14 Aug. meeting. In a letter written shortly after, he suggested that Kentucky, North Carolina, the Virginia back country, and the majority of Pennsylvania supported the insurgents’ cause and recommended “that the People Would take Constitutional Measures for the Repail of Greavences at the Same time to be Prepaired for any Steps Govermt Should take” (Philson to Andrew Emerey, 21 Aug., DNA: RG 21, Criminal Case Files of the U.S. Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1791–1840). He later served as a militia general and from 1819 to 1821 as a congressman from Pennsylvania.

Husband and Philson were taken with two other men by a party of light horse on 20 October. In his diary entry of that date, GW characterized the arrests as “an unlucky measure” because he “feared” that the arrests “will have given the alarm and those who are most obnoxious to punishment will flee from the Country” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:195). The two men were transported to Philadelphia, where the federal district attorney, William Rawle, sought indictments for treason for their roles in the meeting at Parkinson’s Ferry on 14 August. A true bill was found against Philson, but not Husband, and both men were indicted on misdemeanors. In June 1795 the two were found not guilty of the misdemeanors, and Rawle entered a nolle prosequi for the treason charge (United States v. Robert Philson and Herman Husband, DNA: RG 21, Criminal Case Files of the U.S. Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1791–1840; DNA: RG 21, Minutes of the U.S. Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1790–1844).

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