Pennsylvania Archives, Second Series, Vol. IV.
Reprinted under direction of Charles Warren Stone,
Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Edited by John B. Linn and Wm. H. Egle, M. D.
Harrisburg: E. K. Meyers, State Printer, 1890.


File: s2v4d

Short bios of William Irvine, Richard Peters, Edward Cook, Jasper Yeates


PITTSBURGH, Aug't 17th, 1794.
DEAR SIR:—I had no opportunity before this, by an express, of the Commissioners on the part of the Union, to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 7th. It did not come to hand til the 11th, about an hour before the Chief Justice arrived at Carlisle. It suited me extremely ill to come on this business; indeed I was really unwell; it will interfere much with my private concerns, as well as in a matter blended with public affairs. The Excise is odious in Cumberland and Mifflin Counties; many persons there will take offence, or at least make use to my prejudice of my accepting this mission, but I make a rule of doing what I think right, and trust to events for consequences.

As we have but this moment got here, I cannot give you much news; not a word can be yet said officially. The Commissioners on the part of the Union, or some person for them, I understand, have forwarded a Copy of the resolutions entered into on the 14th to the President, which was the only one that was to be got. One of these are to appoint a Committee to meet the Commissioners here on Wednesday next.

* WILLIAM IRVINE was born at Fermanagh, Ireland, November 3, 1741. Educated at the University of Dublin, he studied medicine, and was sometime surgeon in the English Navy. After the peace of 1763 he removed to Pennsylvania and settled at Carlisle. He was a member from Cumberland county of the Convention which met at Philadelphia on the 15th of July, 1774, and recommended a general Congress. He was a representative in the succeeding conferences of the Province. In 1776 he raised and commanded the Sixth Penn'a regiment, and was captured at Trois Riviéres, Canada. On the 3d of August was released on parole; exchanged May 6, 1778. The same year he was appointed Colonel of the Second Penn'a regiment, and the 12th of May, 1779, a brigadier general. He served under Wayne during that and the following year. In the autumn of 1781 he was stationed at Fort Pitt, intrusted with the defence of the north-western frontier. In 1784 he served as a member of the council of censors. In 1785 he was appointed by the president of Penn'a an agent to examine the public lands of the State, and suggested the purchase of the "Triangle," thus giving to Penn'a an outlet upon Lake Erie. He was member of the old Congress of 1786-8, and of the Constitutional Convention of 1790. In 1794 Gov. Mifflin appointed him, with chief justice McKean, a commissioner to go to the Western counties. He served as member of Congress from 1793 to 1795. He was president of the Penn'a Society of the Cincinnati. He died at Philadelphia on the 29th of July, 1804.

[143] I much dred nothing can be done; the 1st of September is too short a time; if a suspension of the law, or of the execution of it could be granted, or even connived at by the Executive til the meeting of Congress, the thing might possibly be managed, but I can not say positively, yet think it might; the Idea of a civil war is dreadfull, and I fear things are gone too far. The law will not be submitted to in the time limitted, but time might do wonders; what think you of some such modification or alternative as this? The United States to estimate the neat proceeds annually of the Excise exported from the State or district, the State to make provision for paying it to the Union regularly, and levy such tax to raise it as will be more agreeable to the Citizens than Excise. Excuse this very hasty scroll and confused hints.

I am, dear Sir,

I can not imagine what the gentlemen sent an express for, unless for new instructions. They have not communicated any thing to us yet of their views or plans.



PITTSBURGH, Aug't 19, 1794.
DEAR SIR:—I here give you a true statement, as far as it came within my knowledge, of the assembling of people on Braddock's Fields on Friday, the first inst., and their march through this place on Saturday, the 2d inst.

In the beginning of that week, we were informed that the Pittsburgh Mail had been taken from the Post, and in consequence of letters found therein, Expresses were riding through all the Four Counties, warning the men to turn out with their arms, and to appear on Braddock's Fields, Friday, at one o'clock, under the penalty of having their property destroyed by fire.

That day were to march from thence to Pittsburgh, (or Sodom, as they called the Town,) and destroy it by fire, as also to take the Garrison. This news we repeatedly heard, but at length some of their particular friends, as was supposed, came into Town and give certain intelligence, that the intention of the people was to destroy all the Town, without respect to persons or property.

[144] In consequence of which a Town meeting was called, to consult on what measures were to be taken on this alarming crisis. Thursday evening and the Court House, were the time and place appointed.

* * * Just as the people were meeting at the Court House, four gentlemen arrived in Town from Washington Co. Supposing they were come with some dispatches or accounts from the people, we appointed three gentlemen to wait on them; after some time, the three returned and informed us, that those four gentlemen from Washington Co. had been sent by the people to offer us proposals, which were, that we immediately banish Major Kirkpatrick, Mr. Bryson, Major Butler, and a certain Day, and to march to Braddock's Fields in the morning, and join the army which was to assemble there, otherwise our town must be consumed. These were the terms; the four gentlemen were not empowered to make the least alterations; they further told us, that they must make report to the people on Braddock's Fields to-morrow, early in the day, as also our answer. We inquired how many might be expected to meet on the Field; they told us, that on a moderate calculation, seven or eight thousands; these gentlemen further told a few of us, privately, that it was with great difficulty the people were brought to offer us any terms. When Mr. Ross and a few gentlemen in and near Washington, understood the business for which the people were assembling, they proposed joining them, in order the better, to divert them from such a horrid action. They said, that after Mr. Ross joined the people, he and some more labored among their committees night and day, until they at last got them to make this offer to the people of Pittsburgh.

Thus hearing our sentence, and the conditions, we did not long deliberate, we were no match; no relief could be given from the garrison, they were busy laying in provisions and fortifying, in order to protect themselves and the stores.

The Committee of Twenty-one (you see on the hand-bill) was immediately appointed; we waited on the gentlemen proscribed, all but Major Butler; told them our situation. Mr Bryson and Major Kirkpatrick declared themselves happy in thinking that their departing the town, would be a means of saving it, and that they would go in the morning. Mr. Day appeared displeased and obstinate; however, he agreed also to go in the morning; the committee then drew up their resolves you see in the papers. Mr. Scull printed all night, in order to have a sufficient number to distribute amongst the people on Braddock's Field's, hoping this, together with our other compliance to their orders, would moderate the rage of the people for that time and save the town; for the four gentlemen also told us privately that they much [145] doubted all we could do would not stop the rage of the people, when assembled on the field. * * * * * * * * By the time the business was finished, it was about 2 o'clock in the night. I then came home, my family were in tears, and I believe most of the women in town were in tears; the people appeared (by the lights) to be all stirring, and I believe the most of them hiding property, I also began to hide or bury property; the County Books and Treasury, the books belonging to my office, as Justice, my private Books, and money left in my hand by other people, a, little money of my own, together with other small property I buried that night. I concluded the House and remainder of my property would be consumed, as my son John was so threatened by the people for buying Excise Whiskey. I rather suspected that if they did not burn all the town, that, at least, the property of the obnoxious people would be consumed, and as his store was in one end of my house, all would go together. In the morning the greatest confusion prevailed amongst the people, all sorts of labour and business ceased, all the men preparing to march, the women in tears, some leaving the town, some hiding property, and some so shocked as not to know what to do. * * * At nine o'clock, Major Kirkpatrick and Mr. Brison set out on their journey; I conveyed them to the river, and saw them arrive at Robinson's; our parting was distressing, to see our fellow-citizens banished as in a moment from their all, without a hearing, and for what we know without a just cause, was too much for any human heart to bear.

At ten, we were all ready to march; the four gentlemen from Washington advised Gen. Gibson, Col. Nevil, and my son John, not to go, for their lives were in danger; they all wished to go and run chance; Gibson and Nevil was prevailed upon to stay. I myself, with some others, insisted on my son going and take chances; for, that if he did not, he certainly would be proscribed, and perhaps his property consumed, and that his presence might silence the clamours of the people; he wished to go, and declared he would rather fall a sacrifice than be banished, his family and his property destroyed; he went; just as I was mounting my horse, a boy brought and delivered me a letter from his Excellency the Governor, requiring me to use all my exertions in bringing those rioters to justice; this was another blow, to pretend to act as a justice in this case was impossible. I was then going to meet the very men I was ordered to seize and bring to justice. * * * * I was obliged to hide the letter, it being found with me, was sufficient pretence of banishment and destruction of property, which, at that moment, I wished to save, [146] and to attempt answering the letter was equally dangerous, as I did not know the moment it might fall into their hands.

I set out (you may be sure with a heavy heart) with a determination of keeping up my spirits until the last, and by every soft means to parry the blow intended against the town.
When we came within a mile of the field, we halted until all our party collected, we then advanced, the committee of twenty-one, in front unarmed, the rest of the party armed, we entered the field, and marched about one mile through a crowd of people, scarce a face known to me—a constant fire of small arms was kept up, equal almost to any battle, some loading and firing for their diversion, others blazing away at the trees.

We at length reached at a certain place, where we were ordered to halt; we then mixed among the crowd, and towards evening orders were issued, commanding each company to choose a man to act in committee next morning, and that the army (as it was called) to lie in the field that night. It appeared that the day was spent in good humour, eating, drinking, and shooting. No insults appeared to be given to any persons; but we were often told we came out to join them through fear. In the evening I intended coming to town, and met with some of my neighbours who wished the same; we came as far as Judge Wallace's. A man came after and acquainted us that no man should go to Pittsburgh that night; another severe stroke. I suspected all was not yet right; and I was, at that moment, full of the hopes of acquainting our friends in Pittsburgh that we had settled the minds of the people. However, the order must be obeyed; I then got into a Farm house for the night. I did not go into camp until nine o'clock, Saturday morning; the first orders I received were, that the committee of twenty-one must go immediately to town and acquaint the women, &c., that the army determined to march into town, but that they were coming in peace; that all stores and taverns should be shut, and no Liquors sold to the men; but that if any refreshments were given by the inhabitants, it must be carried to the place where the men would halt, on the commons; as also to procure all the craft, and bring them to a certain part of the river, in order to carry the men over the Monongahela. I was one of the first five who reached town; we first called on Major Butler, and informed him that the men was all marching into town, that they intended no harm, either to him or the town, but only wished to show themselves, then march every man to his own home.

We had scarce finished our instructions until the front appeared. I then rode to a place where I could see the length of the line. They marched in files and in good order, leaving a
[147] small space in between each Battalion. They appeared to be upward of two and a half miles long, and by the space of ground they took up, there might be between Five and Six Thousand; some said 7 or 8 Thousand. A great number of people left them at Braddock's Field; one Battalion from Westmoreland went from thence in a body. They marched through the town and halted at the large flat of ground opposite Maine house, and began immediately to embark. The horse rode the river, the foot in Boats, &c. They entered the Town about 12 o'clock, and it was almost sundown before they all, or rather the main body, crossed the River. The strictest order was kept up by the officers. This I saw, for I continued on horse back in the field until I saw the last of them, except stragglers, embark.

My mind was too much agitated to think of rest or refreshment until all appeared in safety. About dark some of the leaders came and told me that a party intended setting Kirkpatrick's House, on the Coal Hill, on fire, and then intended coming to town and burn his house there. This occasioned a great alarm, but it was agreed that the men from the country would guard both places all night, and accordingly they did; yet some Ill-disposed persons set his stack yard on fire, on the Coal Hill. There was but a small quantity of Grain, and only an old log stable burned. This alarm kept me on foot the most of the night.
Sunday, in the evening, another alarm took place. It wan rumored that a party of men was lying in the woods, and intended that night to burn Kirkpatrick's house, on the Hill, and then come over and burn his house in town; that some people in town were to join them. The Committee was called, and just as we were assembling in order to form some mode of protecting ourselves that night, we were informed that Major Kirkpatrick had returned that evening, and was then in the Fort. * * * Col. Nevil told us that if we could procure a guard, Kirkpatrick would go that night. We immediately appealed to some twenty persons, who agreed to go as a guard. * * * * * * It was some time in the night before we broke up. As I came out of the house a person told me that a number of the inhabitants had gone to waylay Kirkpatrick as he came out of the Fort, and prevent the guard from getting in. The night was very dark, and likely to rain. I went up to the garrison alone, Got among the people, and persuaded them to disperce. As soon as I got that party away, I came home, and found Henry Woolf, one of the guard, at my house. ****** I immediately got my horse, saddle and bridle, and put provisions in my saddle-bags, sent them to the garrison. By this time it began to rain. Another party had got round the garrison, [148] but he got in unperceived; none of the rest of the guard got in. ******* The Major agreed to go with Woolf; accordingly got out of the gate, and clear of the party who was watching.

This business took me almost all that night. The next day being Monday, everything appeared to get into the old channel, People's minds to be at ease, and they began to follow their occupations, since which, nothing material has happened but what is within your knowledge.

I have thus made free, with an old friend, in troubling him with a short and true relation of that week's proceedings. I, in hast, ran over it, which may, in part, account for the incorrectness; it is only intended for your private perusal; it is dangerous to either write or say anything in this country at present, if found out or comes to the ears of the public, if disagreeable to the violent party, fire, desolation or banishment is immediately announced. After you leave this country and a safe passage offers, I will give you further information how the business is carried on.

I'm with esteem,
Your humble servant,



Gentlemen of the Grand Jury:
As your being called on at this time as Grand Jurymen was occasioned by the particular circumstance of a prisoner who

*RICHARD PETERS was born at Blockley, near Philadelphia, June 22, 1744. He received his education in the city of Philadelphia, studied law, and met with considerable success in the profession. At the commencement of the Revolution he became captain of a company of volunteers, but shortly after transferred by Congress to the board of war of which he was secretary from June 13, 1776 to Dec, 1781; member of the Old Congress, 1782-3. In 1785 he visited England in the interests of the Episcopal Church to obtain the consent of the British prelates to ordain as Bishops three priests of the Church in America, which proved successful. President Washington appointed him, in 1789, Judge of the U. S. district court of Pennsylvania, which position he occupied until his death, August 21, 1828. Judge Peters was the first President of the Philadelphia Agricultural Society, and the first officer of the company which built the permanent bridge over the Schuylkill at Philadelphia. He was the author of "Admiralty Decisions in the U. S. Dist. Court of Penn'a, (1780-1807,) 1807.

[149] has been long confined, and (except the case in which he is concerned,) I know of no business likely to come before you. I shall not detain you with a lengthy discussion upon your duties. These are so well understood that it is in general unnecessary to dwell on them. I shall content myself with a general account of the crimes which seem to be cognizable here. The laws on this subject are not so accurate as it is to be hoped, at some future day they will be made. The criminal side of this Court is confined in its jurisdiction to the less offences, and is somewhat similar, as to crimes against the laws of the United States and the laws of nations, which are a part of them, to the courts of quarter sessions in the State, save that by the effect of the disjunctive or, in the judiciary law, no crime is cognizable here to which a double punishment in expressly annexed. This will appear by a recital of the words of the judiciary law, which relate to the powers of this Court on its criminal side. "The District Courts shall have exclusively of the several States cognizance of all crimes and offenses that shall be cognizable under the authority of the United States, committed within their respective districts, or upon the high seas, where no other punishment than whipping not exceeding 30 stripes, a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars, or a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months is to be inflicted." But where multiplied punishments are not in express terms annexed by law to a crime, but it is left after a conviction by a jury to the discretion of the court to affix one or more punishments under the limitations before mentioned, I conceive that a crime under this situation may be properly taken cognizance of in this court.

Assaults, batteries, and false imprisonment, committed on the high seas or in ports or havens, in this district, to which the Admiralty extends—conspiracies against private persons or the, authorized measures of government—misdemeanors of various descriptions—and generally, every offense impeding the course of the law, and prejudicial to the welfare of society, are objects of enquiry and punishment here, if committed on the high seas, or navigable waters, out of the body of a country, or in forts, garrisons, or places under the immediate government of the United States. Some of these and other offences, if committed on land, and especially those opposed to the legal measures of the general government, and the constitution and laws of the Union, are also cognizable here, if the fines and punishments are within the limits before stated.

I include not, among the misdemeanors cognizable here, the crime of insurrection and impeding or resisting with an armed force the laws of the Union. Levying war against the United States, or adhering to their enemies, are declared by the con- [150] stitution, to be Treason,—A crime of too high a nature and of too deep a dye to fall within the jurisdiction of this court,—an offense compared with which the Crimen lœsœ Majestatis against single and hereditary rulers weighs lightly.

What is an offense against the person of a despot, who is but an elevated individual, to one against the peace, the constitution and laws of a great and free people? Hereditary governors have too generally interests separate from their subjects; and if they have them not by original right, they too frequently assume them by usurpations. But in a republic there is but one great and leading interest, to wit: that of the whole nation. And in our republic the majority of our national representatives are the judges, legally authorized to declare, under the guards in the constitution, what this general interest is and how it shall be directed. Local interest and particular convenience must yield to this. The parts must make sacrifices to the will and to the ordinances of the whole. These local and temporary sacrifices are fully compensated by the protection and general advantages received from the government in which every one partakes, and has as great a weight as it is entitled to. The parts are no more to the whole than individuals in society, who must give up portions, both of their personal rights and peculiar advantages to the community of which they are members. There is an end of all government under a republican form, if the minority undertake, by violence, to control the general will when constitutionally promulgated. If any measures are thought unequal & to press severely on any particular description or district of citizens, let them decently, yet firmly remonstrate, write and speak against them, with the freedom they possess, and I hope will ever enjoy. Let them, so far as in them lies, change the representation in the government by all peaceable and constitutional means. But while a law exists, warranted by the constitution, it must be unequivocally obeyed and respected. If it be inconvenient or burthensome, the merit of obedience is the greater. But let none of our citizens, by warring against the laws, endeavor to extinguish our most important rights, which they lose sight of while blinded and bewildered by local, and perhaps, mistaken interests or prejudices. If constitutional exertions to repeal or alter general measures fail, the minority must submit. Whatever differences of opinion there may have been, while a law was in progress, when it is completed it becomes the act of the whole. Resistance is an attempt to establish the tyranny of the few over the will of the many. Actions, such as this, palpably contradict all professions of patriotism and regard for liberty in its salutary and legal sense.

[151] It is possible that laws may be made by our legislature, bearing hard on individuals or numbers of citizens, tho' I say not that they have done so. For it is not without due consideration that I believe, that where partial evils are suffered, they are more than counterbalanced by either general or local benefits. If the government cannot at once do justice to the claims of any portion of the nation, and especially where it depends on circumstances not to be commanded, a patience must be exercised, sometimes mortifying and difficult enough, yet the bounden duty of good citizens.

It is better to bear temporary evils, and wait for a change constitutionally effected, than to tear up all government by the roots. The condition of those who are really aggrieved, if any such there be, is never hopeless. It is in the nature of a republican government that all have their turn. If measures are extensively disagreeable or mischievous, those who were for a time in a minority become, without, public convulsions, by the force of truth and conviction, part of the majority, and sharing the power, assist in regulating the state of things. In a country of such extent it is scarcely possible to frame laws exactly suitable to every part. Perhaps, in a general system, different laws, or the same law, may be found disagreeable to different parts of the nation. But if each is to resist on this account our code of laws would be reduced to nothing, and thus, while, with our lips, we are celebrating the heroes and patriots who have achieved our revolution, we should blast by our actions, its choicest fruits, and reap sickly & noxious harvests, from fields which they have sowed under difficulties and dangers, and which many of them have enriched with their blood.

How shameful would it be, if the satellites of despotism should outdo, in zeal for the personal interests or aggrandizement of a monarch, republicans in their attachment to their laws. Our love for the laws should absorb all other attachments. It is the corner stone in the temple of republican virtue. Montesquieu has long ago told us, in his chapter on education in a republican government: That "it is in a republican government that the whole power of education is required. The fear of despotic governments rises naturally of itself amidst threats and punishment; the honour of monarchies is favored by the passions, and favors them in turn. But virtue is a self-renunciation which is always arduous and painful. This virtue may be defined the love of the lawn and of our country. As this love requires a constant preference of public to private interest, it is the source of all the particular virtues, for they are nothing more than this very preference itself. This love is peculiar to democracies. In these alone the government is [152] entrusted to private citizens. Now, government is like anything else; to preserve it we must love it. Has it ever been heard that kings were not fond of monarchy, or that despotic princes hated arbitrary power? Everything, therefore depends on establishing this love in a republic."

We are among the very few nations of the earth who enjoy a legitimate government founded without alloy, on the authority of the people. We are envied on this account by multitudes, and even cordially disliked by not a few of the devotees to other systems of government. These, as they are mortified by our unparalled prosperity, would be highly gratified by our disgrace—let us continue to disappoint them. The eyes of the world are upon us. At this important crisis in the affairs of nations, it particularly behooves us to support our government, and set an example of obedience to law recommendatory beyond everything else of its form and evinsive of its energy. Thousands of the oppressed of all countries will continue to fly to us, if they do not perceive our laws are trampled on, and thereby all security for person and property destroyed. Should we verify the prognostics of the enemies to free government (who fondly dwell on our discords and magnify our failings,) by suffering the demon anarchy to dissolve and shake to pieces the goodly fabric we have raised, how miserable would be our destiny—how bitter, yet how just our reproach!

But no ill-advised & partial opposition can produce a result so ruinous and deplorable. The interest and happiness of the friends to law and order in this district, as well as in the nation at large, impel them to support the laws to which they are fully competent. They will be animated by a grateful recollection of the achievements of those who affected our revolution—a revolution which yet beats warmly in our bosoms—let none of us misapply their laudable motives by enlisting them under the guilty banners of sedition. They have constantly afforded us the bright example of supporting laws made by our own authority, while they resisted mandates attempted to be forced on us, by men who were not our Representatives, and who (unlike those of our choice) would have reaped advantages without sharing burthens. Heaven has benignly favored us with one of its choicest gifts, by affording us the singular opportunity of forming a constitution for ourselves on enlarged and salutary principles. These principles are those of genuine freedom and liberty well defined. As it is our duty, so may it be our good fortune and our pride, to transmit them unsullied and unimpaired to our latest posterity.

If many of the foregoing observations are produced by recent circumstances, which I can truly say, I have a stronger disposi- [153] tion to deplore than to aggravate, they flow from a sense of duty in this court, which is charged, on another side of it, with the cognizance of breaches of many of the most important laws of our country, and among them of that which has, unfortunately, given rise to some late unjustifiable, disgraceful and much to be lamented disturbances, which I indulge a sincere and anxious hope may yet be pacifically composed. If they are not, our character, if not our existence as a free people depends on the exertions we make with our whole power to quell a spirit so destructive to every principle of social order and government—attended with consequences so fatal to our peace, safety and happiness, and calculated as well in itself as in its mischievous example to involve not only those who are the objects of or concerned in such enormities, but the whole community in desolation, anarchy and ruin.

If by these remarks, in which no doubt I have been anticipated by every good citizen, I have trespassed too long on your patience, I can only offer as my apology my zeal and love for the law, my duty and my reverence for a constitution and government founded on the authority of a people of whom I esteem it my greatest happiness to be one.


PITTSBURGH, August 20, 1794.
DEAR SIR:—The council of sixty are not to meet until the first Tuesday in Sept. Unless they can be prevailed on to assemble sooner, longer time will tend to impede if not frustrate the intended operations of government. I think myself the time limitted is too short, for a return of reason and the exercise of good sense which many men in this country possess, besides many might possibly wish for an opportunity to withdraw themselves from measures which they never heartily approve, that cannot bring themselves to do under circumstances that might admit of a construction of fear. It is now twelve o'clock, and we have not yet heard of more than three deligates being in town, but the morning has been very rainy. It is expected they will all appear in the course of the day. What mode of proceeding in business will be adopted, I cannot say. The Commissioners can only determine for themselves. No personal insults have been offered. You know I did not apprehend any. I mention it to remove all doubt on this head.

[154] I do not mean now either to condemn or justify the proceedings here, but I may safely venture to say, that the people on the west of the mountain labour under hardships if not grievances that are not known, or at least not understood in other parts of the United States, in more instances than the Excise; but in this particularly it can be demonstrated that they labour under peculiar hardship; for instance, carrying a man to Philadelphia or Yorktown to be tried for crimes, real or supposed, or on litigation respecting property, perhaps under the value of fourty shillings. This is really intolerable. Other parts of the Union, for various reasons, are differently circumstanced, except the back parts of Virginia and North Carolina, they are pretty similar and therefore complain loudly. To the eastward they have large distillerys, only of Rum. These are generally in large towns on the seacoast, the operation of the Excise is therefore similar to impost, and is not felt nor even seen by the people at large. I believe it will be found, too, that some of the officers here have behaved shamefully, yet there is nothing in all this to justify the measures adopted for redress. But I hope it will at length appear that the violent measures originated in accident and not in a premeditated plan. It is said that the Marshal had served several processes in Fayette and Washington counties. Indeed all he had to serve but one without molestation or opposition, so far from it that many proposed to enter their stills and even pay the arrearages if he would promise to have prosecutions stayed which he could not engage, but promised to recommend the measure. When Mr. Lenox was near the last place, in company with Mr. Neville, a number of reapers who were in a neighbouring field took the alarm and a rencounter ensued, some person ran immediately to a house where the Brigade Inspector was holding an appeal for a Battalion of Militia, and cried aloud "the Federal Sheriff was taking away people to Philadelphia," on which between thirty and fourty flew instantly to arms, being then after dark, and it is supposed they had drank freely as is not unusual on such occasions. This was in the night of the 15th of July, and they reached Mr. Neville's plantation early the next morning. I need not trouble you with a detail of what followed, that has already been published.

Your ob't serv't,


PITTSBURGH, August 20, 1794.
A report of the proceedings of the committee, appointed at the meeting at Parkinson's Ferry, on the 14th of August, 1794, to confer with the commissioners on the part of the Executive of the Union, and on the part of the Executive of Pennsylvania, on the subject of the late opposition to the laws of the Union and violation of the peace of the State government.


William Bradford, Attorney General of the United States.
Jasper Yeates, Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
James Ross, Senator in the Congress of the United States.


Thomas McKean, Chief Justice of the State of Pennsylvania.
William Irvine, Representative in the Congress of the United States.


Westmoreland County. Washington County.
John Kirkpatrick, David Bradford,
George Smith, John Marshall,
John Powers. James Edgar.
Fayette County. Allegheny County
Edward Cook, Thomas Morton,
Albert Gallatin, John Lucas,
James Lang. H. H. Brackenridge.

Ohio County, (Virginia.)
William McKinley, William Sutherland, John Stevenson.

The committee having met on the 20th, proceeded to the election of a chairman, upon which Edward Cook was nominated and took his place.

A question was made, whether the proposed conference with commissioners from the government should be private or public. It was determined that it should be private, as less liable to interruption, and as leading the commissioners from the government to give a more frank and full communication of their sentiments and intentions, and that after the preliminary arrangements, the correspondence as to what was material, would be in writing, which the committee were not at liberty to communicate to the public immediately, but to report to the com- [156] mittee of safety, which was to meet on the first Tuesday of September.

It was moved and directed that two members be appointed to wait upon the commissioners on the part of the Union and of the State government, and to adjust with them the place and time of conference.

Thomas Morton and James Edgar were appointed.

Agreeable to arrangement, a conference took place at ten o'clock next day, and was opened by a communication on the part of the commissioners of the Union, stating with all the solemnity due to the occasion the extreme pain it had given to the Executive to have heard from time to time of the deviations from the constitutional line of expressing a dislike of particular laws to those means of violence and outrage which would lead to the having no laws at all; that in the ease of the present infractions, they were solemnly called upon by the constitution to exert the force of the Union to suppress them; but that in the first instance all those lenient measures of accommodation were about to be tried, that the great reluctance of the Executive to have recourse to force, had induced it to use; that for this purpose they had been commissioned with certain powers from the Executive, in order that, if possible, short of bloodshed, submission to the laws might be obtained and peace restored; that in the meantime the most effectual and decisive measures had been taken, that should a pacification be found impracticable by an address to the patriotism and reason of the people, submission must be enforced, and however painful, the strength of the Union drawn out to effect it; that the militia were actually draughted and their march delayed only until the first of September next, within which time it behooved the people of this country to make up their minds and give answer that the government might know what to expect.

On the part of the commissioners from the Executive of Pennsylvania, it was stated, that it was in like manner with great pain that it had been heard by the State government, that a resistance to the laws of the Union, and violations of the public peace, had taken place within this particular jurisdiction; violations of so flagrant a nature as the invasion of personal security in a domestic habitation of an officer of government; the burning down his mansion house; reducing him to the necessity of relinquishing the country by a flight at an unreasonable hour, and by a circuitous route of many hundred miles through a wilderness; the attacking the Marshal; expelling an Associate Judge, the Prothonotary of the county, &c., and above all, invading the cabinet of government, in the intercepting of the public mail, and violating the right of the citizen by breaking [157] the repository of his private thoughts, which ought to have been considered as sacred as in his secretaire; that the laws of the Union were a part of the laws of Pennsylvania; and the State government, on principles of delicacy and honor, could not avoid taking a very sensible part in defending them, independent of that obligation under which it was by the constitution; but that these outrages were breaches of the municipal law, and as such the State government was under the indispensable necessity of taking notice of them, and by every necessary coercion repressing them; that for this purpose the Governor had determined to give the most prompt and decided assistance to the general government, in the requisition of militia, and had thought it proper to call the assembly, in order to make provision for any further force that the exigency of repressing the insurrection might require; but that it must be peculiarly distressing to be under the necessity of arming against a country always heretofore respectable for its obedience to the laws; a country which had been peculiarly the object of attention with the present Executive; nevertheless, it was impossible to avoid it, unless order, by the voluntary, act of the citizens, could be restored; that to effect this object the Governor had commissioned them to co-operate in their good offices with the commissioners on the part of the Union, and for this purpose, inasmuch as the consciousness of having violated the laws might lead to a further violation as a means of impunity, they were authorized on an accommodation with commissioners of the United States, and an assurance of a disposition to preserve peace, to stipulate and engage a free and full indemnity for what was past, so far as regarded the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and that it would give them, personally, great pleasure indeed, if by these means a return could be facilitated to this country to the bosom of peace and happiness.

On the part of the committee a narative was given of the grounds of that uneasiness and discontent which have existed in this country, and have grown up at length to that popular fury which has shown itself in the late transactions.

To this the commissioners replied, and then proceeded to state more particularly the nature of their powers, and that certain assurances were necessary previous to their exercise, all which having been reduced to writing the documents will speak for themselves.

They also declared their expectations that the committee would declare their sense on this subject.

It was answered by the committee that it was their duty to hear and report, for to this purpose were they appointed, but no power lay with them to stipulate for the people.

[158] It was stated on the part of the commissioners that such was their situation, that they could not dispense with requiring from the committee, at least to recommend what opinion they themselves should form on the subject of the propositions made, as otherwise they could have no encouragement to go on, and wait the result of the opinion of the people of the country.

This was thought reasonable, and it was agreed on the part of the committee that it should be so.

It was then agreed that the propositions of the commissioners should be received in writing, and the conference was adjourned.


PITTSBURGH, August 21st, 1794.
At a conference between Thomas McKean and William Irvine, Commissioners appointed by the Governor of Pennsylvania, in behalf of the said State, and Messieurs Kirkpatrick, Smith, Powers, Bradford, Marshall, Edgar, Cook, Gallatin, Lang, Brackenridge, Morton & Lucas, appointed at a meeting of Committees from the several townships within the Counties of Westmoreland, Washington, Fayette and Allegheny, for the purpose, in behalf of the said counties, had at Pittsburgh, in presence of three Commissioners appointed by the President of the United States, August 20th, 1794.

It is insisted upon, as a preliminary, by the Commissioners for the State, that the gentlemen Conferees for the four Counties, each for himself, will sign an instrument in writing engaging, that they will at all times be obedient & submit to the laws of the State, and also of the United States of America; and that they will jointly and severally recommend the like obedience & submission to our fellow citizens within the said Counties, & moreover, engage to use their utmost exertions & influence to ensure the same.

Secondly. It is proposed that the Committee of sixty, denominated the Committee of safety for the said Counties, shall jointly & severally give satisfactory assurances to the Commissioners of the State, in an instrument in writing, signed by them, of the same import and effect with the preceding article, and that on or before the ___ day of Aug't, instant.

Third. In case the above articles are bona fide complied with, and the people of said counties shall keep the peace and be of good behavior until the first day of June next, the Commissioners for the State, conformably to the power and author- [159] ity delegated to them by his Excellency, Thomas Mifflin, Esquire, Governor of the State of Pennsylvania, do promise an act of free and general pardon and oblivion, of all treasons, insurrections, arsons, riots and other offences inferior to riots, committed, perpetrated, councilled or suffered by any person or persons complying as above said, within the said four Counties of Westmoreland, Washington, Fayette & Allegheny, since the fourteenth day of July last past, so far as the same concerns the State of Pennsylvania or the government thereof.



PITTSBURGH, August 21st, 1794:—Having had a Conference with you on the important subject that calls us into this part of Pennsylvania, we shall now state to you in writing, agreeably to your request, the nature and Object of our mission hither. Considering this as a crisis infinitely interesting to our fellow citizens, who have authorized you to confer with us, we shall explain ourselves to you, with that frankness and sincerity, which the solemnity of the Occasion demands.

You well know that the president of the United States is charged with the execution of the laws. Obedience to the national will being indispensable in a republican government, the people of the United States have solemly enjoined it as his duty, "to see that the laws are fully executed," and when the ordinary authorities of government are incompetent for that end, he is bound to exert those high powers, with which the nation has invested him, for so extraordinary an Occasion.

It is but too evident, that the insurrections which have lately prevailed in some of these western counties, have suppressed the usual exercise of the civil authority; and it has been formally notified to the president, by one of the associate judges, in the manner the laws prescribe, that "in the counties of Washington and Allegany, in Pennsylvania, laws of the United States are opposed and the execution thereof obstructed, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of Judicial proceedings or the powers vested in the marshals of that district." He therefore perceives, with the deepest regret, the necessity to which he may be reduced, of calling forth the national force, in order to support the national authority, and [160] to cause the laws to be executed; but he has determined previously, to address himself to the patriotism and reason of the people of the western counties, and to try the moderation of government, in hopes that he may not be compelled to resort to its strength. But we must not conceal from you, that it is also his fixed determination, if these hopes should be disappointed, to employ the force—and if it be necessary, the whole force of the Union—to secure the execution of the laws. He has, therefore, authorized us to repair hither, and by free conferences and the powers vested in us, to endeavour to put an end to the present disturbances, and the opposition to the execution of the laws, in a manner that may be finally satisfactory to all our fellow citizens.
We hope that this moderation in the government will not be misconstrued by the citizens, to whom we are sent. The president, who feels a paternal solicitude for their welfare, wishes to prevent the calamities that are impending over them—to state to them clearly, the inevitable consequences of further resistance; to recall them to their duty, and to prove to the whole world, that if military coercion must be employed, it is their choice and not his.

The powers Vested in us, will enable us so to arrange the execution of the acts for raising a revenue on distilled spirits and stills, that little inconvenience will arise therefrom to the people; to prevent as far as is consistant with the public interests, the commencing prosecutions under those acts, at a distance from the places where the delinquents reside; to suspend prosecutions for the late offences against the United States, and even to engage for a general pardon and oblivion of them.

But gentlemen, we explicitely declare to you, that the exercise of these powers must be preceded by full and satisfactory assurances of a sincere determination in the people, to obey the laws of the United States, and their eventual operation must depend upon a correspondent acquiesence in the acts which have been opposed.

We have not, and coming from the executive, you well know that we cannot, have any authority to suspend the laws or to offer the most distant hopes that the acts, the execution of which has been obstructed, will be repealed; on the contrary, we are free to declare to you our private opinions, that the national councils, while they consult the general interests of the republic, and endeavour to conciliate every part by local accommodations to citizens who respect the laws, will sternly refuse every indulgence, to men who accompany their requests with threats, and resist by force, the public authority.

[161] Upon these principles, we are ready to enter with you into the detail necessary for the exercise of our powers; to learn what local accommodations are yet wanting; to render the execution of the laws convenient to the people; to concert with you measures for restoring harmony and order, and for burying the past in oblivion, and to unite our endeavours with yours, to secure the peace and happiness of our common country.

It is necessary, however, to apprize you, thus early, that at present, we do not consider ourselves as authorized, to enter into any conferences on this subject, after the first of September ensuing. We therefore hope the business will be so conducted, that some definite answer may be given us before that day.

We cannot believe, that in so great a crisis, any attempts will be made to temporize and procrastinate by those who sincerely love their country and wish to secure its tranquility.

We also declare to you, that no indulgence will be given to any future offender against the United States, and that they who shall hereafter, directly or indirectly oppose the Execution of the laws, must abide the consequences of their conduct.


To the Committee of Conference assembled at Pittsburgh.


PITTSBURGH, August 22d, 1794.
GENTLEMEN:—Having in our conference, at considerable length, stated to you the grounds of that discontent which exist in the minds of the people of this country, and which has lately shown itself in acts of opposition to the excise law, you will consider us as waiving any question of the constitutional power of the President to call upon the force of the Union to suppress them. It is our object, as it is yours, to compose the disturbance.

We are satisfied that in substance you have gone as far as we could expect the Executive to go. It only remains to ascertain your propositions more in detail, and to say what arrangement it may be in your power to make with regard to convenience in collecting the revenue under the excise law; how far it may be consistent with the public interest, to prevent commencing [162] prosecution under those laws at a distance from places where the delinquents reside; on what conditions or circumstances prosecutions for the late violations shall be suspended; that is to say, whether on the individual keeping the peace or on its being kept by the country in general, and also with regard to the general amnesty, whether the claiming the benefit of it by an individual, shall depend on his own future conduct or that of the whole community.

We have already stated to you, in conference, that we are empowered to give you no definitive answer with regard to the sense of the people on the great question of acceding to the law, but that in our opinion, it is the interest of the country to accede, and that we shall make this report to the committee, to whom we are to report, and state to them the reasons of our opinion, that so far as they have weight they may be regarded by them. It will be our endeavor to conciliate, not only them, but the public mind in general to our views on this subject. We hope to be assisted by you, in giving all that extent and precision, clearness and certainty, to your propositions, that may be necessary to satisfy the understandings and engage the acquiescence of the people.

It is to be understood, that in acceding to the law, no inferance is to be drawn or construction made that we will relinquish a constitutional opposition, but that we will undeviatingly and constantly pursue every legal means and measures for obtaining a repeal of the law in question.

As we are disposed with you to have the sense of the people taken on the subject of our conference, as speedily as may be, with that view we have resolved to call the committee to whom our report is to be made at an earlier day than had been appointed, to wit: on Thursday, the 28th instant, but have not thought ourselves authorized in changing the place, at Redstone Old Fort, on the Monongahela.

By order of the committee.

To the Commissioners on the part of the Union.

* EDWARD COOK, of Westmoreland, was a native of Pennsylvania. He was a member of the committee of Conference which met at Carpenter's Hall June, 1776, and also of the Constitutional Convention of that year. In command of rangers for frontier defence in 1781. Appointed sub-lieutenant of Westmoreland county 1780-1, and lieutenant Jan. 5, 1782. Nov. 21, 1786, appointed a justice with jurisdiction including the county of Washington, and Aug. 17, 1791, associate judge of Fayette county. In 1796-8, treasurer of Westmoreland county. He was a man of influence and was chosen chairman of the Mingo Creek meeting.


PITTSBURGH, Aug. 22d, 1794.
The Commissioners appointed by the President of the United States to confer with the citizens in the Western parts of Pennsylvania, having been assured by the Committee of conference to their determination to approve the proposals made, & to recommend to the Standing Committee appointed by the meeting at Parkinson's Ferry, a Submission to the acts of Congress upon the principles stated, do now proceed to declare what assurances of submission will be deemed full and satisfactory, and to detail the Engagements which they have power to make:

1. It is Expected and required by the said commissioners, that the citizens composing the said standing committee do, on or before the first day of September next, explicitly declare their determination to submitt to the Laws of the United States, and that they will not, directly or indirectly, oppose the Execution of the acts for raising a Revenue on distilled spirits and stills.

2. That they do explicitly recommend to the people, by a Resolution to that Effect, a perfect and entire acquiesence under the Execution of the said acts.

3. That they do, in like manner, recommend that no farther violence, injuries or threats be offered to the persons against the property of any officer of the United States, or citizens complying with the Laws; and do declare their determination to support (as far as the laws require) the civil authority in affording the protection due to all officers and citizens.

4. That measures be taken to ascertain, by meetings in election districts or otherwise, the determination of the people to submitt, to the said laws, or resist them, and that satisfactory assurances be given to the said commissioners, that the people have so determined to submitt, on or before the 14th of September next.

The said commissioners do promise and engage, if a full & perfect compliance with the above requisitions shall take place, in the manner following, to wit:

I. No prosecution for any Treason or other Inditable offence against the United States, committed in the fourth survey of Pennsylvania, before this day shall be commenced, or proceeded on, until the tenth day of July next.

II. If there shall be a general and sincere acquiesence in the Execution of the said acts, until the said tenth day of July next, a general pardon an oblivion of all such offences shall be granted; [164] 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.

III. Congress having, by an act passed on the fifth day of June last, authorized the State courts to take cognizance of offences against the said acts for raising a revenue upon distilled spirits and stills, the President has determined that he will direct suits against such delinquents, to be prosecuted therein, if upon experiment, it be found that local prejudices do not obstruct the faithful administration of Justice; but it is to be understood,
that of this he must be the Judge, & that he has no authority to part with any power vested in the Executive of the United States.

IV. Certain beneficial arrangements for adjusting delinquencies & prosecutions, for penalties, now depending, shall be made and communicated by the officers appointed to carry the said acts into Execution.

Given under our Hands at Pittsburgh, this 22d day of Aug't, 1794.



PHILADELPHIA, 22nd August, 1794.
SIR:—In the Secretary of the Treasury's Report, dated the 5th instant, and published with your assent, relatively to the opposition which has been given to the execution of the laws for laying duties on spirits distilled within the United States and upon stills, the following passage occurs:

*JASPER YEATES was a native of Philadelphia, where he was born April 9, 1745. His parents removed to Lancaster in 1764. He was educated principally at the Philadelphia College. In 1774 he was a member of the Lancaster County Committee of Observation, and also of the Penn'a Convention to ratify the Constitution of the United States. He was Judge of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania from 1791 to 1817, the greater portion of which he was in the different circuits of the State. His mind was vigorous, and his opinions bold. He was one of the Commissioners appointed by President Washington to confer with the western insurgents. He died at Lancaster 14th March, 1817. He published "Reports of Cases in the Supreme Court of Penn'a," 1791-1808, 4 vols. His reports are the second of the series immediately succeeding those of Mr. Dallas.

[165] "This is at once an example of a disposition to support the laws of the Union, and of an opposite one, in the local officers of Pennsylvania within the non-complying scene. But it is a truth, too important not to be noticed, and too injurious not to be lamented, that the prevailing spirit of those officers has been either hostile or lukewarm to the execution of those laws, and that the weight of an unfriendly official influence has been one of the most serious obstacles with which they had to struggle."

Desirous of manifesting in every way a zealous co-operation in the views of the General Government, permit me to request, that you will direct the evidence on which the above charge is founded to be communicated to me, in order that I may take the proper steps to vindicate the honor of the State Government and to remove the delinquent officers. If any officer whose commission depends on the will of the Executive Magistrate, has evinced "a spirit hostile to the execution of the laws" of the Union, or has obstructed their operation by "the weight of an unfriendly official influence," I do not hesitate to promise the severest animadversion upon so criminal a conduct, and where the commission does not depend upon my grant, I will earnestly recommend the subject to the attention of the Legislature. In its present form, however, the charge is so indiscriminate that those citizens who may be involved in its obloquy, do not enjoy a fair opportunity for defence, nor does the Government possess the means to discover the proper objects for its indignation and censure.

I am, with perfect respect, Sir,
Your Excellency's Most obed't H'ble Serv.,

To the President of the United States.


PITTSBURGH, August 22d, 1794.
SIR:—We arrived at this Borough on Sunday last and at the Inn where we alighted met with the three Commissioners appointed by the President of the United States. On the road we had frequent conversations with Individuals of respectable characters concerning the business assigned us, and meet with discouragement from every one. There has been a Convention of Committees from every township, excepting four, in the four Western counties of this State and from the neighbourhood of a small [166] village called Berlin, in the county of Bedford, being to the Westward of the Allegheny mountain, and also from part of the county Ohio, in the State of Virginia, at Parkinson's ferry on the fourteenth instant, where several resolutions were passed, a copy of which had taken by James Ross, Esquire, and by the Commissioners of the United States, transmitted to the President, but no duplicate retained. However we had learned the contents from some of the Convention whom we met on the road before we reached Greensburgh; and since we have been here, have been informed by the Commissioners of the United States from memory, that the account we had received was accurate. The Resolves, alluded to, have been printed here this day, which is the first time we have seen them; the paper in which they have been published, Your Excellency will receive herewith.

On Monday we endeavored to ascertain the facts that led immediately to the Riots in this county on the 16th & 17th of last month at General Nevil's Estate, and the result is as follows: The Marshal for the District of Pennsylvania had process to serve upon divers persons residing in the counties of Fayette and Allegheny, and had executed them all (above thirty) without molestation or difficulty, excepting one, which was against a Mr. Shaw; he, or some other person went to the place where Doctor Beard, the Brigade Inspector for Washington county, was hearing Appeals made by some of the Militia of a Battalion, who had been called upon for a proportion of the quota of this State of the eighty thousand men, to be in readiness agreeably to an Act of Congress; there were upwards of fifty there with their fire-arms, to whom it was related, that the Federal Sheriff (as they stiled the Marshall) had been serving writs in Allegheny county & carrying the people to Philadelphia for not complying with the Excise laws and that he was at General Nevil's house. It was then in the night of the 15th of last month, between thirty & forty flew instantly to their arms and marched towards Mr. Nevil's, about twelve miles distant, where they appeared early next morning. Your Excellency has already heard the tragical event.

It should be added that the Delinquents against whom the Marshal had process told him, they would enter their stills and pay him the excise together with the costs of suit. Major Lennox applauded their prudent conduct, and told them, that tho' he had not authority to comply with their wishes, yet if they would enter their stills with the Inspector & procure his certificate and send it to Philadelphia, upon payment of the money due with the costs he was persuaded all further prosecutions would be stayed.

[167] If this detail is true, it is evident the outrages committed at Mr. Nevil's were not owing to deliberate preconcerted measures, but originated in an unbridled gust of passion artfully raised among young men, who may have been at the time too much heated with strong drink.

On Monday Evening Mr. Attorney General Bradford informed us, that the Gentlemen appointed by the President would be glad to have a conference with those appointed by the Governor respecting our respective missions. To this we cheerfully agreed, observing that tho' our views might be the same, the means adopted might otherwise counteract or militate with each other. Accordingly we met on Tuesday morning and verbally communicated our respective powers, which were found to be in substance the same. It was agreed, that we would jointly confer with a Committee, named for that purpose, at the Convention on the 14th instant at Parkinson's ferry, and who are to report to a committee of sixty, called a committee of safety, on the first Tuesday of next month, and that after the conference we should withdraw and then severally make our proposals in writing, and request an answer thereto also in writing.

It rained on Wednesday, from morning until the afternoon, which delayed the arival of the Committee of twelve, until it was late, some of them having rode near sixty miles. They sent three gentlemen of their number to the Commissioners to notify their arrival, and fix a time & place for the conference, which, it was agreed, should be next morning at ten o'clock, at the Inn of Mr. McMasters, and conducted in private. We met accordingly, & conversed together freely for several hours. The supposed grievances were numerous, but they dwelt principally on their being sued in the courts of the United States, and compelled to attend trials at the distance of three hundred miles from their places of abode, before Judges & Jurors, who are strangers to them, and by whom the credit due to witnesses entirely unknown, could not be properly estimated; and the inability to pay the excise, owing to the restrained state of their trade & commerce. Every argument against an excise was urged, and the excessive ferments & rage, at present, among the inhabitants, were not omitted in the sequel, which were painted in such colors as clearly evidenced an apprehension, in the gentlemen themselves, respecting the safety of their own persons and property, if they should even recommend what they conceived to be best for people, in the deplorable situation to which they have brought themselves. We adjourned till four o'clock, when we again met, and the Commissioners for the Government of the Union, presented their propositions in writing; we also presented ours, being short & explicit; a copy of which we have the honor to inclose herewith.

[168] The Gentlemen took them into consideration, and are to give an answer some time to day.

Impressed with the Idea that the spirit of the people, in these counties, may be diffused into other counties and States, we have urged the necessity of a speedy termination of this business, and to that end the calling the committee of sixty together, at an earlier day than the one fixed upon; tho' the Gentlemen press us to allow time for the people to cool, yet we believe they will gratify us in this request. We are acquainted personally with the Committee of twelve, and think them well disposed, and yet we are constrained to tell you that our prospects of a happy conclusion of this arduous mission have hitherto been very faint; however, we are not altogether without a hope of success. Just now we have received an answer in writing to our propositions, which do not come up quite to our wishes, but we expect from what has been said, that we shall be able to accommodate the business with them.

As the Post is just setting out, we have not time to furnish a copy of the answer, and must conclude by subscribing ourselves, with great regard,

Your Excellency's
Most obedient
and most humble servants,

To His Excellency Governor MIFFLIN.


PITTSBURGH, Aug't 22d, 1794.
GENTLEMEN:—The Committee of conference having made up their opinions, and expressed it to the Commissioners on the part of the Union, that it is the interest of this country, that on the terms of accommodation proposed by them, there should be a submission to that law, which has been the occasion of certain acts of opposition lately said to be committed within the Jurisdiction of Pennsylvania, it will, of course, be the opinion of this Committee, that acts of opposition shall cease, and they will be disposed to recommend this temper and principle to others. They will report it particularly to the Committee of safety, to whom they are to make report, and they will state the reasons which have influenced themselves in being disposed [169] to wish a general subordination to the laws of the Union. But the signing any instrument of writing, will have the air of a recognizance, and of having broke the peace or being disposed to do it on their part; whereas in fact we expect to be considered as a body well affected to the peace of the country, and coming forward, not only on behalf of those who may have violated the peace, but of the great body of the Country who have organised themselves in Committees in order to preserve it.

As to what the Committee of sixty may do, must remain with themselves; we shall make report to them of the proposition.

We wish it to be understood, that it will be one thing for us or them to declare our sentiments and to support them by arguments, and another to subscribe our names to any writing in any other manner, than as other public bodies, by their official Representative of Chairman or President.

We would request, therefore, that the proposition be reconsidered, and that some other evidence of submission to the laws may be accepted from the people, which may substantially have the same effect without a form which may be misunderstood by them, and in which they may not so readily acquiesce. It is also our wish and expectation, that the proposition of an amnesty may extend to the County of Bedford. It is our Idea also, that it will have a good effect in reconciling the public mind to have the amnesty considered as absolute at this time, liable to be forfeited only as to its benefits, by the future violation of the laws by the individual.

By order of the Committee,
EDWARD COOK, Chairman.

To THOMAS MCKEAN & WILLIAM IRVINE, Commissioners on the part of Pennsylvania.


PITTSBURGH, August 22d, 1794.
GENTLEMEN:—We received your answer, signed Edward Cook, Chairman, of this day's date, and observe that you have, in a degree, confined yourselves to a subordination to the laws of the Union; these we consider as part of the laws of Pennsylvania, but independent of a breach of the laws of the United States, you cannot be insensible that the laws, the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have been more essentially violated in the County of Allegheny; and tho' from a [170] knowledge of your characters and a confidence in your dispositions, we rest assured of your chearfull obedience to the laws of the State, and that you will inculcate the like among your fellow citizens, yet we would have been pleased had it been expressed.

Your objections to signing your names respectively to your answer, we have considered; and tho' the signing the name as Chairman, Speaker or President, in regular constituted bodies, implies the consent of the majority which binds the whole; yet it means no more, and in the present body of twelve, one-half of the number present may not have acquiesced in the act, and yet it may be formally true. For this reason we wished for your respective signatures, or that it had been written, signed by the Unanimous consent of the Committee, or otherwise to have ascertained the number.

We have never before heard it suggested, that a person's signing his name to any instrument implying an engagement or promise to do a lawfull act, had the air of a recognizance; nor did we ever mean that it could be supposed that any gentleman of this Committee was implicated in the late riots in the Counties; we only wished to have the weight that your names and characters would give to the effectual quieting the present uneasiness among the people.

When we were Commissioned to the present pacific and humane service, it was not known to the Governor that any aggressions of the nature you allude to had been committed in the County of Bedford, & of course our powers do not extend to them, but if no future violation of the peace shall happen on a similar occasion, it is more than probable his Excellency will extend his pardon to what has passed since, and which may require amnesty.

We cannot grant a general pardon as yet; but when we shall receive reasonable assurances that the inhabitants of these Counties have returned to their duty, to an obedience to the laws, and that peace, order & tranquility have been restored, we shall rejoice in having the opportunity of granting it without a day's delay.

We are, Gentlemen,
your most obed't servants,

To the Committee of conference of the Counties of Westmoreland, Washington, Fayette and Allegheny.


PITTSBURGH, August 23, 1794.
GENTLEMEN:—We have seen, by your letter of this day, that you have been well assured that the people of Ohio county did not generally authorize us to represent them. All we have to say on that subject is, that we were authorized fully and generally by such persons as met on that occasion. Whether any of the inhabitants were dissatisfied with our being appointed for that purpose, or whether there were any who did not wish an appointment to take place at all, we know not; but we pretend to have no other design than that of representing such of the citizens of Ohio county as sent us here.

Waiving, however, the mere personal subject, we think it a duty we owe our fellow citizens, to wish (and we know it to have been the opinion of the whole committee of conference) that no distinction should be made between offenses committed upon the same occasion, arising from the same source, and perpetrated at the same time whether they happened in Pennsylvania or in Virginia; and we, therefore, hope you will conceive it upon full examination to be, part of your present pacific mission to satisfy the minds of the people of Virginia as well as those of Pennsylvania, and that you will give assurances that the same proofs which you require from the people of Pennsylvania of their determination to submit to the laws shall be deemed sufficient, when given by the people of Ohio county, to induce you to recommend to the President to extend a similar pardon to any offenses committed there against the United States, and that, whatever objects you may have, to consider us in the same point of view with the other members of the committee of conference, you will not require different conditions from, or propose different terms to, the citizens of the two States, &c.

We have the honor to be, with respect, gentlemen, Your most obedient and very humble sarvants,


To the Commissioners for the United States.


PITTSBURGH, August 23d,1794.
GENTLEMEN:—Having conversed with you on the subject of your letter of this date, we declare to you, that if the same declarations and assurances are made by you, which it is required should be made by the citizens to be assembled at Redstone, and if satisfactory assurances are also given to us of a sincere determination of those individuals, in Ohio county, who sent you hither, to submit to the laws for raising a revenue on distilled spirits and stills, on or before the 14th September next, in such case we will recommend to the President of the United States your petition, requesting that a pardon may be granted for any indictable offense against the United States, committed in Ohio county, since the 15th day of July last, and before the present day, on the same terms offered to the inhabitants of the fourth survey of Pennsylvania. But, as certain bonds have been lately taken by force from Zacheus Biggs, the collector of the said revenue in Ohio county, it is to be clearly understood that said pardon shall not extend to prevent any civil remedy against those who have destroyed the said bonds, or are parties to them.

Given under our hands, August 23, 1794.




PITTSBURGH, August 23, 1794.
GENTL.:—Having Conciderd your Letter of this Deate, since the Departur of the speachel Comatie delegated from Westmoreland, Washington, Featt & Aleganie countis in Pensilvenea, & Considering ourSelves a Justifyable repsentation of those inhabtents of Ohio County, by whome we were Deligated, & a part of that speachell Comitee to whom your prposals wear mead and Accented yesterday and the day posding, and relying on the faith alr'dy pledged by you, and Acepted by the Speachell Coma- [173] tee, we d'clin entering any further on this Bussens untell we Consult our Constaituents & the Cometee of Safety.

We are, Gentl., with esteem,
your most Obed. Humble Serv't.


PITTSBURGH, August 23, 1794.
GENTLEMEN:—We are satisfied with the explanation given of what was intended by requiring our individual signatures to any assurance we should have given of our own disposition to preserve peace, or to conciliate that temper in others.

We are certainly disposed to preserve peace, and to recommend it to others, not only with regard to the laws of the Union, on the terms of accommodation settled with the commissioners from thence, but more especially with regard to the laws of our respective States, and Pennsylvania in particular; we are unanimous in declaring our resolutions to support the laws, so that no impediment shall exist to the due and faithful administration of justice, and we can with the more confidence engage this on behalf of our fellow citizens, as at a general meeting of the representatives of townships, on the 14th of August inst., a resolution to this effect was expressed by the unanimous voice of the meeting; and in fact we can assure you, though it may have been otherwise construed, that a great and leading object of that meeting was the establishment of peace amongst ourselves, and subordination to the State government.

By order of the committee,
EDWARD COOK, Chairman.

The Commissioners on behalf of the State.


PITTSBURGH, August 23, 1794.
The Committee deliberating on the foregoing, the great and solemn question was considered whether we should accede or [174] reject, in other words, whether we should have peace or a civil war.

It was considered that a convulsion at this time might effect the great interests of the Union, that, notwithstanding an unworthy debt was accumulated in the hands of monied men, by means of the funding system, yet the foreign debt was justly due, and also a considerable part of the domestic, for which actual service had been rendered or value given, that it might affect the payment of these two species of debt, to countenance an opposition which might communicate itself to other branches of the revenue. That a convulsion of this nature becoming general, might affect a nation of Europe struggling at this moment for life and liberty, by impeding the United States in making those remittances in payment of the debt due to them, which their situation essentially demanded; that a convulsion, even in this country, might affect the negociations pending, in which our interests were essentially concerned—the free navigation of the Mississippi—the delivery of the western ports and our protection from a frontier enemy. That it might give offense to our fellow citizens elsewhere, who might excuse a sudden outrage, but might resent a formed system undertaken without their consent; more especially, as they might not yet know the local and peculiar grievances of this country, and be disposed to make a proper allowance for the consequences; that the constitutional means of remonstrance might not yet be altogether exhausted, and so it might become us still yet to persevere; that even a contest with the United States, should it be successful, must involve this country, for a time at least, in ruin. That for this reason, every man ought to lay his hand on his heart and answer, whether he would think himself justifiable in countenancing the idea of a war; he ought to make up his mind, and be sure that on every principle he was justifiable, having a confidence not only of right, but of power also.

For these and other reasons, it was thought adviseable to concede, as contained in the answer to the commissioners.


PITTSBURGH, Aug't 23d, 1794.
GENT.:—We presume it has been understood by you that the conference on our part consists of members not only from the counties of Pennsilvania, West of the Allegheny Mountain, but also from Ohio County, in Virginia, and your propositions [175] made in general by your first letter being addressed to this Conference, the Ohio County was considered as included, yet in your propositions made in detail by your last you confine them to the survey within Pennsilvania. We would request an explanation in this particular.

We have only farther to say, we shall make a faithful report of your propositions and recommend them to the people, and however they may be received, we are persuaded nothing more could have been done by you or us to bring this business to an accommodation.

Signed, by order of the Committee,
ED. COOK, Chairman.

The Commis'rs on behalf of the Union.


PITTSBURGH, August 23d, 1794.
SIR:—We wrote your Excellency yesterday by post; since then we transcribed the answer from the Committee to our propositions for an accommodation, and have inclosed a copy herewith and also our reply and their rejoinder, from which you will perceive that things are in as good a train as can be expected in so short a time. If no unforseen misfortune intervenes we hope such measures will be adopted at the meeting of the Council of safety on thursday next, as will put an end to the troubles in this Country. It is not yet determined whether the Commissioners will attend that meeting.

We have the honor to be, Sir,
Your most obe't servants,

His Excellency Governor MIFFLIN.


PITTSBURGH, August 23, 1794.
DEAR SIR:—The haste in which I write will not permit me to be particular with respect to the late outrages in this country. I am happy, however, to be able to inform you, the spirit of outrage has in a great measure subsided, though the aversion [176] to Excises is too deep-rooted ever to be erradicated. Information respecting the source of the disturbances has generally been erronious. They were not the result of a preconcerted plan as has been suggested, therefore, not conducted with system.

The flame, however, spread with an infatuation almost incredible; for some time the voice of reason could not be heard nor durst scarce be uttered. There's nothing of Lenox having been up untill I heard of it by the outrages, but though I lived out of reach of the first paroxisms, the same spirit soon prevailed in my neighborhood. I endeavored, however, to have Moderate men sent to the Monongahella meeting, and I went myself and advised as many of my friends with me as I could, besides the persons elected, concluding that every sensible man would have influence with some friend or other.

Messrs. Yates and Bradford came to Greensburgh the morning of the meeting, and wrote by express to me of their pacific intentions and authority, which being communicated to the meeting, had a salutary effect; and a Committee of discreet men were appointed to confer with the Commissioners at Pittsburgh, but unfortunately, the news Papers came next Morning with the President's Proclamation and the Orders for an armed force as a Substitute for Judicial Proceedings; this irritated and inflamed those even who had been formerly moderate and regular, and greatly encreased the difficulty of accommodation, I have attended the meetings at Monongahella and Pittsburgh, and Probably will go to the concluding meeting at Redstone. My appearing in the first instance was contrary to the advice of friends, but I thought the crises too serious to stand upon points of personally delicacy. Mr. Gallatin has been a Member of those meetings and exceedingly usefull. Mr. Smily has not appeared.

I am with sincere esteem, Yours, &c.,

The Bearer, Mr. Ritchy, can inform you fully of Particulars—a final accommodation, I believe, will be the result.


PITTSBURGH, August 23d, 1794.
GENTLEMEN:—Having received your assurances of your approbation of the propositions made by us, and your determination to recommend them to the people, we have nothing further to add, except to reply to that part of your letter [177] which relates to the gentlemen from Ohio county. The whole tenor of our letter of the 21st inst. shows that we had come among you in consequence of the disturbances which had prevailed in the western parts of Pennsylvania, to prevent the actual employment of military coercion there as contemplated by the President's proclamation, and that the late offenses referred to, were the insurrections which had prevailed in some of the western counties. We, therefore, cannot extend our propositions.

In addition to this, we were well assured that the people of Ohio county have not generally authorized those gentlemen to represent them, and we cannot at present undertake to make any definite arrangements with them.

We are, however, willing to converse with those gentlemen on the subject, and we have no doubt that on satisfactory proofs of their determination to support the laws of their country, and of an entire submission to them by those from whom they came being given, the President will, upon our recommendation, extend a similar pardon to any late offense committed against the United States, if any such have been committed. We are willing, on receiving such assurances from them, to recommend such application accordingly


To the Committee of Conference.


PHILADELPHIA, August 27, 1794.
SIR:—As the period limited by the President's proclamation, for the dispersion of the Insurgents in the western parts of Pennsylvania, will expire on the first day of September next, I am anxious to ascertain the progress which has been made in drafting the corps of Five thousand two hundred Militia, agreeably to my instructions of the 8th instant. You will be pleased, therefore, to make an immediate report on the subject; find by every possible exertion stimulate the Brigade Inspectors to complete the organization of their respective quotas. The reputation of the State, as well as of its officers, is involved in a prompt and [178] effectual compliance with the President's requisition on this important occasion.

I am, Sir,
Your most obed. Serv.,

To JOSIAH HARMAR, ESQ., Adjutant General of the Militia of Pennsylvania.


By Authority.
PHILADELPHIA, 27th August, 1794.
SIR:—As the period limited by the President's Proclamation, for the dispersion of the insurgents, in the western parts of Pennsylvania, will expire on the first day September next, the Governor has expressed the greatest solicitude that the corps of five thousand two hundred Militia, to be drafted in pursuance of the General Orders of the eighth instant, may be in readiness to march on that day. I must, therefore, entreat an immediate report of the progress which has been made in drafting and organizing your quota.

The eyes of our fellow citizens throughout the Union, as well as in Pennsylvania, are fixed upon our conduct. You must be sensible, therefore, that the slightest appearance of a want of zeal, or energy, to embark in support of the violated authority of the laws, will produce that reproach and disgrace, which, as public Officers, it is our duty if possible to prevent, and which it will be our misfortune, more than any other part of the Community, to encounter. But, I am persuaded, Sir, that reflections of this kind are unnecessary to stimulate you, or the Militia of your brigade, to the performance of an essential duty. The occasion is interesting to every man, who feels his obligations to society, and is desirous to preserve from the fury of Anarchy, as well as from the encroachments of despotism, the independence of a Freeman.

The Governor, therefore, directs me to repeat his confidence in your exertions, and in the patriotism of every well disposed citizen; but as he is anxious that the public disposition may be displayed by the most expeditious compliance with the President's requisition, he has thought it proper thus to renew the communication of his sentiments.

I am, Sir,
Your most obedient Servant,
JOSIAH HARMAR, Adjutant General of the Militia of Pennsylvania.

To _____ Brigade Inspector of the _____.


PITTSBURGH, August 27, 1794.
GENTLEMEN:—Since your departure from Pittsburgh, we have transmitted information of our proceedings to the Secretary of State, and it being evident from them, that the satisfactory proof of a sincere submission cannot be obtained before the first of September, we may undertake to assure you that the movement of the militia will be suspended until further information is received from us.

We also authorize you to assure the friends of order, who may be disposed to exert themselves to restore the authority of the laws, that they may rely upon all the protection the government can give, and that every measure necessary to repress and punish the violence of ill-disposed individuals who may dissent from the general sentiment, (if there should be any such,) will be promptly taken in the manner the law directs.

We are, gentlemen,
Your Most Obedient servants,


At a meeting of the standing Committee of the Western Counties, held at Brownsville, (Red Stone old fort,) on the 28th & 29th of Aug't, 1794, the following resolutions were adopted:

Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to confer with the Commissioners on the part of the United States, and of the State of Pennsylvania, with instructions to the said Committee, to try to obtain from the said Commissioners such further modification in their proposals as they think will render them more agreeable to the people at large, and also to represent the necessity of granting further time to the people before their final determination is required.

Whereupon, John Probst, Rob't Dickey, John Nesbitt, Herman Husband, John Corbly, John Marshall, David Philips, John Heaton, John McClelan, William Ewing, Geo. Wallace, Sam'l Wilson and Richard Brown were appointed.

[180] Resolved, That the said Committee shall publish and communicate throughout the several counties, the day at which the sense of the people is expected to be taken.

Resolved, That on the day thus published, the following question be submitted to the citizens duly qualified to vote, according to the Election law of the State, of the Counties of Westmoreland, Washington, Fayette, Alegheny and that part of Bedford which lies west of the Alegheny mountain, in Pennsylvania, and of Ohio County, in Virginia:

Will the people submit to the laws of the United States upon the terms proposed by the Commissioners of the United States?

Resolved, That the determination of the inhabitants of each County, shall be communicated to a Committee, to consist of one member from each County, who shall meet for that purpose at Parkinson's ferry within two days after the sense of the people shall have been taken, and shall transmit the general result to the Commissioners of Government.

Signed by order of the Committee,
EDWARD COOK, Chairman.


At a conference between the commissioners from the United States and the State of Pennsylvania on the one part, and Messrs. Probst, Dickey, Nesbit, Marshall, Philips, McClelland, Wallace and Wilson, conferees, appointed by the standing committee at Brownsville, (Redstone Old Fort,) on the 28th and 29th days of August, 1794, it was agreed, that the assurances required from the citizens in the fourth survey of Pennsylvania, should be given in writing and their sense ascertained in the following manner:

That the citizens of the said survey (Allegheny county excepted) of the age of eighteen years and upwards, be required to assemble on Thursday, the 11th instant, in their respective townships at the usual place for holding township meetings; and that between the hours of twelve and seven, in the afternoon of the same day, any two or more of the members of the meeting who assembled at Parkinson's Ferry on the 14th ultimo, resident in the township, or a justice of the peace of said township, do openly propose to the people assembled the following questions: Do you now engage to submit to the laws of the United States, and that you will not hereafter, directly or indirectly, oppose the execution of the acts for raising the revenue upon distilled spirits and stills? And do you also undertake to support, as far [181] as the laws require, the civil authority in affording the protection due to all officers and other citizens? Yea, or nay?

That the said citizens, resident in Allegheny county, shall meet in their respective election districts on the said day, and proceed in the same manner as if they were assembled in townships.

That a minute of the number of yeas and nays be made immediately after ascertaining the same.

That a written or printed declaration of such engagement be signed by all those who vote in the affirmative of the following tenor, to wit:

I do solemnly promise henceforth to submit to the laws of the United States, that I will not, directly or indirectly, oppose the execution of the acts for raising a revenue on distilled spirits and stills; and that I will support, as far as the law requires, the civil authority in affording the protection due to all officers and other citizens.

This shall be signed in the presence of the said members or justices of the peace, attested by him or them, and lodged in his or their hands.

That the said persons, so proposing the questions stated as aforesaid, do assemble at the respective county court house, on the 13th inst., and do ascertain and make report of the numbers of those who voted in the affirmative in the respective townships or districts, and of the number of those who voted in the negative, together with their opinion whether there be such a general submission of the people in their respective counties, that an office of inspection may be immediately and safely established therein; that the said report, opinion and written or printed declarations, be transmitted to the commissioners, or any one of them, at Uniontown, on or before the 16th instant.

If the said assurances shall be bona fide given in the manner prescribed, the commissioners on the part of the United States do promise and engage in the manner following, to wit:

1. No prosecution for any treason or other indictable offence against the United States, committed within the fourth survey of Pennsylvania, before the 22d day of August last, shall be commenced or prosecuted before the 10th day of July next, against any person who shall, within the time limited, subscribe such assurance and engagement as aforesaid, and perform the same.

2. On the said 10th day of July next, there shall be granted a general pardon and oblivion of all the said offenses, excluding therefrom, nevertheless, every person who shall refuse or neglect to subscribe such assurance and engagement in manner aforesaid, or shall, after such subscription, violate the same, or wilfully obstruct or attempt to obstruct the execution of the said acts, or be aiding or abetting therein.

[183] 3. Congress having, by an act passed on the 5th day of June last, authorized the State courts to take cognizance of offenses against the said acts for raising a revenue upon distilled spirits and stills, the President has determined that he will direct suits against such delinquents to be prosecuted therein, if, upon experiment, it be found that local prejudices or other causes do not obstruct the faithful administration of justice; but it is to
be understood, that of this, he must be the judge, and that he does not mean by this determination to impair any power vested in the Executive of the United States.

4. Certain beneficial arrangements for adjusting the delinquencies and prosecutions for penalties now depending, shall be made and communicated by the officers appointed to carry the said acts into execution.


Signed in behalf of the committee representing the fourth survey of Pennsylvania, unanimously by the members present.


PITTSBURGH, Sept. 2, 1794.
We, the underwritten, do also promise, in behalf of the State of Pennsylvania, that in case the assurances now proposed shall be bona fide given and performed until the 10th day of July next, an act of free and general pardon and oblivion of all treasons, insurrections, arsons, riots and other offenses inferior to riots, committed, counseled or suffered by any person or persons within the four western counties of Pennsylvania, since the 14th day of July last past, so far as the same concerns the said State or the government thereof, shall be then granted, excluding therefrom every person who shall refuse or neglect to subscribe such assurance, or who shall, after such subscription, willfully violate or obstruct the laws of the State or of the United States.



At a meeting of the standing Committee of the Western Counties held at Brownville (Red Stone old fort) on the 28th and 29th of August, 1794.

The Report of the Committee appointed to confer with the Commissioners of Government being taken into consideration, the following Resolutions were adopted, to wit:

Resolved, That in the opinion of this Committee it is the interest of the people of this Country to accede to the proposals made by the Commissioners on the part of the United States.

Resolved, That a Copy of the foregoing resolution be transmitted to the said Commissioners.

EDWARD COOK, Chairman.

A true Copy.


BROWNSVILLE, 29th August, 1794.
GENTLEMEN:—Difficulties having arisen with us, we have thought it necessary to appoint a Committee to confer with you in order to procure, if possible, some farther time, in order that the people may have leisure to reflect upon their true situation.

I am, Gentlemen,
Your most ob't, Humble Serv't,

P. S.—Inclosed you have a Copy of the resolutions on that subject.

The hon'ble the Commissioners of the United States.


PITTSBURGH, August 29th, 1794.
DEAR SIR:—My errand here was a humane one, and without much hesitation might be pronounced one easily to be accomplished. It was to remove desperation from conscious guilt, to calm ruffled minds and to induce the inhabitants of four counties to consult their own happiness. It may be thought an easy task [184] to convince men that it is for their benefit not to be hanged, for the safety of their persons & property not only to obey, but to support the laws made for securing both, and for their mental and corporeal comfort, to cultivate and enjoy peace, order & tranquility in their day & generation. The wiser & better sort required no arguments to convince them of all this, but the next class to them, and those placed a grade still lower would at first scarcely listen to anything of this import; their prejudices & passions had usurped the judgment seat of reason, and for some time almost induced a belief that they could not be governed by the arms of truth & persuasion, but by military coercion only. At length, however, affability, moderation & perseverance, allowing the passion of fear its proper place, and compliments to the good sense & virtue of the persons conversed with, operated a change in several, and from being suspected, feared and considered as enemies, we in a few days were freely spoken to, confided in, and treated as friends.

Our negociation approaches towards a favorable issue. The proceedings of this day will probably nearly insure in these counties at least a passive obedience to the Excise laws. At a convention of committees, composed of not less than three nor exceeding five persons chosen by the inhabitants of every township, except four, within the counties of Westmoreland, Washington, Fayette & Allegheny, at Parkinson's ferry, on the Monongahela, the 14th instant, a committee of sixty, called a committee of safety, consisting of one member from each township, and another of twelve persons, stiled a committee of conference, were appointed. All matters have been amicably adjusted with the committee of conference, who were to make their report yesterday to the sixty at Fort Burd, (now Brownsville;) if it shall be adopted, the convention of committees, who met on the 14th, will be assembled next week, and their sense taken upon it; should it meet with their approbation, as they are 226 in number, it may be fairly considered as the voice of the people. Thus an Assembly originally convened for one (I will not say a bad) purpose, is likely to be converted to another and a very useful & good one.

In case a reconciliation & amnesty had not taken place, many (I believe a majority) of the people here threatened to become British subjects, to remove into the Indian country, or at all events, to detach themselves from the laws of the Union, and be independent of any government, except one to be formed by themselves. Indeed, their speeches & actions have been most extravagant; a frenzy seemed to be diffused thro' the country, the still voice of reason drowned, and the wildest chimeras to have [185] taken possession of men's minds. One might be led to think it was the work of magic, or owing to some physical cause.

Some are projecting a voluntary expedition against Sandu[s]ky and the six nations of Indians; and it is not unlikely to be an object for the consideration of the committee of sixty this day. It may be useful, but I wish the people had first obtained the sanction of Government. Two thousand militia are proposed for this expedition, and to be marched from the four western counties of Pennsylvania, and Monongalia & Ohio counties, in Virginia. It is best to find employment for restless minds.

No news from our army, excepting that General Scott's cavalry had joined it on the 28th last month.

You will receive a printed copy of the report of the Committee of conference enclosed herewith.

We expect to hear the result of the proceedings at Brownsville sometime to-morrow, and if they shall accord with our wishes, General Irvine and myself will probably leave this on Monday; until then, we have nothing to communicate to the Governor.

Please to pay my devoirs to the Governor and Mr. Dallas, and also to all inquiring friends. Adieu.

I am, with sincere esteem, dear Sir,
Your most obedient servant,



PITTSBURGH, August 30th, two o'clock P. M., 1794.
SIR:—We have this moment recived a copy of the proceedings of the Committee of sixty, called the Committee of safety, at Brownsville yesterday, which we have the honor to inclose to you. Exclusive of the knowledge of the sentiments of these Gentlemen to be derived from the Resolutions they have passed, we have good information, that the sense of those present, being fifty-seven in number was taken by ballot on the question, "whether they would acquiesce in the terms of reconciliation proposed by the Commissioners of the United States?" and that it was carried in the affirmative by thirty-four against twenty-three, as the votes were counted, altho' in reality six had put in their ballots for the negative in a mistake, so the true state of the numbers were forty for and seventeen against submission. We have been told there were a considerable number of specta- [186] tors there, one company of militia with their arms, who appeared to be variously affected, tho' our information is that the majority were for pacific measures. A committee of twelve have been appointed to confer with us on Monday as you will perceive by their proceedings; the conference will be agreed to on our part, tho' from the characters of several of them we do not expect much good will be done. The result of our Mission is so uncertain that we are not capable of forming a judgment upon it, but from our best conjecture the people of Washington county, if governed by the majority, will prefer a civil war to a submisson to the Excise laws, so infatuated and frantic are the Leaders in opposition; we think a great majority of the other three counties are friends to peace, order and the laws. Such was the situation of the fifty-seven yesterday, as credibly represented to us, that had their votes been given viva voce the determination had been different. We are extremely grieved, Sir, that our communications can afford you so little hopes of that happy termination to our Embassy which you have so much at heart, and had such good reason to expect. The Express waits.

We are, Sir, with sincere attachment & regard,
Your Excellency's Most obedient and most humble servants,

P. S.—We have inclosed a printed copy of the proceedings of the Conference. Please to excuse us, as time is not allowed for transcribing our letter fair.

His Excellency, the Governor of Pennsylvania.


PHILADELPHIA, August 30th, 1794.
SIR:—I am directed by the President to acknowledge the receipt, on the 17th, of your Excellency's letter, dated the 12th instant.

The President feels with you the force of the motives which render undesirable, an extension of correspondence on the subject in question. But the case being truly one of great importance and delicacy, these motives must yield, in a degree, to the propriety and utility of giving precision to every part of the transaction, and guarding effectually against ultimate misapprehension.

To this end, it is deemed advisable, in the first place, to state some facts which either do not appear or are conceived not to have assumed an accurate shape in your Excellency's letter. They are these:

[187] 1. You were informed at the conference, that all the information which had been received had been laid before an associate Justice, in order that he might consider and determine whether such a case as is contemplated by the second section of the act, which provides for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions, had occurred, that is, whether combinations existed too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of Judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the Marshal by that act, in which case, the President is authorised to call forth the Militia to suppress the combinations and to cause the laws to be duly executed.

2. The idea of a preliminary proceeding by you was pointed to an eventual co-operation with the Executive of the United States, in such plan, as upon mature deliberation, should be deemed advisable in conformity with the laws of the union. The inquiry was particularly directed towards the possibility of some previous accessory step, in relation to the militia, to expedite the calling them forth, if an acceleration should be judged expedient and proper, and if any delay on the score of evidence should attend the notification from a Judge, which the laws make the condition of the power of the President to require the aid of the militia, and turned more especially upon the point, whether the laws of Pennsylvania of the 22d of September, 1783, was or was not still in force. The question emphatically was: Has the Executive of Pennsylvania power to put the militia in motion, previous to a requisition from the President under the laws of the union, if it shall be thought advisable so to do? Indeed, it seems to be admitted by one part of your letter, that the preliminary measure contemplated did turn on this question, and with a particular eye to the authority and existence of the act just mentioned.

3. The information contained in the papers read at the conference, besides the violence offered to the Marshal, while in company with the Inspector of the Revenue, established, that the Marshal had been afterwards made prisoner by the Insurgents, put in jeopardy of his life, had been obliged to obtain safety and liberty by a promise guaranteed by Colonel Presly Neville, that he would serve no other process on the west side of the Alleghany mountain; that in addition to this, a deputation of the Insurgents had gone to Pittsburgh to demand of the Marshal a surrender of the processes in his possession, under the intimation that it would satisfy the people and add to his safety; which necessarily implied that he would be in danger of further violence without such a surrender. That under the influence of this menace he had found it necessary to seek [188] security, by taking secretly and in the night, a circuitous route.

This recapitulation is not made to invalidate the explanation offered in your last letter of the view of the subject, which you assert to have led to the suggestions contained in your first, and of the sense which you wish to be received as that of the observations accompanying those suggestions, it is intended solely to manifest, that it was natural for the President to regard your communication of the 5th instant, in the light under which it is presented in the reply to it.

For, having informed you that the matter was before an associate Justice, with a view to the law of the United States which has been mentioned, and having pointed what was said respecting a preliminary proceeding on your part to a call of the militia under the authority of a State law, by anticipation of a requisition from the General Government and in co-operation with an eventual plan to be founded upon the laws of the union, it was not natural to expect, that you would have presented a plan of conduct entirely on the basis of the State Government, even to the extent of resorting to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, after its judiciary had proved incompetent, "to prescribe by their wisdom and authority the means of subduing the spirit of insurrection and of restoring tranquility and order;" a plan, which being Incompatible with the course marked out in the laws of the United States, evidently could not have been acceded to without a suspension, for a long and indefinite period, of the movements of the federal Executive pursuant to those laws. The repugnancy and incompatibility of the two modes of proceeding at the same time, cannot, it is presumed, be made a question.

Was it extraordinary then, that the plan suggested should have been unexpected, and that it should even have been thought liable to the observation of having contemplated Pennsylvania in a light too separate and unconnected?

The propriety of the remark, "that it was impossible not to think that the current of the observations in your letter might be construed to imply a virtual disapprobation of that plan of conduct on the part of the General Government, in the actual stage of its affairs, which you acknowledge would be proper on the part of the government of Pennsylvania, if arrived; it a similar stage," must be referred to the general tenor and complexion of those observations, and to the inference they were naturally calculated to inculcate. If this inference was, that under the known circumstances of the case, the employment of force to suppress the insurrection was improper, without a long train of preparatory expedients—and if, in fact, the Government of the United States (which has not been controverted) was at [189] that point, where it was admitted that the government of Pennsylvania being arrived, the resort to force, on its part, would be proper—the impression which was made could not have been effaced by the consideration, that the forms of referring what concerned the government of the union to the judgment of its own Executive, were carefully observed. There was no difficulty in reconciling the intimation of an opinion unfavorable to a particular course of proceeding with an explicit reference of the subject, officially speaking, to the judgment of the officer charged by the Constitution to decide, and with a sincere recognition of the subjection of the individual authority of the State to the national jurisdiction of the Union.

The disavowal by your Excellency of an intention to sanction the inference, which was drawn, renders what has been said a mere explanation of the cause of that inference and of the impression which it at first made.

It would be foreign to the object of this letter to discuss the various observations, which have been adduced to obviate a misapprehension of your views and to maintain the propriety of the course pursued in your first communication. It is far more pleasing to the President to understand you in the sense you desire, and to conclude that no opinion has been indicated by you inconsistent with that which he has entertained of the state of things and of his duty in relation to it. And he remarks with satisfaction the effect which subsequent information is supposed calculated to produce favoring an approximation of sentiments.

But there are a few miscellaneus points, which more effectually to prevent misconception anywhere, seem to demand a cursory notice.

You observe that the President had already determined to exercise his legal powers in drafting a competent force of the militia. At the point of time to which you are understood to refer, namely that of the conference, the President had no legal power to call forth the militia. No judge had yet pronounced, that a case justifying the exercise of that power existed. You must be sensible, Sir, that all idea of your calling out the militia by your authority was referred to a state of things antecedent to the lawful capacity of the President to do it by his own authority; and when he had once determined upon the call, pursuant to his legal powers, it were absurd to have proposed to you a separate and unconnected call. How too, it might be asked, could such a determination, if it had been made and was known to you, have comported with the plan suggested in your letter which presupposes that the employment of force had not already been deter mined upon?

[190] This passage of your letter is therefore construed to mean only, that the President had manifested an opinion, predicated upon the event of such a notification from a Judge as the law prescribes, that the nature of the case was such as would probably require the employment of force. You will also, it is believed, recollect that he had not at the time finally determined upon anything—and that the conference ended with referring the whole subject to further consideration.

You say, that if you had undertaken not only to comply promptly with the President's requisition, but to embody a distinct corps for the same service, an useless expense would have been incurred by the State, an unnecessary burthen would have been imposed on the citizens, and embarrassment and confusion would probably have been introduced instead of system and co-operation. But both were never expected. Your embodying the militia independent of a requisition, from the President was never thought of, except as a preliminary and auxiliary step. Had it taken place when the requisition came, the corps embodied would have been ready towards a compliance with it, and no one of the inconveniences suggested could possibly have arisen.

You say, in another place, that you "was called upon to act, not in conformity to a positive law, but in compliance with the duty which is supposed to result from the nature and constitution of the executive office." It is conceived that it would have been more correct to have said, "you was called upon to be consulted whether you had power in the given case to call forth the militia without a previous requisition from the general Government." The supposition that you might possess this power was referred to a law of Pennsylvania which appeared on examination to have been repealed. A Gentleman who accompanied you thought that the power, after a due notification of the incompetency of the Judiciary, might be deduced from the nature and constitution of the executive office.

It has appeared to your Excellency fit and expedient to animadvert upon the nature of the evidence produced at the conference, and to express some doubts which had occurred to your mind concerning it.

As the laws of the United States have referred the evidence in such cases to the judgment of a District Judge or associate Justice, and foreseeing that circumstances so peculiar might arise as to render rules relating to the ordinary and peaceable state of society inapplicable, have forborne to prescribe any, leaving it to the understanding and conscience of the Judge, upon his responsibility, to pronounce what kind and degree of evidence should suffice. The President would not sanction a [191] discussion of the standard or measure, by which evidence in those cases ought to be governed. He would restrain himself by the reflection, that this appertains to the province of another, and that he might rely as a guide upon the decision which should be made by the proper organ of the laws for that purpose.

But it may be no deviation from this rule to notice to you, that the facts stated in the beginning of this letter under the third head appear to have been overlooked in your survey of the evidence, while they seem to be far from immaterial to a just estimate of it.

You remark that "when you found that the Marshal had, without molestation, executed his office in the County of Fayette—that he was never insulted or opposed till he acted in company with General Neville, and that the virulence of the Rioters was directly manifested against the person and property of the latter gentleman, and only incidentally against the person of the former—you thought there was ground yet to suppose that a spirit of opposition to the officers employed under the Excise law, and not a spirit of opposition to the officers employed in the administration of justice, was the immediate source of the outrages which are deprecated."

It is natural to enquire how this supposition could consist with the additional facts which appeared by the same evidence, namely, that the Marshal having been afterwards made prisoner by the rioters, had been compelled, for obtaining safety and liberty, to promise to execute no more processes within the discontented scene, and that subsequently again to this, in consequence of a deputation of the rioters, deliberately sent to demand a surrender of the processes in his possession, enforced by a threat, he had found it necessary to seek security in withdrawing, by a secret and circuitous route—did not these circumstances unequivocally denote that officers employed in the administration of justice were as much objects of opposition as those employed in the execution of the particular laws; and that the rioters were at least consistent with their plan?

It must needs be that these facts escaped your Excellency's attention, else they are too material to have been omitted in your review of the evidence, and too conclusive not to have set aside the supposition which you entertained, and which seems to have had so great a share in your general view of the subject.

There remains only one point on which your Excellency will be longer detained—a point indeed of great importance, and consequently demanding serious and careful reflection. It is the opinion you so emphatically express, that the mere dispersion of the Insurgents is the sole object for which the militia can be [192] lawfully called out, or kept in service after they may have been called out.

The President reserves to the last moment the consideration and decision of this point.

But there are arguments weighing heavily against the opinion you have expressed, which in the mean time are offered to your candid consideration.

The Constitution of the United States (article 1, sec. 8) empowers Congress "to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions," evidently, from the wording and distribution of the sentence, contemplating the execution of the laws of the union as a thing distinct from the suppression of insurrections.

The act of May 2, 1792, for carring this provision of the Constitution into effect, adopts for its title the very words of the Constitution, being "an act to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions," containing the Constitutional distinction.

The first section of the act provides for the cases of invasion and of insurrection, confining the latter to the case of insurrection against the Government of a State. The second section provides for the case of the execution of the laws being obstructed by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings or by the powers vested in the Marshals.

The words are these, "whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed, or the execution thereof obstructed in any State, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the Marshals by this act, the same being notified to the President of the United States by an associate justice or the District Judge, it shall be lawful for the President of the United States to call forth the militia of such State to suppress such combinations and to cause the laws to be duly executed," then follows a provision for calling forth the militia of other States.

The terms of this section appear to contemplate and describe something that may be less than insurrection. The "combinations" mentioned may indeed amount to insurrections, but it is conceivable that they may stop at associations not to comply with the law, supported by riots, assassinations and murders, and by a general spirit in a part of the community, which may baffle the ordinary judiciary means, with no other aid than the Posse Comitatus, and may even require the stationing of military force for a time to awe the spirit of riot and countenance the magistrates and officers in the execution of their duty; and the objects for which the militia are to be called are expressly not [193] only to suppress those combinations (whether amounting to insurrection or not) but to cause the laws to be duly executed.

It is, therefore, plainly contrary to the manifest general intent of the Constitution and of this act, and to the positive and express terms of the 2d section of the act, to say that the militia called forth are not to be continued in service for the purpose of causing the laws to be duly executed, and of course till they are so executed.

What is the main and ultimate object of calling forth the militia? "To cause the laws to be executed." Which are the laws to be executed? Those which are opposed and obstructed in their execution by the combinations described; in the present case, the laws laying duties upon spirits distilled within the United States and upon stills, and incidentally those which uphold the judiciary functions. When are the laws executed? Clearly when the opposition is subdued—when the penalties for obedience can be enforced—when a compliance is effectuated.

Would the mere dispersion of Insurgents and their retiring to their respective homes do this? Would it satisfy either member of the provision, the suppression of the combinations or the execution of the laws? Might not the former, notwithstanding the dispersion, continue in full vigour, ready at any moment to break out into new acts of resistance to the laws? Are the militia to be kept perpetually marching and countermarching, towards the insurgents while they are embodied, and from them when they have separated and retired? Suppose the Insurgents hardy enough to wait the experiment of a battle, are vanquished, and then disperse and retire home, are the militia immediately to retire also to give them an opportunity to reassemble, recruit and prepare for another battle? And is this to go on and be repeated without limit?

Such a construction of the law, if true, were certainly a very unfortunate one, rendering its provisions essentially nugatory, and leading to endless expense and as endless disappointment. It could hardly be adviseable to vex the militia by marching them to a distant point where they might scarcely be arrived before it would be legally necessary for them to return, not in consequence of having effected their object—of having "caused the laws to be executed," but in consequence of the mere stratagem of a deceitful dispersion and retiring.

Thus far, the spirit as well as the positive letter of the law, combats the construction which you have adopted. It remains to see if there be any other part of it which compels to a renunciation, both of the letter and spirit of the antecedent provisions.

The part which seems to be relied upon for this effect is the [194] third section, which by way of Proviso enjoins: "That whenever it may be necessary, in the judgment of the President to use the military force, by that act directed to be called forth, he shall forthwith and previous thereto, by Proclamation, command the insurgents to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within a limited time." But does this affirm, does it even necessarily imply, that the militia, after the dispersion and retiring, are not to be used for the purpose for which they are authorized to be called forth, that is, "to cause the laws to be duly executed;" to countenance by their presence, and in case of further resistance, to protect and support by their strength, the respective civil officers in the execution of their several duties, whether for bringing delinquents to punishment or otherwise, for giving effect to the laws? May not the injunction of this Section be regarded as a merely humane and prudent precaution, to distinguish previous to the actual application of force, a hasty tumult from a deliberate insurrection? To give an opportunity for those who may be accidentally or inadvertantly mingled in a tumult or disorderly rising to separate and withdraw from those who are designedly and deliberately actors? To prevent, if possible, bloodshed in a conflict of arms, and if this cannot be done, to render the necessity of it palpable, by a premonition to the insurgents to disperse and go home? And are not all these objects compatible with the further employment of the militia for the ulterior purpose of causing the laws to be executed, in the way which has been mentioned? If they present a rational end for the proviso, without defeating the main design of the antecedent provision, it is clear they ought to limit the sense of the former and exclude a construction which must make the principal provision nugatory.

Do not the rules of law and reason unite in declaring that the different parts of a Statute shall be so construed, as if possible, to consist with each other, that a PRIVISO ought not to be understood or allowed to operate in a sense tending to defeat the principal clause, and that an implication (if indeed there be any such implication as is supposed in the present case) ought not to overrule an express provision, especially at the sacrifice of the manifest general intent of a law, which in the present case, undoubtedly is, that the Militia shall be called forth "to cause the laws to be duly executed?"

Though not very material to the merit of the argument, it may be remarked that the Proviso which forms the 3d Section contemplates merely the case of Insurrection. If the combinations described in the 2d Section may be less than Insurrection, then the proviso is not commenserate with the whole case contained in the 2d Section, which would be an additional circumstance [195] to prove that it cannot work an effect which shall be a substitute for the main purpose of the first section.

I have the honor, Sir, to be,
with very great respect,
Your Excellency's mo. ob. serv.,


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