Franklin Ellis.

History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men online

. (page 38 of 193)
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tenant of Kirkpatrick's his damages." The signatnres to this card t
e.xpl.inntion und disclaimer were headed by that of Ed\v,",rd Cook, <
Fayette County, wlilch was followed by of fourteen otliers, a
prominent leaders in tlic insurrectionary movement.



issued, calling together the Assembly of the State in
special session. Previously (on the 6th of August)
the Governor had appointed Chief Justice McKean
and Gen. William Irvine to proceed immediately to
the disaffected counties, to ascertain the facts in refer-
ence to the recent acts of violence and lawless gather-
ings, and, if practicable, to induce tlie people to sub-
mit to the law.

The President, on the day next following the
issuance of his proclamation, appointed James Ross,
Tiiilcil States senator, Jasper Yeates, associate
jiiiliir Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and William
lliaaiord, Attorney-General of the United States,
r.iiiiiiiissioners on the part of the United States, with
full instructions and ample powers, to repair forth-
with to the western counties, for the purpose of con-
ferring, at their discretion, with individuals or bodies
of men, "in order to quiet and extinguish the insur-

Before the great demonstration at Braddock's Field,
the anti-excise leaders issued a call (in the latter part
of July') for a meeting of delegates from the western
counties, to meet at Parkinson's Ferry, on the Monon-
gahela (now Monongahela City), "to take into con-
sideration the situation of the western country." And
from the muster-place at Braddock's Field, Col.
(Maj.-Gen.) David Bradford issued the following cir-
cular :

To the Inhabitants of Monnnfjahda, Virginia :
" Gextlemex,— I presume you have heard of the
spirited opposition given to the excise law in this
State. Matters have been so brought to pass here
that all are under the necessity of bringing their
minds to a final conclusion. This has been the ques-
tion amongst us some days, 'Shall wf> disapprove
of the conduct of those engaged aiiniiist Nc-.illc, the
excise-officer, or approve?' Or, in ullici- wiuds, 'Shall
we suffer them to fall asacrifice to Ft'ileial prisccutiun,
or shall we support them?' On the result of this
business we have fully deliberated, and have deter-
mined, with head, heart, hand, and voice, that we
will support the opposition to the excise law. The
crisis is now come, submission or opposition: we are
determined in the opposition. We are determined
I in future to act agreeably to sj'stem ; to form ar-
!rangements guided by reason, prudence, fortitude,
land spirited conduct. We have piii|i(psr(i a ircnural
meeting of the four counties df rcnn-ylvania, and
have invited our brethren in the lu/iuhlMiiinii rouiitios
in Virginia to come forward and join us in council
and deliberation in this important crisis, and conclude
upon measures interesting to the western counties of
Pennsylvania and Virginia. A notification of this

>At tlio meeting of tlie inliabitaiils of rittsl.uigli, lu'l.l .Inly :ilst, it
WAS rofjolveil that wlieiea^a geiuT.iI 111 ■III. _ : .1 _ .1 - li in i In' tuwii-
Bllipsof the country west uf tin III III I - ' ' ; ■ I'l 1 Kiiisoti's
Fftry on llie 14tU of August 111 X . M.eap-

puinteil t.i thiit uieelhig, and tliat ili- 'Hi. I Aii^u-t 1.. nij. ihlnl for a

kind may be seen in the Pittsburgh paper. Parkin-
son's Ferry is the place proposed as the most central,
and the 14th of August the time. We solicit you by
all the tics that an union of interests can suggest to
come forward and join us in our deliberations. The
cause is common to us all. We invite you to come,
even should you differ with us in opinion. We wish
you to hear our reasons influencing our conduct."

The events of the first two days of August at Brad-
dock's Field and Pittsburgh and of the two or three suc-
ceeding weeks, seemed to mark the culmination of the
popular frenzy on the subject of the excise law, and
from the loth of July to the last of August was the
period of the greatest excitement that exhibited itself
during the insurrection. During the interval of time
between the great muster at Braddock's and the day
appointed for the meeting at Parkinson's Ferry, great
numbers of " liberty-poles" were erected by the in-
surgents in various parts of the four counties, and
upon these were hoisted flags, bcarinu' such inscrip-
tions as "Death to Teaitoks." " i.ii;i:i;TY and
NO Excise." Few persons were foiinil lianly enough
to refuse assisiancc in the erection of these i)olcs, for
to do so was til lie liraiiilcd as an enemy to the cause,

j and a fit suljc<-t l..r the veii-canceof Tom the Tinker.

i A number of these " lil.erty-|..,les- weie raised in

i Fayette County. One was at New Salem, one at
Xew Geneva, one at :\Iasiintown, on which a very
beautiful silk flag was raised. One was at the old
I'ninn Furnace, in Dunbar township, and one at the

I market-hiinse, in Uniontown. At the raising of this
pole, about one hundred men under command of Capt.
Kobert Ross came in from German (now Nicholson)
tiiwnsliip to assist. Another pole was raised on the
MdiL'antiiw 11 road south of Uniontown, on the farm
of Thonias ( iaddis, who was of the principal leaders
of the whijkey boys in this county. The pole at this
place and the one in Uniontown were cut down by
Gen. Ephraim Douglass in defiance of all threats and
intimidation. That which had been erected at New
Geneva met the same fixte at the hands of Mrs. Eliza-
beth Everhart (wife of Adolph Everhart) and two or
three other women of equal determination. The
others named stood bearing their threatening flags

! and inscriptions until the tide of insurrection began
to turn before the menace of military force, and then
thnsc who had raised them were glad cnougli to see
them fall, and to deny all agency in their erection.

On the 14th of August, according to appointment,
the meeting of the delegates was opened at Parkin-
son's Ferry. The proclamations of the President and
of Governor Mifflin had not been received. Neither
the commissioners for the State nor those for the
United States had made their appearance, but intel-
ligence came during the progress of the meeting, that
the two delegations were on their way from Philadel-


]iliia, anil that two of the United States commissioners
had just arrived at Greeusburg. '

The first ccromony performed at Parkinson's was
the erecting of a tall "liberty-pole," and the hoisting
of a flag bearing tlie inseriptimi, " Eipial Taxation and
no Excise.— Xo Asylum, li.r Traitors and Cowards."
Twohuiidrrd an.l twculy-six delr-:ilrs wriv |.iv,-eiit
fniiii t..wii-!.i|i- ill Fayrli,., \Vr~;.i„,ivl:i)nl, All.-l-c:iy,
WaslLiugtMii. aii.l that part , f Ik.lfMpi lying we^t nf the
Allcglieny Mnimtaiiis, uiih a few from Ohio County,
Va. Till- iiKM'tiiig was iirganized by the appointment
of Cnl. Ivlwanl (/unk aiKl the Hon. Albert Gallatin,
both of Favctt.' ( ■..untv. rrspectivrlv as rhainnan and



with a numberof the leaders, begun tn -it a-ain-t the
adoption of violent measures. It wa- ilainai tbr
some of those who at tliLs meeting (1,'\ I'lMi.t-il a .-trung
oppositinii to tlie jilans of Bradfunl :mil .itlur ex-
tremists, that their course was prompt. ■.! l,y thi' same
desire which had at first induced tlnii; to range them-
selves r.m ing the disaffejted,— that of a; praring to as-
sume leadership for the inirposo ol rurMai: the hiw-
less element and diverting its energi.'s from" the track
leading to opm v.olrnco and rebeilion. Ikit there is
little lii.uM tliat their action at thi^ time was in no
small (h.-r.r ,lu - to i],,ir late r.,ali/,ation of the lact
that llu- I'nio.l S:a:i- govomima.l had revalvial t.,
l>ut doiv:, I ,ul, '-.-;..- at whatever e ,-t, that it would
exert all it- pow.r-, if necessary, to enforce obedience,
and that a~ again-t that pow-crthe cause of the insur-

A series of strong re- -In^ons was ititrolm-ed by
Cul, Jame- Marshal, of Waslij.,-;.;!. an 1 -u;.;. .rted
in an >iK-re]i liy Ih-adtord, who re-
plied to in opposition by All.erl, .luluv
Brackenridiic, Jml-v Edirar, of;,, and

ith variou-


•^-. I''

tlie excise law. Tliey were also " to have power to
call together a meeting, either of a new representa-
tion of the i^eople or of the deputies here convened,
for the purjiose of taking such further measures as
the future situation of affairs may repiir.-: :uid in
case of any sudden emergency, to take such tem|io-

rary measures as they may think necessary." The
closing resolution was to this effect, " That a com-
mittee, to consist of three members from each county,
be appointed to meet any commissioners that
been or may be appointed by the government, and
report the result of this conference to the standing
committee." The standing committee (consisting of
sixty persons) met, and appointed the committee to
meet the commissioners of the United States and'
those of Pennsylvania, as provided by the final reso-
lution. This committee of conference was comp
as follows:

For Fayette County : Albert Gallatin, Edward Cook,-
and James Lang.

For Westmoreland County: John Kirkiiatrick,'
George Smith, and John Powers.

For Allegheny County: Hugh H. Brackeuridg
Thomas :\Ioreton, and jJhn B. C. Lucas.

For Washingt.m County: David Bradford, James.
^Fir.hal, and .lames Edgar.

Fiu- Bedford County: Herman Husbands.

For Ohio County, Va., William Sutherland.

The Committee of Sixty, after having appointed
and instructed the committee of conference, adj'iurned
to meet at Redstone Old Fort (Brownsville) on the;

Tlie commissioners for the State arrived at Pitts-
burgh on the 17tli of August, and those appointed by
the I're-ideiit came immediately afterwards. On the
iMth the two bodies met the committee of conference
whirh was appointed at Parkinson's Ferry. At this
meeting preliminary proceedings were taken, wdiich
resulted in pr.)positious by both bodies of commis-
>ion;'rs, who declared explicitly that the exercise 01
the iiowers vested in them to suspend prosecutions.
and to promise a general amnesty and pardon for past
o:leii-es, ■■must he preceded by full and satislactotji
;k - .suranees of a sincere determination in the peopU
to obey the laws of the United States." The memben
of the committee \vho took the most prominent pan
in the proceedings were Gallatin and Cook, of Fay-
o-!, ; r.radlord and Marshal, of Washington; and
nraekeiiridge, of Allegheny County. All these, witl
the excei)tion of Bradford, were in favor of accedit
to the propositions of the commissioners, and tliil
was found to be the sense of the committee ; but thej
had no [lower to act, further than to report the resul"
of theeonlerence to the standing Committee ofSixtyi
That committee had adjourned to meet at Redstone 0I«™
Fort on the 2d of September, as before mentioned, bu'
upon the conclusion of the conference with thecommfe
sioners at Pittsburgh the time of their meeting '
changed and made five days earl ier,''' though this char



of time gave great offense to Bradford and other ex-
tremists. The change of time was made in deference
to one of the conditions imposed by the commissioners,
viz. : " It is expected and required by the said com-
missioners that the citizens compo.sing the said stand-
ing committee do, on or be/ore (he first daij of September
next, explicitly declare their determination to submit
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

Accordingly, on the 2Sth of August, the standing
committee (the committee of sixty) met at Browns-
ville, to receive and act upon tiie report of the com-
littee of conference. Of the sixty members of the
committee, fifty-seven were in attendance, of whom
twenty-three were from \Va.shington County. Judge
Alexander Addison said' "that the minds of all men
appeared to be strongly impressed with a sense of the
critical situation of the country, and the minds of al-
most all with a fear of opposing the current of the
popular opinion," and that "these impressions were
greatly increased by the appearance of a body of
armed men a.'^sembled there Irom Muddy Creek, in


ill power of til


es-ithcui. In-

inl.iiuce. .

. Wehav.-.n

to give .V..., n

!l,.. people oil the gn^.l

i;ike tlli^^ rep Jit to tho coinniitteo to whom wo are to report,
lo them the reasons of our opinion, so fur as they linve
'■y uny he regurdeil by them. It will lie out- endeavor to con-
[ (.lily them, hut the public niiuil in general to our views on
t. AVe hope to bo assisted by you in giving all that e.\tent

Washington County, to punish Samuel Jackson- as an
enemy to what they called their cause."

The business of the meeting was opened by the
submission of the conference committee's report and
a speech upon it by Mr. Gallatin, who urged the
adoption of a resolution in -acceptance of the terms
offered by the commissioners, and set forth the dan-
ger of using force in resistance to the law, the im-
possibility of these western counties contending suc-
cessfully against the force of the United States, and
the evident necessity of submission. "Mr. Gallatin,
although a foreigner who could with difliculty make
himself understood in English, yet presented with
great force the folly of past resistance, and the ruin-
ous consequences to the country of the continuance
of the insurrection. He urged that the government
was bound to vindicate the laws, and that it would
surely send an overwhelming force against them. He
placed the subject in a new light, and .showed the
insurrection to be a much more serious affair than it
had before appeared."^ Mr. Brackenridge followed
Gallatin in an argument to the same end, though
urged in a different manner. Then Col. Bradford
delivered a speech in opposition to the various argu-
ments of Gallatin and Brackenridge, alluding to the
revolutions in America and in France as models for
imitation, and as inducements to hope for the success
of these counties against the government, which he
said was rendered reasonably certain on account of
their peculiar situation, as separated from the eastern
country by almost insurmountable natural barriers.
His whole speech was manifestly intended to keep up
the opposition to goveninicnt, and to prevent the
adoption of the re-^dlatinn^ propdsed by Mr. Gallatin.

The leaders, with the excenlion of 'liiM.irnrd and a

jion, and were :

■e, luul liilly UKKleup tlieir
k <.f the ill>urirrti(,n, but
•at that time little thought
riolent and determined an

! reply of the Ohio County

n.lge, a
■ nritter



opposition as ever, and so strong an influence did this
exert, even on the leaders who knew that the cause
was hopeless, that they dared not openly and fully
avow their sentiments and place themselves on record.
"Such was tlie fear of the popular frenzy that it was
with difficulty that a vote could be had at this meet-
ing. No one would vote by standing up. None *
would write a yea or nay, lest his handwriting should
be recogni/.ud. At last it was determined that ijca
and lunj should be written by the secretary on the I
same pieces of paper, and be distributed, leaving each
member to clieu- u|> or destroy one of the words while j
he put the ..tlirr ill the liox," thus giving each mem- [
ber an opportunity cf conrraliug liis opinion, and of
sheltering liini^elf from tlie re-entnii'nt (jf those from \

ipprehended, or whom he

In this way a balloting

in of the resolutions by a

itv-five. Wlirn tlii-< vote

whom violence was i

wished to avoid otl'e

was had, and in the ;

vote of tliirty-four t

wasdeel;ir,.,l\o stn.n-lv in op|,o.ition to 1,1- vi^^ws,

Col. Bra.ltor.l uithdrew IVoni the merting in angir

and disgust.

It was by the meeting " Resolved, That in the
opinion of this Committee it is the interest of the
people of this Country to to tlie proposals
made by the Coniiiii,>ion, i- on the part ot (l,e United

States. Resolved, that a Copy uf tlu
lutiou be transmitted to the said Com
But instead of giving the assuran
the commissiiuiers, the Committee of
disposition to temporize, and in tl,..' li
better terms they further " Re-olvri
mittee be aiiiiointed' to loni

egjnng reso-
required by
ty showed a

the (■


in th.

of Pennsylvania, with i

mittee to try to obtain

such further modifleati^

think will render them more agr^raM

at large, and also to rejiriseiit the nii;i

ing further time to tlio people belore tli

mination is rec|uireil . . . That the >:

shall publish and cominuniiate tliroii

eral counties the day at wliicli tiio son-i

is expected to be taken. That on the

lished the following question be submit

zens duly qualified to vote, according to the election

law of the State, of the Counties of Westmorelaml,

Washington, Fayette,. .\11. L'h, nv, and that j.arl of

Bedford which lies wot ol tl.,. All, -limy mountains,

in Pennsylvania, and of Ohio County, Virginia,—

Will the people submit to the laws of the United States

■ 1 gr

the jjcople
thus pub-

'Tim following letter from tli


.■man of tlie meeting was addressed

to the Un

ited States committee:



LE, 29lli .A.i.gust, 1704.

" Gest

EMEX,— Difflculties l.a


arisen will

us, we have thought it


to appoint .a committee

to c


•oil in Older to procure.

if possibl


r that tlio

loople may liave leisure

to reflect

upon tlieir tine
"I.™, Gcnil


,.vour mo=

ob'. Ilnmtile SerV,
" Edwaed Cook."

vpon the terms proposed by the Commissioners of the
United States f

The persons appointed to form the committee under
these resolutions were John Probst, Robert Dickey,
John Nesbitt, Herman Husband, John Corbly, John
Marshal, David Phillips, John Hoaton, John McClel-
land, William Ewing, George Wallace, Samuel Wil-
son, and Richard Brown.

The meeting continued in session at Brownsville
for two days, and adjourned on the 29th of August.
It was the last meeting of the kind held during the
insurrection, and virtually marked its, as the
meeting held at the same place three years before
(July 27, 1791) had marked its opening, that being
j the first public meeting held in opposition to the ex-
j cise law. Thus it may be said that the famous insur-
rection was born and died at Redstone Old Fort, in
Fayette County.

The committee appointed at the Brownsville meet-
ing met the commissioners of the United States and
those of Pennsylvania in conference at Pittsburgh
on the 1st of September, at which meeting "it was
agreed that the assurances required from the citizens
of the Fourth Survey of Pennsylvania [the four west-
ern counties] .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 in-tant, in tlieir respective townships, at the
usual place for holding township meetings, and that
between the hours of twelve and seven, in the after-
noon of the same -day, any two or more of the mem-
bers 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
jiropose to the people assembled the following ques-
tions: 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 tindertake to support, as far
as the laws require, the civil authority in affording
the protection due to all officers and other citizens?
Yea or nay? .' . . That a minute of the number of and nays be made immediately after ascertaining
the same. That a written or printed declaration of
such eugagement be signed by all those who vote iu
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 indi-
rectly, oppose the execution of the acts for raising a
revenue on distilled spirits and stills; and that I will
support, so far as the law requires, the civil authority
in affi)rding the protection due to all officers and other

~ Tlie citizens of Allegheny County were required to " mei t in their
respective elccli .n districts on tlie said dav, in the same manner as if



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-houses on the 13th inst., and do ascer-
tain 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

On the part of the United States, the commissioners
agreed that if the assurances should be given in good
faith, as prescribed, no prosecution (or treason or any
other indictable offense against the United States com-
mitted in this survey before the 22d of August, 1794,
should be commenced before the 10th of July, 1795,
against any person who should, within the time lim-
ited, subscribe such assurance and engagement, and
perform the same, and that on the 10th of July, 1795,
there should be granted "a general pardon and ob-
livion of all the said offenses;" but excluding there-
from every person refusing or neglecting to subscribe
the assurances and engagement, or who having so sub-
scribed, should violate the same, or wilfully obstruct
the execution of the excise laws. On behalf of the
State of Pennsylvania, the commissioners, McKean
and Irvine, promised that if the proposed assurances
should be given and performed until July 10, 1795,
there should then be granted (so far as the State was
concerned) "an act of free and general pardon and
oblivion of all treasons, insurrections, areons, riots, and
other offenses inferior to riots committed, counseled,
or suffered by any person or pei-sons within the four
•western counties of Pennsylvania" subsequent to the
14th of July, 1794, but excluding from its operation
every person refusing or neglecting to subscribe to
such agreement, or violating it after subscribing.

The Pennsylvania commissioners left Pittsburgh on
the 3d of September, and Messrs. Yeates and Brad-
ford, United States commissioners, proceeded east
soon afterwards. Both bodies were requested by the
Governor and the President respectively to remain
until after the announcement of the result of the
popular vote;' but for some reason they did not
comply, and only James Ross remained to carry the
signatures to Philadelphia.

On the day appointed, September 11th, elections
■were held in (nearly) alt the townships or election
districts of the four counties. The result in Fayette
was announced as follows :

1 See Pa. Archives, 2il Soiies, vul. iv. rp 200, 201.

" L'xii)\T0wx, Sopti-nilicr IG, i;',l4.

"We, the subscribers, having, according to resolu-
tions of the committee of townships for the county of
Fayette, acted as .judges on the llth'instant at the
meetings of the people of said county, respectively
convened at the places in the first, second, and third
election districts where the general elections are
usually held (no judge or member of the committee
attending from the fourth and last district, which
consists of the townships of Tyrone and BuUskin),
do hereby certify that five hundred and sixty of the
people thus convened on the day aforesaid did then
and there declare their determination to submit to the
laws of the United States in the manner expressed by

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 38 of 193)