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Whiskey Rebels

Whiskey Rebels: The Story of a Frontier Uprising

Leland D. Baldwin
Copyright Date: 1967
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Whiskey Rebels
    Book Description:

    A succinct account of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 in Western Pennsylvania.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-9053-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Foreword
    (pp. [vii]-[vii])
    Leland D. Baldwin

    The author desires to express his appreciation of the aid given by the staff members of a number of depositories, particularly the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, the Darlington Library of the University of Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the Library of Congress, and the Connecticut Historical Society. For editorial assistance he desires to thank Elisabeth M. Sellers, a fellow member of the staff of the Western Pennsylvania Historical Survey, and Dr. Solon J. Buck, former director of the Survey.

    There are great gaps in the materials bearing on the Whiskey Insurrection, particularly on the military and statistical aspects,...

  2. Preface to the Revised Edition
    (pp. [viii]-[x])
  3. Chapter 1: The Monongahela Pioneers
    (pp. 1-28)

    The region of which Pittsburg is the center, is one of the most beautiful in the world,” wrote a local real estate promoter of the early nineteenth century, without even a conspiratorial wink. “It resembles the vale of Cashmere, the Scripture Eden, or Paradise.”¹ In the light of this sweeping assertion the modern romanticist may be forgiven a twinge of nostalgic longing as he stands upon one of the bluffs that border the course of the Monongahela River and visualizes the scene as it was in pioneer days. The vast wrinkled plateau is not scarred and naked, but clad in...

  4. Chapter II: “Gentlemen of Respectability” — and Others
    (pp. 29-55)

    The metropolis of the Monongahela country in 1794 was the little tree-shaded village of Pittsburgh, situated in the triangular flood plain between the forks of the Ohio. Just across the Allegheny River lay the edge of the wild and mysterious “Indian country,” from which occasionally there still emerged bands of savages to harry outlying settlements and to give Pittsburgh itself more than one night of terror. Across the Monongahela River rose the high bluff known as Coal Hill because of its outcropping veins of coal, which were mined to furnish the village and the country down river with fuel. In...

  5. Chapter III: Mr. Hamilton’s Excise
    (pp. 56-75)

    An excise on spirituous liquors was by no means a new thing to Pennsylvanians. As early as 1684 such a tax had been imposed, and from that time on to 1791 Pennsylvania probably was never without an excise. During the colonial wars it was resorted to with the specific purpose of providing money to aid in fighting the French, and at other times bills of credit were issued against it and gradually retired as the money came in. The excise of 1756 was the occasion of a bitter quarrel between Governor Morris and the assembly because the former insisted, in...

  6. Chapter IV: The Beginning of Direct Action
    (pp. 76-109)

    A crescendo of popular agitation in the Monongahela country occupied the three years from the passage of the federal excise act to the outbreak of the “insurrection” in the summer of 1794. Whose were the hands that fed the flame it is at this late date difficult to discover, as those responsible, if there were such, were clever enough to cover their tracks. Neville and the others who stood for the excise insisted that the prominent men in the opposite faction deliberately fomented the trouble to advance their own political fortunes. The accused, in turn, naturally denied the charges. The...

  7. Chapter V: Bower Hill
    (pp. 110-128)

    The opposition of the western Pennsylvanians to trial in Philadelphia for breach of the federal excise law appeared so reasonable that finally on April 4, 1794, upon the recommendation of Alexander Hamilton, a bill was introduced into the House of Representatives making such cases cognizable by state courts when they arose in places more than fifty miles from the seat of a United States district court. The bill passed both houses in final form on June 3 and was signed by the president on June 5. The progress of the bill must have been followed with interest in the West,...

  8. Chapter VI: The Mingo Meeting
    (pp. 129-140)

    On Monday afternoon, July 21, a young man from the Mingo Creek settlement led his horse off the Monongahela ferry and then rode down Water Street and out Market to the house of Hugh Henry Brackenridge. Here he dismounted and, entering the front room that served as an office, handed the lawyer a folded note from David Hamilton. It is easy to reconstruct the scene after the young man had gone as the cautious lawyer opened the missive and read an invitation from David Hamilton to attend a meeting of the committee at the Mingo meetinghouse the next Wednesday. He...

  9. Chapter VII: Braddock’s Field
    (pp. 141-155)

    On the day of the gathering of the people at Braddock’s Field the panicky citizens of Pittsburgh were further stricken by the appearance in their midst, almost like a portent, of a man riding on horseback through the streets with his tomahawk raised threateningly over his head.

    “This is not all that I want,” he cried. “It is not the excise law only, that must go down; your district and associate judges must go down; your high offices and salaries. A great deal more is to be done; I am but beginning yet.”

    This man, though his identity has not...

  10. Chapter VIII: The Whiskey Boys in Sodom
    (pp. 156-171)

    The next morning the chief officers met and agreed to form a committee composed of three men from each battalion to adopt a plan of action for the day. The Pittsburgh militia was represented on the committee by Brackenridge, General John Wilkins, and Captain John M’Masters. In order that they might be undisturbed in their deliberations, the members of the committee moved some distance to the woods, but a crowd of the curious followed and surrounded them. The chairman, Edward Cook, asked the non-members to leave; some did but others soon filled their places. The conference, therefore, was held before...

  11. Chapter IX: The First Parkinson’s Ferry Meeting
    (pp. 172-182)

    With the passing of the Braddock’s Field crisis the attention of the Monongahela country passed to the forthcoming meeting at Parkinson’s Ferry on August 14. By the terms of the call, not only the four western counties of Pennsylvania but also the neighboring counties of Virginia were to send delegates. It was apparent to everyone that here was to be made the grand attempt by the disaffected to force the people of the region into open and united resistance to the laws, to lay down an ultimatum to the government that was to be backed by more than threats and...

  12. Chapter X: The Commissioners to the White Indians Come and Go
    (pp. 183-200)

    Developments in the Monongahela country had been watched with ever increasing anxiety in the East. There were no illusions in official circles in Philadelphia as to the importance of this crisis in the attempt of the federal government to build up its power and prestige by an enforcement of the funding system. The cry was that if the government was to survive, the democrats must be scotched, and what better and more defensible opportunity could be presented for effective scotching than this heaven-sent rebellion in the West.

    Washington called a meeting at his home in the Morris House on Market...

  13. Chapter XI: The Solemn Promise
    (pp. 201-219)

    The town of Pittsburgh was still buzzing with talk of the Brownsville meeting when on September first the Allegheny County court convened under the presidency of Judge Addison. He had stopped in Bedford on his way from the court of errors and appeals in Philadelphia, fearing to go to his home in Washington, but had finally decided to go on to Pittsburgh even at the peril of his life. The common room of Andrew Watson’s log tavern at Front and Market streets was then used as town hall and courthouse and it must have been filled to overflowing by those...

  14. Chapter XII: The Watermelon Army Marches
    (pp. 220-239)

    During the summer of 1794 the Whiskey Insurrection shared the interest of Philadelphians with putrid hides from New Orleans and the plague in Baltimore. With the approach of fall, however, and the certainty that troops were going to be sent west the troubles in the Monongahela country sprang into an important place in the news. Rumors sped up and down the Atlantic seaboard. TheBoston Mercurystated that the “Insurgent Club” of Pittsburgh had established an army and navy. Another paper quoted some “serious facts” to the effect that nine out of ten of the Pittsburgh insurgents were Irish and...

  15. Chapter XIII: The Watermelon Army among the White Indians
    (pp. 240-258)

    The first of the troops to enter Pittsburgh was a detachment of Philadelphia cavalry acting as the escort of the exiled General Gibson. Brackenridge, who was at his window when the cavalry passed his house, saw Gibson look up and laugh, and the sensitive lawyer took the action to mean, “there lives a fellow that is to be hanged.” The next to arrive were several squadrons of horse accompanying General Morgan and Presley Neville. They appeared on the south bank of the Monongahela, forded the river, and approached Fort Fayette with flying colors and sounding bugles. The garrison replied with...

  16. Chapter XIV: The Aftermath
    (pp. 259-272)

    The early American inclination for passing resolutions must have reached its finest flower during the winter of 1794-95. A pæan of thanksgiving rose from the ranks of a grateful people upon their miraculous delivery from the maws of Findley, Brackenridge, and Gallatin, those ravening wolves fromultima Thule.Washington, the Joshua of law and order, found himself once more treading the pinnacle of popularity from which the Democratic societies had almost cast him, receiving the encomiums not only of the people but of all sorts of organizations from Democratic societies to state legislatures. On New Year’s Day, 1795, the gravely...