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as the Chickasâ Bluffs, nearly five hundred miles by the river above the boundary established by the treaty of 1783.

To encourage the dissatisfaction of the western people on this point, French emissaries, under the authority of the French minister, Genet, were sent to the West to foment discord and to instigate a hostile expedition against the Spanish provinces, under the patronage and authority of the French Republic, which promised to open to them the free navigation of the river, when once under the dominion of France. “ Democratic clubs," or societies, under French influence, were organized in many parts of the country, with the avowed object of opposing the general measures of the Federal administration in the West. Their resolutions openly denounced the excise on distilled spirits, and the acts of the government in its attempts to enforce the law. Newspapers, filled with inflammatory speeches by members of Congress favorable to the French party, were circulated with great industry through every town and settlement, while the friends of the administration, the advocates of the Federal authorities, were few and odious.

[A.D. 1794.] Such was the state of feeling in Western Pennsylvania, which had developed itself gradually and progressively for nearly four years after the passage of the law taxing distilleries, and generally known as the “excise law."

A feeling of resistance had been manifested from the first passage of the law in 1790; and the president, aware of its pernicious tendency, had recommended a modification of its obnoxious features at the next succeeding session. Congress adopted the suggestion, and modified the law in 1791. But this concession was not sufficient; it seemed rather to strengthen opposition. The people demanded its unconditional repeal, , and every expedient was resorted to for the purpose of defeating its operation. Many refused to pay the duties in any form, and resistance to the Federal government already began to assume the form of rebellion. The president proceeded to enforce the law; but, as far as practicable, he omitted no opportunity to strip the law of its obnoxious features, and sought to allay excitement and to conciliate opposition by the influence and popularity of those who were charged with its execution.

For this purpose, General John Neville was appointed collector for Western Pennsylvania, and he accepted the appointment from a sense of public duty. He accepted, howev


er, at the hazard of his life and the loss of all his property; for he became the object of public indignation and the victim of an incensed community. All his former Revolutionary services, and his well-known benevolence and charity to the suffering frontier people for years past, were insufficient to shield him from popular indignation.

General Neville had been one of the most zealous patriots of the Revolution, a man of great wealth and unbounded benevolence. From his own resources alone, he had organized, equipped, and supplied a company of troops, including his son as an officer, which he had marched at his own expense to Boston, to re-enforce the command of General Washington in support of the Declaration of Independence. During the “starving years” of the early settlements on the Upper Ohio and Monongahela, he had contributed greatly to the relief and comfort of the destitute and suffering pioneers; and, when necessary, he had divided his last loaf with the needy. In seasons of more than ordinary scarcity, when his wheat matured, he had opened his fields to those who were destitute of bread. By blood and marriage he was related to some of the most distinguished officers of the Revolutionary armies; and such was his popularity in the West, that, had it been possible for any one to have enforced this odious law, General Neville was the man.

Having entered upon the duties of his office as collector, he appointed his deputies from among the most popular of his fellow-citizens, who proceeded to execute the law. But the first attempts were resisted. They were warned to desist, and to resign their thankless office. Some of the deputies, disregarding this admonition, were seized by the mob, and invested with “a coat of tar and feathers ;" others were compelled to surrender their commissions, as the only condition of safety.

The malcontents soon proceeded to acts of open violence. Simple resistance assumed the attitude of revolt and insurrection. A mob of several hundred men proceeded to the house of General Neville and demanded the surrender of his commission; but, finding his house defended by ample force, they retired without violence. Believing that there was in the country sufficient patriotism to enable the civil authorities to sustain him and protect him in the discharge of his official duties, he continued to maintain his position. But he was mistaken: the magistrates, who are but the emanations of popular will, as the ministers of civil liberty, were powerless in resisting the current of public displeasure. Their authority in support of the obnoxious law was set at defiance.

In the mean time, the feeling of excitement continued to increase in violence, and spread into every section of the country, and the civil authorities were utterly powerless in restraining the progress of disorder and outrage. Public meetings were held by the disaffected at Pittsburg, Brownsville, Parkinson's Ferry, “ Braddock's Fields,” and other places.

Many who never designed to resist the laws of the country had indirectly aided in raising a political storm which they could neither allay nor direct. The western country for many years had been receiving a large increase of population from Irish emigrants, no strangers to popular outbreaks in their native country. There was also a floating population, who had found employment heretofore in guarding the frontiers from Indian incursions, or as supernumeraries attached to the campaigns during the Indian wars, who were fond of excitement and commotion. These, as they could lose nothing by insurrection, swelled the amount of the insurgents, and their numbers gave a preponderance in favor of violent measures, against the wishes of those who were more considerate. Organized resistance to law was formed. Public meetings were held in all the malcontent districts, and officers were appointed to take the lead. Several hundred men volunteered to take General Neville into immediate custody. His friends in Pittsburgh devised plans for his protection; but it was the strength of a few men to arrest the advance of the avalanche. His house was protected by an armed guard of fifteen regular soldiers; but on the 15th of July, 1794, it was surrounded by five hundred men, organized into a lawless mob.

On the approach of the insurgents, the general, with his servant, had consented to retire from the mob. They advanced, and demanded the surrender of the general and bis papers. The refusal brought on a contest, and some were killed. The outbuildings were set on fire; and the party within the splendid mansion house surrendered, to prevent its destruction. But it was in vain; the demon was unchained, and the hospitable mansion was consumed to ashes, in the view of hundreds who had shared his bounty or had enjoyed his benevolence. Insubor

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dination walked abroad at noon-day; all law was disregarded; the peaceable and orderly members of society became obnoxious to the enraged mob and their adherents. The mail was boldly robbed, and disclosed letters which added new victims to the lawless rage. The United States marshal was compelled to escape for his life down the Ohio.

Soon afterward, a public meeting of the militia was called by the insurgents at “Braddock's Fields," and seven or eight thousand obeyed the summons.

Resolutions were passed, and a committee was appointed to consult and devise measures for future action. Without a resolute and able chief, no plan of operation could be adopted; and after various efforts to act, the discordant materials of the faction began to lose its cohesive properties, and dissolution followed soon afterward. Law and order once more resumed the sway, and the guilty dreaded the recompense of their deeds. The subject was referred to a convention of delegates from the several towns for a decision as to future proceedings.*

In the mean time, the President of the United States, reluctant to use the force of arms in quelling the insurrection, had sent three commissioners to the western country, to offer pardon from the general government to all offenders who should return to their duty and peaceably submit to the law. These commissioners reached the region of disaffection about the time the convention were to meet at “ Parkinson's Ferry,” now Williamsport, on the Monongahela.

Among the delegates to the convention were men of distinguished ability, at the head of whom was Albert Gallatin. Although a foreigner, who could with difficulty make himself understood in the English language, yet he presented with great force the folly and danger 'of past resistance, and the ruinous consequences which must result from a continuance of the insurrectionary movements, He showed that the government was bound to vindicate the laws, and that an overwhelming force would be marched against them unless the offered amnesty was accepted. The insurrection by him was placed in a new light; it was shown to be a matter of much more serious import than had been apprehended. The ardor of the most reckless was abated; the commissioners of the government were admitted to a conference; in an earnest discussion relative to a submission to the laws, a strong disposition was manifested to accept the proffered amnesty. Some of the leaders of the rebellion already began to tremble for the consequences. The Democratic clubs of Paris did not work so well in the western country; and, for the permanent citizens, moblaw, executed by a set of desperadoes, had proved an indiffer ent substitute for law regularly administered. *

* American Pioneer, vol. ii., p. 206–210.

Many had seen their folly, and would gladly return to their allegiance, but to retrace their steps was no easy matter. The Federal government might grant an amnesty, but they had incurred a fearful state of responsibility to their fellow-citizens and neighbors; violence against individual property and personal rights might meet a fearful retribution in the state courts. A dissolution of the Union had been agitated in the West; many were anxious to throw themselves under the protection of Spain or of France, if she resumed dominion in Louisiana. Spanish emissaries and agents of the Jacobins of France were encouraging disaffection in Kentucky and Tennessee. The British emissaries from Canada had likewise been through the western country, to ascertain the tone of public feeling.

The convention were in favor of submission ; but they had not been authorized by their constituents to make any terms with the general government. They declined to act, and referred the question back to the primary town meetings.

Early in September, the country was electrified with the news of General Wayne's victory on the Maumee. The combined army of the hostile horde, and their English and Canadian allies, had been signally defeated in sight of a British fortress. The danger of Indian barbarity was over; the general government had triumphed in the arduous warfare with the indomitable savage tribes; could not this victorious army, released from foreign wars, quell the discontent of a disorganized mob at home? Be this as it may, the general government began to acquire respect and consequence among those who lately had defied its power.

The primary meetings were held near the middle of September. Resistance was no longer advocated, except by a few desperate men. The terms of submission proposed by the commissioners were printed, and distributed widely through the country. They were carried to the primary meetings, and

* See American Pioneer, vol. ii., p. 210, 211.

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