Imágenes de páginas

The first declared, that taking citizens from their respective abodes or vicinage, to be tried for real or supposed offenses, was a violation of their rights, a forced and dangerous construction of the constitution, and ought not, under any pretence whatever, to be exercised by the judicial authority.

The second appointed a standing committee of one from each township, to draft a remonstrance to congress, praying for a repeal of the excise laws, and the substitution of a tax less odious; and to give assurances, that such a tax should be faithfully paid-To make a statement of the late transactions in relation to these laws, with the causes which led to them, and to make a representation to the president on the subject; with power also to call another meeting.

The third recommended to their fellow citizens to exert themselves in support of the municipal laws of the respective states, and especially in preventing any violation or outrage against the property or person of any individual.

And the fourth appointed a committee of three from each county, to meet the commissioners of the government, and to report the result of their conference to the standing committee. This meeting was attended by many spectators. The feelings of individuals were expressed in a variety of ways, on this occasion. A liberty pole was erected in view of the meeting, with a motto, "liberty and no excise, and no asylum for cowards or traitors."

The meeting being dissolved, the standing committee, consisting of sixty, agreed to meet at Redstone Old Fort, on the second of September. The commissioners of the general government, as well as of the state of Pennsylvania, agreeably to previous arrangement, met the conferees at Pittsburgh; and the former proposed a general amnesty, on condition of submission to the laws.

This proposition met with the entire approbation of all the conferees, with the exception of Bradford, and they engaged to recommend a compliance on the part of the people. The result of the conference was made known to the standing committee at

Redstone on the 28th of August, (a meeting of that body having been called four days earlier than that agreed to) and produced very warm and violent debates The restless and turbulent spirits were not yet willing to yield. Bradford, in particular, was mad enough, not only to recommend a perseverance in their opposition to the laws, but to urge the establishment of an independent governmet; declaring, that the general government had been only trifling with Spain about the Mississippi, and with Great Britain respecting the Indians. Being independent, he said, they could settle these disputes, in a short period.

Although the committee urged the acceptance of the proposi tion of the commissioners in full, yet a small majority only could be procured to declare, as their opinion, it was for the interest of the people to accede to it. This question was taken by ballot, by which the votes were concealed, and each had an opportunity of sheltering himself from the resentment of those, from whom violence was apprehended; and it was supposed, that had it been taken publicly, it would have been negatived.

As no reliance could be placed on the proceedings of the general committee, it was deemed proper to refer the subject to the people themselves. A second committee was appointed to confer with the commissioners, and it was agreed between them, that the sense of the people should be taken publicly in townships, and that each individual should subscribe the following written or printed declaration-"I do solemnly promise henceforth to submit to the laws of the United States; that I will not 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 question was to be proposed to all citizens of the age of eighteen years and upwards, by two or more members of the meeting at Parkinson's ferry, or a justice of the peace of the township where the people should be assembled, and a report of the numbers voting in the affirmative and negative, was to be made by them to the commissioners, by the 16th of September; together with their opinion, whether there was such

a general submission of the people, in their respective counties, that an office of inspection might be immediately and safely es

tablished there.

From various causes, a compliance with the terms proposed, was so limited and partial in the survey, embracing the several counties, in which the opposition had prevailed, the commissioners in their report to the president, deemed it their duty to declare their opinion, that such was the state of things in that survey, "that there is no probability, that the act for raising a revenue on distilled spirits and on stills, can at present be enforced by the usual course of civil authority, and that some more competent force is necessary to cause the laws to be duly executed, and to insure to the officers and well disposed citizens that protection which it is the duty of government to afford."

On the receipt of this report, the president was under the painful necessity of putting the military force in motion; and his second proclamation, declaring this event, was issued on the 25th of September; announcing to the world, that this step was taken "in obedience to that high and irresistible duty consigned to him by the constitution, to take care that the laws be faithfully executed;" deploring that the American name should be sullied by the outrages of citizens on their own government, and commiserating such as remained obstinate from delusion; at the same time declaring his resolution, in perfect reliance on that gracious Providence, which had so signally displayed its goodness towards his country, to reduce the refractory to a due subordination to the law.

It does not fall within the limits of our design, to present a view of the military operations which followed. We shall only observe, that the call of the father of his country, was cheerfully as well as promptly obeyed by the militia, that he attended the army in person, and that by his wise and energetic measures, and by the prudent conduct of the militia themselves, this formidable insurrection was suppressed without bloodshed, and the government and laws preserved.*

* Bradford made his escape into the Spanish dominions, two others of the principal insurgents, Philip Vigol and John Mitchell, were tried for treason and found guilty, but afterwards pardoned by the president.

We would here state, that during the summer of this year, general Wayne obtained a complete victory over the hostile Indians, near the Miami of the lake, and almost under the guns of the British fort, then lately erected in that country. This decisive victory put an end to a war, which had so long desolated the frontiers, although a treaty with the hostile tribes, was not concluded until the following year.

The national legislature had adjourned to meet on the first Monday in November, 1794, but a quorum of the senate was not formed until the 18th of that month. The president's speech to both houses, contained a particular review of the insurrection in Pennsylvania, and of the measures taken to suppress it. The promptitude with which his call for support from his fellow citizens had been obeyed, demonstrated, he said, that they understood the true principles of government and liberty, and “that notwithstanding all the devices which have been used to sway them from their interest and duty, they are now as ready to maintain the authority of the laws against licentious invasions, as they were to defend their rights against usurpation." While he thus offered the meed of praise to the militia, he also said " to every description of citizens let praise be given; but let them persevere in their affectionate vigilance over that precious depository of American happiness, the constitution of the United States. Let them cherish it too, for the sake of those, who from every clime are daily seeking a dwelling in our land. And when in the calm moments of reflection, they shall have retraced the origin and progress of the insurrection, let them determine whether it has not been fomented by combinations of men, who, careless of consequences, and disregarding the unerring truth, that those who rouse, cannot always appease a civil convulsion, have disseminated, from an ignorance or perversion of facts, suspicions, jealousies, and accusations of the whole government."

In calling out the militia in this emergency, the defects of the militia system itself became more apparent, and the president most earnestly recommended a revision.

He likewise called the atttention of congress, to the important subject of providing for the redemption of the public debt.

[ocr errors]

"The time," he remarked, "which has elapsed since the commencement of our fiscal measures, has developed our pecuniary resources, so as to open a way for a definitive plan for the redemption of the public debt. It is believed, that the result is such as to encourage congress to consummate this work without delay. Nothing can more promote the permanent welfare of the nation, and nothing would be more grateful to our constituents." While he reserved certain circumstances concerning intercourse with foreign nations, for a future communication, he thought proper to announce to congress, that his policy, in foreign transactions, had been," to cultivate peace with all the world; to check every deviation from the line of impartiality; to explain what may have been misapprehended, and correct what may have been injurious to any nation; and having thus acquired the right, to lose no time in acquiring the ability, to insist upon justice being done to ourselves." Nor did he omit, in the interesting and critical situation in which his country was placed, in conclusion, to request all to unite, "in imploring the Supreme Ruler of nations, to spread his holy protection over these United States; to turn the machinations of the wicked to the confirming our constitution; to enable us, at all times, to root out internal sedition, and put invasion to flight; to perpetuate to our country that prosperity which his goodness has already conferred, and to verify the anticipations of this government being a safeguard to human rights."

The answer of the senate, reported by Mr. King, Mr. Ellsworth, and Mr. Izard, expressed an entire approbation of the policy of the president, with respect to foreign nations, as well as his conduct in relation to the insurgents.

"Our anxiety," they said, " arising from the licentiousness and open resistence to the laws, in the western counties of Pennsylvania, had been increased by the proceedings of certain self-created societies, relative to the laws and administration of the government; proceedings, in our apprehension, founded in political error, calculated, if not intended, to disorganize our government, and which, by inspiring delusive hopes of support, have been

« AnteriorContinuar »