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Washington’s Whiskey Rebellion Proclamation (SOLD)
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[GEORGE WASHGINGTON]. Newspaper. The New York Journal & Patriotic Register, New York, N.Y., September 29, 1792. Signed in type by both Geo. Washington and Th. Jefferson. 4 pp., disbound.

Inventory #22707       SOLD — please inquire about other items


“By the President of the United States, PROCLAMATION,

            Whereas certain violent and warrantable proceedings have lately taken place tending to obstruct the operation of the laws of the United States for raising a revenue upon spirits distilled within the same, enacted pursuant to express authority delegated in the Constitution of the United States, which proceedings are subversive of good order, contrary to the duty that every citizen owes to his country and to the laws, and of a nature dangerous to the very being of a government ... Now, therefore, I, George Washington, President of the United States, do by these presents most earnestly admonish and exhort all persons whom it may concern to refrain and desist from all unlawful combinations ...

            Done this 15th of September, A. D. 1792, and of the Independence of the United States the seventeenth.”

Historical Background

In response to an excise tax on whiskey devised by treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton, violent opposition erupted in Westmoreland County in July 1794 as U.S. marshals attempting to serve court papers, were instead met with armed mobs and local militias.  The Whiskey Rebellion soon spread throughout western Pennsylvania, eliciting sometimes-violent protests akin to colonial resistance against the British, including tarring and feathering tax collectors, the destruction of government offices, the destruction of the houses of tax collectors, and the mustering of insurgent forces.  The survival of the Constitution and the legitimacy of the federal government were at stake. 

Proclaiming in August that “many persons in the said Western parts of Pennsylvania have at length been hardy enough to perpetrate acts which I am advised amount to treason, being overt acts of levying war against the United States,” George Washington called out the militia and gave the rebels three weeks to stand down. When the refused, Washington ordered the militia to march on Western Pennsylvania. On September 30, 1794, Washington and Hamilton left Philadelphia, then the capital, to meet the nearly 13,000-man militia.  After the militia entered the insurgent counties and arrested the ringleaders, the opposition quickly fizzled.  It was the first and only time a sitting president has led troops in action, as well as the first real test for the newly-created Constitutional government against internal threats.