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Third Congress of the United States ... An Act directing a Detachment from the Militia of the United States.

[Philadelphia]: [Childs and Swaine], 1794.

Price: $3,500.00


About the item

2pp. on single folio sheet. Signed in print by George Washington, John Adams and Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg. Disbound. Numerical notation at upper left. Evans 27852.

Item #366708

In 1791, as part of Alexander Hamilton's economic program, the Federal government issued a tax on distillers of whiskey. After several years of tension and hardships faced by farmers on Pennsylvania's western frontier (for whom whiskey was a principal source of income), violence began spreading against the region's tax collectors. The present separately-printed Act, approved by George Washington on May 9, 1794, authorized the President to require the governors of each state "to organize, arm and equip" and "hold in readiness to march at a moment's warning ... of eighty thousand effective militia, officers included." After negotiations with the insurrectionists failed, Washington declared martial law in the region on August 7, 1794. A military force, composed of various state militias as authorized with this act, and under the direct command of Washington, Hamilton and "Lighthorse Harry" Lee, assembled and marched into western Pennsylvania. In the face of an army numbering well over ten thousand men, the rebels scattered and no large-scale use of force was necessary. While the tax remained nigh impossible to collect, the government's response showed the growing power of the Federal government and that the infant nation had the willingness and ability to enforce its laws.

There would appear to be two printings of this act, the other issued by the War Department on 1-page (see Evans 27979).