Whiskey Rebellion

Extracted from
Calendar of Virginia State Papers
Volume VII p. 267-268

Edward Smith to Edward Carrington
Winchester, Aug. 17th, 1794.


Your despatches rec'd at this place, having returned a few days since without being able even to proceed to Margan Town with any degree of propriety.

According to my intention communicated to you in my duplicate letter to the Commissioners of Revenue, I sat out for Morgan Town, and proceed to the neighborhood of the mountains, where I rec'd a letter from the collector from that county, containing the following paragraph:

"I am threatened from all quarters in my own county, and the Pennsylvanians came into our Town and ordered me to give up my papers, or they would come and destroy them with all my property; in the meantime no collection can go on, as our distillers will not pay 'till they see the event."

Having other business in the county I then was, and hearing continually unfavorable accounts, I waited a few days to determine on future measures; in that time, I was informed the Collector had been obliged to fly his home, which proved to be the case; in consequence whereof, I thought it necessary to have a meeting with the Collector, who had come below the mountains. He informed me he had received a fictitious signature to a letter threatening him, that if he did not resign his comm'n, they would be at his house on a certain night and destroy everything he had. In consequence, with the advice of his friends, he fled for safety. They fulfilled their promise on the night preceeding the one appointed. A considerable party came in pursuit of him, but did not destroy his property. Weaver informed me that they bring whiskey from Pennsylvania in the most open manner, bidding defiance to a seizure. He further informed me that my intended visit was well known, and that he is confident that I should have been in the hands of the Pennsylvanians in a very short time after my arrival at Morgan Town. Under these various circumstances, I deemed it needless to proceed, and concluded that the most prudent measures should be taken to prevent any avowed opposition by the Virginians, which perhaps my presence might occasion. I have wrote to Mr. Biggs fully on the subject of my inteded visit, and at the same time admitting the justification of the suspension of the payment of the duties at this time, to communicate fully to the People the object of my letter, and to caution them against wantonly engaging in the lawless proceedings of their meighbours.

From the best information I can receive from the counties of Harrison and Randolph, I believe the People to be temperate on this business, and if prudently managed, I have no fear of their defection, indeed the influented part of Monongalia I am convinced, are well disposed, and attribute the threats rec'd to some of the rabble who have nothing to lose, as it is natural to expect on such occasions that every worthless fellow will wish to appear of consequence. I am, therefore, pretty confident, that if proper measures are persued against the Pennsylvanians, these People will remain quiet.

I am entirely uninformed of the state of matters in Ohio; my conjectures are, that many are friends to the opposition and perhaps some have been so imprudent as to associate themselves in it, but I expect that no officer appearing amongst them, by which they might form a pretext for opposition, they will be passive until the event of Pennsylvania is Known; but if this evil is not eventually rooted out, the flame will spread most readily. Some of the Distillers in Hampshire & Hardy, which join the boundaries of Monongalia express their doubts of longer paying the duties, and would embrace the earliest opportunity of non-compliance if they could calculate on protection in their opposition.

The reports we receive from Pennsylvania infer a continuance of their rebellious proceedings, and we have reason to believe that emissaries have been in this Town who have purchased a considerable quantity of Amunition. Commissions are sent by the President to negotiate, but I am afraid it will add fuel to the flame, as reason must vanish when a mob governs.

You will please inform me whether I shall remit you the Cash in hand, or hold it for its first purpose; if the former, I shall be glad if you can accommodate a draft on me for 3,000 dollars, as it is very difficult to procure Bank notes for remittance.

I am, &c.,

P. S. - The Express delivered your dispatches on Saturday noon & have dispatched him Sunday 8 o'clock.
Col. Edw'd Carrington, Supervisor of Revenue, Richmond.

Exploration, Settlement and Conflict (1600-1799)