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Whiskey Rebellion Letter

Whiskey Rebellion Letter

GEORGE WASHINGTON( A President’s Vision)

LETTER TO JAMES ROSS, JASPER YEATES, AND WILLIAM BRADFORD, AUGUST 8, 1794.

Library of Congress: Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion Collection.

In 1791, under the direction of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Congress enacted a tax on liquor. The tax was intended not only to assert federal authority, but also to pay for a portion of the national debt incurred by the Revolutionary War. In western Pennsylvania, frontier farmers who distilled whiskey mainly for personal use became disgruntled. They challenged federal authority through attacks on federal tax collectors. Washington enlisted Ross, Yeates, and Bradford to take necessary measures to quell the uprising,

GEORGE WASHINTON ( A PRESIDENT”S VISION)

TRANSCRIPTION

APPOINTMENT OF UNITED STATES COMMISSIONERS.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, August 8, 1794.

Gentlemen,

In pursuance of instructions from the President of the United States, you, or any one or more of you, are hereby authorized and empowered, forthwith, to repair to the counties on the western side of the Allegheny mountain, in the State of Pennsylvania, there to confer with such bodies or individuals as you may approve, concerning the commotions, which are referred to in the proclamation of the President of the United States, bearing date the 7th day of August instant, and whatsoever promise or engagement you shall make in behalf of the Executive of the United States, the same will be ratified in the most ample manner. Given under my hand and the seal of office of the Department of State, the eighth day of August, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four. {SEAL}

EDMUND RANDOLPH, Secretary of State.

To JAMES ROSS, JASPER YEATES, WILLIAM BRADFORD.

QUESTIONS

Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper.

1. Who is the author of the letter? When did he write the letter?

2. To whom did he write the letter?

3. What does the letter authorize?

4. What political issue caused the “commotions” referred to in the letter?

5. The federal government sent men into western Pennsylvania to calm the disturbance. Why is this action significant? Explain.

6. Why did this letter originate in the Department of State and not the Department of War?

7. What actions might the author anticipate from the letter’s recipients?

8. What does the letter tell you about the balance of federal and state power during the nation’s early years? Be specific

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Whiskey Rebellion Letter

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