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offenders. A prompt obedience to this demand Chap.vw. was unavoidable; and the inhabitants of Pittsburg, "lmT who were convened on the occasion, engaged to attend a general meeting of the people, who were to assemble the next day in Braddock's field, in order to carry into effect such further measures as might be deemed advisable with respect to the excise and its advocates. They also determined to elect delegates to a convention, which was to meet on the 14th of August at Parkinson's ferry. The avowed motives to these outrages were to compel the resignation of all officers engaged in the collection of the duties on distilled spirits; to withstand by force of arms the authority of the United States, and thereby to extort a repeal of the law imposing those duties, and an alteration in the conduct of government.
Affidavits attesting this serious state of things were laid before the executive.
The opposition had now progressed to a point which seemed to forbid the continuance of a temporising system. The efforts at conciliation, which, for more than three years the government had persisted to make, and the alterations repeatedly introduced into the act for the purpose of rendering it less exceptionable, instead of diminishing the arrogance of those who opposed their will to the sense of the nation, had drawn forth sentiments indicative of designs much deeper than the evasion of a single act. The execution of the laws had at length been resisted by open force, and a determination to persevere in these measures was unequivocally manifested. To the
Chap, vut government was presented the alternative of sub1794. duing, or of submitting to this resistance.
The act of congress which provided for calling forth the militia "to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions," required as a pre-requisite to the exercise of this power, "that an associate justice, or the judge of the district, should certify that the laws of the United States were opposed, or their execution obstructed, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals." In the same act it was provided "that if the militia of the state where such combinations may happen, shall refuse, or be insufficient to suppress the same the president may employ the militia of other states."
By the unanimous advice of the cabinet, the evidence which had been transmitted to the president was laid before one of the associate justices, who gave the certificate, which enabled the chief magistrate to employ the militia in aid of the civil power.
The executive being now authorized to adopt such measures as the crisis might require, the subject was again seriously considered in the cabinet; and the governor of Pennsylvania was also consulted respecting it. To avoid military coercion, if obedience to the laws could be produced by other means, was the universal wish; and therefore, all concurred in advising the appointment of commissioners from the governments of both the union, and the state, who should warn the deluded insurgents, of the im- Chap.vui. pending danger, and should convey a full pardon 1794. for past offences, upon the condition of future submission. But, respecting ulterior and eventual measures, a difference of opinion prevailed. The act already mentioned made it the duty of the president, previous to the employment of military force, to issue his proclamation commanding the insurgents to disperse within a limited time. The secretary of state (and the governor of Pennsylvania is understood to have concurred with him) was of opinion, that this conciliatory mission should be unaccompanied by any measure which might wear the appearance of coercion. He was alarmed at the strength of the insurgents, at their connexion with other parts of the country, at the extensiveness of the prevailing discontents with the administration, and at the difficulty and expense of bringing the militia into the field. The governor of Pennsylvania having declared his opinion, that the militia of that state, who could be drawn forth, would be incompetent to enforce obedience, the aid of the neighbouring states would consequently be necessary. The secretary of state feared that the militia of the neighbouring states would refuse to march; and that, should he be mistaken in this, their compliance with the orders of the executive might be not less fatal than their disobedience. The introduction of a foreign militia into Pennsylvania might greatly increase the discontents prevailing in that state. His apprehensions of a failure, in the attempt to restore tranquillity by coercive means, were ex
ehA.p. treme, and the tremendous consequences of i 1794. failure were strongly depicted. From the highly inflamed state of parties, he anticipated a civil war, which would pervade the whole union, and drench every part of it with the blood of American citizens.
The secretary of the treasury, the secretary of war, and the attorney general, were of opinion, that the president was bound by the most high and solemn obligations to employ the force which the legislature had placed at his disposal, for the suppression of a criminal and unprovoked insur. rection. The case contemplated by congress had clearly occurred, and the president was urged by considerations the most awful, to perform the duty imposed on him by the constitution, of providing "that the laws be faithfully executed." The long forbearance of government, and its patient endeavours to recall the deluded people to a sense of their duty and interest by appeals to their reason, had produced only increase of violence, and a more determined opposition. Perseverance in that system could only give a more extensive range to disaffection, and multiply the dangers resulting from it.
Those who were of opinion, that the occasion demanded a full trial of the ability of the government to enforce obedience to the laws, were also of opinion, that policy and humanity equally dictated the employment of a force which would render resistance desperate. The insurgent country contained sixteen thousand men able to bear arms; and the computation was, that they could bring seven thousand into the field. If the army Chap, vm. of the government should amount to twelve thou- 1794. sand men, it would present an imposing force which the insurgents would not venture to meet. It was impossible that the president could hesitate to embrace the latter of these opinions. That a government intrusted to him should be trampled under foot by a lawless section of the union, which set at defiance the will of the nation as expressed by the constituted authorities, was an abasement, to which neither his judgment nor his feelings could ever submit. He resolved, therefore, to issue the proclamation, which, by law, was to precede the employment of force.
This proclamation, which bears date the seventh of August, contained a distinct and brief recapitulation of the measures which had been adopted by the government, as well as of those which had been pursued by the insurgents, and of the preparatory steps which had been taken to authorize the employment of force. The president then added, that, "whereas it was in his judgment necessary, under the circumstances of the case, to take measures for calling forth the militia in order to suppress the combinations aforesaid, and to cause the laws to be duly executed, and he had accordingly determined so to do; feeling the deepest regret for the occasion, but withall, the most solemn conviction that the essential interests of the union demanded it; that the very existence of government, and the fundamental principles of social order were involved in the issue; and that the patriotism and firmness of all good citizens