Description

    Alexander Hamilton Letter Signed "A. Hamilton", one page, 8" x 12", "War Department", September 12, 1794 to Samuel Hodgson concerning outfitting troops en-route to western Pennsylvania to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion. Hamilton writes: "I request that some person in character of chief Armourer who may also have charge of the Artificers be provided to accompany to Militia Army. Let him also engage such wheelwrights and other mechanics as may not certainly be found among the troops, and let every correspondent arrangement be made. One half the Intrenching [sic] tools intended for the expedition are to be forwarded without delay to Williamsport. The other half is destined for Carlisle." The Whiskey Rebellion arose from the 1791 tax issued on distilled spirits, a measure supported by Hamilton in his role as Secretary of the Treasury to pay down the enormous debt incurred by the United States during the American Revolution. The tax levied a six-cent per-gallon tax on large volume distillers, while smaller operations were forced to pay nine-cents per-gallon. Most of the distillery operations in the Appalachian west were of the smaller variety and were thus adversely impacted by the tax. Over the next several years, a nascent rebellion grew initially in the form of non-payment of the tax then escalated into harassment directed at tax collectors in western regions stretching form Georgia to Pennsylvania. After the tarring and feathering of a tax collector near Pittsburgh in the summer of 1794 (resulting in his death) and other mob actions, President Washington, remembering well the threat of Shay's Rebellion nearly ten years earlier, invoked the Militia Act of 1792. He summoned the militias of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania to march to Pittsburgh. A force of 13,000, under the command of Washington, Hamilton and Henry Lee, marched into western Pennsylvania in September. In the wake of this massive show of force, the rebels quickly disappeared into the woods and the rebellion was easily suppressed. They managed to capture twenty barefoot men who were paraded down Market Street in Philadelphia. Two of them were charged with treason and sentenced to the gallows but Washington pardoned them on the grounds that one was a "simpleton" and the other "insane." The suppression of the rebellion had the unanticipated consequence of forcing many small whiskey producers further west into Kentucky and Tennessee, far out of reach of federal authority. Interestingly, in these regions distillers found excellent corn-growing country and discovered smooth, limestone-filtered water -- both proving quite suitable for the blending of the finest whiskey. The tax itself, largely uncollectible outside of western Pennsylvania, was repealed in 1802. Hamilton, while still Secretary of the Treasury, also assumed the supervisory post over the army as Inspector General. In that role, under Washington, he addressed a variety of logistical issues that made deploying the large military force possible through what was still a relatively untamed frontier. Light horizontal creases, a very light dampstain just hits the bottom of Hamilton's dark bold signature, otherwise fine condition. From the Henry E. Luhrs Collection. Accompanied by LOA from PSA/DNA.

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    Auction Dates
    February, 2006
    20th-21st Monday-Tuesday
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