Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Pennsylvania Insurrection

403

troops crossing the mountains, although we have information, at the same time, that part of the people there are obliged to embody themselves, to repel the insults of another part."

On the roth, the Pennsylvania troops set out from Carlisle for their rendezvous at Bedford, and Washington proceeded to Williamsport, thence to go on to Fort Cumberland, the rendezvous of the Virginia and Maryland troops. He arrived at the latter place on the 16th of October, and found a respectable force assembled from those States, and learnt that fifteen hundred more from Virginia were at hand. All accounts agreed that the insurgents were greatly alarmed at the serious appearance of things. “I believe," writes Washington, “the eyes of all the well-disposed people of this country will soon be opened, and that they will clearly see the tendency, if not the design, of the leader of these self-created societies. As far as I have heard them spoken of, it is with strong reprobation."

At Bedford he arranged matters and settled a plan of military operations. The governors of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania were at the head of the troops of their respective States, but Governor Lee was to have the general command. This done, Washington prepared to shape his course for Philadelphia

“but not,” says he indignantly, “because the impertinence of Mr. Bache, or his correspondent, has undertaken to pronounce that I cannot, constitutionally, command the army, whilst Congress is in session.”

In a letter to Governor Lee, on leaving him in command, he conveyed to the army the very high sense lie entertained “of the enlightened and patriotic zeal for the Constitution and the laws which had led them clieerfully to quit their families, homes, and the comforts of private life, to undertake, and thus far to perform, a long and fatiguing march, and to encounter and endure the hardships and privations of a military life."

“No citizen of the United States," observes lie, “can ever be engaged in a service more important to their country. It is nothing less than to consolidate and to preserve the blessings of that Revolution whichi, at much expense of blood and treasure, constituted us a free and independent nation."

His parting admonition is—" that every officer and soldier will constantly bear in mind, that he comes to support the laws, and that it would be peculiarly unbecoming in him to be, in any way, the infractor of them ; that the essential principles of a free government confine the province of the military when called

Insurrection Quelled

405

forth on such occasions, to these two objects : first, to combat and to subdue all who may be found in arms in opposition to the national will and authority; secondly, to aid and support the civil magistrates in bringing offenders to justice. The dispensation of this justice belongs to the civil magistrates; and let it ever be our pride and our glory to leave the sacred deposit there inviolate.”

Washington pushed on for Philadelphia, through deep roads and a three days' rain, and arrived there about the last of October. Governor Lee marched with the troops in two divisions, amounting to fifteen thousand men, into the western counties of Pennsylvania. This great military array extinguished at once the kindling elements of a civil war, “by making resistance desperate." At the approach of so overwhelming a force the insurgents laid down their arms, and gave assurance of submission, and craved the clemency of government. It was extended to them. A few were tried for treason, but were not convicted, but as some spirit of discontent was still manifest, Major-General Morgan was stationed with a detachment, for the winter, in the disaffected region.

The paternal care with which Washington watched, at all times, over the welfare of the country, was manifested in a letter to General Hamilton, who had remained with the army. ** Press the governors to be pointed in ordering the cíficers under their respective commands to march back with their respective corps; and to see that the inhabitants meet with no disgraceful insults or injuries from them."

It must have been a proud satisfaction to Washington to have put down, without an cffusion of blood, an insurrection which, at one time, threatened such serious consequences. In a letter to Mr. Jay, who had recently gone minister to England, he writes : “ The insurrection in the western counties of this State will be represented differently, according to the wishes of some and the prejudices of others, who may exlibit it as an evidence of what has been predicted, that we are unable to govern ourselves.' Under this view of the subject, I am happy in giving it to you as the general opinion, that this event, having happened at the time it did, was fortunate, although it will be attended with considerable expense.”

Itter expressing his opinion that the “selfcreated societies " who were laboring to effect some revolution in the government, were the comenters of these western disturbances, he ds: "It luas afforded an occasion for the people vi tliis country to show their abhorrence

wasbington to Jay

407

of the result and their attachment to the Constitution and the laws; for I believe that five times the number of militia that was required would have come forward, if it had been necessary, in support of them.

“The spirit which blazed out on this occasion, as soon as the object was fully understood and the lenient measures of the government were made known to the people, deserves to be communicated. There are instances of general officers going at the head of a single troop, and of light companies ; of field-officers, when they came to the place of rendezvous, and found no command for them in that grade, turning into the ranks and proceeding as private soldiers, under their own captains; and of numbers possessing the first fortunes in the country, standing in the ranks as private men, and marching day by day, with their knapsacks and haversacks at their backs, sleeping on straw with a single blanket in a soldier's tent, during the frosty nights which we have had, by way of example to others. Nay, more, many young Quakers, of the first families, character, and property, not discouraged by the elders, have turned into the ranks and marched with the troops.

"These things have terrified the insurgents, who had no conception that such a spirit pre

« AnteriorContinuar »