• Alexander Hamilton Prepares Militia to Quell Whiskey Rebellion with President George Washington's Support

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    ALEXANDER HAMILTON was an early American leader, the first Treasury Secretary of the United States, appointed by George Washington, and was an aide to Washington during the Revolution. He was later a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and co-wrote the Federalist papers. As the first treasury secretary, Hamilton stabilized the nation’s finances.  A champion of a strong central government, Hamilton died in a duel with political foe Aaron Burr.

     

    SAMUEL HODGDON (1745-1824) had been appointed Superintendent of Military Stores in April 1794, serving until Thomas Jefferson’s election in 1800.

     

    In 1791, Hamilton, as Secretary of the Treasury, proposed that Congress pass an excise tax “upon spirits distilled within the United States, and for approaching the same.” This was the first tax imposed on a domestic product. Congress failed to predict the vehement rejection of the tax by Americans living on the frontier of Western Pennsylvania. Protests became violent and people refused to pay the tax. The home of a regional tax collector was set afire.  The Whiskey Rebellion was the first true challenge to federal authority.  Hamilton wrote to President George Washington on September 19, 1794, seeking permission to go with the militia “upon the expedition against the insurgents.”

     

    Offering a note written by Hamilton, but unsigned, one-page, 6 x 7 ¾, and sent to Hodgdon to ready the militia to deal with the protesters.  The note reads, “Mr. Hodgdon will please to furnish me with a return of all articles in Claothing remaining in Store – to day if possible. Sept. 24, 1794” On watermarked laid paper, tipped to a card.

     

    Docketed on verso, likely by Hodgdon, “Note from Mr./Hamilton/24th September/1794”

     

    The day after Hamilton’s letter to Hodgdon was written, Washington issued a Proclamation “Authorizing Military intervention to End Violence and Obstruction of Justice in Protest of Liquor Laws in Pennsylvania.”

     

    Toning, as expected, but a highly important historic note, written by one of America’s earliest and most important leaders.

     

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