Front Page Titles (by Subject) DECLARATION OF THE COMMITTEES OF FAYETTE COUNTY, SEPTEMBER, 1794. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 1
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DECLARATION OF THE COMMITTEES OF FAYETTE COUNTY, SEPTEMBER, 1794. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 1 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
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DECLARATION OF THE COMMITTEES OF FAYETTE COUNTY, SEPTEMBER, 1794.
At a meeting of committees from the several townships of the county of Fayette, held at Uniontown the 10th day of September, 1794, twenty-one members present;
The following declaration was taken into consideration and unanimously adopted by the meeting:
We trust that the citizens of Fayette County will feel no more reluctance in declaring their intention to submit to the laws of the United States than we do in making the declarations required by the Commissioners. It is doing no more than expressing by a vote what the great body of them have heretofore proved by their conduct. We think it, however, our duty to state to them some of the reflections which must suggest themselves to every thinking mind upon the present occasion. That if the western counties will resist the execution of the laws, a civil war must be the consequence, no person, who will reflect, can doubt; for if any one part of the Union are suffered to oppose by force the determination of the whole, there is an end to government itself, and of course to the Union. The excise law is obnoxious to us, another law may equally be so in another part, a third one in a different quarter, and if every corner of the United States claim a right to oppose what they dislike, no one law will be obeyed. The existence of government, therefore, depends upon the execution of the laws, and they are in duty bound to enforce it. The President has, in consequence, sent Commissioners, in the first place to try by conciliatory means to obtain a submission; but if it is not so obtained, he will proceed by coercion. We could have wished, indeed, that more time had been given to the people to reflect, and we think that in this country it would have had a happy effect; for we are sure that arguments and the good sense of the people themselves, provided they had time to cool, would have a greater influence in convincing their minds than the fear of bayonets will. But the President was better acquainted with the general situation of the United States (though perhaps less with that of this country) than we can pretend to be. He has thought it his duty, and he has declared it to be his intention, to attempt a military coercion, if an explicit answer is not now given. He cannot at present recede without exposing government, and it remains with us only to consider what the consequences will be if resistance is attempted by the people.
We might expatiate on the improbability that such a small number as the inhabitants of the Western country, unprepared as they are for such an event, having but a scanty supply of arms and ammunition, and with the Indians on their back, could succeed against the whole force of the Union. We might represent how ruinous, at all events, to this country a contest would be. But your judgment and your patriotism we mean to address, and not your fears. Resistance by force against oppression is lawful only when no legal and constitutional remedy is within the reach of the people, and when the evils arising from the oppression are excessive, when they far surpass those that must ensue from the resistance. Such was the case of America at the beginning of the Revolution, when they took up arms against Great Britain. Such was the case of France when they overset their despotic government. Can the situation of the people of America or of France on those two occasions be compared to our own at present? You had your full share of representation in the Legislature which enacted the law we complain of. You are not deprived of the right of electing in future for that body the proportion of members your population entitles you to. Every mode of redress which can exist under a republican form of government is still open to you. Violence and resistance on your part would be the attempt of a minority to overrule, and, in fact, to oppress the majority of the people of the United States; an attempt to destroy every principle of that constitutional and rational liberty which we now enjoy. But, supposing there were some cases in which intolerable oppression on the part of the majority would justify resistance or secession in the minority, is the present one of them? The question which every man before he decides must answer is this,—Is the oppression arising from the excise law sufficient to justify me, before my own conscience and my God, in taking up arms against my fellow-citizens? Are the evils that will arise from the payment of that tax equal to those which a war must bring upon myself and upon my country? What is then the just value of the oppression and evils arising from the excise law? Nothing more nor less, at present, than paying seven cents for every gallon of whiskey we consume. We feel the probable consequences of that kind of taxation, once introduced, as warmly as you do yourselves. We think it a part of a more extensive system, and we look upon it only as the forerunner of a premeditated extension to numerous other articles. But those consequences, however probable, have not yet taken place; and although, from a fear of their ensuing, we have a right to be suspicious and to use our best endeavors to have the root of the fatal tree eradicated, yet we cannot count suspicions and fears amongst our present grievances and oppressions, and it is only in case they shall be realized that it may become justifiable to resent and perhaps to resist. Till then we must take things just as they are, and the actual evil, as already stated, will be the mere payment of the duty; for as to that oppression more dangerous to your liberties than the excise law itself, the power of dragging you at a distance from your own neighborhoods in order to be tried for real or supposed offences, the President has declared that he will relinquish its exercise as long as our own courts shall do justice,—that is to say, as long as yourselves shall please,—for upon you, who compose those courts and juries, must depend whether justice shall be done or not. That great and important point is, therefore, fully obtained, that grievance is now redressed, and the payment of the duty alone must be put in the scale against all the evils arising from resistance and a civil war. Those evils, in our opinion, are nothing less than anarchy and ruin to ourselves, be the event what it will, and a probable annihilation of the Union; for, in order to conciliate so many and various interests as those of the several parts of the Union, mutual forbearance, manifestations of good will one to another, and reciprocal acts of friendship are as essentially necessary as a strict adherence to that Constitution which binds us together; and if ever the fatal lesson is taught the inhabitants of this extensive republic to shed one another’s blood, we may forever bid farewell to harmony, to mutual confidence, and to peace. The seeds of dissension, a spirit of hatred and revenge, will be implanted in every man’s heart, and whatever might be the future duration of a nominal Union, its reality would no longer exist. If, therefore, you wish to preserve to yourselves and to your fellow-citizens the inestimable benefits that arise from our being united; if you wish, through the Union, to obtain, by a restoration of the Western posts and a free navigation of the Mississippi, the full enjoyment of those advantages to which nature has entitled you; if you wish not to destroy, along with the federal republic of North America, the finest monument which men have yet erected to liberty; if you wish not to become a prey to your natural enemies, the British, ready to take every advantage of our internal dissensions and to hunt down liberty in every corner of the globe, we entreat you to accede to the honorable terms proposed by the Commissioners, and not to hesitate in giving that testimony of your attachment to your country which is at present required of you.
By such an explicit declaration you will adopt the best possible means to obtain a repeal of the law, for previous submission is essentially necessary, that our friends and the friends of our principles throughout the Union may act in concert with us. We cannot expect either that they will join any but constitutional measures, or that Congress should yield anything to threats and violence, or even hear our complaints, until they are satisfied of our disposition to obey the laws. The privilege of petitioning and of adopting any other constitutional measure is expressly reserved to you in case of submission, but cannot be exercised except in that case. Time does not permit us to detail the many other reflections and arguments which crowd on our minds upon this subject, your own good sense will doubtless suggest them to you; suffice it to say, that when we earnestly recommend to you the adoption of pacific measures, we feel ourselves forcibly urged to it by a serious consideration of the private interest of every individual amongst you, of the interest of the Western country, of the interest of the United States, and of that solemn duty which you, as well as ourselves, owe to the government under which we live, to our fellow-citizens here and throughout the Union, and to that Being who has poured His choicest blessings upon us, by permitting us to live in this land of happiness and liberty.
Having thus concluded what we had to say to our immediate constituents, shall we be permitted to add a few words to those amongst our brethren of the neighboring counties who, under the present impulse of their passions and resentment, may perhaps blame us for that moderation which we trust their cool judgment will hereafter approve? The only reflection we mean to suggest to them is the disinterestedness of our conduct upon this occasion. The indictable offences, to be buried in oblivion, were committed amongst them, and almost every civil suit that had been instituted, under the revenue law, in the federal court was commenced against citizens of this county. By the terms proposed, the criminal prosecutions are to be dropt, but no condition could be obtained for the civil suits. We have been instrumental in obtaining an amnesty, from which those alone who had a share in the riots derive a benefit, and the other inhabitants of the Western country have gained nothing for themselves. Have those who were immediately concerned a right to require anything more from us? Let themselves give the answer. This address, we know, cannot reach them till after the time when they shall have given their vote; but if, contrary to our expectations, there shall be any townships that shall have expressed sentiments different from our own, we entreat them by every tie of common interest and fraternal union that connects us to reconsider their proceedings, to recede before it is too late, to avert from themselves and their country the horrors of a civil war, to relinquish every idea of violence and of resistance, and to join us in those legal and constitutional measures which alone can procure us redress, and which alone are justifiable in our present circumstances.
Signed by order of the committee,
Attest: Albert Gallatin,Secretary.