On 4 August 1794, Justice James Wilson delivered his opinion that western Pennsylvania was in a state of rebellion, and on 7 August, Washington issued a presidential proclamation announcing, with “the deepest regret”, that the militia would be called out to suppress the rebellion.

Washington’s Proclamation— “Cessation of Violence and Obstruction of Justice in Protest of Liquor Laws in Pennsylvania” contains some strong accusations!

The Proclamation declares the rebels had a “dangerous and criminal purpose” and “misrepresentations of the laws calculated to render them odious”.

The rebels were accused of “actual violence” and “vindictive menaces” and “actually injuring and destroying the property of persons” who complied with the new law.

The rebels inflicted “cruel and humiliating punishments upon private citizens for no other cause than that of appearing to be the friends of the laws”; and intercepted “public officers… abusing, assaulting, and otherwise ill-treating them.”

The only time a sitting President lead troops into the field was when President Washington rode to Cumberland in Western Maryland to rally the militias to put down the Whiskey Rebellion.  The federalized militia force boasted 12,950 men, but most were reluctant conscripts.

To commemorate this event and Cumberland holds the George Washington Whiskey Rebellion Fest in early June each year. For information about the 2020 Fest, click here

Playing colonial games at the Fest