Posted by: unclesamshistory | October 3, 2011


The Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion was winding down. David Bradford had fled down river to safety from federal troops. Senator James Ross had been appointed to hear cases accusing residents of leading the insurrection and Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, came to Pittsburg for the hearings. I am not sure what the Secretary of the Treasury had to do with arresting people or calling out the troops, but he was the main instigator.
General John Neville, who was a large land holder in Washington County, owned a large still that supplied the fort at Three Rivers with whiskey. His son was the procurement officer for the fort. Large distillers favored the whiskey excise tax knowing it would squeeze the small producers out of business. A Pittsburg attorney, Hugh Breckenridge, had helped Neville and his son in the past but now the Neville’s turned on him accusing Brackenridge of being a ringleader in the insurrection.
This accusation was based on a letter they had found, supposedly written by Brackenridge to Bradford, a known leader of the uprising. Brought before Senator Scott, Hamilton entered the letter in evidence while Neville and an attorney by the name of Woods looked on smiling. Senator Scott studied the letter a full ten minutes while Hamilton, Neville and Woods made accusations that it surely was Brackenridge’s writing and there was no question he was the author.
Finally Senator Scott looked up and addressed the group, yes, he said it was Brackenridge’s hand writing but he saw nothing wrong as the letter was addressed to William Bradford, the Attorney General of the United States, not David Bradford the insurrectionist.
Can you imagine the huffing and puffing these arrogant politicians did finding they had made a fatal error in trying to railroad an innocent man.
For additional tid-bits on early Pennsylvania history my books, Frontier Preacher and Frontier at Three Rivers, are chock full of them.
Frontier Preacher and Frontier at Three Rivers are available from Amazon or or for a signed copy or your favorite book seller.
I invite you to visit my web site


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