Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Our Famous Cousin, David Bradford of the Whiskey Rebellion - Part One

We haven't talked about Rebecca's cousin, the infamous David Bradford, leader of the Whiskey Rebellion in quite awhile.  David and Rebecca were cousins through their fathers, Samuel Bradford [Rebecca's father], and James Bradford [David's father]. Here are excerpts from Wikipedia about David and the Rebellion.

David Bradford (1762–1808) was a successful lawyer and deputy attorney-general for Washington County, Pennsylvania in the late 18th century. He was infamous for his association with the Whiskey Rebellion, and his fictionalized escape to the Spanish-owned territory of West Florida (modern-day Louisiana) with soldiers at his tail. He was later pardoned by President John Adams for his actions. Today, his family's home in Washington, Pennsylvania is a national landmark and museum.
Throughout the early 18th century, what is now Washington County was claimed by both Virginia and Pennsylvania. It wasn't until March 28, 1781 the drawing of the Mason-Dixon Line officially gave this land to Pennsylvania. Washington County was erected out of Westmoreland County at that time, and Washington, the county seat, was laid out by David Hoge later that same year. The following year, 1782, David Bradford, who was born in Maryland about 1760, came to town. Court records indicate that in April 1782 he was the sixth attorney to be admitted to the Washington County Bar Association. A brilliant young lawyer, he quickly established a very successful practice, and by 1783 he had been appointed deputy attorney-general for Washington County.
David Bradford had important family connections in town. One of his sisters, Agnes, had married John McDowell, a prominent local attorney; another sister, Jane, had married Col. James Allison, a lawyer who had settled in the Chartiers Valley in 1774. Both McDowell and Allison were elders in the Rev. John McMillan's Chartiers Church, and they also were among the first trustees of both Canonsburg and Washington Academies. David Bradford joined his brothers-in-law as a trustee of Washington College (now Washington & Jefferson College), and was appointed a member of the building committee. He was instrumental in building McMillan Hall at Washington College, which is one of the oldest surviving educational buildings in the nation and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[1]
Bradford also became active in political affairs, and by 1791 he was becoming more and more absorbed in the escalating protest over a whiskey tax which had been levied by the federal government that year, and the general treatment of Western Pennsylvanians by the East. (

Here is a very brief summary about the Whiskey Rebellion:
The Whiskey Rebellion, or Whiskey Insurrection, was a tax protest in the United States beginning in 1791, during thepresidency of George Washington. Farmers who used their leftover grain and corn in the form of whiskey as a medium of exchange were forced to pay a new tax. The tax was a part of treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton's program to increase central government power, in particular to fund his policy of assuming the war debt of those states which had failed to pay. The farmers who resisted, many war veterans, contended that they were fighting for the principles of theAmerican Revolution, in particular against taxation without local representation, while the Federal government maintained the taxes were the legal expression of the taxation powers of Congress.
Throughout counties in Western Pennsylvania, protesters used violence and intimidation to prevent federal officials from collecting the tax. Resistance came to a climax in July 1794, when a U.S. marshal arrived in western Pennsylvania to serve writs to distillers who had not paid the excise. The alarm was raised, and more than 500 armed men attacked the fortified home of tax inspector General John Neville. Washington responded by sending peace commissioners to western Pennsylvania to negotiate with the rebels, while at the same time calling on governors to send a militia force to enforce the tax. With 13,000 militia provided by the governors of VirginiaMarylandNew Jersey, and PennsylvaniaWashington rode at the head of an army to suppress the insurgency. The rebels all went home before the arrival of the army, and there was no confrontation. About 20 men were arrested, but all were later acquitted or pardoned.
The Whiskey Rebellion demonstrated that the new national government had the willingness and ability to suppress violent resistance to its laws. The whiskey excise remained difficult to collect, however. The events contributed to the formation of political parties in the United States, a process already underway. The whiskey tax was repealed after Thomas Jefferson'sRepublican Party, which opposed Hamilton's Federalist Party, came to power in 1801. (

We'll spend at least a couple more blogs on the fascinating part of our American history and this fascinating ancestor. Till then, wouldn't it be fantastic if we could all meet up here someday (see below!). Check out the link:

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