| American History Stories, Volume III|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Anecdotes from the time Washington became president through the War of 1812, the rise of Andrew Jackson, and the sectional differences leading to the Civil War. Numerous black and white illustrations complement the text. Ages 8-12 |
THE WHISKEY INSURRECTION
 In order to raise money during this trying time in the
nation's history, a tax was put upon whiskey and other
This movement met with much rebellion among the people;
and in Pennsylvania there was an open outbreak known as
"The Whiskey Insurrection."
During this outbreak, the leader, Bradford, gained great
power over a certain wealthy farmer named John Mitchel,
and in some underhand manner, drew him into the
conspiracy. Mitchel was young and full of vigor, and
believed he was doing right.
One night Bradford came to Mitchel and said, "I believe
letters have been written, and are now on the way to
the President, telling of our plans for insurrection
here. Now, those letters someway must be seized. You
are the man to do it. As the mail-wagon passes along
this road, you are to stop it, get that mail-bag and
destroy those letters."
Robbery of the mails was then an offence punishable by
death; but Mitchel, convinced that he was risking his
life to serve his country, joined by two other men,
stopped the wagon on a lonely road, between Washington
and Pittsburgh, and carried the mail-bag to Bradford's
house. It was opened, the damaging letters taken out,
and the rest returned to the post-office at Pittsburgh.
 When the insurrection was over, all the leaders escaped
excepting John Mitchel. He rode into camp, and,
finding General Morgan, gave himself up.
"I have been a fool," he said. "I see that plainly. I
am ready to bear the punishment of my folly."
General Morgan, who knew that he had been deceived by
Bradford, was sorry that he had not made his escape
with him. He believed Mitchel to be at heart an honest
man; and, knowing that if he were brought to trial the
punishment would be death, he determined to give him a
chance to escape.
"You cannot be tried here," he said. "I will give you
a pass to Philadelphia. Report yourself there."
"I am to have a guard?"
The General turned on his heel and walked away. He
intended and expected Mitchel to fly as soon as he had
reached the wilderness; but the young farmer's honor
was a stricter guard than soldiers would have been, and
it drove him without flinching to his death.
He bade farewell to his wife and child, and started
alone on horseback to Philadelphia. It was a three
weeks' journey, at any hour of which he could have
escaped. He reported himself as a prisoner, was tried,
convicted, and sentenced to be hanged.
When the news reached General Morgan, he sent a
 special messenger to the President, with an account of
the facts in the case. Washington, it is said, was
deeply touched, and at once sent a full pardon to
Mitchel, giving him at the same time this fatherly
advice: "Go home to your wife and child; and
forevermore keep clear of conspirators. You could
hardly expect to escape again, for we are very apt to
be judged by the company we keep."
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