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The Papers of George Washington

Presidential Series, vol. 16
1 May-30 September 1794
George Washington. Edited by David R. Hoth and Carol S. Ebel

BUY Cloth · 848 pp. · 6.13 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813930992 · $95.00 · Mar 2011

During the spring and summer of 1794, Washington and his cabinet faced concerns that arose from the ongoing war in Europe. Embargo evasions, activities of French and British privateers, and the formation of a league of armed neutrality by Denmark and Sweden required appropriate administrative responses. Fears persisted about a potential war with Great Britain, even as John Jay began negotiations as envoy extraordinary to that nation.

Issues on the frontier included an attempt by Elijah Clarke of Georgia to establish an independent government on Creek Indian lands, unrest in Kentucky arising from the slow progress of negotiations with Spain about free navigation of the Mississippi River, concerns that the British were encouraging Indian hostility toward the United States, and the need to strengthen Gen. Anthony Wayne's army for his forthcoming Indian campaign.

All other issues were dwarfed in early August when events in western Pennsylvania brought a long-simmering opposition against the excise tax on whiskey to (as Washington saw it) open rebellion. When conciliatory efforts failed, preparations to call up the militia from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia moved forward in full force. Washington left Philadelphia to join the troops on September 30, the same day that first reports of Wayne's victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers reached the city.

Despite these concerns, Washington remained attentive to the management of Mount Vernon, primarily through weekly correspondence with farm manager William Pearce. He also sought to sell his western lands, but the Whiskey Insurrection suspended much of his efforts.

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