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William Findley was born in 1741 in Ireland and died in 1821 in the area of present-day Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Life on the frontier was full of demanding work and difficulties. He worked as a weaver in Ireland and Pennsylvania. He also taught at a school for a number of years. After the American Revolution, Findley was elected as a Representative from Pennsylvania and spent most of his life working in the government. Most of his political career was spent defending those that were affected by the Whiskey Tax. William Findley was the voice of the lesser represented people, like farmers and those in small towns, in the government and his influence was something that many people praised.

This is the historical marker itself of William Findley. It describes his house in Latrobe and what his actions were towards the Whiskey Rebellion.

The Historical Marker of William Findley.

This is William Findley himself. He spent most of his years involved in government and was the peacemaker during the Whiskey Rebellion

Portrait of William Findley

    The conclusion of the Revolutionary War saw a birth of a new nation established in North America. With this new nation, the United States of America, there were many discussions and disagreements on how it should move forward. On top of a massive debt from wars, there was a question of who the leader of this new country should be, and who should be a part of his cabinet. A resident of Westmoreland County, William Findley, was particularly interested. Findley had been born in Ireland and moved to Philadelphia in 1763. Eventually, he settled in Westmoreland County. During the Revolution, he served as a captain in the Continental Army until the end of the war when he moved to Beatty, Pennsylvania (known as Latrobe today).


Findley participated in politics for more than thirty years, from 1784 to 1817. During his time in government, he participated in the formation of the new nation and its policies. These included Alexander Hamilton's tax proposals, the Whiskey Rebellion, and being the voice of reason for differences in the government. He was respected by many in the government due to his experience. By the end of his political career, he was the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives.


          Alexander Hamilton was the Treasury Secretary who moved to pass the Whiskey Tax. He fought to make sure President George Washington was on his side throughout the process of getting the tax approved. Although many politicians and ordinary citizens were opposed to Hamilton, including the president, he was still able to get Washington to agree to sign the tax. However, Washington went to Virginia and Pennsylvania to talk to the farmers and people that were going to be affected by the Whiskey Tax. He also met with the state governors who agreed with the whiskey tax, and he took that information back to Congress. This new law caused many small farmers and businesses to become outraged. They felt this tax targeted them while protecting larger businesses. Hamilton wanted to figure out the problem of the country’s debt as quickly as possible. He also felt that states should divide the national debt equally so each state could contribute toward paying it off. This upset Republicans like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Pennsylvanian William Findley, because they felt the government should take sole responsibility for the debt.


Findley, along with Jefferson and Madison, opposed Hamilton on many occasions, though the Whiskey Tax crisis was the most explosive. The Whiskey Tax caused outrage in western Pennsylvania because the farmers felt they were personally targeted by Hamilton’s tax plan. Many farmers needed to turn their grains into whiskey to make a profit. Many lost income and fell into debt when the Whiskey Tax was imposed. President Washington wanted to resolve the issue peacefully in 1792. However, by 1794 a group of four hundred rebels marched on Pittsburgh and burned down the local tax collector's home. With the urging of Hamilton, Washington sent a militia of almost 13,000 soldiers over to put an end to what became known as the Whiskey Rebellion. As the local representative, Findley met with one of the rebels named David Reddick. They discussed their views on the rebellion and how Findley wanted peace and the riots to cease as soon as possible. Reddick and the other rebels demanded that the tax be repealed and were willing to make their voices heard by any means necessary. Findley told him that if they continued down this course, all the rebels would go on trial for treason and be killed. By the time they got to Pittsburgh, the rebels had all dispersed, and only about 150 were apprehended and tried for treason. President Washington pardoned them all.


William Findley played a key role in ending the violence during the Whiskey Rebellion. Being a long-time settler in western Pennsylvania, he knew how badly the Whiskey Tax would affect small farmers trying to make a living in a new country. This made Findley sympathize with the rebels, but he was compelled as a politician to step in when tempers turned to violence. He worked to make peace in western Pennsylvania and used his influence to make sure that none of rebellious farmers were found guilty of treason. There is a historical marker in his adopted hometown of Beatty, Pennsylvania. This marker is located on the site of Findley’s old log house, and it signifies the importance of the place. The plaque reads: “he sympathized with the Whiskey Rebellion but, as tempers mounted in late 1794, he worked to defuse violence.” Due to Findley, both the rebels and militiamen called out to face them survived the conflict with no deaths.

“Findley, William.” US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives,,-William-(F000124)/.

“Founders Online: [Diary Entry: 6–12 October 1794].” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, Editors. “Whiskey Rebellion.”, A&E Television Networks, 30 Oct. 2017,

What Year Was the Whiskey Rebellion? -

“Whiskey Rebellion.” George Washington's Mount Vernon,,assembly%20created%20in%20Pennsylvania%20during%20the%20Whiskey%20Rebellion. 

“William Findley Historical Marker.” Historical Marker, 16 June 2016,

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