The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Fries, John

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FRIES, John, American insurgent: b. 1764; d. 1825. He had a varied career, becoming in succession a cooper, soldier and auctioneer. His career of soldier was undertaken in the so-called Whisky Insurrection. When in July 1798, Congress voted a direct tax of $2,000,000 the Federal officers who were sent to Pennsylvania to collect the State quota of $237,000, were resisted by a party of opposition which Fries had rallied from among the Germans of Montgomery, Lehigh, Bucks and Berks counties. At Bethlehem, 7 March 1799, the United States marshal was compelled by this party to release 30 prisoners who had been arrested for refusing to obey the law. The “rebellion” was at length put down by the militia which President Adams ordered out, and among those captured was Fries, who was subsequently twice tried and on each occasion sentenced to death. In April 1800 he was pardoned by President Adams, who at the same time proclaimed an amnesty to all concerned in the “rebellion.” Removing to Philadelphia he engaged in the tinware business in which he became comparatively wealthy. Consult Davis, ‘The Fries Rebellion’ (Doylestown, Pa., 1899); McMaster, ‘History of the People of the United States’ (Vol. II, New York 1907); and, for an account of the trials, ‘Das erste und zweite Verhör von John Fries’ (Allentown 1839).