Bedford, Pennsylvania

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Bedford is a borough in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, 102 miles (164 km) west of the State Capital, Harrisburg. It is the county seat of Bedford County[1]. Bedford was established in the mid-18th century. Population counts follow: 1890, 2,242; 1900, 2,167; 1910, 2,385. The population was 3,141 at the 2000 census.



Originally called Raystown, Bedford was settled about 1751 and laid out in 1766. Bedford was incorporated on March 13, 1795.[2] For many years it was an important frontier military post. The Espy House in Bedford is notable for having been the headquarters of George Washington and his force of 13,000 while putting down the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794.

In 1758 the British Army came to Raystown to set up a fort. The fort was named Fort Bedford, for the politically powerful Duke of Bedford in England. Some believe this is how the town later got its name. Fort Bedford was built as one of the many British Army stepping stones through the state leading to the forks of the Ohio River; the other side of the forks was dominated by Indians. The British used the fort to drive out the French to ensure the new continent would be English-speaking. The fort was later a safe house for settlers escaping Indian raids. Fort Bedford was “liberated” ten years before the Revolution by American rebels, James Smith's Black Boys, and was the first fort taken from the British. The fort later collapsed and was reconstructed in 1958.

George Washington marched his army to Bedford in 1794 to subdue the Whiskey Rebellion. There was much more at stake than quieting the uprising of rebels angered by a tax on whiskey; Washington felt the constitution itself was at risk. The rebellion mainly consisted of farmers who learned they could earn more selling whiskey instead of grain. The Rebellion spread fast and when it reached Pittsburgh they almost burnt the city to the ground. Anarchy was on its way; the British and French watched every move hoping they could come back and take over. Washington knew he had to act and make a statement; the laws of America would be obeyed. 12,950 militiamen were called to Bedford leaving the rebels without many choices. One historian later stated, “It was at Bedford that the new federal government was finally to establish itself as sovereign in its own time and place.

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