Levin Wilcoxon served as a sergeant in the Third Company when the First Maryland Regiment fought at the Battle of Brooklyn. Following his discharge from the army in 1777, Wilcoxon returned to Prince George’s County and eventually moved to neighboring Montgomery County were he worked as a planter.
In 1781 Wilcoxon sold his lands in Prince George’s County and sometime thereafter moved to the frontier territory west of the Alleghany Mountains near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While frontier life was difficult, settlers also dealt with challenges resulting from border disputes between Pennsylvania and Virginia.
After moving to the territory, Wilcoxon signed a petition sent to the Continental Congress that advocated the creation of the State of Westsylvania and highlighted the difficulties of living in the disputed territory. While the frontiersman believed they served as a barrier between the “savages” (Native Americans) and the states of Pennsylvania and Virginia, the states treated them “more like slaves than free men,” as the unsettled border caused them to be “bartered, sold, or transferred from one State to another like Feudal Tenants of old, or as though they could be under the arbitrary and despotic laws of Russia or Tartary.”
To make matters worse, the legislature of Pennsylvania enacted a law declaring any mention of the formation of a new state an act of treason punishable by death, which was particularly concerning to the settlers. Clearly influenced by the spirit of the American Revolution, the petitioners cited their right to “liberty and the security of property.” As a veteran of the Revolutionary War, Wilcoxon firmly believed in these principles and felt compelled to lend his name to the petition.
Despite their impassioned plea, the Continental Congress never acknowledged the concerns of the settlers and the movement to create Westsylvania eventually died out. Levin Wilcoxon’s exact fate after signing the petition is unknown, but it is likely that he died in the territory.
1. Alden, George Henry. “New Governments West of the Alleghanies Before 1780.” Doctoral Thesis, University of Wisconsin, 1897. From Archive.org.
2. Petition to the Continental Congress, Papers of the Continental Congress, NARA M247, Roll 62, Item 48, Page 251, From Fold3.com.
3. Slaughter, Thomas P. The Whiskey Rebellion. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.