Sergeant Levin Wilcoxon: Settler of “Westsylvania”

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.”

Page 251

Petition of Westsylvania settlers to the Continental Congress, written sometime between 1781 and 1783. Note the large size of the document. Petition to the Continental Congress, Papers of the Continental Congress, NARA M247, Roll 62, Item 48, Page 251, From Fold3.com.

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.

Notes:

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.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Biographies, Maryland 400. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sergeant Levin Wilcoxon: Settler of “Westsylvania”

  1. Joseph Doyle says:

    Alexander Nailor of the 9th Company, First Maryland Regiment, also signed the petition along with Benjamin Nailor, George Nailor and some 1750 others. It was sometimes called the “Ten Mile” petition or the “West of Laural Hills” petition. Here is a link to learn more about it: http://www.oldsaintlukes.org/westsylvania.htm

    Like

    • Hello Mr. Doyle,

      Thank you for this information. As we continue to get deeper into our research I am sure that we will come across even more members of the Maryland 400 that settled in this territory. It is a very interesting part of American History. The link you posted did not work but I was able to find the information by navigating from the main site of Old Saint Luke’s. Thanks again!

      Sean

      Like

Comments are closed.