Whiskey Rebellion

 too Pennsylvania to march to Pittsburgh too shell an armed rebellion against federal taxation  Whiskey Rebellion
Whiskey Rebellion

In Oct 1794, President George Washington called out roughly 13,000 militia men from Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, too Pennsylvania to march to Pittsburgh too shell an armed rebellion against federal taxation collectors inwards western Pennsylvania.

Washington, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, too swain members of the governing Federalist Party were convinced that for certain pop “republican” societies were conspiring against the administration.

The Federalists feared that local organizations, hostile to federal policies, were secretly fomenting opened upward rebellion amid disgruntled farmers too distillers inwards the rural counties W of the Allegheny Mountains.

 too Pennsylvania to march to Pittsburgh too shell an armed rebellion against federal taxation  Whiskey Rebellion too Pennsylvania to march to Pittsburgh too shell an armed rebellion against federal taxation  Whiskey Rebellion

The events leading upward to muster of troops resulted from a serial of clashes betwixt farmers too taxation collectors over an excise taxation on whiskey. Hamilton ostensibly launched the taxation inwards 1791 to pay for debts incurred during the American Revolution too for the protection of settlers on the western frontier.

For the backwoods farmers of western Pennsylvania, Hamilton’s taxation seemed overly burdensome too bear witness of an eastern conspiracy amid wealthy elites too the government. The farmers needed to distill their grain into whiskey, or “Monongahela Rye,” every bit an economical agency to carry their create across the Allegheny Mountains to profitable markets inwards the east.

Due to a shortage of coin inwards the west, whiskey too served every bit a shape of currency inwards the chop-chop expanding frontier. This taxation brought to the forefront western resentment of the economical mightiness maintained past times the authorities too the wealthy eastward of the Alleghenies. The taxation seemed to live on a straight laid on on the economical lifeblood of the area.

Not to live on intimidated, farmers oft responded past times tarring too feathering local collectors, destroying compliant stills, too routinely blocking roads to the eastward amongst piles of manure, ditches, too fallen trees (Bouton). Over the side past times side 3 years, tensions increased every bit those who did non comply were threatened amongst fines too imprisonment.

The “Rebellion”

By the summertime of 1794, opposition to the taxation had instruct increasingly vehement too solidified against federal authority. On xvi July inwards Washington County, a mob of angry farmers attempted to destroy records of the fines too taxes they owed past times laying siege to too eventually burning the family of federal collector General John Neville.

In an ensuing gunfight, ii of the insurgents were killed. On 23 July, these farmers met amongst the “Mingo Creek Society” too other residents of the expanse to solidify their seat against the federal government.

It was decided, largely at the asking of lawyer too writer Hugh Henry Brackenridge, to await until August when a to a greater extent than formal coming together could live on called to assess the collective volition of western Pennsylvania. However, 10 days later, some of the insurgents intercepted too read U.S. transportation from citizens inwards nearby Pittsburgh to determine the town’s attitudes toward the rebellion.

Some of the letters were written to prominent Federalists too contained threats against the insurgents too denunciations of their cause. The insurgents were outraged. Under the leadership of self-appointed full general David Bradford, a prominent but eccentric lawyer, they proposed a march on Pittsburgh to capture too imprison those who had written the letters.

By this time, the whole of western Pennsylvania had heard almost the killings at Neville’s family and, inwards reply to a full general muster called past times Bradford, only about 7,000 men turned upward on 1 August at Braddock’s Field exterior Pittsburgh, gear upward to march on the town.

Largely through the negotiations too delay tactics of moderates similar Brackenridge too the quick-thinking Pittsburghers (they fed too welcomed the insurgents every bit they paraded through the streets), the rebels had trivial unloosen energy for destroying the town past times the fourth dimension they marched. Only a few houses were looted, too the barn of General Neville’s boy was burned. By the halt of the day, less than 100 of the “whiskey rebels” remained inwards Pittsburgh.

Federal Reaction

On vii August Washington issued a annunciation that detailed his interpretation of the events leading upward to the rebellion, blaming “certain irregular meetings” too “combinations” inwards Pennsylvania’s western counties for creating unrest amid the farmers. The Federalists publicly sought a peaceful solution past times dispatching a commission to negotiate an halt to the rebellion.

Tensions lessened, too the bulk of westerners favored reconciliation. However, at that topographic point were withal sizable numbers of radicals advocating rebellion, too spell negotiations continued through August, Hamilton too Washington secretly prepared for war.

Seeking a present of federal strength too worried that “committees of correspondence” were trying to unite conspirators against the wedlock inwards other western states, Hamilton asked Governor Henry Lee of Virginia to secretly draft a 12,950-man regular army too postdate his orders to 1 September too then that it would look the authorities had sought a peaceful solution inwards expert faith.

By the halt of September, the commission, unable to accomplish consummate reconciliation amongst the farmers, asked Washington to transportation troops to western Pennsylvania. But when the troops eventually reached Pittsburgh at the halt of October, the rebellion had subsided through the efforts too negotiations of moderates (Brackenridge).

Hoping to keep peace too back upward for the federal government, Washington magnanimously pardoned the known insurrectionists, amongst the exception of David Bradford, who escaped downwardly the Ohio River inwards a canoe to Castilian territory.


While historians recognize the Whiskey Rebellion every bit the get-go dandy exam of America’s federal authorities against subversion, they too suggest that the “conspiracy” accusations launched past times Federalists too rebels alike were genuinely passionate reactions to a number of social, political, too economical factors cardinal to the novel Republic.

To the whiskey rebels, the authorities was unfairly generating revenue from create grown inwards the W instead of taxing the eastern reason speculators who genuinely owned much of the western Pennsylvania farmland the grain was grown on. The tax, inwards their estimation, was proof that the authorities was conspiring amongst economical too political elites inwards Philadelphia too the eastward to oppress the western country.

Scholarship does suggest that Hamilton initially launched the whiskey taxation every bit an ideological mightiness play, designed to assay out the federal authorities could taxation anywhere inside its boundaries. He welcomed the rebellion every bit a agency to display the integrity of the newly formed federal scheme too present its mightiness to enforce domestic policies (Slaughter).

From the federal side, Washington’s accusations that the Whiskey Rebellion was business office of a larger western conspiracy against the authorities betoken a fearfulness early on Anglophile Federalists entertained that the liberalism too violence of the French Revolution would tumble over into the less “civilized” public of America.

The beingness of several Francophile political societies (some established past times French unusual government minister Edmond Genet) inwards Philadelphia too the western states (Koschnik) was bear witness plenty to convince Washington that a network of subversives was at operate to undermine the Federalists’ power.

While much of the resistance to the taxation was random too loosely organized, some western Pennsylvanians, next the Pb of Philadelphia, did practise Jacobin-like “Republican societies” for the utilization of reducing federal power, too the whiskey taxation was a perfect rallying dot for them.

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