The Whiskey Rebellion


Mike Klenosky
11/24/96
AP History per. 4
Ms. Valentino

On August 1, 1794, President George Washington was once again leading
troops. Only this time Washington was not striking out against the British but
rather against fellow Americans. The occasion for this was the Whiskey Rebellion.
Various efforts had been made to diminish the heated opposition towards the tax
on distilled liquors. However, there was only one man who has derived the best
course of action. That man, President George Washington, deserves all the credit
and recognition for his actions concerning the Whiskey Rebellion.
In September 1791 the western counties of Pennsylvania broke out in
rebellion against a federal “excise” tax on the distillation of liquor. After
local and federal officials were attacked, President Washington and his advisors
decided to send troops to assuage the region. On August 14, 1792, under the
militia law, Henry Knox (secretary of war) had called for 12,950 troops. After
this, many problems arose, both political and logistical. These dilemmas had to
be overcome, and by October, 1794 the men were on the march towards Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania. There, they contained the mob hysteria and anger. This event
represented the first use of the Militia Law of 1792 enabling the militia to “
execute the laws of the union, and suppress insurrection” (The Whiskey Rebellion
of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1).
It is clear that George Washington was the source of success in the
Whiskey Rebellion. When the militia, with Washington and Hamilton at its lead,
reached western Pennsylvania, it became clear that there would be no armed
resistance. Evidence of Washington\'s leadership in this rebellion took place
when the “Representatives of the insurgents asked for clemency, and Washington
granted it with stipulation that they comply with federal laws thereafter” (The
Precipice of Power). This agreement forced the public to abide by the rules of
the government and their taxes without any destructive rebellions. It was
evident that Alexander Hamilton was not the backbone of this success. “His
actions provided undeniable proof to Republicans that Hamilton was a monster who
would stop at nothing to defend his corrupt policies, a budding Caesar bent on
establishing monarchy” (A Biography of Alexander Hamilton). Hamilton did not
care as much about the success of his government but of himself and his beliefs
on the nation. Furthermore, Hamilton was planning on resigning, hence making it
crucial to him to entrench the policies he had put into place. “For the
remainder of his life Hamilton worried that his work would be destroyed, his
system dismantled, under the opposition” (The Precipice of Power).
President George Washington played a key role in the opposition between
the mob and the militia. He deserves the credit for creating and maintaining
peace among the people, and carrying out the mission without one shot fired.
Hamilton, on the other hand, put his interests ahead of the problem at task,
hence, forcing Washington to come up with a logical solution. Had it not been
for Washington\'s courage and kindness, the militia might well have followed the
lead of the French Rebels, and destroyed the country.

Category: History