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Whiskey Rebellion

Whiskey Rebellion, 1794, uprising in the Pennsylvania counties W of the Alleghenies, caused by Alexander Hamilton's excise tax of 1791. The settlers, mainly Scotch-Irish, for whom whiskey was an important economic commodity, resented the tax as discriminatory and detrimental to their liberty and economic welfare. There were many public protests, and rioting broke out in 1794 against the central government's efforts to enforce the law. Troops called out by President Washington quelled the rioting, and resistance evaporated. Nevertheless Hamilton sought to make an example of the settlers and illustrate the newly created government's power to enforce its law; many were arrested. President Washington pardoned the two rebels who were convicted of treason. The tax was repealed in 1802.

See L. D. Baldwin, Whiskey Rebels (rev. ed. 1967); W. Hogeland, The Whiskey Rebellion (2006).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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