Whiskey Rebellion (1794)

Author:Merrill D. Peterson

Page 2885

The "rebellion" in western Pennsylvania provided the first test of the power of the federal government to suppress insurrections and enforce obedience to its laws. Frontier farmers, who were also small distillers, resisted the whiskey excise from its passage in 1791. When the resistance erupted in violence in July 1794, President GEORGE WASHINGTON issued a proclamation ordering the rebels to submit to the law or face military coercion under an act authorizing employment of the militia in such cases. After a peace mission failed, he called up 15,000 militia from Pennsylvania and neighboring states. The army marched, and the rebellion quickly collapsed without bloodshed; two ringleaders, tried and convicted of TREASON, were subsequently pardoned by the President. FEDERALIST leaders exulted in this crushing of rebellion, which they viewed as part of a plot against the government, while their Republican counterparts denounced the force as excessive and intended to overawe...

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