1794- Whiskey Revolt

The years of the Confederation were years in which the states found it difficult to deal with the massive debt incurred by the Revolutionary War. The taxing of goods moving between states made trade difficult, causing ill feelings between states that was only made worse by ongoing disputes between the states over boundaries.


 

As Part of the Alexander Hamilton's plan to bring about American economic independence an excise tax had been passed on the whiskey. The famers of Western Pennsylvania were particularly angered by the tax; feeling that it had unfairly targeted them. The farmers had sold whiskey as an easy way of transporting their extra grains over the mountains to the markets in the east.
The farmers in the west protested the tax from the moment it was passed in 1791. In 1794 the Congress made some changes, which included no longer requiring farmers assessed with payments under the law, to appear in Philadelphia. At the same time a writ was issued against 75 farmers who were believed to be in defiance of the law. A marshal was tasked with serving the farmers. He successfully served all but the last man on his list a farmer named Miller, who had been in the field when the revenue agent had arrived. Word spread the agent was in town and 37 framers set off for the home of the revenue agent the agent anticipated the arrival of the farmers and had posted guards around his house. When the men arrived at the house and refused to disburse the solders were ordered to open fire, six farmers were wounded and one was killed. They disbursed, but returned the next day with 500 men. One of the men was killed and the men burned down the farm of the revenue agent who had left the night before. Before long 6,000 people had joined as part of a rebel group who marched through Pittsburg.

When word of the rebellion reached the East Coast President Washington immediately made a call for the states to raise the militia to put down the revolt. The states supplied a total of 15,000 men to the army that Washington personally led. By the time Washington and his army arrived in Western Pennsylvania the rebels had scattered.

Ten people were arrested but all were either acquitted or pardoned. This ended the only armed rebellion until the Civil War.