“The Whiskey Rebellion: A Distilled History of an American Crisis” by Brady J. Crytzer
In March 1791, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton shocked the western frontier when he proposed a domestic tax on whiskey to balance America’s national debt. The law, known colloquially as the “Whiskey Act,” disproportionately penalized farmers in the backcountry, while offering favorable tax incentives designed to protect larger distillers. Settlers in Western Pennsylvania bristled at its passage. They demanded that the law be revoked. Violence soon broke out on the frontier. In response President George Washington raised an army of 13,000 men to suppress the rebellion. No major battle ever occurred, but weeks of arrests, illegal detentions, and civil rights violations rocked the west. The event polarized the nation and highlighted the dramatic differences between Washington’s Federalist perspective and Jefferson’s emerging Democratic-Republican Party. Historian Brady Crytzer shows how the Whiskey Rebellion stands as the second largest domestic rebellion in American History, only outdone by the Confederate States of America in 1861.
Brady J. Crytzer teaches history at Robert Morris University. A specialist in the Imperial History of North America, Crytzer is the host of the weekly hit podcast Dispatches: The Podcast of the Journal of the American Revolution. His work has been featured in the Journal of the American Revolution, Pennsylvania Heritage, Game News, and Muzzleloader Magazine. He is the author of “Battlefield Pennsylvania: A Guide to the Keystone State’s Most Sacred Ground” (2018).
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