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History Of The United State Essay

2617 words - 11 pages

On June 21st of 1788 the United States of America was an optimistic place to live. The newly formed country had officially ratified their Constitution on this date, and within a year George Washington would become its first President. These events signified an unofficial end to the American Revolution, which had its start in part, because Americans had rejected the notion of taxation without representation. This modern form of government, however, did, have some problems it needed to deal with. Unable to levy taxes in previous years the federal government had found itself deep in debt. This federal debt also included all the states debt as well (Chernow, 2004, Pg. 297). The government ...view middle of the document...

100). By late 1791, President Washington and his administration had created districts, and assigned revenue collectors, and inspectors. All that needed to happen now was to start collecting the whiskey revenue. This, however, is when the problems started.
The Whiskey Excise Tax hit rural farmers especially hard, and they started crying foul almost immediately after passage. It was criticized for being an “unreasonable economic hardship and as an ominous intrusion by central authorities into local affairs” (Gould, 1996, Pg. 405). These “westerners” felt as if they were being unjustly victimized by this tax. Most farmers during this period in American history worked extremely hard just to make ends meet, so operating a whiskey distillery offered them a source of extra income. In the minds of these western farmers this tax left them at a competitive disadvantage with eastern farmers. Western small-time farmers generally had small whiskey distillers. These frontier distillers could not run as efficiently as the larger distillers in the east, so their tax burden was much greater. For this reason many of the western farmers felt that Secretary Hamilton had set up a system that was giving tax-breaks to the larger eastern-based distillers. This sentiment is often echoed in today’s world- that the federal government promotes “big business” (Holt, 2004, Pg. 30). The cause of much of this rile and frustration, however, stems from the age-old problem in America of taxation without representation. Many of these same farmers who were being inundated with this whiskey tax had fought for the principle of no taxation without representation during the American Revolution. For these reasons, these tax-resistors were soon going to make a stand for “freedom” against the emerging and powerful federal government.
The anger and resentment that was felt by the western farmers not only toward the Whiskey Tax, but also the federal government did not instantly lead to an insurrection. Initially most of those affected by the tax lobbied against its adaption. When these petitions did not succeed, other measures were employed. Extralegal conventions were formed in western Pennsylvania in order to campaign for the abolishment of the new law (Slaughter, 1986, Pg. 110). The southwestern counties of Allegheny, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland in Pennsylvania exhibited the most resistance to the law. In September of 1791, a formal assembly met in Pittsburgh with the goal of preventing violence from taking place. The caucus sent their grievances to both the Pennsylvania Assembly and the United States House of Representatives. Change did come from this convention, when in May of the following year the Whiskey Excise Tax was modified. Although this modification did lower the excise tax by one-cent, it didn’t please all of the citizens, many of who felt it didn’t go near far enough (Hogeland, 206, Pgs. 114-115). The success of the excise tax modification couldn’t prevent...

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