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The Whiskey Rebellion Essay

1417 words - 6 pages

The Whiskey Rebellion

CONTENTS
1. Introduction to the French and Indian War
2. Domestic and social differences in the region
3. Washington?s statement
4. Attack on the Lys
5. Battle for the Fort Lydius
6. Battle for Forts William Henry and Bull
7. Battle for Fort Oswego
8. Battle for Quebec
9. Treaties Senecas and Paris

     The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 helped bring about the demise of the aristocratic Federalist Government in favor of the democratic Republican Government, concerned with the needs of all of its citizens.

The new country of the United States of America suffered many growing pains in trying to balance its commitment to liberty with the need for order. How much control is enough and what will be too much? After the Revolutionary War, the country purposely did not have a strong central government (that's what we fought against with the British). The states did as they pleased because the Articles of Confederation in 1781 gave them every power, jurisdiction and right not expressly delegated to the Continental Congress. Congress had no power to tax, regulate commerce, draft troops, or enforce foreign treaties. It was mainly a friendly overseer: thus the expression "the Do-Nothing Congress." Each state considered itself sovereign, free and independent, and easterners and westerners were separated by geography as well as their own concerns.

     To make matters worse, Spain and Britain were wreaking havoc along our borders. British troops, violating the Treaty of Paris, refused to vacate their garrisons along the Great Lakes; Spain, who held New Orleans, closed the Mississippi River to American shipping below Nachez and actively encouraged American settlers to break away from the Union and establish relations with them; Westerners in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and Pennsylvania were subjected to attacks by marauding Indians (often instigated by the Spanish and British). Congress did not have the power to send troops for defense or protection, and the easterners in these states were too busy with politics to worry about their western frontiersmen. Consequently, the westerners did as they pleased with no regard to the laws the easterners made.

     States had the power to levy taxes. Massachusetts imposed hefty taxes to help pay off its war debts. With the postwar depression, many farmers had trouble paying their mortgages. The banks foreclosed on their property and debtors were put in jail. In 1786-1787, Captain Daniel Shays, a veteran of the Revolution, led a ragtag army of rebels to protest these unfair taxes. The rebels closed down courthouses that handled foreclosures and prevented sheriffs from selling confiscated property. The rebels lost their military battle after only six months, but they succeeded in gaining some tax relief and postponement of paying debts. Their insurrection also alerted state leaders to the need for a stronger central government. Something had to be done to preserve order and...

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