The Whiskey Rebellion: True History and Hidden Lessons

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The standard version of the whiskey rebellion story, the one which I believed until I started reading on the topic, goes something like this….  In 1791, the Congress passed a whiskey tax.  In 1792, four back-woods counties in western Pennsylvania, unable to cooperate and accept the new reality that they were subservient to federal authority, resisted the tax and initiated a violent response which had to be put down by the federal government.  So, in 1794, President Washington dispatched 13,000 troops, put down the resistance then arrested (and pardoned) the ring-leaders.  With the rebellion quashed, federal supremacy lived happily ever after.

It only takes a few minutes of web surfing, however, to discover that this story line has some factual problems.

Not Just Pennsylvania

One problem we encounter with the official story line is that the whiskey rebellion was actually not limited to Pennsylvania.  It ...