The Whiskey Rebellion

The Whiskey Rebellion

George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Frontier Rebels Who Challenged America's Newfound Sovereignty

Book - 2006
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A gripping and provocative tale of violence, alcohol, and taxes, The Whiskey Rebellion pits President George Washington and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton against angry, armed settlers across the Appalachians. Unearthing a pungent segment of early American history long ignored by historians, William Hogeland brings to startling life the rebellion that decisively contributed to the establishment of federal authority.

In 1791, at the frontier headwaters of the Ohio River, gangs with blackened faces began to attack federal officials, beating and torturing the collectors who plagued them with the first federal tax ever laid on an American product--whiskey. In only a few years, those attacks snowballed into an organized regional movement dedicated to resisting the fledgling government's power and threatening secession, even civil war.

With an unsparing look at both Hamilton and Washington--and at lesser-known, equally determined frontier leaders such as Herman Husband and Hugh Henry Brackenridge--journalist and popular historian William Hogeland offers an insightful, fast-paced account of the remarkable characters who perpetrated this forgotten revolution, and those who suppressed it. To Hamilton, the whiskey tax was key to industrial growth and could not be permitted to fail. To hard-bitten people in what was then the wild West, the tax paralyzed their economies while swelling the coffers of greedy creditors and industrialists. To President Washington, the settlers' resistance catalyzed the first-ever deployment of a huge federal army, led by the president himself, a military strike to suppress citizens who threatened American sovereignty.

Daring, finely crafted, by turns funny and darkly poignant, The Whiskey Rebellion promises a surprising trip for readers unfamiliar with this primal national drama--whose climax is not the issue of mere taxation but the very meaning and purpose of the American Revolution.

With three original maps by Jack Ryan.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, [2006]
Copyright Date: ©2006
ISBN: 9780743254908
0743254902
Branch Call Number: 973.43 H679
Characteristics: vii, 302 pages : maps ; 24 cm

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Hopalong_Kid
Feb 18, 2017

Excellent history. The Whiskey Rebellion was a black eye for George Washington's career, but Alexander Hamilton is really the devious villain of the story. Hamilton shamelessly manipulated Washington like a puppet master, to do his corrupt bidding for the sake of NYC speculators and creditors. Hamilton - the Treasury secretary who appointed himself Secretary of War so he could lead an army to collect his corrupt taxes. To this day we have Hamilton to thank for establishing a pattern of crony partisan corruption that continues to threatens us with the current episode of complete corruption in DC ready to destroy the US once and for all. Politicians like Hamilton used government to enrich himself and his buddies. Fortunately the fiasco that was the Whiskey Rebellion was the straw that broke the camel's back for Hamilton's career (and also killing off for all times Washington's Federalist Party). No wonder Aaron Burr was so popular in the West.

I started THE WHISKEY REBELLION once several years ago and then put it down. I picked it back up recently after reading William Hogeland lambaste (in a Harper's cover story) commercial Broadway juggernaut HAMILTON for its hagiographic portrayal of the Washington's war-time chief of staff and first Treasury Secretary. The Whiskey Tax was Alexander Hamilton's scheme for paying off the young nation's profiteering bondholders at the expense of small Western distillers. Citizens who lived west of the Allegheny Mountains rebelled in the 1790s because they didn't want their stills taxed. Hamilton convinced Washington to raise an army and invade the Pittsburgh area of Western Pennsylvania, what was then known as the Forks for the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. The Whiskey Rebellion was crushed a few months after Little Turtle was defeated at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

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