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Essay/Term paper: Whiskey rebellion

Essay, term paper, research paper:  American History

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Mike Klenosky 11/24/96
AP History per. 4 Ms. Valentino

On August 1, 1794, President George Washington was once again
leading troops. Only this time Washington was not striking out against the British
but rather against fellow Americans. The occasion for this was the Whiskey
Rebellion. Various efforts had been made to diminish the heated opposition
towards the tax on distilled liquors. However, there was only one man who has
derived the best course of action. That man, President George Washington,
deserves all the credit and recognition for his actions concerning the Whiskey
Rebellion.
In September 1791 the western counties of Pennsylvania broke out in
rebellion against a federal "excise" tax on the distillation of liquor. After local and
federal officials were attacked, President Washington and his advisors decided
to send troops to assuage the region. On August 14, 1792, under the militia law,
Henry Knox (secretary of war) had called for 12,950 troops. After this, many
problems arose, both political and logistical. These dilemmas had to be
overcome, and by October, 1794 the men were on the march towards
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. There, they contained the mob hysteria and anger.
This event represented the first use of the Militia Law of 1792 enabling the militia
to "execute the laws of the union, and suppress insurrection" (The Whiskey
Rebellion of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1).
It is clear that George Washington was the source of success in the
Whiskey Rebellion. When the militia, with Washington and Hamilton at its lead,
reached western Pennsylvania, it became clear that there would be no armed
resistance. Evidence of Washington"s leadership in this rebellion took place
when the "Representatives of the insurgents asked for clemency, and
Washington granted it with stipulation that they comply with federal laws
thereafter" (The Precipice of Power). This agreement forced the public to abide
by the rules of the government and their taxes without any destructive rebellions.
It was evident that Alexander Hamilton was not the backbone of this success.
"His actions provided undeniable proof to Republicans that Hamilton was a
monster who would stop at nothing to defend his corrupt policies, a budding
Caesar bent on establishing monarchy" (A Biography of Alexander Hamilton).
Hamilton did not care as much about the success of his government but of
himself and his beliefs on the nation. Furthermore, Hamilton was planning on
resigning, hence making it crucial to him to entrench the policies he had put into
place. "For the remainder of his life Hamilton worried that his work would be
destroyed, his system dismantled, under the opposition" (The Precipice of
Power).
President George Washington played a key role in the opposition
between the mob and the militia. He deserves the credit for creating and
maintaining peace among the people, and carrying out the mission without one
shot fired. Hamilton, on the other hand, put his interests ahead of the problem at
task, hence, forcing Washington to come up with a logical solution. Had it not
been for Washington"s courage and kindness, the militia might well have
followed the lead of the French Rebels, and destroyed the country.
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