There was also the issue of the tax system. The tax system at this time was regressive in that much of the Eastern state economies lay in the barter System as opposed to the more monetary based economies found in the western and central parts of Massachusetts. Consequently, many farmers were unable to meet their tax obligations and were forced to sell their lands so as to raise money. As a result , due to dire need orchestrated by the supply and demand dictates, the price of land depreciated and thus contributing to the cyclic nature of poverty.
This often meant that men also lost their right to vote since suffrage was often tied to owning land. At the beginning, the rebellion was peaceful and centered mainly on freeing the men who had been jailed for not paying their taxes. This revolt becomes more militant on August 29, 1786. A Massachusetts militia that had been raised as a private army defeated the rebellion force on February 3, 1787. In 1791, the government of the United States previously running under the Articles of Confederation had been replaced by a hands on, more effective overspent stipulated under the United States Constitution that had come into power in 1789 .
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The government took over the debts accumulated from the states from the American Revolutionary War. One stipulation to waiver the debts by the federal government was a tax on distilled spirits. Larger producers of beer were to be charged six cents a gallon whereas smaller producers were to be taxed a higher rate of nine cents a gallon. The smaller producers were outraged by this because they lacked capital to sustain this and did not have the necessary tools to market their products which would enervate income to cover the expense of the tax.
Compounded by the lack of a well developed infrastructure to facilitate a well orchestrated production and distribution of beer, this made the taxes a difficult burden to bear for many. Disgruntling and disgust reached the highest pitch in the summer of 1794 when civil protests manifested as an armed rebellion, when shots were fired in Pennsylvania about ten miles south of Pittsburgh. As word spread of the rebellion, small time farmers and their supporters enacted bodies of assistance which were geared to disrupt the tax collecting process and make day to day routines in the village intolerable.
George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, remembering Shays’ Rebellion from just eight years before, decided to make Pennsylvania a testing ground for federal authority. Washington ordered federal marshals to serve court orders requiring the tax protesters to appear in federal district court. On August 7, 1794, Washington invoked the Militia Law of 1792 to summon the militias of Pennsylvania, Virginia and several states. The rebel force they sought was likewise imposed of Pennsylvania, Virginians, and possibly men from other states.
The militia force of 13,000 men was organized and under the personal command of Washington and Hamilton quickly suppressed the revolt. This marked the first time under the new Constitution that the federal government had used strong military force to exert authority over the nation’s citizens. The military suppression of the Whisky Rebellion told citizens who wished to change the law that they had to do so peacefully through constitutional means; otherwise, the government would meet any hearts to disturb the peace with force.
The suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion also had the unintended consequences of encouraging small whiskey producers and other settlers to relocate to the then-frontier lands of Kentucky and Tennessee, which Were outside the sphere of Federal control for many years. In these frontier areas, they also found good corn-growing country and smooth, limestone-filtered water to make their whiskey. Both Shay and the Whiskey rebellion arose from agrarian foundations, that is subsistence farmers complaining about the excruciating taxes, when it mom to the Whiskey Rebellion, the U.
S. Government withstood a formidable challenge to its sovereignty. Preceded by Shay’s Rebellion in 1 786, and followed by Fried’s Rebellion in 1 799, the Whiskey Rebellion is distinguished by its size. While all three rebellions were motivated by their opposition to burdensome taxes, neither Daniel Shays nor John Fries ever gathered more than a few hundred supporters at any one time. On at least one occasion, as many as 15,000 men and women marched on Pittsburgh in armed opposition to the federal excise tax on whiskey.