The Whiskey Rebellion- Critical Book Review

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Daniel Spioch
New American Nation
Spring 2013
Critical Book Review
The Whiskey Rebellion by Thomas Slaughter
Slaughter is a very interesting author who does not write like many of his peers on historic topics. Throughout the whole book, Slaughter does not give his own opinions on what happened during the Whiskey Rebellion, but rather, he gives non biased facts to present both arguments through primary and secondary sources. His book describes the actions that led up to the rebellion in western Pennsylvania in 1794 and how certain actions led to responses by both the people and the government. In the beginning of the book, Slaughter writes about how this Rebellion was over a federal tax on whiskey that was an idea from the Secretary of the Treasury, who at this time was Alexander Hamilton. Slaughter says that the tax was designed to retire the national debt and was approved by Congress and supported by President George Washington. In the book, Slaughter takes the time at the introduction to explain all the underlying causes of this national argument and gives a detailed explanation of why some citizens thought the tax was acceptable while others believed it was abusive.

Slaughter then goes into how this tax eventually became an issue of class warfare that divided the young country along geological and political lines. Slaughter explains how the wealthy land owners in the eastern coast appeared not to have a problem with the tax and the idea of taxing whiskey in order to retire the debt was a good idea primarily because they had convinced Hamilton to modify the law so it did not overly burden them. Slaughter then goes on to explain how the poor farmers located in western states found the tax extremely harsh because it was asking them to give something they felt they had no part of. Because of their distance from the capital and how the government finance was something that could not be provided to them or several other governmental services that were not...
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