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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