Shays' Rebellion



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THE REBELLION





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The Whiskey Rebellion took place throughout the western frontier. There was not one state south of New York whose western counties did not protest the new excise with some sort of violence. Probably the biggest concern about the excise tax was the revenues from it would support a national government the western people felt was not representing them well. Their grievances involved resolving the Indian problems and opening the Mississippi River to navigation. "They were 'convinced that a tax upon liquors which are the common drink of a nation operates in proportion to the number and not to the wealth of the people, and of course is unjust in itself, and oppressive upon the poor.'" Without solving these problems the national government could expect no compliance to he excise law.

People in the West resisted the excise tax with different attitudes. Most simply refused to pay the tax while others rebelled with violence. Excise officers received most of the fury from the rebels. Each officer was to open an office in his county of operation. The easiest form of nonpayment was to prevent the excise officer from establishing an office in the county. To do this, rebels threatened anyone who offered to house the excise office. More often than not, the excise officer received threats to his well being. These threats were usually enough to discourage the officer from staying and trying to collect the tax. When an officer was brave enough to stay, the residents who opposed the tax committed such humiliations as tarring, feathering, and torturing the offender. This usually convinced the excise officer to leave the area.






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