Shays' Rebellion



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ALBERT GALLATIN'S ROLE

Since the people of western Pennsylvania felt they were not being well represented by Congress they decided to choose their own assembly. Each county was to choose between three and five representatives. These people were to bring the demands of their county to the assembly. Many of the representatives had ill feelings toward the national government. These people tried to push the residents of western Pennsylvania toward open insurrection. Men such as Hugh Henry Brackenridge and Albert Gallatin were the moderating force at these meetings and prevented the radicals from dominating the proceedings. Albert Gallatin's role was as a representative of the residents of Fayette County. As such he had to transmit the sentiment of the meetings even though he may have disagreed. Gallatin served as secretary and also delivered speeches that helped to pacify those radicals who were at the meetings. Often Gallatin delivered these speeches while radicals were in the crowd with their weapons in hand. Gallatin spoke about the mistake of open rebellion toward the government.

Unfortunately for Gallatin, the government officials did not differentiate between the moderates and the radicals who took part in these meetings. Participation brought guilt as far as those in the government were concerned. In 1794 the militia called by Washington marched to dispel the rebels in western Pennsylvania. They also brought a list of names of participants that certain members of the Presidential staff wanted arrested. This list included Brackenridge and Gallatin. Twenty rebels were arrested. Fortunately, Albert Gallatin was not among them. Of the twenty rebels arrested, none were found guilty. The fact that he was included on the list of rebels caused Albert Gallatin in later reflections to call his participation in the Whiskey Rebellion his "only political sin."

The Whiskey Rebellion tested the will of the new government. Washington’s forceful response showed Americans that armed rebellion



was not acceptable in a republic.




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