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The Low Down
In 1791, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton proposed an excise tax on domestically produced distilled spirits. The tax was a part of Hamilton’s plan to centralize government and reduce the country’s increasing war debt. Farmers living west of the Appalachian Mountains in the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, North and South Carolina, and Virginia were veterans and they distilled their excess grain and corn into whiskey and used it as a medium of exchange. For them (like in DC today where Rebellion was founded), the tax not only seemed too similar to the American Revolution, [taxation without (local) representation], but it was also a personal affront on their ability to make a living. They thought that Hamilton designed the tax, the equivalent to an income tax, to keep them poor and benefit the larger, wealthier distillers who lived east of the Appalachians and didn’t have to pay the tax. As tax officials set out to collect the tax in these areas, the farmers began to voice their defiance of the law and rioted. They rebelled. This Rebellion, which lasted until 1794, is widely regarded as one of the reasons for the birth of American Bourbon in this region.