The Whiskey Rebellion: Frontier Epilogue to the American Revolution by Thomas P. Slaugther
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Professor Thomas Slaughter has provided a most thorough overview of the Whiskey Rebellion, which he asserts had by the time this book was conceived nearly two centuries after the episode transpired, had become a largely forgotten chapter of our nation's history since the time of the Civil War. He cites as direct evidence of this fact the almost complete absence of any mention of the event in many contemporary textbooks of the conservative era of the 1980's, which this reviewer can attest to as well, having been a high school student in the late 1970's, who never heard of the Whiskey Rebellion until years later. Building off of his own dissertation on the topic, the author convincingly shows that the Whiskey Rebellion was in fact an event…show more content… Chief among these were questions of taxation, especially excise taxes, as well as contention over land between Native Americans, frontier settlers, and eastern politicians and land speculators, who the author shows were frequently one in the same. In particular he looks at the personal interests held in western land speculation by that most revered of all the founders, George Washington himself, who he clearly paints as having a substantial personal stake and by inflection Slaughter concludes the “father of our country” very much acted upon his own self-interest, veiled as it was under a curtain of national interests. He takes serious issue as well with other leaders of the early republic's political establishment, especially Alexander Hamilton and John Neville, the latter of which he seems to set out as the true instigator of the riots. The tone of bias in favor of the frontiersmen is firmly set in this opening section and carries forward in the rest of the volume.
Part two of the book sets the chronology of events regarding the excise tax on distilled spirits, which was to be an intricate part of Hamilton's financial planning aimed at righting the fiscal ship of the new nation. It is made up of five