The Whiskey Rebellion

In March of 1791, the first Congress of the United States passed an excise tax on spirits distilled in the United States, the first tax ever levied by the United States on a domestic product. The frontier farmers of western Pennsylvania, cash-poor and reliant on whiskey as a commodity and even a form of currency, rose up in protest against the excise tax. Their political movement became known as the Whiskey Rebellion.

The Whiskey Rebellion, which lasted from 1791 through 1794, was a cornerstone event in the Early Republic. It demonstrated that the federal government was willing and able to supress acts of resistance. It shined a spotlight on the differences between Americans living in cities along the seaboard, versus rural farmers struggling to survive in the American frontier. The events of the Whiskey Rebellion ultimately contributed to the development of political parties in the United States, and shaped American policy in important ways.

This digital history project explores the Whiskey Rebellion through time and space. This site includes an interactive map, a responsive timeline, and an audio tour of the major sites of the Whiskey Rebellion. Locations of important sites of the Whiskey Rebellion have been found through original, on-the-ground research and appear together for the first time in this user-focused digital space.