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The Whiskey Rebellion: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Frontier Rebels Who Challenged America's Newfound Sovereignty
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The Whiskey Rebellion: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Frontier Rebels Who Challenged America's Newfound Sovereignty

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  596 ratings  ·  88 reviews
A gripping and provocative tale of violence, alcohol, and taxes, The Whiskey Rebellion pits President George Washington and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton against angry, armed settlers across the Appalachians. Unearthing a pungent segment of early American history long ignored by historians, William Hogeland brings to startling life the rebellion that decisiv ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 25th 2006 by Scribner
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Todd N
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the second book by Mr. Hogeland that I’ve read this year, and I really enjoyed both of them. He does a great job shining a flashlight on that relatively ignored period of history between the Constitutional Convention and The War of 1812.

The years between the Founders standing around a table looking all founder-y and the Bombs bursting in air is very interesting to me because it was a very pragmatic period in American history. It was time to stop speechifying and start getting their hands
...more
Theo Logos
The Whiskey Rebellion, which came to a head in 1794 on the frontier of Western Pennsylvania, provides a great microcosm for viewing the early American republic. It encapsulates the stories of the nation's transformation into a centralized, commercial power, along with the expansion of the nation westward, which often presented challenges to that centralized power. It shows the demise of the radical populism of the Revolution and the rise of the conservative power of the creditor class. Alexander ...more
Julie Mickens
Mar 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Lots of interesting info -- including good stuff unearthed from at least three unpublished doctoral theses -- but at times the storytelling and contextualization faltered. As is easy to do in Penn's Woods, I sometimes felt as if I were not seeing the forest for the trees. But at other moments, the material was compelling indeed.

If I were the editor, I would've:
1) reorganized some of the material; in particular, the chapter on early American money and finance is very important yet seems cut off
...more
Thomas Cavano
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
American History under the microscope - Industrialist Hamilton levers happy farmers out of their utopia and into the factories.

Under the nose of the Father of our Country, Alexander Hamilton manages eighteenth-century social engineering to drive small-time entrepeneurs out of the spirits marketplace and drive subsistence-level farmers into the urban labor markets. The farmers, recent victors over British tyranny, revolt again. The aging Washington dusts off his uniform and attacks his people.

Th
...more
Anno Nomius
Apr 12, 2017 rated it liked it
interesting book. Gives you a glimpse of why the whiskey tax was levied to pay for the American war of independence and what a big mistake it was to do that. In general history has not been kind to anyone trying to take away a man or a woman's drink. The prohibition in the 20s which though had a different foundation, based on morality did not last too long. The book also gives a glimpse of many interesting characters and I found Herman Husband the most intriguing. Good book. Read it.
Edward Waverley
Mar 27, 2013 marked it as to-read
Hogeland commented on a blog about the Whiskey Rebellion, and I copy/pasted his words here:

A correction regarding the 1790's whiskey tax. Hamilton's excise was earmarked for funding the war debt -- not paying it off. The distinction is crucial. Hamilton was indeed a father of big national government -- and big business, and their connections -- and therefore wanted to create a flush investing class, with close ties to federal government and the military establishment, whose investments in nation
...more
Vince Ciaramella
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I just finished re-reading this book for the third time. I really do like this book more and more each time I finish it. What gets me is that this event is pretty much non-existent outside of Western PA but it was such an important part of our nations early history.

For starters Western PA was talking about breaking away 90 years before SC actually did it at the beginning of the Civil War. This was the nations first challenge to the Constitution and unity. Second, the Whiskey Tax showcased Hamilt
...more
Eric
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Upon completing this relatively slight volume, one is no longer surprised at the strain of power that runs through the revenue collectors of the federal government ending up in the likes of a Lois Lerner or John Koskinnen. And for the most part they could trace their roots all the way back to George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. The structure of the whiskey tax seemed to favor the large distillers at the expense of 'the little guy' - little surprise there other than a realization that crony ...more
Lis Carey
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a detailed look at an often-overlooked episode in the early history of the American republic, the Whiskey Rebellion.

We now take for granted the success of the new United States of America after the American War for Independence, but it was far from a foregone conclusion. Under the initial Articles of Confederation, adopted in 1781 when formal ratification by all thirteen original states was completed. The Articles contained a fatal flaw: the Congress had no power to tax and could only re
...more
Jerome
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A colorful and judicious history of the Whiskey Rebellion. I had learned of the rebellion in school, and the role played by Hamilton and Washington, but I had never returned to the subject until now. The only thing I ever considered the rebellion to be was a bunch of farmers trying to keep the federal government from taxing their corn mash, but as Hogeland shows, the situation was somewhat complicated and involved a lot more issues than simple taxation. Washington led the troops that suppressed ...more
Kevin
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Update 1/2017: This book is a great antidote to the Hamilton mania still going strong. A key player in the events described, Alexander Hamilton is shown here as an unabashed elitist who intentionally engineered the conflict as a means of crushing rural populism. It became clear to me after reading this that he really deserves to be seen as one of the great villains of American history.

Great book about a frequently overlooked part of US history. It could've used a stronger conclusion to look at t
...more
Mark Singer
This is a well-written and timely history of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. President Washington led an army of over 13,000 men to suppress the revolt. At that time this was the largest single concentration of American armed forces. Hogeland does an excellent job at explaining the background to the revolt, and how it began with the raising of excise taxes in 1790 and 1791 by Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton. He is very sympathetic to the demands of the frontier rebels, and makes no secre ...more
Laurel Starkey
Mar 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
The Whiskey Rebellion explores in detail a question still relevant today: how should power be distributed in the United States? In the earliest days of the US it was far from clear how the country would be ruled. This book examines how early power struggles amongst the different population groups were used by the Federalists -- principally Alexander Hamilton -- to solidify and concentrate the power of the Federal government.

With quick-moving prose and well researched detail, this is a book for
...more
Debra
Dec 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, history
Money and politics....Does it ever change?

Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton maneuvered to get an excise tax put on whiskey. In so doing the east and the west part of the new US's interests were pitted against each other. As were the interests of the investor class against the producing class.

Hogeland makes the issues clear, and the outcome inevitable.

Simon Vance, one of my favorite narrators, did the audiobook narration.
Narr
Aug 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Hamilton was not a nice man, Washington was not always in the lead, and quoting our Revolutionary Founders in protest is nothing new. Of interest to some might be the use of the military to enforce federal laws, the corruption and greed of early American financiers, and the use of local terrorism to protect Constitutional rights.
Nick Guzan
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This surprisingly engaging read illustrates the Whiskey Rebellion as a monumental and defining moment in American history.

William Hogeland's book shines a light on the importance of the then-frontier region of western Pennsylvania in the early years of the United States, showcasing Pittsburgh's critical role as lynchpin in the early success and survival of the nation. Once Hogeland dispenses with the necessary but at times dry exposition, the book reads like compelling fiction laced with dark hu
...more
Bob
May 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
This is an interesting story of an event, now largely forgotten, from shortly after ratification of the Constitution. Rebels living out west (‘West’ meaning near the small city of Pittsburgh at this time) took up arms to protest the nation’s first direct internal tax. This being an excise tax on whiskey.

George Washington gathered an army of over 10,000 men and, with Secretary of the Treasury/Acting Secretary of War Alexander Hamilton, marched to subdue the rebellion. The rebel movement collapse
...more
Joe Koennecke
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a neat look at an often overlooked event in early history. I remember the 50 word section in my high school yearbook and a couple of the key vocabulary words associated with this event. The actual event was far more important in our early history than most people recognize. The book provides some less than popular opinions of founding fathers, highlights the financial strategy which set ground work for our entire history, and demonstrates early state/federal issues and opinions. Great re ...more
Jo Stafford
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The infant United States was far from a cohesive national entity, as Hogeland amply demonstrates in his vivid, page-turning history of this little-known episode. His depiction of Alexander Hamilton's role in suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion confirmed my view that it was a good thing that Hamilton, with his well-known disdain for the people's democratic impulses, was not eligible to run for the presidency.

The Whiskey Rebellion was a joy to read: well-organized, occasionally humorous, and grippi
...more
Kaitron
Sep 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Of course I wish there was more about Western PA, but overall, I learned quite a bit, These isn't a lot written on this subject, though I there were times that some of the sentences describing the conditions surrounding the Whisky Rebellion could have been take verbatim from current news broadcasts.
Jason Baldinger
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Solid and readable retelling of the events surrounding The Whiskey Rebellion, which equates to the closet America ever came to French Revolution.
Jocelyn Green
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Engaging narrative about a little-known slice of American history.
Tom
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
good book, also see "The Whiskey Rebellion: Frontier Epilogue to the American Revolution" by Thomas P. Slaughter
Kareemah
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I feel like we are fighting the same battles they did in the 1790's because of the decisions a few well placed power and money hungry men made during the Whiskey Rebellion. Hamilton is definitely not the good guy in this story.

A short read / listen to learn a lot about early U.S. / barely Post Colonial History
Highly recommended.
Veronica
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very informative. Learned a lot about historic events in my "backyard."
James
Try this instead of Hillbilly Elegy for a deeper historical perspective on rural vs coast distrust.

Long buried on my bookshelf, I didn't expect to fully read this one. But I'm glad and I did and recommend others do, too. It's not that I didn't know the story of the Whiskey Rebellion, it's that as an American history nerd I knew too much of the basic story as it is often referenced in biographies and podcasts about the early days of the Republic. But those are usually told solely from the perspec
...more
Mason Newark
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the first rebellions in the United States, the whiskey rebellion is often cited in early American history classes. However, the rebellion itself was woefully anticlimactic. When we think rebellions, we think bloody conflicts, massive casualties, and government crackdowns. While there were casualties (2 civilians were accidentally killed by US troops), the rebellion was not as thrilling as one would expect. Most of the tax protesters were mere laborers who tarred and feathered tax collecto ...more
Christopher Saunders
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
a short, controversial chronicle of the ill-fated tax revolt in Western PA during the Washington Administration. Hogeland's main contention here is that the Pennsylvanians were perfectly justified in revolting against the tax, connecting their activism to that of the Revolution. And also, that George Washington and especially Alexander Hamilton were authoritarian monsters for suppressing it. There's some merit to this argument, but it's also possible to overstate the case. Hogeland doesn't reall ...more
R.f. Livolsi
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent insight into what makes America tick

Anyone interested in the founding of the United States should find this book fascinating. Thoroughly researched, well written and with deep insight into relatable people and the early years of the Republic, this work takes what history books typically dismiss as a minor uprising and explains how it might instead easily have become the undoing of the new United States and George Washington himself. Surprising elements include a self-appointed militia
...more
Nadya
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a sobering look at the first years of the American nation! The book starts with an overview of economic and political climate in the frontier territories of the newly formed US (mostly, western Pennsylvania) in the 1770s and 1780s. There, the sparsity of population, the lack of infrastructure and jobs, and constant conflicts with Indians led to unique conditions where locally produced whiskey became the only exchange currency available to many people. As a result, when the very first tax wa ...more
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is it posible to wirte a history that is unbiased? 2 6 Nov 12, 2007 01:20PM  
  • The Whiskey Rebellion: Frontier Epilogue to the American Revolution
  • The Age of Federalism
  • From Resistance to Revolution: Colonial Radicals and the Development of American Opposition to Britain 1765-76
  • Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution
  • John Jay: Founding Father
  • The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790
  • The Debate on the Constitution, Part 1: Federalist and Anti-Federalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification: September 1787 to February 1788
  • The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America
  • Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800
  • Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence, 1774-1776
  • Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr
  • The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies
  • The Jamestown Project
  • Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars
  • The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America (Pivotal Moments in American History)
  • The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800
  • Writings: Autobiography / Notes on the State of Virginia / Public and Private Papers / Addresses / Letters
  • Into the American Woods: Negotiations on the Pennsylvania Frontier