In October 1794, Alexander Hamilton took time out from his regular duties as secretary of the Treasury to lead 13,000 militiamen into western Pennsylvania. Resistance to a tax on whiskey production, intended to help pay down the government’s $45 million Revolutionary War debt, had been growing since it went into effect in 1791. Tax collectors had been attacked, and at least one was whipped, tarred, and feathered. By early 1794, some 7,000 men had joined the rebellion, and talk swirled about declaring independence from the United States. But in the face of federal bayonets, the revolt collapsed; many of its leaders were arrested, and the rest fled into neighboring states.
The Whiskey Rebellion was a critical moment in the life of the new republic. President Washington’s use of the military to force payment of the tax demonstrated that the fledgling federal government had real power—and was willing to use it.
But to Hamilton, who conceived it, the tax was about more than raising cash or asserting the central government’s authority. It was also a way to reduce alcohol production and consumption. Hamilton wrote in Federalist 12 that a tax on whiskey “should tend to diminish the consumption of it,” and that “such an effect would be equally favorable to the agriculture, to the economy, to the morals, and to the health of the society. There is, perhaps, nothing so much a subject of national extravagance as these spirits.” Washington agreed: Drinking, he said, was “the ruin of half the workmen in this Country”—even though, as the owner of one of America’s largest distilleries, he contributed his share to that ruin.
Read more. [Image: Library of Congress]
Cookie season is here! Make yours awesome with these clever cutters.
Nelson Mandela passed away today at 95 after a long battle with a recurring lung infection.
Explore his life and legacy with FRONTLINE’s Nelson Mandela timeline, based on the 1999 FRONTLINE documentary “The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela.”
Best of 2013 (Part l)
No two snowflakes are exactly the same.
"FEELING: The one where you wake up the morning after too many drinks with a fist of dread in your gut as if something terrible happened last night, some maiming or insult or betrayal that will devastate you as soon as you remember, but the only candidate you can think of is the moment when everyone else said goodnight and you were alone.
HOW TO EAT IT: Stale bite-sized Milky Ways left over from Halloween.
FEELING: The one where the sudden knowledge that someone will never love you drops into your brain chilly and small like a marble through gelatin, and whether it’s right or wrong it can never be extracted through that same neat bloodless tunnel; you will need to plunge your hand in after it and tear up everything.
HOW TO EAT IT: Bread pudding. Mac and cheese.
FEELING: The one where new angles of light from the shortening day make familiar streets look alien, foliage glowing in unearthly hues or disappearing to show hidden corners and carvings on buildings you ought to know, and the gauze of light unfurls along the facades, like a scroll covered in symbols you can’t quite read, and you can feel something bubble up under your breastbone like a hiccup and you think what’s inside the bubble might be happiness but you never know because it never bursts.
HOW TO EAT IT: Go out and get hot cider. Bring a flask.
FEELING: The one where you try to think about the past by standing at the edge and peering over, the incomprehensible depths of it like looking down and down through miles of ocean, and the sick vertigo when you try to focus on something mundane—a favorite chair, a song, a street you drove on—and it plunges you in like a lone explorer in a bathysphere, so fast your ears ring from the change in pressure, and then all that weight is on top of you and you’re looking up and up for a sliver of sky and meanwhile your air is failing, failing.
HOW TO EAT IT: Deep breaths. And Xanax.
FEELING: The kick-drum thud when someone you’ve been bumping shoulders and knees with for weeks, close enough to an accident that it could have been an accident after all, finally touches you on purpose for the first time.
HOW TO EAT IT: Are you crazy? Don’t move. Eat only what you can reach.”
Tinni and Sniffer are actually the real life The Fox And The Hound.
Wendell is hands down the greatest homeless fashion designer who ever lived. He makes almost all his clothes from things he finds. I hadn’t seen him in awhile, so I was quite thrilled to walk up on him Tuesday, doing this to a Gandhi statue.
A message about forgotten diseases, and how we can keep them forgotten (hint: vaccines) from Beatrice the Biologist, whose comics are wonderful.
Do it for the testicles. And for the ovaries. And for the good of humanity.
I love everything here.