Campfire Blog

Fact Is, Americans Don’t Like High Taxes

The flag of the ‘whiskey rebellion’ could be a rallying banner for those who wish to repeal Obamacare

The Whiskey Rebellion Flag

In the early days of the Republic—1791–the federal government, at the request of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, instituted the first excise tax on a domestic product, whiskey. In the then-American frontier of western Pennsylvania, distillers refused to submit, knowing this tax would kill jobs, injure prosperity, and curtail the freedom from ridiculous taxes for which they had recently just fought.

The federal government—like the British government in years before—grew flustered with its inability to collect the tax. So in 1794, they issued subpoenas for violators to travel hundreds of miles to appear in Philadelphia courts if they failed to pay. This inflamed everything.

Under a special banner, the dissenters took to the streets of Pittsburgh resolved not to submit to the tax—in the spirit of those patriots who dumped tea into Boston Harbor rather than pay the British tea tax.

President and Commander-in-chief George Washington himself rode out to western PA, leading an army of 15,000 to quell the disobedience (President Washington also carried out negotiations with the peaceful dissenters.) But Americans still stood up to the administration’s new tax: They rallied around Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic Republican party, and in 1801, the tax was repealed.

President Washington also pardoned the 24 whiskey rebels who had been convicted of high treason.

America was founded by people who grew tired of onerous taxes, but as bad as the British tea tax and Washington’s whiskey tax were, Obamacare—with its 20 new taxes or tax increases on every sector of the American economy and its unlimited expansion of government power—makes them both seem like trifles. The excise tax on those who do not abide by the federal government’s individual insurance mandate is remarkably similar to the whiskey tax, except that it is imposed on every single American as a condition of breathing.

If you have suggestions for a “repeal Obamacare” banner, offer them below!

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