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Rebellion of 1799


Liberty bell in Pennsylvania
Liberty bell in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania voters at first supported the Federalist Party, which advocated a strong federal government and organized the movement to draft the U.S. Constitution. But they soon turned against the party, especially after President George Washington sent troops to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion by western Pennsylvania farmers in 1794. The farmers, whose livelihood depended on growing grain and distilling it into whiskey, organized resistance when the federal government imposed a tax on the liquor.

Putting down the rebellion marked the first test of the federal government’s law-enforcement power, but it alienated most of Pennsylvania’s Scots-Irish population. A similar deployment of troops, against eastern Pennsylvania Germans who resisted a property tax in Fries’ Rebellion of 1799, caused that group to ally with the Scots-Irish (see Fries, John). Together these groups became anti-Federalist, actively promoted the election of Thomas Jefferson as president in 1800, and put an end to the power of the Pennsylvania Federalists. Jefferson’s followers, the Democratic-Republican Party, dominated state politics so completely that two-party contests ceased. They were replaced by struggles between factions of Jefferson’s party, which came to be known simply as the Democratic Party. "Pennsylvania" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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