Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Whiskey Rebellion

The hardest thing to explain is the obvious truth which everyone chooses to ignore. Those who seek to rule others are simply seeking to impose their version of heaven on earth on others, by force.

The birth of a nation may look grand in history books, but in reality a birth can be a rather painful experience.

George Washington was the first president of the United States. He served two terms (1789-1797).

During this period, the region west of the Appalachian Mountains (western Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and Kentucky) was in turmoil. People were at odds with the new government which led to various protests and acts of violence. It was a spontaneous insurrection by those seeking regional secession from federalism.

Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, referred to this problem as "the Whiskey Rebellion" because distilled liquor played an important role in the economic lives of the people in the area and Hamilton blamed the recently enacted federal tax specifically on whiskey for the rebelliousness. It was also his way of insulting the rural population (Hamilton was a New York City lawyer) and trivializing criticisms of his federal economic policy.

In the summer of 1794, George Washington dispatched General Henry Lee to the region, without warrants or approval of Congress, whereupon mass arrests of citizens were made. Federal troops rounded up hundreds of people and detained them without any evidence or charges against them. Detainees were subjected to harsh conditions and interrogations where they were told they would be hanged if they didn't cooperate.

During the operation, federal troops visited every home in the region and required every male over the age of 18 to sign an oath of loyalty. Only then were some of the detainees released. The remaining detainees were forcibly marched 400 miles to the capitol, paraded through the streets and imprisoned under extreme conditions.

Welcome to America – a brand new nation based on freedom, with liberty and justice for all.

Alexander Hamilton, an influential force during the birth of the nation, advocated a powerful national government to manage the economy and society through massive federal borrowing, supported by an elaborate scheme of taxation, to achieve a social agenda based on the consolidation of business and finance.

Small enterprises would be absorbed into corporate structures with close ties to the executive branch of the government, and a large military establishment would be created to impose national unity, by force, even if it meant the systematic violation, by the executive branch, of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights.

Hamilton (and others in the administration) wanted big government to control every aspect of American life. Like today's liberals, they yearned to manipulate society and manage business. Like today's conservatives, they yearned to dominate people by force.

But big government costs big bucks and tends to suffocate the masses. The federal government spends tons of money on social engineering (government as an inefficient, bureaucratic, special-interest charity) and tons of money on military items (more than all other countries in the world combined). In 2009, our national debt now exceeds $12 trillion and continues to rise every day. Divided evenly among all Americans, each of us is about $40,000 in debt. And our current administration lusts for even more government to direct and control its subjects.

The Whiskey Rebellion was a prime example of the need for a limited, balanced government.

Prior to federal intervention, the meager earnings of ordinary folks either fell prey to lawless thugs or local government cronyism. In the aftermath of the uprising, the federal government usurped undue excessive authority over innocent citizens. In both cases, the populace suffered.

In a perfect world, there would be little need for government. But the world isn't perfect, thereby requiring a collective decision-making body. The function of government is to ensure a level playing field, maintain a common infrastructure, adjudicate disputes and protect individual freedom. Its purpose is to serve the people, not for the people to serve it.

Without government, the greedy bully rules by force.

With too much government, the government becomes the greedy bully.

Our country was born in 1776. Over the last 233 years, we've shed sweat and blood to become the richest, most powerful nation on earth. Yet we still spend more money than we earn and lust for more.

With wealth and power comes responsibility. Perhaps one of these days we'll grow up, if it’s not too late.

Government expands at the price of individual freedom. For eons, certain elements have been manipulating humanity toward enslavement by a one-world government, to be ruled by them. Catastrophes and conflicts are created, then “solved” by the same forces, who continue to gain more wealth, power and control in the process.

In 2009, this manipulation is accelerating -- 110 miles per hour down a dead-end street. Fasten your seatbelts because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

More government isn’t a solution, it’s a cancer.

Quote for the Day -- “The only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.” Ayn Rand

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where less is more. His blogs appear on several websites, including

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