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In recent news coverage about the militant group occupying a Federal Wildlife Reserve visitors’ center in Eastern Oregon (brr!), you may have heard a few references to the Whiskey Rebellion. But what was that, exactly?

A New Tax

A tax collector is tarred and feathered by anti-tax frontiersmen during the Whiskey Rebellion. Image courtesy of the TTB.

In 1791, the brand-new Washington presidential administration passed the very first internal federal revenue tax: an excise tax of $0.06 to $0.18 per gallon levied on none other than distilled spirits. The federal government also required that all stills be registered with local…

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