Here's another whole thread that is beginning to develop inside another, so I've lifted a representative sample and started a new one here. This message from BOURBONV was a response about the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794...
Subject Re: Distilling Wall of Fame
Posted by bourbonv
Posted on 12/28/00 4:53 PM
From IP 188.8.131.52
I think you are over estimating the importance of the rebellion to Kentucky's distilling heritage. As a matter of fact I would be hard placed to name one distiller that can be traced to Pennsylvania that left for Kentucky because of the rebellion. There were several who came to Kentucky at that time but this had more to do with the fact that Kentucky had just became a state and it was suddenly easier to purchase land in Kentucky.
The fact is there was very little impact on the distillers in Pennsylvania. The government for all of its efforts arrested very few people and only two people were ever convicted and they were both pardoned by President Washington. These two were described as one being "a simpleton" and the other "insane". My favorite quote from the rebelion comes from Thomas Jefferson who said that "an insurrection was announced and proclaimed and armed against, but could never be found" (Ford, Jefferson, VII, May 26, 1795). There were farmer distillers in Kentucky at the same time as the rebellion and they too refused to pay their taxes. The rebellion in Kentucky was just as "bad" as it was in Pennsylvania but the government refused to let this become common knowledge at the time because they did not think they could do anything about it. They could not get an army the size that they used in Pennsylvania over the mountains and they were afraid that if they did, The independent minded westerners would simply leave the union and be driven into the arms of Spain. So when you think about it the whole myth about the whisky rebellion does not make sense. Why would distillers leave Pennsylvania over the rebellion to come to Kentucky when Kentuckians were forced to pay the same tax and conditions politically were the same.
I will give Hamilton this much credit for distilling history. The tax was based upon proof to be measured using a hydrometer so it did force distillers to learn to use a hydrometer.