Why it was important for George Washington to put down the Whiskey Rebellion?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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From Washington's point of view, the use of force to subdue the insurrection was important for a couple of reasons.  The most evident one was to settle the threat to federal power.  Washington and Hamilton both believed the national debt to be a problem and the "sin tax" on whiskey was seen as a good way to ensure that some revenue could be generated.  With the Constitution just having been ratified, the idea of the federal government being able to pass a law with the local governments complying was tested with the Whiskey Rebellion.  The use of force to subdue it was done in this light.  Washington understood that the infancy stages of the nation demanded quick and unilateral action to a problem that could swell as the framework for the new nation was itself new.  With the reality of Shays' Rebellion, and the destruction it wrought, still fresh in Washington's mind, avoiding this end at all costs was essential.

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