Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
Volume 111 / Number 1
Our Rebellious Neighbors: Virginia Border Counties During Pennsylvania's Whiskey Rebellion
- Kevin T. Barksdale, pp. 5–32
In 1794, thousands of disgruntled backcountry American farmers fiercely resisted a federal excise tax on distilled spirits.
From Pennsylvania to the Carolinas, resistance to federal authority and economic necessity combined to form a powerful
anti-excise sentiment that manifested itself in fiery rallies and assaults on federal tax collectors and ultimately forced
President George Washington to dispatch a military force to suppress the unrest. The bulk of historical scholarship
regarding the Whiskey Rebellion focuses on counties in western Pennsylvania, but over the last thirty years,
scholars have reexamined the rebellion and the magnitude of its effects on the new nation. Historians Thomas
Slaughter and Steven Boyd’s works on the rebellion extend the historical scope of the events and illustrate
the far-reaching consequences of one of America’s first internal insurrections. This essay reinforces these
conclusions by chronicling the events relating to the Whiskey Rebellion in the Virginia counties bordering
western Pennsylvania. Residents of Monongalia, Harrison, and Ohio counties were engulfed in the
violence and inflammatory rhetoric surrounding the insurrection, and their communities underwent
profound and lasting social, political, and economic changes as a result.