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Political Community in Revolutionary Pennsylvania, 1774-1800$
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Kenneth Owen

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198827979

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198827979.001.0001

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Political Practices and Political Community in the Early Republic, 1790–1794

Political Practices and Political Community in the Early Republic, 1790–1794

(p.115) 4 Political Practices and Political Community in the Early Republic, 1790–1794
Political Community in Revolutionary Pennsylvania, 1774-1800

Kenneth Owen

Oxford University Press

The ratification of the US Constitution forced Pennsylvanians to adapt their democratic, extra-governmental political practices to the new federal government. This chapter looks at how these practices evolved in the early 1790s, investigating gubernatorial and legislative elections, as well as the creation of Democratic-Republican Societies and the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. These activities focused on opposing the actions of George Washington’s administration, defending popular political activity against the Federalist policies including Alexander Hamilton’s excise tax on whiskey. The chapter particularly focuses on the events of the Whiskey Rebellion, looking at how Pennsylvanians from all corners of the state developed political institutions as they sought to resolve the long-running tensions which led to violence. Ultimately, the resolution of the Whiskey Rebellion vindicated a vision of popular sovereignty in which non-violent, representative political action, rather than an appeal to federal authority, proved most successful.

Keywords:   Whiskey Rebellion, Democratic-Republican Societies, Federalists, Democratic-Republicans, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Pennsylvania

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