Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress 1789-1791 Next Page
The Compromise of 1790
The Excise or Duties on Distilled Spirits Act [HR-110]
The Excise or Duties on Distilled Spirits Act [HR-110], March 3, 1791
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

  Part 2
Part 2


The excise act, which was to lead to the famous Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania in 1794, passed Congress over strong southern opposition. The tax was expected to provide the additional revenue needed to cover the cost of the assumption of state debts. Only six Southerners voted for the bill in the House. Prominent among them were Madison and the three Representatives from Potomac River districts who had voted for assumption in 1790. This suggests they had promised to support new revenues needed to cover the immediate costs of assuming the state debts.

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