The Whiskey Rebellion: History in Context

4 06 2014

In our hyper political world everyone is kind of pushed into one of two camps. Your either Republican or Democrat and by virtue conservative or liberal. The rules are that you are to oppose all of the actions of the opposing party, never give them credit even if they do good, and twist history to prove your points. The problem is that I as a Christian don’t feel such rules can apply to me. I answer to a higher authority which is the Word of God.

I believe Christians must be very careful when speaking of politics because we are judged by the Word of God. We must never compromise our spiritual principles for the political agenda of a specific political party. We must give honor to whom is honor is due Romans 13:7, we must honor the King (or President) 1 Peter 2:17. It behooves us to be honest and Biblical in our dealings especially where politics is concerned.

The sudden wave of anti-government libertarianism that is sweeping across Christian circles worries me. This idea that we can speak against our leaders because we disagree with them yet excuse our leaders when they do wrong simply because they belong to our party is blatantly false. While libertarians often quote our founding fathers I wonder how many of them would march against and condemn them if they were alive today. We need to take an honest look at history and the Bible in order to act as becometh Christians and patriotic Americans.

I was caught up for a time in the libertarian movement before I began to see that many of my stands and attitudes were simply wrong. My views of history were even slanted to fit with my philosophies. Take for instance the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791. This incident stabs at the heart of libertarian philosophy and really backs up the Biblical call to submit to government. I am going to use excerpts from Wikipedia and then comment on them as we go along.

“Farmers who used their leftover grain and corn in the form of whiskey as a medium of exchange were forced to pay a new tax. The tax was a part of treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton’s program to increase central government power, in particular to fund his policy of assuming the war debt of those states which had failed to pay. The farmers who resisted, many war veterans, contended that they were fighting for the principles of the American Revolution, in particular against taxation without local representation, while the Federal government maintained the taxes were the legal expression of the taxation powers of Congress.”

This was the first national tax levied by the national government of the United States and it was extremely unpopular. If put in the modern day under President Obama I’m sure Facebook, blogs and Baptist pulpits would be ablaze with criticism. Pictures of the President with a Hitler type mustache would be flooding the social media waves. The problem is that all of these libertarians who would be doing and saying such things would be holding President Washington in esteem and as an example of Constitutionalism and conservatism.

We don’t often associate him with such things as unpopular tax laws that people rebelled against. In reality most people in the libertarian and republican camps would probably have joined in the rebellion. They only hold Washington in high esteem because they didn’t live in that time.

These people were resisting an actual law that they felt unconstitutional. In our day we fear that laws may be passed and we put on fake days of resistance. Most of the concern over gun rights isn’t caused by laws being passed but by rumors started by gun makers to spur sales. They even put on a day of resistance where people went out in “defiance” and bought guns. I’m not sure what they were defiant of since buying guns is legal. All it was I suppose was an attempt to be an oppressed people.

So if Washington was this libertarian President everyone paints him to be surely he repealed the law and supported the right of the people not to pay taxes and supported their brave resistance right?

“Washington responded by sending peace commissioners to western Pennsylvania to negotiate with the rebels, while at the same time calling on governors to send a militia force to enforce the tax. With 13,000 militia provided by the governors of Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, Washington rode at the head of an army to suppress the insurgency. The rebels all went home before the arrival of the army, and there was no confrontation.”

Whether or not the tax was good it was the law and President Washington was willing at the point of a gun to enforce the law among citizens. If President Obama were to bring the military to a town to enforce laws he would be painted as a tyrant or dictator. Many of these were veterans and boy I can’t imagine what would be said about the President if he threatened military action against veterans. We take it lightly to defy our laws or ignore them if it pleases us and yet men like Washington who risked life and limb for this nation knew what it meant to submit to the laws whether you agreed or not.

We judge our modern President in unfair ways and hold up those who probably would have done the same things in their own time. We speak against our President as if he were our worst enemy or worse we accuse him of trying to destroy our country. These are the same actions that people who lived in the days of the founding father’s took. True patriotism is to obey and respect any law given by our leaders as long as they don’t violate God’s laws. even if you don’t personally like the laws. If you don’t like them then change them the correct way. True Christianity obeys civil government, respects authority, and submits to government.

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