George Washington's pardon to whiskey rebels
In January of 1791, an excise tax called the Whiskey Tax was passed because Alexander Hamilton thought it could relieve the U.S. from the huge debt that the country gained after the Revolutionary War. This tax angered the Americans living in the frontier (Western PA). This tax made the Whiskey too expensive to sell. To rebel this tax, the farmers on the frontier would not pay the tax and would harm the tax collectors. By 1794, the protests got so violent that 400 whiskey rebels near Pittsburgh set John Neville's (regional tax collection supervisor) house on fire. To stop the rebellion and to make clear of federal authority, George Washington set up a militia made up of 12,950 men and led them to Western Pennsylvania. This event stopped the rebellion in the west. After the rebellion was over, 150 men were tried for treason. All but 2 people involved were not proven guilty because of the lack of evidence. John Mitchell and Philip Weigel were the only ones found guilty of treason, so George Washington then pardoned them. These pardons were the first use of this constitutional power. This pardon was a responsible use of the power because it was for the public good. This pardon let the U.S. move on from the event, and those involved that were guilty were let out of sentences so it was fair. Then in 1802, Thomas Jefferson repealed the unpopular tax. In conclusion, this pardon shows that the power to pardon was used responsibly because President Washington did what was best for the country, which was to move on from the incident.