In October 1794, Alexander Hamilton took time out from his regular duties as secretary of the Treasury to lead 13,000 militiamen into western Pennsylvania. Resistance to a tax on whiskey production, intended to help pay down the government’s $45 million Revolutionary War debt, had been growing since it went into effect in 1791. Tax collectors had been attacked, and at least one was whipped, tarred, and feathered. By early 1794, some 7,000 men had joined the rebellion, and talk swirled about declaring independence from the United States. But in the face of federal bayonets, the revolt collapsed; many of its leaders were arrested, and the rest fled into neighboring states.
The Whiskey Rebellion was a critical moment in the life of the new republic. President Washington’s use of the military to force payment of the tax demonstrated that the fledgling federal government had real power—and was willing to use it.
But to Hamilton, who conceived it, the tax was about more than raising cash or asserting the central government’s authority. It was also a way to reduce alcohol production and consumption. Hamilton wrote in Federalist 12 that a tax on whiskey “should tend to diminish the consumption of it,” and that “such an effect would be equally favorable to the agriculture, to the economy, to the morals, and to the health of the society. There is, perhaps, nothing so much a subject of national extravagance as these spirits.” Washington agreed: Drinking, he said, was “the ruin of half the workmen in this Country”—even though, as the owner of one of America’s largest distilleries, he contributed his share to that ruin.
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At the Girolamini Library in Naples, a librarian has been accused of “one of the most dramatic thefts ever to hit the rare-book world.” Pilfered volumes include rare editions of Aristotle, Descartes, and Machiavelli.
For more of this morning’s roundup, click here.
Well, this is disheartening. An interesting glimpse into the world of rare books, though.
It’s the late ‘90s and something’s wrong. You can’t put your finger on it, but you know, deep down, it’s just not working anymore. Instant Messenger isn’t loading or Napster just crashed. Your computer hangs there, motionless. There might be a guttural ‘thunk’ from your hard drive or, even more terrifying, nothing at all. Then, with no sense of decorum, it arrives: the single horseman of the PC apocalypse, the Blue Screen of Death. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL again to restart your computer. You will lose any unsaved information in all applications. Press any key to continue.
The Blue Screen of Death first appeared in the very early 1990s as a feature of the Windows 3.0 operating system. This error message, which locks users out of the system, is typically summoned by driver glitches or when the software and hardware have trouble communicating. It’s your PC’s way of saying, “Look, I know you can’t see it, but I’m really having a bad time here”—just before a shutdown. If you’ve ever met Blue, you probably hate it. You lost that big paper in college, your music collection went out the window, or maybe something even worse. You sat there, by the dim light of your rebooting system, cursing your luck and the color blue all in one breath.