Tariff of 1791

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Tariff of 1791
Great Seal of the United States
Other short titles
  • 1791 Excise Whiskey Tax
  • Whiskey Tax Act of 1791
Long titleAn Act repealing, after the last day of June next, the duties hereto-fore laid upon Distilled Spirits imported from abroad, and laying others in their stead; and also upon Spirits distilled within the United States, and for appropriating the same.
NicknamesExcise Whiskey Tax of 1791
Enacted bythe 1st United States Congress
EffectiveMarch 3, 1791
Public lawPub. L. 1–15
Statutes at LargeStat. 199, Chap. 15
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as H.R. 110
  • Passed the House on January 27, 1791 (35-21)
  • Passed the Senate on February 12, 1791 (20-5)
  • Agreed to by the House on February 18, 1791 (35-21) and by the Senate on February 23, 1791 (14-9)
  • Signed into law by President George Washington on March 3, 1791

Tariff of 1791 or Excise Whiskey Tax of 1791 was a United States statute establishing a taxation policy to further reduce Colonial America public debt as assumed by the residuals of American Revolution. The Act of Congress imposed duties or tariffs on domestic and imported distilled spirits generating government revenue while fortifying the Federalist Era.

The H.R. 110 tariff legislation originated as a panacea for the Hamiltonian economic program. The Debt Assumption policy was introduced as a series of public credit and national debt reports authored by Alexander Hamilton from 1790 to 1795.[1][2]

Opposition of Federalist Economic Plan[edit]

Colonial America was observant of the militia insurrection in response to the progressive debt collection and tax rulings charged by the Federalist taxation plan.

Shays' Rebellion and Whiskey Rebellion were notable uprisings where American colonists, often referred as the anti-federalists, express their sentiments concerning the public debt reconciliation plan while the newly formed government fulfilled the demands of Funding Act of 1790 during the late 18th century.[3] The colonial protests were necessitated by the enforcement of the Federalist taxation plan as submitted by Alexander Hamilton on January 14, 1790 better known as the First Report on the Public Credit.[4][5][6]

Associated Distilled Spirits Statutes[edit]

Chronology of 18th century colonial laws related to the duties or tariffs applied to domestic and imported distilled spirits.

Date of Enactment Public Law Number U.S. Statute Citation U.S. Legislative Bill U.S. Presidential Administration
May 8, 1792 Pub. L. 2–32 Stat. 267 Chapter 32 George Washington
June 5, 1794 Pub. L. 3–49 Stat. 378 Chapter 49 George Washington
June 7, 1794 Pub. L. 3–53 Stat. 390 Chapter 53 George Washington
June 1, 1796 Pub. L. 4–49 Stat. 492 Chapter 49 George Washington
March 3, 1797 Pub. L. 4–11 Stat. 504 Chapter 11 George Washington
January 29, 1798 Pub. L. 5–10 Stat. 539 Chapter 10 John Adams
April 7, 1798 Pub. L. 5–25 Stat. 547 Chapter 25 John Adams

See also[edit]

At Fort Cumberland, George Washington and troop formations to deter the Whiskey Rebellion
American Whiskey Trail France in the American Revolutionary War
Anglo-Dutch Wars Grievances of the United States Declaration of Independence
Bank Bill of 1791 Loyalists fighting in the American Revolution
Brick tax No taxation without representation
Debtors' Prison Relief Act of 1792 On American Taxation
Democratic-Republican Party Spain and the American Revolutionary War
Early American currency Tariff in United States history
Excise tax in the United States Taxation in medieval England
Federal Convention of 1787 The Federalist Papers
Financial costs of the American Revolutionary War Wealth tax

Colonial and European Ambassadors, Diplomats, Financiers, Merchants, and Statesmen

William Carmichael Gouverneur Morris
Étienne Clavière Jacques Necker
William Duer Joseph Nourse
Diego de Gardoqui William Short
Henry Hope Nicolaas van Staphorst
Jean-Joseph de Laborde Willem Willink


  1. ^ Madison, James (April 22, 1790). "Assumption of the State Debts, 22 April 1790". Founders Online. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
  2. ^ Jefferson, Thomas (1790). "Memorandum on Assumption of State Debts". The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress.
  3. ^ 1st U.S. Congress (July 12, 1790). "Senate Committee Report for Funding National Debt". The Library of Congress.
  4. ^ Hamilton, Alexander (January 9, 1790). "Report Relative to a Provision for the Support of Public Credit". Alexander Hamilton Papers: Speeches and Writings File, 1778-1804. Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress.
  5. ^ Hamilton, Alexander (January 9, 1790). "Report Relative to a Provision for the Support of Public Credit with Enclosures, 9 January 1790". Founders Online. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
  6. ^ Hamilton, Alexander (December 13, 1790). "First Report on the Further Provision Necessary for Establishing Public Credit"; Second Draft". Alexander Hamilton Papers: Speeches and Writings File, 1778-1804. Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress.

18th Century Documents Related to Colonial Debt[edit]

Correspondence of Alexander Hamilton & George Washington[edit]


Historical Video Archives[edit]

External links[edit]