What was Jefferson's view on the whiskey excise?


Quick Answer

Thomas Jefferson opposed the excise on spirits, commonly called the "whiskey tax" or "whiskey excise" at the time. The tax was widely unpopular, and Jefferson, promising to abolish the tax if elected president in the 1800 election, eliminated it in 1802.

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Full Answer

The whiskey excise was concocted by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in 1791, when Thomas Jefferson was secretary of state under President George Washington. To Jefferson, the United States should be a nation centered around agriculture with little reliance on large financial institutions, such as banks. He believed no debt should be levied against United States citizens lasting longer than 19 years, so the next generation could start fresh. After Jefferson became president, his newly appointed Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin examined records from Hamilton's tenure and concluded that no more perfect financial system had ever been designed. Gallatin recommended keeping the tax in place for a short time, which Jefferson did, because it was necessary for lowering the national debt.

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