The Scotch-Irish having had their rebellion, the
Germans must needs have theirs. It was a trifling affair,
however, and influenced apparently by none of the causes which had
been at work in the Whiskey Rebellion.
At the time of the alien and
sedition laws, which were passed during the administration of John
Adams, a house-tax law was also passed, which required the measuring
and registering of the panes of glass in windows. As the tax on
whiskey had aroused among the Scotch-Irish the remembrance of their
old-world struggles against oppression, so this house-tax law seemed
to the Germans the beginning of a petty inquisitorial tyranny, like
many they had suffered from in their native land.
They rapidly passed from indignation to violence. In the
counties of bucks, Montgomery, and Northampton, north of Philadelphia,
they threatened and intimidated the assessors, and the law was not
administered. In one instance, while an assessor was measuring a
house, a woman poured hot water on him, which gave the insurrection
its name. It was also called the House-Tax Rebellion, but more
usually Fries' Rebellion.