Shays' Rebellion


Shays' Rebellion was an insurrection that showed the weakness of the Articles of Confederation.


Shays’ Rebellion was an armed insurrection by, mainly, poor farmers in western Massachusetts in 1786 and early 1787. Led by Daniel Shays, a Revolutionary War veteran, the insurgents were protesting crippling economic policies that caused many farm foreclosures and the imprisonment of debtors. Shays’ followers, who called themselves Regulators, marched on several Massachusetts courthouses in 1786 to halt foreclosure proceedings and the imprisonment of debtors. The Rebellion reached its climax on January 25, 1787 when the Massachusetts militia defeated Shays and his followers as they attempted to capture a federal arsenal at Springfield. The insurgency ended for the most part on February 3, 1787 when the remainder of Shays’ followers were surprised by militia forces and took advantage of an offer of general amnesty. Although the Rebellion failed, it was significant because it underscored the position of those who argued that the federal government established by the Articles of Confederation was weak and ineffective, and prompted support for the Constitutional Convention.


Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Shays' Rebellion
  • Coverage 1786–1787
  • Author
  • Keywords shays' rebellion
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date March 7, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update February 11, 2021