Shays' Rebellion External Links

1786–1787

External Links for Shays' Rebellion

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Shays' Rebellion (1786-87) and the Constitution

Shays' Rebellion, the post-Revolutionary clash between New England farmers and merchants that tested the precarious institutions of the new republic, threatened to plunge the "disunited states" into a civil war. The rebellion arose in Massachusetts in 1786, spread to other states, and culminated in the rebels' march upon a federal arsenal. It wound down in 1787 with the election of a more popular governor, an economic upswing, and the creation of the Constitution of the United States in Philadelphia.

Shays' Rebellion

A wave of farm foreclosures in western Massachusetts swept the young republic to its first episode in class struggle. Demonstrators and rioters protested high taxation, the governor's high salary, high court costs and the assembly's refusal to issue paper money (an inflationary measure highly favored by the debtor class).A wave of farm foreclosures in western Massachusetts swept the young republic to its first episode in class struggle. Demonstrators and rioters protested high taxation, the governor's high salary, high court costs and the assembly's refusal to issue paper money (an inflationary measure highly favored by the debtor class).

Shays Rebellion

With the Revolutionary War over, the United States had yet to create a truly functional government. A planned Constitutional Convention was not certain while chaos spread.With the Revolutionary War over, the United States had yet to create a truly functional government. A planned Constitutional Convention was not certain while chaos spread.

Shays' Rebellion and the Making of a Nation

Only three years after the American Revolution ended, thousands of Massachusetts citizens took up arms against their new state government. This site tells the story of Shays' Rebellion, and a crucial period in our nation's founding when the survival of the republican experiment in government was neither destined nor assured.

Shays's Rebellion

Shays's Rebellion, 1786–87, armed insurrection by farmers in W Massachusetts against the state government. Debt-ridden farmers, struck by the economic depression that followed the American Revolution, petitioned the state senate to issue paper money and to halt foreclosure of mortgages on their property and their own imprisonment for debt as a result of high land taxes. Sentiment was particularly high against the commercial interests who controlled the state senate in Boston, and the lawyers who hastened the farmers' bankruptcy by their exorbitant fees for litigation. When the state senate failed to undertake reform, armed insurgents in the Berkshire Hills and the Connecticut valley, under the leadership of Daniel Shays and others, began (Aug., 1786) forcibly to prevent the county courts from sitting to make judgments for debt.

Shays' Rebellion

uprising in Massachusetts in 1786–87 caused mainly by excessive land taxation, high legal costs, and economic depression following the American Revolution. The insurgents, who were mainly poor farmers threatened with loss of their property and imprisonment for debt, were headed by Daniel Shays (c. 1747–1825), a former captain in the American Revolution army. They demanded protective legislation, the abolition of the court of common pleas, and a radical reduction of taxes. In 1786, armed mobs prevented the sitting of the courts at Northampton, Worcester, Great Barrington, and Concord; and Shays, with his followers, broke up a session of the state supreme court in Springfield. On Jan. 25, 1787, Shays and his men marched into Springfield to seize the federal arsenal, but they were repulsed by a force of militia under the American general William Shepard (1737–1817). The rebels fled toward Petersham, where they were finally defeated. Most of the men were pardoned later in the year; Shays, condemned to death, escaped to Vermont and was pardoned a year later.

Shays' Rebellion

The crisis of the 1780s was most intense in the rural and relatively newly settled areas of central and western Massachusetts. Many farmers in this area suffered from high debt as they tried to start new farms. Unlike many other state legislatures in the 1780s, the Massachusetts government didn't respond to the economic crisis by passing PRO-DEBTOR LAWS (like forgiving debt and printing more PAPER MONEY). As a result local sheriffs seized many farms and some farmers who couldn't pay their debts were put in prison.

Shays's Rebellion

After the Revolutionary War, soldiers of the Continental army were demobilized with little or no pay; whatever “Continental notes” they received could be exchanged only at an enormous discount, and the very states that had approved their issue did not accept them as payment of taxes. Officers eventually received compensation, including land in the Ohio Territory, but by 1786 the plight of the former soldiery was dire, especially in rural Massachusetts, where veterans and farmers suffered most from both the postwar depression and the radical deficit reduction plan of the conservative new governor, James Bowdoin. That year, in western Massachusetts, where many believed they had lost significant political representation under the state constitution of 1780, scores of rural towns petitioned for relief but received none.

Shays Rebellion

The Shays Rebellion (also Shays's or Shays') was an armed uprising in Western Massachusetts,United States, that lasted from 1786 to 1787. Many of the rebels, known as Shaysites or Regulators, were small farmers angered by high debt and tax burdens. The rebellion started on August 29, 1786. A state militia that had been raised as a private army defeated the main Shaysite force February 3,1787. Most of the rebels were treated leniently. The lack of an institutional response to the uprising led to a re-evaluation of the Articles of Confederation, which were highly ineffective as a governing document, and the negotiations for a new Constitution.

Impact of Shays Rebellion on the Constitution

The first ruling document of the United States was not the Constitution with which we are familiar with today but the Articles Of Confederation. This latter document provided for a weaker central government than the Constitution. Among the prohibitions on Congress in the Articles of Confederation was that it did not provide Congress with the power to raise revenue through taxes. This power of taxation was left only to the States. In fact, the Congress had to rely solely on the goodwill of the states to provide revenue to the central government. So weak was this form of government that it was called merely a league of friendship among the states. In contrast to the weakness of the central government, the states were free to raise revenue in manners that could be often heavy-handed. This is what led to the Shays Rebellion.

Shays's Rebellion

Shays's Rebellion 1786-87, armed insurrection by farmers in W Massachusetts against the state government. Debt-ridden farmers, struck by the economic depression that followed the American Revolution, petitioned the state senate to issue paper money and to halt foreclosure of mortgages on their property and their own imprisonment for debt as a result of high land taxes. Sentiment was particularly high against the commercial interests who controlled the state senate in Boston, and the lawyers who hastened the farmers' bankruptcy by their exorbitant fees for litigation. When the state senate failed to undertake reform, armed insurgents in the Berkshire Hills and the Connecticut valley, under the leadership of Daniel Shays and others, began (Aug., 1786) forcibly to prevent the county courts from sitting to make judgments for debt.

Shays's Rebellion

A revolt by desperate Massachusetts farmers in 1786, Shays's Rebellion arose from the economic hardship that followed the War of Independence. Named for its reluctant leader, Daniel Shays, the rebellion sought to win help from the state legislature for bankrupt and dispossessed farmers. More than a thousand rebels blocked courts, skirmished with state militia, and were ultimately defeated, and many of them were captured. But the rebellion bore fruit. Acknowledging widespread suffering, the state granted relief to debtors. More significantly, the rebellion had a strong influence on the future course of federal government. Because the federal government had been powerless under the Articles of Confederation to intervene, the Framers created a more powerful national government in the U.S. Constitution.

Shays' Rebellion

During the years 1786 and 1787, a series of confrontations took place between desperate debtor-farmers and state government authorities in western Massachusetts. The events that became known as Shays' Rebellion came to symbolize the widespread discontent manifested throughout New England during the economic depression that followed the American Revolution.

Shays' Rebellion

In 1786, nearly 2,000 debtor farmers in western Massachusetts were threatened with foreclosure of their mortgaged property. The state legislature had voted to pay off the state's Revolutionary War debt in three years; between 1783 and 1786, taxes on land rose more than 60 percent. Desperate farmers demanded a cut in property taxes and adoption of state laws to postpone farm foreclosures. The lower house of the state legislature passed relief measures in 1786, but creditors persuaded the upper house to reject the package.

Daniel Shays

Daniel Shays (c.1741 - September 29 1825) is mostly known for leading an army of farmers inShays' Rebellion, which was a revolt against the state government of Massachusetts from 1786-1787, and a key event in the early history of the United States. The rebellion underscored the weakness of the Articles of Confederation and played a significant part in the formation of the United States Constitution.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Shays' Rebellion External Links
  • Coverage 1786–1787
  • Author
  • Keywords shays' rebellion
  • Website Name American History Central
  • URL
  • Access Date March 29, 2020
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update January 13, 2018

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