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Encyclopedia > Shays' Rebellion

Shays' Rebellion was an armed uprising in Western Massachusetts from 1786 to 1787. The rebels, led by Daniel Shays and known as Shaysites (Regulators), were mostly small farmers angered by crushing debt and taxes. Failure to repay such debts often resulted in imprisonment in debtor's prisons or the claiming of property by the state. Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... Look up rebellion in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Western Massachusetts is a loosely defined geographical region of the state of Massachusetts which contains the Berkshires and the Pioneer Valley. ... Engraving depicting Nick Gaskin (left) and Job Shattuck Nickolas Jarrod Gaskin (Born July 9, 1990), is a teenager in Forrest City, Arkansas. ... The Shaysites, who called themselves Regulators, were the group of rebels that followed Daniel Shays and Luke Day during Shays Rebellion in 1786. ... For other uses, see Debt (disambiguation). ... “Taxes” redirects here. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


The rebellion started on August 29, 1786. A militia that had been raised as a private army defeated an attack on the federal Springfield Armory by the main Shaysite force on February 3, 1787. There was a lack of an institutional response to the uprising, which energized calls to reevaluate the Articles of Confederation and gave strong impetus to the Constitutional Convention which began in May 1787. is the 241st day of the year (242nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1786 was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... Lebanese Kataeb militia The term Militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary [1] citizens to provide defense, emergency, law enforcement, or paramilitary service, and those engaged in such activity, without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. ... This is an article about the US Government Arsenal. ... is the 34th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1787 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, commonly known as the Articles of Confederation, was the first governing document, or constitution, of the United States of America. ... Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, by Howard Chandler Christy. ...

Contents

Origins

The rebellion was led by Daniel Shays, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War. The war's debt ultimately trickled down to individuals, in large part to small farmers. In addition, the tax system at the time — a direct capitation (poll tax) — was highly regressive, especially given the fact that there was a dichotomy in eighteenth century Massachusetts economy. Much of the western and central parts of the Commonwealth had a barter economy, as opposed to the monetary economy that existed in the eastern part of the Commonwealth. Compounding the east–west dichotomy was the fact that certain mature western and central Massachusetts towns (such as Northampton or Hadley) possessed more developed monetary economies, whereas other towns (such as Amherst or Pelham) subsisted on a barter economy. As a result, to meet their debts, many small farmers were forced to sell their land, often at less than one-third of fair market price to eastern Massachusetts speculators. Loss of such property could reduce families to extreme poverty. It also often meant that such men might lose their right to vote since suffrage was often tied to property ownership. Engraving depicting Nick Gaskin (left) and Job Shattuck Nickolas Jarrod Gaskin (Born July 9, 1990), is a teenager in Forrest City, Arkansas. ... Former crewmembers of the battleship Missouri pose for photos shortly after the Anniversary of the End of World War II ceremony, held aboard the famous ship. ... This article is about military actions only. ... A poll tax, head tax, or capitation is a tax of a uniform, fixed amount per individual (as opposed to a percentage of income). ... Tax rates around the world Tax revenue as % of GDP Economic policy Monetary policy Central bank   Money supply Fiscal policy Spending   Deficit   Debt Trade policy Tariff   Trade agreement Finance Financial market Financial market participants Corporate   Personal Public   Banking   Regulation        A regressive tax is a tax imposed so that the tax... Barter is a simple form of trade where goods or services are exchanged for a certain amount of other goods or services, i. ... A monetary economy is a societys economy where products and services are traded in exchange for money. ... Nickname: Motto: caritas, educatio, justitia Location in Hampshire County in Massachusetts Coordinates: , Country State County Hampshire Settled and Charter granted 1654 Incorporated as a city 1884 Government  - Type Mayor-council city  - Mayor Mary Clare Higgins Area  - City  35. ... Hadley is a town located in Hampshire County, Massachusetts. ... Location in Massachusetts Coordinates: Country United States State Massachusetts County Hampshire County Settled 1703 Incorporated 1775 Government  - Type Representative town meeting Area  - Town  27. ... Pelham is a town located in Hampshire County, Massachusetts. ... Definition Fair value, also called fair price, is a concept used in finance and economics. ... Market price is an economic concept with commonplace familiarity; it is the price that a good or service is offered at, or will fetch, in the marketplace; it is of interest mainly in the study of microeconomics. ... A boy from an East Cipinang trash dump slum in Jakarta, Indonesia shows what he found. ... Elections Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Suffrage (from the Latin suffragium, meaning vote) is the civil right to vote, or the exercise of that right. ...


Furthermore, Massachusetts rewrote credit schemes at the time to be administered by elected rather than appointed officials. These efforts were resisted and obstructed by wealthy and influential parties, led by men like Governor James Bowdoin. Governor Bowdoin had strong control of the government. Because of the property eligibility requirements for office at the time, when Bowdoin was elected governor many of the people in western Massachusetts were outraged by what they perceived as injustice. The Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the executive magistrate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. ... James Bowdoin (August 7, 1726 – November 6, 1790) was an American political and intellectual leader from Boston, Massachusetts during the American Revolution. ...


As Scott Tras has written,

[T]he nationalists took advantage of a propitious rebellion, that of Daniel Shays, a former Continental Army officer. Shays and other local leaders led an uprising of distressed farmers from western Massachusetts groaning under the load of heavy taxes assessed to pay the interest and principal (at face value in specie) of the state's wartime debt. During an economic depression, with farm prices low and foreign markets closed, the state government was taxing the farmers (payable in hard money only) to pay wealthy eastern creditors who had lent depreciated paper (accepted at full face value) to the state government for bonds during the war.


The farmers either could not or would not pay, and when they failed to do so, state judges were quick to confiscate their farms. The farmers organized into a militia and marched on the courts, which they closed. Seeing an opportunity, the nationalist leaders were quick to misrepresent the grievances and aims of the insurgents. They claimed that the Shaysites, and similar groups in other states, were radicals, inflationists, and levelers out to defraud their creditors and redistribute property, instead of being, what in truth they were, property-owning, anti-tax rebels who wanted to keep their farms.


Obviously, the nationalists wanted to scare the country into supporting a more vigorous government. George Washington was terrified. "We are fast verging toward anarchy and confusion," he wrote. His nationalist friends did their best to heighten his terror. Henry Knox wrote Washington of the Shaysites that "their creed is that the property of the United States" having been freed from British exactions "by the joint exertions of all, ought to be the common property of all." This was utterly false, but it did the trick. Washington agreed to be the presiding officer at the constitutional convention. Later, [James] Madison in Federalist No. 10 warned that without the strong arm of a vigorous central government, the states would be vulnerable to movements motivated by "a rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property" and for other "improper or wicked project[s]." The Massachusetts historian Mercy Otis Warren, a contemporary of these events, warned of "discontents artificially wrought up, by men who wished for a more strong and splendid government.[1]

Armed conflict

After several years of irregular "conventions" sending petitions to the Massachusetts General Court (the state legislature) for tax and debt relief, and mobs shutting down local courts (to prevent judges from enforcing debt collection), a lack of relief prompted even more radical action.[2] The Massachusetts General Court is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. ...


In 1786 or 1787, two Revolutionary War veterans, Daniel Shays of Pelham, Massachusetts and Luke Day of West Springfield, Massachusetts, led semi-armed mobs in military-style drills on the West Springfield town common, and threatened the legislature and local courts. Governor James Bowdoin ordered the local militia of 600 men under the command of General William Shepherd to protect the Springfield court. Pelham is a town located in Hampshire County, Massachusetts. ... The Town of West Springfield (familiarly known as West Side) is a city[1] in Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. ...


Shays sent a message to Day proposing an attack on January 25, 1787, before General Benjamin Lincoln's 4,000-man combined Boston and Springfield militia could arrive. Day's response that his forces would not be ready until the 26th was never received (thus providing a real-world example of the Two Generals' Problem). Shays attacked the Armory not knowing he would not have reinforcements. In computing, the Two Generals Problem is a thought experiment meant to illustrate the pitfalls and design challenges of attempting to coordinate an action by communicating over an unreliable link. ...


General Shepherd's forces were unpaid and without food or arms. Shepherd had requested permission to use the weaponry in the Springfield Armory, but Secretary of War Henry Knox had denied the request on the grounds that it required Congressional approval, and that Congress was out of session. Henry Knox (July 25, 1750 – October 25, 1806) was an American bookseller from Boston who became the chief artillery officer of the Continental Army and later the nations first Secretary of War. ...


When Shays and his forces attacked, Shepherd ordered a warning shot, followed by a single round into the oncoming mob. Two or three of the Shaysites were killed, and the rest fled north. On the opposite side of the river, Day's forces also fled north. The militia captured many of the rebels on 4 February 1787 in Petersham, Massachusetts; by March there was no more armed resistance. Petersham (pronounced Peters Ham, not Peter-shum) is a town located in Worcester County, Massachusetts. ...


General Shepherd reported to his superiors that he had made use of the armory without authorization, and returned the weapons in good condition after the crisis had ended.


Several of the rebels were fined, imprisoned, and sentenced to death (but not actually executed), but in 1788 a general amnesty was granted. Although most of the condemned men were either pardoned or had their death sentences commuted, two of the condemned men, John Bly and Charles Rose were hanged on December 6, 1787. (See Leonard L. Richards, Shays's Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 41.)


Legacy

The rebellion was closely watched by the nation's leaders, who were alarmed at what they saw as an effort to "level" the inequalities the new nation was experiencing in the aftermath of the Revolution. George Washington, for example, exchanged dozens of letters through the fall and early winter of 1786–87, and it can be argued that the alarm he felt at the rebellion in Massachusetts was a strong motivation to bring him from retirement and work for a stronger central government.[3]. Most alarming for Washington and other early American elitists such as Samuel Adams and former general Henry Knox was the very real helplessness that the Confederation government had in the face of a rebellion that had nearly seized one of the few federal arsenals the country had. Adams was, in fact, so disturbed by the events of the rebellion that the once great advocate of revolution called for the deaths of the men rebelling against ostensibly similar oppression. He would state "In monarchy the crime of treason may admit of being pardoned or lightly punished, but the man who dares rebel against the laws of republic ought to suffer death." George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799)[1] led Americas Continental Army to victory over Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), and in 1789 was elected the first President of the United States of America. ... For other uses, see Samuel Adams (disambiguation). ... Henry Knox (July 25, 1750 – October 25, 1806) was an American bookseller from Boston who became the chief artillery officer of the Continental Army and later the nations first Secretary of War. ...


However, not all founding fathers felt that the rebellion was a bad thing. On November 13, 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to New York senator William S. Smith saying, is the 317th day of the year (318th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1787 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... Thomas Jefferson (13 April 1743 N.S.–4 July 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–09), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of Republicanism in the United States. ... William Stephens Smith (November 8, 1755 - June 10, 1816) was a United States Representative from New York and a son-in-law of President John Adams, a brother-in-law of President John Quincy Adams and an uncle of Charles Francis Adams. ...

A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. …God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. …And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.[4]

In the aftermath of the Newburgh Conspiracy in 1783, the high cost of a standing army, and the country's discomfort with a standing army, the Confederation Congress had nearly completely demobilized the army. In the face of the increasing unrest through the fall of 1786, Knox ordered an expansion of the Continental Army; by mid-January, he'd managed to recruit only 100 men. The Newburgh Conspiracy was a plot hatched in 1783 near the end of the American Revolutionary War resulting from the fact that many of the officers and men of the Continental Army had not received pay for many years. ... 1783 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ...


Some of the nation's leaders had long been frustrated by the weakness of the Articles of Confederation. James Madison, for example, initiated several efforts to amend them, efforts that were blocked by small, but significant, minorities in Congress. Emboldened by his success in the Maryland-Virginia border dispute of 1784–5, Madison decided that decisions outside Congress were the only way for states to resolve their various commercial and other problems. Others within Congress worried that the government was too weak to turn back outside invasions, but the general sentiment against standing armies kept the power of the government small. The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, commonly known as the Articles of Confederation, was the first governing document, or constitution, of the United States of America. ... For other persons named James Madison, see James Madison (disambiguation). ...


As an extension of process of working out problems between the states, Madison and others decided to call for a gathering of the states in the fall of 1786. The Annapolis Convention held in Annapolis, Maryland September 11 to September 14, 1786 initially earned the acceptance of eight of the states, but several, including Massachusetts, backed out, in part due to suspicion at Virginia's motives. In the end, only twelve delegates from five states (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia) appeared. The Convention did not accomplish much other than to endorse delegate Alexander Hamilton's call for a new convention in Philadelphia to "render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union."[5] The Annapolis Convention was a meeting at Annapolis, Maryland of 12 delegates from five states (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia) that called for a constitutional convention. ... Annapolis redirects here. ... is the 254th day of the year (255th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 257th day of the year (258th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1786 was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... This article is about the U.S. state. ... This article is about the state. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... This article is about the U.S. State of Delaware. ... This article is about the U.S. state. ...


The events of Shays' Rebellion over the coming months would strengthen the hands of those who wanted a stronger central government, and persuade many who had been undecided as to the need for such a radical change. One of the key figures, George Washington, who had long been cool to the idea of strong centralized government, was frightened by the events in Massachusetts. By January 1787, he decided to come out of retirement and to attend the convention being called for the coming May in Philadelphia. At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a new, stronger government would be created under the United States Constitution. For other uses, see Philadelphia (disambiguation) and Philly. ... This article discusses the history of the United States Constitution. ... Wikisource has original text related to this article: The United States Constitution The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. ...


See also

John Friess Rebellion, also called the House Tax Rebellion, the Home Tax Rebellion or the Hot-Water Rebellion (Blitz Wasser in Pennsylvania Dutch because hot water was used to drive tax assessors from houses), is traditionally considered to have been an armed tax revolt led by a Pennsylvania farmer...

References

  1. ^ Rethinking the Articles of Confederation, by Scott Trask.
  2. ^ Swift, Esther M. West Springfield Massachusetts: A Town History. Copyright 1969, Town of West Springfield, Massachusetts. Library of Congress Catalog Number 77-96767. West Springfield Heritage Association; printed by F.A. Bassette Company, Springfield, Massachusetts. p. 37-41.
  3. ^ Richards, Shays' Rebellion, pp. 1–4, 129–30.
  4. ^ The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Vol 5, Collected and Edited by Paul Leicester Ford (1904) Letter from Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, Nov. 13, 1787 in The Online Library of Liberty.
  5. ^ Leonard, pp. 126–7.

Further reading

  • Collier, James Lincoln and Collier, Christopher. The Winter Hero (Four Winds Press, 1978). (The rebellion is the central story of this children's novel.)
  • Degenhard, William. The Regulators (The Dial Press, 1943; Second Chance Press, 1981).
  • Gross, Robert A., editor. In Debt to Shays: The Bicentennial of an Agrarian Rebellion, (Charlottesville: U. Press of Virginia, 1993).
  • Kaufman, Martin, editor. Shays' Rebellion: Selected Essays, (Westfield, Mass., 1987)
  • Martin, William. The Lost Constitution (2007). (The rebellion plays a central role in this novel.)
  • Minot, George Richards. History of the Insurrections in Massachusetts, 1788. (The earliest account of the rebellion. Although this account was deeply unsympathetic to the rural Regulators, it became the basis for most subsequent tellings, including the many mentions of the rebellion in Massachusetts town and state histories.)
  • Richards, Leonard. Shays' Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 2002). (A recent examination of the rebellion and its aftermath.)
  • Szatmary, David. Shays' Rebellion: The Making of an Agrarian Insurrection (Amherst: U. of Massachusetts Press, 1980). (Noteworthy for its reexamination of earlier interpretations of the rebellion.)

To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Christopher Collier (born 29 January 1930 in New York City) is an American historian and author. ... William Martin can refer to: William Martin (admiral), first Sea Lord of Britain in 1858-1859 William Martin (French sailor), a French sailor who won a silver medal at the 1900 Olympics. ...

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  Results from FactBites:
 
Shays' Rebellion (2448 words)
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.
Shays' Rebellion "had a great influence on public opinion," as Samuel Eliot Morison notes; it was the fiercest outbreak of discontent in the early republic, and public feeling ran high on both sides.
Shays' Rebellion had a generally unifying effect upon the supporters of a stronger national government, and it was a lesson frequently invoked on the floor of the Federal Convention during the summer of 1787.
Shays' Rebellion: Information From Answers.com (3515 words)
Shays' Rebellion is the name given to a series of protests in 1786 and 1787 by American farmers against state and local enforcement of tax collections and judgments for debt.
Shays' Rebellion was an armed uprising in western Massachusetts from 1786 to 1787.
Eventually the force for the rebellion was dissipated both by an improving economy and by elections that replaced some incumbents with individuals sympathetic to the rebellion.
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