Shays Rebellion

8 August 2016

Shay’s Rebellion was the revolt of Western Massachusetts farmers against their state legislature because they felt they were being unequally represented. The intention of this paper is to analyze the problems that led to Shays’ Rebellion and to describe the casual relationship it had with the ratification of the U. S. Constitution. Being able to help protect and support their personal lifestyles, which included their homes farms, and families was why Daniel Shays and other Western Massachusetts farmers started the rebellion. Farming was what the farmers relied on in order to live.

Many farmers lost just about everything they owned because the Massachusetts legislature’s refused to create more paper currency, lower taxes, and judicial reform. Shays’ Rebellion prompted Americans to ask themselves just how strong their government was. Flaws were exposed in the Articles of Confederation, which helped create a new form of government thanks to the men who recognized those flaws. The rebels involved in Shays’ Rebellion, including Shays who was a Captain under Washington, were veterans of the recent Revolutionary War.

Shays Rebellion Essay Example

After putting in their service for the Continental Army and winning independence for America, the farmers were hoping to get back to their everyday life on the farm. However, the Revolutionary War left the United States with substantial debt as well as a devastating economic depression, leaving the farmers in trouble from the start. The Articles of Confederation did not give the federal government the right to tax; it could only request money from states. The Massachusetts government did not hesitate to impose such high taxes on the farmers.

Conflicts quickly ensued between the farmers and the Massachusetts legislature. The legislature did not show respect or pity for the state’s farmers. Most of the legislators were wealthy merchants who only looked out for themselves and relied on the farmers for much of the state’s tax revenue. By having the government put the farmers in jail and auctioning off their farms because of unpaid debts, the 2 merchants began to have an upper authority over the farmers in Massachusetts.

Not having property made farmers lose their right to vote. The farmers were in desperate need for more currency in the state. Having the state produce more money would have helped farmers pay their debts instead of being tried in court. The legislature wanted to avoid inflation and did not want the face value of money to decline so it denied their appeal. The need of money was a significant influence to the spark of Shays’ Rebellion. Shays finally had enough of what he believed were unconstitutional acts.

He sent a letter to the Selectman of East Springfield regarding information that “the General Court are about adopting measures to bring the leaders of the late risings of the people to condign punishment, you are directed to assemble immediately all the inhabitants of your town, and provide that the town are furnished with ammunition, the militia with arms, and organized with officers agreeable to law. ” Many times did the farmers try and petition to the Massachusetts legislature and also the governor James Bowdoin, but nothing was solved and the Debtors Courts went along with their hearings.

Shays rallied hundreds of others farmers to protest against the state. Shays’ Rebellion took over the courthouses one by one beginning in Northampton. Being able to occupy and maintain control of the courthouses in Massachusetts meant that no more farmers would unjustly represented in court. In order to put an end to the chaos Shay’s Rebellion created, Massachusetts assembled its own army to fight back against the rebels. A letter from Worcester stated that the troops that supported the Massachusetts army came in with “high spirits, and additions are making to their numbers.

It is true that many of Shays Party are much dispirited, others I am told are boisterous. ” In Springfield, on January 25, 1787, Shays’ Rebellion tried to seize federal arsenal hoping it would have made them a 3 stronger and more serious force. Unfortunately, their plan failed because the arsenal was being successfully guarded by Major General William Shephard. Shays’ Rebellion was chased out by Shephard and his men, as they soon after found trouble by General Benjamin Lincoln and his militia.

As many farmers were captured, Shays was able to avoid getting caught and escaped to Vermont. This altercation was a key turning point in Shays’ Rebellion. John Hancock issued a proclamation, which was an attempt made to end Shays’ Rebellion. Hancock, portraying mercy and forgiveness, informed the people that the rebels involved may have been misled in their participation, and if those rebels were to come forward by September 12, 1787 and pledge an oath of allegiance to the state, their actions should be forgiven.

In the proclamation, Hancock states, “and I cannot but believe, that the good sense of my fellow-citizens, the regard the people have for the Constitution of civil government established by themselves; their knowledge of their true interest; the obvious necessity of good government by the sword, will unite all ranks and orders of men, in the pursuit of peace, good order and good obedience to the laws. ” Hancock knew a stronger form of government was a must. Hancock shortly after was elected as the new governor of Massachusetts.

As governor, Hancock lowered the unbearable taxes, and instantly issued a pardon for the members involved in Shays’ Rebellion. Shays’ gave Americans a scare because it made them think not only about what the consequences may have been if the revolt was successful, but it also made them think about future rebellions taking place over oppositions in government. There is no telling as to what Shays followers would have done if they had seized the federal arsenal in Springfield. Originally, the rights Shays’ 4

Rebellion was supposed to be accomplished in a nonviolent manner. The government knew that “the people are willing to lay down their arms on the condition of a general pardon, and return to their respectful homes. ” The legislature was wrong to abuse its powers against Shays and the farmers of Western Massachusetts. The farmers efforts to take action and not allowing courts from having their legal proceedings along with releasing fellow farmers out of jail, made the people question how safe their society was under its form of government.

Shays’ Rebellion had a lasting effect on Massachusetts and also on the federal government. It helped show some of the weaknesses the government had at the time and the changes it needed to make. The rebellion proved to other states that equal representation was needed in states in order to keep all citizens satisfied. All in all, Shays’ Rebellion had an important message for the framers of the Constitution in 1787.

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