Shays' Rebellion

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Shays' Rebellion was an armed uprising in central and western Massachusetts (mainly Springfield) from 1786 to 1787. The rebellion is named after Daniel Shays, a veteran of the American Revolutionary war.

The rebellion started on August 29, 1786, and by January 1787, over one thousand Shaysites had been arrested. 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, and four rebels were killed in the action. 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 Philadelphia Convention which began in May 17, 1787. Shays' Rebellion produced fears that the Revolution's democratic impulse had gotten out of hand.


Daniel Shays

Daniel Shays was a poor farmhand from Massachusetts when the Revolution broke out. He joined the Continental Army where he fought at Lexington, Bunker Hill, and Saratoga, and was eventually wounded in action. In 1780, he resigned from the army unpaid and went home to find himself in court for the nonpayment of debts. He soon found that he was not alone in being unable to pay his debts, and once even saw a sick woman who had her bed taken out from under her because she was also unable to pay.[1]

Mounting financial crisis

Shays' Rebellion saw some of its opening salvos in Central Massachusetts, in the town of Uxbridge, in Worcester County, on Feb. 3, 1783.[2][3] Gov. John Hancock suppressed local riots, after a request by Colonel Nathan Tyler of Uxbridge.[2][3] Lieutenant Simeon Wheelock, of the Town of Uxbridge died at Springfield, in 1786, while on duty, protecting the Armory.[4] Shays's Rebellion caused George Washington to emerge from retirement to advocate a stronger national government.[5]

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