What is Shey's Rebellion?

Updated: 4/28/2022
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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. The leader Daniel Shays was a former Captain in the Continental Army, under General George Washington. Daniel Shays and many other former Continental Army members and other now local farmers were being taxed out of their farm's and property. After many attempt's to have the Massachusetts Government respond and do something about these people losing their homes and livelihood's they organized many meeting, much like they did before the revolution to no avail. They then started closing down debtor courts and releasing imprisoned debtors from jail. This lead to the full scale revolt, 'Shay's Rebellion'.

Massachusetts Governor James Bowdoin organized the military force funded through taxes on eastern merchants to confront the rebels.

The importance of this rebellion is the closeness of George Washington to Captain Shay's and other's that were losing everything they fought against Britain to guarantee to everyone in America. This led George Washington to once again step up for his country and be the chair residing over the Constitutional Convention.

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 on May 17, 1787. Shays' Rebellion produced fears that the Revolution's democratic impulse had gotten out of hand.

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