American History / Shays Rebellion
Autor: Marry 04 October 2011
Words: 1843 | Pages: 8
May 13, 2011
Shay’s Rebellion in Central Massachusetts
In August 1786, ten years after the formation of the United States, farmers in Central Massachusetts, upset with taxing, began warlike preparations. During the past year, they had assembled and sent their grievances to the state government, while stating that they were still loyal to the state. When their pleas were ignored, the agrarians took matters into their own hands. Under the leadership of Adam Wheeler, they besieged and captured the Worcester Court House. Despite the use of force by the state, legislation was passed to ease tensions in the west (Stowe p. 57). The rebel’s actions not only affected Massachusetts, but they also influenced the new Constitution.
After the American Revolution, the United States possessed a heavy debt. The national government, however, under the Articles of Confederation, lacked the ability to establish taxes, leaving the task to the states. The state governments after the revolution were generally along the coast, far from the western parts of the state. Not only were most of the politicians wealthy merchants who wrote the laws to exclude themselves from having to pay taxes while everyone else was forced to pay taxes with specie (gold or silver), due to the unreliable banks’ currency, but under the 1780 Constitution in Massachusetts, it was nearly impossible for “regular folk” to enter the legislature. Along with farmers, Revolutionary veterans were upset with the state government because their pay had been pushed off for future redemption. These veterans helped the farmers organized into companies once the rebellion started (Zinn). Thomas Jefferson observed that the eastern states had “suffered by the stoppage of the channels of their commerce…This must render their money scarce and make the people uneasy” (A Letter From Thomas Jefferson to James Madison 1). This was especially true in Massachusetts, where “heavy taxation, massive indebtedness, and inflation caused by excessive printing of paper money” ran rampant. The farmers faced the most damage from the taxes and inflation, having their homes foreclosed or being sent to debtors’ prison (Malloy p.39). Not only were the people upset over the high taxes, they also faced “more voracious tax collectors at home” than the British had been (Holton p.29). Many rural citizens felt that there was a Boston influence over the courts (Stowe p.55). They were upset with their feeling of u...