Rebelião de Shays

Rebelião de Shays

Uma onda de execuções hipotecárias de fazendas no oeste de Massachusetts levou a jovem república ao seu primeiro episódio na luta de classes. Manifestantes e manifestantes protestaram contra a alta taxação, o alto salário do governador, custas judiciais e a recusa da assembléia em emitir papel-moeda (uma medida inflacionária altamente favorecida pela classe devedora). . Shays respondeu levantando uma milícia de 700 homens, muitos veteranos não pagos do Exército Continental. Eles marcharam primeiro para Worcester, onde fecharam a suprema corte da commonwealth, depois se voltaram para o oeste para Springfield, onde invadiram a prisão para libertar os devedores presos. Bostonians ricos, que temiam a rebelião no oeste, contribuíram com dinheiro para soldados sob o comando do general Benjamin Lincoln. Os rebeldes foram derrotados em uma escaramuça em janeiro de 1787. Shays escapou para Vermont e mais tarde foi perdoado. George Washington e outros pediram tratamento compassivo aos rebeldes e perdões foram finalmente concedidos. É interessante notar a inversão de papéis de pessoas como Samuel Adams. Por volta de 1780, no entanto, Adams havia se tornado uma figura estabelecida e pediu sentenças de morte para os principais rebeldes Shays. Abigail Adams também não tinha escrúpulos em relação aos rebeldes. Em uma carta a Thomas Jefferson, enquanto estava em Londres no final de 1787 e ele em Paris, ela descreveu o levante: "Deperados ignorantes e inquietos, sem consciência ou princípios, levaram uma multidão iludida a seguir seu padrão, sob o pretexto de queixas que não têm existência, mas em suas imaginações. " Ela elogiou as medidas firmes tomadas para acabar com a rebelião. A próxima eleição estadual em Massachusetts alterou a aparência da assembléia e levou à aprovação de uma série de medidas destinadas a melhorar as condições dos agricultores. No entanto, as forças conservadoras ficaram profundamente perturbadas com a anarquia no oeste e tornaram-se cada vez mais comprometidas com o fortalecimento do governo central.


Rebelião de Shays - História

Rebelião de Shays
História Digital ID 262

Autor: James Madison
Data: 1786

Historiadores certa vez caracterizaram a década de 1780 como o "período crítico" da história americana, quando a nova nação, oprimida por um sistema de governo inadequado, sofreu graves problemas econômicos, políticos e de política externa que ameaçaram sua independência. Embora seja possível exagerar as dificuldades do país durante os primeiros anos de independência, não há dúvida de que o país enfrentou sérios desafios.

Um problema era a ameaça de falência do governo. A nação devia US $ 160 milhões em dívidas de guerra e o Congresso não tinha poder de tributar e os estados raramente enviavam mais da metade das requisições do Congresso. A moeda nacional não valia nada. Para ajudar a pagar a dívida do governo, vários membros do Congresso propuseram a imposição de uma tarifa de 5% sobre as importações. Mas como os Artigos da Confederação exigiam a aprovação unânime da legislação, um único estado, Rhode Island, foi capaz de bloquear a medida.

O país também enfrentou graves problemas de política externa. A Espanha fechou o rio Mississippi ao comércio americano em 1784 e conspirou secretamente com os ocidentais (incluindo o famoso homem da fronteira Daniel Boone) para adquirir a área que viria a se tornar Kentucky e Tennessee. A Grã-Bretanha manteve postos militares no noroeste, em violação do tratado de paz que encerrou a Revolução, e tentou persuadir Vermont a se tornar uma província canadense.

A economia também apresentava sérios problemas. A Revolução teve um impacto perturbador, especialmente na economia do sul. Os proprietários perderam cerca de 60.000 escravos (incluindo cerca de 25.000 escravos na Carolina do Sul e 5.000 na Geórgia). Os novos regulamentos comerciais britânicos - as Ordens no Conselho de 1783 - proibiam a venda de muitos produtos agrícolas americanos nas Índias Ocidentais britânicas, um dos principais mercados do país, e exigia que as mercadorias fossem enviadas em navios britânicos. Os construtores de navios de Massachusetts, que construíram cerca de 125 navios um ano antes da guerra, construíram apenas 25 navios por ano após a guerra. Os mercadores, que compraram grandes quantidades de produtos britânicos após a guerra, acharam difícil vender essas mercadorias para americanos pressionados. Os estados protegeram os interesses locais impondo tarifas sobre o comércio interestadual.

Apesar de todos esses problemas, parece claro, em retrospecto, que a década de 1780 marcou um período crucial no desenvolvimento da economia americana. A produção dos agricultores aumentou drasticamente durante a década de 1780 - um desenvolvimento notável, dada a ausência de novas máquinas agrícolas. Os agricultores também mudaram significativamente seus investimentos de implementos agrícolas e de gado para formas mais líquidas de riqueza, como títulos e hipotecas. Enquanto isso, um número crescente de famílias agrícolas começou a produzir bens anteriormente importados da Grã-Bretanha. Ao mesmo tempo, os mercadores, livres das restrições comerciais britânicas, abriram comércio com a Ásia. Mas, para muitos americanos, os sinais de recuperação econômica permaneceram tênues.

As condições econômicas eram particularmente problemáticas em Massachusetts. As Ordens Britânicas no Conselho de 1783 desferiram um golpe severo nos comércios agrícolas, marítimos e de construção naval do estado. Para piorar as coisas, a legislatura estadual votou para pagar a dívida de guerra revolucionária do estado em três anos. Entre 1783 e 1786, os impostos sobre a terra aumentaram mais de 60 por cento entre eles.

Agricultores desesperados no oeste de Massachusetts exigiram cortes nos impostos sobre a propriedade e a adoção de leis de permanência para adiar as execuções hipotecárias. A câmara baixa do legislativo de Massachusetts aprovou medidas de socorro em 1786, mas os credores do leste persuadiram a câmara alta a rejeitar o pacote.

Os tribunais locais começaram a confiscar propriedades, implementos agrícolas e até mesmo móveis e roupas de fazendeiros como Daniel Shays (1747-1825), um veterano de guerra revolucionário. No final de agosto de 1786, mil fazendeiros no condado de Northampton fecharam o tribunal do país. Líderes estaduais amedrontados em Boston apelaram por apoio público. Os orientais arrecadaram 5.000 libras esterlinas para enviar um exército liderado pelo ex-general Continental Benjamin Lincoln para reprimir a rebelião.

Em janeiro de 1787, Shays e seus seguidores atacaram o arsenal federal em Springfield, mas foram expulsos. No início de fevereiro, o exército derrotou os rebeldes. Esses contratempos, junto com a redução de impostos da assembleia e a anistia para os líderes da rebelião, acabaram com o levante. A rebelião de Shays, no entanto, teve um significado mais amplo. Convenceu os líderes nacionais de que apenas um governo central forte poderia salvar a república do caos.

Considerando que foi prestada informação ao Supremo Executivo desta Comunidade, que na última terça-feira, 29 de agosto, sendo o dia designado por lei para a sessão do Tribunal de Fundamentos Comuns e Tribunal de Sessões Gerais de Paz, em Northampton. um grande aglomerado de pessoas, de várias partes desse condado, reunidas no Tribunal. muitos dos quais estavam armados com revólveres, espadas e outras armas mortais, e com batidas de tambores e fuzis tocando, em desacato e desafio aberto à autoridade deste Governo, o fizeram, por suas ameaças de violência e mantendo a posse do Tribunal até às 12 horas da noite do mesmo dia, impede a sessão do Tribunal e a administração ordeira da justiça nesse condado:

E considerando que esta ofensa arbitrária está repleta das consequências mais fatais e perniciosas, deve tender a subverter todas as leis e governos para dissolver nossa excelente Constituição e introduzir motins universais, anarquia e confusão, que provavelmente terminariam em despotismo absoluto, e conseqüentemente, destrói as perspectivas mais justas de felicidade política, com que qualquer povo já foi favorecido:

Portanto, achei adequado, por e com o conselho do Conselho, emitir esta Proclamação, apelando a todos os juízes, juízes, xerifes, policiais e outros oficiais, civis e militares dentro desta Comunidade, para prevenir e suprimir todos esses atos violentos e processos tumultuados.

E eu, por meio deste, de acordo com o dever indispensável que devo ao bom povo desta Comunidade, convido-os da maneira mais solene, pois eles valorizam as bênçãos da liberdade e independência, que às custas de tanto sangue e tesouro que adquiriram- - como eles consideram sua fé, que aos olhos de Deus e do mundo, eles prometeram que não decepcionariam as esperanças e, portanto, se tornariam desprezíveis aos olhos de outras nações, diante das quais subiram à glória e ao império- - como eles não iriam se privar da segurança derivada de uma sociedade bem regulamentada, para suas vidas, liberdades e propriedades e como eles não iriam delegar aos seus filhos, em vez de paz, liberdade e segurança, um estado de anarquia, confusão e escravidão.…

Fonte: Instituto Gilder Lehrman

Informações adicionais: Governador de Massachusetts, James Bowdoin, A Proclamation


Shays & # 8217 Rebellion & # 8211 Background

A casa de Daniel Shays em Pelham, MA (que foi destruída pela inundação da área criando o Quabbin na década de 1930 & # 8217) era, como a maioria nesta rebelião, um fazendeiro

O oeste de Massachusetts foi o marco zero para Shays & # 8217 Rebellion (1786-1788). Pessoas e instituições Lenox fizeram parte da ação.

Não apenas Shays, não revolução

Do jeito que muitos de nós ouvimos, a revolução após a Revolução acelerou a criação de uma nova Constituição e a tendência a um governo central forte. Esta & # 8220revolução & # 8221 tinha algo para todos os historiadores do futuro olharem para trás: rural x urbano, conservadores ricos x fazendeiros endividados, moeda forte x moeda fraca e governo distante ignorando as demandas de seus cidadãos.

No entanto, a história desta & # 8220revolução & # 8221 fomentou vários equívocos de longa duração.

  • Daniel Shays foi um dos vários líderes de uma revolta em grande parte espontânea; não está claro por que seu nome está ligado ao levante. Os participantes frequentemente se autodenominavam Reguladores após uma revolta pré-revolucionária nas Carolinas.
  • & # 8220Revolução & # 8221 é um nome impróprio de duas maneiras: (a) os protagonistas não eram uma turba sem camisa (a maioria possuía suas próprias fazendas) nem abandonaram o império da lei (até que parecesse que não tinham escolha), (b) havia muito medo e preparação militar por parte dos conservadores do governo, mas na verdade apenas um encontro que poderia ser chamado de batalha.

Pode-se argumentar que o triunfo dos mercadores conservadores de Boston neste intercâmbio - e o futuro governo central federalista & # 8211 foi quase uma contra-revolução. Não surpreendentemente, o símbolo para os Shaysites era um ramo de folha perene & # 8212 o símbolo tradicional de liberdade e independência para bandeiras e moedas de Massachusetts.

Razões para Shays e # 8217 Rebelião

Uma revisão de parte da literatura sobre o tópico * indica que as razões incluem o seguinte.

-Nós, como uma nação nova e pouco organizada, não aprendemos como responder às preocupações dos cidadãos por meio da legislação & # 8211 e tínhamos uma infraestrutura limitada para fazê-lo. Os tribunais oficiais estavam apenas começando a ser convocados novamente.

-A perda de chefes de família (temporários e permanentes), a inflação e a falta de pagamento militar geraram enormes dificuldades para as comunidades rurais que apoiaram ativamente a Revolução.

-Para tornar as coisas ainda piores, com o aumento do comércio, a necessidade de dinheiro aumentou. Os fazendeiros de subsistência do oeste de Massachusetts ainda estavam longe de operar em regime de caixa e o dinheiro que havia era papel-moeda sem valor, emitido pelo Congresso Continental ou pelo governo estadual durante a Guerra da Revolução. A cobrança de dívidas em moeda forte por comerciantes (principalmente de Boston) (que precisavam fornecer moeda forte para negociar no exterior) acelerou e se espalhou por um país com forte falta de caixa e comprado em dívidas.

- Foram levantadas objeções não apenas ao fato da cobrança das dívidas, mas à forma de cobrança. Normalmente, no que ainda era em grande parte uma economia de troca de agricultores produzindo a maioria de seus bens para consumo ou troca local, a coleta era altamente negociável quanto ao que era coletado (por exemplo, nem sempre em moeda forte) e com que rapidez.

-Bem, houve uma revolução, então a ideia de protestar contra o que parecia injusto se tornou plausível. A infalibilidade de distantes (seja Londres ou Boston) & # 8220betters & # 8221 era menos aceita do que antes da Revolução.

Protestos iniciados com ações contra cobrança de dívidas

Já em 1782 (antes do fim oficial da guerra), os cidadãos levantavam questões por meio de assembleias municipais e protestos às autoridades locais sobre a brusquidão incomum na cobrança de dívidas. Cada vez mais reuniões municipais, representantes do governo estadual e convenções de condados foram solicitados a solicitar o uso de papel corrente, suspensão da cobrança de dívidas ou, pelo menos, o retorno a práticas mais consistentes com os costumes agrários anteriores.

Em fevereiro de 1782, uma turba de trezentos homens tentou obstruir os procedimentos do Tribunal de Apelações Comuns em Pittsfield (o tribunal do condado de Berkshire se reuniu em Pittsfield e Great Barrington até que Lenox foi escolhido como sede do condado). Mais tarde naquele ano, os fazendeiros do condado de Berkshire interromperam a reintegração de posse de uma equipe de bois para pagar dívidas. Foi apenas o começo.

Ação e Reação

800 Fechar Tribunal em Great Barrington em setembro de 1786

Em 1786, os fazendeiros estavam perdidos e os protestos começaram a se tornar mais militantes. Quase 1.500 interromperam o Tribunal de Fundamentos Comuns em 29 de agosto de 1786 em Northampton. Ações semelhantes ocorreram em outras partes de Massachusetts, incluindo 800 reguladores da Berkshire que fecharam o tribunal em Great Barrington em setembro (Lenox havia sido nomeado o novo local para o tribunal em 1782, mas as sessões do tribunal ainda eram em Great Barrington). A causa citada diretamente foram os varejistas que buscavam o pagamento imediato em espécie.

Os manifestantes trancaram os juízes até que três (Whiting, Barker e Goodrich reunidos na casa de Whiting & # 8217) assinaram um acordo que eles não se encontrariam até que fossem feitas revisões na constituição do estado.

O protesto de Great Barrington foi um caso de repetição da história, uma vez que esses tribunais de Great Barrington foram fechados em 1774 em protesto contra juízes nomeados pelo governo real em Boston & # 8230 efetivamente iniciando a Revolução em Berkshires.

Em breve herói da guerra federalista e revolucionária, o general John Paterson pediu paciência e não violência em uma convenção Lenox em agosto e liderou a milícia estadual para proteger os tribunais em setembro. Paterson representou decididamente a facção conservadora e é (Szatmary, p. 81) relatado que quando ele marchou em Great Barrington muitos daqueles em suas forças de milícia se recusaram a lutar contra seus camaradas que protestavam.

Outros líderes da facção pró-governo incluíram nomes que continuaram a aparecer no início da história federalista de Lenox e do condado de Berkshire:

Os protestos continuaram e, no início de outubro, mais de 200 reguladores fecharam novamente o tribunal no condado de Berkshire.

A rebelião não tinha uma organização formal, mas era de importância limitada, uma vez que a maioria das ações era realizada por vizinhos e parentes unidos. No condado de Berkshire, os Looses, Nobles e Dodges de Egremont ajudaram a impedir o tribunal em Great Barrington, junto com Issac Van Burgh e seu filho Issac, Jr., os irmãos Enoch e Stephen Meachum, e Moses Hubbard e seus três filhos de Sheffield. As famílias Loveland e Morse de Tyringham também se aliaram aos Shaysites (Shay & # 8217s Rebellion, David Szatmary, p. 62).

The Life of John Paterson: Major General In The Revolutionary Army, de Thomas Egleston, G.P Putnam & # 8217s Sons, New York, NY, 1894

Shays & # 8217 Rebellion and the Constitution in American History, de Mary E. Hull, Onslow Publishers, Inc., Berkley Heights, NJ, 2000

Shay & # 8217s Rebellion The American Revolution & # 8217s Final Battle, de Leonard L. Richards, University of Pennsylvania Press, Filadélfia, PA, 2002

Shays & # 8217 Rebellion The Making of an Agrarian Insurrection, de David P. Szatmary, The University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA, 1980


Lenox e Shays & # 8217 Rebelião

Repressão em resposta ao desespero

Agricultores com dívidas fecharam os tribunais do condado de Berkshire duas vezes no outono de 1786.

Os fazendeiros da zona rural de Massachusetts vinham lutando com dívidas e a falta de resposta de seus representantes desde antes do fim da Guerra Revolucionária. Em 1786 os protestos estavam aumentando. Os reguladores, como se autodenominavam, fecharam o tribunal do condado de Berkshire duas vezes no outono de 1786.

Cerca de 9.000 agricultores em Massachusetts acabaram se envolvendo em protestos contra a cobrança de dívidas dos comerciantes e dos tribunais. A milícia local era composta, em grande parte, de fazendeiros e simpatizantes dos reguladores. A elite de orientação comercial pediu a Henry Knox para formar (e financiar) um exército para proteger seus interesses e complementar a milícia local. Knox hesitou, mas o veterano da Guerra da Independência, Benjamin Lincoln, defendeu a causa.

Imitando seus predecessores britânicos pré-revolucionários, a legislatura dominada por Boston aprovou leis no outono de 1786 que legalizava punições severas às multidões reunidas para protestar ou tumultuar. Finalmente, em novembro de 1786, eles suspenderam o habeas corpus (permitindo-lhes apreender e prender manifestantes por um período indefinido de tempo sem fiança). Autorizou a prisão e encarceramento de qualquer pessoa suspeita de ser hostil ao governo. Além disso, eles aprovaram um projeto de lei que impede a disseminação de relatórios falsos criticando o governo.

Em uma tentativa de separar os Shaysites, a legislatura ofereceu ainda uma oportunidade de receber indenização total se eles fizessem um juramento de fidelidade ao governo.

A ameaça da força e da ação legal (sem abordar os problemas de dívida na raiz do protesto) ganhou pouco terreno com os reguladores.

Do Protesto à Rebelião

Muitos Shaysitas (incluindo figuras-chave como Daniel Shays, Luke Day e Reuben Dickinson) tinham experiência militar. Eles sabiam (fosse uma milícia leal ao governo ou um exército pago de Boston) que as tropas estavam vindo para reprimir novas ações. Eles precisavam de armas. O maior esconderijo de armas na Nova Inglaterra estava no Arsenal de Springfield.

Arsenal de Springfield invadido para armas em janeiro de 1787 & # 8211 a última e única ação militar importante

Em janeiro de 1787, os Shaysitas atacaram o Arsenal de Springfield. Foi defendido com sucesso pelo veterano da Guerra da Independência, William Shepard.

Enquanto isso, Benjamin Lincoln, o defensor fracassado de Charleston durante a Revolução, estava atrás dos rebeldes com um exército financiado e armado por Boston. Os reguladores fugiram primeiro para sua área de origem & # 8211 Pelham & # 8211 e depois para o norte para Vermont e a oeste para os Berkshires se dividindo em grupos menores.

Enquanto isso, de volta ao Condado de Berkshire

O general John Paterson deve ter voltado para casa, para alguma prosperidade, construindo esta linda casa em 1783. Ela ainda está em 7 Main St.

O general John Paterson foi o líder da milícia Berkshire e um defensor dos interesses conservadores nas convenções de Pittsfield e Lenox de 1782-1786.

Os shaysitas, quando chegaram ao condado de Berkshire, haviam diminuído para 300-400 homens dispersos e mal armados, mas ainda pareciam ter gerado simpatia suficiente com a população e membros da milícia para alarmar Paterson.

Stockbridge, 31 de janeiro de 1787

Senhor: O desespero das facções do condado contra o governo induziu uma espécie de frenesi, cujos efeitos foram uma propagação laboriosa de falsidade e deturpação de fatos, e a conseqüente agitação das mentes da multidão iludida.

Ontem à noite, por expresso de várias partes do Condado, fui informado da ocorrência de insurreições. Minha única segurança nas presentes circunstâncias será tentar evitar uma junção dos insurgentes, que provavelmente não pode ser efetuada sem o derramamento de sangue para me livrar desta situação desagradável, portanto, peço-lhe, Senhor, que envie em meu auxílio um suficiente livre para evitar a necessidade de adoção dessa medida. & # 8221 (Egleston p. 186)

No final de fevereiro, Benjamin Lincoln estava em Pittsfield, mas havia libertado a milícia. Sua força havia diminuído para 30 homens.

A rebelião começou a se desintegrar em invasão de domicílios e ilegalidade geral no final do inverno de 1787

Na verdade, a & # 8220revolução & # 8221 pode ter começado a se desintegrar em um colapso geral da lei e da ordem entre Reguladores cada vez mais desanimados. Várias histórias que foram preservadas pintam o quadro.

Pouco antes de Benjamin Lincoln chegar a Pittsfield 250 rebeldes, sob o comando de Peter Wilcox, Jr. reuniu-se em Lee para mais uma vez bloquear o tribunal. Paterson e 300 milícias saíram para se opor a eles. Os rebeldes se abrigaram em Perry Hill e pegaram uma viga do tear da Sra. Perry & # 8217 e o manipularam para parecer um cânone. Os homens de Paterson e # 8217 bateram em retirada.

Mum Bet protegeu a casa Sedgwick em Stockbridge dos rebeldes

Durante o mesmo inverno de 1787, rebeldes sob o capitão Perez Hamlin (de Lenox, mas residindo em Nova York na época) Massachusetts e tentaram pilhar, entre outras coisas, a casa do líder conservador & # 8211 Theodore Sedgwick. A famosa Mum Bet escondeu a prata da família e tornou-se, mais uma vez, uma grande heroína.

Pouco depois, Hamlin e seus homens prenderam 32 homens, incluindo Elisha Williams e Henry Hopkins. Com esses prisioneiros e seu butim, eles seguiram para Great Barrington e, em seguida, em trenós, em direção a Sheffield.

O fim da insurgência e as consequências

O marcador que nota o fim da rebelião de Shays foi instalado em Sheffield cerca de 100 anos após o evento

Eles foram perseguidos por Ingersoll e Goodrich de Great Barrington, Coronel Ashley de Sheffield e mais tarde William Walker de Lenox. Parece ter sido algo em torno de 100 homens de cada lado, mas os registros são um tanto contraditórios. Eles lutaram contra Sheffield e Egremont dos dias modernos. Entre os mortos estavam Solomon Glezen, que fora feito prisioneiro em Stockbridge e supostamente usado como escudo humano.

Os prisioneiros excederam a capacidade da prisão de Great Barrington e o excesso foi levado para Lenox. A maioria recebeu perdão.

A maioria dos líderes reguladores fugiu para Nova York ou Vermont, de modo que os tribunais de Berkshire foram um tanto pressionados para encontrar um número apropriado de rebeldes para punir. Dois foram arrancados da prisão de Great Barrington por suas esposas Molly Wilcox e Abigail Austin (realmente contrabandearam serras e tudo mais).

Dois, John Bly e Charles Rose, foram enforcados em Lenox (aparentemente a partir do outono de 1787 ocupando seu lugar como o centro legal do condado). Richards (p. 41) suspeita que eles eram culpados de não muito mais do que arrombar e entrar em uma atmosfera de ilegalidade, mas tinham poucos contatos, então sofreram uma queda que muitos outros evitaram.

O juiz Whiting, que simpatizou com os rebeldes nos protestos de 1786 nos tribunais de Great Barrington, foi atacado pelo forte federalista Theodore Sedgwick. É provável que outros simpatizantes em posições de autoridade tenham tido o mesmo destino de exclusão.

Como todos sabem, Shays Rebellion apoiou os argumentos de homens como James Madison, George Washington e Alexander Hamilton de que a confederação solta que havia vencido a guerra contra a Grã-Bretanha precisava ser fortalecida. Nem é preciso dizer que Thomas Jefferson, então embaixador na França, discordou.

Uma reunião de maio de 1787 do Congresso Continental foi convocada e realizada antes do ataque ao Arsenal de Springfield em janeiro de 1787. Muitos delegados decidiram vir após ouvir sobre os levantes de 1786-1787 em Massachusetts.

A resultante Constituição dos Estados Unidos agora incluía disposições como a criação de um exército nacional que pudesse suprimir a revolta. Quem sabe o que teria acontecido com a Constituição enviada aos estados em setembro de 1787 se os legisladores estaduais não estivessem preocupados (talvez indevidamente) em cair no caos & # 8211 o resultado percebido se os Reguladores tivessem sucesso.

The Life of John Paterson: Major General In The Revolutionary Army, de Thomas Egleston, G.P Putnam & # 8217s Sons, New York, NY, 1894

Shays & # 8217 Rebellion and the Constitution in American History, de Mary E. Hull, Onslow Publishers, Inc., Berkley Heights, NJ, 2000

Shay & # 8217s Rebellion The American Revolution & # 8217s Final Battle, de Leonard L. Richards, University of Pennsylvania Press, Filadélfia, PA, 2002

Shays & # 8217 Rebellion The Making of an Agrarian Insurrection, de David P. Szatmary, The University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA, 1980


Rebelião de Shays

Uma violenta insurreição no interior de Massachusetts durante 1786 e 1787, a Rebelião de Shays foi provocada por uma crise de dívida monetária no final da Guerra Revolucionária Americana. Embora Massachusetts tenha sido o ponto focal da crise, outros estados passaram por dificuldades econômicas semelhantes. Em particular, os veteranos do Exército Continental e da milícia estadual tiveram dificuldades, pois muitos receberam pouco em termos de pagamento ou reembolso pelo serviço militar. Entre esses ex-soldados descontentes estava o capitão do Exército Continental Daniel Shays, que liderou um violento levante contra a cobrança de dívidas em Massachusetts. A rebelião preparou o cenário para o retorno de George Washington à vida política e destacou as fraquezas inerentes aos Artigos da Confederação. Após a rebelião de Shays, os Estados Unidos tornaram-se uma nação mais forte, com uma nova Constituição e George Washington como seu primeiro presidente.

Após a Guerra Revolucionária, os mercadores na Europa e na América sentiram a necessidade de controlar as enormes dívidas que tinham, recusando novos empréstimos e, ao mesmo tempo, exigindo pagamento em dinheiro por quaisquer bens e serviços futuros. Essa demanda por moeda forte causou uma reação em cadeia, acabando por colocar o mutuário americano médio sob cronogramas de pagamento irrealistas, dada a pequena quantidade de dinheiro em circulação. À medida que os agricultores começaram a perder terras e propriedades para os cobradores de dívidas, os sentimentos hostis transbordaram, especialmente entre os que deviam pagamento pelo serviço militar. Em setembro de 1786, Henry Lee escreveu a Washington que a inquietação "não se limitava a um estado ou parte de um estado", mas afetava "o todo". 1 Washington escreveu a amigos como David Humphreys e Henry Knox, transmitindo seu alarme com a virada dos acontecimentos nos Estados Unidos e, em resposta, recebeu relatórios que confirmaram seus temores.

Os protestos no oeste de Massachusetts tornaram-se mais tumultuados em agosto de 1786, depois que a assembléia legislativa estadual não conseguiu atender a nenhuma das inúmeras petições que recebeu sobre o alívio da dívida. Daniel Shays rapidamente subiu na hierarquia dos dissidentes, tendo participado do protesto no tribunal de Northampton no final de agosto. Os seguidores de Shays se autodenominavam "reguladores", em referência a um movimento de reforma na Carolina do Norte ocorrido duas décadas antes. Depois que a legislatura estadual falhou em atender às petições do grupo, Shays liderou protestos organizados em audiências no tribunal do condado, bloqueando efetivamente o trabalho dos cobradores de dívidas. Em resposta à crise crescente, Washington escreveu desesperadamente a Humphreys, preocupado com o fato de que "comoções desse tipo, como bolas de neve, ganham força à medida que rolam, se não houver oposição na maneira de dividi-las e destruí-las". 2

Em dezembro de 1786, o conflito entre os credores do leste de Massachusetts e os fazendeiros rurais do oeste aumentou. O governador de Massachusetts, James Bowdoin, mobilizou uma força de 1.200 milicianos para combater Shays. O exército era liderado pelo ex-general do Exército Continental Benjamin Lincoln e financiado por mercadores privados. As forças de Lincoln previram que os Reguladores invadiriam o arsenal federal em Springfield, Massachusetts, e estavam esperando quando Shays se aproximou do arsenal com aproximadamente 1.500 homens em 25 de janeiro de 1787. O exército disparou tiros de advertência seguidos de fogo de artilharia, matando quatro dos insurgentes e ferindo vinte. A força rebelde rapidamente vacilou e se espalhou pelo campo. Muitos participantes foram capturados posteriormente e a maioria dos homens, incluindo Shays, acabou recebendo anistia como parte de um perdão geral.

Em fevereiro de 1787, depois que a rebelião de Shays foi reprimida, Knox relatou a Washington sobre as operações bem-sucedidas de Lincoln. Washington respondeu a Knox que "Na perspectiva do feliz término desta insurreição, eu sinceramente parabenizo você, esperando que o bem possa resultar da nuvem de males que ameaçava, não apenas o hemisfério de Massachusetts, mas espalhando sua influência nociva, a tranquilidade do União." 3 A rebelião questionou seriamente o estado das finanças do país e a viabilidade do fraco governo nacional de acordo com os Artigos da Confederação. Shays' Rebellion accelerated calls to reform the Articles, eventually resulting in the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. The Convention elected Washington as its president and ultimately produced the Constitution of the United States. Thus, in no small way, Shays' Rebellion contributed to Washington&rsquos return to public life and the creation of a strong federal government more capable of addressing the pressing economic and political needs of a new nation.

Rahul Tilva
George Washington University

Notes:
1. "Henry Lee to George Washington, 8 September 1786," The Papers of George Washington Digital Edition, ed. Theodore J. Crackel (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Rotunda, 2008).

2. "George Washington to David Humphreys, 22 October 1786," The Papers of George Washington Digital Edition.

3. "George Washington to Henry Knox, 25 February 1787," The Papers of George Washington Digital Edition.

Bibliography:
Maier, Pauline. Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010.

Szatmary, David P. Shays' Rebellion: The Making of an Agrarian Insurrection. Amherst University of Massachusetts Press, 1980.

Richards, Leonard. Shays' Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.


Seeking information about Shays' Rebellion

Was there something specific that you want to know about Shays' Rebellion.

There is a lot of information online as per the following.

Re: Seeking information about Shays' Rebellion
Jason Atkinson 25.09.2020 9:05 (в ответ на William Rivera)

Obrigado por postar sua solicitação no History Hub!

We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774 - 1789 in the Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention (Record Group 360). According to the Index, The papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 pages 4794-4795 , these records include a number of documents related to Shays’ Rebellion. For further information, please contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) via email at [email protected] .

Devido à pandemia COVID-19 e de acordo com as orientações recebidas do Escritório de Gestão e Orçamento (OMB), o NARA ajustou suas operações normais para equilibrar a necessidade de concluir seu trabalho de missão crítica, ao mesmo tempo em que aderiu ao distanciamento social recomendado para o segurança do pessoal NARA. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT1. Pedimos desculpas por este inconveniente e agradecemos sua compreensão e paciência.

As part of our on-going commitment to preserve our records, the National Archives has entered into partnerships with Ancestry and Fold3 to digitize some of NARA's holdings. These records are online via Fold3 as the data collection Continental Congress - Papers . It may require a subscription to Fold3 to view them on that website. Some libraries provide free access to Fold3 to their patrons.

We also searched the National Archives’ website Founders Online and located 199 results that reference the rebellion either in the document itself or the annotation to the document.

Because the uprising happened in Massachusetts, we recommend contacting the Massachusetts Archives Division . Their website lists several volumes (Volumes 189-192) with records pertaining to Shays’ Rebellion, and there may be additional related holdings.

Plus, the Massachusetts Historical Society has the Benjamin Lincoln Papers and the Shays' Rebellion papers , and may have other related holdings. Their website includes the article  &ldquoThis Convulsed Commonwealth”: Daniel Shays Attempts to Call a Truce during Shays’ Rebellion, the Agrarian Revolt Named for Him . We recommend contacting them for further assistance. There may be local historical societies and commissions which can assist you.

In addition, we searched the Library of Congress’s catalog and located a number of documents, books, and other materials . Reference questions may be submitted using their Ask a Librarian service.

WorldCat lists quite a few books and other materials related to Shays’ Rebellion .

Next, we located a number of web pages on the topic. Some of them have bibliographies which may suggest avenues for further research. A few examples are listed below.

  • https://www.history.com/topics/early-us/shays-rebellion
  • https://www.ushistory.org/US/15a.asp
  • https://www.britannica.com/event/Shayss-Rebellion
  • https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/shays-rebellion/
  • https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/on-this-day-shays-rebellion-starts-in-massachusetts
  • https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/on-this-day-shays-rebellion-was-thwarted
  • https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/10-reasons-why-americas-first-constitution-failed
  • https://www.si.edu/object/daniel-shays-and-job-shattuck%3Anpg_NPG.75.25
  • https://www.colonialsociety.org/node/2732
  • http://www.westfield.ma.edu/historical-journal/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Shays%E2%80%99-Rebellion-Reclaiming-the-Revolution-by-Tom-Goldscheider.pdf
  • https://www.americanantiquarian.org/proceedings/44806573.pdf
  • https://www.worthingtonhistoricalsociety.org/wordpress/?p=1981

Finally, we suggest working with your local libraries to locate books and journal articles.


The Punishment Phase

In exchange for immediate amnesty from prosecution, some 4,000 individuals signed confessions acknowledging their participation in the Rebellion.

Several hundred participants were later indicted on a range charges relating to the rebellion. While most were pardoned, 18 men were sentenced to death. Two of them, John Bly and Charles Rose of Berkshire County, were hanged for thievery on December 6, 1787, while the rest were either pardoned, had their sentences commuted, or had their convictions overturned on appeal.

Daniel Shays, who had been hiding in the Vermont forest since fleeing from his failed attack on the Springfield Armory, returned to Massachusetts after being pardoned in 1788. He later settled near Conesus, New York, where he lived in poverty until his death in 1825.


For Further Reading

Feer, Robert A. Shays&rsquos Rebellion. New York: Garland, 1988. Harvard Dissertations in American History and Political Science. A facsimile reprinting of Robert Feer&rsquos comprehensive 1958 Harvard University Ph. D. thesis.

In Debt to Shays: the Bicentennial of an Agrarian Rebellion. Ed. by Robert A. Gross. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993. Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Vol. 65. The volume consists of selections from papers presented at conferences sponsored by the Colonial Society of Massachusetts and Historic Deerfield, Inc. in 1986.

Maier, Pauline. Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010. Pauline Maier discusses the influence of Shays&rsquo Rebellion on calls for a constitutional convention, and then on the ratification of the Constitution in Massachusetts.

Minot, George R. The History of the Insurrections in Massachusetts in the Year MDCCLXXXVI, and the Rebellion Consequent Thereon. Worcester, Mass.: Isaiah Thomas, 1788. The first published history of Shays&rsquo Rebellion. Although an apology for the state government written by the clerk of the House of Representatives, Minot, a founding member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, wrote in the immediate aftermath of the events he describes.

Parmenter, Charles O. History of Pelham, Mass. from 1738 to 1898, including the Early History of Prescott. Amherst, Mass.: Press of Carpenter & Morehouse, 1898. Rufus Putnam&rsquos account of his interview with Daniel Shays is reprinted on p. 395-398.

Richards, Leonard L. Shays&rsquos Rebellion: The American Revolution&rsquos Last Battle. Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.

Robert Treat Paine papers, 1659-1916. Massachusetts Historical Society. Attorney General Robert Treat Paine's records of his investigation of the Shaysites, including his "Black List" for Hampshire County, are on reel 17 on the microfilm edition of his papers.

Shays&rsquo Rebellion papers, 1786-1787. Massachusetts Historical Society. An artificial collection of manuscript documents, acquired by the Historical Society between 1938 and 1985, that includes the 25 January 1787 letter from Daniel Shays and Daniel Gray to Benjamin Lincoln. The letter, with other Shays-related documents, was purchased from the William Randolph Hearst collection in 1938.

Shays&rsquo Rebellion: Selected Essays. Ed. by Martin Kaufman. Westfield, Mass.: Institute for Massachusetts Studies, Westfield State College, 1987.

Szatmary, David P. Shays&rsquo Rebellion: the Making of an Agrarian Insurrection. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1980.

Taylor, Robert J. Western Massachusetts in the Revolution. Providence: Brown University Press, 1954. Taylor places the agrarian unrest in Massachusetts after the Revolution in a broader context.


Shays` Rebellion - History

Daniel Shays became a divisive figure, to some a violent rebel seeking to upend the new American government, to others an upholder of the true revolutionary virtues Shays and others fought for. This contemporary depiction of Shays and his accomplice Job Shattuck portrays them in the latter light as rising “illustrious from the Jail.” Unidentified Artist, Daniel Shays and Job Shattuck, 1787. Wikimedia.

In 1786 and 1787, a few years after the Revolution ended, thousands of farmers in western Massachusetts were struggling under a heavy burden of debt. Their problems were made worse by weak local and national economies. The farmers wanted the Massachusetts government to protect them from their creditors, but the state supported the lenders instead. As creditors threatened to foreclose on their property, many of these farmers, including Revolutionary veterans, took up arms.

Led by a fellow veteran named Daniel Shays, these armed men, the “Shaysites,” resorted to tactics like the patriots had used before the Revolution, forming blockades around courthouses to keep judges from issuing foreclosure orders. These protestors saw their cause and their methods as an extension of the “Spirit of 1776” they were protecting their rights and demanding redress for the people’s grievances.

Governor James Bowdoin, however, saw the Shaysites as rebels who wanted to rule the government through mob violence. He called up thousands of militiamen to disperse them. A former Revolutionary general, Benjamin Lincoln, led the state force, insisting that Massachusetts must prevent “a state of anarchy, confusion and slavery.” In January 1787, Lincoln’s militia arrested more than one thousand Shaysites and reopened the courts.

Daniel Shays and other leaders were indicted for treason, and several were sentenced to death, but eventually Shays and most of his followers received pardons. Their protest, which became known as Shays’ Rebellion, generated intense national debate. While some Americans, like Thomas Jefferson, thought “a little rebellion now and then” helped keep the country free, others feared the nation was sliding toward anarchy and complained that the states could not maintain control. For nationalists like James Madison of Virginia, Shays’ Rebellion was a prime example of why the country needed a strong central government. “Liberty,” Madison warned, “may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as the abuses of power.”


Shays' Rebellion 1786-1787

"Shays' Rebellion was an armed uprising that took place in central and western Massachusetts in 1786 and 1787. The rebellion was named after Daniel Shays , a veteran of the American Revolutionary War and one of the rebel leaders.

The rebellion started on August 29, 1786. It was precipitated by several factors: financial difficulties brought about by a post-war economic depression, a credit squeeze caused by a lack of hard currency , and fiscally harsh government policies instituted in 1785 to solve the state's debt problems. Protesters, including many war veterans, shut down county courts in the later months of 1786 to stop the judicial hearings for tax and debt collection. The protesters became radicalized against the state government following the arrests of some of their leaders, and began to organize an armed force. A militia raised as a private army defeated a Shaysite (rebel) attempt to seize the federal Springfield Armory in late January 1787, killing four and wounding 20. The main Shaysite force was scattered on February 4, 1787, after a surprise attack on their camp in Petersham, Massachusetts . Scattered resistance continued until June 1787, with the single most significant action being an incident in Sheffield in late February, where 30 rebels were wounded (one mortally) in a skirmish with government troops.

The rebellion took place in a political climate where reform of the country's governing document, the Articles of Confederation , was widely seen as necessary. The events of the rebellion, most of which occurred after the Philadelphia Convention had been called but before it began in May 1787, are widely seen to have affected the debates on the shape of the new government. The exact nature and consequence of the rebellion's influence on the content of the Constitution and the ratification debates continues to be a subject of historical discussion and debate.

In the rural parts of New England , particularly in central and western Massachusetts , the economy during the American Revolutionary War had been one of little more than subsistence agriculture . Most residents in these areas had little in the way of assets beyond their land, and often bartered with one another for goods or services. In lean times, farmers might obtain goods on credit from suppliers in local market towns who would be paid when times were better. [1]

In the more economically developed coastal areas of Massachusetts Bay , the economy was basically a market economy , driven by the activities of wholesale merchants dealing with Europe, the West Indies and elsewhere on the North American coast. [2] Not surprisingly, the state government was dominated by this merchant class. [3]

Populist Governor John Hancock refused to crack down on tax delinquencies, and accepted devalued paper currency for debts.

When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, the European business partners of Massachusetts merchants refused to extend lines of credit to them and insisted that goods be paid for with hard currency. Despite the continent-wide shortage of such currency, merchants began to demand the same from their local business partners, including those merchants operating in the market towns in the state's interior. [4] Many of these merchants passed on this demand to their customers, although the popular governor, John Hancock , did not impose hard currency demands on poorer borrowers and refused to actively prosecute the collection of delinquent taxes. [5]

The rural farming population was generally unable to meet the demands being made of them by merchants or the civil authorities, and individuals began to lose their land and other possessions when they were unable to fulfill their debt and tax obligations. This led to strong resentments against tax collectors and the courts, where creditors obtained and enforced judgments against debtors, and where tax collectors obtained judgments authorizing property seizures. [6]

At a meeting convened by aggrieved commoners, a farmer, Plough Jogger, encapsulated the situation: [7]

"I have been greatly abused, have been obliged to do more than my part in the war, been loaded with class rates, town rates, province rates, Continental rates and all rates . been pulled and hauled by sheriffs, constables and collectors, and had my cattle sold for less than they were worth . The great men are going to get all we have and I think it is time for us to rise and put a stop to it, and have no more courts, nor sheriffs, nor collectors nor lawyers."

Governor James Bowdoin instituted a heavy tax burden and stepped up collection of back taxes.

Overlaid upon these financial issues was the fact that veterans of the war had received little pay during the war and faced difficulty collecting back pay owed them from the State or the Congress of the Confederation . [7] Some of the soldiers, Daniel Shays among them, began to organize protests against these oppressive economic conditions. Shays was a poor farmhand from Massachusetts when the Revolution broke out he joined the Continental Army , saw action at the Battles of Lexington and Concord , 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 nonpayment of debts. He soon realized that he was not alone in his inability to pay his debts and began organizing for debt relief. [8]

One early protest against the government was led by Job Shattuck of Groton , who in 1782 organized residents there to physically prevent tax collectors from doing their work. [9] A second, larger-scale protest took place in the central Massachusetts town of Uxbridge , in Worcester County , on Feb. 3, 1783, when a mob seized property that had been confiscated by a local constable and returned it to its owners. Governor Hancock ordered the sheriff to suppress these actions. [10]

Most rural communities, however, attempted to use the legislative process to gain relief. Petitions and proposals were repeatedly submitted to the state legislature to issue paper currency. Such inflationary issues would depreciate the currency, making it possible to meet obligations made at high values with lower-valued paper. The merchants, among them James Bowdoin , were opposed to the very idea, since they were generally lenders who stood to lose from such proposals. As a result, these proposals were repeatedly rejected. [11] Governor Hancock, accused by some of anticipating trouble, resigned citing health reasons in early 1785. [12] When Bowdoin (a perennial loser to Hancock in earlier elections) was elected governor that year, matters became more severe. Bowdoin stepped up civil actions to collect back taxes, and the legislature exacerbated the situation by levying an additional property tax to raise funds for the state's portion of foreign debt payments. [13] Even comparatively conservative commentators such as John Adams observed that these levies were "heavier than the People could bear." [14]

This modern map of Massachusetts is annotated to show points of conflict. Places where military conflicts occurred are highlighted in red the others are locations of courthouses that were shut down. The Quabbin Reservoir , located between Petersham and Northampton, did not exist at the time.

Protests in the rural Massachusetts turned into direct action in August 1786, after the state legislature adjourned without considering the many petitions that had been sent to Boston. [15] [16] On August 29 a well-organized force of protestors formed in Northampton and successfully prevented the county court from sitting. [17] The leaders of this and later forces proclaimed that they were seeking relief from the burdensome judicial processes that were depriving the people of their land and possessions. They called themselves Regulators, a reference to the Regulator movement of North Carolina that sought to reform corrupt practices in the late 1760s. [18]

On September 2 Governor Bowdoin issued a proclamation denouncing such mob action, but took no military measures in response beyond planning militia response to future actions. [17] [19] When the court in Worcester was shut down by similar action on September 5, the county militia (composed mainly of men sympathetic to the protestors) refused to turn out, much to Bowdoin's amazement. [20] Governors of the neighboring states where similar protests took place acted decisively, calling out the militia to hunt down the ringleaders after the first such protests. [21] In Rhode Island , matters were resolved without violence because the "country party" gained control of the legislature in 1786 and enacted measures forcing its merchant elites to trade debt instruments for devalued currency. The impact of this was not lost on Boston's merchants, especially Bowdoin, who held more than £3,000 in Massachusetts notes. [22]

Daniel Shays, who had participated in the Northampton action, began to take a more active role in the uprising in November, though he firmly denied that he was one of its leaders. On September 19, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts indicted eleven leaders of the rebellion as "disorderly, riotous, and seditious persons." [8] When the supreme judicial court was next scheduled to meet in Springfield on September 26, Shays in Hampshire County and Luke Day in what is now Hampden County (but was then part of Hampshire County) organized an attempt to shut it down. They were anticipated by William Shepard , the local militia commander, who began gathering government-supporting militia the Saturday before the court was to sit. By the time the court was ready to open, Shepard had 300 men protecting the Springfield courthouse. Shays and Day were able to recruit a similar number, but chose only to demonstrate, exercising their troops outside Shepard's lines, rather than attempt to seize the building. [23] The judges first postponed the hearings, and then adjourned on the 28th without hearing any cases. Shepard withdrew his force, which had grown to some 800 men (to the Regulators' 1,200), to the federal armory , which was then only rumored to be the target of seizure by the activists. [24]

Protests in Great Barrington , Concord , and Taunton were also successful in shutting courts down in those communities in September and October. [17] James Warren wrote to John Adams on October 22, "We are now in a state of Anarchy and Confusion bordering on Civil War." [25] Courts in the larger towns and cities were able to meet, but required protection of the militia, which Bowdoin called out for the purpose. [17]

Militia general William Shepard defended the Springfield Armory against rebel action.

The Boston elites were mortified at this resistance. Governor Bowdoin commanded the legislature to "vindicate the insulted dignity of government." Samuel Adams claimed that foreigners (" British emissaries") were instigating treason among the commoners, and he helped draw up a Riot Act , and a resolution suspending habeas corpus in order to permit the authorities to keep people in jail without trial. Adams even proposed a new legal distinction: that rebellion in a republic, unlike in a monarchy, should be punished by execution. The legislature also moved to make some concessions to the upset farmers, saying certain old taxes could now be paid in goods instead of hard currency. [8] These measures were followed up by one prohibiting speech critical of the government, and offering pardons to protestors willing to take an oath of allegiance. [26] These legislative actions were unsuccessful in quelling the protests, [8] and the suspension of habeas corpus alarmed many. [27]

In late November warrants were issued for the arrest of several of the protest ringleaders. On November 28 a posse of some 300 men rode to Groton to arrest Job Shattuck and other rebel leaders in the area. Shattuck was chased down and arrested on the 30th, and was wounded by a sword slash in the process. [28] This action and the arrest of other protest leaders in the eastern parts of the state radicalized those in the west, and they began to organize an overthrow of the state government. "The seeds of war are now sown", wrote one correspondent in Shrewsbury , [29] and by mid-January rebel leaders spoke of smashing the "tyrannical government of Massachusetts." [30]

Since the federal government had been unable to recruit soldiers for the army (primarily because of a lack of funding), the Massachusetts elites determined to act independently. On January 4, 1787, Governor Bowdoin proposed creation of a privately funded militia army. Former Continental Army General Benjamin Lincoln solicited funds, and had by the end of January raised more than £6,000 from more than 125 merchants. [31] The 3,000 militia that were recruited into this army were almost entirely from the eastern counties of Massachusetts, and marched to Worcester on January 19. [32]

While the government forces organized, Shays, Day, and other rebel leaders in the west organized their forces, establishing regional regimental organizations that were run by democratically elected committees. Their first major target was the federal armory in Springfield. [33] General Shepard had however, pursuant to orders from Governor Bowdoin, taken possession of the armory and used its arsenal to arm a force of some 1,200 militia. He had done this despite the fact that the armory was federal, not state, property, and that he did not have permission from Secretary at War Henry Knox to do so. [34] [35]

The insurgents were organized into three major groups, and intended to surround and simultaneously attack the armory. Shays had one group east of Springfield near Palmer , Luke Day had a second force across the Connecticut River in West Springfield , and the third force, under Eli Parsons , was to the north at Chicopee . [36] The rebels had planned their assault for January 25, but Luke Day changed this at the last minute, sending Shays a message indicating he would not be ready to attack until the 26th. [37] Day's message was intercepted by Shepard's men, so the militia of Shays and Parsons, some 1,500 men, approached the armory on the 25th not knowing they would have no support from the west. [38]

The Springfield Armory (building pictured is from the 19th century) was the first major target of the rebellion.

When Shays and his forces neared the armory, they found Shepard's militia waiting for them. Shepard first ordered warning shots fired over the approaching Shaysites' heads, and then ordered two cannons to fire grape shot at Shays's men. Four Shaysites were killed and twenty wounded. There was no musket fire from either side, and the rebel advance collapsed. [39] Most of the rebel force fled north, eventually regrouping at Amherst . On the opposite side of the river, Day's forces also fled north, also eventually reaching Amherst. [40]

General Lincoln, when he heard of the Springfield incident, immediately began marching west from Worcester with the 3,000 men that had mustered. The rebels moved generally north and east to avoid Lincoln, eventually establishing a camp at Petersham along the way they raided the shops of local merchants for supplies, taking some of them hostage. Lincoln pursued them, reaching Pelham , some 30 miles (48 km) from Petersham, on February 2. [41] On the night of February 3–4, he led his militia on a forced march to Petersham through a bitter snowstorm. Arriving early in the morning, they surprised the rebel camp so thoroughly that they scattered "without time to call in their out parties or even their guards." [42] Although Lincoln claimed to capture 150 men, none of them were officers, leading historian Leonard Richards to suspect the veracity of the report. Most of the leadership escaped north into New Hampshire and Vermont, where they were sheltered despite repeated demands that they be returned to Massachusetts for trial. [43]

Lincoln's march marked the end of large-scale organized resistance. Ringleaders who eluded capture fled to neighboring states, and pockets of local resistance continued. Some rebel leaders approached Lord Dorchester , the British governor of Quebec for assistance, who was reported to promise assistance in the form of Mohawk warriors led by Joseph Brant . [44] (Dorchester's proposal was vetoed in London, and no assistance came to the rebels.) [45]

This monument marks the spot of the final battle of Shays' Rebellion, in Sheffield, Massachusetts .

The same day that Lincoln arrived at Petersham, the state legislature passed bills authorizing a state of martial law , giving the governor broad powers to act against the rebels. The bills also authorized state payments to reimburse Lincoln and the merchants who had funded the army, and authorized the recruitment of additional militia. [46] On February 12 the legislature passed the Disqualification Act, seeking to prevent a legislative response by rebel sympathizers. This bill expressly forbade any acknowledged rebels from holding a variety of elected and appointed offices. [47]

Most of Lincoln's army melted away in late February as enlistments expired by the end of the month he commanded but thirty men at a base in Pittsfield . [48] In the meantime some 120 rebels had regrouped in New Lebanon, New York , and on February 27 they crossed the border. Marching first on Stockbridge , a major market town in the southwestern corner of the state, they raided the shops of merchants and the homes of merchants and local professionals. This came to the attention of Brigadier John Ashley, who mustered a force of some 80 men, and caught up with the rebels in nearby Sheffield late in the day. In the bloodiest encounter of the rebellion, 30 rebels were wounded (one mortally), at least one government soldier was killed, and many were wounded. [49] Ashley, who was further reinforced after the encounter, reported taking 150 prisoners. [50]

Four thousand people signed confessions acknowledging participation in the events of the rebellion (in exchange for amnesty) several hundred participants were eventually indicted on charges relating to the rebellion. Most of these were pardoned under a general amnesty that only excluded a few ringleaders. Eighteen men were convicted and sentenced to death, but most of these were either overturned on appeal, pardoned, or had their sentences commuted. Two of the condemned men, John Bly and Charles Rose, were hanged on December 6, 1787. [51] Shays himself was pardoned in 1788 and he returned to Massachusetts from hiding in the Vermont woods. [52] He was, however, vilified by the Boston press, who painted him as an archetypal anarchist opposed to the government. [53] He later moved to the Conesus, New York , area, where he lived until he died poor and obscure in 1825. [52]

The crushing of the rebellion and the harsh terms of reconciliation imposed by the Disqualification Act all worked against Governor Bowdoin politically. In the gubernatorial election held in April 1787, Bowdoin received few votes from the rural parts of the state, and was trounced by John Hancock. [54] The military victory was tempered by tax changes in subsequent years. The legislature elected in 1787 cut taxes and placed a moratorium on debts. It also refocused state spending away from interest payments, resulting in a 30% decline in the value of Massachusetts securities as those payments fell in arrears. [55]

Vermont, then an unrecognized independent republic that had been seeking statehood independent from New York's claims to the territory, became an unexpected beneficiary of the rebellion due to its sheltering of the rebel ringleaders. Alexander Hamilton broke from other New Yorkers, including major landowners with claims on Vermont territory, calling for the state to recognize and support Vermont's bid for admission to the union. He cited Vermont's de fato independence and its ability to cause trouble by providing support to the discontented from neighboring states as reasons, and introduced legislation that broke the impasse between New York and Vermont. Vermonters responded favorably to the overture, publically pushing Eli Parsons and Luke Day out of the state (but quietly continuing to support others). After negotiations with New York and the passage of the new constitution, Vermont became the fourteenth state. [56]

Thomas Jefferson , who was serving as ambassador to France at the time, refused to be alarmed by Shays' Rebellion. In a letter to a friend, he argued that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing. "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." [57] In contrast to Jefferson's sentiments George Washington , who had been calling for constitutional reform for many years, wrote in a letter to Henry Lee , "You talk, my good sir, of employing influence to appease the present tumults in Massachusetts. I know not where that influence is to be found, or, if attainable, that it would be a proper remedy for the disorders. Influence is not government. Let us have a government by which our lives, liberties, and properties will be secured, or let us know the worst at once." [58] [59]

At the time of the rebellion, the weaknesses of the federal government as constituted under the Articles of Confederation were apparent to many. A vigorous debate was going on throughout the states on the need for a stronger central government, with Federalists arguing for the idea, and Anti-Federalists opposing them. Historical opinion is divided on what sort of role the rebellion played in the formation and later ratification of the United States Constitution , although most scholars agree it played some role, at least temporarily drawing some anti-Federalists to the strong government side. [60] By early 1785 many influential merchants and political leaders were already agreed that a stronger central government was needed. A convention at Annapolis, Maryland , in September 1786 of delegates from five states concluded that vigorous steps needed to be taken to reform the federal government, but it disbanded because of a lack of full representation, calling for a convention of all the states to be held in Philadelphia in May 1787. [61] Historian Robert Feer notes that several prominent figures had hoped that convention would fail, requiring a larger-scale convention, and French diplomat Louis-Guillaume Otto thought the convention was intentionally broken off early to achieve this end. [62]

In early 1787 John Jay wrote that the rural disturbances and the inability of the central government to fund troops in response made "the inefficiency of the Federal government [become] more and more manifest." [63] Henry Knox observed that the uprising in Massachusetts clearly influenced local leaders who had previously opposed a strong federal government. Historian David Szatmary writes that the timing of the rebellion "convinced the elites of sovereign states that the proposed gathering at Philadelphia must take place." [64] Some states, Massachusetts among them, delayed choosing delegates to the proposed convention, in part because in some ways it resembled the "extra-legal" conventions organized by the protestors before the rebellion became violent. [65]

Elbridge Gerry (1861 portrait by James Bogle) was opposed to the Constitution as drafted, although his reasons for doing so were not strongly influenced by the rebellion.

The convention that met in Philadelphia was dominated by strong-government advocates. [66] Delegate Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut argued that because the people could not be trusted (as exemplified by Shays' Rebellion), the members of the federal House of Representatives should be chosen by state legislatures, not by popular vote. [67] The example of Shays' Rebellion may also have been influential in the addition of language to the constitution concerning the ability of states to manage domestic violence, and their ability to demand the return of individuals from other states for trial. [68] The rebellion also played a role in the discussion of a number of the executives. While fearing tyranny, delegates of the Constitutional Convention thought that the single executive would be more effective in responding to national disturbances. [69] Federalists cited the rebellion as an example of the confederation government's weaknesses, while opponents such as Elbridge Gerry thought that a federal response to the rebellion would have been even worse than that of the state. (Gerry, a merchant speculator and Massachusetts delegate from Essex County, was one of the few convention delegates who refused to sign the new constitution, although his reasons for doing so did not stem from the rebellion.) [70]

When the constitution had been drafted, Massachusetts was viewed by Federalists as a state that might not ratify it, because of widespread anti-Federalist sentiment in the rural parts of the state. Massachusetts Federalists, including Henry Knox, were active in courting swing votes in the debates leading up to the state's ratifying convention in 1788. When the vote was taken on February 6, 1788, representatives of rural communities involved in the rebellion voted against ratification by a wide margin, but the day was carried by a coalition of merchants, urban elites, and market town leaders. The state ratified the constitution by a vote of 187 to 168. [71]

Historians are divided on the impact the rebellion had on the ratification debates. Robert Feer notes that major Federalist pamphleteers rarely mentioned it, and that some anti-Federalists used the fact that Massachusetts survived the rebellion as evidence that a new constitution was unnecessary. [72] However, Leonard Richards counters that publications like the Gazeta da Pensilvânia explicitly tied anti-Federalist opinion to the rebel cause, calling opponents of the new constitution "Shaysites" and the Federalists "Washingtonians". [73] David Szatmary argues that debate in some states was affected, particularly in Massachusetts, where the rebellion had a polarizing effect. [74] Richards records Henry Jackson's observation that opposition to ratification in Massachusetts was motivated by "that cursed spirit of insurgency", but that broader opposition in other states originated in other constitutional concerns expressed by Elbridge Gerry, who published a widely distributed pamphlet outlining his concerns about the vagueness of some of the powers granted in the constitution and its lack of a Bill of Rights . [75]

The military powers enshrined in the constitution were soon put to use by President George Washington. After the passage by the United States Congress of the Whiskey Act , protest against the taxes it imposed began in western Pennsylvania . The protests escalated and Washington led federal and state militia to put down what is now known as the Whiskey Rebellion . [76]

The events and people of the uprising are commemorated in the towns where they lived and those where events took place. Sheffield erected a memorial (pictured above) marking the site of the "last battle", and Pelham memorialized Daniel Shays. US Route 202 , which runs through Pelham, is called the Daniel Shays Highway. A statue of General Shepard was erected in his hometown of Westfield . [77]


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