Settlers in the Eighteenth Century American Backcountry Sometimes Resorted to Violent Protest to Express Their Grievances. Analyze the Causes and Significance of Two of the Following:

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FRQ Unit 3

With any new tax or law that the government creates, there will always be people who reject them. In the cases of the Shays and Whiskey Rebellions, the causes for protesting were money and taxes of goods. Both Rebellions had a hand in the uprising of the federal government. Shay’s raised alarm for the lack of a central government, while the whiskey rebellion solidified people’s confidence in the power of the national government.

High taxes were the main cause for the Shay’s Rebellion. Massachusetts’ legislature had made the taxes payable only in hard money, and the farmers only had worthless paper money. Those taxes put a lot of Massachusetts’ farmers into debt. To have the farmers make up their debt, courts ordered their farms and homes to be sold. Outraged by this announcement, Daniel Shays, a Revolutionary War veteran, led a rebellion. In September 1787, Daniel led a crowd of his followers to a courthouse in Springfield where they broke into a nearby military arsenal to gather guns. The group of rebels only had some success in holding off the court proceedings regarding their land. The battle against Massachusetts’ militia was short and Shay’s men quickly retreated. Although Shay’s forces were easily defeated, the rebellion rang alarm bells among the nation’s leaders. Shay’s Rebellion also frightened many Americans and helped convince them that the central government under the Articles of Confederation was not strong enough to deal with the country’s problems. This fueled the movement to form a stronger federal government, which led to the Constitutional Convention. Unfortunately for officials, Shay’s Rebellion was only one of several taxpayers’ revolts to happen during the period. Later on in 1794, farmers on the frontier in western Pennsylvania objected violently to Hamilton’s excise tax on whiskey. Their main profit and livelihoods relied on turning extra grain into rye whiskey. Whiskey was more valuable than grain because it was...
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