Shays Rebellion

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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.
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