Significance of Shay's Rebellion

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The Significance of Shays’s Rebellion

Pakanun Ou-Udomying (Ploi)
United States History
Mr. Coulombe
Kent School
December 10, 2012
The outrageous American Revolution War left a lot of scars and bruises that had major affects on the country. On August 29, 1786 in Massachusetts, a rebellion broke out as one of the results that came after the war. This rebellion was led by a veteran from the American Revolutionary War, Daniel Shays, which was why this significant rebellion is called Shays’s Rebellion. The economic crisis that followed the war was a powerful start of Shays’s rebellion. The country itself was in a massive amount of debt and so did the people. Farmers did not have enough money to pay for their taxes, since the states called for heavy taxation so that the country would be out of debt as soon as possible. The consequence of taking away the farmers’ lands if they did not pay tax was applied. Even though the people called for tax reduction, the government turned their backs and refused to do so. The people were extremely enraged and responded by protesting along with shutting down country courts so that the judicial could not call for any more tax collection. The climax of Shays’s rebellion arose when Shays and his men attacked Springfield, Massachusetts, which was the government’s site for federal arsenal. The mighty state militia fought Shays and his army of farmers back. Daniel Shays decided to escape afterwards, which was how the rebellion finally ended. This chaotic rebellion had a very affective aftermath. Shays’s rebellion’s significance is that it allowed leaders to meet, improved the Articles of Confederation, and paved the path to the successful constitution.

In 1786, the first constitutional convention, also known as the Annapolis Convention, was held before Shays’s rebellion to discuss about revising the Articles of Confederation. Political leaders were concerned about the country’s form of government, but there was no improvement in this convention. Therefore, Alexander Hamilton proposed for another constitutional convention in Philadelphia for the following year. Shays’s Rebellion occurred during the time between the first and second constitutional convention. It clearly pointed out and proved that the government was feeble, which made the political leaders more motivated in improving the Articles of Confederation. This powerful rebellion was effective to George Washing because it was the reason he decided to attend the convention. Robert Feer, the author of “Shays’s Rebellion and the Constitution: A Study in Causation” mentioned that, “If it can be shown that without Shays’s Rebellion Washington would not have attended the Convention or have lent his name to the Federalists on behalf of ratification, then the Rebellion did help to produce the Constitution.”(Feer 395) Another important figure like James Madison was dragged in to the convention because he was also triggered by Shays’s Rebellion. This built the foundation to his idea of the Virginia Plan, which was proposed at the second constitutional convention. Feer mentioned Madison’s idea in his book, “The powers of the central government should be increased, not only to regulate commerce and to levy taxes, but to issue a uniform currency, to regulate weights and measures, and, he hinted, to suppress “internal contention” and to prevent the states from issuing paper money.” (Feer 398) Many leaders, not just only these two, were convinced by the rebellion and joined the convention to improve the weak constitution.

Radical debates were held all over Massachusetts to discuss about a better and stronger government for the country. A lot of people suggested that the government should be able to regulate currency to improve the economy and also suppress wild rebellions for placidity. The weak government, or the Federal Government had 3 branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The three branches work together through the system...
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