Home Recommended Products Contact Us
Resources & Links
Fatherlessness Statistics
Child Support
Legal Resources
Search This Site
Bad Judges List
Free Templates
Restraining Orders
Judicial Abuse Stories
Father's Stories
Legal Help & Referrals
Constitutional Rights
Table of Contents
Terms & Conditions
Signup for Newsletter
Search Site
A Little Revolution Is Needed Sometimes To Check The Special Interests Who Inevitable Get Control of Courts, Officials and Politicians

We in Massachusetts have a tradition to uphold!


Shays' Rebellion

The American Revolution ended in 1783, but the young republic it created faced a difficult time. Nowhere was this more evident than to the farmers of Western Massachusetts. A severe economic depression forced people unable to pay their debts first into court, then into jail. These troubles were viewed as arising from the mercantile elite of Eastern Massachusetts, especially Boston, who demanded hard currency to pay foreign creditors. The farmers of Western Massachusetts, after years of frustration, reacted with an armed uprising that lasted for six months at the end of 1786 and start of 1787.

The Rebellion started with petitions to the government for paper currency, lower taxes, and judicial reform.
When this failed, the farmers took more drastic measures. The first target of the Rebellion was the Court of Common Pleas at Northampton, which an armed body of farmers kept from sitting on August 29th.
Similar groups of insurgents stormed the courts at Worcester, Concord, Taunton, and Great Barrington in the following weeks. They hoped to prevent further trials and imprisonment of debtors.

The man who rose to lead the insurgents was Captain Daniel Shays (1747?-1825), a veteran of the Revolution and a farmer from Pelham. The Supreme Judicial Court had indicted eleven other leaders for sedition, more would follow. Shays and 1,500 followers, many wearing their old Continental Army uniforms with a sprig of hemlock in their hats, occupied the Springfield Courthouse from September 25th to 28th, preventing the Supreme Judicial Court from sitting. Governor James Bowdoin assembled 4,400 militiamen under the command of General Benjamin Lincoln to defend the courts and protect the Commonwealth.

Shays and the others insurgents chose the Federal Arsenal in Springfield to be the next target. General Lincoln marched to defend the debtor court in Worcester on January 20th. Shays, with 2,000 farmers behind him, assaulted the arsenal on January 25, 1787.
General William Shepard successfully defended the arsenal with 1,200 local militiamen. The rebels suffered four dead and twenty wounded in the attack.

General Lincoln soon arrived in Springfield and quickly chased Shays' army into the neighboring towns.
The insurgents were taken completely by surprise on the morning of February 3rd in Petersham. General Lincoln had marched his troops through a snowstorm the previous night. The farmers scattered, and the rebellion was ended. Most of the insurgents took advantage of a general amnesty and surrendered. Shays and a few other leaders escaped for a while.

The Supreme Judicial Court soon sentenced fourteen of the rebellion's leaders, including Shays, to death for treason. They were later pardoned by the newly elected Governor John Hancock. Only two men, John Bly and Charles Rose of Berkshire County, were hung for their part in the Rebellion. A new Massachusetts Legislature in Boston began to undertake the slow work of reform.

That summer, the Federal Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia struggled to create a stronger central government that would "establish justice and insure domestic tranquillity." Shays' Rebellion is considered the one of the leading causes in the formation of the United States Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, from Paris, Jan. 30, 1787

"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of the government."

George Washington, Letter to James Madison, Nov. 5, 1786

"Let us look to our National character, and to things beyond the present period. No Morn ever dawned more favourable than ours did-and no day was ever more clouded than the present! Wisdom, & good examples are necessary at this time to rescue the political machine from the impending storm."

Chief Justice William Cushing, Supreme Judicial Court, in the Hampshire Gazette, June 6, 1787

"[I fear] evil minded persons, leaders of the insurgents...[waging war] against the Commonwealth, to bring the whole government and all the good people of this state, if not continent, under absolute command and subjugation to one or two ignorant, unprincipled, bankrupt, desperate individuals."