The Articles of Confederation and Shay’s Rebellion

The Articles of Confederation and Shay’s Rebellion

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Most Massachusetts worried about social instability because of post revolution economic inflations. The legislature emphasized on levying massive taxes to pay off the state’s debt. The people who could not manage to pay, were imprisoned and their properties foreclosed. Daniel shay a war veteran started organizing Massachusetts communities in 1786 to forcibly stop foreclosure by barring courts from holding their proceedings. Shay matched into spring field to stop the court from gathering. However the state send troops to suppress the rebellion (Patterson, 2013).

In 1787 Shay retreated to Vermont while the government charged him with treason and condemned him to death. Shay pleaded for his life in 1788 and was granted by John Hancock. The serving ambassador argued that a little rebellion from time to time was considered natural in order to refresh the tree of liberty. Jefferson wrote a letter to Henry lee “my good sir, you talk of employing impact to conciliate the present tumults in Massachusetts. I know not where that impact is to be found, or, if attainable, that would be a proper disorder remedy. May we have a government that secures our liberties, lives and property”? 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 estimation is distributed on the kind of role the rebellion played during the formation and later approval of the United States Constitution, however the scholars says it played some role of bringing some anti-Federalists to the strong government side (Patterson, 2013).

The political leaders and merchants agreed that there was a need for a stronger government in 1785 and in 1786, there was a convention held in Annapolis, Maryland with vigorous steps that were required to reform the government though it broke due to lack of representation. In 1787, a convention was held in Philadelphia and people thought it would fail. John Jay wrote that the inability and rural disturbances of the government to fund troops made the inefficiency of the central government to become more manifest. The Massachusetts up rise clearly subjected local leaders that had previously opposed a strong federal government. The rebellion timing influenced the sovereign states elites that the suggested gathering at Philadelphia was to take place. Massachusetts delayed in choosing delegates to the suggested convention partly since it resembled the “extra-legal” conventions that were organized by the protestors before the rebellion had become violent (Patterson, 2013).


Patterson, T. (2013). The American democracy. New York: McGraw-Hill.