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What was Shay's Rebellion and why was it important?

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megan-westerf... | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted October 13, 2013 at 8:23 PM via web

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What was Shay's Rebellion and why was it important?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 13, 2013 at 8:39 PM (Answer #1)

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Shays’s Rebellion was a rebellion among farmers in Massachusetts that began in 1786.  The rebellion is important because it is seen as one of the major factors that led to the writing of the new Constitution.

When the United States first became independent, its constitution was called the Articles of Confederation.  This constitution set up a government in which the states had essentially all of the power and the federal government had very little.  During that time, the economy of the US was not very strong.  The weakness of the US economy led to a situation in which many farmers ended up in debt.  As their debts got bigger, their creditors (usually rich bankers from the cities) tried to get back the money they had lent by foreclosing on the farmers.  In Massachusetts, this process caused farmers, led by Daniel Shays, to rebel. 

This rebellion, along with other factors, helped to persuade rich Americans that a new constitution was needed.  They were afraid that the state governments were being dominated by poorer people who would institute bad policies such as the debt forgiveness that Shays and his people wanted.  They wanted a stronger national government and one that would be more insulated from the desires of the masses.

This is why Shays’s Rebellion ended up being very important.  It scared American elites enough that they pushed for a new constitution.  That is how we ended up with the Constitution that we now have.

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michuraisin | Student, College Junior | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted October 14, 2013 at 5:18 AM (Answer #2)

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As the name suggests, Shays' Rebellion was a rebellion led by Daniel Shay, who was an ex-soldier in Massachusetts. Began in 1786, it was an uprising of popular support  from farmers against a conservative Massachusetts that wanted to increase what were already some of the highest taxes in the colonies. Led by Shays, band of farmers began marching in the western part of the state, forcing the closure of courts. The march was eventually crushed by mass militia, though the rebellion was accompanied by small disturbances in other states.

The importance of the rebellion was that, due to its publicity, it was basically propaganda for a strong central government. There was a call for a help to the central government to stop the rebellion, but the government said they had no resources. Their ineffectiveness  showed the weakness of the Articles of Confederation, help leading to a new convention being called to come up with a completely new constitution, which is the one we have now. The rebellion also allowed Alexander Hamilton and James Madison to persuade George Washington to lend his prestige to the government.


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Yojana_Thapa | Student, Grade 10 | TA | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted February 22, 2014 at 12:09 AM (Answer #3)

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Shay's Rebellion was sparked by the frustrations of Massachusetts farmers who were losing their farms because they could not pay debts in hard currency. It was provoked by foreclosures on the mortgages of backcountry farmers. An armed group of poor rebel farmers led by Daniel Shay in response to crushing debt and taxes. It is significant because it convinced many Americas of the need for a stronger central government.

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