Shays's Rebellion Questions and Answers

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Describe the causes, events, and consequences of Shays' rebellion from the perspective of someone who will become an Anti-Federalist. Use specific arguments that will be brought up in the discussion of the ratification of the Constitution.

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Shays' Rebellion occurred in central and western Massachusetts in 1786 and 1787. The farmers in these areas were upset that they were losing their farms and being put in jail because they couldn’t pay their debts. In Massachusetts, the government didn’t forgive the debts or print more money to help the farmers who were struggling to pay their debts. The farmers felt that high taxes and a lack of helpful actions by the government caused them to lose their farms. As a result, they rebelled.

The people who rebelled forced the courts to close, which delayed any foreclosures from occurring. They also freed people who had been jailed because they hadn't pay their debts. The rebellion picked up steam when Daniel Shays led the rebels. The governor of Massachusetts formed a militia that took on the rebels. The resistance crumbled, and Shays' Rebellion ended.

The Antifederalists were opposed to the ratification of the Constitution. They believed the federal government would be too strong and would abuse its powers. They felt that the causes of Shays' Rebellion were examples of their fears. They felt the federal government would tax the people too much and wouldn’t respond to the needs of the people. They believed this new government would be similar to the one from which they fought to be free in the Revolutionary War. The Antifederalists could use Shays' Rebellion as an example of what would be wrong with the new government created by the Constitution.

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