Why did Shays' Rebellion break out in Massachusetts?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Shays’ Rebellion occurred in western Massachusetts in the mid-1780s. Farmers were not happy because they were losing their farms. Laws were passed that required people to pay their debts in hard currency. This meant debts had to be paid with gold and silver coins. However, farmers were having trouble selling their crops. As a result of this, as well as tough economic conditions, it was very difficult for farmers to get gold and silver coins. The farmers didn’t want to lose their farms so they rebelled. This caused the courts to close. Thus, foreclosure proceedings could not continue. Eventually, the Massachusetts state militia ended the rebellion. However, there was so much uncertainty about who should end the rebellion, it led people to conclude the plan of government under the Articles of Confederation was too weak. The federal government did nothing to end the rebellion. This was another example of the need to develop a new plan of government. This eventually occurred when the Constitution was written and adopted as our new plan of government.

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