Though the American Revolution boldly established the formation of a new



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Shays’s Rebellion
Though the American Revolution boldly established the formation of a new

nation, how it would be organized and governed was a work in progress. In the wake of

the Revolution, the Articles of Confederation set out guidelines for the federal

government. Yet this loose authority and the lack of a single national leader left the

nation vulnerable to faction and uprising. Meanwhile, many citizens who had risked their

lives defeating the British were struggling under the weight of high taxes and the demand

for cash currency as payment for goods and services. These citizens argued that they

were being subjected to the same conditions the Revolution was fought to overturn. One

of those disenchanted veterans was Daniel Shays, a Massachusetts farmer and former

Continental Army captain. Facing the loss of his own farm, Shays organized a rebel army

of over 1,000 followers which stormed a Springfield debtors court and arsenal, determined to attack and overthrow the government in Boston.


  1. When was Shays’ Rebellion (date) January 25, 1787 (arsenal)

  2. Who was involved? Farmers, militia, courthouse officials

3. The Articles of Confederation were the first Constitution of the new

nation, The United States of America.


4. This A of C favored a weak central government and gave more power to the states.
5. Shays lived in the state of Massachusetts.

6. What were the options for the farmers who owed money they could not pay back?



whipping debtors prison seize property/farm sale of property/farm
7. The “seed of rebellion” were planted at Conkey’s Tavern. (Shrek voice)

8. What methods were tried in order to get the attention of lawmakers and courts by

Shays’s group before violence erupted? Protests, petitions, talks, county conventions

9. The mission of Shays’s Rebellion was to shut down the courthouses

so that farmers could not be punished/go to jail.

10. How did Sam Adams feel about the rebellion? Angry and thought the framers should be punished and ought to suffer death (be seized and hanged)

11. Laws that were passed, in 1786, as a result of Sam Adams’ response?

1. The Militia Act that said that if you were in the militia and rebelled against the state government, your punishment could be death.

2. Suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus that allowed the state government to imprison any person at any time.

3. The Riot Act said that if more than 12 people got together for any purpose the government perceived as negative, the government could imprison, take property, and/or try the individual(s) for treason.


12. These laws pushed Shays and the farmers to the final stage of the rebellion.
13. The federal government could not help the state of Massachusetts because the Articles of Confederation limited the its power.
14. What was Shays’s Rebellion?

Courthouse strategy: Block the courthouse so the judges could not hold court and punish



farmer for non-payment of taxes

Springfield, MA (arsenal): Shays and 1200 men stormed the Massachusetts arsenal

15. What happened to Shays after the rebellion? He fled to Canada and was eventually pardoned of

his crimes of treason. He lived out his days in Vermont.
16. George Washington was persuaded by Henry Knox to leave Virginia and preside over the

Constitutional Convention Philadelphia, PA.


17. Shays’s Rebellion exposed the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.

and a change was eminent.


18. The decision was quickly made to replace the Articles of Confederation.
19. The Federalists wanted a stronger federal or central government while the Anti-Federalists wanted

most of the power to stay with the individual state government due to the fear of tyranny.


20. Finally, in the year 1787, at The Constitutional Convention, an agreement was

made that the federal and state governments would share power.



(This is called Federalism) #sharing_is_caring


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