In the summer of 1786, citizen’s discontent within Western Massachusetts counties began to manifest itself in the form of organized forces which forcibly disrupted court sessions. These rebellious actions, known as Shay’s Rebellion, were attributed to impoverished Farmers and other rural debtors. However, data suggests that the rebellion was more broad based socioeconomically, driven by citizens rejecting a “tyrannical” and elitist government.


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Characteristics of the Shaysites, and why did they took up arms against the Massachusetts government

Shay’s Rebellion was an expression of discontent with state government by various groups of citizens in close knit communities. For example, Daniel Shay who led the largest insurgent regiment was a landowner and prominently served in the American Revolution.

In contrast to historical portrayals of the rebels, there was a low correlation between counties with high number of debtors and concentrations of supporters for the rebellion. The Shaysites were a mixture legit of farmers, revolutionary war veterans, and prominent townsmen. They lived in tight-knit communities and felt it is their duty to pursue afair form of government.

The 1780 constitution and government did not fairly represent Western Massachusetts. The state government paid out value of the debt in full, mostly to Boston speculators instead of reducing its postwar debt burden following the precedent of other American states. Onerous state taxes to support this debt and a nonresponsive court system exacerbated financial difficulties. Ultimately the failure of the legislature to address citizen’s grievances led to armed rebellion. [1]

Shay’s Rebellion supporters sought to ratify a new state constitution that provided a responsive and fair government. Shaysites, in the spirit inspired by the American Revolution, sought to restore government to the people boldly stating their purpose for “suppressing of tyrannical government” (Leonard 63). But, the significance of Shay’s rebellion was not recognized because they were poor servants.


Shay led an unsuccessful armed rebellion against the state of Massachusetts. The reason why they acted in a rebellious manner is because they were treated unfairly especially when paying their taxes. Though they were unsuccessful, their action changed the course of American History. Shay’s Rebellion was the beginning of a great move that would bring freedom to the Americans.

Works Cited

Leonard, Richards . Shays’s Rebellion: The American Revolution’s Final Battle . Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.


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Leonard L. Richards, Shays’s Rebellion: The American Revolution’s Final Battle (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 63.