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The Whiskey And Shay Rebellion Essay

1348 words - 6 pages

There were many rebellions in the United States history, some peaceful and some violent. Shays' Rebellion in 1786 and the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794 are examples of two brutal rebellions that led to death of many innocent people. Rebellions can develop due to many conditions including unfair laws, unfair treatment, and a disagreement over a sensitive topic. The Shays' Rebellion showed the Articles of Confederation was too weak, while the Whiskey Rebellion proved the Constitution to be a strong framework of government.
Shays' Rebellion was the first uprising of the new nation. The battles were fought in Massachusetts. During the time period of 1786-1787, The United States government decided to raise taxes, in order to raise capital and pay off war debt, which ultimately led to an economic depression.. A great postwar depression meant that prices for farm produce in general decreased. Many farmers became overcome with debt, causing seizure of their property when they were forced to default on their debts. Such a tense environment erupted in a rebellion as a protest against the Massachusetts government's refusal to provide economic relief to the struggling farmers of the state (Carson, Bonk). A rebel group known as the Regulators (Stock) , led by Daniel Shays, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War, began to form. Daniel Shays was the son of an Irish immigrant and joined the Continental Army at the beginning of the American Revolution and managed to attain the rank of captain before returning home (Bigelow). He became a typical farmer, who eventually fell into debt, along with many of his neighbors. As an elected local representative, Shays was a member of petition groups that opposed the governments ignorance to demands to print paper currency, like Rhode Island, to solve their debt problems. But the Massachusetts' citizen's demands were largely ignored. Because most of the poor farmers of the rural west were not eligible to vote, compiled with seeing their farms foreclosed on and their property confiscated, they armed themselves into a group comprised of infuriated farmers had their sights set on destroying the Massachusetts government. The first event was in 1786, where a group of protestors made a nonviolent show of force aimed at closing down the civil courts that prosecuted the debt cases, and succeeded in preventing courts from sitting. The state militia withdrew to guard the federal armory at Springfield; but there were concerns that the Regulators would go after the weapons and gunpowder stored there. The government finally intervened, issuing curfews and suspended habeas corpus, the law that states that no one shall be kept in jail before being proved guilty. These actions raised tensions and radicalized the Regulators. Due to the weakness of the Articles of Confederation, the central government was unable to contribute meaningfully to emergent crisis. The inability to end this dispute peacefully led the blood being shed in...

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