Shays' Rebellion

Primary Source Set

Post-Revolutionary-War America faced obstacles as its people worked to establish the new republic. In New England, merchants and farmers struggled to maintain their businesses in a new economy without established European trade or credit lines. In August 1786, tensions culminated in what is now known as Shays’ Rebellion, an uprising in Massachusetts that lasted until the summer of 1787. Led by Daniel Shays, the rebel “Shaysites” of Western Massachusetts tried to rise up against what they considered to be an oppressive tax system and political corruption. “Shaysites” felt that eastern Massachusetts elites were ignoring issues that affected the lower classes. The rebellion ultimately helped shape the content of the United States Constitution, which was created shortly after the end of the uprising and ratified on June 21, 1788. This collection of illustrations, documents, and texts help give a new perspective on the rebellion and its impact.

Additional resources for research

  1. Shays’ Rebellion and the Making of a Nation, Springfield Technical Community College.
  2. “This Convulsed Commonwealth”: Daniel Shays Attempts to Call a Truce during Shays’ Rebellion, the Agrarian Revolt Named for Him, Massachusetts Historical Society.
  3. Shays' Rebellion, George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

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