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Shays’ Rebellion

Shays’ rebellion started in about 1786 and was the result of the war for independence. Many veterans of the war, who were farmers, were being pressured to pay their loans. Their lenders, in turn, needed to pay back the government because of war expenses.

Farmers who were ex-soldiers did not receive much money for fighting in the war. Daniel Shays, the future leader of the rebels, was wounded in the war and received no compensation. Poor farmers were not able to pay back their loans because when they were busy fighting, not earning any money from their farms. They were also taxed very highly in addition to the loan problems.

Sick of the problems, Shays and his men took over courthouses in Massachusetts, where the farmers would meet with the loaners to discuss how they would pay back their debts. In 1787, the rebels tried to take over an armory in Springfield, which failed because of a private militia stopped the rebellion.

The government did not have enough money to pay for a militia. They could not tax the states under the Articles of Confederation. So the government wasn't able to put a stop to the rebellion. The fact that the rebellion had to be stopped by a private militia showed Congress that there needed to be a central government, a strong government, that could tax the states, and govern them with more power. After the rebellion, taxes were lowered. Shays was sentenced to death, however, a year later he was pardoned by the state and given some money for his time spent fighting in the War for Independence.

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