Shay’s Rebellion and the Constitution by Mary Hull, 2000, Excerpts
In the early American legal system, the debtor had to pay court costs and lawyer’s fees, so being taken to debtor’s court was an expensive experience. Yeomen who were unable to pay back their debt faced prosecution and had their land and goods taken from them by the courts.
Debtors lived in fear that their land and livelihoods might be taken from them by lawyers. The seizure of their land was a horrifying prospect to yeoman farmers, for whom ownership of land was their only means of earning a living. Their land was one of the things for which they had fought during the revolution.
Debtors came to hate lawyers. Perhaps unfairly, yeomen blamed the explosion of debt cases in the courts on lawyers, who profited by prosecuting the ever-growing number of debtors from the western counties. Lawyers were so hated in country areas that they became the butt of many jokes.