23 August 2012

Regulators vs Lighthorsemen

Shay’s Rebellion and the Constitution by Mary Hull, 2000, Excerpts

Bands of pro-government men began roaming the countryside, looking for the suspected leaders of the Regulators. Known as lighthorsemen, these men were armed and dangerous. Civilians were beaten by the lighthorsemen if they did not cooperate by turning over suspects. On December 2, 1786, a group of lighthorsemen made up mostly of merchants and professionals from Worcester County raided the homes of Regulator supporters in Shrewsbury and injured several people.

The actions of the lighthorsemen outraged the country people and convinced them that the government was oppressive. Lighthorsemen made the regulators fear the tyranny of the government even more. And growing numbers of Regulators began to compare the behavior of the Massachusetts government to that of Great Britain before the Revolutionary War. Just as patriots had risen up to fight the tyranny of England, the regulators began to think it might be necessary to overthrow the state.

Governor Bowdoin issued warrants for the arrest of sixteen Hampshire County Regulators, including Captain Daniel Shays.

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