23 October 2012

Shays Rebellion 1787

The Whiskey Rebellion by William Hodgeland, 2006, Excerpts

The Massachusetts assembly had taken an aggressive approach to consolidating and paying its war debts, benefiting the few who held interest-bearing state notes. Further taxes were levied on the people. Though some were payable in various kind of paper, they were simply not payable at all by many; mass foreclosures ensued. Protest took the form of petitions and meeting, demanding a revaluation of the debt along realistic lines. In 1786 the debtors staged a classic court riot in Northampton. In January of 1787 they tried to seize the federal arsenal in Springfield, where they were put down by the state militia and ringleaders were arrested.

After suppressing the Shays’ Rebellion, the Massachusetts legislature repealed the crushing tax laws. To nationalists like Hamilton, it was the old story; legislatures reacted to the people’s violence by passing laws that robbed investors.

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