Friday, February 22, 2013

Shays' Rebellion

I mention this event quite a bit, but am amazed that it has been expunged from the US consciousness.  That's a shame because it is highly important to the development of the US as a nation.  There have been many rebellions both before and after US Independence, yet I would argue that this is one of the most important of them. In my opinion, it does emphasise that the War for American Independence was a civil war which left more issues unresolved than it solved. It also highlights the fact that the US is a rather belligerent nation that there are frequent insurrections and people who feel this is somehow a right.

Only three years after the American Revolution ended, thousands of Massachusetts citizens took up arms against their new state government. The rebellion started on August 29, 1786. It was precipitated by several factors: financial difficulties brought about by a post-war economic depression, a credit squeeze caused by a lack of hard currency, and fiscally harsh government policies instituted in 1785 to solve the state's debt problems. Protesters, including many war veterans, shut down county courts in the later months of 1786 to stop the judicial hearings for tax and debt collection. The protesters became radicalized against the state government following the arrests of some of their leaders, and began to organize an armed force. The rebellion took place in a political climate where reform of the country's governing document, the Articles of Confederation, was widely seen as necessary.

Shays' Rebellion was the main impetus for the adoption of the US Constitution.  In fact, the rebellion hadn't been quelled (resistance continued until June 1787) when the Constitutional Convention began in Philadelphia (May 1787)!

This is why the Constitution makes it clear that its purposes is "insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare".   Also, it makes clear that the role of the militia is "execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions" (Article I, Section 8, Clause 15) and that waging war on the US is Treason (Article III, Section iii).  Article IV, Section 4 talks about "domestic violence".  All these refer to Shays' Rebellion.

Anyway, the best resource for this event on the internet is found here.  It is a site run by Springfield Technical Community College (fitting as this was the location of the main "battle").  Although, I do wish they would update and fill in the gaps on the site since a lot of important essays have yet to be written.  It is an interesting site to explore.

And maybe if enough people ask, they will fill in the gaps on this incredible resource.


  1. Laci, is it possible that a Right to Civilian Disarmament can be derived fro the language in the preamble (of the U.S. Constitution) sanctioning as the duty of Government to "ensure domestic tranquility", "promote the general welfare", "provide for the common defense"? If there exists such a Right to Disarmament of the mere citizen as expressed by the constitution, does congress bear the responsibility to adopt prohibitive statutes concerning the proliferation and possession by mere civilians, who do not convey public authority, are not entrusted with the safety of the populace, and not endowed with coercive power (therefore requiring the use of arms) over other subjects.

    As the opinion given in District of Columbia v. Heller is strictly a contextual interpretation of United States v. Miller, I believe that Miller can be interpreted to endow a collective State "Militia" with all arms within U.S. borders, (although it has been chosen to interpret this section to bear a different context) and therefore sanction all weapons on U.S. soil as some form of State property, to be appropriated for official use by non-individual entities.

    Therefore is is foreseeable that the common subject has absolutely no right to control or proliferate any form of weapon. However the State, bears the compelling duty to disarm it's subjects, and such persons who are subject to the rule of law do however implicitly possess a right to be disarmed. State actors are endowed with coercive power, while mere citizens are not. In order to create a civilized society, where the mighty are not free to exploit the weak, as well as maintain the rule of law, we have traded individual self-defense for the benefit of a professional police force. The mere subject of a State (in this case the U.S.) has no reasonable claim of a "right" to "keep and bear" certain arms, the form of arms which may be lawfully possessed or the manner or place in which such arms are may lawfully used, dependent on the current prevailing interpretation of the (falsely) perceived right. Such a right (as it is claimed) being endowed to the mere person, by the current U.S. constitution, would contradict a (rather fundamental) right to civilian disarmament, which may be derived from the provisions of the preamble which specifically establish the obligation of the State to "ensure domestic tranquility" (therefore requiring a disarmed citizenry) and to "provide for the common defense" which requires State actors to have a monopoly on the lawful use of coercive power

    1. Wow, what rubbish!

      "the opinion given in District of Columbia v. Heller is strictly a contextual interpretation of United States v. Miller"

      The Heller court said that Miller was "not helpful" to their opinion. Probably because Miller was pretty clear that the right applies to the Militia with a little aside that:

      "To make this view of the case still more clear, we may remark, that the phrase, "bear arms," is used in the Kentucky constitution as well as in our own, and implies, as has already been suggested, their military use. The 28th section of our bill of rights provides, "that no citizen of this State shall be compelled to bear arms, provided he will pay in equivalent, to be ascertained by law." Here we know that the phrase has a military sense, and no other; and we must infer that it is used in the same sense in the 26th section, which secures to the citizen the right to bear arms. A man in the pursuit of deer, elk and buffaloes, might carry his rifle every day, for forty years, and, yet, it would never be said of him, that he had borne arms, much less could it be said, that a private citizen bears arms, because he has a dirk or pistol concealed under his clothes, or a spear in a cane. So that, with deference, we think the argument of the court in the case referred to, even upon the question it has debated, is defective and inconclusive."

      Aymette v. State, 21 Tenn. (2 Hump.) 154 (1840)

      Anyway, this isn't so much about the Second Amendment as it is about the concept that the Constitution allows for insurrection.

      Anyway, let's just toss in this proposal from New Hampshire from the Constitutional debates

      "TENTH, That no standing Army shall be Kept up in time of Peace unless with the consent of three fourths of the Members of each branch of Congress, nor shall Soldiers in Time of Peace be Quartered upon private Houses without the consent of the Owners... TWELFTH Congress shall never disarm any Citizen unless such as are or have been in Actual Rebellion."

      But, if people thought the way you do, the US wouldn't exist in its current state.

    2. To the one that refers to itself as "Laci the Dog":

      Had you been an educated and intelligent person, you would observe that in a Common Law (an archaic and quite idiosyncratic remnant of the Norman dark ages) jurisdiction Judges interpret law within the context of existing precedent. Therefore, I am entirely correct in stating that "the opinion given in District of Columbia v. Heller is strictly a contextual interpretation of United States v. Miller", regardless of the fact that Antonin Scalia exhibited wanton disregard for the meaning of existing precedent (United States v. Miller), the court (incorrectly) interpreted it on a contextual basis.

      I do not and have never claimed that a mere subject of the State, with no ties to any official agency, and who does not convey public authority, has ANY right to incite or participate in any insurrection or other anti-State activity, whether it be armed or unarmed.

      If "people" (the Constitutional Framers, I suppose) thought correctly, the U.S., would not be a crumbling, bankrupt, second rate power, teeming with simian denizens of the backwatered States (a cultural phenomenon commonly referred to as "rednecks") who contribute nothing to society, other than the manifesting in armed violence, which continues to fester in such a degenerate society.

      Perhaps you should have payed more attention? For reason of genetic inadequacy, or the lack of academic achievement, you fail to convince me that you possess none of the ability or position which you falsely adorn yourself with, in an act of futile self aggrandizement. Such irreverent behavior can be likend to the antics circus monkey adorned with a hat and cape. You are in layman's terms, a "poser".

    3. Laci, If you are talking about US v. Miller, which as far I know is the only major piece of 2nd Amendment jurisprudence prior to Heller in 2008, you obviously haven't read it.
      That case turned on whether a sawed off shotgun could have a use in a well regulated militia. In other words could that type of weapon be suitable for general military use. The court never considered whether the defendant (Miller) was a member of a militia and never found it relevant to do so.
      Miller lost, not because he didn't have a right to possess a gun, but because the type of weapon he possessed was, in the opinion of the court, not in ordinary use by the military.
      As an interesting note, Miller was dead by the time the case was argued so neither he, nor his lawyers, were present. Only the government's lawyers were there. This may have been one of the reasons the current court ignored it and looked at the issue from scratch.

  2. Shay's Rebellion is basic American history which I remember from high school, so I'd not be so dramatic as to call it "expunged from the US consciousness".

    1. Wow, you are really special. That must have been quite an in depth course for a US high school. Did they also cover the Whiskey Rebellion? The Dorr Rebellion?

      I don't really read comments, but I hope that yours are informed by this knowledge.

      I would also hope that you go beyond the basic regurgitation of "facts" and can use this event to demonstrate how it and other rebellions effect US political culture.

    2. I think "High School" is the extent of it's education. I say such to apply collectively.

      "I don't really read comments"

      Which is quite obvious, as you respond in an unsurprisingly illiterate manner.

    3. Never fear,Laci. You're pretty special too, in your own inimitable way. Joking aside, I remember Shay's Rebellion from both high school history and civics classes. The Whiskey Rebellion and The Dorr Rebellion...nope.

      And really, there's little point in knowing history if it doesn't provide an understanding of how we got where we are. So, you'll be glad to know your hopes are realized.

    4. The Whiskey rebellion and Shay's rebellion were both covered in every American History class I had, at least from Middle school on.

  3. Laci comes here once again to spout irrelevancies, and his spiritual equal, if not more than that, immediately responds with more statism.

    1. I thought it was relevant and interesting.

    2. Haven't you told us that the actions and writings of people from that period aren't relevant to today?

    3. How dare this "Greg Camp" equate our Number One Brother with such a rank and common person.

      Our Brother Number One is certainly more than a "spiritual equal of this Laci"

      Your decadent thoughts are in need of reform.

      Thank you, Mikeb, for enlightening the ignorant, on the correct response.

    4. E.N. spawns yet another personality. With regard to my thoughts and my guns, molon labe.

    5. Greg, they are relevant to the discussion thread. That's what I meant.

    6. E.N./Koba/Black Cap/New Red

      Your personalities are multiplying. Might need to see to that.

    7. Jesus, Greg, you have a lot of room to talk about "irrelevancies". If I remember correctly, you wrote a rather wimpy note about me taking you to task for not having your shit together.

      Anyway, since you are supposedly a teacher of English, please explain why this post would in any way be "irrelevant"?

    8. The one who refers to itself as "Greg Camp" utters over the medium of the internet:

      " With regard to my thoughts and my guns, molon labe."

      I wonder weather the U.S. meets the international criteria for designation as a war zone? Such would imply that at least the Federal Government is a failed State due to the lack of basic protection that it fails to provide it's subjects with. If the U.S. Government fails to protect the rights of it's subjects by implementing and enforcing Gun Control, then it will be deemed necessary to enact the ATT (or perhaps more extensive measures), and revoke the United States ability to decide it's own arms regulations.

      With respect to your "thoughts", there awaits a special place in Gulag for thee.

    9. E.N., the United Nations can't enforce a shit after swallowing a box of Ex-lax. What would you suggest, gathering a bunch of Third World armies to don blue helmets and come over here to ask us oh so politely to disarm ourselves? Beyond that, unless our Senate ratifies said treaty, it won't be binding on us. Even if it did, treaties that are unconstitutional have no force anyway.

      Laci and Mikeb, the relevant question is who has a right to own and carry arms. The Constitution clearly states that the right belongs to the people. Not to the government nor to the militia. The militia was just the reason that the right needed to be stated explicitly.

  4. But, but... I thought the Second Amendment was supposed to have been written so anyone could stage an insurrection! Isn't that what uncle Nugent tells us?? Why, those Founding Fathers were tyrants for putting down such a rebellion!

    1. That's what Mr. Tree-of-Liberty-Must-Be-Watered Jefferson thought at the time, too. But then he was all comfy in France while the rebellion was on. He certainly signed onto the Constitution without further complaints.

    2. Not sure of the meaning of this comment since Jefferson did not participate in the Constitution's drafting and did not sign it (signatories for Virginia were John Blair and James Madison).