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.
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.