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BellaOnline's History Editor


The Revolutionary Spirit of Shays Rebellion

Guest Author - Rebecca Graf

History has proven more than once the uniqueness of America and the strong spirit of those that founded it. From the settling of the land that would one day be known as The United States of America, the spirit of the people has been strong and vocal. It was this very spirit that overcame the Appalachian Mountains, the mighty Mississippi River, the desolate deserts, and eventually the Rocky Mountains. It was this spirit that fought the French, the Spanish, the natives, and eventually the British. The roots of what became known as Shays’ Rebellion can be traced to the revolutionary spirit epitomized in the American Revolution where the voice of the people were heard with extreme clarity.

The years following the American Revolution were not peaceful and joyful. There was much turbulence as the country that had once been a large part of the great British Empire found itself standing on its own two feet. There was no more British money, protection, or rule to follow. There was nothing left to stand on. Everything was new and in need to be created. This included the political and economic stages of the American life. A new government had to be created out of the ashes of the burned British rule. A new economy had to be built up from what once looked to Britain for survival.

The late 1700s found America in an economic depression that suppressed any joy that could have been felt from the new nation having just found independence, and stepping out onto the world stage. The new nation found itself suffering extreme inflation and British goods filled the land smothering the people. Every state felt the pain of the depression. The entire country was deep in it and looked to extreme measures to pull them out of it including the cursed taxes that helped spawn the revolution of 1776.

Each state looked at methods to improve the economic situation of its own people but started with the state’s financial position instead of the nation as a whole. To rectify what each governor saw as the most important problems, many leaders increased taxes to unheard of highs. The reaction from the people was far from favorable. The populace did not have much choice but to turn around and call in all the debt owed to them through private means in an effort to pay their tax bills. This led to a domino effect of debt issues that ended up in many court systems causing more financial and political stress. As the government called in debt, the people called in their own debt leading to a tangled web of legal, economic, and government problems that kept multiplying at alarming rates.


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“The Labyrinth of Debt.” Shays’ Rebellion & the Making of a Nation. Accessed February 14, 2012. http://shaysrebellion.stcc.edu/shaysapp/essay.do?shortName=getby_petition.
“The Most Distressing Situation.” Shays’ Rebellion & the Making of a Nation. Accessed February 18, 2012. http://shaysrebellion.stcc.edu/shaysapp/ essay.do?shortName=getby_arsenal.
“The People Assembled in Arms.” Shays’ Rebellion & the Making of a Nation. Accessed February 16, 2012. http://shaysrebellion.stcc.edu/shaysapp/ essay.do?shortName=we_arsenal.
Williams, Tony. America’s Beginnings: The Dramatic Events That Shaped a Nation’s Character. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Accessed February 17, 2012. http://www.history.org/connect/files/Williams,%20Shays%27%20Rebellion.pdf.
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Content copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Graf. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Rebecca Graf. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.


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