Shays’s Rebellion


The Intolerable Acts


After the massive protest that was The Boston Tea Party, British parliament passed a series of punitive laws harsh enough to be called "The Intolerable Acts." These acts include the Stamp and Townshend Act as well as the closing of the Boston Port. Americans pledged to never repeat the tyranny of these laws should they win the war and subsequently their independence.

Shays Fights in the Revolutionary War

1775 - 1780

Daniel Shays was a rural farmer living in Massachusetts, born to Irish immigrants in 1747. Fighting for his country, Shays joined the local militia and fights in multiple battles including Bunker Hill, Saratoga, and Lexington. He even was promoted to the rank of captain in the Fifth Massachusetts Regiment. He was never paid for his services due to the lack of money in federal reserves after the war.

Daniel Shays Comes Home


Shays returns to his home in rural Brookfield only to find out he is being taken to court on account of unpaid taxes on his land. These taxes had accumulated while he was off fighting a war for the same country that was now punishing him. Without payment for his time in the military, he had no way of paying.

Rural Grievances

1782 - 1783

A farmer named Job Shattuck leads a protest in 1782where he and his followers physically prevented any tax collectors from doing their job. In 1783, an angry mob seized confiscated property in the town of Uxbridge and returned it to its owners against the state's ruling.

John Hancock Retires


The famous governer retires from his position, leaving Massachusetts under the rulings of Governor James Bowdoin. Bowdoin reversed Hancock's decision to not prosecute citizens guilty of not paying back taxes. He initiated civil action to persecute those who had unpaid taxes and collect the delinquent tax debts as well as raising state taxes. This led to further anger among the Bay Staters.

The Beginning of the Rebellion

August 26th 1786 - August 29th, 1786

On August 26th, the Massachusetts legislature rejects petitions for debt relief submitted by rural communities. Three days later on August 29th, a group of protesters named "The Regulators" converged on Northampton and stop the county court from convening, furious at their issues being ignored. Governor Bowdoin responded to this protest by deciding to use the state militia should more protests occur.

Blood is Spilled

September 5th, 1786 - January 25th, 1787

On September 5th, the court in Worcester was shut down by more "Regulator." When Bowdoin summoned the militia to intervene, it was to his surprise that the militia disobeyed, instead siding with the protesters. Shays militia grew, and on January 25th of 1787, he and almost 1,200 others marched on the federal armory in Springfield, where Bowdoin's new private militia was waiting. The ensuing skirmish left four of Shays rebellion dead and 20 wounded.

The Ratification of the Constitution

1787 - 1789

This battle led Nationalists like Alexander Hamilton and James Madison to start the Constitutional Convention in 1787. This conventions was fueled by passion and determination to prevent anything like Shays's rebellion from ever happening again. Those who had previously opposed a strong central government now realized it was, to some extent, a necessity. This mutual agreement led to the eventual creation of The Constitution. In 1788, Daniel Shays was pardoned and granted safe passage home from Vermont, where he had been hiding out since the rebellion. He even was paid for his five years in the Continental Army in 1788, more than a decade after the beginning of the war. In 1789, The Constitution was finally ratified when North Carolina approved after a suggestion for A Bill of Rights.


12/23/70 - 12/24/70