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Shays Rebellion After the American Revolution unsettled economic conditions and a severe depression tore the young nation Paper money was in circulation but little of it was honored at face value Merchants and other sound money men wanted currencies with gold backing In Massachusetts the sound money men were property owners and controlled the government Most of those who were harmed by the depression were without property and thus unable to vote Conflict between these two groups grew until thousands of men in the western counties rose in armed revolt They were led by Daniel Shays 1747-1825 a captain during the American Revolution Shays Rebellion lasted from August 1786 to February 1787 The agitators objected to heavy land and poll taxes the high cost of lawsuits high salaries of state officials oppressive court decisions and dictatorial rulings of the state senate In Northampton Worcester Great Barrington and Concord on August 29 the mob succeeded in keeping the courts closed so debtors could not be tried and put into prison Fearful of being tried for treason for this action Shays and his men broke up the state Supreme Court session at Springfield the following month The revolt took a more serious turn when Shays and a force of 1200 men returned to Springfield in January to capture the arsenal Action by American general William Shepard of the national government prevented the attack on January 25 The rebels fled toward Petersham where they were finally defeated Most of the insurgents were captured in early February ending the rebellion The leaders were condemned to death for treason but were later pardoned Shays himself later received a war pension for his service in the American Revolution Although they were defeated their act of defiance worried many property
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