Affiliate notice

Affiliate links may be included in posts, as on sidebar ads, for which compensation may be received.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Place to Make a Stand - Shays' Rebellion

This photo depicts the stone step a the entrance to Conkey’s Tavern, the only remaining physical marker of Conkey’s Tavern, which once stood in Pelham, Mass., later a part of Prescott before that town was dissolved in the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir. Conkey’s Tavern was where Shays and his men plotted their rebellion.

On January 26, 1787, it was the beginning of the end of Shays’ Rebellion. On this day, General William Shepard fired cannon into the insurgents led by Daniel Shays, who had attempted to seize weapons from the United States Arsenal in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Governor Bowdoin's proclammation against the rebels is posted in The Hampshire Gazette from March 1787. Shays’ led a makeshift army of farmers deeply in debt after the American Revolution. Many suffered foreclosures on their property, and some went to prison for their debt.

The highway that now runs along the Quabbin Reservoir in Pelham is called the Daniel Shays Highway. It seems the rebel has found a grudging respect by the Commonwealth that once shot cannonballs at him, the respect that he had among a lot of people in the western counties of the state.

In six months the rebellion was crushed. Shays and many of his men escaped to Vermont, which at that time was an independent nation, and lived in exile. Shays' Rebellion sufficiently unnerved officials in all of the newly independent United States, and a convention was formed to dump the Articles of Confederation for a new Constitution.

A lot of lessons remain from Shays’ Rebellion, and not just about the benefits of a centralized government. The merchant class versus the farmers, the poor circumstances of disenfranchised veterans, the terror of mob violence, and the desperation born of debt and foreclosure. “A little rebellion”, indeed.

No comments:

Now Available