A short history of the “Shay’s rebellion” in Massachusetts in the wake of the American Revolution, in which many poor farmers and war veterans attempt to shut down the state’s courts in protest at the debt burden on veterans and high taxes on farmers.
"Shays’ Rebellion is but one incident in a historic current. In the western regions of the coastal states, on the frontier, lived farmers who were in great debt and burdened by distant and unresponsive governments during the depressions preceding and following the War of the Revolution. Under British or American government there was little relief for those suffering under heavy taxes and excessive rents. There was a period of about fifty years of economic exploitation and discrimination by East Coast rulers. The farmers participated in many disorders and upheavals from the 1740’s, when the Jerseyites refused to pay rents and Massachusetts men marched in Boston in support of a land bank law, until the 1790’s, when the Fries Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion were fomented by Pennsylvania mountain men. In 1781 there was a mutiny of the Pennsylvania line of the Continental Army against exploiting "gentry" officers, some of whom were executed by their own men. These revolutionary soldiers elected officers from the ranks and continued to fight for the revolution. There were other mutinies at this time.
There were waves of revolts ‘known by such names as The Wars of the Carolina Regulators in North and South Carolina, The Wars of the New Hampshire Grants in New York and Vermont, Shays’ Rebellion in Massachusetts, and the Fries and Whiskey Rebellions in Pennsylvania and neighboring states. In many states the western counties were in rebel hands for a number of years. No taxes could be collected and the courts were closed to prevent mortgage foreclosures. In reading the following account, we ask that you see it not as an isolated incident or an aberration, but as a small part of a continuous stream of action by people to wrest control of their lives from the state.”