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What was Shays' Rebellion?

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Quick Answer

Shays' Rebellion was a series of protests against the collection of taxes and judgments for debt. The protests were led by American farmers in 1786 and 1787.

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During the summer of 1786, an economic depression plagued the American colonies, and European merchants refused to extend credit to them. The state governments responded by seizing property to pay for debt. Frustrated by these fiscal policies in Massachusetts, a group of protesters led by Daniel Shay formed an armed militia and shut down county courts to stop what they believed was a violation of their rights.

The protests spread beyond Massachusetts, but they eventually came to an end after a militia group tried to take over the federal arsenal in Springfield. A privately funded militia intercepted a message between the rebel groups and met the men at the arsenal. The private militia fired cannon shots and killed four men. The leaders fled to neighboring states, and the rebellion was quelled.

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