The importance of Shays's Rebellion has never been fully appreciated, chiefly because Shays and his followers have always been viewed as a small group of poor farmers and debtors protesting local civil authority. In Shays's Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle, Leonard Richards reveals that this perception is misleading, that the rebellion was much more widespread than previously thought, and that the participants and their supporters actually represented whole communities--the wealthy and the poor, the influential and the weak, even members of some of the best Massachusetts families.
Through careful examination of contemporary records, including a long-neglected but invaluable list of the participants, Richards provides a clear picture of the insurgency, capturing the spirit of the rebellion, the reasons for the revolt, and its long-term impact on the participants, the state of Massachusetts, and the nation as a whole. Shays's Rebellion, though seemingly a local affair, was the revolution that gave rise to modern American democracy.
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The Articles of Confederation were drawn up during the American Revolution to define the national government, but were too weak to achieve their goals and were replaced by the US Constitution. Springfield, Massachusetts, situated on the Connecticut River, is the largest city in Western New England.