Shays's Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle

Front Cover
University of Pennsylvania Press, Incorporated, Nov 29, 2014 - History - 216 pages
4 Reviews

During the bitter winter of 1786-87, Daniel Shays, a modest farmer and Revolutionary War veteran, and his compatriot Luke Day led an unsuccessful armed rebellion against the state of Massachusetts. Their desperate struggle was fueled by the injustice of a regressive tax system and a conservative state government that seemed no better than British colonial rule. But despite the immediate failure of this local call-to-arms in the Massachusetts countryside, the event fundamentally altered the course of American history. Shays and his army of four thousand rebels so shocked the young nation's governing elite—even drawing the retired General George Washington back into the service of his country—that ultimately the Articles of Confederation were discarded in favor of a new constitution, the very document that has guided the nation for more than two hundred years, and brought closure to the American Revolution.

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.

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: Shays's Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle

User Review  - Goodreads

What has been taught in local folklore and in history books is brought into dispute in this book. Written by a professor of history at UMass who taught and studied rebellions I found the book well researched, although the writing could have been better. Read full review

Review: Shays's Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle

User Review  - Goodreads

As armed uprisings go, Shays' Rebellion was a fairly minor affair. During the summer and fall of 1786, insurgent farmers in Massachusetts forcibly (but bloodlessly) closed six county courthouses and ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2014)

Leonard L. Richards is Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author of numerous books, including The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780-1860 and The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams, a finalist in 1987 for the Pulitzer Prize for biography.

Bibliographic information