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The Events of Shays Rebellion

The Events of Shays Rebellion

Between the years of 1786 to 1787, Daniel Shays, a Massachusetts farmer and a Revolutionary War veteran, amassed over 5,000 bankrupt farmers and organized a rebellion against a sovereign Massachusetts State Government.

The rebellion was spawned in the wake of the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, which granted sovereignty to each of the 13 states, thereby forbidding any type of involvement on the part of a central government.

The Articles of Confederation refused the central Government the right to taxation and, as a result, they could merely request individual State funding in form of donations. Furthermore, they were powerless to combat any refusal of payment made by any individual State. However, the Articles of Confederation allowed the central Government the authority to coin money. This proved to be financially insoluble because the central Government had expenses such as the upkeep of both a national military and a national postal service. Yet, due to insufficient funds, the Central Government was forced to coin money without any reasonable financial backing, instantly devaluing the national currency.

The flooding of the commercial market with what was essentially worthless currency sent the central Government spiraling into financial ruin. In addition, foreign investors and British landholders were unanimously demanding the repayment of all debts. Because the individual states were granted the authority to regulate all trade and tariff regulation, they began to institute exorbitant, and what Daniel Shays considered to be unjust, tariffs on interstate trade.

As a result, farmers (and other working-class merchants) were unable to participate in commerce on account that they could not afford the heightened tariffs. As their property became foreclosed, their families starved and their loved ones were forced into debtor’s prison. Daniel Shays saw no other option but to rebel against the sovereign Massachusetts State Government. His rebellion was known as Shays’ Rebellion.

Though only leading a force of 5,000 farmers and merchants, Shays’ Rebellion lasted for a full year because the Articles of Confederation forbade the central Government to interfere or involve itself in any State’s respective issues. As a result, the Massachusetts State militia engaged in fierce combat with Daniel Shays’ militia.

Had the central Government been allowed jurisdiction over remedying the damage caused by Daniel Shays’ rebellion, it would have sent the national militia to intervene. Yet, due to governmental regulations set forth in the Articles of Confederation, the central Government could only idly observe the disarray.

As a result of the central Government’s flooding of the commercial market with valueless paper money, each State’s monetary situation suffered as well. As their funds began to be depleted, they were forced to enforce commercial tariffs that quickly bankrupted a majority of its working-class citizens who relied on trade in order to sustain themselves and their families.

The Massachusetts State Government was considered by its citizens to be exceptionally unfair in its trade and tariff regulations. As the Massachusetts State Government hiked its tariff rates, which it was allowed to do by the Articles of Confederation, neighboring states refused to engage in trade relations as a result of the astronomical tariffs enforced by the Massachusetts State Government. The collapse of Massachusetts’s commercial industry coupled with the State Government’s requirement to satisfy its foreign debt forced Shay’s militia to rebel.

Though Shays’ Rebellion was considered to be a small scale uprising with a minimal amount of violence or damage caused, it illustrated the fundamental inefficiencies of the Articles of Confederation. Furthermore, Shays’ Rebellion was not looked at as an isolated event by the Federalists. It was viewed as a preview of events to come as a result of a weak centralized government.

What was the Northwest Ordinance?

What was the Northwest Ordinance?

The Northwest Territory included land that existed outside of the original 13 states, comprised of what is now Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Though the Articles of Confederation was founded under the pretense of diminishing the authority that the central Government had over the individual states, the Central Government was given control over the regulation of westward expansion.

The Northwest Ordinance gave settlers free rein to colonize the 5 states outlined in the document. Under the regulations of the Northwest Ordinance, all settlers were entitled to the same freedoms and liberties afforded to citizens of the original 13 states. Located within the text of the Northwest Ordinance was a section entitled “Articles of Compact”, consisting of 6 procedural requirements to which settlers were obligated to adhere.

They included an outline of processes and regulations, which ensured that the guidelines set forth in the Articles of Confederation were upheld in every territory included in the western expansion effort. Because both the Continental Congress and Thomas Jefferson were in favor of expanding the borders of the United States of America, the Northwest Ordinance was passed in order to persuade, rather than deter, settlers to do so.

In order to retain control of the expansion, only a certain amount of land was allotted to settlers participating in the western expansion effort. The Articles of Confederation allowed the central Government to regulate all boundary parameters set forth in the Northwest Ordinance and, as a result, the central government was responsible for granting statehood to the territories.

The Northwest Ordinance required that once a territory had 5,000 settlers, they would be able to send a non-voting representative to Congress. In addition, once a territory amassed 60,000 settlers they would be entitled to apply for statehood.

The Articles of Compact required that every settlement adheres to the tenets set forth in the Articles of Confederation, which ensured that the liberties afforded to citizens residing in the 13 states would be allowed to all settlers. The six principles of the Articles of Compact stated that:

1. All settlers were granted freedom of worship;

2. All settlers were both entitled to a trial by jury, as well as habeas corpus;

3. All settlers were encouraged to establish functional community relations, which included school systems and adequate housing. In addition, settlers were forbidden to do unjust harm to Native Americans residing in surrounding areas;

4. All settlers were to adhere to the Articles of Confederation, and as the citizens of the 13 states, they too were exempt from Government-impost taxes;

5. All settlers adhere to the boundaries set forth in the Northwest Ordinance. They were forbidden from expanding past the set parameters;

6. Slavery was forbidden in the western territories.

The Northwest Ordinance was one of the few jurisdictions that the Articles of Confederation had granted the central government and the enforcement of its regulations allowed for a democratic expansion of the United States of America’s border fueled by liberty and opportunity.

An Overview to a Constitutional Government

An Overview to a Constitutional Government

The Treaty of Paris (1783)

The Treaty of Paris signifies the first official doctrine regarding foreign policy and diplomacy between the newly-formed United States of America and all other foreign nations. As a result of the treatment of the Colonists under the British monarchy, a treatment which the authors of the Treaty of Paris regarded as both unfair and unjust, the Treaty of Paris was penned in the hopes of establishing a forum to conduct a just system fueled by democratic and humane diplomacy.

The Treaty of Paris sought to address potentially harmful situations in which international turmoil might occur. With that in mind, the Treaty of Paris establishes solidified borders and boundaries, which delineated the property of the United States of America from that of other nations. In addition, the British loyalists who remained on American soil and had been bullied in the wake of the Revolutionary War, both those taken prisoners, as well as those unjustly stripped of their property, were returned their respective property and freedom.

The Northwest Ordinance

As a result of the Articles of Confederation’s movement away from a strong gubernatorial presence, the Northwest Ordinance was one of the few legislative aspects over which the central Government was allowed control. After defeating the British in the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress – as well such political figureheads such as Thomas Jefferson – were anxious to expand the borders of the newly-formed United States of America. As a result, Thomas Jefferson penned the Northwest Ordinance in July of 1787.

The focal point of the doctrine was to not only ensure that settlers participating in the westward expansion would be entitled to the same rights and liberties as those residing in the 13 states but was also to allow room for new states to enter the Union. Contrasting the American citizens’ sentiment of abandonment at the hands of the British monarchy under Kind George II, the Northwest Ordinance ensured that settlers would be protected while colonizing the western frontier.

Articles of Confederation

On June 12th, 1776, the Articles of Confederation was assigned to be drafted by a committee put together by the Second Continental Congress. John Dickinson, the appointed head of this drafting committee, had already gained some notoriety as a result of his initial public refusal to sign the Declaration of Independence. Dickinson had concluded that the Declaration of Independence removed too much power from the Government.

Though Dickinson drafted an initial version of the Articles of Confederation which ensured the existence of a strong central government, as well as equal representations amongst the states, the remainder of the committee modified the Articles of Confederation prior to sending it to the individual states for ratification. In that final version, the central Government has disallowed any jurisdiction over any statewide legislation. The central Government was permitted to regulate currency, appoint both military and postal service, and manage affairs with the Native Americans. However, the flawed legislative structure established in the Articles of Confederation quickly lead to both financial disarray, as well as an evident disharmony between the states of the Union.

Shay’s Rebellion

Daniel Shay was a working-class farmer residing in Massachusetts who led a rebellion against a sovereign Massachusetts State Government between 1786 and 1787. Due to the central Government’s inability to levy taxes – a precept outlined in the Articles of Confederation – the sovereign states could only be requested to make financial contributions to the central Government. This quickly devastated the central Government’s finances.

Foreign landowners and investors with property in Massachusetts demanded a prompt repayment of all debts. Due to the depletion of their State funds as a result of the inflation spawned by the central Government, the Massachusetts State Government was forced to employ exorbitant tariffs on interstate commerce. Because farmers and merchants relied on the commercial market as their sustenance, they were quickly subject to imprisonment and foreclosure.

Shays declared these State-imposed tariffs to be both unjust and undemocratic and, in turn, refused payment. He and his fellow merchant-farmers rebelled against the Massachusetts State Government, and by doing so he was considered to bring the innate inefficiency of the Articles of Confederation to light.