Shays, Daniel

Shays, Daniel (1747-1825) Rebel Leader: Daniel Shays was born in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. He fought in the Revolutionary War, serving as an ensign at the Battle of Bunker Hill and reaching the rank of captain in the Continental Army. Nevertheless, he resigned from the Army "for reasons quite problematical." He moved to Pelham (now Prescott), Massachusetts, and became aware of the discontent among the people of that region after the end of the war. In 1786, Shays took part in a popular movement in western Massachusetts to force the state government to address the people's grievances. Farmers and other individuals in several counties held conventions, in which they drew up lists of grievances and established committees of correspondence. Thus, they applied the same tools of protests that had been effective against the British to influence the state government. Although different groups had different grievances; many complained against the high salaries of governors, high taxes, aristocratic state Senate and expensive lawyers. Many of the farmers were deep in debt, and farm foreclosures occurred frequently. To prevent this, many demanded that the general court not sit in Boston and that the state government issue a large amount of paper money to help farmers pay off their debts. Although the conventions did not advocate violence, many protesters were involved in uprisings, many of which prevented the courts from sitting. Shays became a leader in many of these uprisings. General Benjamin Lincoln and his troops pursued Shays as the legislature declared the state in rebellion. Finally, about 150 rebels were captured, and the rest dispersed. This arrest ended the rebellion. Although several leaders were sentenced to be hung, they were pardoned. Shays himself lived in Vermont for a year, asked and received pardon and moved to Sparta, New York. He was even allowed a pension for his services in the Revolutionary War. Shays died in Sparta, on September 29, 1825.