The American Revolution - History 1110: UNITED STATES TO 1877

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Transcript The American Revolution - History 1110: UNITED STATES TO 1877

The American Revolution
1779 British Political Cartoon of King George III
King George III by Allan Ramsay, painted in 1762 (just two years into his rule)
SECTIONS 6750 & 6752
The American Revolution
A New Kind of War
 A Revolutionary Struggle: How was it possible for the poorly
armed and haphazardly organized Americans defeat the most
powerful military force in the world? The transition from a
conventional war to a revolutionary struggle that mobilized the
entire society is a key factor.
 How to Govern? While simultaneously fighting a war, Americans
also wrestled with how they would govern themselves. Should any
ties with Britain be retained? How should a new nation be
structured? Should revolutionary ideas of individual rights and
freedoms also apply to women, slaves, and Indians in addition to
white males?
The American Revolution
The States United: Defining American War Aims
 Second Continental Congress: Just a few weeks after Lexington and
Concord, in May 1775, the Continental Congress met for the second time in
Philadelphia. Delegates from every colony except for Georgia (who had yet to
send a representative) agreed to support the war effort and create the
Continental Army.
 Divisions: Within the Congress, there was not agreement on the larger war
aims. One extreme, led by Sam and John Adams of Massachusetts and Richard
Henry Lee of Virginia demanded independence. On the other extreme was John
Dickinson of Pennsylvania, who hoped for a quick reconciliation.
 General Outlook: Most Americans saw independence as too radical, too
much of a leap into the unknown. But as the first year of the war dragged on,
the cost started to seem to too high for reconciliation. And the British greatly
alienated colonists by recruiting slaves, Indians, and German mercenaries
known as “Hessians” to fight against them.
The American Revolution
The States United: Defining American War Aims
 Common Sense: Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, published in January 1776, helped
to catalyze public opinion around the idea of independence. Selling over
100,000 copies in just a few months, it used clear and vivid language and
reasoning to argue for a clean break with England. It could be understood by
people who had just rudimentary educations.
 Thomas Paine (1736-1809): Paine had come to
America only two years before, having failed in his
career as an excise officer (tax collector) back in
England, and decided to migrate to Pennsylvania
on the recommendation of Benjamin Franklin,
who himself remained in England until 1775.
Barely surviving the transatlantic voyage, Paine
recovered and became editor at the Pennsylvania
Magazine through his connection to Franklin.
The American Revolution
Excerpts from Common Sense
 On Hereditary Succession of Kings: “To the evil of monarchy we have added that of
hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the
second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and an imposition on posterity. For all men
being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual
preference to all others for ever, and though himself might deserve some decent degree of
honors of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them.
One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature
disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind
an ass for a lion.”
 Culture Ties to England: “But admitting that we were all of English descent, what does it
amount to? Nothing. Britain, being now an open enemy, extinguishes every other name and
title: And to say that reconciliation is our duty, is truly farcical. The first king of England, of the
present line (William the Conqueror) was a Frenchman, and half the peers of England are
descendants from the same country; wherefore by the same method of reasoning, England
ought to be governed by France.”
The American Revolution
Excerpts from Common Sense
 Britain as the Parent Country: “But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the
more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young; nor savages make war
upon their families; wherefore the assertion, if true, turns to her reproach; but it happens not
to be true, or only partly so, and the phrase parent or mother country hath been jesuitically
adopted by the king and his parasites, with a low papistical design of gaining an unfair bias on
the credulous weakness of our minds. Europe, and not England, is the parent country of
America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers off civil and religious
liberty from every Part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the
mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same
tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home pursues their descendants still.”
The American Revolution
The States United: The Declaration of Independence
 Independence Declared: The Second Continental Congress had been
meeting since May 1775, but became more focused on independence in
the early summer of 1776, putting a draft committee together to work on
a declaration. On July 2, it passed a resolution declaring the colonies
ought to be “free and independent states” that “are absolved from all
allegiance to the British crown.” Two days later, the Declaration was
 Articles of Confederation: The declaration triggered a process by
which the colonies attempted to legally transform themselves from
“colonies” into “states.” By 1781, most had written and approved new state
constitutions. On the national level, a new central government was
formed and approved in November 1777 under a document called the
“Articles of Confederation”; it was weak and highly decentralized.
The American Revolution
The States United: The Declaration of Independence
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826): The thirty-three-year-old Virginian
drafted the Declaration mostly by himself, with some help from John
Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Its first half declares Lockean ideas of the
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (Locke actually uses “possessions”
rather than “pursuit of happiness” in his Second Treaty on Government). The
second half is a long list of grievances not against Parliament, but against
the person of King George III (which was firmly against earlier plans to
America become an independently governed region that
nominally remained under the monarchy.
Portrait of Jefferson in 1791
The American Revolution
The States United: Mobilizing for War
 Continental Currency: One of the main tasks of the
Continental Congress was to finance the war, but it could not
impose direct taxes on the colonies and the colonists were
generally too poor to buy bonds. So it printed massive
amounts of “Continental currency,” which quickly became almost valueless.
Ultimately the war was finance by borrowing from other nations.
 Recruiting Soldiers: Soldiers were scarce after the initial 1775 surge. Each
state’s militia briefly remained under state control for the first few months until
this proved to difficult to be too disorganized.
 George Washington (1732-1799): Congress realized the need for a centralized
military command, and thus put a highly respected Virginian, very wealthy
aristocratic planter (he grew wheat, not tobacco, as his primary crop), a
representative in the House of Burgesses, and soldier from the French and Indian
War, in charge. While not a gifted strategist, Washington was admired for his
courage in battle, his physical endurance, calmness, and dignity.
The American Revolution
The States United: Mobilizing for War
Washington’s Foreign Advisors
 Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1854): The young French
nobleman, a highly trained soldier even though he was only
nineteen years old, sailed to the U.S. to take a command as
a major general, arriving in the middle of 1777. He proved
invaluable in helping Washington with strategy and training.
 Baron von Steuben (1730-1797): A widely respected
Prussian military officer who had fought in the Seven Years’
War and served on the personal staff of Frederick the Great,
he traveled to Paris in 1777 to meet America's foreign
commissioners, Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane, and offer
them his military services. The Continental Congress was
impressed by Von Steuben experience and his refusal to
accept any salary while in service, and sent him to Valley Forge.
The American Revolution
The War for Independence
 British Advantages: Best-equipped army and most powerful navy in the world;
resources of an empire; and a coherent command structure.
 American Advantages: fighting on own soil; more committed to the fight than the
opponent; and substantial foreign aid after 1777.
The First Phase – New England
 Spring 1775 – Spring 1776: British authorities thought they were quelling a
localized uprising around the Boston area, not a real war.
 Battle of Bunker Hill (June 17, 1775): The Americans fortified themselves atop a
hill (actually Breed’s Hill, not Bunker Hill) in Charleston, an ideal artillery position to
barrage Boston. The Americans were driven off the hill and had to retreat, but they
inflicted significant losses on the British: 226 dead and 828 wounded, compared to
140 dead and 310 for the colonists. Early in 1776, the British decide Boston is a poor
place to stage a war and evacuate to Halifax on March 17.
 Not a Local Conflict: A failed American attempt to invade Canada in late 1775 and
early 1776, and the crushing of a loyalist uprising in North Carolina in February 1776
convinced the British authorities that this was not just a local uprising.
The American Revolution
The War for Independence
The Second Phase – The Mid-Atlantic Region
During this phase, from 1776 to 1778, the British were in a good position to win,
but made some tactical errors that missed the opportunity.
 General William Howe: In the summer of 1776, 32,000 British soldiers in
hundreds of ships made their way down from Canada to New York, all under the
command of Gen. William Howe (1729-1814). Howe offered American forces an
option: surrender with a royal pardon or be crushed by an overwhelming force.
The Americans chose to fight.
 Battle of Brooklyn: Howe’s force had been staging on Staten Island, but
crossed to Long Island on August 22, and then attacked Washington’s smaller
force of 19,000 on August 27, soundly defeating them in a bloody battle in the
Gowanus/Park Slope area. Washington’s surviving remnants barely escaped across
the East River into Manhattan. Strangely, Howe delayed in applying the fatal blow,
allowing the American troops to fortify themselves in northern Manhattan. Howe
eventually drove them out, across New Jersey, and into Pennsylvania by winter.
The American Revolution
The War for Independence
The Second Phase – The Mid-Atlantic Region
 Trenton and Princeton: Having been pushed across the Delaware River into
Pennsylvania, Washington staged a surprise sneak attack on an outpost of Hessians
stationed at Trenton, New Jersey, on Christmas Night, 1776, by crossing the icy
river. He followed up by attacking Princeton on January 3, 1777, which he also
won, but he could not hold onto either positions for long, and took refuge in the
Morristown hills. But his army was still intact.
 The 1777 Campaigns: Howe devised a plan to split the U.S. in two by
capturing the Hudson Valley. His force would travel northward and meet the
northern army of Gen. John Burgoyne as it came down from Canada. Weirdly,
Howe abandoned the plan and turned south and captured the rebel capitol of
Philadelphia, thinking it would bring the war to a quick end. But the Continental
Congress escaped and reformed in York, Pennsylvania. Washington’s attempt to
retake the capitol at Germantown on Oct. 4 failed, so he and his troops set up
winter camp in Valley Forge, outside of Philadelphia.
CHAPTER FIVE: The American Revolution
The American Revolution
The War for Independence
The Second Phase – The Mid-Atlantic Region
 Saratoga: Howe’s move to take Philadelphia left Burgoyne’s force coming down
from Canada alone in its attempt to gain control of the Hudson Valley. After
several defeats at the hands of the Americans and not having many supplies left,
Burgoyne’s forces ensconced themselves in a fort at Saratoga. American General
Horatio Gates surrounded Burgoyne’s force and made them surrender on
October 17, 1777.
 Iroquois Confederacy: Although officially neutral, it had a faction that was
pro-English—led by Mohawk brother and sister Joseph and Mary Brant—that
brought down the wrath of the Americans after Saratoga. The Iroquois were
greatly weakened by the American victory in the region.
 Aid from Abroad: Count de Vergennes, the French foreign minister, was
holding off to see if the Americans had a chance of winning the fight before
sinking money into it. The major victory at Saratoga was proof enough for him
that the Americans had a shot. Ben Franklin was key in negotiating the aid.
The American Revolution
The War for Independence: The Final Phase – The South (1778-1781)
 Britain’s Southern Strategy: Instead of fighting a full-scale war against the
American army, the British decided to take the conflict to the south, where
loyalist sympathies seemed to be strongest. But they ultimately had
overestimated the extent of loyalist sympathy.
 British Victories: The British won some conventional battles, capturing
Savannah, Georgia, in December 1778; Charleston, South Carolina, in May
1780; and crushing a patriot force at Camden, South Carolina, in August 1780.
 Patriot Guerillas: But the presence of troops actually rallied Southerners to
the cause of independence, and many launched intense campaigns of guerillastyle warfare against the British, including Thomas Sumter, Andrew Pickens, and
Francis Marion (the “Swamp Fox”). They contributed to the breaking of the will
of British leadership to keep fighting.
 Benedict Arnold: In fall 1780, the Americans were shocked to learn that a
high-ranking general had been passing secrets about West Point to the British.
The American Revolution
The War for Independence
The Final Phase – The South (1778-1781)
 Lord Cornwallis & Nathanael Greene: The new British commander of the
southern forces won at Camden, defeating American Gen. Horatio Gates, but
unfortunately for Cornwallis, Gates was then replaced by the Americans’ most
brilliant general, Nathanael Greene (1742-1786).Greene confused Cornwallis by
breaking his force up into nontraditional small and fast units. Greene beat
Cornwallis at Cowpens on Jan. 17, 1781.
 Guilford Courthouse: In this battle on March 15, 1781, Cornwallis’s forces
actually pushed Greene’s forces from the field, but in doing so, incurred such heavy
losses as to make Cornwallis abandon the Carolina campaign.
 Yorktown: Cornwallis’s commander, General Clinton, ordered Cornwallis to take
up a defensive position on the Yorktown peninsula. There, American forces were
able to surround Cornwallis’s army, and French warships were able to seal off
escape by sea. Cornwallis was forced to surrender on October 17, 1781.
The American Revolution
The American Revolution
The War for Independence: Wining the Peace
 America’s Diplomats: The three principle negotiators in France were
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay (the last man was a former
President of the Continental Congress and New York Supreme Court justice who
had just come from a mission to garner Spanish support).
 Vergennes’s Demand: The Americans were instructed to act in concert with
the French, but the French Foreign Minister Vergennes would not allow
negotiations to go forward until the British gave Gibraltar back to France’s ally,
Spain, which was not going to happen. The Americans thus proceeded without
France, and signed a treat on November 30, 1782. Franklin skillfully smoothed
over tensions with Vergennes.
 Treaty of Paris: On the whole, the treaty was remarkably favorable to the
United States. It offered formal recognition of the new country, and ceded all
territory south of Canada, east of the Mississippi, and north of Florida. The treaty
was widely celebrated.
The American Revolution
War and Society
 The Loyalists: One estimate puts Loyalists as a fifth of the white population;
another puts them at a third. Some were imperial officials, some were wealthy
merchants, and other merely sought to curry favor with who they thought would
win. After the war, many were persecuted by judicial and legislative actions, and
many were banished. As many as 100,000 fled the country, with the bulk fleeing
to Canada, with smaller groups going to England and the Caribbean. Many of the
the old colonial merchant elites were left in disarray.
 The War’s Effects on Religion: The Anglican Church—the official Church of
England—was greatly weakened by the war, losing its official government status
in Virginia and Maryland. Quakerism was also weakened by its pacifist stance. But
other Protestant denominations—Presbyterian, Baptist, and Congregational—
were strengthened by their support for the Patriot cause. Catholics, too,
benefitted from their support for the Revolution. The Vatican gave the U.S. its
first Catholic bishop in 1789, John Carroll, in the diocese of Baltimore.
The American Revolution
War and Society: The War and Slavery
 Slavery and Revolution in the South: Many slaves found freedom because of a
British tactic to disrupt the American war effort: slaves who came over to the British
side and fought would be given their freedom. Nearly a third did so in South Carolina.
Slaveholders feared that revolutionary ideology would foment slave rebellion, although
none succeeded. Laws were passed in Virginia and Maryland did allow slaveholders to
“manumit” or free their slaves.Yet overall, white support for slavery survived.
 Slavery and Revolution in the North: Revolutionary fervor and evangelical
Christianity helped to fuel the spread of anti-slavery sentiment. States such as
Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island were among the first to ban the overseas
slave trade; abolitionists pressured states to pass manumission laws; and lastly, northern
states began making slavery illegal within their borders, with Pennsylvania doing so
first in 1780, and New York and New Jersey being the last, in 1799 and 1804
 An Irony: A big irony of the Revolution was thought some people were fighting to
obtain their own freedom while preserving the enslavement of others.
The American Revolution
War and Society: Native Americans and Revolution
 Neutrality: Most tribes did not take sides in the war, uncertain of the outcome. Most
viewed the British as moderately better, having tried to rein in the expansion of settlers
with the Proclamation of 1763, while the Patriots advocated expansion into Indian
 Some Attacks: Some did join the British, while some mounted attacks of their own,
such as Cherokee Chief Dragging Canoe, who launched attacks against areas of the
western Carolinas and Virginia in the summer of 1776, which led to bloody retaliatory
attacks by the white settlers.
 Weakened Position: The Patriot victory led to a greatly weakened position, as the
new nation did not hide the fact that it sought to expand into western lands. Some
Patriots though the Indians should be treated as conquered people because of the aid
several tribes gave to the British, while others, like Thomas Jefferson, took a
paternalistic view: these “noble savages” might be redeemed if they were willing to
adopt white norms of society.
The American Revolution
War and Society: Women’s Rights and Roles
 New Roles: Women were often forced to assume new roles when
their husbands, fathers, and sons went off to war for long periods,
such as running a farm or generating an income. Some did not stay
home, but joined Patriot camps to cook, clean, and tend to the
wounded. Some even fought disguised as men, such as
Deborah Sampson of Massachusetts.
 Abigail Adams (1744-1814): She corresponded
voluminously with her husband during the Revolution,
famously writing, “I desire you would remember the
ladies and be more generous and favorable to them
than your ancestors.”
The American Revolution
War and Society: Women’s Rights and Roles
 Patriarch Strengthened: Despite Abigail Adams’s request, little was done to
strengthen woman’s rights during the revolutionary period. Married women were
under “coverture” of their own: her property became her husband’s, she could
not vote or initiate legal transactions, or have legal control of her children. The only
area of improvement was in her ability to initiate a divorce. The Revolution shored
up and strengthened the patriarchal order of the society.
• “Republican Motherhood”: Some women argued for women’s education was
made during the early republic since mothers needed to be able to educate their
sons and teach them the virtues and knowledge needed for republic citizenship.
The American Revolution
War and Society: The War Economy
 Disruption of Trade: The closure of British ports to American
ships during the war led American merchants to develop new trade
networks with the Caribbean and South America, and by the 1780s,
even China.
 Manufacturing: Americans began to create a limited amount of
their own manufactured goods, although this increase was still quite
small. England still dominated in this field and would continue to
do so through much of the nineteenth century.
 Interstate Trade: Trade between the states increased greatly, to a
much greater volume than had happened between colonies.
The American Revolution
The Creation of State Governments
 Assumption of Republicanism: Almost all Americans agreed that the new
government would be republican (most of the monarchists had left!). The
interests of small freeholders (meaning small rural landholding farmers) would
predominate. Thomas Jefferson was particularly attached to this vision. He
believed large landed aristocrats outnumbered by dependent workers would lead
to instability.
 Rhetoric of Equality: According to the founding fathers, there may not be an
equality of condition in the new republic, but there would be an equality of
opportunity. Some people would naturally become richer, but all would have to
earn their success.
 Reality of Inequality: The U.S. was never a republic of small freeholders,
having a huge number of dependent workers—white, black, Indian, and male and
female—from the beginning. While the rhetoric suggested that people’s position
by birth didn’t matter, it definitely always has in an individual’s ultimate success.
Nonetheless, U.S. society was still far more fluid than European ones.
The American Revolution
The Creation of State Governments: First State Constitutions
 Connecticut and Rhode Island: These states already had constitutions that
were republican in all but name. References to the king and England merely had to
be deleted. But the other eleven colonies needed new documents.
 Writing It Down: All states agreed to have written constitutions, noting that the
unwritten English Constitution led to too much corruption.
 Curbing the Executive: All states greatly limited the powers of the governor,
reducing or eliminating their power to veto, to appoint officials, or dismiss the
legislature. All states forbade the governor from holding a seat in the state
legislature, avoiding an English parliamentary system. Pennsylvania even did away
with the office of governor.
 Not Pure Democracy: Most states (except for Georgia and Pennsylvania) had
two-chamber (bicameral) legislatures, with an upper house representing the
“higher orders” of society. All states had some degree of property requirements for
voting. What was the reasoning behind property requirements?
The American Revolution
Revising State Governments
 Fear of Instability: By the late 1770s, many involved in governing the states thought
that the new constitutions allowed for too much popular power, making the
governments unstable, and thus looked to revise them.
 Massachusetts: This state did not ratify its first constitution until 1780, so it was able
to address the new concerns. If the constitution was to be amended, a special
constitutional convention would be need to be called. The legislature itself could not
amend the document. The constitution also made the governor’s position stronger,
restoring full appointment and veto powers. Other states soon followed the
Massachusetts example.
 Religious Toleration: In 1786, Virginia enacted the Statute of Religious Liberty,
written by Thomas Jefferson, which called for separation of church and state.
 Slavery: In places in the North where it was already weak, it was gradually abolished.
Even in the South there were some pressures to reform or eliminate it. But it persisted
because of racism, the huge economic investment many slaveholders had in it, and
because leaders like Jefferson and Washington—who were morally disturbed by it—
could not imagine an alternative.
The American Revolution
The Search for a National Government: The Confederation
 Articles of Confederation: Approved by the Continental
Congress in 1777, it provided for a government much like the one
already in place: the Congress remained the only body of national
authority. Under the Articles, there was no executive or judiciary
branches on the national level.
 Ratification: Small states wanted equal representation, while larger
states wanted representation based on population. The small states
won this debate. All thirteen states had to ratify the Articles, and
New York and Virginia had to give up their claims on western lands
and turn them over to the national government. They finally went
into effect in 1781.
The American Revolution
The Search for a National Government: The Confederation
 What It Could Do: Conduct wars and carry out foreign relations;
and appropriate, borrow, and issue money.
 What It Could Not Do: Regulate trade, draft troops, or levy taxes
directly on the people. For tax money and drafting troops, Congress
had to make a formal request to state legislatures, which often
refused these requests.
 How It Worked: Each state had one vote, and nine of the thirteen
had to vote for a measure for it to be approved. All thirteen states had
to approve an amendment to the Articles.
 Overall: The Confederation did not have enough power to deal with
the nation’s problems, lacking the ability to address interstate
problems or enforce its will on the states.
The American Revolution
The Search for a National Government: The Confederation
 Diplomatic Failures: The British did not honor the parts of the Treaty of
Paris calling for them to evacuate their forces from frontier regions of the
United States, with their forces remaining in forts along the Great Lakes.
The British also restricted American access to British ports for the purpose
of trade. John Adams was sent as a minister to London in 1784, but he
made no headway, in part because the British were unsure if he represented
one country or thirteen different ones.
 Spanish Treaty: In 1786, Confederation diplomats negotiated a treaty
with Spain recognized the American border to Florida, but the treaty was
rejected by Congress since it called for the restriction of American access to
the Mississippi for twenty years, which Southerners could not abide.
The American Revolution
The Search for a National Government: The Confederation
 Western Lands Questions: The Confederation was successful in dealing with
the problem of lands in the “Northwest,” the area south of the Great Lakes.
 The Ordinances of 1784 and 1785: These created a system for organizing and
selling off this land in a rectangular grid pattern, and providing for the territories
ultimate application for statehood, creating ten even districts that could become
states. The grid eliminated confusion and disputes over ownership, but also
encouraged a dispersed settlement pattern that made community formation
difficult. Unfortunately, these ordinances proved more helpful to land speculators
rather than individual settlers.
 The Northwest Ordinance: In 1787, Congress replaced the older ordinances
with a new one that dispensed with the ten districts and created one large one,
which could potentially could create three to five states. An area could apply for
statehood once it reached 60,000 people. It also guaranteed freedom of religion
and outlawed slavery throughout the Northwest Territory.
The American Revolution
The Search for a National Government: The Confederation
 Indians and Western Lands: The Northwest Ordinance assumed that the land
would be ready for white settlement and that Indians would be willing to leave it. In
1784, 1785, and 1786, Confederation officials tried to have Iroquois, Choctaw,
Chickasaw, and Cherokees sign treaties ceding their lands. The Iroquois Confederacy
repudiated the treaty, while other tribes never acknowledged it in the first place.
 Violence in the 1790s: The Miami, led by Chief Little Turtle, inflicted
two losses on U.S. forces in 1790 and 1791. The United States tried to
reach an agreement with him, but he refused to budge until all white
settlers retreated from west of the Ohio River.
• Battle of Fallen Timbers: The Indians would not negotiate until
General Anthony Wayne brought a force of 4,000 out into the Ohio
Valley to crush Indian forces in 1794. A year later, the Miami signed the
Treaty of Greenville, which ceded substantial new lands to the U.S., but in exchange,
required the U.S. to acknowledge Indian tribes as sovereign nations.
The American Revolution
Debts, Taxes, and Daniel Shays
 Postwar Depression: This stretched from 1784 to 1787, and was greatly exacerbated by
a shortage in the supply of money. The Congress itself also had a tremendous debt incurred
to foreign powers while fighting the war, and had no real means of paying it back.
 “Continental Impost”: Robert Morris—the head of the Confederation’s treasury—as
well as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison all called for a 5 percent impost on
imported goods to be collected by the national government to pay down the debt. The idea
was rejected by Congress in both 1781 and 1783.
• State Debt: States had debt as well, and relied on higher taxes to service them. Rural
farmers. Already burdened by debt, considered such measures unfair. They pressured the
state legislatures to issue to issue paper money to make it easier for them to pay back their
debts. In Massachusetts, this group felt they were being squeezed to enrich wealthy war
bond holders back in the east.
• Shays’s Rebellion: In the late 1780s, rural farmers in Western Massachusetts rioted in
protest of higher taxes. Dissidents rallied behind Daniel Shays, a former captain of the
Continental Army. Using armed force, they prevented the collection of debts and stopped
courts from holding foreclosure proceedings. In January 1787, a state militia from the east
at last dispersed Shays’s men, and he was captured and slated for execution, although
ultimately pardoned.