11 June 2006

Shays Rebellion

Guess it’s time for Shay’s Rebellion. Why today? As I was trying to fill in more of the extended family tree, I encountered General William Shepard. Not being familiar with the General, I stopped looking for other descendants of Miles Powell*, which was my original intent, and went off on a General Shepard tangent.

The Rebellion started with petitions to the government for paper currency, lower taxes, and judicial reform. (DS) Among grievances presented were the want of a circulating medium, the large salaries of the public officials, the aristocratic bearing of the senate, the heavy burden of taxes, holding of General Court in Boston and abuses in the practice of law. The people were in debt, the wages of the soldiers unpaid, and the taxes burdensome. (HD)

Daniel Shays was one of the leaders of the insurgents in 1786. Perhaps the term “Shays Rebellion” was coined when Massachusetts Governor Bowdoin issued a proclamation for the apprehension of Shays, Luke Day, Adam Wheeler and Eli Parsons, with the reward of 150 pounds for Shays and 100 pounds for the others. Generals William Shepard and Benjamin Lincoln led the government forces opposing the insurgents.

Shays Rebellion Time Line

29th August 1786 – First target, Court of Common Pleas at Northampton (DS)
25th September – 28th September – Shays group occupied the Springfield courthouse (DS)
20th December – Daniel Shays/300 insurgents took possession of the courthouse (GM)
5th of January 1787 – Attempted to take Springfield Arsenal with 1,100 men (GM)
19th January 1787 – Warrant Issued by Governor Bowdoin (HD)
20th January – Gen. Lincoln marched to defend the debtor court in Worcester (DS)
24th January – Shays message to Capt. Luke Day stating that he should attack the next day; Day replied that he couldn’t assist then, but would attack the day following. Day’s response was intercepted and given to Gen. Shepard
25th January – Luke Day's "insolent message" to General Shepard demanding troops in Springfield lay down their arms
25th January – Shays message to Gen. Lincoln that he was unwilling to shed blood and insurgents should be indemnified until the next session of General Court; message thought to be a delaying tactic by Shays
25th January – Shays, with 2,000 men, attempt to take Arsenal at Springfield
25th January – General William Shepard successfully defends the Arsenal
31st January – Letter by Francis Stone, Daniel Shays and Adam Wheeler
31st January – Letter from General Lincoln
3rd February – General Court convened
3rd February – Insurgents went from Pelham to Petersham – General Lincoln pursued in a forced march, later characterized as a march that “would have done honor to the veteran soldiers of a Hannibal or a Napoleon.” (HD)
4th February – Insurgents surprised by General Lincoln’s troops (JFQ)
9th February – Gov. Bowdoin issued proclamation for the apprehension of Shays, Luke Day, Adam Wheeler and Eli Parsons
27th February – Last major conflict (JFQ)
9th April – Special Session of supreme judicial court for the county of Hampshire. Parmenter, Luddington, White, Colton, Dickinson, and McCulloch tried for high treason; all but Dickinson were convicted and sentenced to death. The governor was overwhelmed with petitions for a pardon for the convicts. (HA)

The Aftermath

Shays fled to Winchester, New Hampshire, then possibly to Canada, then to New York state. He was subsequently pardoned and returned home to Pelham, Massachusetts, but then afterwards lived the rest of his life in Sparta, New York (Livingston County), where he died in poverty in September of 1825 at the age of 78. (HA)

General William Shepard was a commissioner representing Massachusetts at Big Tree, now Geneseo (county seat of Livingston Co., New York), in an effort to purchase land from the Seneca Indians. (HLC) (HAC)

The insurgents were requested to take an Oath of Allegiance.

[Image From HeritageQuest]

Repercussions of Shays Rebellion

Was Shay’s Rebellion the pivotal event that brought General George Washington out of retirement? Was it responsible for the Bill of Rights? See “John Farnam’s Quips” link for more.

Any parallels between the Springfield, Mass., arsenal and the Harpers Ferry arsenal? Both had Lincoln connections – just asking!

Apparently I wasn’t the first person to wonder if there was a philosophical connection between Shays Rebellion and the North Carolina Regulators. There’s a tangential genealogical connection to the North Carolina Regulators, too.

Miscellaneous Information and LINKS

* Miles Powell – an ancestor to my grandkids. His daughter, Ruth Powell, married Winthrop Noble. A reference to General William Shepard (and Winthrop Noble) was found in the "The History and Geneaogy of the Family of Thomas Noble of Westfield, Massachusetts." Lucius M. Boltwood, 1878

Town Both Abraham Lincoln’s and Benjamin Lincoln's Ancestors
John Farnam’s Quips – Very interesting modern day comparisons
Documents From Shays Rebellion
Duke of Stockbridge at the Gutenberg Project – Novel based upon Shays Rebellion
Preserving the General William Shepard statue – with pictures
Calvin Coolidge Speech – Mentions General Shepard
Shays Rebellion – by Rose Vest
American Heritage article


(DS) Duke of Stockbridge by Edward Bellamy and/or Accompanying Information
Explaining Shay’s Rebellion
(HD) History Of Dunstable, Massachusetts
(GM) Gazetteer of Massachusetts
(HLC) - History of Livingston County
(HAC) – History of Allegany County
(JFQ) – John Farnam’s Quotes
(HA) – History of Amherst, Massachusetts

A history of the town of Dunstable, Massachusetts (image placeholder)Authors:Nason, Elias, (image placeholder) 1877 (image placeholder)
Carpenter, Edward Wilton, The history of the town of Amherst, Massachusetts 1896.
Nason, Elias, A gazetteer of the state of Massachusetts 1874.
Anonymous Allegany County and its people, 1896
Smith, James H. History of Livingston County, New York 1881
Anonymous Western Massachusetts : a history : 1636-1925 , 1926
Anonymous The Westfield jubilee 1870
Lockwood, John H.Westfield and its historic influences : 1669-1919,1922
Chapin, Charles Wells, Sketches of the old inhabitants and other citizens of old Springfield of the present century 1893
[Some of these documents found at HeritageQuest]

No comments: