Daniel Shays

Basic Info

Born: 1747
Died: 1825
Occupation: Farmer, Military officer


Daniel Shays was born to Irish immigrants in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. He joined the local militia during the American Revolution and became a captain in the Fifth Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Army.1 After the war, Shays was in debt and could not pay the high taxes imposed by the state government. In 1786, to protest the government's harsh policies, Shays and his fellow veteran-farmers began shutting down courthouses to prevent foreclosures and debt imprisonments.2 Shay emerged as the leader of the protests, and had almost 9,000 followers. Although most of the protests were peaceful, four men were killed by a privately funded militia when the protestors tried to takeover the Springfield Armory.3 Shay and his followers were charged with treason, but were eventually pardoned by the new governor in 1787.4 The insurrection was referred to as Shays' Rebellion, and it played a significant role in the restructuring of the government of the United States.

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