Shay’s Rebellion

Image: Artist unknown. Whiskey Rebellion. Painting. Public domain courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

No study questions

1. An address to the people of the several towns in the county of Hampshire, now it arms.


We have thought proper to inform you of some of the principal causes of the late risings of the people, and also of their present movement.

1st The present expensive mode of collecting debts which by any reason of the great scarcity of cash, will of necessity fill our goals with unhappy debtors; and thereby a reputable body of people rendered incapable of being serviceable either to themselves or the community.

2nd The monies raised by impost and excise being appropriated to discharge the interest of governmental securities, and not the foreign debt, when these securities are not subject to taxation.

3rd A suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus, by which those persons who have stepped forth to assert and maintain the rights of the people, are liable to be take and conveyed even to the most distant part of the commonwealth, and thereby subjected to an unjust punishment.

4th The unlimited power granted to Justices of the peace and sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, and constables, by the Riot Act, indemnifying them to the prosecution thereof; when perhaps, wholly actuated from a principle of revenge, hatred, and envy.

Furthermore, be assured, that this body, now at arms, despise the idea of being instigated by British emissaries, which is so strenuously propagated by the enemies of our liberties: And also wish the most proper and speedy measures may be taken, to discharge both our foreign and domestic debt.

Per Order,

Daniel Gray, Chairman of the Committee

2. To the printer of the Hampshire Herald.


It has some how or other fallen to my lot to be employed in a more conspicuous manner than some others of my fellow citizens, in stepping forth on defense of the rights and privileges of the people, more especially of the county of Hampshire.

Therefore, upon the desire of the people now at arms, I take this method to publish to the world or mankind in general, particularly the people of this commonwealth, some of the principal grievances we complain of.

In the first place, I must refer you to a draught of grievances drawn up by a committee of the people, now at arms, under the signature of Daniel Gray, chairman, which is heartily approved of; some others are also are here added.

1st The general court, for certain obvious reasons must be removed out of the town of Boston.

2nd A revision of the constitution is absolutely necessary.

3rd All kinds of governmental securities, now on interest, that have been bought of the original owners for two shillings, and the highest for six shillings and eight pence on the pound, and have received more interest than the principal cost the speculator who purchased them &#151 that if justice was done, we verily believe, nay positively know, it would save this commonwealth thousands of pounds.

4th Let the lands belonging to this commonwealth, at the eastward, be sold at the best advantage to pay the remainder of our domestic debt.

5th Let the monies arising from impost and excise be appropriated to discharge the foreign debt.

6th Let that act, passed by the General Court last July by a small majority of only seven, called the Supplementary Act, for twenty-five years to come, be repealed.

7th The total abolition of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace.

8th Deputy Sheriffs totally set aside, as a useless set of officers in the community; and Constables who are really necessary, be empowered to do the duty, by which means a large swarm of lawyers will be banished from their wonted haunts, who have been more damage to the people large, especially the common farmers, than the savage beasts of prey.

To this I boldly sign my proper name, as a hearty well-wisher to the real rights of the people.

Thomas Grover

Worcester, December 7, 1786

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