Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Shays' Rebellion Collection, 1784-1787

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, June 2012

Summary Information
Title: Shays' Rebellion collection
Creator: William L. Clements Library
Inclusive dates: 1784-1787
Bulk dates: 1787
Extent: 10 items
Abstract:
This collection is made up of individual financial documents and letters from Massachusetts, primarily composed during the early months of 1787. Among other subjects, the material concerns the state's economic climate and military forces commanded by Major General Benjamin Lincoln during Shays' Rebellion.

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1970-1997. M-1531, M-2894.1, M-2921.2, M-3393.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Shays' Rebellion collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically.


History

By the summer of 1786, many Massachusetts residents had grown discontent with the state's economic policies, which were constructed to alleviate the post-Revolutionary War depression. Farmers and other citizens, who traded in goods rather than currency, were disproportionately affected by increased taxes and the requirement that debt payments be made with paper currency. Other complaints included high legal fees and inflated salaries for public officials. By late August 1786, conflicts had broken out between angry citizens and local government institutions. The Massachusetts government requested permission from the Secretary of War to arm the state militia before the end of the year. In early 1787, Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays led an attempt to overtake a federal arsenal at Springfield, Massachusetts, where his "Regulators" met federal regiments under the command of Major General Benjamin Lincoln. Though resentment, pardons, punishments, and legislative responses continued into the following months, the rebellion effectively ended in February 1787.


Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is made up of individual financial documents and letters from Massachusetts, primarily composed during the early months of 1787. Among other subjects, the material concerns the state's economic climate and military forces commanded by Major General Benjamin Lincoln during Shays' Rebellion.

Among the items directly related to military forces are notes, documents, and accounts for the supply of rations, other provisions, and wages to military troops (5 items) and a request sent by Adam Wheeler to Benjamin Lincoln, for safe passage. Massachusetts Militia officer William Shepard wrote 2 letters to Benjamin Lincoln and Colonel Ezra Badlam about raising troops to defend the Massachusetts government against rebel forces (February 22, 1787, and February 24, 1787).

The collection includes a petition letter that Timothy Fuller sent to the Massachusetts legislature on behalf of many residents of Princeton, Massachusetts, enumerating and discussing several of their complaints against the state government. In addition to voicing their concerns about high legal fees and the salaries of public officials, the residents of Princeton attempted to disassociate themselves from recent violent conflicts (February 1, 1787). One additional item records accounts between the estate of Elisha Doane and Samuel A. Otis of Boston, Massachusetts, dated between August 20, 1783, and March 12, 1784.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Lincoln, Benjamin, 1733-1810.
    • Massachusetts--History--1775-1865.
    • Massachusetts. Militia.
    • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1775-1865.
    • Northampton (Mass.)
    • Princeton (Mass.)
    • Shays' Rebellion, 1786-1787.
    Contributors:
    • Fuller, Timothy, 1739-1805.
    • Otis, Samuel Allyne, 1740-1814.
    • Shepard, William, 1737-1817.
    Genre Terms:
    • Accounts.
    • Financial records.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Petitions.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   31, Small Collections  
    Shays' Rebellion collection [series]:
    Folder   13  
      March 12, 1784, and  January 29, 1787-July 20, 1787
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Clements Library holds additional material related to Shays' rebellion, including books and the William and Isaac Perkins papers.

    Bibliography

    Morris, Richard B. Encyclopedia of American History. Updated and rev. New York: Harper & Row, 1965. 115-116.