A wave of farm foreclosures in western Massachusetts swept the young republic to its first episode in class struggle. Demonstrators and rioters protested high taxation, the governor’s high salary, high court costs and the assembly’s refusal to issue paper money for reasons to rebel against the new government.
Opposition had coalesced around Daniel Shays, a Revolutionary War veteran, who headed an “army” of 1,000 men.
The violence and unrest in Massachusetts loomed large in the minds of the delegates crafting a new United States constitution at Philadelphia in the spring and summer of 1787. Could they create a free government of the people powerful enough to keep the United States united?