Rare and Original Shays Rebellion Broadside, Promising Pardons to Those Involved

Dated February 1787

Purchase $4,500

Shays’ Rebellion was a series of violent attacks on courthouses and other government properties in Massachusetts, beginning in 1786, which led to a full-blown military confrontation in 1787. The rebels were mostly ex-Revolutionary War soldiers turned farmers who opposed state economic policies causing poverty and property foreclosures. The rebellion was named after...

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Rare and Original Shays Rebellion Broadside, Promising Pardons to Those Involved

Dated February 1787

Shays’ Rebellion was a series of violent attacks on courthouses and other government properties in Massachusetts, beginning in 1786, which led to a full-blown military confrontation in 1787. The rebels were mostly ex-Revolutionary War soldiers turned farmers who opposed state economic policies causing poverty and property foreclosures. The rebellion was named after Daniel Shays, a farmer and former soldier who fought at Bunker Hill who was one of several leaders of the insurrection.

The situation escalated. In December 1786, a militia assaulted a farmer and his family in Groton, arresting and crippling the farmer, which further fanned the flames of the insurrection.

In January 1787, Governor Bowdoin hired his own army, privately funded by Boston businessmen. Some 4,400 men under the command of General Benjamin Lincoln were directed to put down the insurgency.

The Disqualification Act was passed by the House and Senate of Massachusetts on February 16, 1787. It set forth conditions for granting pardons to the men who participated in Shays’ Rebellion as privates or noncommissioned officers. The men were required to turn in their guns and take an oath of allegiance delivered by a Justice of the Peace. The Justice of the Peace was then required to relay the men’s names to the clerks of their towns. The men were barred from serving as jurors, members of town or state government and certain professions for three years. They also lost their right to vote in town elections.

Printed Broadside, signed in type by James Bowdoin as Governor, an effort by the Massachusetts governor to settle the violent tax revolt which had shaken the western part of his state: “A Proclamation. Whereas by an Act passed the sixteenth of February instant, entitled, ‘An Act describing the disqualifications, to which persons shall be subjected, which have been, or may be guilty of Treason’ … I have thought fit … to issue this Proclamation, hereby promising pardon and indemnity to all offenders … provided they comply with the terms and conditions thereof.” This offer of amnesty was not enough for some of the rebels. Ten days later, 120 of them clashed with the militia in Sheffield, MA, bringing the conflict to a close. Evans 20501; Ford, Massachusetts Broadsides 2474.

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