What happened between the creation of the Articles of Confederation and the ratification of the current U.S. Constitution? This video analyzes the peoples’ grievances with the Articles of Confederation that caused Shays’ Rebellion, a rebellion of farmers and merchants that proved the need for a new constitution.
|Social Studies||U.S. History|
So... what happened in between the penning of our Constitution's predecessor...
...and the ratification of the BFD... Big, Fancy Document... that we know and love today?
Well... first of all... we can't expect our founding fathers to have gotten it all right on the first try.
They did their best, but there were, not surprisingly, some kinks that would have to be worked out.
In the mid-to-late 1700's, those kinks were worked out... in the form of a military confrontation.
There wasn't a lot of "write your Congressman" back in those days.
Many Americans felt like the Articles made our central government... a little too weak.
It wasn't allowed to levy taxes,
and it had trouble mobilizing its military.
The taxes part was a big sticking point with a lot of people... especially Revolutionary
war veterans who were looking to collect a few bucks for their service.
One veteran in particular, Daniel Shays, was a farmer who was pretty PO'd about the situation.
The problem was, none of the farmers had any cash.
They practiced subsistence farming,
and they couldn't exactly pay their taxes in potatoes.
As people sold off their possessions to pay the taxes, they ended up losing everything, even their land.
But the government was still able to print money...
and it printed tons of it to finance its expenses.
So... because the printed money had no financial backing, we were facing financial ruin for
both the central government, as well as the Massachusetts state government.
There were also British moneylenders who were banging down doors
to collect loans from American clients.
All in all, it was an... icky situation.
So, with many working class citizens facing bankruptcy and peeved out of their gourds...
...Daniel assembled 5,000 or so farmers and merchants , who rebelled against the Massachusetts government.
Our central government didn't whip out the big guns,
leaving Daniel and his merry men to grapple with state militia.
Why wasn't the government allowed to send in serious military forces?
Because it was forbidden...
by the Articles of Confederation, of course.
Three cheers for irony.
At the end of the day, Shays' Rebellion proved there was a need for a different constitution
that gave the central government some power to actually do stuff...
...like collect taxes, use its military when it needed to, regulate interstate commerce,
and generally keep the states in line.
Especially South Carolina. You have to keep that one on a short leash.