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The dust had barely settled on the American Revolution when new unrest erupted in western Massachusetts. Thousands of farmers and laborers rose up in protest against unjust taxes and a state government that seemed as oppressive as the British Crown. When their demands for reform fell on deaf ears, the protesters grew more desperate. They took up muskets, swords, and clubs and formed blockades to shut down local courthouses. The growing revolt became known as Shays’s Rebellion.

Boston’s government and merchant elites were horrified by the upheaval, fearing the specter of mob rule. They saw the uprising as democracy run amok, and moved to raise an army against the rebels. The showdown would test the very legacy of the American Revolution.

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