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All men are endowed by Western and Central Massachusetts with certain inalienable rights


Arm of Harm
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Arm of Harm

During the Revolutionary War, states did not pay their soldiers with actual money. They paid with promissory notes. However, soldiers still had to pay taxes. These required actual money. (Promissory notes not accepted.) The vast majority of soldiers sold their promissory notes, usually for schillings on the pound, to get the money they needed for taxes and other expenses. The notes were bought up by a handful of very wealthy speculators.

 

After the Revolutionary War ended, states had to decide on what to do about those notes. The state of Massachusetts decided to repay its notes in full, using hard currency, along with interest. Well over half of its notes were owned by less than ten men. These repayment terms were an astounding windfall for those men. To raise the money to repay its notes, it imposed very large increases in property taxes and poll taxes. These new taxes were devastating to the middle class and to small farmers, especially in the central and western parts of the state. As measured by property and poll tax rates, the Massachusetts government had become far more oppressive than it had been under the reign of King George the Third.

 

To push back against this, a number of people in Central and Western Massachusetts undertook what they called a "regulation." "Regulations" were a tradition which had existed for centuries in England. When the government became too oppressive, people took up arms against it. Not in the hopes of overthrowing it, but rather to demonstrate that there were limits, and that it could not get away with being as oppressive as it wanted to be. The American media at the time was deeply hostile to this "regulation," and told a number of outright lies in order to portray it in a negative light. It was represented as a rebellion of debtors. People who had borrowed money, and who were now rebelling because they did not want to repay the money they legitimately owed. The media labeled it Shays's rebellion. Of the various leaders of the rebellion, Shays came the closest to the stereotype the media wanted to portray. (Though even Shays was not particularly close.)

 

The so-called "Shays's Rebellion" consisted mostly of people from Central and Western Massachusetts. It successfully stopped most government tax collection activity in those areas. The state attempted to call out the militia to put a stop to it, but the men of Massachusetts showed little interest in joining such a militia for such a cause. After the militia idea failed, the next step was for the state to create a mercenary army. The man put in charge of creating that army needed funds with which to pay the men. To get the funds he went to the handful of wealthy speculators who stood to benefit from improved tax collection. They supplied him generously. The newly-formed army then won a key victory against the rebellion. Massachusetts was, more or less, back under the control of its government.

 

These events deeply worried the American people, especially given the media's more or less fact-free portrayal of events. The consensus was that it had taken Massachusetts far too long to put down the rebellion. What was needed was a stronger central government, to put down similar rebellions in the future. With that in mind, the U.S. Constitution was drafted. There was no Bill of Rights.

 

That original constitution, without the Bill of Rights, was ratified by several states. Then they got to Massachusetts. Boston (the eastern part of the state) supported ratification. Central and Western Massachusetts opposed ratification, because they believed this new central government would be too oppressive. Delegates from various parts of the state met in Boston to discuss the issue, but were unable to come to an agreement. Then winter set in, and a few of the delegates from the central and western parts of the state began going home. In their absence a compromised was reached: Massachusetts would vote to ratify, as Boston wanted. But it would also vote to recommend a Bill of Rights, which would at least partially address some of the concerns of Central and Western Massachusetts. It wasn't a particularly good deal, but it was good enough to swing enough delegates to achieve ratification. Other states then followed Massachusetts' example, also voting to ratify while recommending the Bill of Rights.

 

When I think about those events I wonder. What, if anything, could have been done about the complete lack of media integrity? What could have been done about government oppression at the state level, such as the oppression and property taxes of Massachusetts? What could have been done differently to prevent the government oppression we now see at the federal level?

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TakeYouToTasker 2.0

I played sports for many years, and spent time in many locker rooms as a result; and I can tell you, with certainty, that not all men are endowed.

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CarpetCrawler
21 hours ago, Arm of Harm said:

During the Revolutionary War, states did not pay their soldiers with actual money. They paid with promissory notes. However, soldiers still had to pay taxes. These required actual money. (Promissory notes not accepted.) The vast majority of soldiers sold their promissory notes, usually for schillings on the pound, to get the money they needed for taxes and other expenses. The notes were bought up by a handful of very wealthy speculators.

 

After the Revolutionary War ended, states had to decide on what to do about those notes. The state of Massachusetts decided to repay its notes in full, using hard currency, along with interest. Well over half of its notes were owned by less than ten men. These repayment terms were an astounding windfall for those men. To raise the money to repay its notes, it imposed very large increases in property taxes and poll taxes. These new taxes were devastating to the middle class and to small farmers, especially in the central and western parts of the state. As measured by property and poll tax rates, the Massachusetts government had become far more oppressive than it had been under the reign of King George the Third.

 

To push back against this, a number of people in Central and Western Massachusetts undertook what they called a "regulation." "Regulations" were a tradition which had existed for centuries in England. When the government became too oppressive, people took up arms against it. Not in the hopes of overthrowing it, but rather to demonstrate that there were limits, and that it could not get away with being as oppressive as it wanted to be. The American media at the time was deeply hostile to this "regulation," and told a number of outright lies in order to portray it in a negative light. It was represented as a rebellion of debtors. People who had borrowed money, and who were now rebelling because they did not want to repay the money they legitimately owed. The media labeled it Shays's rebellion. Of the various leaders of the rebellion, Shays came the closest to the stereotype the media wanted to portray. (Though even Shays was not particularly close.)

 

The so-called "Shays's Rebellion" consisted mostly of people from Central and Western Massachusetts. It successfully stopped most government tax collection activity in those areas. The state attempted to call out the militia to put a stop to it, but the men of Massachusetts showed little interest in joining such a militia for such a cause. After the militia idea failed, the next step was for the state to create a mercenary army. The man put in charge of creating that army needed funds with which to pay the men. To get the funds he went to the handful of wealthy speculators who stood to benefit from improved tax collection. They supplied him generously. The newly-formed army then won a key victory against the rebellion. Massachusetts was, more or less, back under the control of its government.

 

These events deeply worried the American people, especially given the media's more or less fact-free portrayal of events. The consensus was that it had taken Massachusetts far too long to put down the rebellion. What was needed was a stronger central government, to put down similar rebellions in the future. With that in mind, the U.S. Constitution was drafted. There was no Bill of Rights.

 

That original constitution, without the Bill of Rights, was ratified by several states. Then they got to Massachusetts. Boston (the eastern part of the state) supported ratification. Central and Western Massachusetts opposed ratification, because they believed this new central government would be too oppressive. Delegates from various parts of the state met in Boston to discuss the issue, but were unable to come to an agreement. Then winter set in, and a few of the delegates from the central and western parts of the state began going home. In their absence a compromised was reached: Massachusetts would vote to ratify, as Boston wanted. But it would also vote to recommend a Bill of Rights, which would at least partially address some of the concerns of Central and Western Massachusetts. It wasn't a particularly good deal, but it was good enough to swing enough delegates to achieve ratification. Other states then followed Massachusetts' example, also voting to ratify while recommending the Bill of Rights.

 

When I think about those events I wonder. What, if anything, could have been done about the complete lack of media integrity? What could have been done about government oppression at the state level, such as the oppression and property taxes of Massachusetts? What could have been done differently to prevent the government oppression we now see at the federal level?

 

Good food for thought, I appreciate the historical perspective. I remembered the phrase Shay's Rebellion, but I couldn't offer any details at all. Thanks.

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