Shays’ Rebellion: History Repeats Itself?

According to Wikipedia, Shays’ Rebellion was an armed uprising in Western Massachusetts from 1786 to 1787. The rebels, led by Daniel Shays and known as Shaysites (Regulators), were mostly small farmers angered by crushing debt and taxes. Failure to repay such debts often resulted in imprisonment in debtor’s prisons or the claiming of property by the state.

The “crushing debt” referred to in the article was lack of a stable currency, which was the worst of the serious economic conditions the farmers were protesting. They demanded “sound money” from their government. They were asking for gold-backed currency!

The inflation of the money supply at this time was largely due to Revolutionary War debt.

The 2,000 or so rebels were arrested and the leaders were given death sentences, but were all later pardoned.

This is a microcosm of what can happen when a country lacks sound money.

These farmers that rebelled with Daniel Shays knew what the problem was, and knew their economic survival depended on fixing it. Their actions resulted in the government creating a single currency and controlling it.

Today, we face basically the same problem on a massive scale. However, the solution back in 1787 of government controlling the currency eventually led to the Federal Reserve destroying it. Physical rebellion is now an impossibility (they’ve got the guns even though we’ve got the numbers), but the problems are much more serious today than they were in the early days of our country. We now have taxation (theft) at a ridiculous level, a U.S. dollar worth less all the time, and excessively high salaries for government cronies. All of these were among the complaints of the Shays’ rebels.

Soon, as the economy sinks further into recession, there will be cause for another revolution- this time, it will likely be a peaceful one as society transitions back into a real money system, where we exchange gold and silver through credit and debit card systems, and render government meddling with the money supply irrelevant.

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