Liberty or Lethargy?


On November 13, 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams’ son-in-law, William S. Smith.

Serving as minister to France between 1784 and 1789, Jefferson was abroad for the “one rebellion” to which he alludes in his letter. Shays’ Rebellion took place in Massachusetts. The uprising was spurred by increasing dissatisfaction with state and federal government. Organized and led by revolutionary veteran, Daniel Shays, 4,000 people rebelled against economic and civil liberty injustices. Although the armed uprising was defeated, it prompted numerous officials to call for stronger national government to suppress future uprisings.

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