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"Shays' Rebellion" has been mistakenly treated as a defeat for the people.  In fact, it was a victory, as the people won reforms in a landslide two months after their forces scattered, again without violence, running from government troops who had been authorized to arrest and kill them.  Even James Bowdoin's home county of Suffolk voted overwhelmingly for John Hancock, so Hancock came into office with a mandate to repeal the offensive policies that had convulsed the state. 

Hancock reversed Bowdoin's taxation policy, and resolved to spend taxes only on operating expenses.  He pardoned the protestors (except for Shays, Day, and Parsons, although he did cancel the bounties on their heads, as a budgetary matter).

Hancock's election did not solve all the people's problems.  The people were never paid their war pay, and the promissory notes continued to circulate among speculators who would ultimately receive full value from the federal government – a policy move that would spark the protests known as "the Whiskey Rebellion" in western Pennsylvania only a few years later.  (George Washington would repeat Lincoln's strategy of pressing the people without massacring them, holding a few ringleaders in jail for a year, and driving people west.


The protests of 1786 created an exodus out of Massachusetts, as farmers went west to Ohio or north to Vermont. Some towns emptied out, so that there were not enough eligible residents to fill the towns' offices. 

After being dispersed at gunpoint from Petersham, Daniel Shays and about 300 followers fled to the independent republic of Vermont, where the locals were not all happy to have these refugees in their midst, and the legislature passed a bill denying them refuge.  Governor Thomas Chittenden signed it into law, although he refused to enforce it, and allowed Shays' men to stay in the area of Arlington, near where he and fellow Vermont leader Ethan Allen had farms. 

After Shays' people were denied any official place in the towns of Arlington and Shaftsbury, a wealthy patron found them a remote plot of land, high up a mountainside, where they built a blockhouse surrounded by tall stone walls, to protect them from their own government's bullets.  Over time, more buildings were added, and the site has come to be known as the Shays Settlement, even though Shays and his family moved to a house south of Arlington in 1788, after he had been pardoned and returned to the normal life of farming and raising a family.

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