Boston: Printed by Adams and Nourse, 1786; 1787. -545,  pp.; -627,  pp.; -168] pp. and -257,  pp. Folio. Quarter cloth over paper covered boards. First editions. Generally fine copies, except for last item, which is removed from a larger volume and not bound with the other three, old stitching marks at inner margin, first item with foxing on three leaves, and small faded contemporary marginal notation; first leaf of second item with two creases to lower half and one leaf with paper loss at corner just affecting marginal title, final item with a few marginal pin holes and one tiny stain, otherwise very sharp and clear impressions in a fine binding; and one loose. Evans 19780. Evans 20496. Evans 19793. Evans 20515. ESTC W016751. ESTC W016755. ESTC W006811. ESTC W33326. Item #44052
The key documents that reported on the revolt that fundamentally altered U.S. history.
Beginning in 1786, only three years after the American Revolution had ended, an armed rebellion began in Western Massachusetts led by Daniel Shays, a war veteran, and composed not only of farmers but many others from diverse backgrounds who were angry about onerous taxes and imprisonment for debt, as well as cronyism, corruption and rules by an elite. The eastern rebellion was easily contained (in fact Shattuck, its leader was captured just after the time period of the first Resolve), but the western insurrection under Shays remained serious enough that the U.S. Congress surreptitiously raised 4000 troops for the defense of the arsenal in Springfield under the guise of needing them to fight a coalition of ten Indian tribes out West (Resolve LXIII, Message of October 27). The courts were forced to close in Western Massachusetts, but the insurrection was eventually put down with thousands arrested.
The first two documents (Acts & Laws) contain the major responses to the rebellion: Acts for: Preventing riots; Suspending the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus; Acts for: Providing pay for the militia employed by the Gov't in suppressing the Rebellion; Amending an earlier act granting indemnity to offenders and providing for their trials; Describing the disqualifications regarding those who were guilty of treason; Suppression of Tumults and Insurrections; Disqualifying rebels from serving as jurors; Regulating the militia; and more.
The two sets of Resolves are almost completely taken up with the Rebellion and its aftermath. The first began with an impassioned message delivered by Governor James Bowdoin on September 28, 1786, just two days after Daniel Shays confronted the militia Bowdoin had sent earlier under the direction of William Shepherd, and the Court was required to adjourn.
"What led to the unwarrantable and lawless proceedings of those insurgents will be a necessary subject of serious Inquiry. The investigating the true causes of those proceedings may point out the proper remedy of them in future. But whatever may be the causes, it is impossible they should amount to a sufficient and justifiable reason for them. Every complaint, or grievance, that can be offered, as a reason to palliate them, is, from the nature of the Constitution, redressible by the General Court, the only body, within whose department it is, to redress public grievances. The application, therefore, to all other bodies, and all other modes of redress, are anticonstitutional, & of very dangerous tendency, even when attempted in a peaceable manner: but much more so, when attempted by acts of violence, for preventing the execution of the laws, and the due administration of Justice. These observations are strictly just, where there is a constitutional mode for the redress of grievance: and especially where those in Government, who have the power to redress, annually depend on the people for political existence."
Bowdoin's last words were prophetic; he was not reelected, many of the reforms called for by the rebels were enacted, and a more powerful central government was created with the adoption of the Federal Constitution.