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1787-1790: We adopt a Constitution for our new Republic

January 25, 1787
Shots are fired as farmers riot in Massachusetts

Shay's Rebellion

“Good God!…Notwithstanding the boasted virtue of America, we are far gone in every thing that is ignoble and bad.”
—George Washington

Desperate to stop foreclosure on their lands, farmers in western Massachusetts have taken up arms. Led by former Army captain Daniel Shays, they’ve forced the courts to close. Today, nearly 2,000 farmers stormed a government arsenal.

Something’s gone terribly wrong, and it isn’t just in Massachusetts. Factions plague many states. Maryland and Virginia have been squabbling over fishing rights. Britain and Spain harass our borders.

The powerful state legislatures seem unwilling to impose order. And our weak Congress is unable to.

Do we need a stronger national system? The states will send delegates to a meeting in Philadelphia in the spring to discuss reforms.

If delegates can’t fix the situation, this new republic will be like most other republics in history: short-lived.

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