Daniel Shays

Daniel Shays




Daniel Shays

Daniel Shay’s parents migrated from Ireland to Massachusetts in the 1730s. The couple married in the year 1744, and the two (Patrick and Margaret Shay) developed housekeeping. In the year 1747, the Shays got a new second born baby by the name Daniel. The family later grew bigger as the number of children increased to six.

The Shays did not have a large parcel of land because they were just immigrants. This compelled Daniel to leave his parents’ home, and look for employment in Brookfield. At the time, young men who did not have arable land looked for employment elsewhere to earn their living. By the year 1770, Daniel had already secured employment in a farm in Brookfield. His salary was higher than any of his colleagues was because his employers awarded his high performance, activity and smartness (Higdon, 2015). Daniel developed the interest to join the military; he could drill armed men in uniform who gathered for militia training, especially during such seasons.

At the age of 25, in the year 1772, Daniel announced his intention to wed Abigail Gilbert, and the couple got their first born in 1773. The war with England looked certain as the old band of soldiers continued with their training. Daniel did not remain a member of the Brookfield militia, but instead opted to move with his family to Shutesbury, where the Shays joined militia from Leverett, Amherst, and Shutesbury (Gerwitz, 2013). He had good experience in drilling, which led to his promotion to Sergeant and later Lieutenant Daniel Shays. In the year 1777, Shays showed his ability to influence men to work under his commission as a Captain in the Continental Army’s Fifth Massachusetts Regiment. However, his commission never achieved any official recognition until 1779, but the authorities backdated it to January 1777. Meanwhile, Daniel Shays continued to show his commitment as a competent and courageous officer; he fought Burgoyne’s military that invaded Saratoga. He also participated in a military fight at Stone Point (Higdon, 2015). Daniel struggled to make ends meet, as the money he was paid could not meet his daily needs. As a result, he sold the ceremonial sword that General Lafayette had given him for his commitment and esteem during the Stony Point fight. His decision to sell the sword drew criticism from his fellow military officers, and this led to his resignation from his commission in the year 1780.

Daniel and Abigail Shays moved to Pelham at the end of the War, where his military recognitions and rankings earned him respect from his neighbors. The area was covered with rocks and was primarily populated by poor Scottish and Irish residents. Typically, it was not favorable for farming activities, but it was cheap that is why Daniel afforded over 251 acres, which he made the decision to sell following the post-war recession. He faced difficulties in meeting his obligations, and by the end of 1786, the authorities had sued him twice for unpaid debts.

During the post-war recession, the Massachusetts Legislature attempted to pay off the government’s debt through unfriendly taxation policy, which saw the locals rebel against it. Daniel joined other Pelham residents in protesting against the government’s refusal to enact the debtor reforms and relief for which they had pleaded by marching on the courts of Massachusetts. Together with the commander of the government armed forces General William Shepherd, Daniel Shays represented the regulator movement and negotiated the peaceful abandonment of the courthouse.

Daniel Shays came from a poor background but rose to the rank of Lieutenant in the military. His search for employment led to his journey to Shutesbury where he discovered his passion for joining the military. His influence and rankings in the armed forces earned him the respect that led to his appointment as one of the leaders that controlled a large population that rebelled against some of the government’s poor taxation policy.



Gerwitz, E. (2013). Honour of Kings Ancient and American History. New York: Lulu.

Higdon, M. (2015). Voyages in Fifth Grade Social Studies: Student Edition. Los Angeles, LA: Complete Curriculum.

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