Daniel Shays, leader in 1786-7 of the rebellion in Massachusetts which bears his name, born in Hopkinton, Mass., in 1747, died in Sparta, N. Y., Sept. 29, 1825. He served as a sergeant at Bunker Hill, and became a captain during the revolution. Although not prominent in the first movements of the rebellion, Shays was chosen commander. The insurgents complained that the governor's salary was too high, the senate aristocratic, the lawyers extortionate, and taxes too burdensome to bear; and they demanded an issue of paper money and the removal of the legislature (general court) from Boston. An effort was made to allay the discontent by the passage of an act to diminish costs in the collection of debts and allow certain back taxes and debts to be paid in produce, but the mob was not satisfied. Bodies of armed men interrupted the sessions of the courts in several counties, and in December, 1786, Shays appeared with a large force at Worcester and Springfield, and prevented the holding of the courts at those places. In January following, at the head of nearly 2,000 men, he marched to capture the arsenal at Springfield, but was opposed by the militia under Gen. Shepherd, and the insurgents were fired upon and fled, leaving three killed and one wounded on the field.
Next day they were pursued by a large force under Gen. Lincoln, and at Petersham 150 were taken prisoners, the remainder dispersed, and the leaders made their escape into New Hampshire. A free pardon offered to all who would lay down their arms was generally accepted; 14 were tried and sentenced to death, but were pardoned. Shays sought safety for about a year in Vermont, and at his petition was afterward pardoned, and settled at Sparta, N. Y.