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The Shays Rebellion

Who deserves a say in government? What are the legal limits of protest? The Shays Rebellion role-play offers a deep dive into the early days of the United States and the issues that led up to the Constitutional Convention.

Set in 1787 in the aftermath of the attack on the federal armory in Springfield, Massachusetts, students take on the roles of Farmers, Regulators, Bankers and Merchants.  After being introduced to the situation, students work with other members of their group to define their values.

Then students will debate and vote on how Massachusetts should handle:

Finance - What should the state do about its debts?

Representation - Who deserves a say in government?

Law - How do we keep Massachusetts safe?

At the end of the role-play, an epilogue video lays out what actually happened.

Details

Students: 6 to 50

Running Time: 90 minutes (the role-play can be broken into multiple sessions)

Teacher Guide: Shays Rebellion Teacher Walkthrough PDF

Credits

Jenny Lim

Mattia Romeo

Greg Trefry

Testing & Evaluation

Camillia Matuk

Talia Hurwich

Sources

Richards, Leonard L.: Shays's Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle, University of Pennsylvania Press.

Library of Congress

Special Thanks

Richard Kermond

Steve Swett

Heather Willinger

Raj Nanda

Mordecai Moore

Nicole Sanderson

Matthew Goldman

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