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SUMMARY OF THE REVOLUTION
But, generally speaking, the Articles proved to be very unsatisfactory. Under them the nation could do but little because
1. It had no President -- no head.
2. It had a Congress, but that Congress was destitute of power. It might pass good and useful laws, but it could not compel the people to obey them. It might beg the people to give money, but it could not make them furnish it. It might ask for soldiers to defend the country, but it could not force them to serve.
193. Distressed Condition of the Country; jealousy of the States; Lack of Freedom of Trade. The truth is, that the people had come out of the war in a distressed condition. They were heavily in debt. Business was at a standstill. Gold and silver coin was scarce. The states had an abundance of paper stuff which pretended to be money, but nobody knew what it was worth, and what passed for a dollar in one state might not pass at all in another. The distress and discontent grew worse and worse. The states quarreled with each other about boundary lines, about commerce, about trade. Instead of being a united and. friendly people, they were fast getting to be thirteen hostile nations ready to draw the sword against each other.
This feeling was shown in the fact that a man could not buy and sell freely outside of his own state. If, for instance, a farmer in New Jersey took a load of potatoes to New York, he might have to pay a tax of five or ten cents a bushel to that state before he could offer them for sale. On the other hand, if a New York merchant sent a case of boots to New Jersey to sell to the farmers, that state might, if it chose, tax him ten cents a pair before he could get a permit to dispose of his goods.
194. "Shays' Rebellion" (1786-1787). The people of Massachusetts were perhaps more heavily loaded with debt than those of any other state. It is said that the heads of families owed about two hundred dollars apiece. They were willing to pay, but could get nothing to pay with. When great numbers of poor people were sued and thrown into prison, multitudes became desperate. In the western part of the state Daniel Shays raised an army of
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
nearly two thousand excited farmers (1786). They surrounded the courthouses at Worcester and Springfield, and put a stop to all lawsuits for debt. It was not until a strong military force was sent out against them that the "rebellion" was finally quelled, and Shays compelled to fly to New Hampshire.
195. How the Northwest Territory helped keep the Union together. The most powerful influence which kept the nation from dropping to pieces was the fact that the states had an interest in the Northwest Territory. (Map, opposite.) Up to the middle of the Revolution seven of the thirteen states claimed the country west of them as far as the Mississippi River.
Four of these states -- Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut -- claimed land northwest of the Ohio River to the Mississippi. They finally agreed (1781-1786) to give it to the United States to be disposed of for the common good.
In 1787 Congress made the celebrated Ordinance or body of laws for the government of this Northwest Territory. That Ordinance had four very important provisions:
1. It forbade the holding of slaves in the territory (though it made provision for returning fugitive slaves who should escape to that region).
2. It granted entire religious freedom to every settler.
3. It encouraged "schools and the means of education."
4. It provided that the new territory should be cut up into states, equal in standing with the original thirteen.
People believed that Congress would be able to sell farming lands in that vast region, -- now forming the great and