Tag Archives: Massachusetts

The New Constitution: For and Against

The 1787 convention in Philadelphia created a document (the Constitution) which would radically reshape the United States. Establishing a “federal” system in which the central government held a great deal more authority than under the Articles of Confederation. Divided into executive (embodied in the President), legislative (Congress), and judicial (the federal courts), the new system gave what its authors asserted were clearly defined and limited powers to the federal government.

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Instability during the Confederacy Period: Shays’s Rebellion

The Articles of Confederation, adopted during the War for Independence, established a system in which most power was held by the individual states rather than in a strong central government. By the mid-1780s, rebellions in several states–including one led by Daniel Shays in Massachusetts–illustrated the drawbacks of such limited government. This account of the Rebellion is from a dozen years after the fact.

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Concerns and Causes: The Massachusetts Circular Letter of 1768

Written by Samuel Adams, and approved by the Massachusetts House of Representatives, this letter was sent to the assemblies of England’s other North American colonies in response to the Townshend Acts. When a copy reached the British government, the Massachusetts leaders to revoke it, which they did not.

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Captivity Narratives: A Window on Native/English Relations

During the late 1600s, there was increasing conflict between the New England colonies and Native American tribes.  Much of this conflict resulted from the New Englanders’ enormous appetite for land and increasing Native desperation to not see their way of life extinguished. The most devastating of these conflicts was Metacom’s War (also known as King Philip’s War).

One example of the evidence we have about life during this time were “captivity narratives.” These were accounts of the kidnapping and eventual ransom of (generally) English women by hostile (to the English) Natives. This excerpt, by Mary Rowlandson of Massachusetts who was a captive during Metacom’s War, is one of the most well-known.

Rowlandson organized her account as a series of “removes”–each discussion one location of her long, mobile captivity.

Note: this is a longer-than-usual excerpt, so allow yourself plenty of time to get through it!
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