Shays' Rebellion and the Workingman’s Revolution with Dr. Richard Bell

Shays' Rebellion and the Workingman’s Revolution with Dr. Richard Bell


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Did the American Revolution make ordinary working people happy? How did their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness change in the immediate aftermath of the war?

In this talk’s first half University of Maryland historian Richard Bell focuses on working white people in port cities like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia and asks whether post-war peace eased the economic hardships and insecurities the conflict itself had brought on and whether the end of the fighting ushered in a new economic order in which people on the bottom could not only pursue prosperity but actually achieve it.

Then, in the talk’s second half, we pivot to examine the postwar struggles of rural folk, the farmers who accounted for the majority of America’s white population. Our mission is to get to the bottom of Daniel Shays’ Rebellion, a 1786 uprising by 2,200 western farmers and veterans to overthrow the Massachusetts government and burn Boston to the ground.

Led by a historian, Dr. Richard Bell, this seminar will awaken participants to the intriguing history of Shays Rebellion and the Workingman’s revolution. Designed to inform curiosity and educate, this conversation will deepen our understanding of this important period in early American history.

Richard Bell is Professor of History at the University of Maryland and author of the new book "Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home" which is shortlisted for the George Washington Prize and the Harriet Tubman Prize. He has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress and is the recipient of the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar award. He serves as a Trustee of the Maryland Center for History and Culture, as an elected member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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