During the 1780s, many Americans were poor, yet they had to pay high state taxes. People often had to borrow money and go into debt. When they could not repay their debts, state courts took away their farms or sent the people to prison.
In the summer of 1786, poor farmers in Massachusetts protested by refusing to let the courts meet. Armed with pitchforks and guns, they shut down the courthouse and destroyed debt records.
In January 1787, a mob of farmers led by Daniel Shays tried to take over a Massachusetts arsenal, or weapons storehouse.