their legislators to authorize and direct those baseless issues of irredeemable paper money, by which a temporary relief is achieved, at the cost of more pervading and less curable disorders.
In the year 1786, the legislature of New Hampshire
, then sitting at Exeter
, was surrounded, evidently by preconcert, by a gathering of angry and desperate men, intent on overawing it into an authorization of such an issue.
In 1786, the famous Shays
's Insurrection occurred in western Massachusetts
, wherein fifteen hundred men, stung to madness by the snow-shower of writs to which they could not respond, and executions which they had no means of satisfying, undertook to relieve themselves from intolerable infestation, and save their families from being turned into the highways, by dispersing the courts and arresting the enforcement of legal process altogether.
That the sea-board cities, depending entirely on foreign commerce, neither manufacturing themselves, nor having any other than foreign fabrics to dispose of, should participate in the general suffering, and earnestly scan the political and social horizon in quest of sources and conditions of comprehensive and enduring relief, was inevitable.
And thus industrial paralysis, commercial embarrassment, and political disorder, combined to overbear inveterate prejudice, sectional jealousy, and the ambition of local magnates, in creating that more perfect Union, whereof the foundations were laid and the pillars erected by Washington
, and their compeers, in the Convention
which framed the Federal Constitution
Yet it would not be just to close this hasty and casual glance at our country, under the old federation, without noting some features which tend to relieve the darkness of the picture.
The abundance and excellence of the timber, which still covered at least two-thirds of the area of the then States, enabled the common people to supply themselves with habitations, which, however rude and uncomely, were more substantial and comfortable than those possessed by the masses of any other country on earth.
The luxuriant and omnipresent forests were likewise tie sources of cheap and ample supplies of fuel, whereby the severity of our northern winters was mitigated, and the warm, bright fireside of even tile humblest family, in the long winter evenings of our latitude, rendered centers of cheer and enjoyment.
Social intercourse was more general.
less formal, more hearty, more valued, than at present.
Friendships were warmer and deeper.
Relationship, by blood or by marriage, was more profoundly regarded.
Men were not ashamed to own that they loved their cousins better than their other neighbors, and their neighbors better than tile rest of mankind.
To spend a month, in the dead of winter, in a visit to the dear old homestead, and in interchanges of affectionate greetings with brothers and sisters, married and settled at distances of twenty to fifty miles apart, was not deemed an absolute waste of time, nor even an experiment on fraternal civility and hospitality.
And, though cultivation was far less effective than now, it must not be inferred that food was scanty or hunger predominant.
The. woods were alive with game, and nearly every boy and man between