The politics of insurrection: A comparative analysis of the shays', whiskey, and fries' rebellions


The Shays', Whiskey, and Fries' Rebellions, although of moderate interest to American historians, have received scant attention from political scientists. A closer examination of these three rebellions within a comparative framework suggests that they can be treated as theoretically linked phenomena. By utilizing a model developed to explain the ghetto violence of the 1960s, the Shays', Whiskey, and Fries' Rebellions can be explained by the breakdown of grievance redress mechanisms. This breakdown, coupled with the riot ideology inculcated by the early American experience, occasioned the recourse to violence during these insurrections of the founding era. The model includes a component by which these rebellions can be distinguished from revolutionary political violence and accomodates complementary theories of consolidation, ideology, and rhetoric. While specifically addressing political violence, cast in the context of early American history, this analysis has broader implications for the development of both American political institutions and American political thought.


Political Science

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The Social Science Journal