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James Madison.

[Detail] James Madison.

Government Under the Articles of Confederation

After serving in the Continental Congress from 1779 to 1782, Madison returned to Montpelier and served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1784 to 1786. He continued his work on behalf of religious liberty, blocking efforts to provide state support for churches. Madison also served in the Continental Congress in 1787 and 1788, keeping detailed notes on the debates. His notes from February 19 to April 26, 1787 begin with a report on the deliberation regarding the efficacy of enlisting troops to help Massachusetts suppress Shays' Rebellion, an uprising of small farmers angered by mounting debts and high taxes.

  • Why was there opposition to the enlistment of troops to put down the Rebellion?
  • What problems of the new nation's government could be inferred from Shays' Rebellion and Congress' views on it?

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