Nathaniel Bacon (Dictionary of World Biography: The 17th and 18th Centuries)
Article abstract: Bacon died while leading a rebellion against the royally appointed governor of Virginia. A century later, on the eve of the American Revolution, he became a symbol of resistance to tyranny.
The eldest son of Thomas Bacon, Nathaniel Bacon was born on January 2, 1647, at Friston Hall, Suffolk, as the English Civil Wars were in their final phase. His father was a member of the cadet branch of the great Bacon family and a cousin of Francis Bacon, the lord chancellor of Elizabeth I.
At the age of thirteen, Bacon matriculated at Saint Catherine’s College, Cambridge, but in 1663, his father withdrew him from the university. Apparently, the young Bacon, a member of one of the leading Puritan families, had ignored his studies in favor of the temptations available to a young man with money. During the next three years, Bacon, accompanied by John Ray, a noted naturalist, and two of the former Cambridge tutor’s students, traveled extensively in Europe.
An attack of smallpox early in 1666 brought Bacon’s grand tour to an unexpected conclusion, and he came home to recuperate. He later returned to Cambridge, where he graduated at the age of twenty-one with a bachelor of arts and a master of arts. He then entered the Inns of Court in London, reading law at Grey’s Inn to prepare him for a place of leadership in Suffolk, which was his birthright.
In 1673, he married...
(The entire section is 1979 words.)
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Nathaniel Bacon (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Bacon became a symbol of resistance to royal tyranny during the American Revolution.
Nathaniel Bacon emigrated to Virginia in 1674 to avoid a scandal, but two years later he was part of a crisis caused by falling tobacco prices and the refusal of Governor Sir William Berkeley to let colonists settle in some lands reserved for Native Americans. Soon colonists were arming under Bacon, whom Berkeley declared a rebel on May 10, 1676.
After he was elected to the House of Burgesses, Bacon received a pardon from an intimidated Berkeley. Bacon continued to seek the extermination of all Native Americans in the area, and Berkeley again declared him a rebel. However, the House of Burgesses countered with Bacon’s Laws, a group of statues designed to correct Berkeley’s supposed abuses. Berkeley captured Jamestown and abrogated the laws; Bacon countered with his “Manifesto and Declaration of the People.” Bacon seized the capital on September 19, 1676, and burned it.
This vandalism cost Bacon many followers, but he began to recruit indentured servants and slaves, promising them freedom. This “social revolution” failed because Bacon died of dysentery on October 26, 1676. In 1677, a royal commission recommended removing Berkeley and curbing the power of the House of Burgesses. Distressed by Bacon’s appeal to the dispossessed, Virginia’s ruling class chose a system of labor...
(The entire section is 300 words.)