Please describe Bacon's Rebellion.

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Stephen Holliday | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In his "Declaration" in 1676, Nathaniel Bacon accused the government of Virginia of a number of wrongs against the common people, including the following:

1.  For having, upon specious pretenses of public works, raised great unjust taxes upon the commonalty for the advancement of private fortunes and other sinister ends. . . .

The Declaration went on to accuse Virginia's leading men of appointing corrupt men as justices, monopolizing the beaver trade, and "emboldened the Indians against his Majesty's loyal subjects," and several other wrongs against the people of Virginia.  

Bacon assumed leadership of the rebellion, and in the summer and fall of 1676, Bacon and his followers--all of whom came from the lower levels of society--attacked and ransacked the estates of wealthy planters in the area and, perhaps more important, took out their frustrations on the Indians in the vicinity, slaughtering men, women and children, and burning Indian villages to the ground.  Bacon and his men justified this by arguing that the government had ignored Indian attacks against Virginia settlers, which then encouraged the Indians to attack them more frequently.

Aside from the horrific attacks on local Indians, perhaps the most important threat of Bacon's Rebellion is that Bacon's Declaration listed Virginia's governor and all of his counsellors and then threatened to kill not only these men but also anyone who helped these men as "confederates and traitors to the people."  

With this declaration, Bacon and his followers became, in effect, the self-appointed judge and jury of officials appointed by the King of England, as well as anyone who aided them against Bacon and his followers, and the rebellion, which first focused on killing Indians, then became a real threat to the whole of Virginia's society.

Bacon's Rebellion ended when Bacon died unexpectedly and a small British fleet arrived with several hundred soldiers to put down the rebellion in late 1676.

Sources:
mad-e's profile pic

mad-e | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Honors

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Bacon's Rebellion was an uprising in 1676 in the Virginia Colony in North America, led by a 29-year-old planter, Nathaniel Bacon.

About a thousand Virginians rose (including former indentured servants, poor whites and poor blacks) because they resented Virginia Governor William Berkeley's friendly policies towards the Native Americans when Berkeley refused to retaliate for a series of Indian attacks on frontier settlements, others took matters into their own hands, attacking Indians, chasing Berkeley from Jameatown, Virginia and torching the capital.

It was the first rebellion in the American Colonies in which discontented frontiersmen took part; a similar uprising inMaryland occurred later that year. A protest against raids on the frontier; some historians also consider it a power play by Bacon against Berkeley, and his policies of favoring his own court. Bacon's backers included men of wealth from outside Berkeley's court. The alliance between former indentured servants and Africans disturbed the ruling class, who responded by hardening the racial caste of slavery. While the farmers did not succeed in their goal of driving Native Americans from Virginia, the rebellion did result in Berkeley being recalled to England.

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