What was the underlying cause of Bacon's Rebellion?

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The underlying cause of Bacon's Rebellion was dissent within Virginia. The Virginia colony had experienced economic woes prior to the rebellion in 1676. The price of tobacco--Virginia's primary cash crop--had declined, and the prices of English goods had risen. Moreover, poor weather (hail, hurricanes, etc.) had resulted in a lower-than-normal crop yield.

Moreover, Governor William Berkeley refused to seek revenge for Native American attacks on Virginia's frontier settlements, further infuriating the colonists. This, coupled with Berkeley's refusal to allow the Virginians to move further westward into the frontier, caused Nathaniel Bacon and his followers to accuse the governor of taking far too conciliatory an attitude toward the Native Americans. Eventually, this conflict boiled over into armed rebellion against Berkeley and the capital.

Traditionally, historians have interpreted Bacon's rebellion as the first stirrings of American revolutionary spirit. However, some modern historians believe this view incorrectly reads future events into the past; instead, they claim, the rebellion was primarily a power struggle between Bacon and Berkeley. 

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