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A People's History of the United States

by Howard Zinn
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In A People's History of the United States is there any parallel between Bacon's Rebellion and the Indian wars preceeding the War of 1812?

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Bacon’s Rebellion (Chapter 3) took place in Virginia in 1676, when white frontiersmen, slaves, and servants launched a rebellion against the British colonial rulers, burning Jamestown in the process. The leader, Nathaniel Bacon, claiming that the laws and taxes were unjust, wrote a popular declaration supporting colonists rights and aimed...

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Bacon’s Rebellion (Chapter 3) took place in Virginia in 1676, when white frontiersmen, slaves, and servants launched a rebellion against the British colonial rulers, burning Jamestown in the process. The leader, Nathaniel Bacon, claiming that the laws and taxes were unjust, wrote a popular declaration supporting colonists rights and aimed in part against the Indians. Bacon favored rapid westward expansion and seizure of Indian lands. Several hundred men probably participated and after the British troops subdued them 23 leaders were hanged. Most slaves and servants were returned to their masters. There were a large number of conflicts involving Indians before 1812 (Chapter 7).

A century after Bacon, by the time of the revolution, westward expansion had progressed considerably. By 1800, there were about 700,000 white settlers west of the Appalachians. Under President Jefferson, the U.S. purchased the Louisiana Territory, thus increasing the amount of frontier that the primarily English-heritage Americans would now move even more quickly. However, the Native inhabitants of those territories were not eager to give up their lands. Tecumseh was especially important in 1811 in uniting the Indians against the whites, but the victories proved short-lived. The greatest similarities were the involvement of the westward-moving colonists, called frontiersmen, who were most often not from elite backgrounds, and the emphasis on invasion and settlement of Indian territories. Both also included the participation of some African Americans and Indians in support of the whites.

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The major connection between these two is that in both cases there was tension between poor whites and rich whites even as both white groups were willing to abuse and exploit Indians.

In both cases, the poor whites were not happy with the way that the elites were behaving.  Bacon's Rebellion was largely about class.  Zinn portrays common soldiers as being unhappy with Jackson's wars against the Indians.

However, in both cases, both poor and rich whites were happy to abuse the Indians.  Bacon's rebels killed friendly Indians.  Jackson used friendly Indians to defeat hostile Indians, only to betray them later.

In these ways, there are similarities between the two.

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