Sunday, September 04, 2011

(Bacon) fat in the fire

1676, Virginia: Indian raids on the frontier demanded action- Governor Berkeley refused, due to his fur trade business- a decisive retaliation would kill his profits, he needed his Indian friends. Berkeley instead raised taxes, ostensibly to erect new forts to guard the outlaying plantations. These meager measures inspired a revolt...

Nathaniel Bacon emerged as the leader of the frontier, he organized an army of about 500 men- free and indentured whites and blacks- to confront the forces of the Governor. Bacon burned down Jamestown, and convened a new parliament ( House of Burgesses). He issued a "Declaration of the People"...whereby a plan was conceived to lower taxes, end nepotism and expand the franchise, to better democratize the colony.

Before the Crown could respond in force, Bacon died of dysentery and the rebellion collapsed. Berkeley hanged 23 men before he was dismissed and sent back to England.

This event is conceived as being a miniature prelude of the Revolutionary War that occurred one hundred years later. The main side effect of the rebellion was that slavery hardened into a more racial system ( seeing whites and blacks united must have terrified the landed aristocrats. Up to this time, slavery in Virginia- and I don't mean indentured servitude- was for whites too).


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