- Bacon’s Rebellion was an armed rebellion in 1676 by Virginia settlers led by Nathaniel Bacon against the rule of Governor William Berkeley.
- The colony’s dismissive policy as it related to the political challenges of its western frontier, combined with accumulating grievances, helped to motivate a popular uprising against Berkeley, who had failed to address the demands of the colonists regarding their safety.
- About a thousand Virginians of all classes and races rose up in arms against Berkeley, attacking Native Americans, chasing Berkeley from Jamestown, Virginia, and ultimately torching the capital.
- It was the first rebellion in the American colonies in which discontented frontiersmen took part; a similar uprising in Maryland took place later that year.
- The alliance between indentured servants mostly Caucasians and Africans, united by their bond-servitude, disturbed the ruling class, who responded by hardening the racial caste of slavery in an attempt to divide the two races from subsequent united uprisings with the passage of the Virginia Slave Codes of 1705 While the farmers did not succeed in their initial goal of driving Native Americans from Virginia, the rebellion did result in Berkeley being recalled to England.
- The immediate cause of the rebellion was Governor William Berkeley’s recent refusal to retaliate for a series of Native American attacks on frontier settlements.
- Modern historians have suggested it may in fact have been a power play by Bacon against Berkeley and his favoritism towards certain members of court.
- However, Bacon’s followers used the rebellion as an effort to gain government recognition of the shared interests among all social classes of the colony in protecting the “commonalty” and advancing its welfare.
- Historiographers question whether the rebellion by Bacon against Berkeley in 1676 had any lasting contemporary significance for the more-successful revolution a century later.
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