Bacon's Rebellion

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Long-standing tensions between the wealthy and the poor and working class of the Virginia colony burst suddenly into a revolution in 1676 (Washburn 72). The elite vigorously remained united to maintain their hold on the best land of the colonies and the most valuable resources. That control by the wealthy aristocrats changed soon. "Free men who lived along the James River had become convinced that Governor William Berkeley's plans to protect them from Indian assaults were inadequate and decided to mount their own campaign, which Nathaniel Bacon, a wealthy planter, agreed to lead," (Washburn 87). Bacon and his men took it upon them selves to exchange blows with the Indians. They made few distinctions among massacring Indian tribes, killing friends and enemies alike.

Bacon demanded a payment for equipment to fight off the Indians when Governor Berkeley invited him to Jamestown. The governor was convinced Bacon posed a greater threat to the colony than the Indians.

The men under Bacon's command were former indentured servants who had received land grants after completing their indentures. "Virginia's elite had long feared that the grievances of free men, servants, and slaves would boil over into open rebellion. Berkeley therefore charged Bacon and his men with treason," (Washburn 111). Bacon arrived in Jamestown with five hundred men on June 6, where he was detained. Having regained authority, the governor pardoned him, but Bacon was not yet fulfilled. Bacon and several of his men confronted the governor and demanded a commission and authorization to recruit an army. Berkeley agreed and later disappeared to the Eastern Shore. Bacon spent three months raising volunteers and pillaging the settlements of Berkeley loyalists, (Wertenbake 224).

Ironically, Berkeley unknowingly fueled the revolution by promising freedom to servants who joined his ranks; consequently, he was unsuccessful in his attempt to...