Persons of Mean and Vile Condition

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By: Mikayla Madden 9/20/14

Persons of Mean and Vile Condition

During the sixteen and seventeen hundreds, there was a huge unrest between social

classes. Bacon's Rebellion is an early example of this as well as other rebellions between slaves

and servants and their owners.

Bacon's Rebellion occurred in 1676 and was led by a man of the name of Nathaniel

Bacon. "Bacon's Rebellion began with conflict over how to deal with the Indians, who were

close by, on the western frontier, constantly threatening." This quote from the reading tells

that the rebellion had a lot to do with the Indians, who at this point, did not really have a place

to call their own. Nathaniel Bacon and his followers did not think that it was right that Indians

were living on land that could have been used for the whites to live on when land was at a

shortage in Jamestown.

The governor, William Berkeley, was blamed by Bacon and his followers

for this because he did not want to go to war with the Indians to fight for this land. Bacon's

Rebellion was, "not easily classifiable as either anti-aristocrat or anti-Indian, because it was

both." In Bacon's eyes the Indians were the source of the problem but aristocrats like Berkeley

and his men were not doing anything to stop what was happening. In the events leading up to

Bacon's Rebellion, violence played a key role in many Indian vs. the white man battles. Doeg

Indians took a few hogs from the white men to pay for a debt. When the white men retrieved

the hogs they killed two Indians. The Doegs fought back by sending out men to kill a white

herdsman but a white militia company killed twenty-four Indians in return. This led to many

Indian raids, so the Virginia House of Burgesses declared war on the Indians but said that they

would not harm those who cooperated. Although many wanted total war with the Indians, the

poorer class of whites did not want to have to pay for the war. An existence of an upper class

that Bacon was a part of also wanted total war and could afford it. This may be why Bacon

wanted total war with the Indians so bad. Bacon became a symbol of resentment towards

Virginia. He was elected onto the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1676. "When he insisted on

organizing armed detachments to fight the Indians, outside official control, Berkeley proclaimed

him a rebel and had him captured, whereupon two thousand Virginians marched into

Jamestown to support him. Berkeley let Bacon go, in return for an apology, but Bacon went off,

gathered his militia, and began raiding the Indians." At the end of the rebellion, Bacon fell ill

and died bringing the rebellion to an end.

Other rebellions and skirmishes occurred after Bacon. Most were no longer towards the

Indians but between slaves and servants and their masters. Usually the only way a poorer

person could come to America was through working as an Indentured Servant. Servants like

these would sometimes go on strike from doing their everyday work, "One Maryland master

complained to the Provincial Courts in 1663 that his servants did peremptorily and positively

refuse to goe and doe their ordinary labor." By 1700 most of the population of America was

made up of servants and slaves. In Virginia, there were fifty rich families who lived off of the

work of black slaves and white servants. This goes to showed that at that time, rather or not a

person was black or white, that person would still have been looked down upon if they were

not of the elite, aristocratic group. The colonies grew very rapidly during the 1700s. Black slaves

were pouring in by the hundreds. They accounted for 8 percent of the population in 1690 and

21 percent by 1770. These numbers show that there were a lot of slaves brought in to the

Americas. With all those people being ruled by an elite few there are bound to be problem like

the rebellions and problems discussed above.

In other words, no matter the year and not matter the skin color, there will always be a

group of people that are looked down upon by others. This act of discrimination will always

cause rebellions and fight between groups.