Bacon's Rebellion

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Rebellion can be defined as the insurrection, resistance or refusal to take orders. Every act of rebellion has its cause, course and outcomes. Rebellion acts mostly occurs in sections where the law apply for instance in leadership and governance. This paper provides a detailed discussion on the bacon’s rebellion that took place in England between 1676 and 1677.


Bacons Rebellion

            Bacon's Rebellion was a revolt furnished with weapons which occurred in the year 1676. This rebellion was against the governor of Virginia, William Berkeley, wealthy landowners and politicians. It was led by Nathaniel Bacon, a colonist who had recently migrated in Virginia and laid a small land plantation near Jamestown River in 1673.[1]

He became popular in the public sphere and was appointed in the council of the governor. The Indian issue soon polarized the two men.

            Back then in the 17th century, the residents living in Virginia supported Nathaniel Bacon, but the wealthy landowners, local Americans, and William Berkeley hated him. The following reasons reinforced the revolt; a weak association between local citizens and settlers, insufficient support from the ruling aristocracy the settlers acquired, right to participate in voting activities, the institution necessity to new land acquisition and ownership, increased taxes, decreased prices of tobacco and absence of protection from the local American assault.[2]

Occurrences That Led to The Rebellion

            After finishing college Bacon left England and moved to Jamestown, Virginia and upon arrival everything was great. He bought some land and settled down with his wife for what he thought would be a quiet life as a planter and farmer. But, soon he started having trouble with his neighbors, who were Native Americans. Due to the popularity gained by Bacon, he started getting problems from the neighboring local people.[3]

They were unhappy that their town, Jamestown was rising and neglecting them, because of this they planned to raid on the settler’s farms located on the border of the city. In this invasion, they made away with supplies and food belonging to the settlers. In the verge of the attacks, Nathaniel Bacon’s farm caretaker was murdered, and he could not take it anymore. Bacon was yearning to ignite a war against the local Americans but decided to speak to Berkeley the governor and landowners about the issue, but they did not help him out.

            Due to the failure of Bacon to get the assistance he needed, he then engaged a small group of armed force, and in 1676 he operated two raiding upon the enemy.[4] This occurrence made Berkeley to be incensed, but Bacon became a famous hero and was picked to the Burgesses’ House. When Bacon attempted to take the governor’s seat in the assembly, he was arrested by his agents. Upon being released, Bacon established a small force of army again and protested on Jamestown. The governor then fled away, and the burgesses hurriedly put up measures aimed to conquer the enemy who is Indians. Berkeley hastily came back with his soldiers of his own and named Bacon a rebel. The forces of the insurgents initially triumphed, but their ability was doubted to remain in Jamestown for an extended period and decided to ignite the village.

            In the long run, Nathaniel Bacon became sick with dysentery and succumbed to death in 1676 during fall; the rebellion then ended immediately. For a short period, governor Berkeley returned to his ruling and tirelessly searched down the revolts before he was relocated to England.

            There were mixed results of the rebellion's: Removal of infamous governor temporarily, there was Real advancement towards beating the threat of Indians. The tribes realized that they had minimal chance upon heavy firepower of the settlers and they ended up signing another treaty regarding the maintenance of peace in 1677. At the same time, the political superiority of the local laborers and farmers had not perfected, they would still exist in the trace of the Tidewater aristocracy. Moreover, these families owning the vast plantations farms realized that the servants with no jobs were a huge problem to the stability of the social sphere.[5]

They preferred the use of slaves as their source of laborers as they were quite cheap to pay.

            The following constraints motivated the public uprising against governor Berkeley; the dismissive strategy of the colony about its political limitations of western border, not allowing Bacon in his inner council, failure to include Bacon in his trade of fur with the tribe Indians and war between American and Indian. All this was because of the inability of governor Berkeley to solve the safety problem of the colonists.[6]

            This rebellion was the first colony in America where dissatisfied borders that men took part. The party between Africans and recessed servants, united by the bond of service they provide, troubled the governing class, who addressed the issues by toughening the slavery’s’ ethnic gentry in a trial of splitting the involved lineage from any posterior united rebellion by passing a code of slavery in 1705. Although the tenants were not successful in their first attempt to drive away the Indians from Virginia, it led to governor Berkeley be revoked back to England.


Objectives and Significance of The Rebellion

            The main reason for the Bacon rebellion was a failure of governor Berkeley to address the series of raids issue of the local Americans on the border settlements. According to the latest historians, there are the facts that the revolt was used as a governing strategy by Nathaniel Bacon upon Governor Berkeley regarding his indulgence in favoring specific people belonging to the group of the law court.[7]  The individuals that helped Bacon financially included people with lots of riches, and they were not in Governor Berkeley sphere.

            Thompson Peter a historian says, the motivation of Nathaniel Bacon was about a personal blood feud between the two distant cousins. Therefore, Followers of Bacon made use of the revolt so that they can have a say in the government sphere and partnered interests among all the social groups and its upgrading well-being.

The Act and Outcome of Rebellion

            When Governor Berkeley did not agree to ensure redress upon the local people, growers assembled in and around the location involving another raiding attack. Bacon came along with a troop immediately the group was rearranged, and he as designated was the one in charge of them. The group attacked south up to when they reached to the Occaneechi tribe against the orders of Governor Berkeley.[8] Bacon and his army of men followed by taking away the lives of many people including children, women, and men at the village area after he talked through the Occaneechi to assault the Susquehannock. When they came back, they realized that Berkeley had arranged for fresh elections of leaders to enhance addressing the issue affecting local Americans attacks.

            The reestablished Burgesses house laid down some reforms called the laws of Bacon. He then failed to provide service at home and was always at the plantation which he was located distance of miles destination. therefore, this restrained the governor’s power and gave back the rights of slaves and landless men.[9]

            King Charles II sent his soldiers and other commissioners by the end of January 1676 when the bacon rebellion had collapsed. Berkeley had established a vast and very fierce insurgence of the Americans that had occurred in any of the England colonies before the revolt that again began a century later. Governor Berkeley was old-aged, hearing incapability, tired and very shocked at how bacon rebellion could have been started in the colony which he was ruling for thirty-four years.[10]


Brown, Kathleen M. Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia. The University of North Carolina Press, 2012.

Middlekauff, Robert. Bacon’s Rebellion. Rand McNally, 1964.

Rice, James D. Tales from a Revolution: Bacon’s Rebellion and the Transformation of Early America. New Narratives in American His, 2013.

Washburn, Wilcomb E. The Governor and the Rebel: A History of Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia. Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture at Williamsburg by the University of North Carolina Press, 1957.


Robert Middlekauff, Bacon’s Rebellion (Rand McNally, 1964).




Wilcomb E. Washburn, The Governor and the Rebel: A History of Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia (Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture at Williamsburg by the University of North Carolina Press, 1957).




Kathleen M. Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (The University of North Carolina Press, 2012).


James D. Rice, Tales from a Revolution: Bacon’s Rebellion and the Transformation of Early America (New Narratives in American His, 2013).


Middlekauff, Bacon’s Rebellion.


Washburn, The Governor and the Rebel.


Rice, Tales from a Revolution.


Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs.

November 13, 2023

History Music

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