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Essay on Bacon’s Rebellion

Bacon’s Rebellion was a popular uprising in colonial Virginia in 1676, perpetuated by Nathaniel Bacon. The insurgency started as due to low tobacco prices, high taxes, and Sir Berkeley’s disapproval of those connected to the Berkeley’s getting special privileges It was, without a doubt, one of the most puzzling yet fascinating episodes. For many years, historians thought that the rebellion was the first stirring of revolutionary sentiment in the US, with the American Revolution following a century later (Encyclopedia Virginia, n.d.). However, in recent decades, people now consider the rebellion as a power scuffle among self-centered and stubborn leaders and not a glorious fight against dictatorship, based on discoveries from a more distant perspective. (National Park Service, 2016)

In Bacon’s Rebellion, the main protagonists were radically opposed. Berkeley’s opponent, Nathaniel Bacon, Jr., was a married cousin of Berkeley’s. Lady Berkeley was Bacon’s cousin, Frances Culpeper. (National Park Service, 2016). Bacon was a troublemaker and conspirator who had been sent to Virginia by his parents to mature. Despite his distaste of labor, Bacon was brilliant and articulate.

Bacon’s Rebellion was fueled by a number of events, many of which sparked dissent in the Virginia colony. Plummeting tobacco prices, increased commercial competition from Carolina and Maryland, a progressively restricted English market, and mounting prices for English products all contributed to economic hardship for Virginians (Oxford Bibliographies, 2016). Naval conflicts with the Dutch and the English resulted in massive losses, while weather caused a slew of problems at home. Over the course of a year, floods, hailstorms, dry spells, and hurricanes created chaos on the colony, causing substantial damage to the colonists. The colonists sought a culprit on who they could vent their displeasure and put blame for their calamities as a result of these issues. The colonists used the local Indians as a handy scapegoat.

The crisis began in July 1675, when the Doeg Indians raided Thomas Mathews’ estate near in Virginia’s Northern Neck. Several people died in the attack, that started as a disagreement over the defaulting of some goods Mathews had allegedly taken from the tribe. (Oxford Bibliographies, 2016). When the colonists retaliated against the wrong Indians, the Susquehanaugs, the situation became dire, resulting in large-scale Indian raids. In order to prevent future attacks and put the state of affairs under control, the Governor authorized an investigation into the issue. He organized a devastating meeting which culminated in the murder of a number of tribal chiefs. Berkeley urged the colonists to exercise restraint during the ordeal. However, some, like Bacon, were determined were not interested in his sentiments (National Park Service, 2016). Bacon disobeyed the Governor’s instructions by detaining friendly Appomattox Indians.

Shortly after his death, Berkeley seized entire power and executed the rebellion’s top leaders. In addition, he seized their property without going through the legal system. Twenty three individuals were hanged in total for their parts in the insurrection. He was dismissed from the Governorship when an English committee submitted its report to the King. This led to a close of one of Jamestown’s most strange and perplexing chapters. Could it have been avoided, or were the inevitable changes in the colonial administrative framework overdue? The laws were obviously dysfunctional in terms of defining strategies to solve issues or creating new purpose into the colony’s economy.

The effects of the rebellion were notable. The poor revolted in order to get more rights, and the English were pitted against each other for the first time. A document to propose that the impoverished be given more rights was introduced, and after witnessing this bizarre sequence of events, the King of England determined that the Governor should be given additional power. Finally, the English decided that indentured slaves should be abolished. They determined that they intended to deprive individuals of their rights while still providing free labor.


Encyclopedia Virginia. (n.d.). Bacon’s Rebellion (1676–1677) – Encyclopedia Virginia. Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved April 1, 2022, from

National Park Service. (2016). Bacon’s Rebellion – Historic Jamestowne Part of Colonial National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service).

Oxford Bibliographies. (2016, May 26). Bacon’s Rebellion. Obo.


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