Bacon's rebellion

Bacon's rebellion, also admits 1676 as Virginia rebellion, was a rebellion led from Nathaniel Bacon in the British colony Virginia against the governor Sir William Berkeley.

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Nathaniel Bacon

Nathaniel Bacon
Nathaniel Bacon

Nathaniel Bacon (* 2. January 1647 in England; † 26. October 1676) came of to a wealthy English family and was cousin of lord chancellor Francis Bacon. It studied in Oxford and undertook journeys by Europe. After its marriage with Elizabeth Duke it was entangled into an inheritance scandal and moved thereupon in the summer 1674 with a substantial fortune after Virginia out, where it had influential relatives: The councilman Nathaniel Bacon SR. its cousin and the woman of the there governor Berkeley were a cousin of its wife. By these family relations Bacon kept a seat in the Council Virginias already short after its arrival. Besides he bought a Plantage, on which he - as usual in Virginia - cultivated tobacco.

governor Berkeley

Sir William Berkeley (* 1606; † 9. July 1677) came of to an influential English family and became 1639 of Charles I. to the knight struck. To a study in Oxford and a brief political activity in London he already came 1642 as a governor of the crown to Virginia, where he remained nearly without interruption until 1677. First it calmed the colony down torn up in discord by promotion of interests of the public. This unselfish policy shows up also in the fact that it the general assembly, the meeting of the legislation (consisting of the House OF Burgesses, which covered the selected representatives of the individual cities), the right of the highest industrial tribunal - also against decisions general of the Court, whose presidency it held. Thus he attained first large sympathy with the inhabitants of the colony.

1644 pulled Berkeley after a massacre on Virginiern with a small army against the Indians to field. Nearly without losses it reached peace for a generation. In the peace treaty of 1646 besides the Indian trunks involved were bound contractually to the English colony. 1661 it began a merciless pursuit of the Quäker and Puritaner, one of the few negative events of its early term of office. 1665 defended Berkeley Virginia in the war against the dutchmen and stopped their invasion to country.

Under olive Cromwell the royalist governor, who protested against the navigation document, was set off and only under Charles II. again into its office recalled. From then on however the citizens received less and less Virginias to portion of the policy, whereas Berkeley controlled parliament, advice, general Court and the parish meeting halls.

prehistory: The conflict between settlers and Indians

trips and background of Bacon's rebellion was the conflict between the Indians and the English settlers in Virginia. In July 1675 contractually the settlers bound the Doegs of pigs owners of plan day of Thomas Mathews not to konfiszierten, because this had not paid its debts. When Mathews fetched itself back the pigs by force, Indians were killed. That led to a bloody argument between Indians and Virginiern, into whom also without own being to blame for the Sushquehannah - Indians turned out. These fled after Maryland to the friendly trunk of the Piscattaways. Both Sushquehannahs and Piscattaways were not contractually connected with the Virginiern. Of governor Berkeley of an authorized person troop the border crossed after Maryland without permission of the there government and called besides their army to assistance. They besieged the away of the Piscattaways, in which the Sushquehannahs was. To 26. Septembers were murdered five chieftains ready to negotiate. Despite following fights however most Sushquehannahs escaped. In the future the survivors Sushquehannahs undertook short assaults, around each murdered chieftain by ten murdered settlers to throats. Although the Sushquehannahs had in terms of figures far been subject to the Virginiern, they could from the forests encroachments on individual Plantagen undertake and again to the forests return. Therefore the Pflanzer felt threatened by all sides of Indian masses.

In January 1676 governor Berkeley sent a punitive expedition again against the Sushquehannahs under Henry Chicheley , recalled her however soon thereafter again. The Sushquehannahs had let communicate that the chieftain murders were gerächt now and no further attacks would take place. Berkeley, because of the massacre in Maryland more carefully become, decided to the defensive politics. In a special meeting to 7. March 1676 decided the assembly in Jamestown to build manned Forts at the river ends. Also the contractually bound trunks should render help against the hostile Indians. Nevertheless no enemy without separate permission should be attacked by the governor. By this tactics it - after Berkeleys of own statement - is not to have given victims between April and May.

the intimidated Pflanzer in

the south the March resolutions nevertheless considered and decided the first punitive action Bacons insufficient to the active Gegenwehr. When in September 1675 the trunk of the Appomatox was suspected grain of the settlers to have stolen Berkeley rejected the request of the settlers for a commander for an Indian campaign. The settlers rejected a distinction between hostile and friendly Indians, with whom the governor Handel carried on, for their part categorically and decided to their own punitive action. In addition they selected without agreement of the governor Nathaniel Bacon to their leader, who was not affected by the theft. Bacon was a friend of the governor and member of the Councils, which lent a legal painting to the enterprise. In addition it financed the armyarmy army from own means. Because of this incident it was reprimanded by the governor.

When 1676 were murdered due to the Indian encroachments on Bacons of own Plantage a custodian, he set up an armyarmy army without permission of the governor from own means. He asked the governor nevertheless to 2. May in writing around an agreement. Despite a renewed prohibition it began to 10. May the Indian campaign, there it Berkeleys of attempts to protect the rights of the contracting parties when defense and promotion of robbers and invaders rated.

Thereupon the governor Bacon took his seat in the Council and explained him in a public announcement to 10. May to the rebel. Besides Berkeley set new elections to the assembly on (first since 1661), which should meet in June.

First the armyarmy army turned to the contractually bound Occaneechees at the border after Carolina and demanded support against the Sushquehannahs. Thereupon the Occaneechees pulled against the Sushquehannahs and brought the prisoners to Bacon and its army, which in away the Occaneechees had stayed. Bacon let the caught Sushquehannahs execute. But after a controversy it turned against the Occaneechees, since it wanted to lead a war against all Indians. After his return the governor granted it first Pardon. As Bacon to 28. May 1676 however a vindication for its glorious act wrote, saw themselves confirmed to Berkeley in its earlier opinion over it than rebel.

declaration and remonstrance

to 29. May wrote the governor an explanation (declaration and remonstrance), which was read out in all Country Courts. Besides a copy of it became at the 1. June to England sent. Berkeley explained therein Bacon, to that with its acting against the express prohibition of the governor of 10. May 1676 had offended and thereby against the legal representative of the crown had placed themselves, again to the rebel. An accusation on rebellion against the legitimate representative of the crown in the colony entailed inevitably the death penalty. Beside the accusation against Bacon and his procedure contained declaration and remonstrance also a justification of Berkeleys of past Indian politics, whereby Berkeley granted even personal errors. A decision of 15. May 1676, according to which he explained all Indians as enemies, it revised only few weeks later, to be familiar became that messages missed to any basis over attacks of the contractually bound Indians. To such false estimates also the messages over King Philip's had were led and the associated fear of the settlers before a panindianischen offensive. As long as governor Berkeley could not get a proof for encroachments of the subjected, contractually bound Indians submitted, it wanted to protect their rights. Therefore it held to defensive politics.

the rebellion

Gouverneur Berkeley trifft auf Nathaniel Bacon
governor Berkeley meets Bacon and many

on Nathaniel Bacon at the end of of May with the new elections to the House OF Burgesses its trailer to representatives was nevertheless selected. The assembly stepped to 5. June in Jamestown together. With the attempt to notice its mandate Bacon became to 7. June imprisoned taken. Berkeley let demonstrate it on knees in the assembly and there confession over its acts placings, granted it however again Pardon and let it also its seat in the assembly notice. With the conference of the assembly of 5. to 25. May was specified apart from reforms relating to domestic affairs that a renewed campaign should be undertaken against hostile Indians under guidance Bacons. As hostile Indians those were defined now, which wanted to leave their territory without agreement of the Virginier.

After Bacon had waited several days in vain for permission for the beginning of the campaign, he fled from Jamestown, collected its trailers around itself and turned to 22. June after Jamestown back. There it forced permission with force of arms of Berkeley and let the laws of the June assembly supplement. After its renewed breaking open against the Indians to 26. June took Berkeley back permission given under obligation and looked for for his part in Gloucester unsuccessfully weapon support against Bacon. This returned to Jamestown for negotiations with governor, but Berkeley fled to the east coast. On the way it wrote an explanation the crown that Bacon would possess no permission for the war and a rebel was. Thereupon Bacon its manifesto concerning the troubles in Virginia and a little later wrote declaration the OF the people.

the manifesto concerning the troubles in Virginia

manifesto was written probably at the end of of July 1676, before a conference of the rebels on the Middle Plantation in Williamsburg. With rhetorical fate Bacon knows each accusation against itself and its trailers back and justified its preceding acts. Beyond that it attacked the Indian politics Berkeleys and its guidance way in Virginia sharply. It closed the communist manifesto with a confirmation of loyalty and sincerity of its trailers and a complaint over the governor to the king. Until today the character of the communist manifesto is differently evaluated as basis of a rebellion or a revolution in the professional world.

the declaration OF the the people

declaration OF the people consent OF the people the of Bacon as a general by signatoryly, in the research as result of the Middle Plantation Conference are often rated. Thus it would have a democratic character. According to other investigations them became already to 30. July von Bacon alone written and would miss thus to this basis. Into declaration the OF the people tried Bacon no more to justify its acts but did not complain instead in the name of the people Berkeley and 19 further office holders because of misdemeanours in the Indian politics and in the government of the colony on. The legal ruling powers he explained and set thereby for his part as rebels for them an ultimatum of four days, in order to arise him and his trailers. Among other things Bacon accused to its opponents its own use and personal profit over the well-being of the country and the inhabitants of the colony to have placed by having carried on with the hostile Indians to own enriching trade. Therefore they would have supplied also weapons to the Indians with as articles of exchange for beaver trap. He accused Berkeley, the monopoly of the beaver trade to have actually torn and over country and life of the inhabitants have placed. Bacon was affected by the prohibition of the private beaver trade (1676), which beside the cultivation of tobacco its second support leg had represented, since that time personally been and had assumed that from the governor favoured further trade carried on, for which however no proof can be found. On the other hand the virginische lawyer William Sherwood even accepted that Bacon had undertaken the attack on the Occaneechees evenly because of their beaver skin supplies of 1000 Pound. But also for for this any proof is missing.

In addition the assembly had transferred with its conference in March 1676 control of the beaver trade from the governor to the justices of the peace in the local Courts of Justice and with the second law of the June assembly the trade with the Indians had been to a large extent forbidden. Already during the June assembly besides measures were seized against enriching and arbitrariness of the executive. These laws are often attributed to Bacon and called accordingly Bacon's Laws, but a direct participation Bacons is drawn to their contents nevertheless with some laws in doubts, there - among other things a law for the suppression of riot - to be partly against it directed seems. However in the June assembly also political reforms in the sense of the complaint plates declaration of the OF the people , as for instance the delimitation of the term of office of the Sheriffs on one year to pay a prohibition of office amassment and office abuse were introduced and permission taxes in tobacco. The high annual taxes for the settlers in Virginia were still due to the enterprises of the king since 1660 : Charles II. the whole area had lent Virginia to the lords Arlington and Culpeper for 31 years. The Virginier had to pay therefore superelevated taxes to the lords, in order to get their country back. A further reason for the height of the taxes was the building of the Forts at the river ends to the protection against the Indians since the March assembly. There however the Forts expressly a defensive, an offensive task did not have, saw the settlers no visible and appropriate results of its fiscal charges. Therefore in act VIII of the June assembly was decided additionally for the settlers the possibility to send own representatives to the tax courts which should have same right to vote when defining of the tax revenue. These sociopolitical reforms are often rated in the research as direct or also indirect results of Bacons participation in the June assembly and as large goals declaration of the OF the people.

Beyond that Bacon the governor complained on, which does not only protect and favours Indians, but also against the inhabitants Virginias encouraged and never a punishment for encroachments, robs and murders to have imposed. However Berkeley up to Bacon's rebellion was considered as darling OF the people. A proof for unfairness or corruption Berkeleys was never furnished.

its goal called

and criticized goals of the rebellion Bacon at the beginning of the rebellion the war against all Indians up to the June assembly neither unfairness nor corrupting barness of the governor. He expressed these reproaches only at one time, when the break with the legitimate ruling powers was irrevocable. Beginnings of social and political reforms are apart from the resolutions of the June assembly, in which the legal ruling powers still participated, only for the time after the escape of the governor. Up to this time stressed Bacon to plan no social or political rebellion. With declaration the OF the people, into it the governor as representatives of the crown for his part to the rebel explained, changed it finally into the open rebellion.

the end of the rebellion

after the conference of the rebels on the Middle Plantation in August in Williamsburg proceeded Bacon again against the Indians. To 7. Septembers achieved he a last victory over the Pamunkeys. Afterwards it came to a military argument with the trailers Berkeleys into Jamestown. Properties of trailers of the legitimate ruling powers were geplündert and plundered. After the escape of the last opponents Bacon left to 19. Septembers the city down-burn. In this way Nathaniel Bacon had ascended within short time to ruling power the Virginias. However its rule had only short existence: It got sick to Bacon with the Ruhr and died to 26. October 1676. He was buried in unknown quantities place in a river, so that the corpse could not fall its opponents into the hands. Soon thereafter leaderless the rebellion become began to break down. By February 1677 the Berkeley returning with an army thrashed the trailers Bacons with extraordinary hardness. This umbarmherzige and cruel procedure entailed an investigation given by the crown in order, whose result existed still in the same year in the separation Berkeleys as a governor.

Sir William Berkeley returned to England and died there little later, to 9. July 1677.

Web on the left of


  • Middekauff, Robert, Bacon's rebellion, Chicago, Illinois, 1964.
  • Miller, brightens Hill, The Case for Liberty, Chapel Hill: the University OF North Carolina press, 1965.
  • Morgan, Edmund S., American Slavery - American Freedom: The Ordeal OF Colonial Virginia, New York, 1975.
  • Washburn, Wilcomb E., The Governor and the Rebel. A History OF Bacon's rebellion in Virginia, 1958, reproduction New York: Norton, 1972.
  • Webb, Stephen Saunders, 1676: The end to OF American Independence, New York: Alfred A. Button, 1984.

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