With American Indians randomly attacking the colonies, grave economic problems, corruption in the government, a desire for a representative government, and no help from Great Britain, the American colonies were on the brink of rebellion. All that was left to ignite the rebellion was a leader and a spark. Both of these came in the years to follow 1675. There were great economic problems in the colonies at the time. For one thing, the prices of tobacco, the major economic base of the colonies, were falling fast. To add to the decrease in tobacco price, Great Britain was also increasing taxes on the Americans. This did not help the situation in the colonies.
Adding to all the turmoil, was a corrupted government. With William Berkeley as the current royal governor, he was in complete control of the colonies, and had not allowed an election in almost fourteen years. His only helpful actionThe government was corrupted, and Great Britain was doing nothing to help.
The Americans wanted a representative and responsive government, in which they could elect their representatives and have a voice in the government. Another major factor that caused Bacon’s rebellion was the American Indians. Although some were peaceful, many were not. With many of the tribes shifting territories, the American Indians were attacking planters along the frontier. By 1676, more than 300 Virginians had been killed at the hands of the Indians. Adding to all the turmoil, was a corrupted government.
With William Berkeley as the current royal governor, he was in complete control of the colonies, and had not allowed an election in almost fourteen years. His only helpful action was to have more forts constructed, making planters feeling abandoned. The government was corrupted, and Great Britain was doing nothing to help. The Americans wanted a representative and responsive government, in which they could elect their representatives and have a voice in the government. From England came a man called Nathaniel Bacon, who was seen by the dissident planters as a natural leader.
He is appointed to the Council by Berkeley, and later agrees to lead the planters in their fight against the Indians. He does wait for permission from Berkeley, and leads his followers 200 miles south, where he engages in a bloody battle with the Indians. At hearing this, Berkeley dismisses bacon from the Council, and claims his followers to be rebels. Despite his accusations, he cannot catch bacon and his force.
Bacon comes back home a hero, after claiming that he had killed 150 Indians. He is son elected to the House of Burgesses; but is captured by the governor when trying to take his seat in office. This enraged the planters who had finally found a leader for their cause.
Berkeley pardoned him, and promised to give him the right to attack Indians, but later backed out of his promise. Bacon had to march on Jamestown two more times for Berkeley to flee to the Eastern Shore, and for him to claim himself in charge of Virginia. Despite his recent success, Bacon did not go much further.
Soon after he burned Jamestown, Nathaniel Bacon, not even thirty years of age, died unexpectedly of dysentery. Soon after his sudden death, the entire rebellion fell apart; new laws were repealed, followers dispersed, strong believers were hung, and Berkeley regained power in Virginia. William Berkeley’s actions just showed how bad the system of government in the colonies were at the moment. They would pass laws when it was convenient, make promises that were not going to be kept, and had no respect for the already present laws. Bacon rose to the challenge courageously and aggressively; and he did this just at the right time.
In fact, Bacon’s original plan to overthrow the government was essentially the same plan that was used in the American Revolution, just a hundred years later. Thus, Bacon’s Rebellion, in 1676, was really an early and smaller model of the American Revolution, where the Americans freed themselves from the corrupt and overpowering government of England. At first, Bacon, despite what his followers thought, was trying to fight against England, and make Virginia free from the king’s rule.