The Bacon’s rebellion refers to the uprising that occurred in 1676 in the colony of Virginia. The uprising was led by Nathaniel Bacon, a planter who was 29 years of age. The rebellion was a retaliatory attack in response to conflicts arising from frontier Indian policies between the colonial government and the settlers. Virginia Governor, Berkeley, had a policy to divide the Indians. He maintained good relations with the friendly groups of Indians because they provided a valuable trade in deerskin. However, the settlers on the frontiers made no distinctions and killed all the Indians as a result of escalating tensions and minor skirmishes.
Another cause of Bacon’s rebellion was high taxes.
This was because of governor Berkeley’s decision to construct several forts across the frontier after the skirmishes. This move was met with very severe criticism from the farmers who saw this move by the governor as leading to more taxation. The high taxes levied by the government were already sources of collective discontent. In addition to that, there was a decline in the prices of tobacco. The poor corn harvest that the small farmers got from their farms also threatened the profit margins that were already fragile. Their farms were also purchased by the wealthier planters in an attempt at land consolidation. Favoritism was also another cause of the bacon rebellion. The government favored the wealthy planters and thus were able to purchase land from the small farmers as a result of favoritism.
Although the rebellion was not successful, it forced social changes in the state of Virginia. Bacon also forced the Berkereley and his cronies to leave Jamestown. As a result of the rebellion, Bacon published a manifesto that highlighted the grievances that they were fighting for. This manifesto is still debated today. Berkeley and his followers learned some lessons as a result of the uprising. After Bacon and his group attacked susquehanock, Berkeley called for new elections to the Burgesses. This was done in order to facilitate the Indian problem. After the House of Burgesses was reconstituted after the elections, a number of sweeping reforms were enacted. The powers of the governor were reduced, and the landless freemen were given suffrage
After the Indian attacks, governor Berkeley constructed new forts across the frontiers. However, this verdict was met with a lot of criticism. These forts were to beef up security in order to prevent more skirmishes. Berkeley refused to declare war on the Indians living on the frontier. Bacon on the other hand, rounded up poor whites and blacks and disenchanted farmers with the aim of pressing change in the crown policy. Bacon took matters in his hands and attacked the Indian settlements massacring both the hostile and friendly natives.
In my opinion, the measures that Bacon’s group took were not warranted. Bacon was a charismatic, articulate and well educated man. Had he used diplomacy, the lives of the friendly Indians would not have been taken. The indiscriminate killing in the Indian settlement was uncalled for. It is hard to tell whether his rebellion was opposed to the Indian policy or against aristocratic leadership. Inasmuch as the Indian attacks were serious, they did not merit the actions that Bacon and his followers instituted.
I believe that the measures that were instituted by Berkeley would have been effective if they were given a chance. Firstly, the new forts that were set up in the frontier would have increased the presence of security personnel. The presence of security agents would have controlled the skirmishes. However, for the measures instituted by the governor to work, Berkeley had to have the political will to resolve the conflicts and address the underlying issues in order to avert future uprisings. On the flip side, Berkeley might not have seen his measures to fluation. This is because he benefited from the monopoly of the trade of deerskins.
The governor sought to balance the interests of the Englishmen and the American Indians though his efforts were not bearing fruit. At the moment, frontiersmen were looking for a leader who as more willing to tolerate their dangerous anti-American-Indian measures. Bacon took on the opportunity and in order to convince his followers of the ‘Indian Policy’, he agreed that he would lead the volunteer militia units. Out of suspicion, the governor refused to approve the command. However, due to the persistence of the western settlers, bacon secured a commission from the governor by issuing threats of force. This means that he was able to lead and organize his volunteer militia groups in military action meted against the American Indians.
In order to justify these actions and the ‘Indian Policy’ to his followers, Bacon published the “Declaration of the People”. This publication highlighted the grievances that led to the uprising. The many issues that he featured in his manifesto appealed to the poor farmers and impoverished whites that supported Bacon’s actions. He also enticed escapee slaves to his cause.