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Bacon's Rebellion Essay

973 words - 4 pages

Some might argue that Bacon's rebellion was the first American Revolution for liberty. Long-standing tensions between small "freeholders and the elite" of Virginia colony burst suddenly into the open in 1676. The "elite" had previously remained united to maintain its hold on the best lands of the colony and other privileges. That suddenly changed in April. Bacon's Rebellion is considered to be the most important event in the establishment of democracy in colonial America. This revolt for freedom in colonial Virginia in 1676 was led by Nathaniel Bacon.High taxes, low prices for tobacco, and resentment against special privileges given those close to the governor, Sir William Berkeley, provided the background for the uprising, which was descended by Berkeley's failure to defend the frontier against attacks by Native Americans. Appointed governor in 1641, he defeated the Native Americans and the Dutch, extended exploration, and encouraged agriculture. A great economic suffering has been induced due to a drop in tobacco prices. Berkeley also seemed to favor a small portion of people, and deprived the others of their personal rights. In most cases, he is seen as the most bigoted ruler Virginia ever had. In one of his messages, he thanked God that there were no free schools or printing in his province. He was very tyrannous, and, having friends in the assembly, they prevented the election of any new members from 1666 to 1676. The taxes became intolerable, and trade fell into the hands of a few individuals. Not only that, but the governor disbanded the troops which had gathered for protection against the Indians, who renewed their attacks on the exposed plantations. He seemed to be very boastful about himself stating how he's a much better man than Nathanial Bacon was. In his "Declaration and Remonstrance...," he did not reckon for the loss of the Dutch trade, war with the Hollanders, the deterioration of peace with the Indians, the revival of the Northern Neck proprietary, or being undercut by the crown.Bacon's Rebellion can be attributed to a number of causes from the rises of tobacco prices as recently mentioned, and the rising prices from English manufactured goods. There were heavy English losses in the latest series of naval wars with the Dutch and, closer to home, there were many problems caused by weather. Hailstorms, floods, dry spells, and hurricanes rocked the colony all in the course of a year and had a damaging effect on the colonists. These difficulties encouraged the colonists to find a scapegoat against whom they could vent their frustrations and place the blame for their misfortunes. More importantly, the farmers' right to vote and social equality was denied by the tyrant Governor Berkeley. Voting plays an important part in democracy because it gives the citizens a voice in government. Berkeley did not care for them, and the event that triggered this revolt was when the Indians attacked the farmers. In seeking...

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