Bacon’s Rebellion – A Justified Action or Personal Power Grab?

Bacon’s Rebellion

I am writing this to inform you about the political state of affairs at Jamestown. Over the past few months, political antagonism has risen due to a power struggle between the incumbent governor, Sir William Berkeley, and Nathaniel Bacon, Jr., a cousin by marriage to the governor. Upon Bacon’s arrival in the state of Virginia in 1675, the governor awarded him a council position, which was a noble act (“National Park Service (NPS),” n.d). There is reason to believe that Bacon has become more interested in a personal power grab in the state of Virginia. Further, there is reason to believe that Bacon is taking advantage of the current political tension between the colonists and the local Indians. I may not attribute the growing problem to the governor, but to a series of natural misfortunes that have befallen the state.

In the recent past, the state of Virginia has witnessed an unprecedented economic recession occasioned by a decline in tobacco prices, high restrictions in the English market, intense competition from other states such as Maryland, and rise of imported goods (mercantilism) (“NPS),” n.d). Further, the state of Virginia has experienced erratic weather, characterized by lengthy dry spells, hurricanes, and even floods. These factors have led to increasing frustration among the colonists, who in turn blame the local Indians for their misery. Reports indicate that the antagonism begun on July 1675 when Doeg Indians invaded Thomas Mathews’ plantation, leading into several Indian deaths (“NPS),” n.d). The Indians claimed that Mathews had failed to pay for some items he took from them on loan. The colonists organized a retaliatory attack, but they mistakenly went for the wrong Indians (Susquehanaugs).

There have been unsuccessful attempts by Governor Berkeley to quell the ensuing violence. One of these attempts resulted in deaths of several chiefs when he called for a meeting (“NPS),” n.d). Berkeley has continuously rallied for calm among colonists and the need for peace. On the other hand, Bacon has refused to heed to the call for restraint, instead choosing to launch an attack against some Indians he claims they stole corn. The recent actions have caused sharp divisions between the two leaders as well as the residents. For instance, a faction of the colonists led by Bacon believes that Berkeley’s administration is inherently corrupt. They cite a recent case where the Long Assembly gave Berkeley’s colonist friends the right to trade with Indians while denying others, including Bacon, the right to trade (“NPS),” n.d). In addition, reports indicate that Berkeley denied Bacon a position to act as the leader of a local militia.

Following the incidents, Bacon attacked the Pamunkeys, driving them away from their land. In return, Berkeley has attempted to exercise his authority as the governor by labeling Bacon a “rebel”. It is understood that Bacon has already surrounded himself with well-armed militia of about 200 men (“NPS),” n.d). Bacon continues to mount attacks on Indians as Berkeley fights had to maintain peace. The recent turn of invents clearly indicate that this sis a personal power grab orchestrated by Bacon. In the meantime, Berkeley fights hard to maintain his seat as governor.


National Park Service (NPS). (n.d). Bacon’s Rebellion. Retrieved from   


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