September 28th 2011
Nathaniel Bacon was a pivotal character in the building of the nation in its early years and it will be discussed here. Bacon was not born in the US but after coming to the land of America he was pivotal in a rebellion that was against the treatment of Native Americans by William Berkeley. Bacon believed that Berkeley was treating these hostile people in a way that was not beneficial to the colony. Bacon did not live a long life but he obviously had an impact on the people of his time. Bacon had a significant impact on the history of Virginia. Nathaniel Bacon, Jr., was born on 1647 in Friston Hall England, to Thomas and Elizabeth Bacon. Bacon’s family was of an aristocratic line. While Bacon’s family had long been aristocrats, they had also long been “rebellious”, and tended to take controversial sides in conflicts. According to Charles Willard Hoskins Warner, “the Bacon’s were a family noted for freedom of thought and for a desire to explore controversial topics and beliefs”. Nathaniel Bacon’s grandfather sided with Parliament in the conflict between Parliament and Charles I. From this we can say that the Bacon family had a rebel side to it. Bacon attended Cambridge, and was well traveled around Europe. At 21 he acquired a masters degree from Cambridge. Two years before the rebellion that bore his name, he married Elizabeth Duke, daughter of the Sir Edward Duke. Wanting to make a substantial amount of money, Bacon and his wife set sail for Jamestown that same year. Upon arriving, Bacon’s “magnetic personality” and connections which included a uncle that bore his name led to speedy distinction in Virginia, where he quickly become a member of his Council, and became known as “the most accomplished man in the colony”. Bacon, coming from an aristocratic and rebellious family, was also known to have had a fiery personality and a very stubborn backbone. According to Standard, Bacon’s heart was with the people, and when they told him of their problems he was sympathetic and “a mighty wrath . . . took possession of his impetuous soul.” He made an oath to “harry” the “redskins” if they meddle with him. When the “redskins” killed someone to whom he was warmly attached, the stage was set for conflict, as he “proved himself to be a man as good as his word”. Bacon’s “oath” and desire to keep his oath, came about at a very “ripe” time, as “the whole country [was] ripe for rebellion” and he became their guiding light. At the age of 29, Bacon was ready to come into conflict with his “nearly seventy years old” cousin, who was “a veteran of the English civil Wars and of Virginia’s Indian wars,” Virginia Governor Sir William Berkeley. When arriving in Virginia the governor of the time was Bacons’s cousin, William Blakely who was a popular governor during his first two terms, in which people described him as, “attractive personality and intellectual gifts”. Standard goes on to say that Berkeley was “every inch a gallant soldier, every inch a gentleman, yet haughty, unsympathetic and unlovable; narrow in mind and heart . . . his slightest whim was holy; to question his motives or the rightness and wisdom of his commands was little short of blasphemy”. In his first term, in 1642, Sir William Berkeley overcame an Indian attack that killed hundreds and defeated the Indians, bringing lasting peace. Berkeley played the ideal role of being the governor and was a popular leader, and this strengthened the “ties of affection for England . . . and won the loyal support of the colony”. In Berkley’s third term public opinion changed from a popular leader to a hated and feared governor. This change drove the people of the colonies to search for someone else to become leader, and eventually led to a rebellion. The change had...
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