Bacon's Rebellion



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DOCUMENT #24

From the Royal Commissioners' Narrative.

[After the commission was granted and the oath administered] there was also an act of Indemnity passed to Bacon and his party who committed the offenses on the assembly, and a Public Letter of applause and approbation of Bacon's actions... signed by the Governour and assembly. Which upon the breaking up of this Session, were sent [out] and read among the Ignorant People who believed thereby that all was well and nothing coming forth of a long time to quash, contradict or disown this Commission, Indemnity, Letter granted to Bacon... they were the more easily inclined to swallow so fair a bait not seeing Rebellion at the end of it, and most men grew ambitious of the service as thinking it both safe and for the Public good as having the approbation of the Governour and assembly, at least there yet appeared nothing to the contrary nor of a good while after.

 

DOCUMENT # 25

From the Royal Commissioners' Narrative.

While the Governour was in the Upper Parts [near the frontier] to wait Bacon's return [to arrest him] the people below began to draw into arms, and to declare against the Forts. He [the Governor] to appease the commotion of the People... comes immediately back to his own house, and caused ... the Forts to be forthwith dismantled, and dissolving the assembly that enacted the, gave the country a free new election, which new assembly were to be for the Settlement of the then distracted condition of Virginia.

At this new election (such was the Prevelency of Bacon's Party) that they chose instead of Freeholders [men of property], Free men that had but lately crept out of the condition of Servants (which were never before Eligible) for their Burgesses and such as were eminent abettors to Bacon, and for faction and ignorance fit Representatives of those that chose them.

 

DOCUMENT #26


From a letter to Henry Coventry, one of King Charles II's Secretaries of State, written by Sir William Berheley dated Feb. 2, 1677 (the day Berkeley sailed for England).

[No sooner was Bacon's Commission signed] but that all his Rabble verily believed I had resigned all my power to their New General and Bacon himself made them believe he thought so too and accordingly fell to work confiscating and Plundering diverse good mens' houses .... And hearing that Bacon intended to make me and Sir Henry Chicheley prisoners, and perhaps deal more severely with us, for he had proclaimed us both Traitors [to] his rebellious Army, I went to Sir Harry's house pursuading him to retire with me to Accomack [county] which place I understood continued Loyal (and indeed half of it was so) ... But now, Sir, begins God's Virible mercies to shine upon me, for though I went to Accomack but with [only] four Gentlemen, yet I had in three days at least forty Gentlemen of the best quality in Virginia that came over to me, many of them with their wives and children and left their estates to the Repine of Bacon's Barbarous Soldiers.

 

DOCUMENT #27

From T. Mathews Beginnings... of Bacon's Rebellion...

We [heard an] Account that General Bacon was Marched with a Thousand Men into the Forest to Seek the Enemy Indians, and in a few days after our next News was, that the Governour had Summoned together the Militia of Glocester and Middlesex Counties to the Number of twelve Hundred Men, and proposed to them to follow and Suppress that Rebel Bacon; whereupon arose a Murmuring before his face "Bacon, Bacon, Bacon," and all Walked out of the field, Muttering as they went, "Bacon, Bacon, Bacon," leaving the Governour and those that came with him to themselves, who being thus abandoned [sailed] over Chesepeake Bay 30 Miles to Accomac where are two Counties of Virginia.

Mr. Bacon hearing of this came back part of the Way, and sent out Parties of [mounted soldiers] Patrolling through every County, Carrying away Prisoners all whom he Distrusted might any more molest his Indian Prosecution, yet giving liberty to such as Pledged him their Oaths to return home and live quiet; the Copies or Contents of which Oaths I never Saw, but heard were very Strict, tho' little observed.

The Governour made a 2nd attempt coming over from Accomac with what men he could procure in Sloops and Boats, forty miles up the River to James Town, which Bacon hearing of, Came again down from his Forrest Pursuit, and... [landed on] the Penninsula there in James Town, He Stormed it and took the Town ... But the Governour with most of his followers fled back, down the River...

Here resting a few days [Bacon's men] Concerted the Burning of the Town, wherein Mr. Laurence and Mr. Drummond owning the Two best houses, set fire each to his own house, which Example the Soldiers following Laid the whole Town (with Church and Statehouse) in Ashes, Saying, The Rogues should harbour no more there.

On these [repeated] Molestations Bacon Calls a Convention at Middle Plantation [later to become Williamsburg] 15 miles from James Town in the Month of August 1676, Where an Oath with one or more Proclamations were formed, and Writs by him Issued for an Assembly; The Oaths or Writts I never Saw but One Proclamation Commanded all Men in the Land on Pain of Death to Join him, and retire into the Wilderness upon Arrival of forces expected from England, and oppose them until they should propose or accept to treat of an Accommodation...

 

DOCUMENT #28


From The Humble Remonstrance and address of The Inhabitants of Charles City County within his Majesty's Colony of Virginia - a petition of grievances presented to the Royal Commissioners in May 1677.

These we humbly confess,were the greatest seducements [Berkeley 's arbitrary rule and unjust taxation, his neglect of an adequate Indian defense; etc.] that provoked most of us at first to take up arms only against the ... barbarous enemies the Indians...

But after that grand Imposter Bacon had by these and many other specious pretences allowed many of us to join with him in the forcing [of] his commission. And that Sir.Wm. Berkeley not only permitted the levying and raising [of] the thousand horses and foot [soldiers] but with great numbers of volunteers in several parts, but [several] of his council and all magistrates ...assisted therein (as by the pretended act in June they were enjoined) without any declaration or prohibition of Sir Wm. Berkeley to the contrary for the space, of one month or more, until such time that Bacon was by these means furnished with the power of the whole country, or the greatest part thereof, And was then arrived to that height of fierceness and cruelty he afterwards exercised over us.

We then as unable to resist his will and commands... as his Honor had been in granting his commission... and for fear of death were all of us forced to do what we did in opposing Sir Wm. Berkeley's power, raised for suppressing the Rebellion...

 



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