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A Rebellious Piece of Bacon
Kevin and I are driving through Virginia. We've got Bacon on our minds. Not the pancake and eggs kind. I mean Bacon, the man. One hundred years before the American Revolution, Nathaniel Bacon led a rebellion against the British. And why would he do that? What was life in colonial Virginia like?
Well, it was wonderful...that is, if you were a rich man who owned lots of land. One of these men was named Arthur Allen. He came to Virginia from England and brought with him four white servants. They were the kind of servants that had to work for him for a bunch of years almost like slaves until they were free to go do their own work someday. With their help, Arthur became quite wealthy. He probably thought coming to America was one of the best decisions of his life.
Arthur's servants would probably disagree. Coming to America as a servant was no walk in the park. You were considered someone's property (just like a slave) until you paid off the cost of your master bringing you over on the boat. Paying off debts could take up to seven years, and some people never managed to do so.
Indentured servants had very little rights, if any. They couldn't marry, have children or move around much.
So when Nathaniel Bacon told all the servants they should fight against the masters and go out and take over their own land, a lot of them thought that was a good idea. Unfortunately, taking over their own land meant actually meant taking it from the Indians who lived a little ways away. The Indians tried to protect their land and Bacon thought that was reason enough to kill them all!
So when the famous "Bacon's Rebellion" occurred, it meant that Indians were being attacked for defending their land because the poor white people were tired of being abused. Things got ugly. Bacon and his men burnt down the town of Jamestown and took over Arthur Allen's mansion. They stayed for 4 months until a bunch of British soldiers came and got them out.
23 of the rebels were hanged and the rich people got to keep all their land and servants.
So, do you think Bacon was a good person? He led a fight to make better lives for the poor. But he killed Indians to do it. And in the end the rich people still had all their power. But maybe poor people learned that they can do something about their situation? Maybe you have learned something about how YOU can do things to try to make the world a better place, too? What do you think?
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Stephanie - You go, colonial girl wonder!