Thursday, February 10, 2011

Our Family's Colonial Era, Part XVII

by Glenn N. Holliman

Bacon's Rebellion - The Virginia Civil War Before the American Revolution

Some have called it the precursor to the 1776 Revolution, only one hundred years earlier. Actually, my reading of the violence and pain of 1676 Colonial Virginia is more of that of a Civil War. Two factions, one wealthier and in power, and the other less wealthy, less powerful and feeling physically threatened by Native Americans, clashed over taxes and 'homeland' security.

The insurgents, hundreds of white and some Black young men, rallied around Nathaniel Bacon, age 32, a cousin by marriage to the Virginia Royal Governor, and a planter near the Falls that is now Richmond, Virginia. A number of issues led to Bacon's revolt which resulted in brutal attacks on Indian villages, the rousting of the Royal Government and the burning, of all places, Jamestown, the capitol. Many died and many were hung by a recovering Royal authority.

Were Christopher Holyman, Sr., a planter with a thousand acres or so, and his children caught up in these events? Yes, they were. The Holymans had some legitimate grievances, but when push came to shove, they opted to support the Royal Governor, one William Berkeley. For that no Holyman swung by their necks as did 22 rebels in the autumn of 1676, including a few of their neighbors.

Still the standard for understanding Bacon's Rebellion is Wilcomb E. Washburn's 1955 work. It is fair, balanced and points out the issues on both sides.

Numerous historians have provided excellent interpretations of the events of the rebellion such as Alan Taylor's, American Colonies and especially Edmund S. Morgan's American Slavery, American Freedom.

Next Post, the Rebellion and Why the Holyman's were Caught in the Middle....

No comments:

Post a Comment