The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. — Confucius

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

Bacon's Rebellion

In the midst of the trouble caused in Virginia by the change of owners, and the increased taxes they imposed, the Indians, who had been quiet for about thirty years, suddenly came back. They said that while they had sold the land to the English, they still had the right to fish and hunt wherever they pleased. A dispute about this question again resulted in a murder, which for history often repeats itself—occasioned another war.

Since Berkeley took no steps to defend them from the savages, who boldly attacked outlying plantations, the Virginians determined to act themselves, and chose Nathaniel Bacon as their leader. But Berkeley declared they were rebels, and hearing that they had started, he would have pursued them, could he have raised troops.

Bacon's Rebellion

When the Virginian army came home in triumph from the first brush with the Indians, Bacon was called before the governor and tried as a rebel. But the jury promptly acquitted him, to Berkeley's great disgust. The governor waited until war broke out again, and when Bacon was too busy fighting to offer any resistance, he declared him an outlaw. This accusation, added to grievances about the taxes, caused a short civil war in Virginia, during which Jamestown was seized by the rebels, and Berkeley fled.

But the governor returned as soon as Bacon was called away, and prepared to defend himself in Jamestown. Hearing of this, Bacon came back, ready to lay siege to the city. The angry governor ordered out the cannon to shoot the rebels; but we are told that Bacon, having captured the wives of Berkeley's men, now put these women in front of his little force, knowing their presence there would prevent any bloodshed.

Thus routed by a "white-apron brigade," Berkeley fled a second time; and Bacon, fearing he might return and fortify the city, burned Jamestown to the ground (1676). The first English city built in the United States thus became a heap of ruins, and no trace of it now remains, except a small part of the old church tower and a few gravestones.

Ruins of Jamestown

Shortly after the burning of Jamestown, Bacon fell ill and died, his followers sadly crying: "Who is there now to plead our cause?" Their helpless grief was so great that Berkeley took advantage of it to return. He then began to punish all those who had taken any part in what is known in history as "Bacon's Rebellion," or the "Great Rebellion "in Virginia.

In fact, Berkeley showed himself so cruel that many of those who had borne arms were condemned to die. Once, when a prisoner whom he particularly hated was brought before him, he angrily cried: "You are very welcome; I am more glad to see you than any man in Virginia; you shall be hanged in half an hour." This prisoner was executed, and so many others shared his fate that King Charles, hearing how Berkeley abused his power, indignantly cried: "The old fool has taken away more lives in that naked country than I for the murder of my father."


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell