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Bacon's Rebellion

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Nathanael Bacon was an affluent landowner in the backcountry of Virginia during the mid-1670's. During this time, he was a member of the governor's council and found himself often at odds with the rest of the gentry in the east. The colonial government would not allow the backcountry Virginians to expand their land further into Indian territory (for fear of antagonizing the natives) but men like Bacon felt this was being done to maintain an eastern dominance over the colony. For several years, this misunderstanding led to increasing tension between Bacon and Governor William Berkeley but nothing would come of it until 1675.

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In 1675, natives from the Doeg tribe attacked and destroyed a backcountry plantation. White farmers from the surrounding area naturally retaliated, but in doing so they also provoked Native American groups that had not been involved in the initial attack. What followed was a small-scale war, but Governor Berkeley provided little assistance. This was the final straw for Bacon and the other disgruntled westerners and together they took up arms against Berkeley. The following insurrection, known as Bacon's Rebellion, was the largest armed conflict in the colonies until the American Revolution. Jamestown was destroyed, Berkeley ousted, and the rebels were near victory until Bacon died of dysentery and British reinforcements arrived to support the colonial government.

How does this relate to labor and industry?
Bacon's Rebellion turned out to be one of the most significant turning points in moving the colonies' labor force away from white indentured servitude and almost entirely towards African slavery. A majority of the men who made up Bacon's army during the rebellion were former indentured servants. These men had not been granted the land that was promised them after their terms of service were up and it was for this reason that they had wanted to encroach further into Native American land. Once the insurrection was squashed, most of these men were appeased, but the colonial leaders recognized that as long as land had to be provided to the labor force, there was always the potential for future rebellions. Slaves, owned for life instead of seven years, did not come with this troublesome caveat. There isn't one event that can be said to have driven America towards slavery, but Bacon's Rebellion had as large an effect as any.