September 19, 2017 all-day

Sept 19, 1676. Virginia governor Sir William Berkeley, supporting Charles IIs efforts to exploit the colony, adopted new laws allowing only property holders to vote, raising taxes and raising the cost of shipping while lowering the price for tobacco.

The resulting discontent exploded when the frontier of the colony was attacked by local tribes and the governor refused to defend the settlers.

Nathaniel Bacon, a colonist on the governors council, led frontier farmers and successfully defeated the tribes. Denounced by Berkeley as rebels, Bacon and his men occupied Jamestown, forcing the governor to call an election, the first in 15 years. The Berkeley laws were repealed, and election and tax reforms were instituted. While Bacon and his troops were gone on a raiding party against the Indians, Berkeley again denounced them. They returned and attacked Berkeley’s forces, defeating them and burning Jamestown on Sept 19, 1676. Berkeley fled and Bacon became ruler of Virginia.

When he died suddenly a short time later, the rebellion collapsed. Berkeley returned to power, and Bacon’s followers were hunted down; some were executed and their property confiscated. Berkeley was replaced the next year, and peace was restored.

Image: The Burning of Jamestown by Howard Pyle, c. 1905, Public Domain via Wikipedia.org

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