Tobacco Influence On Anti-Colonial Virginia

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“We must defend ourselves against all Indians in general, for they are all enemies” Bacon proclaimed to a crowd of poor, working class Virginians. In the summer of 1676, Nathaniel Bacon led a group of men through Native American territory in protest of the unfair land policies in Virginia. Tobacco was a major crop in Virginia, and because it was tough on soil there was not much fertile land in the colony. Consequently, the shortage of fertile land made it hard for planters to profit from tobacco, and forced the citizens into poverty. As Virginians continued to struggle in poverty, Bacon commenced his anti- Native American campaign. He believed the Native Americans were uncivilized, thus undeserving of their large land grants. Bacon united a…show more content…
Originally, Berkeley gave away a large majority of the fertile lands within the colony away as grants to his family and friends. (Guasco). Berkeley exploited his role in government and used his power to benefit his family and friends. Berkeley’s distribution of land grants affected the distribution of wealth between social classes, while also increasing the separation between the yeoman farmer and plantation owners. Although tobacco was a large crop within Virginia, providing for 40 percent of Virginia’s economy during the early colonization period, it was tough to grow (Encyclopedia Virginia). Tobacco exhausted the fertile lands in Virginia because it took all the nutrients from the soil (Bacon’s Rebellion). Since tobacco harmed the land, settlers struggled to gain profit from the growth of the crop. In addition to lower profits, Berkeley’s land grants and the way tobacco grows supplemented to the continuous cycle of indentured servitude. Plantation owners needed cheap labor to grow tobacco, and were unable to fulfill their original contract of land as payment for years of work. The cycle of indentured servitude never seemed to end under Berkeley’s rule, and because of this, the lower class farmers decided to find new ways to get…show more content…
Relationships between the settlers and the Native Americans had always been weak, even with the neighboring tribes that signed treaties with Virginia. The lower class settlers used the Native Americans as a scapegoat- blaming all their financial problems on their presence in the colony (Bacon). After Berkeley gave away fertile land as land grants, settlers became increasingly angry at the Native Americans, and tried to con their way into stealing their land in order to plant tobacco. Settlers accused the Native Americans of multiple crimes, and in his Manifesto, Bacon accused them of murder and theft (Beverly). Accusations spread throughout the colony, and both sides considered the other as being evil or unjust. Hatred was brewing within Virginia, but nothing major broke out until a violent fight spread in the middle of Jamestown between a group of Native Americans and English Settlers. This fight, which was said to have killed 2 settlers and injured many more, was the moment the rebellion truly started (Charles II.). Although the fight was between something small, Bacon used the tension and vulnerability in the colony to spread his message and
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