The New Student's Reference Work/Bacon, Nathaniel

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Bacon, Nathaniel, a colonial leader, of English birth, the chief figure in Bacon’s Rebellion, in Virginia, under the governorship of Sir Wm. Berkeley.  He was born in Suffolk, England, January 2, 1647, and died (nominally a rebel) after the burning of Jamestown, Va., in October, 1676.  He was educated at the London Inns of Court as a lawyer, and emigrating to Virginia, settled on the upper James River, and became a member of the governor’s council.  The colonists of the region were then harassed by the Indians, and being dissatisfied with Governor Berkeley’s measures for the defense of the colony, they chose Bacon as their leader in the Indian war.  Berkeley, however, proclaimed the expedition a treasonable one, and captured and tried Bacon; but he was acquitted by the council and reinstated as a member of the body.  Bacon meanwhile opposed the governor’s authority in other ways, and especially his arbitrary and unjust taxation of the colonists, his inefficient Indian policy; and his measures of restricted suffrage.  The Indians again invading the colony, Bacon once more set out to subdue them.  This he did, but had also to fight the governor and his forces, who once more had proclaimed Bacon a rebel.  In the struggle, Jamestown, the capital of the colony, was taken by Bacon and burned, the governor’s forces being routed, while Berkeley himself had to take refuge on an English ship in the river.  At this juncture Bacon, however, died, and the war (styled Bacon’s Rebellion) came to an end.  Its influence on the subsequent American Revolution is capable of being traced.