Virginia, Berkeley, William Berkeley discussed on The Political History of the United States
So far over the course of this podcast. We have been telling the story of the colonies moving from an initial place of instability towards them much more sought after stability. We have gone from the early years of Jamestown through the starving time conflict with powder and all the way to a functioning government in Virginia. The same goes in New England where we have been able to shift our conversation from questions of survival and starvation to the structure of legal codes and government systems. However we all know that. This isn't exactly how the story goes. We know that the history of the United States isn't a straight line movie from chaos to a more orderly form rather change and development comes in fits and bursts instability and conflict move back in on a regular basis and disrupt then established order of the day. We are going to see this time and time again as we move throughout this podcast for the young colonies. This is about to be one of those times. Where an era of a people is about to move through and shake up the entire structure in the coming weeks and months. We are going to look at rebellions as they break out all throughout English North America. We're going to see rebellions in New England in New York in Virginia and Maryland. All of this is going to help form a basic question that is going to reign supreme throughout the next century. Specifically what is the role of the North American English colonies in the Greater English Empire? These years in American history and specifically I'm talking about those years between sixteen. Seventy and seventeen hundred are going to profoundly changed the relationship between the colonies and the English. There is at least an argument that can be made that the road to revolution is going to largely be laid out over this thirty year. Span. And why don't necessarily believe that you'd be completely true. It is undeniable that this span of time is going to forever alter the relationship between the English and the American colonists today however we are going to start by looking at an event that has had such a wide range of interpretations that it can be difficult to make sense of what actually occurred. I am talking about the first major rebellion. In the English colonies. Bacon's rebellion begins rebellion. Holds an interesting place in history and has a legacy that has become so quoted by myth that the actual events and ramifications of the rebellion can often get lost in the mire drain. My research I have seen Bacon's rebellion referred to as an insurrection a civil war a riot and a revolution. I have seen it called a precursor to these seventeen. Seventy five revolution. Eight failed attempt at Liberty. Full One Hundred Years Before Lexington Concord. It has been referred to as the event that established the complex race relations. That we have. In the United States Nathaniel. Bacon himself is called everything from a traitor. And a radical to a hero at a revolutionary. Today Bacon has memorial celebrating him as a great Patriot leader throughout Virginia included in the state capital itself despite this historians have long debated the actual effect the Bacon Hat as well as his influence on the American revolution. A century later. These are questions that we are going to work on parsing out over the next several episodes we are going to spend our time looking at the causes of the rebellion the events of the rebellion itself and then finally look at the legacy and influence. Bacon's rebellion on later events in American political history. To begin today I want to take some time to look at the long-term causes of the rebellion if you are a high school student taking a test right now and the question asks what. Caused begins rebellion. The answer is C. The rebellion was the result of repeated Indian attacks and the failure of the Virginia government to adequately respond to the ongoing threat however as is nearly always the case the real reasons for the rebellion are far more complex and long in the making sure the above as is correct however the relationship with the local native Americans is really just the spark ignited a powder keg that had been fifteen years in the making now. None of this is to suggest that the relationship with the Indians is into important factor the proximate cause of the rebellion absolutely is those poor relationships boiling over into what would become a full rebellion however to say the biggest rebellion was caused because of Indian attacks on the settlers and the Virginia government being unresponsive to a threat leaves out major parts of the ultimate cause of the rebellion. My focus therefore today is going to be on those long running causes of the rebellion to begin dissecting the events of the rebellion. We must go back much. Further than the Indian attacks a sixteenth seventy five. That would fuel the anger of the farmers along. Virginia's frontier in fact the roots of the rebellion can really be traced back to sixteen sixty. This week. We are going to spend time focusing on these long term issues that come to infect the Virginia colony these are the issues that set the stage and allow a situation where conflict with the Indians could set off something so major so to start today. I'm going to look at what has been going on in Virginia since we last loved colony. Since we last left Virginia one man has come to completely dominate every aspect. Virginia Life There Governor William Berkeley grain. Of course writing this episode. It occurred to me that William Berkeley has actually been a part of our story for a really long time now and yet I have never actually given the guy a proper introduction Berkeley. I came into our story last year when we were discussing. Jamestown and he also made an appearance in our episode on Maryland and most recently Carolina in the case of Carolina. He along with his brother are one of the Lord. Proprietors born in sixteen o five. Berkeley was part of a well to do family that had risen to prominence in the preceding century by all accounts. He Bright Child. Berkeley found himself enrolled at Oxford. After completing his education Berkeley would make his first foray into high society during the reign of Charleston. I initially coming into court. As a playwright Berkeley soon became a popular fixture at the court and was liked by Charles himself. Drain the first and second bishops wars. Which was part of the war of three kingdoms which include the English civil wars Berkeley fought with honor and again was noticed by the now leaguer King Knighted for his actions during the war. Berkeley was then sent by Charles. Diverging it to replace Sir Francis Wyatt a writing to the colony in sixteen forty one. It was Berkeley. Who is the governor during the third Anglo powder war where the confederacy was finally brought down and their chief overshadow was killed? Berkeley's main concern when he assumed the mantle of governor was to attempt to diversify the crops. In Virginia by these sixteen forty's tobacco wasn't just the cash crop but really it was the only crop producing revenue in any meaningful way the region. This is a risky thing for the English. Should their crop fail or competition? Come along. It could leave Virginia struggling to survive with so many of their exit. A single basket in short Berkeley and in fact many back in England felt that an economy is so tied up at a single crop was dangerously vulnerable however despite efforts by Berkeley to expand the crops in Virginia colony by this point was synonymous with tobacco. Tobacco is going to remain the cash crop at that. The entire colony recipes on Berkeley was to his very royalist he had been close with Charles. The first at Henry's into prominence fighting for the king during the Bishop's wars it was Charles the first who had knighted him and given him his appointment as Royal Governor. Now we all know by this point. The English civil war is going to end well for Charles the first Berkeley. However despite the death of Charles I remain loyal to the stuarts m economy immediately recognized Charles the second as its right bold ruler Oliver Cromwell and company were not amused. Parliament in response to this light would lead a brief blockade of Virginia Virginia. At this point said yeah okay. That's enough of that and decided it was time to get on board with Cromwell Berkeley surprisingly lost his job. In all of this and in sixteen fifty two resigned the governorship but before you feel too terrible for Sir William Berkeley know that right before the restoration. There were elections in Virginia for a new governor and William Berkeley regained his lost governorship with the restoration. Charles the second immediately took kindly to the old ally of his father and Berkeley would quickly become synonymous with Virginia politics. Berkeley's second stint last from sixteen sixty to sixteen seventy seven in total between his two times empower. Berkeley is the governor for a total of twenty seven years and remains the longest serving governor in Virginia's history drain. His second stint as the governor of Virginia. The colony is going to increasingly find itself existing operating at the whims of Berkeley. What develops over the next decade and a half is a system that in modern politics would be generally referred to as cronyism. These changes to the system are going to lead Virginia on the road to having a three tiered class system at the top of the ladder are those who are working closely with Berkeley. These are large landowners and they are going to dominate Virginia. Politics both at the time and in a very different but no less important way following the rebellion that second group are going to be the poor farmers these farmers due to the competition. The larger landowners are going to spend the next decade getting slowly pushed to the breaking point. It is this group that is going to be so receptive when rebellion comes and they are going to be the ones to flock to bake inside. Finally there is a third group to consider here and that is made up of indentured servants and slaves. This group has far less control over their situation than either the first two groups when the rebellion comes bacon is going to use his influence to try and capture the help of those indentured servants. Look I blow. Virginia came in sixteen sixty and sixteen sixty three with a set of navigation. Acts Parliament passed initially in October of sixty sixty. The Navigation Act which is going to have a profound effect on how the American colonies conducted business. The acts of sixteen sixty and sixteen sixty three together accomplished several ends I. The act moved to prevent foreign vessels from entering colonial ports in the Americas only ships that were owned and staffed by at least three quarters. Englishmen were allowed to Inter American ports. The second part of the act which comes out of the sixteen sixty three version. Further establishes that certain major goes we're going to have to be exported to England prior to being sold on a more open market among the goods. That were now being required to be sent back to. England were sugar cotton dies and most importantly tobacco ship masters who were in the business of trading in these goods were further required oppose large bonds.