2.10 The Gloucester Petition
Hello and welcome to the political history of the United States. Episode two point ten. The Gloucester petition. Throughout the month of June sixteenth, seventy six events in Virginia head moved from a simmering discontent to open rebellion. The purchases and the governor had reluctantly acquiesced to the demands of General Bacon and his men mostly because they were at gun point, and it was either do that or die. By the end of June however conditions outside of Jamestown meant that big, and had to retreat from the capital as soon as bacon was gone Berkeley dissolve the Jude Assembly, back in Jamestown governor, Berkeley and members of the assembly were undoubtedly shaken by the events of the past month Berkeley's power had been tested in every conceivable way, and beyond not playing Charles the first two. Bacon Oliver Cromwell or in other words escaping the month with his head, still attached to his shoulders, Berkeley had seen nothing but a devastating series of losses. The immediate attacks were a somewhat welcome reprieve for those inside of Jamestown as it brought them time to breathe, then reassessed their position. I say somewhat because it is important to note that the attacks that drove bake it out of town, not exactly out on the frontier. The attacks occurred about thirty miles away from Jamestown. New Kent. To give an idea of distance. You can't is located about halfway between Jamestown and Modern Day Richmond. If you recall from our last episode, they can was elected from Henrico. County makes up the eastern half of Richmond. So the attack new can't really is just smack DAB in the middle of the Virginia Colony. This is of course, a huge concern to a lot of the members of the House of Burgess. As their teeth and plantations were suddenly in the line of fire. Either way though nobody was sad UC Bacon. Leave Jamestown yet aside from crossing their fingers that Bacon would be killed fighting the Indians. They recognize that they were not at the end of the rebellion, but rather just experiencing a brief pause and the conflict. They all knew them fully expected that Bacon was going to be back and that they were going to have to deal with a self appointed, general. Both Bacon and Berkeley fully understood that they had not had their final encounter. Both men knew that the other was working diligently on a plan for what would go down the next time that they met as it turns out. The Indian attack have been somewhat of a boon to both men. For Berkeley, the benefit was immediate the crisis in new Kendrew Bacon and his men out of Jamestown, before things can even more radical turn Berkeley remained the governor, and as I stated just a moment to go at his head, still firmly attached to his shoulders, making a where the Berkeley wasn't simply standing still also found himself a suddenly advantageous position. Well likely disappointed his time. Jamestown ended so quickly they get now found himself charged with raising an army to fight the Indians. Beyond that, however, this raid was not on some distant frontier, but right in the middle of the colony. This situation created strange bedfellows. Members of the House of Burgess lived in the area where the Indians had attacked. Now it was their families that we're facing potential mortal risk. Men who had just weeks before been signing acts basically at the insured now found themselves begrudgingly, giving been too big into fight the Indian threat. Beyond that these men were openly allowing big into conscripted into service, as well as providing him with the supplies that he would need to carry out his mission, well, Bacon was going to need to address the Indian threat something he planned to do with nothing but pure brutality that he was also now allowed to raise an army. Everybody of course knew that this was a very risky move. Suddenly they wasn't going to be walking around with some pitch for carrying rabble, but instead was going to be leading a bona fide army. This is a very tenuous situation for Berkeley and indeed the entire assembly, the primary objective than for both sides is going to be the recruitment of numbers to their individual 'cause. As Bacon moved county to county, the troops and weapons. He took four for the defense of the colony against the common Indian threat. This was a caused that the people were generally willing to sign up for knowing that their families and lead. We're in constant danger from the threat of Indian incursion. However it is important to note that not everybody here trusted Bacon, nor wanted initially at least to have anything to do with his actions in Jamestown despite that. However, there was really no mis understanding what was going on here. The assumption was an ultimately. It was a correct assumption was that the army being raised by Bacon was being done only under the pretense of fighting the Indians, and that will bacon was really doing was building his revolutionary army begin made his way throughout Virginia, seeking supplies and men. Among the Mim Bacon was able to recruit or servants and slaves not only did bake offer them escape, and some adventure in an otherwise tedious life, but he also offered them hope for a future. However did not come without controversy as many of the smaller planters were not super thrilled with the idea, a survey next to slaves, likewise begging was dealing with a serious concern from the small pleasures that as soon as they left a fight, the Indians Berkeley and forces which gobble up their land. So. There was serious hesitation to leave. Their land protected from both the Indians and the troops loyal to governor Berkeley. was able to counter with the fact that the Indian threat directly affected them, and that regardless of their decision to fight or not. The Indians were going to come. Plus he threw in the best motivator of all the promise of plunder as building grew his army. Berkeley knew that he had to respond. There was no doubt in Berkeley's mind that when the war ended, Bacon and his army was going to march on Jamestown. Of course, Berkeley was almost certainly correct about this as I said a little bit ago, everybody was aware exactly. We're all of this. Was Hetty therefore for Berkeley? He needed to move quickly and how his defense is ready. The last two episodes of this podcast have basically been a story of Berkeley making miscalculation after miscalculation, the guy seriously seems like he is just due to make a right call. Eventually Berkeley turned his attention to attempting to recruitment from nearby Gloucester. County Gloucester County was the richest county Virginia and a place, where Berkeley at least assumed he remained popular, and the people loyal, and really what better place Berkeley to go attempt to turn around his luck, Cher. He had made a few mistakes along the way, but these were his people. Certainly, this couldn't be another mistake, right? UNBEKNOWST at the time to the governor, he was about to make the miscalculation of all miscalculations. Seriously, this is going to be akin to somebody making the preseason pick of the two thousand seventeen Cleveland browns to win the super. Bowl right before they went sixteen. So what went so south in Gloucester County? Gloucester county on the surface was not going to be a place where you would expect to Funday lot of supporters for Bacon. Located across the York River from Modern Day Williamsburg Gloucester county was largely made up of those who had supported, Berkeley, and in turn had turned a huge profit, following the attack on New Kent. Basically everybody throughout Virginia accepted. The Indian threat was very real, and with something that needed to be dealt with. However. Responding to the threat posed from the Indians and siding with the rebel, Bacon, or not necessarily synonymous with each other, despite begging attempts to make it so in Gloucester county. This is going to ring true. The men there realized and agree that there was a neom problem and that response was required, however at least four now they were not wanting to become part of a rebel army against Berkeley. County therefore head decided to take third road under the command of Lawrence. Smith and Thomas. Hawkins and don't worry about their names. They're not going to be on the test. Gloucester was preparing for its own expedition against the Indians. They raised men gathered weapons and prepared for battle. They were willing to deal with the Indian threat, but they were going to do so. Without the need of General Bacon, the first problem however came in July one beginning arrived in Gloucester county, he was intent on gathering men and ammunition after all he had been granted the commission to do just this, and he was an officer, and this is what officers did. Baking came in collected weapons and goods much to the grid of Hawkins and Smith as well as several men who went off to fight with him. Though. About the potential dangers, citizens of Gloucester, county very reluctantly agreed to obey the governor's commission, because it ultimately was a commission from the governor himself. As soon as Bacon was gone, rubber, beverly and Philip Blood well wrote what would become known as the Gloucester petition? Both beverly and Ludwig were staunchly loyal to Governor Berkeley and we're anxious to bring the rebel Bacon to heal. The petition was signed on behalf of the inhabitants of the county. An issued a plea to governor Berkeley for help. Their petition detailed their woes and the fact that the rebel Bacon had stolen their weapons and men and treated them with deplorable amounts of disrespect. All of this makes perfect sense. These are these supporters of governor Berkeley, and they certainly weren't going to be thrilled about having their goods commandeered by Bacon, and his men or their farmhands taken away, especially, considering that they must have felt as though they were complying recall that they were at least trying to raise an independent force to deal with the Indian threat in new Kent. When the Gloucester petition arrived in Jamestown governor Berkeley must have felt pretty good to be reminded that he did how some friends out there. Berkeley recognize this as an opportunity to strike back as Bacon. If Berkeley can show Paik to be nothing more than a thief stealing from the good people in Virginia against their will, he could start to hopefully road at the popular support. The biggest had built for himself. Berkeley's felt like two seconds responding back that big, and had no commission, and that anything perceived to be a commission from him, was done a gun point and was therefore buoyed. Berkeley than immediately jumped on a horse and made his way out Gloucester county where he hoped he would be able to raise a force of his own to take down Bacon. Upon arrival, Berkeley was pleased with what he saw. People were loyal to him, and for the first time in what must have seemed like a while. He was among friendly faces. Berkeley's plan was to call the troops, and then head out to confront Bacon. Initially however, Berkeley doesn't say this instead. He claims that he wants to raise a force to go deal with the Indian threat. The citizens of Gloucester are okay with this. And in short time Berkeley was at the head of some twelve hundred men who were ready to go out and fight the Indians. So this is the part of today's episode where you are probably starting to wonder where this huge mistake by Berkeley. Here he is with twelve hundred troops under his command that is a pretty sizable force or sixteen seventy Virginia with his twelve hundred troops, mustard, and ready to write out to fight the Indians governor Berkeley goes ahead and makes that giant miscalculation that is going to totally shifting tides, and leave him very literally isolated standing in front of what he believed to be his army governor Berkeley gave his command go out, find beacons, army and attack. For the men in the ranks this was a moment where they all suddenly perked up and said Hey, wait a minute. What what did he just say? The twelve hundred men that Berkeley had under his command were there to fight the Indians. That's what they had been recruited to do, and that is what they were prepared to do. What they weren't ready for and ultimately what they were unwilling to consider is bringing arms against their fellow Virginians. They had no interest in becoming the leading wave of a civil war. Almost, immediately upon learning what Berkeley had in mind for them, the army simply disbanded. They weren't going to fight a war, and they certainly were not going to be tricked into fighting Berkeley's war. The men picked up turned around and went back home. Some accounts say that as the men walked away chance of Bacon. Could be heard. For Governor Berkeley. This was nothing short of devastating. It was a complete disaster. In addition to now finding himself literally standing alone deserted by his Army, Berkeley head just changed the course of the war. On some alternative timeline out there you can imagine a situation where Berkeley went out beats big into the punch, dealing with the Indian threat and proved that the Virginia government still has the backs of the people. All of this would work towards eroding the popular support for Bacon as Berkeley would prove that he's still willing to defend the colony. Unfortunately for William Berkeley that version of things never plays out. Instead what does end up? happening is the complete opposite. Berkeley had exposed himself as being weak men were unwilling to follow his orders or fight for him against the rebel Bacon. With the Indian threat looming Berkeley's actions clearly state that he is more interested in dealing with his personal grudge against Bacon. Then he is about fighting the Indian medicine protecting the colony. Finally he not just supported, but created a plan of action that was he virginians killing Virginians. All the worst fears that biggest supporters had regarding Berkeley or in a single moment confirmed and worse. The governor was working against them and had no qualms sending their neighbors out to kill them. They get upon learning about this immediately recognized just how we Berkeley was. There would not be a better time to strike. With that Bacon and his men abandoned their campaign against the PA- Monkey. Indians whom they had yet to find anyways they turned around and much back to confront and deal with Berkeley once and for all. It's important not to lose the much bigger point in all of this as a whole lot about the state of the colonial leadership in July of Sixteen, Seventy six when Berkeley hit asked twelve hundred men in Gloucester to come with him and take down the rebel Bacon, all he got was some uncomfortable muttering before the entire group collectively said yes, or no, Bro. We're not going to be doing that today. Upon getting word of this challenge from Berkeley, they can made basically the same request of his men. Let's turn around and go deal with Governor Berkeley. The difference however is obvious. Berkeley was left standing alone. Bacon Zeman turned around and began to March back Berkeley. That he had a massive problem. Besides the fact that the men had just left them standing there, he was likely instantly aware that Bacon wasn't going to simply brush this threat to the side, and indeed he is right bacon his on his way. Berkeley's interest therefore likely turned quickly back to how to keep his head and his body as a single unit. Berkeley wasted no time getting out of Gloucester. County, along with a small group of loyalist Berkeley fled the scene before they can get their stopping just long enough to pronounce the thing. You'll bake into an outlaw, not that anybody was really listening, but hey, it's important to keep up appearances. By this point knew that his prospects in Virginia looked pretty good at least in the short term. However. It is evident in his writings that he was still deeply concerned about the perception, the English back across the Atlantic would have. Dealing with an angry governor. Yeah, we've got that dealing with anger king. However, it was an entirely different matter altogether. In defensive his actions, baking would ride in July, sixteen, Seventy six, but the main cause of all the commotion between him, and Governor Berkeley was in relation to affairs with the Indians well hinting that there might have been a little bit more to it than just that. More, interestingly big and makes clear in his writings that he is fighting this fight, not because he is an opposition of the king, but rather he is fighting for the king. Berkeley had become corrupt and was putting the king's subjects endanger. Baking was just doing what was necessary to protect the king's subjects and ensure that Charles the seconds prerogatives Virginia were being carried out properly. There are a few reasons why Bacon would take such a stance. However, the most obvious is that he to do any key can pacify lending from intervening as I said, baking can deal with Berkeley and his followers, however the prospect of actual English soldiers, coming to Virginia to put down the rebellion, not think you. Wanted to be clear that he was at war with Berkeley. Yes, but this guy is the bad guy I'm just doing the king of service, and while we really have very little concept of what Bacon Thought of Charles the second one thing is clear. He has zero interest in this being anything more than what it was. Bacon was not looking for independence from the crown at least not quite yet. What begin was looking for was to escape from the petty tyranny of a local government. This wasn't an uprising against the English. It was an uprising against a single individual at his pack of followers. All of this comes together in the July Thirtieth Declaration of the people of Virginia. They can wanted to make his position clear and leave no doubt as to the causes of what was happening. Of course he paid lip service to the face reason for the rebellion, promising that he was still dedicated to destroying every single Indian that he saw. Beyond that, however what Bacon issued was a widespread denunciation of Berkeley and policies. He denounced the taxation system that had overwhelmed the colonists and brought attention to the fact that these taxes were levied under the false pretense of being for the public good. Berkeley and these small group of loyalist that stuck with him, were able to escape from Gloucester alive, however by this point nowhere in Virginia was safer them forcing them to leave the colony altogether to regroup. This means though for gene was now in the hands of Bacon with the funding at least done for the moment they it had turned his to actually running the colony. Gathering together on August third they can set at the head of a convention that was assembled to establish a new government for Virginia. Most of the men now being tap to establish the new government were those that had been officers beacons militia. In what would become known as the act of Middle? Plantation Convention, the new government laid out their grievances and their solutions. The first order of the day over was establishing their right to establish a government in the first place. Critically the bigger delegation had to establish that they were the legitimate government of Virginia. In. Order to accomplish this goal. They began by lambasting Berkeley. Immediately they blamed him for the civil war and claimed that by leaving Virginia. He had essentially a bed in his post and has the government. So much as the declaration of the people of Virginia, this was another chance for Bacon to Slab, Berkeley. Bacon understanding that even though Berkeley was currently often hiding, he still did likely commend deal of loyalty throughout the colony beyond those who openly supported Berkeley. It is a safe assumption that there were still plenty of other who would have seen. Bacon is doing nothing more than throwing off the existing status quo that they had all grown accustomed to. They can had to ensure that those under him were people who he could trust? And therefore he made the decision that all serving under him would have to take in the wilty. Now I'm not going to include the entire. Because honestly it is surprisingly long. However, I will include the full text of it over the website. Should you want to read it yourself? However as a quick summary, the first half of the oath is it enunciation of Berkeley with the second half being a pledge of loyalty to General Bacon. Those pledges include things such as serving loyally an if need, be joining an army of the common defense for colony. For those who refused to take the oath, the order of the day was deportation from the colony. Now. As with every oath, it is critical to consider that there were plenty of people who would have just taken the oath, despite being more than happy to see Berkeley return and hang the rebel scum. In a quote from the Berkeley Loyalist George Jordan. It is better to plunder. Then be plundered. I think it is important to point out before we go any further that despite cries for reform to the tax system, and making things more equitable. This should not be thought of as some kind of social revolution. We are still solidly one hundred fifty years away from the Socialist Movement of the eighteen hundreds, and even within that scope Bacon was no socialist bacon, absolutely believed in class distinctions. You would have seen no problem with people enriching themselves. His problem rather was that. The government under Berkeley had taken things to such extremes that put the colony itself endanger. Bacon fully believe that there were differences between the gentlemen and the planter class. However, the problems existed is that when the gentleman class gave all their wealth through continued and crippling exploitation of that planter class. They can was totally fine with self-enrichment, but come on. Guys. Cool it just a little bit. Well Bacon still dutifully place the fight against the Indians as the paramount objective in his rebellion, the second order of the day remain the lucrative art of wealth redistribution. So, what does wealth redistribution in the age of beacons rebellion mean well in this case it literally often meant seizing the hugest dates of those who had been loyal to Berkeley and then lose to their heart's content. The biggest prize came on August the eighth sixteen seventy six. On That day Berkeley's owners stated Green Springs was captured by bigots forces. Unsurprisingly Berkeley was in control of the largest stadium in Virginia I now it was in the has of Bacon and his men. The material wealth that had been set back to Linden with his wife was very quickly stripped out. As the summer of Sixteen, Seventy six move forward, the wildfire that was begins rebellion, threatened to spill out of Virginia and explode through the entire Chesapeake Maryland planters had faced many of the same pressures that those in Virginia had faced, there were these same complaints over the unjust enrichment of the ruling class at the expense of the planters. There was danger on the frontiers from hostile Indians that was not being adequately addressed as well as a growing general hopelessness from the planters. Like in Virginia, they increasingly, we're buckling under the oppressive tax structure for them, looking to their south and seen the success of General Bacon was putting equally revolutionary ideas in their mind. In Maryland there were suddenly loud calls to reform the imperial system, and to purge the corrupting forces. Well things in Maryland were beginning to heat up back in Virginia. Baking was pressing his advantage. Sending his two best lieutenants, Giles Bland and William Carper on a mission to capture Berkeley make it was hoping to cut the head off possibly literally of the Berkeley enforces. Fortunately, this didn't actually go great for Giles carver. Despite pittance to find the disgraced governor, they found themselves suddenly being captured by Berkeley Loyalists Philip. For Berkeley, this is basically the first good thing to happen to him in several months. With Bacon having to go off and fight the Indians in new kit once again, Berkeley, his chance for a comeback tour Berkeley made the decision that he needed to return to Jamestown if he had any hope of regrouping. In order to do this decided that it was time to make some promises of his own. In exchange for help Berkeley promised that those who rallied to his cause would be allowed to plunder those who had taken beacons oath. which does admittedly make you question if the guys who had signed off on the oath had plundered the supporters of Berkeley. Were they now going to go back and still back their own stuff? Anyway without plundering was going to be the order of the day in Virginia, regardless of who you supported. Also desperate for supporters Berkeley went a step further. Berkeley promised the servants of the men who took biggins freedom if they turn their backs on their owners. This does bring up another very interesting problem for Berkeley. As, it turns out very few servants turn their backs and began flocking to the Berkeley camp. Sure Freedom was the prize. However, the cost of guessing wrong was probably going to be more severe servitude or very possibly death. As it turns out despite the very generous offer, few servants saw Berkeley's being the winning horse in this race. Undeterred by the low turnout Berkeley Retook Jamestown on September seventh, sixteen, Seventy six. Things were looking dire for the governor, however, few rallied back to his cause, leaving him dangerously outnumbered in the capital, and despite the fact that Bacon was distracted by his battles of the Indians. Berkeley retaking Jamestown was not going to escape his attention for very long. Next time we will pick up with governor Berkeley, having just retaken Jamestown. We will see how Bacon response to that. And ultimately how these two men are going to battle over the colonial capital. Until then I. Hope you all have a great two weeks as always I hope you are staying healthy and staying safe. I will see you back here then, and we will continue our journey through beacons rebellion.