2.9 The June Assembly
Hello and welcome to the political history of the United States episode. Two point nine the June assembly. We left off last week. With governor Berkeley declaring that Nathaniel Bacon for his role in leading forces against the Indians on the frontier without his permission was now a traitor. Berkeley was left with little choice in had to do something to reassert the authority. The big head so seriously challenged. What results are some of the most famous times in the entire rebellion? This week? We are going to spend our time. Examining how William Berkeley took eight. Tenths situation poured gasoline on. It backed it with explosives and then threw in a match for good measure. We are going to focus. Mostly on June sixteenth. Seventy six today as we see Berkeley. Take misstep after misstep pushing the colony into the throats of an open rebellion. William Berkeley. Very quickly realized that he had a serious problem on. Its hands the mealy. After Bacon and his men set out into the frontier Berkeley could see the writing on the wall on May tenth Berkeley put out a call demanding that those under Bacon stand-down only a handful were interested in the message with most just choosing to ignore it. Those who did listen tended to be the large landowners who were basically the only one still loyal to Berkeley upon declaring Bacon a traitor. Berkeley failed to get the rousing response that he might have hoped for instead of rallying to the cause of their increasingly beleaguered governor. The colonists rallied over to the side of Bacon after all. Bacon understood their plight from the viewpoint of the frontier colonists. The hip been long ignored except a time for years by the Virginia Assembly. The government wasn't working for the small planters. It was working for Berkeley and his fellow assembly members. Bacon who is now affectionately being referred to as General Bacon was a man of the people even though Bacon really did have more in common with men like Berkeley in the rest of the assembly was the guy on the frontier. He knows their struggles at instead of just trying to use the occasion as an excuse to extract more tax dollars. He was out there. Actually doing something about it. Following his declaration that baking was a traitor. Berkeley as well as a few hundred men who were loyal to him made their way up to the James River to way for big to be intercepted and arrested Bacon smartly. Have become aware of this and had little interest in being arrested by the governor. Berkeley by this point is beginning to see the writing on the wall. He understood that well there were still those within the colony who were loyal to him. He was rapidly. Losing the support of the Communists the wealthy landowners who had gained so much under Berkeley remained loyal everybody else. However was at a minimum feeling overtaxed and for those out on the frontier they felt as though Berkeley had abandoned them so that he can maintain his position in the for trade knowing that his position as the Governor Verging Virginia was now in serious jeopardy. Berkeley goes ahead and for the first time in over fourteen years calls for a general election. Berkeley himself by this point is an old man. He has been empower for a long time and was ready to just throw his hands up on the matter and head back to England Berkeley wrote back to England. Let him know that he will be happy to resign. The governorship and that England needs to send somebody knew. He blamed his increasing loss of control over the fact that he had become an old man and that a more vigorous governor was needed to run Virginia. So now many of you are probably sitting there more than a little confused. Berkeley is prepared. To step. Down is called for a general election. Where does the rebellion come from? Didn't bake it in his men get more than what they were asking for. It is an interesting thought. What would have happened? If Berkeley withdrew the word and gave into the clearly widespread support that begin had would he have been able to turn this event into nothing more than a case of insubordination and the individual personal political career? Of course? We know that Berkeley isn't going to do that. Is going to take the path that is going to turn this incident into something far larger than it really ever needed to be the problem for Berkeley. Isn't that he wasn't willing to step down but rather he was unwilling to change his course as a concerned bacon after returning to Jamestown without Bake it on May twenty ninth Berkeley gave an impassioned speech setting himself apart from the rebel Bacon. He made clear that he given decades of service to the colony and that under his command Virginia had thrived. The speech was in every sense. Berkeley doing what he could to maintain the political systems that he had been so influential in building. The last thing he wanted was for somebody like Nathaniel Bacon to stroll in an undue a decades long career. The play takes place on the eve of the election and was meant to plead his case to keep the colony the same as it had been recognizing the danger the next day. Berkeley sent his wife a large amount of his personal fortune and that litter describing the current conditions as well as his request for a replacement onboard. A ship bound for London as a result of the election. The man who Berkeley had himself named a trader thanks. Bacon found himself as an elected representative from the county of Henrico to give you an idea of the locations that we are talking about. Henrico County is the eastern side of Modern Day Richmond. Despite there being a warrant for his arrest Bacon was not going to take his responsibility lightly make in border to ship and set sail down the James River for Jamestown with every intention of taking his seat in the assembly well. Tensions have been mounting for a long time. It really has felt that a full-blown rebellion could have been avoided head Berkeley accepted the public mandate following the election. Allowed baked. You take his seat and then let reform follow then. I think there is a pretty good bet that I'm not having to spend weeks writing episodes about Bacon's rebellion however when it comes to the question of the revolt becoming inevitable. Berkeley is about to ensure that he minor civil disturbance becomes a full fledged rebellion on June. Six ship carrying the FANEUIL Bacon plus forty or so bodyguards made its way down the James River towards the Jamestown eventually docking. It's one point. Any small outcropping lend directly across the James River from Jamestown. It was on his way to take his seat in the assembly. The bodyguards onboard. The ship are made up from the veterans of the campaigns against the Indians and they came armed with muskets. They made their message clear. General Bacon was going to Jamestown he was going to take his seat as the representative from Henrico County and he was going to be their voice in the Assembly despite Bacon reassurances to his men that he was confident that he will be allowed to take a seat in the assembly. One has got to believe that. Bacon himself would have doubted this assertion down to further. Prove his point that he was going to be able to take that seat eat decided to send a few men in a rowboat along to make sure that the coast was clear and always going to go well. It was an ominous sign of things to come. When the men failed to return it was even worse on when the cannons mounted for the Defensive Jamestown opened fire on Bacon and his men they can unsurprisingly was not super thrilled with this reception and quickly cut anchor and got out of Dodge as Bacon sailed away from swamp point. Several of the ships incurred across the river in Jamestown joined in the fun and opened fire on big at his men. The good news for Nathaniel Bacon. Is that the artillerymen. Had really poor aim. They get and his men aboard. The ships were able to escape without a scratch however by this point it clear that Berkeley was not messing around. This is not something that he was going to simply let drop with the opening salvo by Berkeley. The ball had really shifted to big. It's court making good either. Pack up and get out of Virginia or he could regroup and return to take his seat much as in the same vein as Berkeley. Bacon had no intention of just letting this go he had after all been elected the representatives from Henrico County. He knows that for him. This moment is just as critical as for Berkeley. Should BACON BACK. Down now in fleet. Virginia it is going to those living on the frontier vulnerable not just to the violence of the Indians but to the machinations of the governor and the assembly they can had no intention of backing down and fleeing from the colony however at this exact moment he does have some more pressing issues that he's going to have to deal with the very top of that list. Is that moments earlier. He hit come under Ken. Fire in Jamestown after Hino for a few hours out of sight and more importantly out of range in the early morning hours of June seventh. They can turn around and was able to sail right back into Jamestown landing at Sandy Bay. Because you know apparently nobody on Berkeley side thought that having a watch might be a good idea. Following the Landing Bacon and his men marched through Jamestown unmolested to the House of Richard Lawrence Lawrence was well off and he had a nice estate inside of Jamestown more importantly however he like. Bacon viewed governor Berkeley as corrupt. His home had become something of a headquarters for Berkeley Resistance. Inside of Jamestown well. The resistance had previously been constrained to some grumbling and complaining of Berkeley and the Assembly with big rival in Jamestown. The resistance had quickly taken a quantum leap forward in his resistance. To Berkeley's rule. Women men like William Drummond and John Colpepper together culpepper who was the leader drumming and Lawrence form the core of the resistance against Berkeley for his leadership. In this moment they were most importantly friendly faces. Who were more than happy to give aid to Baker and his men all three men as well as Bacon. We're largely cut from the same cloth educated wealthy and articulate. They were really perfect group to lead a rebellion. Well sitting around and waxing poetic about the corrupt nature of William Berkeley may have been with the men really wanted to do. The fact remained that for Bacon. Stagnation very likely mun death. He was a wanted man and wasn't exactly hiding out in a forest. He was sitting right there in the middle of Jamestown just prior to dawn on the seventh after spending the last several hours at the Lawrence House big and his men decided to retreat from Jamestown. They manage to make their way back down to the boat and set sail however before they could get out of Seti Bay. The Sheriff of James County appeared on the duck of the Adam and eve arch tobacco boat. The boat was heavily armed and quickly opened up on Bacon and his men. Unlike the day before Bacon would not escape this time and instead was forced to head back to the shores of Jamestown which obviously was a less than ideal situation for him. After eight tenths standoff. They can men realized that they had little choice as surrendered on June the tenth it certainly appeared as though Berkeley had won the day. The rebel Bacon and his men were in custody that afternoon begging was brought into the State House where he would meet face to face with governor Berkeley however much to everybody's surprise Berkeley didn't exactly seem to take advantage of his moment. He used his time to call out. Drummond in Lawrence and warn of the dangers that they posed he allowed big into confess which big did charged vacant for two thousand pounds and then agreed that if they can promise not to overthrow. The Virginia government would go ahead and authorize bacon to lead a force out against the Indians. Berkeley even went so far as to low bacon back onto the council. Okay so what gives Berkeley for all of his. Anger is just going to force. Bake it into making an empty apology. This entire ordeal was really just a hell governor. Berkeley feel better. Everybody in the Virginia House of Burgess was as stunned seriously. Nobody anticipated this and everybody is just trying to figure out what is going on at this point did Governor. Berkeley come to his senses and decide that the path to peace is by meeting Bacon demands. Well as it turns out. No that isn't the case at all. Uc Berkeley at. This point was sitting on information that nobody else appeared to known. Berkeley was becoming concerned over the fact that the Virginia militia was taking their sweet time to fully garrison Jamestown amp repair for the defense of the city. Defense from what you ask well at that same time. A large number of Bacon supporters were coming to town. They were armed. They were angry and they were determined to air. Their grievances to the governor in the assembly Berkeley was to his very core a royalist. He has supported. Charles I during the civil war. He supported Charles the secondary the restoration the only time when he was not the governor of Virginia was drained those years when Cromwell was empower however despite personally supporting and being friends with Charles the first Berkeley had zero interest in following his example. In death. Berkley just not super excited to be dragged out by an angry mob and beheaded with this in mind. Berkeley gave a generous pardon for Bacon. Made a nice show of mercy and intended that with Bacon. Pardon and actually getting exactly what he wanted. The angry mob would round and leave Jamestown to his credit Berkeley guessed correctly. Bathing was Freidan. Hey the concessions were pretty sweet with no reason to hang around Jamestown. The rebel promptly turned around and went back home. Berkeley figured that through these concessions he would be able to remove the immediate risk he would pacify bacon followers and more importantly would keep them from getting too interested in hunting around Berkeley's finances. The problem however for Berkeley is that he couldn't move past Nathaniel Bacon if Berkeley had just stayed on this path. There is a decent chance that biggest rebellion is nothing more than a mere but note Berkeley however decides to go in just totally different direction here as much as the people. In the House of Burgess were shocked. So wasn't the thing. Bacon making one would sure assume was aware that being captured by Berkeley enforces probably wasn't going to end well for him so a parking was not something that he would have seen coming. Bacon rightly was not just surprised by the pardon. He was also very skeptical about it. Those who had come to protect Bacon. We're going home and very quickly. Baking was going to find himself alone once again. Bacon was right to worry. Berkeley had no plans to let this go. And on the night of June eleventh Berkeley issued a new arrest warrant for Bagan having cleared beacons loyalists out of town. Berkeley now had a chance to bring the militia in to make sure that Jamestown was properly prepared should the rabble decide to comeback calling for their soon to be recaptured leader. Berkeley by all accounts was not planning to mess around this time. The order of the day was to capture bacon at execute him before a rescue mission could be launched when Bacon supporters returned Jamestown. Berkeley was said on their leader. Being dead hopefully nobody will be all that interested in funding a war over a dead man and they would all does go back home disappointed to be sure but without launching an attack on the morning of June twelfth men loyal to Berkeley Storm the Lawrence House where Bacon was expected to be hiding except Bacon. Apparently missed the memo that he was supposed to be holed up at Lawrence House when news reached Berkeley. That baking wasn't there at all. The governor realized that he had made a gigantic mistake. But this point. The news was out there that he had reissued the warrant begins. Men were coming and general. Bacon wasn't going to be anywhere near as dead as Berkeley had hoped. He would be Berkeley knowing what he had to do. You know defend James from the incoming agree mob instead decided to take another path Berkeley after evaluating the situation said yet no. I'm going to leave now. He quickly packed up his belongings. When to the Treasury and withdrew. His money made his way to Semi Bay and decided to get out of town. Well he still could and catch up with his wife. If all went as planned Berkeley would be on his way to London in just a few days. I think it goes without saying that. Just basically running away from the incoming storm storm largely caused by him is not a wonderful look for Berkeley however all things considered his real mistake in the situation is not that he decided to leave. James to the rabble. The real mistake at least personally for Berkeley is not making sure that the ship was ready to go. Berkeley suddenly found himself sitting on a ship. That was at least a week away from being ready to leave. Keep in mind that we are just thirty. Six hours pass Berkeley surprise. Pardon though when he may because Bacon men were beginning to flood into the poorly-defended Jamestown simple math tells us that these men loyal to Bacon are much closer than a week away. Berkeley as it turns out could also do math and quickly figured out that he had a very serious problem on his hands. He wasn't going to be able to hide Taylor to London before a furious mob descended on Jamestown if Berkeley had been concerned by the biggest supporters days before he must have been terrified of them now they were not only upset over the treatment of Bacon but they were feeling mightily double crossed by the governor understanding this predicament. Berkeley was forced to accept that he was not going to be getting out of Virginia. In time with the fight option exhausted Berkeley turned to his other option fight. Berkeley had some canons. Those that have been used before to fire on begins mid in the harbor that he ordered position for the defense of the city he likewise cintos cows to figure out the position of the rebel army for the second time this episode. This cows are not going to be heard from again which was still a very ominous side. So yeah not a great week to be a scout. On June twenty third look was made Bacon. It was just two miles from Jamestown out the front of a lot of angry colonists. Berkeley almost instantly realized that this was not going to be a battle. It was going to be a slaughter. Bacon was at the head of approximately four hundred men. Berkeley had about thirty militia members to defend the city and worse Berkeley Hackensack amongst the militia members. Present their loyalties were in question Berkeley wanting to avoid the wholesale destruction of Jamestown declared the city open and told his men to stand down. Bacon was going to take Jamestown without firing a single shot. General Bacon as he was now so lovingly being called was not going to waste any time making sure that everybody inside of Jamestown understood. We're the power now lied as soon as the town was captured. Baking called for the Virginia Assembly. To meet it goes without saying that this meeting was not business as usual and one has to imagine at this point for a man like Berkeley. He must have been wondering if he was going to leave that meeting. Alive once assembled Bacon made his demands directly to governor Berkeley. Well he must have enjoyed being called General Bacon by his men he wanted to actually make things official and thus demanded to be made a commission general now to be fair to the. Guy William Berkeley has had an especially bad couple of days in the realm of bad days is raking up. There really are not about to get any better. Of course eight respectable Manley. Berkeley is going to act in this situation. With only the highest honor and dignity right. Well if you consider a temper tantrum. Highest Honors Dignity then E. performed pretty well Berkeley at this exact moment has absolutely no power at all. Well on the surface. Bacon is asking for these things to be granted. Nobody at all is mistaken into believing that these were really requests. Bacon is telling Berkeley he expects Berkeley is going to do instead of accepting the inevitable or attempting to fight back against Bacon and his forces however Berkeley instead rips his shirt off and just request that they can shoot him right there on site as though this was not dramatic enough Berkeley then challenge begin to a sword. Fight Begin. Not really interested in. This makes a quick speech saying that. He just wants to protect the good people of Virginia and needs his commission. Having lost the day. The governor turned around and just walked out bacon for his part was trying to make. It appear that he just wanted what was best for the colony however with Berkeley unwilling to play ball. And they it actually requiring that. The governor acquiesced whose demands in order to grant legitimacy to his cause bacon needed to be clear that he wasn't there messing around Bagan followed Berkeley back to his house. Let him know that. Failure to comply to the demands of the people would result in Bacon's forces killing the whole lot of them. Berkeley unmoved shut the door and big face with the bowl. Back in begins court. The general ordered his men to present arms and aim them at the burgess his so a quickly of the land here. Berkeley is shut up inside of his house pouting. The members of the House of Burgess are watching from the window of the Assembly House with intrigue bigoted at his men have now turned towards them on are aiming their weapons at those same assembly members watching with intrigue intrigue quickly turns to fear for the assemblymen who are not interested in being shot despite Berkeley's wish for them to send from beside him. The assembly quickly yells back that they will find a way to give picking what he wants. Just please don't shoot us with the governor broken and the assembly just wanting to avoid being shot big it was now free to dictate its terms bacon needing to protect his victory. Set his men around Jamestown to keep a constant watch big in dealt several times with the politicians of the city attempting to make it escape. This includes Berkeley. Who was twice. Caught Anthony back home. This all makes sense as one assumes that the men of the Assembly must have been worried about their personal safety. How long before big declares himself a dictator and just perches the whole lot of them. The early demands by Bacon make sense. He demands reparations for his ship. That got song which is okay fine. He orders those friends of the governor. The ones who have been receiving so much special treatment from Berkeley over the years to be excluded from holding public office. They can that a letter be sent to England to contradict the earlier litter that Berkeley hit center requesting help any new governor to be over basically big in wanted to reassure England that everything is justified. Nothing to worry about over here please. Don't send the English regulars to reassert control over the colony. You may be wondering at this point. Why didn't they demand that Berkeley himself be removed from Power Bacon? Despite everything still at this point needed Berkeley the goal of BACON WAS TO REFORM VIRGINIA. However an attack against a royal governor was something that would bring the ire of the crown. Bacon isn't seeking independence from England and this is a critical point to make he was instead wanting to change the dynamic of power inside of Virginia. We are going to discuss this more than a few episodes time when we discuss. What exactly Bacon's rebellion is plus the legacy. However I wanted to at least throw that out there right now. All of this has become known as the DJ assembly with Berkeley momentarily. Out OF POWER. Bacon set forward on a series of reforms. The Assembly met on June twenty fifth. Sixteen seventy six to hear and consider beacons newest requests. The assembly was anxious to get this over with and get bacon at his men out of Jamestown as quickly as possible. The members of the House of Burgess were nervous that the wrong step mean they all end up dead better. You just get this done and get bacon out of town. The first thing that the assembly considered was a declaration of war against the Indians. Notice that this isn't against a single tribe or even a collection of tribes this was a general declaration of war against the Indians. This goes along nicely with the second bill that they can push through the second bill was condemning Berkeley for his choosing to support his profit from the for trade instead of the safety of the colonists along the frontier with little ability to respond or defend the trade. The House of Burgess is stripped Berkeley of all of his authority over the fur trade with the Indians. Next the Bacon camp turned to those hated for its along the frontier. These fords for many had improve. Berkeley's true allegiances. And they certainly were not going to allow them to survive is instead of defensive forts begging was going to lead his men on an offensive campaign that was to be funded by selling the captured natives into slavery and then selling their land to prospective buyers. This would in the eyes of Bacon kill multiple birds with one stone it would reduce the tax burden by getting rid of the Fort Tax. It would eliminate the Indian problem because now not only. Can you kill them? You can capture sell at relocate them. Finally it would reduce the skyrocketing value of Len in Virginia by increasing the supply to meet that growing demand speaking of the economy. They can also ordered that. A commission be formed to examine the widespread and often true rumors of fiscal mismanagement in the colony begin. Wanted to have a full accounting of how much revenue the colony made and more importantly he wanted to know exactly where that money was going and who the beneficiaries were for many in the assembly. This is had to be a terrifying call. We've discussed in earlier episodes that Berkeley was using tax money to enrich himself and his close supporters. It is a fair bet that there were a lot of men in the house of Burge's that really did not want to open that box making also introduced one year term limits on county sheriff's less. They grow too powerful. He also ended the system. Whereby the counselors appointed by Berkeley were exempt from taxation. This goes directly towards Indiana System of cronyism that becomes so systemic. During the years of Berkeley's time as governor at the same time Bacon move to increase the amount of popular sovereignty throughout the colony previously. It had of the governor would appoint judges out in the counties. This meant that the governor had a near stranglehold on the justice system as he was directly responsible for those men having and maintaining their positions under the new bacon regime judges would be split. Equally between the governor's appointees and judges who were popularly elected. This again reduces the power of the Central. Virginia government will increasing the power of the individual counties. Things were going well for Nathaniel Bacon in just three weeks. He had managed to overthrow the governor in all but name and spearheaded a massive series of reforms throughout the colony unfortunately for baking however problems still did exist for him as well while remaining. Jamestown would be the logical move at this point as he continues to reform the colony they can was a ruler by popular demand. The risk associated with popular rule is that you need to do what is necessary in order to make the masses happy. They will choose somebody else to lead them. Bacon closest supporters. Were those that had seen the conditions out on the frontier and knew how much Berkeley was ignoring their plight. Thus on June twenty fifth when news reached Bacon that Indian forces had letter. -rageous twenty five miles from Jamestown colonists. Now we're dead. He had little choice but to conclude his time in Jamestown and respond accordingly. This was a huge relief for members of the House of Burgess says who really really really wanted Bacon and his men to leave as a final act they can pushed through a final piece of legislation before he concludes the Jude Assembly. The Final Act was to force an irrevocable pardon for himself and his men for the actions over the last few months knowing that resistance was pointless and just wanting to escape alive governor Berkeley signed all of the bills that they can have pushed through the legislature. As soon as the ink was dry Berkeley wasted. No time in dissolving the Jude Assembly can and his men withdrew from Jamestown to deal with the Indian threat and at least for a moment Berkeley and his remaining supporters could exhale. However everybody knew that they were not done dealing with. Bacon and his men instead they had simply been granted a momentary reprieve. They would be back and more. Radical changes were likely to follow next time. We are going to continue to discuss the events that unfolded following the end of June assembly. Men like governor Berkeley. We're stuck trying to figure out what their next move was. And if there was any way to both politically and physically the storm that had befallen them as always. I appreciate you all listening. I hope you're all remaining safe and I hope you all have a fantastic two weeks. I will see you back here then where we will pick up the story of begins rebellion.