Bacon's Rebellion

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     The first popular uprising in colonial America took place
in Virginia. This movement, commonly called, after its
leader, Bacon's Rebellion, was at bottom a protest of the
growing middle class in the newer plantations and counties
against the political and social monopoly of the aristocrats
living in the older settled areas. The number of small plant-
ers, poor immigrants, and servants freed from bondage had greatly increased since 1650 and formed a social element
easily distrubed by conditions that distressed the colony.
Virginia had but one staple, tobacco, and so staked her pros-
perity on a single commodity that was liable to constant
fluctuations in its market value. Her people, despite frequent
efforts of those in authority, both in England and in the col-
ony, refused to engage in other staple industries. Govern-
ment, both local and general, was in the hands of a clique,
charged not only with political monopoly but also with favor-
itism, corruption, and incompetence. Most of the people had
no share in political life, for appointements were in the hands
of the crown and the governor; the assembly of 1661 sat con-
tinuously for fourteen years; and a disfranchising act of 1670
cut off the landless class entirely from the right to vote. Tax-
ation was unjust because the only direct tax was a poll tax,
and was heavy owing to levies at this period for certain un-
usual charges, such as the agency to England for the purpose of obtaining a reservsal of the king's iniquitous grant of the
Northern Neck to Arlington and Culpeper, and the new forts
erected on the upper waters of the rivers for protection against
the Indians. The political scandals and the heavy taxes


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