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BACON, Nathaniel, "the Virginia rebel," a colonial leader, born in Suffolk, England, about 1630-d. in January 1677. He was educated in the inns of court, London, and settled on a large estate near the head of James River in Virginia. He became a member of the council in 1672, and gained great popularity by his winning manners and eloquent speech. The Virginians were dissatisfied with the measures taken by Governor Berkeley for defense against the Indians, and chose Bacon, on the outbreak of a fresh Indian war, to lead the colonial military forces. Although the governor refused to commission him, a force collected and defeated the Indians. On 29 May 1676. Governor Berkeley proclaimed Bacon a rebel, and sent a force against him. He was captured and tried before the governor and council on 10 June when he was acquitted, restored to his seat in the council, and promised a commission as general for the Indian' war. But the governor refused to issue the promised commission. The high rates of taxation, the attempts of the governor to curtail the franchise, and other unpopular measures, in conjunction with his inefficient Indian policy, fed the popular discontent. Upon compulsion of the rebels, Governor Berkeley in July dismantled the obnoxious forts, dissolved the assembly, and issued writs for a new election. When he failed to carry out his promises, Bacon returned at the head of 500 men and compelled Berkeley to issue the promised commission. He then prosecuted the operations against the Indians with vigor; but, being again proclaimed a rebel, he issued a counter-manifesto, 6 August and, marching upon Williamsburg, drove the governor across the bay to Accomac. In September he again routed the governor's forces and burned Jamestown, while Governor Berkeley was obliged to take refuge on board an English ship. A number of women, wives of the governor's adherents, were seized and held as hostages by the rebels. Bacon died before carrying out his plans for attacking the governor at Accomac, and Ingrain, who succeeded in the command of the colonial forces, was won over by the governor, and, after the execution of a number of Bacon's principal adherents, the rebellion was extinguished. His career furnished the subject for a novel by William Carruthers, of Virginia. See Force's "Tracts Relating to the Origin, Settlement, and Progress of the Colonies"; also Sparks's "American Biography."
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