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Autor: anton • December 20, 2010 • 1,272 Words (6 Pages) • 602 Views
The Effects That Slavery and Class Conflict had on the American Republic
There are three events in American history that are linked greatly together and in turn have effected the creation of America as a republic. Bacon's Rebellion, slavery as an institution, class division and conflict are the three events that will be discussed in this paper. Also, it will be shown how these three events impacted the creation of the American republic.
The plot for Bacon's Rebellion is the late 17th century in the backwoods of what is now Virginia, where poor farmers were drawn because they could not afford the best farming land that was owned by Virginia's elite ("Bacon's Rebellion"). This area was prone to Indian attacks. Tension was growing as Virginian's faced many economical problems and natural disasters, such as declining tobacco prices, growing commercial competition from Maryland and the Carolina's, an increasing restricted English market, the rising prices for English manufactured goods, hail storms, floods, draughts, and hurricanes (McCulley 1). After a servant was killed by Doeg Indians, Virginian's found a scapegoat in which they could vent their frustration and place blame for their misfortune, the Native Americans (McCulley 1, Norton 71). The colonist retaliated against this act of violence but it was against the wrong tribe, which started large-scale Indian raids. Governor William Berkeley called for an investigation of these attacks and proceeded to ask both sides to yield further retaliation. However, colonist felt that Berkeley was just concerned with having a monopoly over the trade with Indians ("Bacon's Rebellion"). Nathaniel Bacon and his followers; mostly servants, slaves, and backwoods farmers did not heed Berkeley's request and continued attacks on Indian tribes later turning on Jamestown itself, to burn the capital to the ground (Norton 71).
Bacon's Rebellion influenced the second amendment of the Constitution, which states that the people have the right to bear arms. This was instated so that common men could defend themselves against hostile Indians and incase of the need for opposition to a despotic regime (Norton A-24 & Miller 5). Before Bacon's Rebellion African slaves were rarely used in Virginia and those that were used were indentured servants who had more than likely come from the Caribbean ("Bacon's Rebellion"). There for they had already been exposed to English making the work environment on the plantation more companionable in between the black and white indentured servant, there was no class distinction (Norton 72).
Virginia's economical success relied on tobacco and is dependent on labor so it can be cultivated however in the 1670's and 1680's there was a lack of willingness for English men and women to indenture themselves for long terms of service. The Virginian's solution to this was found in the Caribbean, where since the 1640's the planters had been sustaining the work needed for their plantations by purchasing African slaves (Norton 72). In the beginning the Americas only wanted African men to be enslaved to work their plantations however this had a draw back because the slave owners constantly had to purchase new slaves to work their plantations. As the demand for slaves grew the slave traders sent whomever they had. This meant that the Americas were receiving both men and women. Plantation owners relished the idea that by having African women on their plantations they could maintain a self-sufficient work force.
There is no evidence that the English servants resented the substitution of African slaves for more of their own and it is likely that the two despised groups initially related to each other because they were in the same predicament. However, if freemen with disappointed hopes find a common cause with slaves that had no hope the results, the government feared, could be worse then that of Bacon's Rebellion. Racism was the answer; it is what brought the servants, slaves, and backwoods farmers together to fight against the Indians in Bacon's Rebellion so there for the people that had came together for one cause needed to be turned against each other so they could not join together for another cause (Morgan 327-328).
Racism was the main cause for the extreme class division and conflict in colonial America. The first question that arose was how to clarify who was enslaved and for how long. The answer was that if you are a non-Christian than you can be enslaved and it did not mater if you convert to Christianity after your arrival because it would not alter the status of your enslavement. Since this made it so that Indians and Africans where enslaved together most white Virginians just extended their harbored bad feeling for Indians onto Africans (Morgan 329-330).
The assembly deliberately tried to foster further contempt of whites for Africans and Indians with a series of acts. In 1680 one act states that if any slave lifts his hand in opposition against any Christian he is to receive thirty