Chapter 3: Persons of Mean and Vile Condition

Chapter 3: Persons of
Mean and Vile Condition
First rebellion in the
American Colonies
Between the American
Indians and Colonial
Government in the Virginia
Conflict about how to deal
with the Indians
Nathaniel Bacon
Leader of the rebellion
Higher class
Concerned about killing
Indians than helping the
poor (Lower Class)
Denied treaty between
Berkeley and Powhatan
Captured by the military and
then released
Died of a sickness
After the Release of Bacon
Created a populist
Took militia in and raided Pamunkey and killed men,
children, and women
Raised resentment against the rich and hatred towards
the American Indians
The Indians protested the Virginia Land Co.
monopoly of the Beaver trade , unfair taxes, and
political favoritism
His fall lead to munity even amongst his own militia
William Berkeley
Governor of Virginia
His attraction to bacon was his idea of “leveling”
Colonies grew faster
England was fighting a series of wars
Some merchants made money from the wars
Meant higher taxes, unemployment, and poverty
Virginia legislature passed laws to punish servants who rebelled
Voyage to America lasted eight, ten, or twelve weeks, servants were
profits that marked the slave ships
Gap between rich and poor widened, as violence and the threat of
violence increased, and the problem of control became more
Conditions were awful
8-12 weeks
Servants were packed into the
ship like items
Servants died of starvation
Some servants were eaten
Children died of hunger and
disease and thrown in the
Women who were pregnant
thrown in the sea if un able to
5 revolts against the proprietor
Erupt with great violence and frequency
Elite (upper class) fear of revolts
Upper classes developed tactics to deal with fear
“not born free but born slave and free”
Caused tensions
Revolts start to occur
¾ of the New York land
belong to to 30 people (upper
The poor was growing too,
more and more became poor
“ all times some must be
rich, some poore, some highe
and eminient in power and
digniteie; others meane and
in subjection”
Cruel Treatment of Servants
Beatings and whippings
Women servants were
Many servants would die
after their arrival, many
were children due to:
High suicide rate
Disease and Starvation
Not allowed to have children
and marry because it would
interfere with work
Scared of the outcome if
they rebelled
Whipping, starvation,
misery, etc.
Without consent it is seen as
adultery, fornication and
children seen as bastards
After the Rebellion
Racism was becoming more
and more practical
Indians remained an obstacle to
White slaves were allowed to
join the militia in fear of
slave rebellion growing
Black slaves were easier to
The numbers grew, the prospect
of a slave rebellion grew
Black slaves were pouring in
Everywhere the poor were
struggling to stay alive,
especially from freezing in
the cold weather
Class lines hardened through
the colonial period,
distinction between rich and
poor become sharper
They lived off the black slaves
and white servants
Boston grew from 1678-1770
The % of adult males who
were poor lost property
rights meaning voting rights
Richest of all regions 29% of
the town were landless men
Rioting became a form of
Severe food shortage
Protesting the high prices
established by merchants
demolished the public
“the town meetings, while
ostensibly democratic, were
in reality controlled year
after year by the same group
of merchant aristocrats, who
secured most of the
important offices”
After the Rebellion (cont.)
Strikes by workers increased among coopers, butchers, bakers, and
other landless artisans as well as sailors
Demolishing public squares as well as homes of the landed
Natives were not acquire or considered for labor and were
constant threat on frontier
Slaves escaping plantations in the South to join Tribes
White running to join native tribes, but if captured and given the
chance to go back to white society, they would go back
Southern militias used blacks to find Indians on the frontier
• Middle class small farmers and city artisans promoted to
created a bond between landed and poorer whites
• System of indentured servitude quickly disappear, thus
alienating the negro and Indians which brought loyalty
• Brought loyalty and directed hatred away from class
conflicts enough to keep the these groups apart
• To bind the loyalty a device was equality and liberty,
could eventually unite whites to fight a revolution
against England, without ending slavery and equality
Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of America. New York,
New York, CA. Harper Collins Publishers, 1995.
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