Sunday, September 2, 2012

Rebellion vs Revolution Essay

Rebellion vs Revolution Essay

Edmund S.Morgan in his famous book American slavery American freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia, which was published in 1975 for the first time, analyzes the notion of slavery in the American history and the roots of the Bacon’s rebellion and its possible consequences. Bacon’s Rebellion is also known as the Virginia Rebellion. It was led by Nathaniel Bacon and started in 1676. The active participants of this rebellion were frontiersmen and it was the first rebellion in the American colonies of such kind. The causes of the rebellion were the following: natural disasters, such as floods, drought, hurricanes and others, that resulted in a poor condition of common people; numerous economic problems including decrease of prices on tobacco, increase of prices on manufactured products, restriction of English marker and others. All these reasons encouraged Bacon and his followers to rebel against unjust attitude towards poor slaves and servants.

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Some researches consider it to a revolution but it has all the features of the rebellion. A revolution is usually organized by the leading class who wants to change the political regime and social structure. It breaks out as a response to the aggressive and oppressive actions of the government; it involves great masses of people who have one common idea and a leader or leaders who proclaim this idea. The result of any revolution is usually complete or partial victory because this word itself presumes a change in the regime. A rebellion is more chaotic, the masses are not organized. People, as well as during revolution, usually rebel against infringement of their interests but their forces are not always aimed to change the political or social structure. The result of any rebellion is usually defeat.

Morgan in his book states that American principles of freedom and equality always come together with notions of slavery. Bacon raised his rebellion against slavery, in fact. Bacon united poor servants and slaves around him and made a number of attempts to massacre Indian population. His actions were rather chaotic and disorganized but they created threat to the peace in Virginia. Bacon’s rebellion could have transformed into real revolution: he had burned the capital and controlled almost all the colony for three months. The result of the rebellion could have been unpredictable but suddenly died Bacon and it became the logical end of the rebellion. Governor Berkley crushed the rebellion but it was a lesson for him and his followers, he understood that “First, that too many disappointed freemen and desperate blacks with a common enemy could prove a dangerous force. Second, resentment on racial grounds may be more powerful than resentment on the grounds of class” (Morgan, 2003, p. 270). This rebellion helped the government to change its policy and choose another tactics.

To sum up, Bacon’s rebellion can not be considered as revolution because, all in all, it was broke out by the colonial government. The masses united by Bacon did not choose one strategic direction in their actions and so after Bacon’s death were not able to unite and continue the fight for their rights. Nevertheless, it had had a great impact on the policy of the colonial government.
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