The rebellious tradition in North America began not in the mid-1700s with the settlers and pioneers against the British crown but in the mid-1600s with the native, African, and indentured servants revolts against attempts to dominate and rule over them.
The first recorded slave revolt occurred in Gloucester, VA in 1663, in which white indentured servants joined together with African slaves in Birkenhead’s Rebellion.
In 1675, Native Americans led by Metacom, who the English called “King Philip,” sought to drive the English out of New England. “King Philip’s War” lasted nearly three years and ultimately wiped out the natives’ army.
Down south in Virginia, colonial governor William Berkeley did not act quickly to defend against Indian attacks on colonial settlements. A planter by the name of Nathaniel Bacon, initially one of Berkeley’s advisers who became impatient with his incompetence and corruption, organized an armed revolt of about 1,000 men of all races and classes against the colonial governor. Bacon promised freedom to any blacks who joined his cause. Together, whites and blacks burned down the town of Jamestown in 1676.
Indentured servants and slaves joining together to rebel against colonial authority terrified the ruling class. They responded by making racial codes stricter and more severe, to keep the lower class whites and blacks divided from each other and generating resentment between them. They also ended the headright system, which had been created in 1618 to solve the labor shortage in the colonies, by recruiting indentured servants.
More videos on Bacon’s Rebellion.