Nathaniel Bacon, a wealthy planter staged an uprising, which eventually developed into a rebellion, against Sir William Berkeleys corrupt regime. His manifesto opens with how perverted the morality of the colony has become. Bacon enumerates corruption, where the quality of the lives of their colonizers have greatly improved but the welfare of the colony has stagnated and downgraded, the administrations protection of their” darling Indians,” where the interest of the people have not been protected but these “darling Indians” have been, as crimes of the Berkeleys administration. In return, the manifesto suggests the need to expatriate all Indians as well as to extinguish all forms of commerce and trade with them. Even though the rebellion failed, it has had some positive effects: the reduction of taxes as well as the end of rule of the “grandees” (Virginia Magazine of History and Biography in Foner, 2008).
In most societies where unjust practices are ubiquitous, a form of social retaliation is almost always imminent. The colony, which was ruled by an administration guilty of corruption and unfair practices, found an agent of social transformation via Nathaniel Bacon. But it is vital to understand that Bacon himself staged this uprising because he also has his own interests to protect and preserve. It just happened that he shares the same interests with the majority who were ruled by the Berkeley administration. The antagonistic nature of this historic marker is a clash of interests among the powerful and the subjects. The manifesto, although clearly laying out the crimes committed by the administration, however fell short on the expatriation of Indians component. It calls for the expatriation of Indians as well as the termination of commercial transactions with them but it offered no suggestions as to where Indians should be relocated. This lowered the feasibility of the manifestos expatriation demand. This case reflects the unjust social hierarchy which has long existed: where the powerful oppresses the middle class, and in turn, the middle class oppresses those on the lowest end of the social triangle.
This historical document tells the narrative of the horrendous slave-trading activity during 1700s. The owners of the ship Dispatch issued the following orders to the ship captain William Barry: to purchase slaves that are healthy, strong, of convenient age (i.e. possibility no one under 10 and beyond 25 years old), mostly stout males.
The owners also ordered Barry to let the slaves be well and to carefully look after them. Barry is also to set the netting high enough and keep the slaves hand bolted to prevent them from jumping off the ship. The voyage ran for about 40-60 days, with the conditions of the slaves deteriorating by each passing day. Some have died while some have chosen to throw themselves overboard (Lepore, 2000, pp. 132-136). This article presents an all-together different and highly deviated norm of the 18th century as compared to our present-day norms. This historical document represents the commodification, not of human labor, but of the human body itself. In one part of the ship owners instruction to Barry, they were justifying such horrifying activities by saying that “seeing in that Commodity, theres no mentality to be feared.” Issues of migration of labor which continue to exist until now, have resurfaced in our minds via this historic document. Paradoxically, at the end of the owners instruction on how to purchase and how to keep the slaves intact after the end of the voyage, they were wishing for “Good God Almighty protection.” One brings to question the kind of religious and moral norms that existed during this century. Moreover, it prods us to think of the kind of economic conditions that allow for such horrendous practices. This in turn reverberates how history allows people to see the past and what might happen in the future. The past has shown details of oppression and exploitation. Needless to say, it would be quite impossible to conclude that this kind activity no longer happens in our present-day labor practices.
Foner, E. (2008). ed. Voices of Freedom. A Documentary History. W.W. Norton & Company: New York.
Lepore, J. (2000). Encounters in the New World. A History in Documents. Oxford University Press: New York.
Rushforh, B. & Mapp, P.W.. (n.d.). Colonial North America and the Atlantic World. A History in Documents. Pearson Prentice Hall:.