The Rise of Slavery in the Chesapeake and the Effect of Bacon’s Rebellion on Slavery

After the colonization of Virginia, the British brought in many Africans to the colony as servants. The expansion of the colony in the subsequent two centuries led to the change of the title of these Africans into slaves. Due to inhumane working conditions, white and African servants started revolts, with Bacon’s Rebellion being the most notable. 17th century slave rebellions resulted in harsher differentiation between the poor whites and African slaves, which further worsened the treatment of the latter.

            The vast tobacco plantations in Chesapeake contributed to the rise in slavery in the region. The slaves worked in extreme labor conditions to plant, treat, harvest, and package tobacco products. As a result, nearly all Africans and about 40% of the population in the colony became slaves.

            The intense labor conditions led to rebellions among the slaves. They demanded better working environment and treatment. One of the most notable rebellions was the Bacon’s rebellion initiated by Nathaniel Bacon in the 17th century. The motive of the Bacon’s Rebellion was to fight the hostile colonists who mistreated the indentured servants (Africans) and poor native farmers in the region. The rebellion was intense and resulted in a major threat to the ruling governor Berkley.

However, the rebellious African and white servants were defeated by the British soldiers resulting in many deaths and the restoration of the Royal rule. The defeat led to the hardening of the slavery policy, further enhancing the rise of slaves in the region. The fear of having a union of white and blacks servants led to the complete abolition of servitude to embrace black slavery.

Labor conditions in the New World of the 17th century were incredibly harsh. Africans and white indentured servants naturally revolted against such circumstances. While the rebellions was expected to reduce the adverse treatments and extreme labor conditions for the slaves, it resulted in more hardened labor policies for the Africans.

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