Lesson 2: Colonial Virginia

Overview

Jamestown and colonial Virginia were the birthplace of English settlement in North America. The first laws regarding gender, race, and class developed in this colony and helped establish the institution of slavery in what would later become the United States. The growth of tobacco as a cash crop in the Chesapeake provided the financial resources for Virginia to become the center of the agricultural system in the South. Virginia also saw the shift from indentured servitude to slavery in the labor system. In short, the problems faced by colonial Virginians in the seventeenth century have continued to plague the United States throughout its existence.


Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, you should be able to:

  • list the reasons for English exploration and settlement of the New World.
  • determine how the differences in gender roles for English settlers and American Indians caused misunderstandings between the two ethnicities.
  • describe the impact tobacco had on the development of Jamestown and the Chesapeake.
  • explain the shift from indentured servitude to slavery.
  • describe the development of laws and codes determining gender roles, racial slavery, and class distinctions in colonial Virginia.

Reading Assignment

Out of Many

  • Chapter 3 (pages 48–57 and 65)
  • Chapter 4 (pages 70–79)

Commentary

Although many European powers (including the Portuguese and the Dutch) explored and settled areas of what eventually became the United States, the Spanish, French, and English made the most significant impact on North America. Of these, the English were the last to gain a foothold in the New World. By the time they arrived, the French had already established trading posts, and Spain already had permanent settlements in North America and the Caribbean. St. Augustine, the oldest city in the continental United States, was founded in 1565 by the Spanish.

Primary English interest in settlement of the New World came from a desire to find a Northwest Passage (an all-water route) to Asia, although English fishermen also probably fished the Grand Banks during the sixteenth century as well. By the late 1500s, the English and Spanish were fighting for supremacy in Europe, and the English pushed into the North American continent with the intention of harassing Spanish holdings and making life miserable for the Spanish. Although Roanoke (the first English attempt at permanent settlement in 1585) failed, Jamestown became the first permanent English settlement in North America in 1607.

Establishing Jamestown

James I became the king of England in 1603 when Queen Elizabeth I died. He made an agreement with Spain that forced Spain to relinquish total control of North America so that the English could explore. The Virginia Company, a joint stock company, sponsored the first settlement in Jamestown and outfitted 144 settlers to go to Virginia. Almost all of these settlers were male. After the sea voyage, 104 immigrants landed in Virginia. When annual reinforcements came in 1608, there were only about 38 of the original settlers left. Lack of adequate provisions and shelter in addition to diseases led to the high number of deaths.

Sidney King's interpretation of 1614 Jamestown Figure 2.1. This painting by Sidney King shows how the Jamestown settlement may have looked in 1614.

One of the early saviors of Jamestown was John Smith, a twenty-eight-year-old soldier who had fought against the Turks in the Middle East. Smith utilized his military experience to implement a strict discipline in Jamestown, requiring the men to work at least four hours a day planting crops and building shelters. In addition to his military expertise, Smith was skilled in negotiating with the local Indians as well. Powhatan, the leader of the local Indian tribes (the Algonquians), was a powerful Native leader. His name, meaning "at the waterfalls," described the location of the main Indian village that he controlled. The Indian community was located along the falls on the James River on the fall line, along which a number of important cities eventually were established in colonial America because ships could not travel past the falls on the rivers. Smith negotiated with Powhatan to gain his pledge to protect the English against the Spanish. Powhatan may also have adopted the English into his tribe.

Captain John Smith Figure 2.2. Captain John Smith

The Jamestown settlers and Powhatan's tribe used reciprocity to interact with each other and to gain goods that each side needed. However, the English often misunderstood the intentions behind the Algonquians' actions. Two instances provide a better understanding of how the English misunderstood the Indians' use of reciprocity. The first example involved Powhatan's daughter Pocahontas, who took part in an adoption ceremony that "saved" Smith's life. In the ceremony, the Algonquians adopted an Englishman (Smith) into the Native tribe in order to replace a dead Indian. During the ceremony, Indians would begin an execution process of the Englishman before women of the village intervened and saved the person by adopting them. While the Indians used the ceremony to replenish the tribe, this same ritual caused the English to believe that Powhatan's daughter was in love with Smith and was rebelling against her father. Indians also believed that they became powerful by giving gifts, because the receivers of those gifts would be in debt to them. In Indian culture, the person gave a gift of significant value; if the person receiving the gift failed to return a gift of equal value, then that person lacked the power of the giver. Powhatan's brother Opechancanough believed that the king of England had less power than the American Indian chief because the king gave no gifts when Opechancanough and Pocahontas visited England.

In 1609, Smith was injured in a gunpowder explosion and returned to England for medical care. During the next winter (1609–1610), Jamestown suffered another hard winter. About four hundred out of five hundred settlers (80 percent) died. Called the "starving time," this winter demonstrated how difficult it was to establish a permanent settlement in colonial Virginia.

In 1611 Sir Thomas Dale arrived in Jamestown with more recruits, and he instituted another military policy like John Smith's in order to help the settlement. Dale argued that settlers were more interested in playing games than in growing food. In fact, there is historical evidence that settlers preferred bowling in the streets to tending crops. Under Dale's leadership, Jamestown became substantially more stable. By 1619 about seven hundred settlers lived in Jamestown. However, conditions again worsened. Over next three years, thirty-five hundred people emigrated to Virginia, but by 1622 only about seven hundred again remained.

A number of problems hindered the establishment of a permanent settlement in Jamestown. There was little sanitation, because the village was located in a very marshy and swampy area prone to diseases such as typhoid and malaria. Salt poisoning was a serious problem that occurred when saltwater from the Atlantic Ocean contaminated the James River, the water source for the community.

John Smith and Sir Thomas Dale both indicated in their personal papers that another reason for Jamestown's difficult start was that the colony was overpopulated by the wrong type of people. Many Englishmen who immigrated were people who wanted to get rich quick or gentlemen and their servants rather than people who knew how to work the land. Many of these immigrants were not used to working hard, so the idea of farming land was not something they wanted to do. A communal plan also dampened some settlers' motivation to work hard. The colony was owned by the Virginia Company, so some settlers failed to work the communal land and instead worked for their own gain. Malnutrition was common because of the lack of food.

Key Concepts and Questions

What were the problems with establishing a permanent settlement in Jamestown?
  1. poor sanitation
  2. salt poisoning
  3. diseases from the terrain
  4. too many of the wrong type of people
  5. the communal plan
  6. malnutrition

Tobacco and the Labor Force

Although military discipline almost certainly helped motivate the Jamestown settlers to work, tobacco is what eventually saved the colony. In 1612 an Englishman named John Rolfe (who married Pocahontas) introduced a mild strain of tobacco that was perfect for smoking. Suddenly the plant was in demand and could make huge profits, and this provided motivation for settlers to work. Unfortunately, the high profit margin encouraged many to grow tobacco for sale rather than plant food to feed the colony. One farmer could grow about one or two thousand plants, which made about five hundred pounds of tobacco. This brought a profit of between £25 and £200 per year (farmers in England earned about £3 profit per year). The promise of huge profits led to a flood of tobacco in the market. By 1629, the bottom dropped out of the tobacco market because of overproduction.

tobacco farm Figure 2.3. Besides planting, tobacco also had to be grown, cut, dried, and transported. Settlers often turned toward indentured servitude as a source of labor.

The early years of tobacco production were challenging because labor was scarce in Jamestown and tobacco was a very labor-intensive crop. Many people planted the crop by using sticks to make a small hole in the ground and placing seeds down the hole. Many settlers lived along rivers and streams so the harvested crop could be transported easily. Eventually, many planters recognized the need for an alternative source of labor for the crop in order to maximize profits.

One solution for a desperately needed labor force was indentured servitude. Indentured servants usually received passage to the New World in exchange for four or five years of service, although this was later extended to seven years. At the end of service, servants were supposed to receive their freedom and a gift—usually clothes and tools and sometimes a small section of land. The "owners" of indentured servants did receive some benefits—specifically something called a headright (fifty acres of land for each "head" or servant bought) as well as cheap labor. Indentured servants could typically travel to Jamestown for less than £12 per servant. Those who needed laborers usually attempted to get English servants first, but the system was also extended to include the Irish, a group viewed as less civilized than the English and more like the "savage" American Indians.

Common characteristics of indentured servants can be seen by viewing the population's statistics. More men than women came to the New World as indentured servants. Women were outnumbered four to one and made up only 20 percent of the servant population. Women were not allowed to marry while a servant, so many became pregnant out of wedlock. Some pregnant women escaped servitude while others had to add two years to their term of service. There was almost no incentive to keep indentured servants well fed or healthy, so many servants were mistreated. Some owners bought and sold indentured servants even though this was illegal, and some servants complained of being treated as slaves.

Key Concepts and Questions

What were the advantages of indentured servitude to the owners?
  1. headright
  2. cheap source of labor
  3. little cost, because there was no incentive to keep servants well fed or healthy

Slavery in Colonial Virginia

As the need for labor increased, many planters began to shift from working indentured servants to owning slaves. Slavery was introduced into Jamestown in 1619, when about twenty Africans were brought to Virginia, along with about ninety Englishwomen. According to the ship log, Africans were sold as "indentured servants" for food. The women on the ship were purchased with 120 pounds of tobacco and most quickly became settlers' wives. Although the word "slave" was not used yet to refer to Africans, evidence shows that they were not allowed their freedom after a term of service as the European indentured servants were. Therefore, many historians consider these twenty Africans to be the first slaves in what later became the United States.

Since there was no incentive to keep indentured servants well fed or healthy, the number of Europeans who would agree to the terms dropped significantly. Some owners bought and sold indentured servants, and some servants complained of being treated as slaves. Planters turned from servants to African slaves because fewer indentured servants would sign on to work for a full contract. Many indentured servants tried to escape before their term of service expired.

Key Concepts and Questions

What were the disadvantages of indentured servitude to the owners?
  1. People refused to sign on as indentured servants.
  2. Servants escaped before completing their terms of service.
  3. They were required to give servants a financial reward after the term of service was over.

In 1680, four thousand slaves lived in colonial Virginia. Between 1690 and 1770, over one hundred thousand slaves arrived in America, with about 5 percent of those slaves going to continental America. Almost 95 percent of slaves in the New World became slaves in South America and the Caribbean. Conditions during the Middle Passage (the sea journey from Africa) were horrendous, and about 13 percent of those taken from Africa died during the journey. Some were thrown overboard so the slaver could collect insurance or to decrease the demand for food. Death rates on the Middle Passage for slaves were about the same mortality rates as for indentured servants, and the rate of reproduction (the number of children born) was the same for slaves and for immigrants.

triangular trade route Figure 2.4. This map shows the triangular trade route used to bring slaves from Africa to the Americas.

African American slavery developed in three distinct stages from about the mid-seventeenth century to the birth of the United States. The slave population from 1650 to 1690 was marked by little sense of community, for several reasons. Africans slaves were spread out on a number of different farms, and there were few African slaves in Virginia at all. Different legal status meant that sometimes it was not clear that African laborers were really slaves instead of servants. Also, during this time, some became free through the legal process and set up farms. Some free blacks bought their own African slaves to help work the land.

Between 1690 and 1740, labor needs caused large-scale slave importation from Africa to colonial America. Many slaves worked on farms or small plantations with at least one other slave. Social conflicts between slaves were common, because slaves came to Virginia from a number of places in Africa with different cultures, languages, and traditions. Although there were more Africans in colonial America, there was still not a strong sense of community among slaves.

Later, between 1740 and 1790, farm size in colonial America increased dramatically, and this meant that most slaves were living with a number of other African slaves. Slaves were now living longer and having more children, which created more stable communities. More slave children were native-born, and overall slave importation declined. Many white colonists believed and argued that slavery would die out by the early 1800s.

American Indians and Jamestown

As the Jamestown settlement struggled through the first fifteen years, settlers continued to come into conflict with American Indian tribes. Many of the settlers continued to expect the local Indian populations to provide for them. English settlers tried to manipulate Indian tribes to war against each other, which decreased the Indian populations and created a small Indian slave trade. English settlers put enormous pressure on Indians to sell their land to the English. Differing ideas about land usage furthered the conflict between the groups. The English believed that unused land was available because it was not being used properly by the Indians, whereas the Indians believed that land did not need to be used to be in their possession.

By 1622, the local government of Jamestown was corrupt, and the Virginia Company was in mismanagement. Relations with local Indians steadily worsened until a crisis occurred. Powhatan had died in 1618, and his brother Opechancanough, who took over as leader, was much less friendly to the English. On Good Friday, March 22, 1622, an Indian confederacy attacked Jamestown and the surrounding farms and wiped out the settlement almost completely. The Indian confederacy killed over 350 of 1,200 settlers, butchered animals, burned fields, and pushed the settlers back toward the Atlantic coast. Jamestown settlers had made too many demands for food and protection on the local Native populations.

Characteristics of the Chesapeake in the Seventeenth Century

Over the course of the seventeenth century, Jamestown developed from a small village to several communities in the larger Chesapeake area. As the area's population grew, a number of characteristics changed to reflect the development. About six people per square mile lived in colonial Virginia during the first half of the 1600s. Most settlers lived along the rivers for easier transportation, and they spread out along the James River in order to develop large plantations. Although the price of tobacco provided for extremely high profits during the first two decades of production, profits from the crop by 1629 had fallen from thirty-six cents to two cents per pound. Thus, prices fell by 97 percent. Productivity increased significantly between 1630 and 1670, and this caused an overproduction, which contributed to the drop in prices. Land exhaustion also led to low population density because soil could only be worked about three years before farmers had to move on.

Family life in colonial Virginia differed greatly from that in Puritan New England, the other main English settlement in the early seventeenth century (see Lesson 3). Life expectancy was forty-four years for men and forty-eight years for women (twenty years lower than in New England). Parental death was common. Half of Virginia's children lost one parent during this time, and one-third lost both parents. Living conditions remained fairly primitive, with most people living in shacks and sleeping on dirt floors, while raw sewage was common in the streets and rivers. As late as 1700, the gender imbalance was four men to one woman. Most men were unmarried, and families were extremely uncommon. Those who did marry did so later in life. The average age of marriage was much higher in Virginia than in other places in the colonies because most settlers could not afford to support a family. Premarital pregnancy was common, with about 10 percent of babies born out of wedlock. One-third of women were pregnant when they got married. Many failed to have children until their mid-twenties or later and had fewer children than women living in other areas because of lower life expectancy.

Key Concepts and Questions

List characteristics of the Chesapeake in the early seventeenth century.
  1. six people per square mile
  2. population lived along rivers and streams
  3. land exhaustion
  4. parental death was common
  5. primitive living conditions
  6. ratio of four men to one woman
  7. most men were unmarried
  8. marriage age was higher than in other areas
  9. premarital pregnancy was common

Gender in Colonial Virginia

Gender roles in colonial Virginia became codified, much as the relationships between English and American Indians and English and Africans were over the course of the first few decades. In male-female relationships, the term "sex" refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women, while "gender" refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that are considered appropriate for men and women in a given society. In other words, sex is biologically determined while gender is not. Gender relationships and the separate roles of men and women came under scrutiny in colonial Virginia with the case of Thomas/Thomasina.

Thomas/Thomasina was an Englishman who was raised by his mother as a female while they lived in England during the first half of the 1600s. He/she dressed in female clothing and worked as a female servant in England—taking on the gender roles commonly accepted for women. As Thomas/Thomasina grew older, his/her mother died, and he/she decided to immigrate to Virginia for better employment opportunities. In order to get to the New World, he/she signed on as an indentured servant as a male. Once he/she arrived in Virginia, he/she began to dress in dresses and identified him/herself as a female. He/she engaged in quilting and other female duties. His/her service as an indentured servitude was as a female, working as a housekeeper type instead of working in the fields. Eventually, the respectable women of the town (known as good wives) began to question Thomas/Thomasina's sex. He/she was accused of being a "sex pervert" and was taken to court. There the good wives examined him/her in order to prove that he/she was indeed a woman. When it was found that Thomas/Thomasina was biologically a man, he/she was forced to live as a man.

This instance demonstrates that the role of women in colonial Virginian society was vitally important. Good wives were seen as the protectors of morality, and they revealed any threats to society. White women of higher class were considered "good wives." Women of lower classes—and black women, in particular—were considered "nasty wenches," combining race, class, and gender roles together.

Also in colonial Virginia, male African slaves and American Indians were viewed as more feminine than the masculine English men. Native women farmed while Native men hunted, which challenged traditional European gender roles. Also, genealogy was determined through matrilineal passage in both African and Native cultures. Women held considerable power in American Indian societies, and family names followed the woman's line rather than the man's. African families also became matrilineal over time, for two reasons. First, the Virginians wanted to make sure that power was taken away from African male slaves, so family lines were determined through the mother. This became extremely important to the institution of slavery because white men were having sexual relations with female slaves and black indentured servants, sometimes impregnating them. Slave and indentured servants' owners wanted more slaves to increase the labor supply. Thus, children of slave women and white men became slaves because of matrilineal passage.

Bacon's Rebellion

As gender and racial categories became more clearly defined, a clash along class lines took place in seventeenth-century colonial Virginia. It was led by an English settler named Nathaniel Bacon, an English gentleman who had come to Virginia in 1629 and taken a position of some power in the colonial government. He had received a portion of land in the backcountry (away from the coast) of Virginia and set up a farm. Disputes with local Indians were frequent, and Bacon requested permission to raise a militia to fight the local Indians. The colonial government denied him this permission, because Governor Berkeley believed Bacon, a small planter, wanted to challenge the authority of the colonial government, which was led mainly by Virginians of significant wealth.

Nathaniel Bacon Figure 2.5. Nathaniel Bacon

Bacon was understandably frustrated by Berkeley's response and raised the militia anyway, as he had people who agreed with him about Indian attacks and who were willing to participate. The militia attacked local American Indians and killed a number who were not involved in any way with the previous attacks on Bacon's land. Berkeley denounced Bacon's militia. Bacon, supported by members of his militia, marched on Jamestown with fifty armed men. In fear, Berkeley gave Bacon permission to raise a militia but then quickly retracted his consent. In September 1676, Bacon marched on Jamestown with five hundred armed men and burned the village. Berkeley fled, and Royal troops were sent to put down the rebellion. As Bacon's followers threatened the colonial government, both sides tried to persuade yeoman farmers (small farmers) and slaves to join their side, even promising freedom to slaves. In October 1676, Bacon died of dysentery, and the rebellion dwindled.

Bacon's Rebellion, as it came to be called, demonstrated the different racial and class conflicts that were deepening as the colony developed. Bacon and his followers showed that small farmers were beginning to challenge the rich white Virginians. The uprising epitomized the continued conflict between settlers and American Indians. In addition, a sense of unity between yeoman farmers and African slaves scared the white ruling class and led to the creation of slave codes as well as other laws to legalize the system of African slavery.

Conclusion

Although the English came late to the New World, English settlements were beginning to flourish along the East Coast by the mid-seventeenth century. In 1607, Jamestown became the first permanent English settlement with a functioning representative government in North America. Tobacco, the major cash crop of the Chesapeake, not only saved the colony economically but also increased the entrepreneurial spirit in the United States. The labor-intensive tobacco agriculture increased the demand for an inexpensive workforce and led to greater demand for indentured servants and to the growth of slavery. Race and ethnicity clashes occurred between the English and American Indians (who were viewed as savages), between the English and African slaves, and between the English and their Irish indentured servants. Race, gender, and class problems caused the need to develop laws to reaffirm legal differences between male and female, slave and free, and the ruling class and others. Colonial Virginia provided the foundation for a number of institutions that would later become important aspects of the United States.


Key Dates

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Central Ideas

  • Virginia Company
  • John Smith
  • Powhatan
  • fall line
  • reciprocity
  • Pocahontas
  • the "starving time"
  • Sir Thomas Dale
  • problems with permanent settlement
  • John Rolfe
  • tobacco
  • indentured servants
  • problems for Jamestown in 1622
  • Good Friday massacre
  • mortality in Jamestown
  • Middle Passage
  • three stages of African American slavery
  • sex versus gender
  • Thomas/Thomasina
  • good wife
  • nasty wench
  • matrilineal passage
  • Bacon's Rebellion
  • yeoman farmer

Study Questions

  1. Why did John Smith and Sir Thomas Dale have to establish a military routine for Jamestown? How did those routines help change Jamestown?
    Smith and Dale each established a military routine because during the first decade there was a distinct lack of motivation to work in Jamestown. Many of the people who migrated to Jamestown were looking to get rich quick and were not interested in working hard for a communal company. Forcing the settlers to work on a military regimen helped saved the colony, because they were able to produce enough food and protection for the community to survive.

  2. What role did reciprocity play in misunderstandings between the English settlers and the American Indians?
    American Indians believed in reciprocity as a method of negotiating power relationships. The English often misunderstood these acts and believed they were gaining power over the Native people. One example of this misunderstanding occurred when Pocahontas and her uncle traveled to England and gave gifts to the English king. When the king failed to reciprocate with gifts in return, Opechancanough believed the king lacked power. Jamestown settlers believed that Pocahontas saved John Smith from being killed when, instead, Smith mostly likely had undergone an adoption ceremony that promised protection rather than her undying love for him. Finally, Native women believed that engaging in sexual relationships with Englishmen allowed the women to take power over the men, while Englishmen believed they were the ones who gained power by having sex with Native women.

  3. How did tobacco "save" Jamestown? What problems did the introduction of tobacco cause for indentured servants and slaves?
    When John Rolfe introduced the tobacco strain in 1612, tobacco then provided a cash crop for Jamestown that encouraged the settlers to work rather than play. Tobacco became a very important cash crop and caused settlers to plant it in every possible piece of unused land available. Settlers lived on rivers and streams for easy transportation of the crop. A shift from indentured servitude to slavery occurred as tobacco became more important to the colony. Profits for the crop were astronomical compared to profits for farmers at home. This caused overproduction, which led to a drastic drop in prices, but tobacco still became a crop that helped establish Jamestown as a permanent settlement by the mid-1600s. Tobacco increased the need for cheap labor, which increased the demand for indentured servants and African slaves.

  4. List characteristics of seventeenth-century Chesapeake society. How did those characteristics impact the development of colonial Virginia?
    About six people per square mile lived in colonial Virginia during the first half of the 1600s. Most settlers lived along the rivers for easier transportation of their crops, and they spread out along the James River in order to own large plantations. Although the price of tobacco provided for extremely high profits during the first two decades of production, profits from the crop by 1629 had fallen from thirty cents to two cents per pound (97 percent). Productivity increased significantly between 1630 and 1670 and created overproduction, which contributed to the drop in prices. Land exhaustion also led to low population density because soil could only be worked for about three years before the farmers had to move on. Life expectancy was forty-four years for men and forty-eight years for women. Parental death was common with half of children losing one parent and one-third losing both parents. Living conditions remained fairly primitive, with most people living in shacks and sleeping on dirt floors, while raw sewage was common in the streets and rivers. The gender imbalance was four men to one woman as late as 1700. Most men were unmarried, so families were extremely uncommon. Those who did marry did so late in life. The average age of marriage was much higher in Virginia because most settlers could not afford to support a family. Premarital pregnancy was common with about 10 percent of babies born out of wedlock. One-third of women were pregnant when they got married. Many failed to have children until their mid-twenties or later and had fewer children than women living in other areas because of lower life expectancy.

  5. What were the reasons for the switch from indentured servants to African slavery during the seventeenth century?
    Many English and other Europeans refused to sign up to be indentured servants, so there were not enough people to fill the labor needs. Often, servants escaped before completing their term of service, and employers lost out on valuable years of service. Many employers were unwilling to fulfill the required financial reward after the term of service was over. Slavery was seen as a cheaper, more reliable, and safer method of labor by the end of the seventeenth century.

  6. What role did women play in colonial Virginia? How were white women, African women, and American Indian women viewed in society?
    There were very few white women in colonial Virginia, so white women very quickly became wives of settlers. There was a distinction between good wives (white women of the upper class) and nasty wenches, women who were not white or who challenged traditional gender roles (such as Thomas//Thomasina). African women were almost always slaves. Their children became slaves, regardless of the status of the father, because of matrilineal passage. Native women had different gender roles than white women, so there were common misconceptions. Sexual encounters between white men and American Indian women often meant that white men believed they had control over the women, while the women felt the opposite. Indian women passed their names on to their children with matrilineal lineage.

  7. Describe Bacon's Rebellion. What was its larger significance in the development of colonial Virginia?
    Bacon's Rebellion was a clash between elite planters along the coast of Virginia and less wealthy planters in the interior that occurred in 1676. Nathaniel Bacon asked Governor Berkeley for permission to raise a militia to fight American Indians who were threatening Bacon's lands. Berkeley refused, so Bacon raised a militia on his own and fought a group of Indians that in fact had not been involved in previous attacks. Berkeley condemned Bacon, and Bacon marched on Jamestown and burned it to the ground. The rebellion demonstrated continued conflict between whites and American Indians and class differences among the whites. This eventually led to the development of stricter slave codes that codified what being a free Englishman meant.