Declaration of the People

Bacon's Rebellion

Nathaniel Bacon's Rebellion

The History of the Declaration of the People of Virginia was a document produced during Bacon's Rebellion of 1676 to 1677. The Declaration of the People was produced by Nathaniel Bacon detailing the grievances of the colonists of Virginia which was written in opposition to the Governor of Virginia, Sir William Berkeley.

During Bacon's Rebellion on July 30, 1676, Nathaniel Bacon and his army issue the "Declaration of the People of Virginia." Bacon's Rebellion was the first rebellion in the American Colonies. Bacon's Rebellion and the Declaration of the People of Virginia set a precedent for future Americans to obtain equality.

Bacon's Rebellion
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Declaration of the People Summary and Definition

The Declaration of the People of Virginia was the result of the uprising in 1676 - 1677 known as Bacon's Rebellion. The conflict arising from Bacon's rebellion was  against American Indians of Virginia and the Colonial Government in the Virginia Colony. The cause of the rebellion was over taking reprisal action for alleged thefts by the Native Americans. The Declaration of the People cited eight points in its declaration against the governor of Virginia. The Declaration of the People was written "in the name of the people in all the counties of Virginia." The document was signed by "Nathaniel Bacon, General by Consent of the people. Bacon's Rebellion was the first rebellion in the American Colonies and the Declaration of the People of Virginia set a precedent for future Americans to obtain equality - a forerunner to the Declaration of Independence.

 

Summary of points in the Declaration of the People
The main grievances levelled at the Governor of Virginia colony, Sir William Berkeley as listed in the Declaration of the People were as follows:

  • Taxation
  • Judicial corruption
  • Personal enrichment
  • Failure to protect English colonists

Nathaniel Bacon specifically made reference to the situation regarding the protection of the colonists against the Indians:

"For having protected, favored, and emboldened the Indians against his Majesty’s loyal subjects" and "... for then having expressly countermanded and sent back our army by passing his word for the peaceable demeanor of the said Indians."

Slaves working in a tobacco plantation

African slaves working on a tobacco plantation in 1670

Opechancanough Powhatan Chief

Powhatan Chief

 

Colonial America - The Land of the Brave

 

The Text of the Declaration of the People
The text of the Declaration of the People submitted by Nathaniel Bacon is as follows:

The Declaration of the People (1676)

1. For having, upon specious pretenses of public works, raised great unjust taxes upon the commonalty for the advancement of private favorites and other sinister ends, but no visible effects in any measure adequate; for not having, during this long time of his government, in any measure advanced this hopeful colony either by fortifications, towns, or trade.

2. For having abused and rendered contemptible the magistrates of justice by advancing to places of judicature scandalous and ignorant favorites.

3. For having wronged his Majesty’s prerogative and interest by assuming monopoly of the beaver trade and for having in it unjust gain betrayed and sold his Majesty’s country and the lives of his loyal subjects to the barbarous heathen.

4. For having protected, favored, and emboldened the Indians against his Majesty’s loyal subjects, never contriving, requiring, or appointing any due or proper means of satisfaction for their many invasions, robberies, and murders committed upon us.

5. For having, when the army of English was just upon the track of those Indians, who now in all places burn, spoil, murder and when we might with ease have destroyed them who then were in open hostility, for then having expressly countermanded and sent back our army by passing his word for the peaceable demeanor of the said Indians, who immediately prosecuted their evil intentions, committing horrid murders and robberies in all places, being protected by the said engagement and word past of him the said Sir William Berkeley, having ruined and laid desolate a great part of his Majesty’s country, and have now drawn themselves into such obscure and remote places and are by their success so emboldened and confirmed by their confederacy so strengthened that the cries of blood are in all places, and the terror and consternation of the people so great, are now become not only difficult but a very formidable enemy who might at first with ease have been destroyed.

6. And lately, when, upon the loud outcries of blood, the assembly had, with all care, raised and framed an army for the preventing of further mischief and safeguard of this his Majesty’s colony.

7. For having, with only the privacy of some few favorites without acquainting the people, only by the alteration of a figure, forged a commission, by we know not what hand, not only without but even against the consent of the people, for the raising and effecting civil war and destruction, which being happily and without bloodshed prevented; for having the second time attempted the same, thereby calling down our forces from the defense of the frontiers and most weakly exposed places.

8. For the prevention of civil mischief and ruin amongst ourselves while the barbarous enemy in all places did invade, murder, and spoil us, his Majesty’s most faithful subjects.

Of this and the aforesaid articles we accuse Sir William Berkeley as guilty of each and every one of the same, and as one who has traitorously attempted, violated, and injured his Majesty’s interest here by a loss of a great part of this his colony and many of his faithful loyal subjects by him betrayed and in a barbarous and shameful manner exposed to the incursions and murder of the heathen. And we do further declare these the ensuing persons in this list to have been his wicked and pernicious councilors, confederates, aiders, and assisters against the commonalty in these our civil commotions.

Sir Henry Chichley William Claiburne Junior

Lieut. Coll. Christopher Wormeley Thomas Hawkins

William Sherwood Phillip Ludwell

John Page Clerke Robert Beverley

John Cluffe Clerke Richard Lee

John West Thomas Ballard

Hubert Farrell William Cole

Thomas Reade Richard Whitacre

Matthew Kempe Nicholas Spencer

Joseph Bridger

John West, Hubert Farrell, Thomas Reade, Math. Kempe

And we do further demand that the said Sir William Berkeley with all the persons in this list be forthwith delivered up or surrender themselves within four days after the notice hereof, or otherwise we declare as follows.

That in whatsoever place, house, or ship, any of the said persons shall reside, be hid, or protected, we declare the owners, masters, or inhabitants of the said places to be confederates and traitors to the people and the estates of them is also of all the aforesaid persons to be confiscated. And this we, the commons of Virginia, do declare, desiring a firm union amongst ourselves that we may jointly and with one accord defend ourselves against the common enemy. And let not the faults of the guilty be the reproach of the innocent, or the faults or crimes of the oppressors divide and separate us who have suffered by their oppressions.

These are, therefore, in his Majesty’s name, to command you forthwith to seize the persons above mentioned as traitors to the King and country and them to bring to Middle Plantation and there to secure them until further order, and, in case of opposition, if you want any further assistance you are forthwith to demand it in the name of the people in all the counties of Virginia.

Nathaniel Bacon

General by Consent of the people.

The Declaration of the People (1676)
Nathaniel Bacon
 

Declaration of the People

  • History, text and words of the Declaration of the People
  • Declaration of the People of Virginia
  • Interesting Facts and information on the Declaration of the People
  • Significance of the Declaration of the People of Virginia
  • Declaration of the People during Bacon's Rebellion of 1676

Colonial America - The Land of the Brave

 

Declaration of the People - Pictures and Videos of Native Americans
Declaration of the People. Discover the the key years, famous people and events of the Declaration of the People together with the causes and effects of the war, conflict and battle. Pictures have been include wherever possible which show the battlefield, clothing and weapons of the Colonial America and their leaders who fought in the Declaration of the People. We have included pictures and videos to accompany the main topic of this section - The Declaration of the People. The videos enable fast access to the images, paintings and pictures together with the information and the many facts featured on this subject of the Declaration of the People.

 

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