People's History: Inequality (Chapter 3)

Music: Guitar Chords

Against the rich men of Virginia struggling whites rebelled.
With shock and apprehension men of property beheld
events, and schemed to turn poor whites against the treachery
of England, saying "let us all unite for liberty."

Late sixteen-hundreds, on the burgeoning frontier,
Nathaniel Bacon, joined by struggling whites whose fear
of Indians was matched by anger at the rich
aristocrats, and joined by slaves resolved to switch
allegiance from the men who stole their lives, rebelled
against Virginia government -- the rich beheld
events with shock and apprehension, passing laws
to punish those involved, but looking past the cause:
a feudal system ruled the colonies (John Locke's
philosophy), so little wonder aftershocks
occurred, for fifty men owned almost all the land.
Yet many civic leaders couldn't understand,
while sipping wine and peering through a looking-glass
of gold, how common men of mean and vile and crass
condition joined as one, why men who baked the bread
or hammered shoes or milled the grain or weaved the thread
could go on strike, and why the Jamestown poorhouse filled
so quickly. When at last the populace was stilled
the scheming upper class resolved to turn the blacks
against the Indians, and numerous attacks
occurred. They'd also turn the lower class of whites
against the blacks, with jobs and land and other rights
beyond the reach of slaves. And with a mastery
of propaganda they'd deflect a good degree
of anger from themselves, insisting by decree
that all Americans unite for liberty.

Return to