Tensions in Colonial Society

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Bacon’s Rebellion and the Salem witchcraft trials are both events that colonists used to show their anger at or resentment of colonial society life. Bacon’s Rebellion was a revolt against Governor Berkeley’s policies with the local natives. He monopolized the thriving fur trade and wasn’t willing to risk ruining it. The Salem witchcraft trials were a result of unsettled social and religious conditions of the Massachusetts village. Some of the victims were even accused because of their wealth and the jealousness of the accuser.

Nathaniel Bacon, a twenty-nine-year-old planter, was one of about a thousand Virginians who broke out of control in 1676. He led the rebels, who were nothing but frontiersman who had been forced into the untamed backcountry in search of arable land. They were frustrated and tired of Berkeley’s friendly policies with the Indians. After a series brutal Indian attacks, with no retaliation from Berkeley, Bacon and his followers took matters into their own hands. They murdered numerous Indians, chased Berkeley from Jamestown, and put a torch to the capital. Nathaniel Bacon had ignited the smoldering resentments of landless former servants.

Women played a prominent role in one New England’s most frightening religious episodes. When two girls in Salem, Massachusetts, claimed to have been bewitched by certain older women, a hunt ensued, and twenty people were killed. These accusations of witchcraft came from superstitions and prejudices of age. Most of the accused witches came from families associated with Salem’s burgeoning market economy. The accusers came mostly from subsistence farming families in Salem’s area, and aimed at property owning women. This hysteria eventually ended in 1693 when the governor’s wife was accused and he prohibited any further trials.

Bacon’s Rebellion is an example of tension that people tried to fix by taking matters into their own hands. They revolted and openly fought for what they thought was right. The Salem...
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