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The Divided Dominion

The Divided Dominion: Social Conflict and Indian Hatred in Early Virginia

Ethan A. Schmidt
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    The Divided Dominion
    Book Description:

    InThe Divided Dominion, Ethan A. Schmidt examines the social struggle that created Bacon's Rebellion, focusing on the role of class antagonism in fostering violence toward native people in seventeenth-century Virginia. This provocative volume places a dispute among Virginians over the permissibility of eradicating Native Americans for land at the forefront in understanding this pivotal event.

    Myriad internal and external factors drove Virginians to interpret their disputes with one another increasingly along class lines. The decades-long tripartite struggle among elite whites, non-elite whites, and Native Americans resulted in the development of mutually beneficial economic and political relationships between elites and Native Americans. When these relationships culminated in the granting of rights-equal to those of non-elite white colonists-to Native Americans, the elites crossed a line and non-elite anger boiled over. A call for the annihilation of all Indians in Virginia united different non-elite white factions and molded them in widespread social rebellion.

    The Divided Dominionplaces Indian policy at the heart of Bacon's Rebellion, revealing the complex mix of social, cultural, and racial forces that collided in Virginia in 1676. This new analysis will interest students and scholars of colonial and Native American history.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-308-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Maps
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  6. Introduction: A Tale of Two Uprisings
    (pp. 1-17)

    In January 1674, Roger Delke was incarcerated in Surry County, Virginia, for his participation in a December 1673 meeting at the Lawne’s Creek Parish church in which he and thirteen other Surry County residents had discussed a plan to encourage their neighbors to resist paying a recently enacted tax levy. The available evidence suggests that the fourteen conspirators were certain that their fellow Virginians would rise up beside them if the government attempted to stop them. Furthermore, they were prepared for a violent uprising should that occur. According to his jailors, Delke stated as much: “It is apparent that the...

  7. 1 Being All Friends and Forever Powhatans: The Early Anglo-Powhatan Relationship at Jamestown
    (pp. 19-44)

    In 1570 a group of Spanish Jesuits attempted to establish a mission among the Algonquian-speaking peoples of Tsenacommacah in the area now referred to as the Virginia coastal plain.¹ An Algonquian captured nearly ten years before by other Spanish invaders had guided them to the area. The man’s Algonquian name is lost to us, but his captors renamed him Don Luis. Don Luis had spent most of the previous decade living as a servant in the households of many of the most important military and spiritual leaders of the Spanish Empire, in places such as Madrid, Havana, and Mexico City....

  8. 2 Hammerers and Rough Masons to Prepare Them: The First Anglo-Powhatan War, 1609–14
    (pp. 45-62)

    The events of the three Anglo-Powhatan Wars fought between 1609 and 1646 represent a key moment in the social relations of seventeenth-century Virginia. At times, the nearly forty years of intermittent warfare between Virginians and the Powhatan chiefdom interrupted much of the colony’s social development, but these periodic interruptions ultimately exacerbated many of the social tensions that gave rise to Bacon’s Rebellion.¹ During this period, the Native peoples of Virginia nearly destroyed the entire operation. The anxiety and hatred their resistance to English colonialism produced in the minds of English colonists became a very powerful weapon that many of Virginia’s...

  9. 3 Subduing the Indians and Advancing the Interests of the Planters: The Second Anglo-Powhatan War, the Tobacco Boom, and the Rise of the Tobacco Elite, 1614–32
    (pp. 63-100)

    In late 1622, approximately six months after a devastating surprise attack by the Powhatan chiefdom, Nathaniel Butler, an Englishmen sent to report on Virginia’s progress, summed up the colony’s situation thus:¹ “Unless the confusions and private ends of some of the Company here . . . be redressed with speed by some divine and supreme hand that instead of a Plantation it will shortly get the name of a slaughter house and so justly become both odious to ourselves & contemptible to all the world.”²

    Despite the end of the martial law regime of the previous decade and the burgeoning...

  10. 4 If You Did but See Me You Would Weep: Expectation versus Reality in the Lives of Virginia Immigrants, 1609–40
    (pp. 101-120)

    In 1620 the Virginia Council issued “A Declaration of the State of the Colony and Affairs in Virginia.” The pamphlet painted an image of Virginia as a sort of new promised land flowing with milk, honey, and opportunity for all:

    The Country is rich, spacious, and well watered; temperate as for the Climate; very healthful after men are a little accustomed to it; abounding with all Gods natural blessings: The Land replenished with the goodliest Woods in the world, and those full of Deer, and other Beasts of sustenance: The Seas and Rivers . . . full of excellent Fish,...

  11. 5 The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: The Rise and Decline of Sir William Berkeley’s Golden Age, 1642–74
    (pp. 121-147)

    In March 1642 Sir William Berkeley, a playwright, favorite courtier of Charles I, and staunch supporter of the king in his growing dispute with Parliament, arrived in Virginia with a commission appointing him the colony’s governor and captain general. The situation he entered was in many ways unlike that any of his predecessors faced. First, unlike Sir George Yeardley or Sir John Harvey, who had been elevated to the gentry during their lifetimes, Sir William hailed from an ancient aristocratic family with ties to the royal court of Elizabeth I, among others.¹ Having served as a Gentleman of the Privy...

  12. 6 “To Ruin and Extirpate All Indians in General”: The Rebellion of Nathaniel Bacon
    (pp. 149-176)

    Nathaniel Bacon’s 1676 rebellion against Governor William Berkeley and the rest of the Virginia government remains one of the most important events of the seventeenth-century Atlantic world. Its role in hardening racial identity, as well as reaffirming the masculinity of white Virginians, has been ably documented, but Bacon’s Rebellion was not the only challenge to elite authority in Virginia during the second half of the seventeenth century.¹ Yet none of the other plots generated a full-scale social rebellion resembling Bacon’s in 1676. While these plots originated from the same social conflicts that later fed Bacon’s Rebellion, they lacked one critical...

  13. Epilogue: White Unity and Indian Survival
    (pp. 177-186)

    Almost thirty years after Bacon’s Rebellion, Robert Beverley penned hisHistory of the Present State of Virginia.Beverley’s description of the history and condition of the colony, published nearly 100 years after its founding, reveals the extent to which Bacon’s Rebellion had dramatically altered Virginia society. A passage describing the role of local county militias demonstrates the most noteworthy of these changes. According to Beverley, “Instead of the soldiers they formerly kept constantly in forts, and of the others after them by the name of rangers, to scour the frontiers clear of the Indian enemy, they have by law appointed...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 187-200)
  15. Index
    (pp. 201-208)