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past two years in the Colony of Virginia had been troubling. Indians were
attacking settlements on the western frontier after seizing property
promised as payment from a farmer.
The English retaliated with violence, and the raiding parties on both
sides escalated. Governor William Berkeley had proposed a system of forts
to placate the Indians under gradual removal, but farmers felt the plan
would be as costly as it was ineffectual. Berkeley, who had long favored
his own inner circle in government affairs, decided finally to recall the
House of Burgesses to deal with the matter.
"Self-representation" as apparently envisioned here
might have opened the door to American members sitting in Parliament, at
least in Commons and perhaps later, if London chose to grant titles to
prominent figures such as, say, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, in
the Lords as well. Southern colonies suvch as Virginia would have been
receptive to such ideas, sinced they hads replicated the feudal system in
many ways. Independence seems all but inevitable, given western expansion,
since otherwise eventually the American tail would be wagging the British
dog, But--"Dixieland"? Surely a better name would be devised: Columbia,
perhaps. There might, however, be a dominion (later a state or province)
of Dixon within this entity. " - reader's comments
Burgesses gave great reforms, they did not directly address the issue, so
wealthy planter Nathaniel Bacon marched to Jamestown with 500 followers
and demanded to be commissioned as leader of a militia to destroy the
Indian menace. He challenged Berkeley to give him a commission at gunpoint
from his men, but the governor merely bared his breast and challenged
Bacon to fire himself. Bacon repeated the action with the Burgesses, and
they quickly gave him the commission.
After publishing the "Declaration of the People of Virginia" criticizing
Berkeley's faulty government, Bacon and his men, some of whom were
rebelling slaves and indentured servants, spent months fighting Indians,
many of whom were peaceful and, in fact, allies of the English. Upon their
return to Jamestown, many called for a revolution to remove Berkeley (who
had fled across the river), but Bacon stopped them. His thirst for blood
had been quenched, and he decided that his place was to ensure that the
wrongs in the Declaration were made right. Working with the Burgesses,
Bacon put forth the bill that the governor would now be elected by the
colony as well as an ambassador to communicate with Parliament and the
Company in London. Though Bacon would die of dysentery in October, his
ideas would follow after him. Berkeley returned, intending on putting down
a rebellion, but instead only finding landowners and freedmen looking for
Berkeley was returned to London along with John Ingram, who would serve as
representative from the colony. While Parliament disagreed with
self-representation of the colony, the Virginia Company saw great
potential in men striving for success (fighting Indians themselves, for
example, instead of using English dividends to pay soldiers), and, after
much debate and back-room deals, the agreement was made.
"I don\'t know that this would have changed the
timeline that much." - reader's comment
Virginia continued to expand
and profit over the next century. Though Parliament enacted several laws
over trade issues, political matters were largely reviewed by the
colonists, who were given a requested amount of taxes by their
representative and left to themselves to produce it. Other North American
colonies followed in self-representation such as Maryland, Massachusetts,
Bermuda, and Pennsylvania. The experiment was considered proven in the
1770s when the colonies were asked to aid in Britain's tremendous national
debt from the Seven Years' War, which they did (though some
"I think there already is a Columbia... maybe
British Columbia? \"South America\" would be another taken possibility.
But, \"land\" worked for \"Queensland\", and \"Dixie\" is a word held in
high esteem in certain parts of the world, so who knows? Otherwise, I\'d
go with New West Caledonia." - author's response
colonists, such as
the fiery Samuel Adams were arrested on suspicions of treason). Ideals of
self-representation also came to Europe in several waves of revolt. They
did not translate well in the bloody and ultimately pointless French
Revolution, though many tyrants became controlled by constitutions.
While the colonies and Britain would often disagree with the violent
treatment of natives, it would be another matter that would eventually
drive them apart: slavery. Parliament ended slavery in the British Empire
in 1833, and many American colonies saw it as a stomping of colonies'
rights. Many of the Upper Canadian and New England colonies remained
loyal, but the South and West rose up under General Andrew Jackson who had
established himself as an Indian Fighter. Other rebellions went up in the
Caribbean, and were quickly put down by the Navy before beginning the
blockade that would choke out the rebel colonies. After six bloody years
and the death of Jackson at New Orleans, the rebellion would come to an
end in 1840.
America would continue to be an important part of the British Empire,
serving with distinction in its wars against Mexico and Spain.
Independence would creep up routinely in the collective mind of the
Americans, which gained Dominion status in 1868 after being broken into
New England, Dixieland, and the Western United Provinces of America. After
the Second World War, these lands would gain independence but remain in
the powerful bloc of the British Commonwealth.