Bacon’s Rebellion in the Age of Trump

Bacon's

We covered Bacon’s Rebellion yesterday in my U.S. survey class.  Like last year, the subject seems more relevant than ever.  I wrote this piece a few months ago at The Panorama:

In Spring 2017, I gave a lecture to my history students about a man of privilege, wealth, and power who took up the cause of a growing band of disgruntled, poor, fearful, white Americans. These Americans believed that the government was not listening to their concerns. They were angry about their lack of opportunity and political representation. They felt threatened by their encounters with people from another race and culture. The man of privilege heard their cry and led them in a rebellion that temporarily drove the ruling class from power. To the extent that some of the ruling class owned land near major rivers, it might even be fair to say that this rebellion was an attempt to “drain the swamp.”

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One thought on “Bacon’s Rebellion in the Age of Trump

  1. Professor Fea – another excellent article – thank you.
    My students and I have also had a few “Trumpian” moments this term, mostly in my American Indian History class. It did not occur when we covered Bacon’s Rebellion as primarily an anti-Indian war. It happened as a consequence of Trump’s Pocahontas insults direct at Senator Warren during a White House ceremony supposedly honoring the few remaining Navajo Code-Talkers from WW II. As you described your Bacon’s Rebellion class, never were my students as galvanized with the “true” story of Pocahontas, versus both the John Smith misrepresentations and the Disney fantasy. In addition, the subject of Cherokee heritage or “blood quantum” arose, along with tribal membership and federal recognition policies, plus the portrait of Andrew Jackson prominently displayed at the White House observance, which launched us into Indian Removal policy and the Trails of Tears ahead of when they were scheduled in our syllabus. Many “teachable moments,” in which my students and I avoided talking about Trump directly, but of course his “make America great, again” slogan was dripping with irony given the fact that U.S. presidents from Washington to Trump have failed America’s Native peoples.

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