Nathaniel Bacon, commonly called the Virginia rebel, born in London about 1630, died in January, 1677. He emigrated to Virginia in 1675, during the administration of Sir William Berkeley. His abilities as a lawyer, his wealth and popular deportment, gave him great influence. Almost immediately after his arrival he was chosen a member of the governor's council. At that time the colony was distracted by discontents. Gov. Berkeley was highly unpopular on account of his inefficiency in protecting the settlers from Indian ravages, his disposition to restrict the franchise, and the high rate of taxes. When the people took arms ostensibly to repel the savages, but in reality to force the authorities to do their duty, Bacon became the leader of the movement in July, 1676. Berkeley was compelled to make concessions, dismantle the forts, dissolve the old assembly, and issue writs for a new election. But he did not keep faith with the insurgents, and a desultory civil war broke out, in the course of which Jamestown, the capital of the colony, was burned to the ground. In the end the governor was obliged to seek shelter in some English vessels lying in James river, but before Bacon could complete his plans in respect to a new government he died of a disease contracted during one of his Indian campaigns.
Soon after his death the rebellion itself was extinguished.