Sir Thomas Grantham and Bacon’s Rebellion


Today I’m reading Sir Thomas Grantham’s account of his role in Bacon’s Rebellion and how he got the rebels to surrender to Virginia Governor William Berkeley. The introduction described Berkeley as “uncompromising.”

Virginia groaned beneath the accumulated oppressions of Charles the Second and his insatiate minions. The profligate monarch found a fitting viceroy in the choleric and uncompromising Berkeley, who gives infamous testimony to his own character in his memorable reply to an inquiry of the English Council: “I thank God there are no free-schools, nor printing, and I hope we shall not have these three hundred years; for learning has brought disobedience into the world, and printing has divulged them and libels against the best government. God keep us from both!”

Governor Berkeley sounds a lot like some politicians today. Berkeley commissioned Sir Thomas Grantham to intercede in Bacon’s Rebellion on Virginia’s behalf. It was America’s first rebellion by colonists. Grantham took advantage of Nathaniel Bacon’s death to quickly convince rebel leaders they’d be treated with mercy, and they surrendered. Once in the custody of Governor Berkeley, the rebels were hung.