Compare the ways in which two of the following reflected tensions in colonial society



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EXAMPLE ESSAY, FRQ #1

Compare the ways in which TWO of the following reflected tensions in colonial society.

During the settlement and development of North America, several rebellious events surfaced that reflected the tensions of colonial society. In the late seventeenth century, Bacon’s Rebellion and the Pueblo Revolt occurred, both exposing friction in colonial society. Despite the great geographic gap between the two events, the two events shared many similarities in the ways in which they showcased tensions in the colonies; however, the details concerning the ways in which such tensions were exposed do differ. Both events were revolts against authority by subordinate peoples although the backgrounds of people in each situation differ. In addition, both occurrences were a response to some sort of suppression of the lower classes, but the details of the suppression experienced are different in each situation. Finally, both events were thought to have precipitated from a single leader who coordinated smoldering resentments into rebellious acts.

First, both events were actions of revolt against those who govern by those who are governed. In this way, the revolts showcase the tensions between different classes. However, the backgrounds of the different classes in each situation were different. In the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Pueblo Native Americans revolted against their Spanish conquers, displaying the tensions between the ruling class and the subordinate class. Likewise, in Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, unruly frontiersmen rebelled against the wealthy governor William Berkeley, showing friction between impoverished frontiersmen and the wealthy, plantation-owning gentry. In both instances, the lower class initiated the uprisings because of their discontent with those who governed them. It is important to note, though, that in the Pueblo Revolt the tensions were between people indigenous to the land and those who came to colonize the land whereas in Bacon’s Rebellion the tensions were mostly between colonists. Both events were struggles between those who govern and their subordinates, but the backgrounds and precursors to these instances of friction differed.

Also, both events reflected colonial tension due to the fact that they arose as a response to the suppression of the lower class. Those who participated in the Pueblo Revolt felt that their Spanish superiors had suppressed them both culturally and religiously. The Spanish had forced Christianity among the Indians and had sought to strip the natives of their indigenous religion. The removal of Pueblo religion also suppressed Pueblo culture because the Pueblos believed that their religion governed all aspects of their life and wellbeing, including the success of things like agriculture. Therefore, the Pueblo revolt came about as a response to such suppression. Likewise, Bacon’s Rebellion occurred because a group of landless frontiersmen felt that the colonial government, namely Governor Berkeley of Virginia, had squashed their possibilities of success on the frontier by continuing friendly policies and trade with the Indians. In this way, the frontiersmen felt colonial government had suppressed their goal of colonial expansion. The revolting peoples were suppressed in different ways, but in both instances suppression felt by the lower class drove the revolts.



Finally, both Bacon’s Rebellion and the Pueblo Revolt exposed tensions in colonial society through leaders who singlehandedly created large-scale rebellions out of smoldering sentiments against colonial governance. At the roots of both events, there was a sense of fiery resentment towards those in positions of power. Both events seemed to require one major leader to throw kerosene on already burning passions, so as to transform ill sentiment into fierce, coordinated efforts of revolt. Some historians believe that Native American Leader Pope was the driving force behind the Pueblo Revolt as he connected several factions of Natives for the purposed of the revolt. In Bacon’s Rebellion, Nathaniel Bacon acted as the spearhead and impetus for revolt. The leaders of both movements seemed to have ignited smoldering resentments that had long been present in the colonial settlements. Both Pope and Nathaniel Bacon represented how underlying friction in the colonies had the potential to become major revolts if placed in the hands of a convinced leader. Their leadership also displays how factions of people sharing similar resentments in the colonies were often not unified, but if they were to become unified they would be extremely potent.

Bacon’s Rebellion and the Pueblo Revolt were both events that reflected tension in the colonies. They both showed how tension was often underlying and not unified but could be aroused by the impetus of a momentous leader. In addition, both events exposed the different forms of suppression felt by the lower class due to the friction between those with power and those subordinate to such power.


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