The Beginning of Progress and Conclusion of Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia in the Years 1675 & 1676
by Thomas Matthew
|The Beginning of Progress and Conclusion of Bacon's Rebellion|
at the College of William & Mary.
|Published||: Unpublished manuscript copy|
Thomas Matthew, a 17th-century Potomac River planer-merchant, authored The Beginning of Progress and Conclusion of Bacon's Rebellion in the Years 1675 & 1676, a firsthand manuscript detailing interactions, encounters, and observations that transpired during Bacon's Rebellion. The roots of Bacon's Rebellion trace back to Matthew's strained relationship with Algonquian-speaking Doeg Indians settled in the Potomac River Valley. These tense relations escalated into physical violence as Matthew and several English neighbors harmed and killed Native Americans attempting to make off with livestock on the Matthew farm. This flair up served stirred numerous schisms within the Virginia House of Burgesses, most notably between incumbent Governor Sir William Berkeley, and Nathaniel Bacon, a member of the Governor's Council. Berkely and Bacon's dissent over how to properly bring this controversy to a peaceful conclusion served as the primary driver behind Bacon's Rebellion, a foreshadowing of broader colonial frustration with the British Crown's appointed political officials.
Matthew addressed his manuscript of The Beginning of Progress and Conclusion of Bacon's Rebellion' in the Years 1675 & 1676 to Robert Harley, Queen Anne's Secretary of State. While the author signed his name "T.M.," Matthew claims to reside in Northumberland County and possess a plantation within Virginia's Stafford County. Matthew later represented this property while serving on the House of Burgesses, allowing scholars and historians greater comfort in affirming Matthews as the manuscript's author.