Bacon's Rebellion, 1676-1677: Race, Class, and Frontier Conflict in Colonial Virginia
by Verdis L. Robinson and Paul Otto
The Birth of Slavery in America.
In essence, Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676 was a conflict within the colonial Virginia gentry---the elite planters rewarded for loyalty to the established order, but in disagreement over Virginia’s governance. With a powerful elite class ever increasing their authority and landholdings, the lower classes of Anglo and Afro-Virginians became increasingly restless, difficult, and dangerous. This restlessness extended across race. Even though black and white laborers shared the same plight against the Virginia gentry, and their commiserations are evident, the backlash of Bacon's Rebellion changed that. The threat to the gentry’s power and authority in colonial Virginia warranted a redefinition of the planter class. In demonstrating that process, this game is designed to teach historical skills including critical thinking, persuasive writing, oral articulating and debate in an active-learning environment. It is also designed to take students on a historical journey in colonial Virginia and to introduce the Reacting to the Past pedagogy in preparation for longer, more complex games.
Using the Game
This game can be used on its own, or with other games. These pairings are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive or prescriptive. Bacon's Rebellion may pair well with:
You can adjust the assignments based on the desired learning outcomes of your class. This game can include traditional paper/research/thesis-driven writing and letter writing. All roles are required to give formal speeches.
Reacting Consortium members can download all game materials below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.
All students need a Gamebook, which includes resources and historical content. Members can download the Gamebook, and provide it to students for free or at cost.
VERSION 3.04. Updated 3/15/20.
The Instructor's Manual includes guidance for assigning roles, presenting historical context, assignments, activities and discussion topics, and more.
Students also need a Role Sheet, which contains biographical information, suggestions for further reading, and role-specific info or assignments.
Verdis L. Robinson
Verdis L. Robinson (he/him) is an associate of the Kettering Foundation with a focus on the democratic practices in community colleges. He has previously served as Campus Compact’s director for community college engagement and the national director for The Democracy Commitment. Prior to his national leadership, Verdis served as a tenured professor of history and African American studies at Monroe Community College where he employed RTTP in all of his history survey courses. Verdis has also served as fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Faculty Seminar on Citizenship and the American and Global Polity, and a fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Faculty Seminar on Rethinking Black Freedom Studies: The Jim Crow North and West.
Robinson holds a B.M. in Voice Performance from Boston University, a B.S. cum laude and M.A. in History from SUNY College at Brockport, and an M.A. in African-American Studies from SUNY University at Buffalo. He is currently the Lenora Montgomery Scholar at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.
Reacting and Related Titles
Paul Otto (he/him) is a member of the faculty at George Fox University where he serves as Professor of History, Faculty Fellow in the university’s honors program, and campus coordinator for role-immersion pedagogy. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Humanities Center.
His research focuses on European–Native American relations in early America and teaches courses on the history of early America, African-Americans, Latin America, and South Africa. He has published several articles, edited two books, and wrote The Dutch-Munsee Encounter in America: The Struggle for Sovereignty in the Hudson Valley, which won the Hendricks Award for the best volume in colonial Dutch studies. He is also writing three other Reacting-style games set in South African history.
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