Brief Descriptions From the Index of the Presidential Papers 1789-1897 Letter B: bac-ban




Bacon's Rebellion

An insurrection in 1676 of the people of Virginia, led by Nathaniel Bacon. In 1673 the Crown assigned the entire Province of Virginia for 31 years to Lords Arlington and Culpeper, with power to collect for their own use all quit rents, escheats, and duties; to name sheriffs and other officers; to make new counties, and in general to exercise the authority of absolute rulers. Sir William Berkeley, the English governor of the Colony, was very unpopular on account of his opposition to free education and a free press. He seemed to think that the function of a governor was to get as much as possible from the colonists for himself and his masters at the least possible cost. He also proved inefficient in protecting the settlers against the ravages of the Indians. He laid heavy taxes upon the people and restricted the franchise. An Indian uprising having occurred in the State, a force of 500 men gathered to march against them. Berkeley ordered them to disband. The colonists chose Bacon, who was a popular lawyer, as their leader, and despite the refusal of the governor to commission him, he led his men against and defeated the Indians. Berkeley thereupon proclaimed Bacon a rebel, not-withstanding which the people chose him a member of the new assembly. On his way to Jamestown he was arrested and tried by the governor and his council, but was released on parole and left the capital. He soon returned with 600 men and again demanded a commission, which was granted. While Bacon was successfully engaged in another campaign against the Indians Berkeley again proclaimed him a rebel and a traitor. Bacon then burned Jamestown, the governor taking refuge on an English vessel in the harbor. The rebellion was carried on in a desultory way until the death of Bacon in 1677, when it collapsed for want of a leader. The English executed 23 of the participants in this rebellion. It is notable as the first formidable resistance to colonial authority in British America. The significance of its occurrence just 100 years before Independence has often been remarked. One of Bacon's lieutenants, put to death for his part in the rebellion, was William Drummond, who had served for a few years as the first governor of North Carolina.


Literally a little ball. The term is applied to all methods of secret voting, because formerly all such votes were taken by black and white balls placed in the same box, or balls of only one color were deposited in different boxes so arranged that none but the voter could see which box received his ball. The Greeks used marked shells (ostrakon), whence the term ostracism. The Romans used tickets for secret voting as early as 139 B.C. The first use of the ballot in the United States was in the selection of a pastor by the Salem Church, July 20, 1629. During the same year it was used in ecclesiastical and municipal elections in the Netherlands, but in England the custom was not established until 1872, though secret voting was actually employed in the parliament of Scotland in cases of ostracism two centuries earlier. In 1634 it began to be used in elections for governor of Massachusetts. The constitutions of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and North Carolina, which were adopted in 1776, made voting by ballot obligatory. Some of the Southern States were slow to adopt the ballot system of voting, the viva voce method having prevailed in Kentucky local and State elections up to a late date. In Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas, and possibly other States, the constitutions require the legislatures to vote viva voce. In 1875 Congress passed a law requiring all Congressmen to be elected by ballot. In 1888 the Australian ballot system was adopted at Louisville, Ky., and in parts of Massachusetts. This method, which requires the names of all the candidates for all the offices to be placed on one ticket, has been adopted in nearly every State of the Union. The voter retires to a private box and indicates his choice by making his mark opposite a party emblem or a candidate's name. This system of voting was first proposed by Francis S. Dutton, a member of the legislature of South Australia, in 1851. Its use in the United States was first advocated in 1882 by Henry George in a pamphlet entitled "English Elections." The first bill embodying the Australian ballot system was introduced in the Michigan legislature in 1887, but failed of passage till 1889, when it was adopted to a slightly modified form.

Balls Bluff (Va.), Battle of.(1861)

In October, 1861, Gen. McClellan directed Brig. Gen. Charles P. Stone to make a demonstration toward Leesburg, Va. Stone ordered Col. Devens, of the Fifteenth Massachusetts, to cross the Potomac near Balls Bluff and attack and destroy any Confederate camps found, or to report and wait for reinforcements. Devens, with about 300 of his own regiment and 100 men of the Twentieth Massachusetts, advanced to Leesburg, but, encountering opposition, fell back to the place of crossing, and was attacked there by the Confederates Oct. 21. Col. Baker, who was a United States Senator, arriving with a California regiment and the Tammany regiment of New York, assumed command. The Union forces now numbered 1,900. At 5 o'clock p.m. Col. Baker was killed, and the Federals, after a vain attempt to cut their way through to Edwards Ferry, were given orders to retreat to the river bank and to save themselves as best they could, Many of the retreating army were drowned while swimming the river. The number of Federals lost was 894. The Confederates lost 302. Gen. Stone was arrested and kept in confinement from Feb. 9 to Aug. 16, 1862.

Bank, Manufactory

A banking scheme which originated in Massachusetts in 1740. The idea was to secure the issues by mortgage on the real estate of each subscriber to the amount of his subscription. Though opposed by a strong party, it p assed the house of representatives. The bank failed after issuing notes to the extent of 50,000.

Bank of United States vs. Halstead

An important Supreme Court case on appeal from the circuit court of Kentucky in 1825. Property, including real estate, was offered for sale for debt. The highest bid being less than three-fourths of its appraised value, the property was not sold. The Supreme Court held that it had jurisdiction in a case to which the Bank of the United States was a party, and that a law which forbade the sale of land under execution for less than three fourths of its appraised value did not apply to writs of execution issued by Federal Courts.

Bank of United States vs. Planters' Bank of Georgia

A suit brought by the Bank of the United States for payment of a promissory note which had been indorsed to it by the Planters' Bank of Georgia. The State of Georgia had stock in this bank. The action was brought against the Planters' Bank and also against the State. The Supreme Court in 1824 decided that if a State became a party to a banking or a commercial enterprise the State could be sued in the course of business, on the principle that when a government becomes a partner in any trading company it divests itself, so far as concerns the transactions of that company, of its sovereign character and takes that of a private citizen. The State, said the court through Chief Justice Marshall, is not a party__that is, an entire party__in the cause. It was also held that the circuit court had jurisdiction in such matters.


The Constitution gives Congress the power to establish uniform bankruptcy laws throughout the United States. Bankruptcy is a state of inability to pay all debts. It is also the process by which an individual may secure a discharge of his indebtedness by surrendering his property and complying with the law. Apr. 4, 1800, a bankruptcy act was passed by Congress and was repealed in December, 1803. In May, 1837, a commercial crisis occurred in the United States, causing failures to the amount of some $100,000,000. On account of the heavy losses incurred during the financial panic which ensued, another act was passed Aug. 19, 1841, and repealed in 1843. Another financial panic occurred in 1857, and most of the banks suspended specie payments. A third (the Lowell) act was passed Mar. 2, 1867, and repealed in 1878 (VII, 250). The present law was passed in 1898. During the years of our history when no national bankrupt law existed all matters relating to insolvencies have been under the control of State laws.



Website: The History
Article Name: Brief Descriptions From the Index of the Presidential Papers 1789-1897 Letter B: bac-ban
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my collection of books: A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1897 by James D. Richardson, A Representative from the State of Tennessee published by the authority of Congress 1899.
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