In Carolina, as well as in the other British colonies in America, the greatest part of gold and silver current was foreign coin, and the different assemblies settled their value from time to time, by laws peculiar to each province. To remedy the inconveniences arising from the different rates at which the same species of foreign coin did pass in the several colonies and plantations, Queen Anne, in the sixth year of her reign, had thought fit, by her royal proclamation, to settle and ascertain the current rate of foreign coin in all her colonies. The standard at which currency was fixed by this proclamation, was at an hundred and thirty-three pounds, six shillings and eight-pence per cent.; but this regulation, however convenient and advantageous to trade, was afterwards little regarded in these provinces, and the confusion of current money continued and prevailed.
After the emission of this great quantity of bank-bills in Carolina, and speedy rise of the price of produce in consequence of it, the merchants of London, to whom the colony stood indebted, judging it prejudicial to trade, complained of it to the Proprietors. They perceived that the trade of the country, by this means, would be carried on entirely without silver or gold; and although their factors in Carolina might raise the price of British commodities and manufactures, equal to the advanced price of the produce, yet it might be for their interest sometimes to take gold and silver rather than produce in return for their British goods. They considered the issuing of such bank-notes as a violation of the laws of England, and prevailed on the Proprietors to write Governor Craven a letter to the following effect: "We have heard complaints from several hands of an act you have passed, called the Bank Act. We do recommend to you to consider of some expedient for preventing the mischievous consequences of that act, lest, upon further complaints, we be forced to repeal it. The act is exclaimed against by our London merchants as injurious to trade, as an infringement and violation of the laws of Great Britain, and made almost in opposition to the act of the sixth of Queen Anne. Therefore we expect, for preventing such complaints for the future, that you will endeavour, as much as in you lies, to reduce that paper credit, pretended to be established in your bank act, and that you will strictly put in execution the aforesaid act of Queen Anne."
[Sidenote] Trade infested by pirates.
As the trade of the colony had of late years considerably increased, and was almost entirely carried on in British ships, its protection was an object which demanded the attention either of the Proprietors or the British administration. The war in Europe had engrossed the care of the latter, and the former were either unable or unwilling to bear the expence of its protection. They had leased their property in the Bahama islands to a company of merchants, which turning out to little account; the Island of Providence became a receptacle for vagabonds and villains of all nations. From this place of rendezvous a crew of desperate pirates had been accustomed to push out to sea, and, in defiance of the laws of nations, to obstruct navigation. The trade of Carolina and that of the West Indies suffered greatly from their depredations. For five years after this period those lawless robbers reigned as the masters of the Gulph of Florida, plundering and taking ships of every nation. North Carolina, by the conquest of its maritime tribes of Indians, had also become a refuge for those rogues, who carried their prizes into Cape Fear river, or Providence, as best suited their convenience or interest. Their success induced bold and rapacious spirits to join them, and in time they became so formidable, that no inconsiderable force was requisite to suppress them.
[Sidenote] Several English statutes adopted.
After a long and expensive war, a treaty of peace and commerce was concluded between Britain, France and Spain in Europe; and orders were sent to all the colonies to desist from acts of hostility. Governor Craven, deeply interested in the prosperity of Carolina, now turned his attention to improve the precious blessings of peace, and to diffuse a spirit of industry and agriculture throughout the settlement. The lands in Granville county were found upon trial rich and fertile, and the planters were encouraged to improve them. Accordingly a number of plantations were settled in the neighbourhood of Indian nations, with whom the Governor studied to cultivate a friendly correspondence. For the purposes of trade some men took up their residence in their towns, and furnished them with clothes, arms, and ammunition, in exchange for their furs and deer-skins. An agent was appointed to superintend the affairs of Indian tribes, and to conciliate by all possible means their friendship and esteem. Several interior regulations, conducive to the peace and prosperity of the colony, were also established. The colonists, as an eminent writer observes, in general carry with them so much of the English law as is applicable to their local circumstances and situation; such as, the general rules of inheritance, and of protection from personal injuries. What may be proper to be admitted, and what are necessary to be rejected, is judged and determined, in the first instance, by the provincial judicature, then subject to the approbation or disapprobation of the Proprietors; and so far of the British parliament, that nothing may be attempted by them derogatory to the sovereignty and supreme jurisdiction of the mother country. At this time Governor Craven obtained the assent of the General Assembly, to make several English statutes of the same force in Carolina as if they had been enacted in it. The people regarded him as a wise and indulgent parent, and wished to copy the spirit of their laws from the English original, although they received their obligation and authoritative force from their being the laws of the colony.
About this time Nicholas Trott, the Chief Justice of the colony, returned from England, where he had been for some time engaged in the settlement of private affairs. During his stay in Britain he had engrossed the favour of the Proprietors, who finding him to be a man of great abilities, professed a high respect for him, and afterwards desired his assistance and advice in every case respecting the future management of their colony. They advanced his salary to one hundred pounds a-year, and he agreed to carry on a regular correspondence with their secretary, and to give them the best intelligence with respect to their provincial affairs. Trott having thus secured the confidence of the Proprietors in England, soon after he came to Carolina, began to plume himself on his advantageous circumstances, and to treat his former friends in the colony with that pride and insolence too common to most men in office and power. On the other hand, those men, offended at his arrogance, watched his conduct with an envious and malignant eye, and seemed to desire nothing more than to humble his pride and destroy his influence. To this fatal difference may be ascribed several future jealousies and disturbances with which the colonists were harassed, and which terminated in the total subversion of the proprietary government.
After the death of Queen Anne, George, Elector of Hanover, ascended the British throne, and was crowned on the 12th of October, 1714. This event was far from giving general satisfaction to the British nation. A considerable party of the principal landholders favoured the pretensions of the house of Stewart, but were so divided in their councils and schemes, that they lost all influence and weight. Having no head, they were unable to turn the balance against the party in the other scale, who, by degrees, engrossed the royal favour, and all offices of power and trust in the kingdom. By this difference, however, a spirit of civil discord and sedition was excited in the nation, and the Chevalier, encouraged by it, and flattered with the hopes of assistance from France, formed a project of snatching the scepter by force of arms from the family of Hanover. For this purpose, a party in Scotland had recourse to arms, but meeting with little assistance from the pretended friends of the cause in England, the insurrection was soon quelled, and their rash design totally defeated.
[Sidenote] A design formed for purchasing all charters and proprietary governments.
During the former reign the Lord Commissioners of trade and plantations, from the contentions that prevailed in some of the colonies, had taken occasion to look more narrowly than formerly they used to do, into the state of proprietary governments in America, in order to form a plan for purchasing and uniting them more closely to the crown. They easily perceived the advantage of beginning this negotiation as soon as possible, for the sooner the purchase was made, the earlier it would be obtained. Accordingly, they wrote to the Proprietors of each colony, acquainting them, it was her Majesty's pleasure and command, that all governors of her foreign plantations do transmit to them frequent and full information of the state of their respective colonies, as well in respect to the administration of government and justice, as to their progress in trade and improvements. The Queen, though no friend to non-conformists, had also stretched out a hand of relief to the distressed Dissenters of Carolina, and publicly disapproved of some oppressive acts to which they had been subjected. This served to encourage a spirit of murmur and discontent among the Carolineans at the proprietary government, and to give their eyes a direction to the crown at every future period, when they thought themselves aggrieved under it.
[Sidenote] The Yamassees conspire the destruction of the colony.
During the same year in which the attention of Britain was occupied by a civil broil, the colony of Carolina was visited with a terrible Indian war, which threatened its total extirpation. The numerous and powerful tribe of Indians called Yamassees, probably at the instigation of the Spaniards at Augustine, were the most active in promoting this conspiracy against the settlement, though every tribe around was more or less concerned in it. The Yamassees possessed a large territory lying backwards from Port-royal Island, on the north-east side of Savanna river, which to this day is called Indian Land. By the Carolineans this tribe had long been esteemed as friends and allies, who had admitted a number of traders into their towns, and several times assisted the settlers in their war-like enterprizes. Of all other Indians they were believed to habour in their minds the most inveterate and irreconcilable enmity to Spaniards. For many years they had been accustomed to make incursions into the Spanish territories, and to wage war with the Indians within their bounds. In their return from those southern expeditions, it had been a common practice with them to lurk in the woods round Augustine, until they surprized some Spaniard, and brought him prisoner home to their towns. On the bodies of these unfortunate prisoners they were accustomed to exercise the most wanton barbarities; sometimes cutting them to pieces slowly, joint by joint, with knives and tomahawks; at other times burying them up to the neck under ground, then standing at a distance and marking at their heads with their pointed arrows; and, at other times, binding them to a tree, and piercing the tenderest parts of their naked bodies with sharp-pointed sticks of burning wood, which last, because the most painful and excruciating method of torture, was the most common among them.
To prevent such horrid cruelties from being committed on the bodies of human creatures, the legislature of Carolina passed a law, offering a reward of five pounds for every Spanish prisoner these Indians should bring alive to Charlestown; which law, though it evidently proceeded from motives of humanity, yet, in the event, it proved very inconsistent with good policy: for, in consequence of this act, the Yamassees brought several Spaniards, at different times, to Charlestown, where they claimed the reward for their prisoners, and delivered them up to the governor. Charles Craven, who was no less distinguished for humanity than valour, used to send back such prisoners to Augustine, charging the Spanish government with the expences of their passage and the reward to the Yamassees. But this humane practice, while it displayed English greatness of mind, served also to begin an intercourse, which will exhibit to us a sad specimen of Spanish honour and gratitude.
For twelve months before the war broke out, the traders among the Yamassees observed that their chief warriors went frequently to Augustine, and returned loaded with presents; but were not apprehensive of any ill consequence from such generosity. John Fraser, an honest Scotch Highlander, who lived among the Yamassees, and traded with them, had often heard these warriors tell with what kindness they had been treated at Augustine. One had received a hat, another a jacket, and a third a coat, all trimmed with silver lace. Some got hatchets, others great knives, and almost all of them guns and ammunition, to prepare them for striking some great and important blow. These warriors told Mr. Fraser, that they had dined with the governor at Augustine, and washed his face, (a ceremony used by Indians as a token of friendship), and that now the Spanish governor was their king, and not the Governor of Carolina. Still, however, the Carolineans remained secure, and, having such confidence in the Indians, dreaded no ill consequences from this new intercourse and uncommon kindness. They knew the Yamassees antipathy to the Spaniards, their fondness for presents, but could suspect no mischievous plot meditated against the settlement by friends and allies. They were not ignorant that the subjects of both England and Spain always endeavoured for the sake of peace, to court the friendship of Indian nations, who were such powerful and dangerous enemies. Each competitor knew their passion for war, and how heavy their vengeance, wherever it pointed, generally fell, and therefore good policy dictated the necessity of turning the edge of their fierce and bloody temper against their neighbours, in order to save themselves.
It was a common thing for the traders who resided among these savages to single out a particular warrior of influence and authority among them, and to court his favour with trifling presents and constant civility. Among the Yamassees one named Sanute was Fraser's friend, who, with his fellow-warriors, had also been at Florida, and shared of the Spaniards insidious liberality. During his absence Mr. Fraser had married a fine woman; and Sanute, who had a great regard for him, after his return home came to his house, and brought along with him some sweet herbs, to show the lady a mark of respect, agreeable to customs of Indian nations. So soon as he entered the habitation of his friend, he called for a bason of water, in which he bruised the herbs, and first washed Mrs. Fraser's face and hands, and then, clapping his own hands upon his breast, told her, that, for the future, he would communicate to her all he knew in his heart. She, in return, thanked him, and made him some present. Accordingly, about nine days before hostilities commenced, Sanute came to Mrs. Fraser's house, and told her, that the English were all wicked heretics, and would go to hell, and that the Yamassees would also follow them, if they suffered them to live in their country; that now the governor Augustine was their king; that there would be a terrible war with the English, and they only waited for the bloody stick to be returned from the Creeks before they began it. He told them, that the Yamassees, the Creeks, the Cherokees, and many other nations, together with the Spaniards, were all to engage in it; and advised them to fly to Charlestown with all they had in the greatest haste, and if their own pettiauger was not large enough to carry them, he would lend them his canoe. Fraser, not a little astonished at the news, asked him, how the Spaniards could go to war with the Carolineans, while at peace with Great Britain? To which Sanute replied, the Spanish governor told him that there would soon be a war again with the English, and that while they attacked the Carolineans by land, he would send to Spain for a fleet of ships to block up the harbour, so that not a man or woman of them should escape. Fraser asked him, how long it might be since they had formed this horrid design? Sanute answered, Do not you remember about twelve months ago that Ishiagaska, one of our chief warriors, with four more Indians, went to the Creeks. Fraser said, he remembered it well. Then it was, said Sanute, he carried with him a Spanish talk for destroying all the English inhabitants of the province; and, laying his hand upon his heart, declared he had told them all he knew, and repeated his advice to them to fly with all expedition: but, if they were determined to stay and run all hazards, he concluded by assuring them, that, to prevent torture, he would claim the privilege of performing the last friendly office to them, which was to kill them with his own hands. Fraser still entertained some doubts, but his wife being terrified, he resolved at all events to get out of the way, and accordingly, without delay, put his wife, his child, and most valuable effects, into his boat, and made his escape to Charlestown.
[Sidenote] The Yamassee war.
As the time drew nigh in which this dark plot was to be put in execution, Captain Nairn, agent for Indian affairs, and many traders, resided at Pocotaligo, the largest town belonging to the Yamassees. Mr. Fraser, probably either discrediting what he had heard, or from the hurry and confusion which the alarm occasioned, unfortunately had not taken time to communicate the intelligence he had received to his friends, who remained in a state of false security in the midst of their enemies. The case of the scattered settlers on the frontiers was equally lamentable, who were living under no suspicions of danger. However, on the day before the Yamassees began their bloody operations, Captain Nairn and some of the traders observing an uncommon gloom on their savage countenances, and apparently great agitations of spirit, which to them prognosticated approaching mischief, went to their chief men, begging to know the cause of their uneasiness, and promising, if any injury had been done them, to give them satisfaction. The chiefs replied, they had no complaints to make against any one, but intended to go a-hunting early the next morning. Captain Nairn accordingly went to sleep, and the traders retired to their huts, and passed the night in seeming friendship and tranquillity. But next morning, about the break of day, being the 15th day of April, 1715, all were alarmed with the cries of war. The leaders were all out under arms, calling upon their followers, and proclaiming aloud designs of vengeance. The young men, burning with fury and passion, flew to their arms, and, in a few hours, massacred above ninety persons in Pocotaligo town and the neighbouring plantations; and many more must have fallen a sacrifice on Port-royal Island, had they not providentially been warned of their danger. Mr. Burrows, a captain of the militia, after receiving two wounds, by swimming one mile and running ten, escaped to Port-royal and alarmed the town. A vessel happening fortunately to be in the harbour, the inhabitants in great hurry repaired on board, and sailed for Charlestown; only a few families of planters on that island, not having timely notice, fell into their barbarous hands, some of whom they murdered, and others they made prisoners of war.
While the Yamassees, with whom the Creeks and Apallachians had joined, were advancing against the southern frontiers, and spreading desolation and slaughter through the province; the colonists on the northern borders also found the Indians down among the settlements in formidable parties. The Carolineans had foolishly entertained hopes of the friendship of the Congarees, the Catawbas and Cherokees; but they soon found that they had also joined in the conspiracy, and declared for war. It was computed that the southern division of the enemy consisted of above six thousand bowmen, and the northern of between six hundred and a thousand. Indeed every Indian tribe, from Florida to Cape Fear river, had joined in this confederacy for the destruction of the settlement. The planters scattered here and there had no time to gather together in a body, sufficiently strong to withstand such numbers; but each consulting his own safety, and that of his helpless family, in great hurry and consternation fled to the capital. Every one who came in brought the Governor different accounts of the number and strength of the savages, insomuch that even the inhabitants of Charlestown were doubtful of their safety and entertained the most discouraging apprehensions of their inability to repel a force so great and formidable. In the muster-roll there were no more than one thousand two hundred men fit to bear arms, but as the town had several forts into which the inhabitants might retreat, the Governor, with this small force, resolved to march into the woods against the enemy. He proclaimed the martial law, and laid an embargo on all ships, to prevent either men or provisions from leaving the country. He obtained an act of assembly, impowering him to impress men, and seize arms, ammunition, and stores, wherever they were to be found, to arm such trusty negroes as might be serviceable at a juncture so critical, and to prosecute the war with the utmost vigour. Agents were sent to Virginia and England, to solicit assistance; bills were stamped for the payment of the army, and other necessary expences; Robert Daniel was appointed deputy-governor in town, and Charles Craven, at the head of the militia, marched to the country against the largest body of savages.
In the mean time, the Indians on the northern quarter had made an inroad as far as a plantation belonging to John Hearne, about fifty miles from town, and entered his house in a seemingly peaceable and friendly manner; but afterwards pretending to be displeased with the provisions given them, murdered him and every person in it. Thomas Barker, a captain of militia, having intelligence of the approach of these Indians, collected a party, consisting of ninety horsemen, and advanced against them: but by the treachery of an Indian, whom he unluckily trusted, he was led into a dangerous ambuscade in a thicket, where a large party of Indians lay concealed on the ground. Barker having advanced into the middle of them before he was aware of his danger, the Indians sprung from their concealments, and fired upon his men on every side. The Captain and several more fell at the first onset, and the remainder in confusion were obliged to retreat. After this advantage, a party of four hundred Indians came down as far as Goose Creek. Every family there had fled to town, except in one place, where seventy white men and forty negroes had surrounded themselves with a breast-work, and resolved to remain and defend themselves in the best manner they could. When the Indians attacked them they were discouraged, and rashly agreed to terms of peace; and, having admitted the enemy within their works, this poor garrison were barbarously butchered: after which the Indians advanced still nigher to town; but at length meeting with Captain Chicken and the whole Goose Creek militia, they were repulsed, and obliged to retreat into the wilderness.
By this time the Yamassees, with their confederates, had spread destruction though the parish of St. Bartholomew, and advancing downwards as far as Stono, they burned the church at that place, together with every house on the plantations by the way. John Cochran, his wife, and four children; Mr. Bray, his wife, and two children; and six more men and women, having found some friends among them, were spared for some days; but while attempting to make their escape from them, they were retaken and put to death. Such as had no friends among them were tortured in the most shocking manner, the Indians seeming to neglect their progress towards conquest on purpose to assist in tormenting their enemies. We forbear to mention the various tortures inflicted on such as fell into their merciless fangs: none can be pleased with the relation of such horrid cruelties, but the man who, with a smile of satisfaction, can be the spectator of a Spanish auto de fe, or such savage hearts as are steeled against every emotion of humanity and compassion.
[Sidenote] The Yamassees defeated and expelled.
By this time Governor Craven, being no stranger to the ferocious tempers of his enemies, and their horrid cruelty to prisoners, was advancing against them by slow and cautious steps, always keeping the strictest guard round his army. He knew well under what advantages they sought among their native thickets, and the various wiles and stratagems they made use of in conducting their wars; and therefore was watchful above all things against sudden surprises, which might throw his followers into disorder, and defeat the end of his enterprize. The fate of the whole province depended on the success of his arms, and his men had no other alternative left but to conquer or die a painful death. As he advanced the straggling parties fled before him, until he reached Saltcatchers, where they had pitched their great camp. Here a sharp and bloody battle ensued from behind trees and bushes, the Indians hooping, hollowing and giving way one while, and then again and again returning with double fury to the charge. But the Governor, notwithstanding their superior number and all their terrible shrieks, kept the provincials close at their heels, and drove them before him like a flock of ravenous wolves. He expelled them from their settlement at Indian land, pursued them over Savanna river, and rid the province entirely of this formidable tribe of savages. What number of his army he lost, or of the enemy he killed, we have not been able particularly to learn; but in this Indian war near four hundred innocent inhabitants of Carolina were murdered by these wild barbarians.
[Sidenote] They take refuge in Florida.
The Yamassees, after their defeat and expulsion, went directly to the Spanish territories in Florida, where they were received with bells ringing and guns firing, as if they had come victoriously from the field; from which circumstance, together with the encouragement afterwards given them to settle in Florida, there is too good reason to believe, that this horrid conspiracy was contrived by Spaniards, and carried on by their encouragement and assistance. Two prisoners, whom they had saved and carried to Augustine along with them, Mrs. Sisson and Mrs. Macartey, afterwards reported to the Carolineans the news of this kind reception the Indians met with from the Spaniards. On the other hand, though the province of Carolina suffered much at this rime, yet the Governor had the good fortune to prevent its total destruction. From the lowest state of despondency, Charlestown, on the Governor's return to it, was raised to the highest pitch of joy. He entered it with some degree of triumph, receiving from all such applauses as his wise conduct and unexpected success justly merited. Indeed his prosperous expedition had not only disconcerted the most formidable conspiracy ever formed against the colony, but also placed the inhabitants in general, however much exposed individuals might be to small scalping parties, in a state of greater security and tranquillity than they had hitherto enjoyed.
[Sidenote] Retain a vindictive spirit against the Carolineans.
However, from that period in which the Yamassee Indians were compelled to take up their residence in Florida, they harboured in their breasts the most inveterate ill-will and rancour to all Carolineans, and watched every opportunity of pouring their vengeance on them. Being furnished with arms and ammunition from the Spaniards, they often broke out on small scalping parties, and infested the frontiers of the British settlement. One party of them catched William Hooper, and killed him by degrees, by cutting off one joint of his body after another, until he expired. Another parry surprised Henry Quinton, Thomas Simmons, and Thomas Parmenter, and, to gratify their revenge, tortured them to death. Dr. Rose afterwards fell also into their hands, whom they cut across his nose with their tomahawk, and having scalped him left him on the spot for dead; but he happily recovered of his wounds. In short, the emissaries of St. Augustine, disappointed in their sanguinary design of destroying root and branch in Carolina, had now no other resource left but to employ the vindictive spirit of the Yamassees against the defenceless frontiers of the province. In these excursions, it must be confessed, they were too successful, for many poor settlers at different times fell a sacrifice to their insatiable revenge.
[Sidenote] The colonists turn their eyes for protection to the crown.
During the time of this hard struggle with Indians, the legislature of Carolina had made application to the Proprietors, representing to them the weak state of the province, the deplorable dangers which hung over it, and begging their paternal help and protection; but being doubtful whether the Proprietor would be inclined to involve their English estates in debt for supporting their property in Carolina, in so precarious a situation, they instructed their agent, in case he failed of success from them, to apply to the king for relief. The merchants entered cordially into the measure for making application to the crown, and considered it as the most effectual expedient for retrieving their credit in England, lost by the dangers which threatened the country, and the pirates that infested the coast. They perceived at once the many advantages which would accrue to them from being taken under the immediate care and protection of the crown. Ships of war would soon clear the coast of pestilent sea-robbers, and give free scope to trade and navigation. Forces by land world overawe the war-like Indians, prevent such dreadful attempts for the future, and they would reap the happy fruits of public peace and security. The inhabitants in general were much dissatisfied with living under a government unable to protect them, and what rendered their case still more lamentable, prevented the interposition of the crown for their defence, and therefore were very unanimous in the proposed application to the crown.
About the middle of the year 1715 the agent for Carolina waited on the Proprietors, with a representation of the heavy calamities under which their colony laboured from the ravages of barbarous enemies, and the depredations of lawless pirates. He acquainted them, that the Yamassees, by the influence of Spanish emissaries, had claimed the whole lands of the country as their ancient possessions, and conspired with many other tribes to assert their right by force of arms, and therefore urged the necessity of sending immediate relief to the colony. But not being satisfied with the answer he received, he petitioned the House of Commons in behalf of the distressed Carolineans. The Commons addressed the King, praying for his kind interposition and immediate assistance to the colony. The King referred the matter to the Lords Commissioners of trade and plantations. The Lords of trade made an objection, that the province of Carolina was one of the proprietary governments, and were of opinion, that, if the nation should be at the expence of its protection, the government ought to be vested in the Crown. Upon which Lord Carteret wrote them a letter to the following effect: "We the Proprietors of Carolina having met on this melancholy occasion, to our great grief find, that we are utterly unable of ourselves to afford our colony suitable assistance in this conjuncture, and unless his majesty will graciously please to interpose, we can foresee nothing but the utter destruction of his majesty's faithful subjects in those parts." The Lords of trade asked Lord Carteret what sum might be necessary for that service, and whether the government of the colony should not devolve on the Crown, if Great Britain should agree to bear the expence of its defence. To which Lord Carteret replied, "The Proprietors humbly submitted to his majesty's great wisdom, what sum of money he should be pleased to grant for their assistance; and in case the money advanced for this purpose should not be in a reasonable time repaid, they humbly conceived that then his majesty would have an equitable right to take the government under his immediate care and protection."
[Sidenote] The project revived for purchasing the proprietary colonies.
The same year a bill was brought into the House of Commons in England for the better regulation of the charter and proprietary governments in America, and of his majesty's plantations there; the chief design of which was, to reduce all charter and proprietary governments into regal ones. Men conversant in the history of past ages, particularly in that of the rise and progress of different states, had long foreseen the rapid increase of American colonies, and wisely judged, that it would be for the interest of the kingdom to purchase them for the Crown as soon as possible. At different times administration, in the reigns of King William and Queen Anne, held treaties with the Proprietors for this purpose: but some obstacles always came in the way, or some accidents occurred, which prevented a final agreement. At this time while Penn was about selling the government of Pennsylvania, for twelve thousand pounds, to the Crown, he was seized with an apoplexy, and died before the deeds were executed. Lord Baltimore, the Duke of Beaufort, and Lord Craven, all minors, petitioned to be heard by counsel against passing the bill. The province of Massachuset's Bay petitioned against it, alledging that the charter they had received from King William placed them on the same footing with the different corporations in England, and that it would be equally hard and unjust to deprive them of their charter privileges, as to disfranchise the English corporations. The colony of Connecticut, whose charter was intended to be taken away by this bill, in like manner petitioned to be excepted out of it. These petitions, together with the reasons assigned in support of them, the committee of the House found some difficulty in answering, and therefore, instead of proceeding farther in an affair of such national concern, the design was entirely dropt.
It is remarkable, that the Proprietors of Carolina, at the time they obtained their charter, as is expressly mentioned in it were excited to form that settlement by their zeal for the propagation of the Christian faith among the Indians of America: yet, to their shame it must be confessed, that they have either never used any endeavours for this laudable purpose, or they have been utterly fruitless and ineffectual. At this time, indeed, the society incorporated for propagating the Gospel maintained several missionaries in Carolina, as well as in the northern provinces. The parishes of St. Helen's, St. Paul's, Christ-Church, St. Andrew's, St. James's, and St. John's were all supplied with ministers from this charitable corporation, who were instructed to use their best endeavours for spreading the Gospel among the heathens in their neighbourhood and received an annual allowance from the society for that purpose; yet we have not been able to learn that these heathens ever reaped the smallest advantage from them. The Spaniards, though they have often made use of the more severe and rough means of conversion, and erected the standard of the cross in a field of blood, yet they have also been exceedingly diligent and assiduous in teaching heathens the principles of the Catholic religion. In point of policy, this zeal was more praise-worthy than English negligence: for such barbarians would certainly have been much easier tamed and civilized by mild instruction than by force of arms. The Tumican and Apalachian Indians, before Governor Moore's inroads among them, had made some advances towards civilization, and paid, by means of instruction from Roman Catholic missionaries, strict obedience to the Spanish government at Augustine. Had the Proprietors of Carolina erected schools, for the instruction of young Indians in the language, manners and religion of the English nation, such an institution might have been attended with the most beneficial effects. For while the children of such savages were living among the colonists, they would have been like so many hostages to secure the goodwill and peaceable behaviour of their parents, and when they returned to the nation to which they belonged, their knowledge of the English language and customs would, for the future, have rendered all commercial treaties and transactions between them easy and practicable. Besides, they would have all the prejudices of education in favour of the English manners and government, which would have helped both to fortify them against the fatal influence of Spanish rivals, and to render them more firm and steady to the British interest.
[Sidenote] Differences occasioned by the war.
Although the Yamassee war had terminated much to the honour of the Carolinians, yet the fatal effects of it were long and heavily felt by the colony. Many of the planters had no negroes to assist them in raising provisions for their families, and these persons who had negroes, could not be spared to overlook them, so that the plantations were left uncultivated, and the produce of the year was trifling and inconsiderable. The men being more solicitous about the safety of their families than the increase of their fortunes, purchased bills of exchange at any price, to send with them to the northern provinces, in order to procure for them there the necessaries of life. The provincial merchants being much indebted to those in London, the latter were alarmed at the dangers which hung over the colony, and pressed them much for remittances. The Indians, who stood indebted to the merchants of Carolina for ten thousand pounds, instead of paying their debts, had cancelled them, by murdering the traders, and abandoning the province. No remittances could be made, but in such commodities as the country produced, and all hands being engaged in war, rendered them both very scarce and extremely dear. To answer the public exigences of the province, large emissions of paper currency were also requisite. Hence the rate of exchange arose to an extravagant height. The province was indebted no less than eighty thousand pounds, and at the same time obliged to maintain garrisons on the frontiers for the public defence, which served to increase the debt. While struggling amidst those hardships, the merchants of London complained to the Proprietors of the increase of paper money, as injurious to trade; in consequence of which they strictly ordered their Governor to reduce it. All those things served to aggravate the distress of the poor colonists, and caused them to murmur against their landlords for want of compassion, and to turn not a little disaffected to their government.
[Sidenote] Aggravated by the Proprietors.
The next step taken by the legislature of Carolina, served to widen the difference. The Yamassees being expelled from Indian land, the assembly passed two acts to appropriate those lands gained by conquest for the use and encouragement of such of his majesty's subjects as should come over and settle upon them. Extracts of these acts being sent to England and Ireland, and published among the people, five hundred men from Ireland transported themselves to Carolina, to take the benefit of them; which influx was a great acquisition at this juncture, and served to strengthen these frontiers against future incursions from barbarians. But the beneficial consequences of these acts were all frustrated by the Proprietors, who repealed them, claiming such lands as their property, and insisting on the right of disposing of them as they thought fit. Not long afterwards, to the utter ruin of the Irish emigrants, and in breach of the provincial faith to them, the Proprietors ordered the Indian lands to be surveyed for their own use, and run out in large baronies; by which harsh usage the old settlers, having lost the protection of the new comers, deserted their plantations, and again left the frontiers open to the enemy; as for the unfortunate Irish emigrants, having spent the little money they had, many of them, reduced to misery, perished, and the remainder moved to the northern colonies.
[Sidenote] Robert Daniel is made deputy-governor.
About this time Governor Craven, having received advice from England of Sir Antony Craven's death, intimated to the Proprietors, that the affairs of his family required his presence, and obtained their leave to return to Britain. No Governor had ever gained more general love and deserved respect from the Carolineans, nor had any man ever left the province whose departure was more universally regretted. Having appointed Robert Daniel deputy-governor, he embarked for England about the end of April, 1716. While the man of war rode at anchor near the bar, Mr. Gideon Johnston, with about thirty more gentlemen, went into a sloop to take leave of their beloved Governor, and sailed with him over the bar. On their return a storm arose, the sloop was overset, and Mr. Johnston, being lame of the gout and in the hold, was drowned. The other gentlemen, who were upon deck, saved themselves by swimming to the land. Afterwards the sloop drove, and what has been thought somewhat remarkable, Mr. Johnston's body was taken out of it while beating against the same bank of land upon which he had almost perished at his first arrival in Carolina.
[Sidenote] Lord Carteret Palatine
Before Governor Craven arrived in England, John Lord Carteret, a nobleman no less distinguished by his illustrious descent than personal merit, had succeeded to the dignity of Palatine. Nicholas Trott, who was Chief-Justice of Carolina, received a warrant from this nobleman, impowering him to sit also as judge of the provincial court of vice-admiralty. William Rhett, who was Trott's brother-in-law, and Receiver-general, was likewise made Comptroller of his majesty's customs in Carolina and Bahama Islands. The many offices of trust and emolument which these two men held, together with their natural abilities, gave them great weight and influence in the province, especially at the election of members to serve in assembly. When the provincial assembly met, a bill was brought into the house for the better regulation of the Indian trade, nominating commissioners, and impowering them to apply the profits arising from it to the public benefit and defence, and passed with little opposition. As the colonists had been accustomed to chuse all their members of assembly at Charlestown, at which election great riots and tumults had often happened; to remedy this disorder, another bill was brought into assembly for regulating elections; in which, among other things, it was enacted, "That every parish should send a certain number of representatives, in all not exceeding thirty-six; that they should be ballotted for at the different parish churches, or some other convenient place, on a day to be mentioned in the writs, which were to be directed to the church-wardens, who were required to make returns of the members elected." This was a popular act, as the inhabitants found it not only allowed them greater freedom, but was more conformable to the practice in England, and more convenient for the settlers than their former custom of electing all members in town.
[Sidenote] The disaffection of the people increases.
By this time the struggle between the Proprietors and possessors of the soil, which had long subsisted, and in which the officers intrusted with supporting their Lordships power and prerogative always found themselves deeply interested, was become more serious. Those popular acts, but particularly the latter, gave great offence to some members of the council, who plainly perceived its tendency to ruin their influence at elections, and of course the power of the Proprietors. Among others, Trott and Rhett strenuously opposed the bills. Though they were not able to prevent their passing in Carolina, yet they took care to send to England such representations of them as could not fail to render them the objects of the Proprietors disapprobation. Indeed the act respecting elections had broke in upon a former law, which had been ratified in England, and never repealed by the same authority. The consequence was, both those bills in a little time were sent back repealed, by an instrument under the Proprietors hands and seals. The colonists, far from being pleased with the former conduct of their landlords, now became outrageous, and spoke boldly of their tyranny, bad policy, and want of compassion for distressed freemen. Being still exposed to incursions from the sanguinary and vindictive Yamassees, furnished with arms and ammunition from the Spaniards, they were obliged to maintain a company of rangers, to protect the frontiers against them. Three small forts were erected at Congarees, Savanna, and Apalachicola, for the public defence, and money must be raised for the payment of garrisons. Presents of considerable value were also necessary, to preserve the friendship of other Indian tribes. These public expences eat up all the fruits of the poor planter's industry. The law appropriating the profits of the Indian trade for the public protection had been repealed; the public credit was at so low an ebb, that no man would trust his money in the provincial treasury. None would risk their lives in defence of the colony without pay, and the province, oppressed with a load of debt, was utterly unable to furnish the necessary supplies. The people complained of the insufficiency of that government which could not protect them, and at the same time prevented the interposition of the Crown for this purpose. Governor Daniel himself joined them in their complaints, and everyone seemed ardently to wish for those advantages which other colonies enjoyed, under the immediate care and protection of a powerful sovereign.
[Sidenote] Robert Johnson appointed governor.
In this discontented and unhappy state Robert Johnson found the Carolineans, when he arrived with a commission from Lord Carteret, bearing date April 30, 1717, investing him with the government of the province: to which office a salary of four hundred pounds sterling was now annexed. He was son to Sir Nathaniel Johnson, who formerly held the same office, and had left him an estate in Carolina. This new governor was a man of wisdom, integrity, and moderation; but came out with such instructions as were ill adapted to the circumstances and situation of the colony. Soon after his arrival he perceived the disaffection of the people to the proprietary government, and the many difficulties with which he would have to struggle in the faithful discharge of his duty. His council consisted of Thomas Broughton, Alexander Skene, Nicholas Trott, Charles Hart, James Kinloch, Francis Yonge, &c. some of whom were highly dissatisfied with the harsh treatment of the Proprietors. After calling an assembly, the Governor, as usual, signified to them his esteem for the people, his love to the province, and his resolutions of pursuing such measures as might be judged most conducive to its peace and prosperity. The assembly, in answer, expressed great satisfaction with appointing a man of so good a character to that high office; but, at the same time, were not insensible of the oppression of their landlords, nor of the many hardships they had to expect under their weak and contemptible government.
[Sidenote] Of the depredations of pirates.
About this time some merchants and masters of ships, trading to America and the West Indies, having suffered much from the barbarity and depredations of pirates, complained to the King in council of the heavy losses the trade of the nation had sustained from those public robbers, who had grown so numerous and insolent, that unless a speedy check should be given to them, the navigation in those seas would be totally ruined. In consequence of which the King issued a proclamation, promising a pardon to all pirates who should surrender themselves in the space of twelve months, and at the same time ordered to sea a force for suppressing them. As they had made the island of Providence their common place of residence, Captain Woodes Rogers sailed against this island, with a few ships of war, and took possession of it for the Crown. Except one Vane, who with about ninety more made their escape in a sloop, all the pirates took the benefit of the King's proclamation, and surrendered. Captain Rogers having made himself master of the island, formed a council in it, and appointed officers civil and military for the better government of its inhabitants. He built some forts for its security and defence, and so ordered matters, that, for the future, the trade of the West Indies was well protected against this lawless crew.
[Sidenote] And their utter extirpation.
Though the pirates on the island of Providence were crushed, those of North Carolina still remained, and were equally insolent and troublesome. Vane, who escaped from Captain Rogers, had taken two ships bound from Charlestown to London. A pirate sloop of ten guns, commanded by Steed Bonnet, and another commanded by Richard Worley, had taken possession of the mouth of Cape Fear river, which place was now the principal refuge left for those rogues. Their station there was so convenient for blocking up the harbour of Charlestown, that the trade of the colony was greatly obstructed by them. No sooner had one crew left the coast than another appeared, so that scarcely one ship coming in or going out escaped them. Governor Johnson, resolving to check their insolence, fitted out a ship of force, gave the command of it to William Rhett and sent him out to sea for the protection of trade. Rhett had scarcely got over the bar when Steed Bonnet spied him, but finding he was more than match for him, made all the sail he could for his refuge in Cape Fear river. Thither Rhett followed him, took the sloop, and brought the commander and about thirty men with him to Charlestown. Soon after this Governor Johnson himself embarked, and sailed in pursuit of the other sloop of six guns, commanded by Richard Worley, which, after a desperate engagement off the bar of Charlestown, was also taken. The pirates fought like furies, until they were all killed or wounded, excepting Worley and another man, who even then refused to surrender, until they were likewise dangerously wounded. These two men, together with their sloop, the Governor brought into Charlestown, where they were instantly tried, condemned, and executed, to prevent their dying of their wounds. Steed Bonnet and his crew were also tried, and all, except one man, hanged, and buried on White Point, below high-water mark.
Governor Johnson, formerly a popular man, was now become much more so, by his courage in exposing his person, and the success attending his expedition against the pirates. The coast being happily cleared, and free scope given to trade, afterwards no pirates durst venture to sea in that quarter. This check, together with that they received among the islands, served to extirpate these pestilent robbers, who had declared war against all mankind; and, by reducing themselves to the savage state of nature, had led such lives as rendered them the common enemy of every civilised nation. But these two expeditions from Carolina, though crowned with success, cost the poor province upwards of ten thousand pounds, an additional burden which, at this juncture, it was ill qualified to support.
[Sidenote] Troubles from paper currency.
At the same time, Governor Johnson had instructions to reduce the paper currency circulating in the Province, of which the mercantile interest loudly complained, as injurious to trade. He recommended to the assembly to consider of ways and means for sinking it, and told them they were bound in honour and justice to make it good. The Indian war had occasioned a scarcity of provisions; by the large emissions of paper money it sunk in value, and the price of produce arose to an exorbitant height. As the value of every commodity is what it will bring at market, so the value of paper money is according to the quantity of commodities it will purchase. Even gold and silver, though the universal medium of commerce, grow less precious in proportion as their quantity is increased in any country. Both rice and naval stores, however high, by doubling the quantity of paper money, though the commodities remain the same as formerly, become still much higher. The merchants and money-lenders were losers by those large emissions; and the planters indebted to them, on the other hand, were gainers by them. Hence great debates arose in the assembly about paper-money, between the planting and mercantile interests. At this time the Governor, however, had so much influence as to prevail with the assembly to pass a law for sinking and paying off their paper credit in three years, by a tax on lands and negroes. This act, on its arrival in England, gave great satisfaction both to the Proprietors and people concerned in trade, and the Governor received their thanks for his attention to the commercial interests of the country.
[Sidenote] Several laws repealed.
This compliance of the assembly with the Governor's instructions from England, and the good humour in which they at present appeared to be with government, gave him some faint hopes of reconciling them by degrees to the supreme jurisdiction of the Proprietors. But their good temper was of short duration, and the next advices from England blasted all his hopes of future agreement. The planters finding that the tax-act fell heavy on them, began to grumble and complain of its injustice, and to contrive ways and means for eluding it, by stamping more bills of credit. The Proprietors having information of this, and also of a design formed by the assembly to set a price on country commodities, and make them at such a price a good tender in law for the payment of all debts, they strictly enjoined their Governor not to give his assent to any bill framed by the assembly, nor to render it of any force in the colony, before a copy of the same should be laid before them. About the same time the King, by his order in council, signified to the Proprietors, that they should repeal an act passed in Carolina, of pernicious consequence to the trade of the mother country, by which a duty of ten per cent. was laid on all goods of British manufacture imported into that province. Accordingly this act, together with that for regulating elections, and another for declaring the right of assembly for the time being to nominate a public receiver, were all repealed, and sent to Governor Johnson in a letter, which enjoined him instantly to dissolve the present assembly and call another, to be chosen in Charlestown, according to the ancient usage and customs of the province. The Proprietors considered themselves as the head of the legislative body, who had not only power to put a negative on all laws made in the colony of which they disapproved, but also to repeal such as they deemed of pernicious consequence.
[Sidenote] Which occasions great disaffection.
Governor Johnson, sensible of the ill-humour which prevailed among the people at the proprietary government, and the ill consequences that would attend the immediate execution of his orders, summoned his council together, to take their advice about what was most proper to be done. When he communicated his orders and instructions from England, the majority of the council were astonished at them. Trott, indeed, who was one of them, probably knew from what spring they derived their origin, and to whose advice and influence the repeal of those laws ought to be ascribed. But as the assembly were at that time deliberating about the means of paying the provincial debt contracted by the expedition against the pirates, and other contingent charges of government, it was agreed to postpone the dissolution of the house until the business then before them should be finished. However, the repeal of the duty-law being occasioned by an order from the King in council, they resolved to acquaint the assembly immediately with the royal displeasure at that clause of the law laying a duty on all goods manufactured in Great Britain, and recommend it to them to make a new act, leaving out that clause which had given offence. Mean while, though great pains were taken to conceal the Governor's instructions from the people, yet by some means they were divulged, and kindled violent flames among them. The assembly entered into a warm debate about the Proprietors right of repealing laws passed with the assent of their deputies. Many alledged, that the deputation given to them was like a power of attorney sent to persons at a distance, authorizing them to act in their stead; and insisted, that, according to the charter, they were bound by their assent to acts, as much as if the Proprietors themselves had been present, and ratified and confirmed them.
[Sidenote] Further troubles from Indians.
While the colony was thus harassed with fears and troubles from rigorous landlords, to enhance their misery, their savage neighbours were also now and then making incursions into their settlements, and spreading havock among the scattered families. At this time a scalping party penetrated as far as the Euhah lands, where having surprised John Levit and two of his neighbours, they knocked out their brains with their tomahawks. They then seized Mrs. Borrows and one of her children, and carried them off with them. The child by the way, finding himself in barbarous hands, began to cry, upon which they put him to death. The distressed mother, being unable to refrain from tears while her child was murdered before her eyes, was given to understand, that she must not weep, if she desired not to share the same fate. Upon her arrival at Augustine she would have been immediately sent to prison, but one of the Yamassee kings declared he knew her from her infancy to be a good woman, interceded for her liberty, and begged she might be sent home to her husband. This favour, however, the Spanish governor refused to grant, and the garrison seemed to triumph with the Indians in the number of their scalps. When Mr. Borrows went to Augustine to procure the release of his wife, he also was shut up in prison along with her, where he soon after died: but she survived all the hardships of hunger, sickness, and confinement, to give a relation of her barbarous treatment. After her return to Carolina, she reported to Governor Johnson, that the Huspah king, who had taken her prisoner and carried her off, informed her, he had orders from the Spanish governor to spare no white man, but to bring every negroe alive to Augustine; and that rewards were given to Indians for their prisoners, to encourage them to engage in such rapacious and murderous enterprizes.
[Sidenote] Complaints against Chief Justice Trott.
By this time Chief Justice Trott being suspected of holding a private correspondence with the Proprietors, to the prejudice of the Carolineans, had incurred their hatred and resentment. Richard Allein, Whitaker, and other practitioners of the law, over whom he tyrannized, charged him with many base and iniquitous practices. No less than thirty-one articles of complaint against him were presented to the assembly, setting forth, among other things, "That he had been guilty of many partial judgments; that he had contrived many ways to multiply and increase his fees, to the great grievance of the subject, and contrary to acts of assembly; that he had contrived a fee for continuing causes from one term to another, and put off the hearing of them for years; that he took upon him to give advice in causes depending in his courts, and did not only act as counsellor in that particular, but also had drawn deeds between party and party, some of which had been contested before him as Chief Justice, and in determining of which he had shewn great partialities; with many more particulars; and, lastly, complaining, that the whole judicial power of the province was lodged in his hands alone, of which it was evident he had made a very ill use, he being at the same time sole judge of the courts of Common Pleas, King's Bench, and Vice-Admiralty; so that no prohibition could be lodged against the proceedings of the court, he being obliged, in such a case, to grant a prohibition against himself; he was also, at the same time, a member of the council, and of consequence a judge of the Court of Chancery."
Those articles of complaint, though they took their rise from the bar, and might have proceeded in some measure from envy, ill-will, or resentment, were nevertheless too well grounded, and the facts contained in the charge were supported by strong evidence before the assembly. But as the Judge held his commission from the Proprietors, he denied that he was accountable to the assembly for any part of his conduct in his judicial capacity; and declared that he would be answerable no where but in England. The assembly, however, sensible that he held his commission only during good behavior, sent a message to the Governor and Council, requesting they would join them in representing his partial and unjust conduct in his office to the Proprietors, praying them either to remove him from his seat in the courts of justice, or at the least to grant him only one jurisdiction, and the people liberty of appeal from his judgements. The Governor and major part of the council, convinced of the male-administration of the Judge, agreed to join the Commons in their representation. But being sensible of the great interest the Chief Justice had with their Lordships, they judged it most prudent to send one of their counsellors to England with their memorial, that it might find greater credit and weight, and the more certainly procure redress; and Francis Yonge, a man of considerable abilities, who had been present at all their debates, was pitched upon as one well qualified for giving their Lordships a faithful account of the whole matter. Accordingly Yonge, being furnished with all the instructions, powers, and credentials, necessary to a commissioner for the aggrieved party of the colonists, set sail for England, and arrived in London early in the year 1719.
[Sidenote] Laid before the Proprietors.
Soon after his arrival, he waited on Lord Carteret, the Palatine; but as his Lordship was preparing to set out on an embassy to the court of Sweden, he referred him to the other Proprietors for an answer to his representation. When the Proprietors met, Yonge presented to them a memorial, setting forth, "That he had been appointed by the Governor and Council of South Carolina, to lay before them, not only several acts of assembly passed there during their last sessions for their approbation, but also to inform them of the reasons that induced the Governor and Council to defer the dissolution of the assembly, in consequence of their Lordships commands; that he was instructed to shew their Lordships the arguments between the upper and lower houses of assembly, touching their Lordships right off repealing laws ratified and confirmed by their deputies; and presented to them a speech made by Chief Justice Trott at a general conference of both houses, together with the answer of the commons to it, and the several messages that passed between them, which he hoped would shew their Lordships, that no arguments or endeavours were wanting on their part, to assert the right the Proprietors had of repealing laws not ratified by them."
"At the same time, he was desired to request their Lordships to augment their Secretary's salary, to allow the members of the council so much money for the time and expence of attending the council on their service; to establish custom-house officers at Beaufort; to grant six thousand acres of land to the three garrisons at Congarees, Savanna Town, and Apalachicola; and liberty of appealing from erroneous judgements in law, which at that time the people had not, the whole judicial power in all the provincial courts being lodged in the hands of one man." Then he delivered to them a letter from Governor Johnson, the articles of complaint against Chief Justice Trott, and the joint address of the Governor, Council, and Assembly, praying to have him removed entirely from the bench, or confined to a single jurisdiction.
[Sidenote] Their answer.
This memorial, however, was far from satisfying the Proprietors, some of whom inferred from it, that the people seemed to be industrious in searching for causes of dissatisfaction, and grounds of quarrel with them, with a view to shake off the proprietary authority, and renounce their allegiance. Their letters from Trott served to confirm the truth, which intimated that Yonge, though an officer of the Proprietors, by mean subtilty and chicane had assisted the people in forming plausible pretences for that purpose. For three months Yonge attended the Palatine's court, to give the board all possible information about the state of affairs in their colony, and to accomplish the ends of his appointment. After all, he was given to understand, that the business on which he was sent was extremely disagreeable to them; that both the trouble he had taken, and the office he had accepted as agent for the people, were inconsistent with his duty as one of their deputies, bound to act agreeable to their instructions. They declared their displeasure with the members of the council who had joined the lower house in their complaints against Trott and removed them from the board, appointing others in their place, and increasing the number of members; and told Yonge, that he also would have been deprived of his seat but for the high respect they had for Lord Cartaret the absent Palatine, whose deputy he was. With respect to Chief Justice Trott, they had too much confidence in his fidelity and capacity to remove him from his office. On the contrary, they sent him a letter, thanking him for his excellent speech in defence of their right of repealing all laws made in the colony; together with a copy of the articles of complaint brought against him, on purpose to give him an opportunity of vindicating himself; at the same time acquainting him, that it was their opinion and order, that he withdraw from the council-board whenever appeals from his judgments in the inferior courts shall be brought before the Governor and council as a court of chancery.
[Sidenote] And letter to the governor.
How far Governor Johnson, in their opinion, had deviated from his duty, in joining the other branches of the legislature in their representation, may be learned from the Proprietors letter, brought over to him by Yonge, which runs in the following words: "Sir, we have received and perused your letters and all your papers, delivered us by your agent Mr. Yonge; and though we are favourably inclined in all our thoughts relating to our Governor, yet we must tell you, we think you have not obeyed the orders and directions given you to dissolve that assembly and call another forthwith, according to the ancient usage and custom of the province, and to publish our repeals of the acts of assembly immediately upon the receipt of our orders aforesaid; but we shall say no more on that subject now, not doubting but our Governor will pay more punctual obedience to our orders for the future.
"The Lords Proprietors right of confirming and repealing laws was so particular a privilege granted them by the charter, that we can never recede from it; and we do allure you, we are not a little surprised that you have suffered that prerogative of ours to be disputed.
"We have sent you herewith an instruction under our hands and seals, nominating such persons as we think fit to be of the council with you, six of whom and yourself, and no less number, to be a quorum. Upon your receipt of this we hereby require you to summon the said council, that they may qualify themselves according to law, and immediately sit upon the despatch of business. We also send you the repeal of the acts of assembly, which we order you to publish immediately upon the receipt of this. We do assure Mr. Johnson, that we will stand by him in all things that relate to the just execution of his office, and we are confident that he will perform his duty to us, and support our power and prerogatives to the best of his abilities. If the assembly chosen according to your pretended late act is not dissolved, as we formerly ordered, and a new assembly elected, pursuant to the act formerly confirmed by the Proprietors, you are forthwith commanded to dissolve that assembly, and to call another, according to the above-mentioned act; and so we bid you heartily farewel."
[Sidenote] Who obeys their commands.
Such was the result of Yonge's negociation in England. Governor Johnson, who was well acquainted with the prevailing temper and discontented spirit of the people, plainly perceived, upon receiving these new orders and instructions, what difficulties would attend the execution of them. The flame was already kindled, and nothing could be imagined more likely to add fewel to it than such rigour and oppression. It is true, the Governor had received authority, but he wanted power to act agreeable to their instructions. Determined, however, to comply with their commands, he summoned his council of twelve men whom the Proprietors had nominated, who were, William Bull, Ralph Izard, Nicholas Trott, Charles Hart, Samuel Wragg, Benjamin de la Consiliere, Peter St. Julien, William Gibbons, Hugh Butler, Francis Yonge, Jacob Satur and Jonathan Skrine, some of whom refused, and others qualified themselves, to serve. Alexander Skene, Thomas Broughton, and James Kinloch, members of the former council, being now left out of the new appointment, were disgusted, and joined the people. The present assembly was dissolved, and writs were issued for electing another in Charlestown, according to the custom and usage of the province. The duty-act, from which the clergy were paid, the garrisons maintained, and the public debts in general were defrayed, was repealed; the law respecting the freedom of election was also repealed, by which the colonists were obliged to have recourse to the old, inconvenient and tumultuous manner of elections in Charlestown: the act declaring the right of the commons to nominate a public receiver was also annulled, and declared to be contrary to the usage and custom of Great Britain. All laws respecting the trade and shipping of Great Britain, which any future assembly might pass, the Governor had instructions to refuse his assent to, till approved by the Proprietors. The provincial debts incurred by the Indian war, and the expedition against pirates, not only remained unpaid, but no more bills of credit were allowed to be stamped, for answering those public demands. This council of twelve, instead of seven men, which was appointed, the colonists considered as an innovation in the proprietary government exceeding the power granted their Lordships by their charter, and therefore subjecting them to a jurisdiction foreign to the constitution of the province. The complaints of the whole legislature against Chief Justice Trott were not only disregarded, but that man, whom they considered as an enemy to the country, was privately caressed and publicly applauded. All these things the colonists considered as aggravated grievances, and what rendered them the more intolerable was the circumstance of being deprived of all hopes of redress.
It may be thought somewhat unaccountable and astonishing, that the Proprietors should have persisted in measures so disagreeable and oppressive of themselves, and so manifestly subversive of their authority and power. Many were the hardships from the climate, and the danger from savages, with which the poor colonists had to struggle; yet their landlords, instead of rendering their circumstances as easy and comfortable as possible, seemed rather bent on crossing their humours and doubling their distress. The people could now no longer regard them as indulgent fathers, concerned for the welfare of their colony, but as tyrannical legislators, that imposed more on them than they were able to bear. Was it not the duty of the Proprietors to listen to their just complaints, and redress their heavy grievances? Was it not their interest to consult the internal security, and by every means promote the speedy improvement and population of their colony? What could more effectually answer these ends, than to cultivate the esteem and preserve the affections of the people? Nothing else could render their government stable and respectable. But, after all, perhaps the troubles and miseries the colonists suffered ought to be ascribed to their Lordships shameful inattention to provincial affairs, rather than to their tyrannical disposition. Lord Carteret, the Palatine, held high offices of trust under the Crown, which occupied his chief study and attention. Some of the Proprietors were minors, others possessed estates in England, the improvement of which engrossed their whole care and delight. Having reaped little or nothing from their American possessions, and finding them every year becoming more troublesome and expensive, it is probable they trusted the affairs of their colony to a clerk, or secretary, who was no ways interested in their prosperity and success. With this secretary Chief Justice Trott had established a correspondence, of whose wisdom and abilities the Proprietors entertained the highest opinion, and in whose integrity and fidelity they placed unlimited confidence. He held of them many offices of trust and emolument, which, together with his haughty and overbearing conduct, rendered him the object of popular envy and clamour. The colonists needed indulgence from their circumstances and situation; Trott, being made totally dependent on the Proprietors will for the tenure of his office and the amount and payment of his salary, strongly supported their power and prerogative. Hence those various struggles between the Proprietors and people, which were daily growing more serious and violent, and threatened totally to subvert the proprietary government.
[Sidenote] An invasion threatened from Spain.
About this time a rupture having taken place between the courts of Great Britain and Spain, a project for attacking South Carolina and the island of Providence was formed at the Havanna, and preparations were making there for the expedition. Governor Johnson, having received advice from England of this design, resolved immediately to put the province in a posture of defence. For this purpose he summoned a meeting of council, and such members of assembly as were in town, to inform them of the intelligence he had received, and to desire their advice and assistance in case of any sudden emergency. He told them of the shattered condition of the fortifications, and urged the necessity of speedy reparations; and for this end proposed a voluntary subscription, beginning with a generous offer himself, as an example to others. He declared that one day's delay might prove fatal to the province, as they were uncertain how soon the enemy might be at their door; and recommended unanimity and despatch. The assembly replied, that a subscription was needless, as the income of the duties would be sufficient to answer the purpose intended. The Governor objected, that the duty-law had been repealed, and none other yet framed in its place. To which the assembly answered, they had resolved to pay no regard to those repeals, and that the public receiver had orders from them to sue every man that should refuse to pay as that law directed. Chief Justice Trott told them, if any action or suit should be brought into his courts on that law, he would give judgment for the defendant. In short, the contest between the two houses at this meeting became warm, insomuch that the conference broke up before any thing was concluded with regard to the public safety. The assembly were obstinate, and seemed determined to hazard the lots of the province to the Spaniards, rather than yield to the council, and acknowledge the Proprietors right of repealing their laws.
[Sidenote] An association formed against the Proprietors.
Governor Johnson, however, at such a juncture, judging it prudent to be always in the best posture of defence; for uniting the strength of the province called a meeting of the field-officers of the militia, ordered them to review their regiments, and fixed a place of general rendezvous. Indeed such was the uneasy and distracted state of the colony, that the Spaniards could scarcely have attacked it at a time more seasonable for obtaining an easy conquest. At this meeting the field-officers of the militia received their orders with their usual submission, and called together the different regiments, on pretence of training the men to expert use of arms. But before this time the members chosen to serve in assembly, though they had not met in their usual and regular way at Charlestown, had nevertheless held several private meetings in the country, to concert measures for revolting from their allegiance. They had drawn up a form of an association for uniting the whole province in opposition to the proprietary government, which was proposed to the people at this public meeting of the militia, as an opportunity the most favourable for procuring a general subscription. The people, oppressed and discontented, with eagerness embraced the proposal, and, almost to a man, subscribed the association, promising to stand by each other in defence of their rights and privileges, against the tyranny of the Proprietors and their officers. This confederacy was formed with such secresy and dispatch, that, before it reached the Governor's ears, almost the whole inhabitants were concerned in it. The assembly, after having thus brought the people in general to back them, had then nothing to do but to go on, in taking such bold and vigorous steps as seemed best calculated for accomplishing their end.
The members of assembly, as I already observed, having formed their resolution to revolt, and gone so far as to bring the people to stand by and support them, in spite of every obstacle determined to proceed, until they should bring themselves under the protection of the King. As they had the whole civil power to encounter, and many difficulties to surmount it may not be improper the more particularly to mark the various steps they took to accomplish this end. United in their view by the greatness of the danger, we shall see they regularly made their attacks.. They formed their outworks first at a distance, and then brought them gradually nearer; and, in short, raised none but such as afterwards served to support others in the difficult progress of their future operations.
[Sidenote] The people's encouragement to revolt.
At the election of assembly in Charlestown, Trott and Rhett, who formerly had such influence and sway, were now become so obnoxious that they could not bring one man into the house. Alexander Skene, formerly excluded from the council, was elected a member of this new assembly, which was chosen on purpose to oppose the civil officers, considering themselves as ill used by the Proprietors, turned a zealous and active person for pulling down the tottering fabric of their government. This man, together with several other members of assembly, held frequent meetings, to consider of all their grievances, and the encouragements they had received from time to time from Britain, respecting the great end they now had in view. They recalled to mind what had passed in the House of Peers during the reign of Queen Anne, how her majesty had then ordered her Attorney and Solicitor-general to consider of the most effectual methods of proceeding against the charter. They knew also, that a bill had been brought into the House of Commons, for reducing all charter and proprietary governments into regal ones. They had been informed that Lord Carteret, conscious of the inability of the Proprietors to defend their province in the Yamassee war, had publicly applied for assistance from the British government, and that the Lords of trade were of opinion, that the government of the province should belong to that power which bore the expence of its protection. They had considered all these things, and flattered themselves with the hopes, that the King would take the colony under his care as soon as they renounced allegiance to the Proprietors. And as the time drew nigh in which they expected an attack from a powerful nation, they concluded that the province needed assistance of the Crown at the present, more than at any time past. They had convinced the people of the manifold advantages of the British constitution, and the great happiness of those colonies which were under the immediate care and protection of the Crown, insomuch that they now desired nothing more upon earth, than to enjoy the same invaluable privileges.
[Sidenote] Their letter to the Governor signifying their design.
To these secret meetings and transactions Governor Johnson, who lived at his plantation several miles from Charlestown, was an entire stranger, until he received the following letter, bearing date November 28, 1719, and signed by Alexander Skene, George Logan, and William Blakeway. "Sir, we doubt not but you have heard of the whole province entering into an association to stand by their rights and privileges, and to get rid of the oppression and arbitrary dealings of the Lords Proprietors. As we always bore you the greatest deference and respect imaginable, we take this opportunity to let you know, that the committee of the people's representatives were last night appointed to wait on you this morning, to acquaint you, that they have come to a resolution to have no regard to the Proprietors officers, nor their administration: and withal to beg, that your honour will hold the reigns of government for the King, till his Majesty's pleasure be known. The great value the whole country express for your honour's person, makes them desirous to have nobody but yourself to govern them; and as you must be convinced, that no person can be more passionately fond of your government than ourselves, we hope you will not take amiss any advice given by faithful and affectionate friends; and therefore we take the liberty to tell you freely, we are of opinion that your honour may take the government upon you, upon the office of the people, for the King, and represent to the Proprietors, that rather than the whole country should be in confusion, and want a governing power, you held it for their Lordships, though you were obliged to comply with the colonists, who were unanimously of opinion they would have no Proprietors government. We could wish for a longer and better opportunity to explain this matter to you; but it is impossible, for the gentlemen will be with you in two hours at farthest. We heartily wish your honour the utmost success, let it go which way it will; but beg leave to observe, that your compliance will not only be the greatest satisfaction to the province in general, but also to your humble servants."
[Sidenote] Which the Governor endeavours to defeat.
This letter, though fraught with the highest professions of respect to the Governor, he nevertheless considered as an insult; but especially the advice, which he deemed both highly derogatory to his integrity as a man, and his fidelity as a governor. The bait thrown out to appearance was specious and flattering, yet the Governor had too much penetration, not to see under its false colours the naked hook. The letter, however, served to give him notice of the association, and the resolution of the people, which it was his duty by all means possible to defeat. For this purpose he hastened to town, and summoned his council, to take their advice in a case so unexpected and alarming. Meeting accidentally with Alexander Skene, he informed him that the committee who were appointed to wait on him had changed their minds, and were gone to their respective places of abode. Governor Johnson, nevertheless, informed his council of the association, and required their advice and assistance about the most effectual methods of breaking it up, and supporting the proprietary government. He perceived that, although he was called Governor, yet Trott ruled the province, and therefore resolved to do nothing without his advice, that he might be equally responsible with the rest for the ill consequences which he was apprehensive would attend their future proceedings. The council were not a little perplexed what step to take; but as the committee had altered their intention of waiting on the Governor, they were of opinion that no notice should be taken of their proceedings, until the assembly should meet in a legal manner, revive the matter, and bring it regularly before them; hoping that the people, upon more cool reflection, might drop their dangerous resolution.
[Sidenote] Proceedings of the convention.
In the mean time the members of assembly were using their utmost diligence among the people of the province to keep them firm to their purpose, having got almost every person, except the officers of the Proprietors and a few of their friends, to sign the association. All agreed to support whatever their representatives should do for disengaging the colony from the yoke of the Proprietors, and putting it under the government of the King. Having thus fortified themselves by the union of the inhabitants, the assembly met on purpose to take bolder and more decisive steps: and being apprehensive that the Governor would dissolve them, so soon as their proceedings reached his ears, they instantly came to the following resolutions: "First, That the several laws pretended to be repealed are still in force within the province, and could nor be repealed and made void and null but by the General Assembly of this province, and that all public officers and others do pay due regard to the same accordingly. Secondly, That the writs, whereby the representatives here met were elected, are illegal, because they are signed by such a council as we conceive the Proprietors have not a power to appoint; for that this council does consist of a greater number of members than that of the Proprietors themselves, which we believe is contrary to the design and original intent of their charter, and approaching too near the method taken by his majesty and his predecessors in his plantations, whom they ought not to pretend to imitate or follow, his majesty not being confined to any number of counsellors, but as he thinks fit; but the Proprietors, as subjects, we believe, are bound by their charter. Thirdly, That we the representatives cannot act as an assembly, but as a convention delegated by the people, to prevent the utter ruin of this government, if not the loss of the province, till his majesty's pleasure be known: and, lastly, That the Lords Proprietors have by such proceedings unhinged the frame of their government, and forfeited their right to the same; and that an address be prepared, to desire the honourable Robert Johnson, our present Governor, to take the government upon him in the King's name, and to continue the administration thereof until his Majesty's pleasure be known."
Agreeable to the last resolution, an address was drawn up, signed by Arthur Middleton as president and twenty-two members of the convention. The Governor having sent them a message, acquainting them that he was ready with his council to receive and order them to chuse a speaker; they came to the upper house in a body, and Arthur Middleton addressed the Governor in the following words: "I am ordered by the representatives of the people here present to tell you, that, according to your honour's order, we are come to wait on you: I am further ordered to acquaint you, that we own your honour as our Governor, you being approved by the King; and as there was once in this province a legal council, representing the Proprietors as their deputies, which being now altered, we do not look on the gentlemen present to be a legal council; so I am ordered to tell you, that the representatives of the people do disown them as such, and will not act with them on any account."
[Sidenote] The perplexity of the Governor and council.
The Governor and Council, struck with silence and astonishment at the audacious spirit of the convention, and suspecting that they were backed and supported by the voice of the people, were greatly puzzled what measures they should take to recal them to the obedience of legal authority. Some were for opposing violence to violence, and thought the best way of bringing them back to their allegiance would be to terrify them with threats and confiscations. Others were of opinion, that the defection was too general to admit of such a remedy, and that mild expostulations were more proper both for softening their minds, and convincing them of their error; and should such gentle means fail, the Governor might then dissolve them, and for the present time put an end to the dispute. But, on the other hand, dangers hung over the country, and the only fund for repairing the fortifications being lost by the repeal of the general duty-law, money must be provided for the public protection. If the Governor should dissolve the house, how could the province be put in a posture of defence against a Spanish invasion, with which it was threatened. If he should suffer them to sit while they had resolved that the Proprietors had forfeited their right to the government, and refused on any account to act with his council, he might be chargeable with a breach of his trust. The result of their deliberations was, a message from the Governor and council, desiring a conference with the house of assembly. To which they returned for answer, that they would not receive any message or paper from the Governor in conjunction with these gentlemen he was pleased to call his council. Finding them thus inflexible and resolute, the Governor was obliged to give way to the current, and therefore, in two days afterwards, sent for them in his own name, and spoke to them to the following effect:
[Sidenote] The Governor's speech for recalling the people.
"When I sent for you the other day, I intended to have desired you to have chosen your speaker, to be presented to me as usual, and then I did propose to have spoke to you in the following manner:
"Your being met together at a time when there was never more occasion for a ready dispatch of public business, and a good harmony betwixt the upper and lower house; I must recommend that to you; and nothing will be wanting on my part to promote a good understanding betwixt the Lords Proprietors and the people, at present (to my great affliction) I fear too much interrupted: I must, therefore, in the first place, recommend to you, that you will without delay, or other matter intervening, fall upon proper methods for raising money for finishing the repairs of the fortifications, and providing stores of war, which are much wanted. The intelligence which I have of the designs of our enemies, which makes this work so necessary, shall be laid before you.