HotFreeBooks.com
The Life of George Washington, Vol. 1 (of 5)
by John Marshall
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[Footnote 28: Robertson. Chalmer. Stith. Beverly.]

{1614}

Early in the following year, Sir Thomas Gates returned to England, leaving the government again with Sir Thomas Dale. This gentleman detached captain Argal on an enterprise of which no immediate notice was taken, but which was afterwards recollected with indignation.

The French, who had directed their course to the more northern parts of the continent, had been among the first adventurers to North America. Their voyages of discovery are of a very early date, and their attempts to establish a colony were among the first which were made. After several abortive efforts, a permanent settlement was made in Canada, in the year 1604, and the foundation of Quebec was laid in the year 1608. In November 1603, Henry IV. appointed De Mont lieutenant-general of that part of the territory which he claimed, lying in North America, between the 40th and 46th degrees of north latitude, then called Acadie, with power to colonise and to rule it; and he soon afterwards granted to the same gentleman and his associates, an exclusive right to the commerce of peltry in Acadie and the gulf of St. Lawrence. In consequence of these grants, a settlement was formed in the subsequent year, on that coast, near the river St. Croix; and in 1605, Port Royal was built on a more northern part of the bay of Fundy.

The colony, receiving not much support from France, was feeble and unprosperous, but retained quiet possession of the country. In a time of profound peace, the expedition of Argal was directed against it. He found it totally unprepared for defence. The inhabitants, who had assiduously and successfully cultivated the friendship of the Indians, were scattered abroad in the woods, engaged in their several pursuits; and a ship and bark just arrived from France, laden with articles necessary for the use of the colony, were surprised in port, and their cargoes taken to Jamestown. After the departure of Argal, the French resumed their former station.

The pretext for this predatory expedition was, that the French, by settling in Acadie, had invaded the rights of the English, acquired by the first discovery of the continent.

Argal also paid a visit to New York, then in possession of the Dutch; which country he claimed under the pretext that captain Hudson was an Englishman, and could not transfer the benefit of his discoveries from his sovereign. He demanded possession of the place; and the Dutch governor, being unable to resist, "peaceably submitted both himself and his colony to the King of England, and the governor of Virginia under him," and consented to pay a tribute. Argal then continued his voyage to Jamestown. But another governor soon afterwards arriving from Amsterdam with better means of asserting the title of his nation, the payment of the tribute was refused, and the place put in a state of defence.[29]

[Footnote 29: Robertson. Chalmer. Stith.]

[Sidenote: Fifty acres of land laid off for each settler.]

The advantages resulting to the colony from allowing each individual to labour, in part for himself, having soon become apparent, the system of working in common to fill the public stores, seems to have been totally relinquished; and, not long afterwards, fifty acres of land, promised by the rules of the company to each emigrant, were surveyed and delivered to those having the title.

{1615}

[Sidenote: Tobacco.]

About the same time, tobacco was first cultivated in Virginia.

This plant, although detested by the King, who even wrote a pamphlet against it, which he styled a counter blast; although discountenanced by the leading members of parliament, and even by the company, who issued edicts against its cultivation; although extremely unpleasant to persons not accustomed to it, and disagreeable in its effects, surmounted all opposition, and has, by an unaccountable caprice, been brought into general use, and become one of the most considerable staples of America.[30]

[Footnote 30: Robertson.]

{1616}

[Sidenote: Yeardly.]

In the spring of the following year, Sir Thomas Dale sailed for England, leaving the government in the hands of Mr. George Yeardly, who, after a lax administration of one year, was succeeded by captain Argal.

{1617}

[Sidenote: Argal.]

Argal was a man of talents and energy, but selfish, haughty, and tyrannical. He continued martial law during a season of peace; and a Mr. Brewster, who was tried under this arbitrary system, for contemptuous words spoken of the governor, was sentenced to suffer death. He obtained with difficulty an appeal to the treasurer and company in England, by whom the sentence was reversed.[31]

[Footnote 31: Robertson. Chalmer. Stith.]

[Sidenote: Mr. Yeardly.]

While martial law was, according to Stith, the common law of the land, the governor seems to have been the sole legislator. His general edicts mark the severity of his rule. He ordered that merchandise should be sold at an advance of twenty-five per centum, and tobacco taken in payment at the rate of three shillings per pound, under the penalty of three years' servitude to the company; that no person should traffic privately with the Indians, or teach them the use of fire arms, under pain of death; that no person should hunt deer or hogs without the governor's permission; that no man should shoot, unless in his own necessary defence, until a new supply of ammunition should arrive, on pain of a year's personal service; that none should go on board the ships at Jamestown, without the governor's leave; that every person should go to church on Sundays and holidays, under the penalty of slavery during the following week for the first offence, during a month for the second, and during a year and a day for the third. The rigour of this administration necessarily exciting much discontent, the complaints of the Virginians at length made their way to the company. Lord Delawar being dead, Mr. Yeardly was appointed captain-general, with instructions to examine the wrongs of the colonists, and to redress them.[32]

[Footnote 32: Robertson. Chalmer. Stith.]

{1619}

The new governor arrived in April, and soon after, to the inexpressible joy of the inhabitants, declared his determination to convoke a colonial assembly.

This is an important era in the history of Virginia. Heretofore, all legislative authority had been exercised, either by the corporation in England, or by their officers in the colony. The people had no voice, either personally, or by their representatives, in the government of themselves; and their most important concerns were managed by persons often unacquainted with their situation, and always possessing interests different from theirs. They now felicitated themselves on having really the privileges of Englishmen.

[Sidenote: First colonial assembly.]

This first assembly met at Jamestown on the 19th of June. The colony being not then divided into counties, the members were elected by the different boroughs, amounting at that time to seven. From this circumstance the popular branch of the legislature received the appellation of the house of burgesses, which it retained until all connexion with England was dissolved.

The assembly, composed of the governor, the council, and burgesses, met together in one apartment, and there discussed the various matters which came before them. The laws then enacted, which, it is believed, are no longer extant, were transmitted to England for the approbation of the treasurer and company.[33]

[Footnote 33: Robertson. Chalmer. Stith.]

[Sidenote: First arrival of females,]

{1620}

Although the emigrations from England continued to be considerable, few females had crossed the Atlantic. Men without wives could not consider their residence in the country as permanent, and must intend after amassing some wealth, to return to their native land. To remove this impediment to the population of the colony, ninety girls, of humble fortune and spotless character, were transported by the company to Virginia; and in the subsequent year, they were followed by sixty of the same description. They were received by the young planters as a blessing which substituted domestic happiness for the cheerless gloom of solitude; and the face of the country was essentially changed.[34] The prospect of becoming parents was accompanied with the anxieties for the welfare of their children; and the education of youth soon became an object of attention. The necessity of seminaries of learning was felt, and several steps were taken towards founding the college, afterwards established by William and Mary.

[Footnote 34: Mr. Stith says the price for a wife was at first, one hundred, and afterwards, one hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco; and a debt so contracted was made of higher dignity than any other.]

[Sidenote: and of convicts.]

About the same time the company received orders from the King to convey to Virginia one hundred idle and dissolute persons, then in custody of the knight marshal. These were the first convicts transported to America. The policy which dictated this measure was soon perceived to be not less wise than it was humane. Men who, in Europe, were the pests of the body politic, made an acceptable addition to the stock of labour in the colony; and, in a new world, where the temptations to crime seldom presented themselves, many of them became useful members of society.

{1621}

[Sidenote: African slaves.]

Heretofore the commerce of Virginia had been engrossed by the corporation. In the year 1620, this distressing and unprofitable monopoly was given up, and the trade was open to all. The free competition produced by this change of system was of essential advantage to the colony, but was the immediate cause of introducing a species of population which has had vast influence on the past, and may affect the future destinies of America, to an extent which human wisdom can neither foresee nor control. A Dutch vessel, availing itself of this commercial liberty, brought into James river twenty Africans, who were immediately purchased as slaves.[35]

[Footnote 35: Robertson. Chalmer. Stith.]

[Sidenote: Two councils established.]

In July, the company passed an ordinance establishing a frame of government for the colony. This instrument provided that there should be two supreme councils in Virginia, the one to be called the Council of State, to be appointed and displaced by the treasurer and company, and to assist the governor with advice on executive subjects; the other to be denominated the General Assembly, and to consist of the governor, the council of state, and burgesses; to be chosen for the present, by the inhabitants of every town, hundred, or settlement, in the colony, two for each. The assembly was empowered to enact general laws for the government of the colony, reserving a negative to the governor. Its acts were not to be in force until confirmed by the general court in England, and the ratification returned under its seal. On the other hand, no order of the general court was to bind the colony until assented to by the assembly.

{1622}

A controversy concerning the importation of tobacco into the European dominions of the crown, which had for some time existed between the King and the company, was, at length, adjusted.

The King had demanded high duties on that article, while he permitted its importation from the dominions of Spain, and also restrained its direct exportation from Virginia, to the warehouses of the company in Holland, to which expedient his exactions had driven them. It was at length agreed that they should enjoy the sole right of importing that commodity into the kingdom, for which they should pay a duty of nine pence per pound, in lieu of all charges, and that the whole production of the colony should be brought to England.

[Sidenote: County courts.]

The industry, population, and produce of the colony, were now greatly increased. At peace with the Indians, they had extended their settlements to the Rappahannock and to the Potowmac. This change of circumstances having rendered it inconvenient to bring all causes to Jamestown before the governor and council, who had heretofore exercised all judicial power in the country, inferior courts were established, to sit in convenient places, in order to render justice more cheap and accessible to the people. Thus originated the county courts of Virginia.

[Sidenote: Indian conspiracy to massacre all the whites.]

In this year the cup of prosperity, which the colonists had begun to taste, was dashed from their lips by an event which shook the colony to its foundation. In 1618, Powhatan died, and was succeeded, in his dominions and in his influence over all the neighbouring tribes, by Opechancanough, a bold and cunning chief, as remarkable for his jealousy and hatred of the new settlers, as for his qualifications to execute the designs suggested by his resentments. He renewed, however, the stipulations of Powhatan; and, for a considerable time, the general peace remained undisturbed. The colonists, unsuspicious of danger, observed neither the Indians nor their machinations. Engaged entirely in the pursuits of agriculture, they neglected their military exercises, and every useful precaution. Meanwhile, the Indians, being often employed as hunters, were furnished with fire arms, and taught to use them. They were admitted, at all times, freely into the habitations of the English, as harmless visitants, were fed at their tables, and lodged in their chambers. During this state of friendly intercourse, the plan of a general massacre, which should involve man, woman, and child, in indiscriminate slaughter, was formed with cold and unrelenting deliberation. The tribes in the neighbourhood of the English, except those on the eastern shore of the Chesapeak, who were not trusted with the plan, were successively gained over; and, notwithstanding the perpetual intercourse between them and the white people, the most impenetrable secrecy was observed. So deep and dark was their dissimulation, that they were accustomed to borrow boats from the English to cross the river, in order to concert and mature their execrable designs.

The 22d of March was designated as the day on which all the English settlements were to be attacked. The better to disguise their intentions, and to ensure success, they brought, in the preceding evening, deer, turkies, and fish, as presents; and, even on the morning of the massacre, came freely among the whites, behaving in their usual friendly manner, until the very instant which had been appointed for the commencement of the scene of carnage. The fatal hour being arrived, they fell at once on every settlement, and murdered without distinction of age or sex. So sudden was the execution of their plan, that few perceived the weapons, or the approach of the blow, which terminated their existence. Thus, in one hour, and almost in the same instant, fell three hundred and forty-seven men, women and children; most of them by their own plantation tools.

The massacre would have been still more complete, had not information been given, the preceding night, to a Mr. Pace, by an Indian domesticated in his house, and treated as a son, who, being pressed to murder his benefactor, disclosed the plot to him. He immediately carried the intelligence to Jamestown, and the alarm was given to some of the nearest settlements, which were thereby saved. At some other places, too, where the circumstances of the attack enabled the English to seize their arms, the assailants were repulsed.

[Sidenote: General war.]

This horrible massacre was succeeded by a vindictive and exterminating war, in which the wiles of the Indians were successfully retaliated on themselves. During this disastrous period, many public works were abandoned; the college institution was deserted; the settlements were reduced from eighty to eight; and famine superadded its afflicting scourge to the accumulated distresses of the colony.[36]

[Footnote 36: Robertson. Chalmer. Stith.]

As soon as intelligence of these calamitous events reached England, a contribution was made by the adventurers for the relief of the sufferers; arms from the tower were delivered to the treasurer and company; and several vessels were dispatched with those articles which might best alleviate such complicated distress.

[Sidenote: Dissension and dissolution of the company.]

But the dissolution of the company was rapidly approaching. That corporation contained many men of the first rank and talents in the nation, who in their assemblies, were in habits of discussing the measures of the crown with the accustomed freedom of a popular body. Two violent factions, which assumed the regular appearance of court and country parties, divided the company, and struggled for the ascendancy. James endeavoured to give the preponderance to the court party, but his endeavours were unsuccessful; and his failure disposed him to listen to complaints against a corporation, whose deliberations he found himself unable to control. To their mismanagement he ascribed the slow progress made by the colony, and the heavy losses that had been sustained.[37]

[Footnote 37: Ibid.]

{1623}

{1624}

[Sidenote: Colony taken into the hands of the King.]

After hearing both the corporation and their accusers, the privy council determined to issue a commission, appointing persons to be named by the crown, to inquire into the affairs of Virginia from the earliest settlement of the province, and to report thereon to the government. This commission seized the charters, books, and papers of the company; and all letters and packets brought from the colony were ordered to be laid unopened before the privy council. Their report attributed the misfortunes of the colony to the corporation in England; and James, at no time a friend to popular assemblies, communicated to them his resolution to revoke the old charter and grant a new one, which should respect private property, but place power in fewer hands. The requisition that they should assent to this proposition, and surrender their charter, was accompanied with the information that the King was determined, in default of submission, to take such proceedings for recalling their letters patent as might be just. The company, however, resolutely determined to defend its rights; whereupon a writ of quo warranto was instituted in the court of King's Bench, which was decided according to the wishes of the monarch. The company was dissolved, and all its powers were revested in the crown.

Above one hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling had been expended in planting the colony; and more than nine thousand persons had been sent from England to people it. Yet, at the dissolution of the company, the annual imports from Virginia did not exceed twenty thousand pounds in value, and the population of the country was reduced to about eighteen hundred persons.

While these things were transacting in England, the war against the Indians was prosecuted in the colony, with vigour and success. The neighbouring hostile tribes were nearly exterminated, and were driven entirely from the rivers, so that the settlements were extended in safety.

In February, the general assembly was once more convened. The several orders which had been previously made by the governor and council, were enacted into laws; and form the oldest legislative rules of action now remaining on record. Among them are various regulations respecting the church of England. But the act best representing the condition of the colonists, is a solemn declaration, "that the governor should not impose any taxes on the colony, otherwise than by the authority of the general assembly; and that he should not withdraw the inhabitants from their private labour to any service of his own." At this session, too, the privilege of exemption from arrest, while the assembly was sitting, was extended to the burgesses. Several other measures were adopted for the correction of abuses; and the laws of that session, generally, are marked with that good sense and patriotism, which are to be expected from men perfectly understanding their own situation, and legislating for themselves.

From this assembly, the royal commissioners endeavoured, in vain, to procure an address to the King, professing "their willingness to submit themselves to his princely pleasure, in revoking the ancient patents;" but a petition was agreed to and transmitted, acknowledging their satisfaction at his having taken the plantation into his more especial care, beseeching him to continue the then form of government, to confirm to Virginia and the Somers isles, the sole importation of tobacco, and soliciting that, if the promised aid of soldiers should be granted them, the governor and assembly might have a voice in directing their operations.

Virginia having thus become a royal government, the King issued a special commission, appointing a governor and twelve councillors, to whom the entire direction of the affairs of the province was committed. No assembly was mentioned, nor was it intended to permit the continuance of that body, for, to the popular shape of the late system, James attributed the disasters of the colony. But some attention to their interests, was mingled with this subversion of political liberty. Yielding to the petitions of the English parliament and of the colonists, he issued a proclamation prohibiting the growth of tobacco in the kingdom, and the importation of it into England or Ireland, except from Virginia, or the Somers isles, and in vessels belonging to his subjects. His death prevented the completion of a legislative code for the colony, which he had commenced, and which he flattered himself, would remedy all the ills that had been experienced.

[Sidenote: Charles I.]

[Sidenote: Arbitrary measures of the crown.]

{1625}

Charles I. adopted, in its full extent, the colonial system of his father. He committed to Sir George Yeardly, whom he appointed governor of Virginia, and to his council, the whole legislative and executive powers of the colony, with instructions to conform exactly to orders which should be received from him. They were empowered to make laws and to execute them; to impose taxes, and to enforce the payment of them; to seize the property of the late company; and to apply it to the public use; and to transport the colonists to England, to be punished there for crimes committed in Virginia. To complete this hateful system, the crown exacted a monopoly of the tobacco trade, and appointed agents, to whose management that article was entirely committed.[38]

[Footnote 38: Robertson. Chalmer. Stith.]

{1629}

[Sidenote: Sir John Harvey.]

{1636}

The full pressure of these arbitrary regulations was not felt till Sir John Harvey, on the Sir John death of Sir George Yeardly, was appointed governor of Virginia. The mind of this gentleman is represented by the historians of the day, as having been of a structure to make even tyranny more odious. Rapacious, haughty, and unfeeling, he exercised his powers in the most offensive manner. Respect for his commission, suppressed opposition to his authority for several years. Roused, at length, almost to madness by oppression, the Virginians, in a fit of popular rage, seized their governor, and sent him a prisoner to England, accompanied by two deputies charged with the duty of representing their grievances, and his misconduct.

{1637}

Charles deemed it necessary to discountenance this summary and violent proceeding, so entirely incompatible with that implicit obedience which he had ever exacted from his subjects. The deputies of the colony were sternly received; no inquiry appears to have been made into the conduct of Harvey; and, early in the succeeding year, he was sent back to Virginia, invested with all his former powers.[39]

[Footnote 39: Robertson. Chalmer. Stith.]

The time, however, approached, when a new system of administration was to be adopted. The discontents of the nation, and his own wants, obliged Charles to determine on convening a parliament. He was probably unwilling to increase the ill temper resulting from his maladministration at home, by bringing before the representatives of the people, complaints of the despotism which had been exercised in America.

[Sidenote: Sir William Berkeley.]

[Sidenote: Provincial assembly restored.]

To this change of circumstances may be ascribed the appointment of Sir William Berkeley to succeed Harvey as governor of Virginia. In almost every respect, this gentleman was unlike his predecessor. Highly respectable for his rank and abilities, he was still more distinguished by his integrity, by the mildness of his temper, and by the gentleness of his manners. To complete the satisfaction of the colonists, he was empowered and directed to summon the burgesses of all the plantations, to meet the governor and council in the general assembly, and thereby to restore to the people their share in the government. These changes had such an effect in Virginia that, when afterward informed of a petition presented in the name of the assembly to parliament, "praying for the restoration of the ancient patents, and corporation government," the general assembly not only transmitted an explicit disavowal of it, but sent an address to the King, expressing their high sense of his favour towards them, and earnestly desiring to continue under his immediate protection. During the civil war, as well as after the establishment of the commonwealth, they continued firm in their attachment to the royal family.

{1650}

The House of Commons, however, having succeeded in the establishment of its power over England, was not disposed to permit its authority to be questioned in Virginia. An ordinance was passed, declaring that, as the colonies were settled at the cost and by the people of England, "they are and ought to be subordinate to, and dependent on, that nation; and subject to such law and regulations as are or shall be made by parliament. That in Virginia and other places, the powers of government had been usurped by persons who had set themselves up in opposition to the commonwealth, who were therefore denounced as rebels and traitors; and all foreign vessels were forbidden to enter the ports of any of the English settlements in America." As the men who then governed were not in the habit of making empty declarations, the council of state was empowered to send a fleet to enforce obedience to parliament.[40]

[Footnote 40: Robertson. Chalmer.]

{1651}

Sir George Ayscue was accordingly detached with a powerful squadron, and was instructed to endeavour, by gentle means, to bring the colonists to obedience; but, if these failed, to use force, and to give freedom to such servants and slaves of those who should resist, as would serve in the troops under his command. After reducing Barbadoes, and the other islands to submission, the squadron entered the Chesapeak. Berkeley, having hired a few Dutch ships which were then trading to Virginia, made a gallant resistance; but, unable long to maintain so unequal a contest, he yielded to superior force, having first stipulated for a general amnesty. He then withdrew to a retired situation where, beloved and respected by the people, he resided as a private man, until a counter revolution called him, once more, to preside over the colony.[41]

[Footnote 41: Robertson. Chalmer.]

After the revocation of the charter, it became more easy to obtain large grants of land. This circumstance, notwithstanding the tyranny of the provincial government, promoted emigration, and considerably increased the population of the colony. At the commencement of the civil war, Virginia was supposed to contain about twenty thousand souls.[42]

[Footnote 42: Idem.]

[Sidenote: Charles II. proclaimed in Virginia.]

While the ordinance of 1650, forbidding all trade between the colonies and foreign nations, was dispensed with in favour of republican New England, it was rigorously enforced against the loyal colony of Virginia. These restrictions were the more burdensome, because England did not then furnish a sufficient market for all the produce, nor a supply for all the wants of the colonies. This severity was not calculated to detach the affections of the people from the royal family. Their discontents were cherished, too, by the great number of cavaliers who had fled to Virginia after the total defeat of their party in England. Taking advantage of an interregnum occasioned by the sudden death of governor Matthews, the people resolved to throw off their forced allegiance to the commonwealth, and called on Sir William Berkeley to resume the government. He required only their solemn promise to venture their lives and fortunes with him in support of their King. This being readily given, Charles II. was proclaimed in Virginia, before intelligence had been received of the death of Cromwell. His restoration was soon afterwards effected in England; and this rash measure not only escaped chastisement, but became a meritorious service of which Virginia long boasted, and which was not entirely forgotten by the Prince.[43]

[Footnote 43: Robertson. Chalmer.]

At the restoration, the colony contained about thirty thousand persons.

One of the causes which, during the government of Harvey, had disquieted Virginia, was the diminution of territory occasioned by grants of great tracts of country lying within the limits of the colony. The most remarkable of these was the grant of Maryland to Lord Baltimore.

[Sidenote: Maryland.]

In June 1632, Charles I. granted to that nobleman for ever, "that region bounded by a line drawn from Watkin's Point on Chesapeak bay, to the ocean on the east; thence, to that part of the estuary of Delaware on the north, which lieth under the 40th degree, where New England is terminated; thence, in a right line, by the degree aforesaid, to the meridian of the fountain of the Potowmac; thence, following its course, by the farther bank to its confluence." The territory described in this grant was denominated Maryland, and was separated entirely from Virginia. The proprietor was empowered, with the assent of the freemen, or their delegates, whom he was required to assemble for that purpose, to make all laws for the government of the new colony, not inconsistent with the laws of England. Privileges, in other respects analogous to those given to the other colonies, were comprised in this charter; and it is remarkable that it contains no clause obliging the proprietary to submit the laws which might be enacted to the King, for his approbation or dissent; nor any reservation of the right of the crown to interfere in the government of the province.[44]

[Footnote 44: Chalmer. Robertson.]

This is the first example of the dismemberment of a colony, and the creation of another within its original limits, by the mere act of the crown.

{1633}

The first migration into the new colony consisted of about two hundred gentlemen with their adherents, chiefly Roman Catholics, who sailed from England under Calvert, the brother of the proprietor, in November, and, early in the following year, landed in Maryland, near the mouth of the Potowmac. Their first effort was to conciliate the good will of the natives, whose town they purchased, and called St. Mary's. This measure was as wise as it was just. By obtaining the peaceable possession of land already prepared for cultivation, the Marylanders were enabled to raise their food immediately; and this circumstance, together with their neighbourhood to Virginia, where the necessaries of life were then raised in abundance, secured them from famine and its concomitant diseases;—afflictions which had swept away such numbers of the first settlers of North America.

The inhabitants of Virginia presented a petition against the grant to Lord Baltimore, which was heard before the privy council in July, 1633. The decision was in favour of the continuance of the patent; leaving to the petitioners their remedy at law. To prevent farther differences, free commerce was permitted between the colonies; and they were enjoined to receive no fugitives from each other; to do no act which might bring on a war with the natives; and on all occasions to assist each other as became fellow subjects of the same state.

{1635}

[Sidenote: Assembly of all the freemen.]

{1638}

[Sidenote: William Clayborne.]

In February 1635, the first assembly of Maryland was convened. It appears to have been composed of the whole body of the freemen. Their acts were, most probably, not approved by the proprietor, who transmitted, in turn, for their consideration, a code of laws prepared by himself. This code was laid before the assembly who rejected it without hesitation, and prepared a body of regulations adapted to their situation. Among these was an act of attainder against William Clayborne, who was charged with felony and sedition, with having exercised the powers of government within the province without authority, and with having excited the Indians to make war on the colony.[45]

[Footnote 45: Chalmer.]

As early as the year 1631, Charles had granted a license to William Clayborne, one of the council and secretary of state of Virginia, "to traffic in those parts of America for which there is already no patent granted for sole trade." To enforce this license, Harvey, then governor of Virginia, had granted his commission also, containing the same powers. Under this license and commission, Clayborne made a small settlement in the isle of Kent, near Annapolis, which he continued to claim; and refused to submit to the jurisdiction of Maryland. Not content with infusing his own turbulent spirit into the inhabitants of Kent island, he scattered jealousies among the natives, and persuaded them that "the new comers" were Spaniards, and enemies of the Virginians. Having been indicted, and found guilty of murder, piracy, and sedition, he fled from justice; whereupon his estate was seized and confiscated. Clayborne loudly denounced these proceedings as oppressive, and complained of them to his sovereign. At the same time, he prayed for a confirmation of his former license to trade, and for a grant of other lands adjoining the isle of Kent, with power to govern them. The lords commissioners of the colonies, to whom this subject was referred, determined that the lands in question belonged to Lord Baltimore; and that no plantation, or trade with the Indians, within the limits of his patent, ought to be allowed, without his permission. The other complaints made by Clayborne were not deemed proper for the interference of government.

{1639}

Hitherto, the legislature had been composed of the whole body of the freemen. But the increase of population, and the extension of settlements, having rendered the exercise of the sovereign power by the people themselves intolerably burdensome, an act was passed, in 1639, "for establishing the House of Assembly." This act declared that those elected should be called burgesses, and should supply the place of the freemen who chose them, as do the representatives in the Parliament of England. These burgesses, with others called by special writ, together with the governor and secretary, were to constitute the General Assembly; but the two branches of the legislature were to sit in the same chamber. In 1650, this last regulation was changed; and an act was passed declaring that those called by special writ should form the upper house, while those chosen by the hundreds should compose the lower house; and that bills assented to by both branches of the legislature and by the governor, should be deemed the laws of the province.

{1641}

Perfect harmony prevailed between the proprietor and the people; and Maryland, attentive to its own affairs, remained in a state of increasing prosperity until the civil war broke out in England. This government, like that of Virginia, was attached to the royal cause; but Clayborne, who took part with the Parliament, found means to intrigue among the people, and to raise an insurrection in the province. Calvert, the governor, was obliged to fly to Virginia for protection; and the insurgents seized the reins of government. After the suppression of this revolt, and the restoration of tranquillity, an act of general pardon and oblivion was passed, from the benefits of which only a few leading individuals were excepted; but this, like most other insurrections, produced additional burdens on the people which did not so soon pass away. A duty, for seven years, of ten shillings on every hundred weight of tobacco exported in Dutch bottoms, was granted to the proprietor; the one-half of which was appropriated to satisfy claims produced by the recovery and defence of the province.[46]

[Footnote 46: Chalmer.]

{1651}

This state of repose was disturbed by the superintending care of Parliament. In September 1651, commissioners were appointed "for reducing and governing the colonies within the bay of Chesapeak." Among them was Clayborne, the evil genius of Maryland. As the proprietor had acknowledged and submitted to the authority of Parliament, he was permitted to govern the colony in the name of "the keepers of the liberties of England;" but could not long retain the possession of actual authority. The distractions of England, having found their way into Maryland, divided the colonists; and the commissioners supported with their countenance, the faction opposed to the established government. The contentions generated by this state of things, at length broke out in a civil war, which terminated in the defeat of the governor and the Roman Catholics. A new assembly was convened, which, being entirely under the influence of the victorious party, passed an act declaring that none who professed the popish religion could be protected in the province by the laws; that such as profess faith in God by Jesus Christ, although dissenting from the doctrine and discipline publicly held forth, should not be restrained from the exercise of their religion, provided such liberty was not extended to popery, or prelacy, or to such as, under the profession of Christ, practise licentiousness. Other laws in the same spirit were enacted; and a persecution was commenced against the Quakers, as well as against those guilty of popery, and prelacy.

A scene of revolutionary turbulence ensued, in the course of which a resolution was passed declaring the upper house to be useless, which continued in force until the restoration. Philip Calvert was then appointed governor by Lord Baltimore, and the ancient order of things was restored. The colony, notwithstanding these commotions, continued to flourish; and, at the restoration, its population was estimated at twelve thousand souls.



CHAPTER III.

First ineffectual attempts of the Plymouth company to settle the country.... Settlement at New Plymouth.... Sir Henry Rosewell and company.... New charter.... Settlements prosecuted vigorously.... Government transferred to the colonists.... Boston founded.... Religious intolerance.... General court established.... Royal commission for the government of the plantations.... Contest with the French colony of Acadie.... Hugh Peters.... Henry Vane.... Mrs. Hutchinson.... Maine granted to Gorges.... Quo warranto against the patent of the colony.... Religious dissensions.... Providence settled.... Rhode Island settled.... Connecticut settled.... War with the Piquods.... New Haven settled.

{1606}

The steps by which the first, or southern colony, advanced to a firm and permanent establishment, were slow and painful. The company for founding the second, or northern colony, was composed of gentlemen residing in Plymouth, and other parts of the west of England; was less wealthy, and possessed fewer resources than the first company, which resided in the capital. Their efforts were consequently more feeble, and less successful, than those which were made in the south.[47]

[Footnote 47: Robertson.]

{1607}

{1608}

{1614}

The first vessel fitted out by this company was captured and confiscated by the Spaniards, who, at that time, asserted a right to exclude the ships of all other nations from navigating the American seas. Not discouraged by this misfortune, the company in the following year dispatched two other vessels, having on board about two hundred persons designed to form the proposed settlement. The colonists arrived safely on the American coast in autumn, and took possession of a piece of ground near the river Sagahadoc, where they built fort St. George. Their sufferings during the ensuing winter were extreme. Many of the company, among whom were Gilbert their admiral, and George Popham their president, sank under the diseases by which they were attacked; and the vessels which brought them supplies in the following spring, brought also the information that their principal patron, Sir John Popham, chief justice of England, was dead. Discouraged by their losses and sufferings, and by the death of a person on whom they relied chiefly for assistance, the surviving colonists determined to abandon the country, and embark on board the vessels then returning to England. The frightful pictures they drew of the country, and of the climate, deterred the company, for some time, from farther attempts to make a settlement, and their enterprizes were limited to voyages for the purposes of taking fish, and of trading with the natives for furs. One of these was made by captain Smith, so distinguished in the history of Virginia. Having explored, with great accuracy, that part of the coast which stretches from Penobscot to Cape Cod, he delineated it on a map; which he presented to the young Prince of Wales, with descriptions dictated by a sanguine mind, in which enthusiasm was combined with genius. The imagination of the Prince was so wrought upon by the glowing colours in which Smith painted the country, that he declared it should be called New England, which name it has ever since retained.[48]

[Footnote 48: Robertson. Chalmer. Hutchison.]

The languishing company of Plymouth, however, could not be stimulated to engage in farther schemes of colonisation, the advantages of which were distant and uncertain, while the expense was immediate and inevitable. To a stronger motive than even interest, is New England indebted for its first settlement.

An obscure sect, which had acquired the appellation of Brownists from the name of its founder, and which had rendered itself peculiarly obnoxious by the democracy of its tenets respecting church government, had been driven by persecution to take refuge at Leyden in Holland, where its members formed a distinct society under the care of their pastor, Mr. John Robinson. There they resided several years in safe obscurity. This situation, at length, became irksome to them. Their families intermingled with the Dutch, and they saw before them, with extreme apprehension, the danger of losing their separate identity. Under the influence of these and other causes, they came to the determination of removing in a body to America.

{1618}

They applied to the London company for a grant of lands; and, to promote the success of their application by the certainty of their emigrating, they said, "that they were well weaned from the delicate milk of their mother country, and inured to the difficulties of a strange land. That they were knit together in a strict and sacred bond, by virtue of which they held themselves bound to take care of the good of each other, and of the whole. That it was not with them, as with other men, whom small things could discourage, or small discontents cause to wish themselves at home again." The only privilege on which they insisted, was a license under the great seal, to practise and profess religion in that mode, which, under the impulse of conscience, they had adopted. This reasonable and moderate request was refused. James had already established the church of England in Virginia; and, although he promised to connive at their non-conformity, and not to molest them while they demeaned themselves peaceably, he positively refused to give that explicit and solemn pledge of security, which they required. This, for a short time, suspended their removal; but the causes of their discontent in Holland continuing, they, at length, determined to trust to the verbal declarations of the King, and negotiated with the Virginia company for a tract of land within the limits of their patent.[49]

[Footnote 49: Robertson.]

{1620}

[Sidenote: Settlement at New Plymouth.]

In September, they sailed from England, with only one hundred and twenty men, in a single ship. Their destination was Hudson's river; but the first land they made was Cape Cod. They soon perceived that they were not only beyond their own limits, but beyond those of the company from which they derived their title; but it was now the month of November, and consequently too late in the season again to put to sea in search of a new habitation. After exploring the coast, they chose a position for their station, to which they gave the name of New at New Plymouth. On the 11th of November, before landing, a solemn covenant was signed by the heads of families, and freemen, in which, after reciting that they had undertaken to plant a colony for the glory of God, and for the honour of their King and country, and professing their loyalty to their sovereign Lord King James, they combined themselves into a body politic, for the purpose of making equal laws for the general good.[50]

[Footnote 50: Robertson. Chalmer. Hutchison.]

Having thus formed a compact, the obligation of which all admitted, they proceeded to the choice of a governor for one year; and to enable him the better to discharge the trust confided to him, they gave him one assistant. In 1624, three others were added; and the number was afterwards increased to seven. The supreme power resided in, and, during the infancy of the colony, was exercised by, the whole body of the male inhabitants. They assembled together, occasionally, to determine on all subjects of public concern; nor was a house of representatives established until the year 1639. They adopted the laws of England as a common rule of action, adding occasionally municipal regulations. Some of the changes in their penal code strongly marked their character and circumstances. While only a moderate fine was imposed on forgery, fornication was punished with whipping, and adultery with death.[51]

[Footnote 51: Robertson. Chalmer. Hutchison.]

Misguided by their religious theories, they fell into the same error which had been committed in Virginia, and, in imitation of the primitive Christians, threw all their property into a common stock, laboured jointly for the common benefit, and were fed from the common stores. This regulation produced, even in this small and enthusiastic society, its constant effect. They were often in danger of starving; and severe whipping, administered to promote labour, only increased discontent.

The colonists landed at a season of the year which was unfavourable to the establishment of a new settlement. The winter, which was intensely cold, had already commenced; and they were not in a condition to soften its rigours. Before the return of spring, fifty of them perished with maladies increased by the hardships to which they were exposed, by the scarcity of food, and by the almost total privation of those comforts to which they had been accustomed. The survivors, as the season moderated, encountered new difficulties. Their attention to the means of providing for their future wants was interrupted by the necessity of taking up arms to defend themselves against the neighbouring savages. Fortunately for the colonists, the natives had been so wasted by pestilence, the preceding year, that they were easily subdued, and compelled to accept a peace, on equitable terms.

The colonists were supported, under these multiplied distresses, by the hope of better times, and by that high gratification which men exasperated by persecution and oppression, derived from the enjoyment of the rights of conscience, and the full exercise of the powers of self-government. From their friends in England, they received occasional but scanty supplies; and continued to struggle against surrounding difficulties, with patience and perseverance. They remained in peace, alike exempt from the notice and oppression of government. Yet, in consequence of the unproductiveness of their soil, and their adherence to the pernicious policy of a community of goods and of labour, they increased more slowly than the other colonies; and, in the year 1630, amounted to only three hundred souls.

Until the year 1630, they possessed no other title to their lands than is derived from occupancy. In that year they obtained a grant from the New Plymouth company, but were never incorporated as a body politic by royal charter. Having received no powers from the parliament or King, and being totally disregarded by the Plymouth company, they remained a mere voluntary association, yielding obedience to laws, and to magistrates, formed and chosen by themselves. In this situation they continued undisturbed, and almost unknown, more tolerant and more moderate than their neighbours, until their union with a younger, and more powerful sister, who advanced with a growth unusually rapid to a state of maturity.[52]

[Footnote 52: Robertson. Chalmer. Hutchison.]

The original company of Plymouth, having done nothing effectual towards settling the territory which had been granted to them, and being unable to preserve the monopoly of their trade and fisheries, applied to James for a new and more enlarged patent. On the 3d of November, he granted that territory which lies between the 40th and 48th degrees of north latitude to the Duke of Lenox, the Marquis of Buckingham, and several others, in absolute property; and incorporated them under the name of "the council established at Plymouth, for planting and governing that country called New England;" with jurisdiction and powers similar to those which had before been conferred on the companies of south and north Virginia, and especially that of excluding all other persons whatever from trading within their boundaries and fishing in the neighbouring seas. This improvident grant, which excited the indignation of the people of England, then deeply interested in the fur trade and fisheries, soon engaged the attention, and received the censure of parliament. The patentees were compelled to relinquish their odious monopoly; and, being thus deprived of the funds on which they had relied to furnish the expense of supporting new settlements, they abandoned the design of attempting them. New England might have remained long unoccupied by Europeans, had not the same causes, which occasioned the emigration of the Brownists, still continued to operate. The persecution to which the puritans were exposed, increased their zeal and their numbers. In despair of obtaining at home a relaxation of those rigorous penal statutes under which they had long smarted, they looked elsewhere for that toleration which was denied them in their native land. Understanding that their brethren in New Plymouth were permitted to worship their creator according to the dictates of conscience, their attention was directed towards the same coast; and several small emigrations were made, at different times, to Massachusetts bay; so termed from the name of the Sachem who was sovereign of the country.

{1627}

[Sidenote: Sir Henry Rosewell and others.]

Mr. White, a non-conforming minister at Dorchester, formed an association of several gentlemen, who had imbibed puritanical opinions, for the purpose of conducting a colony to the bay of Massachusetts, and rendering it an asylum for the persecuted of his own persuasion. In prosecution of these views, a treaty was concluded with the council of Plymouth for the purchase of part of New England; and that corporation, in March 1627, sold to Sir Henry Rosewell and others, all that part of New England lying three miles to the south of Charles river, and three miles north of Merrimack river, and extending from the Atlantic to the South sea. A small number of planters and servants were, soon afterwards, dispatched under Endicot, who, in September, laid the foundation of Salem, the first permanent town in Massachusetts.[53]

[Footnote 53: Robertson. Chalmer. Hutchison.]

{1628}

The purchasers perceived their inability to accomplish the settlement of the extensive regions they had acquired, without the aid of more opulent partners. These were soon found in the capital; but they required that a new charter should be obtained from the crown, comprehending their names, which should confirm the grant to the council of Plymouth, and confer on the grantees the powers of government. So seldom is man instructed by the experience of others, that, disregarding the lessons furnished by Virginia, they likewise required that the supreme authority should be vested in persons residing in London. The proprietors having acceded to these requisitions, application was made to Charles for a patent conforming to them, which issued on the 4th day of March, 1628.

This charter incorporated the grantees by the name of "The governor and company of Massachusetts bay in New England."

The whole executive power was vested in a governor, a deputy governor, and eighteen assistants; to be named, in the first instance, by the crown, and afterwards elected by the company. The governor, and seven, or more, of the assistants, were authorised to meet in monthly courts, for the dispatch of such business as concerned the company, or settlement. The legislative power was vested in the body of the proprietors, who were to assemble four times a year in person, under the denomination of the general court; and besides electing freemen, and the necessary officers of the company, were empowered to make ordinances for the good of the community, and the government of the plantation and its inhabitants; provided they should not be repugnant to the laws of England. Their lands were to be holden in free and common soccage; and the same temporary exemption from taxes, and from duties on exports and imports, which had been granted to the colony of Virginia, was accorded to them. As in the charter of Virginia, so in this, the colonists and their descendants were declared to be entitled to all the rights and privileges of natural born subjects.

The patent being obtained, the governor and council engaged with ardour in the duties assigned them. To support the expenses of a fresh embarkation, it was resolved that every person subscribing fifty pounds, should be entitled to two hundred acres of land as the first dividend. Five vessels sailed in May, carrying about two hundred persons, who reached Salem in June. At that place they found Endicot, to whom they brought a confirmation of his commission as governor. The colony consisted of three hundred persons, one hundred of whom removed to Charlestown.

Religion, which had stimulated them to remove from their native land, became the first object of their care in the country they had adopted. Being zealous puritans, they concurred in the institution of a church, establishing that form of policy, which has since been denominated independent. A confession of faith was drawn up to which the majority assented; and an association was formed in which they covenanted with the Lord, and with each other, to walk together in all his ways, as he should be pleased to reveal himself to them. Pastors, and other ecclesiastical officers, were chosen, who were installed into their sacred offices, by the imposition of the hands of the brethren.[54]

[Footnote 54: Robertson.]

A church being thus formed, several were received as members who gave an account of their faith and hope as Christians; and those only were admitted into the communion, whose morals and religious tenets were approved by the elders.[55]

[Footnote 55: Robertson.]

{1629}

Pleased with the work of their hands, and believing it to be perfect, they could tolerate no difference of opinion. Just escaped from persecution, they became persecutors themselves. Some few of their number, attached to the ritual of the church of England, were dissatisfied with its total abolition; and, withdrawing from communion with the church, met apart, to worship God in the manner they deemed most proper. At the head of this small number were two of the first patentees, who were also of the council. They were called before the governor, who, being of opinion that their non-conformity and conversation tended to sedition, sent them to England. The opposition ceased when deprived of its leaders.[56]

[Footnote 56: Robertson. Chalmer. Hutchison.]

[Sidenote: Government transferred to Massachusetts bay.]

The following winter brought with it the calamities which must be uniformly sustained by the first emigrants into a wilderness, where the cold is severe, and the privations almost universal. In the course of it, nearly half their number perished, "lamenting that they did not live to see the rising glories of the faithful." The fortitude, however, of the survivors, was not shaken; nor were their brethren in England deterred from joining them. Religion supported the colonists under all their difficulties; and the intolerant spirit of the English hierarchy diminished, in the view of the puritans in England, the dangers and the sufferings to be encountered in America; and disposed them to forego every other human enjoyment, for the consoling privilege of worshipping the Supreme Being according to their own opinions. Many persons of fortune determined to seek in the new world that liberty of conscience which was denied them in the old; but, foreseeing the misrule inseparable from the residence of the legislative power in England, they demanded, as preliminary to their emigration, that the powers of government should be transferred to New England, and be exercised in the colony. The company had already incurred expenses for which they saw no prospect of a speedy reimbursement; and although they doubted the legality of the measure, were well disposed by adopting it, to obtain such important aid. A general court was therefore convened, by whom it was unanimously resolved "that the patent should be transferred, and the government of the colony removed from London to Massachusetts bay." It was also agreed that the members of the corporation remaining in England, should retain a share in the trading stock and profits for the term of seven years.[57]

[Footnote 57: Robertson. Chalmer. Hutchison.]

{1630}

[Sidenote: Boston founded.]

Such was the effect of this revolution in the system of government, that, early in the following year, fifteen hundred persons, among whom were several of family and fortune, embarked, at an expense of upwards of twenty thousand pounds, and arrived at Salem in July. Dissatisfied with this situation, they explored the country in quest of better stations; and, settling in many places around the bay, they laid the foundation of several towns, and, among others, of Boston.

{1631}

The difficulty of obtaining subsistence, the difference of their food from that to which they had been accustomed, the intense cold of the winter, against which sufficient provision was not yet made, were still severely felt by the colonists, and still carried many of them to the grave; but that enthusiasm which had impelled them to emigrate, preserved all its force; and they met, with a firm unshaken spirit, the calamities which assailed them. Our admiration of their fortitude and of their principles, sustains, however, some diminution from observing the sternness with which they denied to others that civil and religious liberty which, through so many dangers and hardships, they sought for themselves. Their general court decreed that none should be admitted as freemen, or permitted to vote at elections, or be capable of being chosen as magistrates, or of serving as jurymen, but such as had been received into the church as members. Thus did men who had braved every hardship for freedom of conscience, deny the choicest rights of humanity, to all those who dissented from the opinion of the majority on any article of faith, or point of church discipline.

{1633}

The numerous complaints of the severities exercised by the government of Massachusetts, added to the immense emigration of persons noted for their enthusiasm, seem, at length, to have made some impression on Charles; and an order was made by the King in council, to stop the ships at that time ready to sail, freighted with passengers for New England. This order, however, seems never to have been strictly executed, as the emigrations continued without any sensible diminution.

{1634}

Hitherto the legislature had been composed of the whole body of the freemen. Under this system, so favourable to the views of the few who possess popular influence, the real power of the state had been chiefly engrossed by the governor and assistants, aided by the clergy. The emigration, however, having already been considerable, and the settlements having become extensive, it was found inconvenient, if not impracticable, longer to preserve a principle which their charter enjoined. In the year 1634, by common consent, the people elected delegates who met the governor and council, and constituted the general court. This important improvement in their system, rendered familiar, and probably suggested, by the practice in the mother country, although not authorised by the charter, remained unaltered, so long as that charter was permitted to exist.[58]

[Footnote 58: Robertson. Chalmer. Hutchison.]

[Sidenote: Commission for the government of the plantations.]

{1635}

The colony of Massachusetts having been conducted, from its commencement, very much on the plan of an independent society, at length attracted the partial notice of the jealous administration in England; and a commission for "the regulation and government of the plantations" was issued to the great officers of state, and to some of the nobility, in which absolute power was granted to the archbishop of Canterbury and to others, "to make laws and constitutions concerning either their state public, or the utility of individuals." The commissioners were authorised to support the clergy by assigning them "tithes, oblations, and other profits, according to their discretion; to inflict punishment on those who should violate their ordinances; to remove governors of plantations, and to appoint others; and to constitute tribunals and courts of justice, ecclesiastical and civil, with such authority and form as they should think proper;" but their laws were not to take effect until they had received the royal assent, and had been proclaimed in the colonies. The commissioners were also constituted a committee to hear complaints against a colony, its governor or other officers, with power to remove the offender to England for punishment. They were farther directed to cause the revocation of such letters patent, granted for the establishment of colonies, as should, upon inquiry, be found to have been unduly obtained, or to contain a grant of liberties hurtful to the royal prerogative.[59]

[Footnote 59: Chalmer. Hutchison.]

From the first settlement at Salem, the colony of Massachusetts had cultivated the friendship of their neighbours of New Plymouth. The bonds of mutual amity were now rendered more strict, not only by some appearances of a hostile disposition among the natives, but by another circumstance which excited alarm in both colonies.

The voyages for discovery and settlement, made by the English and French, to the coast of North America, having been nearly cotemporaneous, their conflicting claims soon brought them into collision with each other. The same lands were granted by the sovereigns of both nations; and, under these different grants, actual settlements had been made by the French as far south and west as St. Croix, and, by the English, as far north and east as Penobscot. During the war with France, which broke out early in the reign of Charles I., that monarch granted a commission to captain Kirk for the conquest of the countries in America occupied by the French; under which, in 1629, Canada and Acadie were subdued; but, by the treaty of St. Germains, those places were restored to France without any description of their limits; and Fort Royal, Quebec, and Cape Breton, were severally surrendered by name. In 1632, a party of French from Acadie committed a robbery on a trading house established at Penobscot by the people of New Plymouth. With the intelligence of this fact, information was also brought that cardinal Richelieu had ordered some companies to Acadie, and that more were expected the next year, with priests, Jesuits, and other formidable accompaniments, for a permanent settlement. The governor of Acadie established a military post at Penobscot, and, at the same time wrote to the governor of New Plymouth stating, that he had orders to displace the English as far as Pemaquid. Not being disposed to submit quietly to this invasion of territory, the government of New Plymouth undertook an expedition for the recovery of the fort at Penobscot, consisting of an English ship of war under the command of captain Girling, and a bark with twenty men belonging to the colony. The garrison received notice of this armament, and prepared for its reception by fortifying and strengthening the fort; in consequence of which Girling, after expending his ammunition and finding himself too weak to attempt the works by assault, applied to Massachusetts for aid. That colony agreed to furnish one hundred men, and to bear the expense of the expedition by private subscription; but a sufficient supply of provisions, even for this small corps, could not be immediately obtained, and the expedition was abandoned. Girling returned, and the French retained possession of Penobscot till 1654. The apprehensions entertained of these formidable neighbours contributed, in no small degree, to cement the union between Massachusetts and Plymouth.[60]

[Footnote 60: Hutchison.]

{1636}

Two persons, afterwards distinguished in English annals, arrived this year in Boston. One was Hugh Peters, the coadjutor and chaplain of Oliver Cromwell; the other was Mr. Henry Vane, the son of Sir Henry Vane, who was, at that time a privy councillor of great credit with the King. The mind of this young gentleman was so deeply imbued with the political and religious opinions of the puritans, that he appeared ready to sacrifice, for the enjoyment of them, all his bright prospects in his native land. His mortified exterior, his grave and solemn deportment, his reputation for piety and wisdom, his strong professions of attachment to liberty and to the public good, added to his attention to some of the leading members in the church, won rapidly the affections of the people, and he was chosen their governor.

His administration commenced with more external pomp than had been usual, or would seem to be congenial either with his own professions, or with the plain and simple manners of the people whom he governed. When going to court or church, he was always preceded by two sergeants who walked with their halberts. Yet his popularity sustained no diminution, until the part he took in the religious controversies of the country detached from him many of its most judicious inhabitants.[61]

[Footnote 61: Chalmer. Hutchison.]

Independent of the meetings for public worship on every Sunday, of the stated lecture in Boston on every Thursday, and of occasional lectures in other towns, there were frequent meetings of the brethren of the churches, for religious exercises. Mrs. Hutchinson, who had been much flattered by the attentions of the governor, and of Mr. Cotton, one of the most popular of the clergy; who added eloquence to her enthusiasm, and whose husband was among the most respected men of the country; dissatisfied with the exclusion of her sex from the private meetings of the brethren, instituted a meeting of the sisters also, in which she repeated the sermons of the preceding Sunday, accompanied with remarks and expositions. These meetings were attended by a large number of the most respectable of her sex; and her lectures were, for a time, generally approved. At length she drew a distinction between the ministers through the country. She designated a small number as being under a covenant of grace; the others, as being under a covenant of works. Contending for the necessity of the former, she maintained that sanctity of life is no evidence of justification, or of favour with God; and that the Holy Ghost dwells personally in such as are justified. The whole colony was divided into two parties, equally positive, on these abstruse points, whose resentments against each other threatened the most serious calamities. Mr. Vane espoused, with zeal, the wildest doctrines of Mrs. Hutchinson, and Mr. Cotton decidedly favoured them. The lieutenant governor Mr. Winthrop, and the majority of the churches, were of the opposite party. Many conferences were held; days of fasting and humiliation were appointed; a general synod was called; and, after violent dissensions, Mrs. Hutchinson's opinions were condemned as erroneous, and she was banished. Many of her disciples followed her. Vane, in disgust, quitted America; unlamented even by those who had lately admired him. He was thought too visionary; and is said to have been too enthusiastic even for the enthusiasts of Massachusetts.

The patentees, having no common object to prosecute, resolved to divide their lands; and, in the expectation of receiving a deed of confirmation for the particular portion which fortune should allot to each, cast lots, in the presence of James, for the shares each should hold in severalty. They continued, however, to act some years longer as a body politic, during which time, they granted various portions of the country to different persons; and executed under the seal of the corporation, deeds of feoffment for the lots drawn by each member of the company; patents of confirmation for which were solicited, but appear to have been granted only to Gorges, for Maine. The charter was surrendered by the company and accepted by the crown.[62]

[Footnote 62: Chalmer. Hutchison.]

{1637}

Charles, in pursuance of his determination to take the government of New England into his own hands, issued a proclamation directing that none should be transported thither who had not the special license of the crown, which should be granted to those only who had taken the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, and had conformed to the discipline of the church of England. This order, however, could not be completely executed; and the emigrations, which were entirely of non-conformists, still continued. Those who were disgusted with the ceremonials rigidly exacted in England, estimated so highly the simple frame of church policy established in Massachusetts, that numbers surmounted every difficulty, to seek an asylum in this new Jerusalem. Among them were men of the first political influence and mental attainments. Pym, Hampden, Hazlerig, and Cromwell, with many others who afterwards performed a conspicuous part in that revolution which brought the head of Charles to the block, are said to have been actually on board a vessel prepared to sail for New England, and to have been stopped by the special orders of the privy council.[63]

[Footnote 63: Hume.]

{1638}

The commissioners for the regulation and government of the plantations having reported that Massachusetts had violated its charter, a writ of quo warranto was issued, on which judgment was given in favour of the crown. The process was never served on any member of the corporation; and it is therefore probable that the judgment was not final. The privy council however ordered the governor and company to send their patent to England to be surrendered. The general court answered this order by a petition to the commissioners in which they said, "we dare not question your Lordship's proceedings in requiring our patent to be sent unto you; we only desire to open our griefs; and if in any thing we have offended his Majesty or your Lordships, we humbly prostrate ourselves at the foot stool of supreme authority; we are sincerely ready to yield all due obedience to both; we are not conscious that we have offended in any thing, as our government is according to law; we pray that we may be heard before condemnation, and that we may be suffered to live in the wilderness." Fortunately for the colonists, Charles and his commissioners found too much employment at home, to have leisure for carrying into complete execution, a system aimed at the subversions of what was most dear to the hearts of Americans.

To the religious dissensions which distracted Massachusetts, and to the rigour with which conformity was exacted, is to be attributed the first settlement of the other colonies of New England. As early as the year 1634, Roger Williams, a popular preacher at Salem, who had refused to hold communion with the church at Boston, because its members refused to make a public declaration of their repentance for having held communion with the church of England during their residence in that country, was charged with many exceptionable tenets. Among several which mark his wild enthusiasm, one is found in total opposition, to the spirit of the times and to the severity of his other doctrines. He maintained, that to punish a man for any matter of conscience is persecution, and that even papists and Arminians are entitled to freedom of conscience in worship, provided the peace of civil society be secured. The divines of Massachusetts, in opposition to this doctrine, contended that they did not persecute men for conscience, but corrected them for sinning against conscience; and so they did not persecute, but punish heretics. This unintelligible sophism not convincing Williams, he was, for this, and for his other heresies, banished by the magistrates, as a disturber of the peace of the church, and of the commonwealth.



[Sidenote: Providence settled.]

Many of his disciples followed him into exile, and, travelling south until they passed the line of Massachusetts, purchased a tract of land of the Narraghansetts, then a powerful tribe of Indians, where, in 1635, they made a settlement to which they gave the name of Providence. After fixing the place of their future residence, they entered into a voluntary association, and framed a government composed of the whole body of freemen. After the manner of Massachusetts, they created a church by collecting a religious society; but, as one of the causes of their migration had been the tenet that all were entitled to freedom of conscience in worship, entire toleration was established. The new settlers cultivated with assiduity the good will of the natives, with whom a long peace was preserved.[64]

[Footnote 64: Chalmer. Hutchison.]

[Sidenote: Rhode Island settled.]

The banishment of Williams was soon followed by that of Mrs. Hutchinson. She was accompanied by many of her disciples, who, pursuing the steps of Williams, and, arriving in his neighbourhood, purchased a tract of land from the same tribe, and founded Rhode Island. Imitating the conduct of their neighbours, they formed a similar association for the establishment of civil government, and adopted the same principles of toleration. In consequence of this conduct the island soon became so populous as to furnish settlers for the adjacent shores.[65]

[Footnote 65: Chalmer.]

{1634}

[Sidenote: Connecticut settled.]

{1636}

Connecticut too is a colony of Massachusetts. As early as the year 1634, several persons, among whom was Mr. Hooker, a favourite minister of the church, applied to the general court of Massachusetts for permission to pursue their fortunes in some new and better land. This permission was not granted at that time; and, it being then the received opinion that the oath of a freeman, as well as the original compact, bound every member of the society so as not to leave him the right to separate himself from it without the consent of the whole, this emigration was suspended. The general court, however, did not long withhold its assent. The country having been explored, and a place selected on the west side of the river Connecticut, a commission was granted to the petitioners to remove, on the condition of their still continuing under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, some few huts had been erected the preceding year in which a small number of emigrants had wintered; and, the fall succeeding, about sixty persons traversed the wilderness in families. In 1636, about one hundred persons, led by Pynchon, Hooker, and Haynes, followed the first emigrants, and founded the towns of Hartford, Springfield, and Weathersfield. There are some peculiarities attending this commission and this settlement, which deserve to be noticed.

The country to be settled was, confessedly, without the limits of Massachusetts; yet Roger Ludlow was authorised to promulgate the orders which might be necessary for the plantations; to inflict corporal punishment, imprisonment, and fines; to determine all differences in a judicial way; and to convene the inhabitants in a general court, if it should be necessary. This signal exercise of authority grew out of the principle, solemnly asserted by the general court of Massachusetts, that the oath of fidelity to the commonwealth was binding, although the person should no longer reside within its limits.

There were other difficulties attending the title of the settlers. The Dutch at Manhadoes, or New York, claimed a right to the river, as its first discoverers. In addition to this hostile title, Lord Say and Seal, and Lord Brooke, with some others, contemplating a retreat in the new world from the despotism with which England was threatened, had made choice of Connecticut river for that purpose, and had built a fort at its mouth, called Saybrooke. The emigrants from Massachusetts, however, kept possession; and proceeded to clear and cultivate the country. They purchased the rights of Lord Say and Seal, and Lord Brooke, and their partners; and the Dutch, being too feeble to maintain their title by the sword, gradually receded from the river. The emigrants, disclaiming the authority of Massachusetts, entered into a voluntary association for the establishment of a government, which, in its form, was like those established in the other colonies of New England. The principal difference between their constitution and that of Massachusetts was, that they imparted the right of freemen to those who were not members of the Church.[66]

[Footnote 66: All the powers of government for nearly three years, seem to have been in the magistrates. Two were appointed in each town, who directed all the affairs of the plantation. The freemen appear to have had no voice in making the laws, or in any part of the government except in some instances of general and uncommon concern. In these instances committees were sent from the several towns to a general meeting. During this term, juries seem not to have been employed in any case.]

These new establishments gave great and just alarm to the Piquods, a powerful tribe of Indians on the south of Massachusetts. They foresaw their own ruin in this extension of the English settlements; and the disposition excited by this apprehension soon displayed itself in private murders, and other acts of hostility. With a policy suggested by a strong sense of danger, they sought a reconciliation with the Narraghansetts, their ancient enemies and rivals; and requested them to forget their long cherished animosities, and to co-operate cordially against a common enemy whose continuing encroachments threatened to overwhelm both in one common destruction. Noticing the rapid progress of the English settlements, they urged, with reason, that, although a present friendship subsisted between the Narraghansetts and the new comers, yet all, in turn, must be dispossessed of their country, and this dangerous friendship could promise no other good than the wretched privilege of being last devoured.

[Sidenote: War with the Piquods.]

These representations could not efface from the bosoms of the Narraghansetts, that deep rooted enmity which neighbours, not bound together by ligaments of sufficient strength to prevent reciprocal acts of hostility, too often feel for each other. Dreading still less the power of a foreign nation, than that of men with whom they had been in the habit of contending, they not only refused to join the Piquods, but communicated their proposition to the government of Massachusetts, with whom they formed an alliance against that tribe. Open war being resolved on by both parties, Captain Underhill was sent to the relief of fort Saybrooke which had been besieged by the Indians; and the three colonies, Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Connecticut, agreed to march their united forces into the country of the Piquods, to effect their entire destruction. The troops of Connecticut were first in motion. Those of Massachusetts were detained by the controversy concerning the covenant of works, and of grace, which had insinuated itself into all the transactions of that colony. Their little army, when collected, found itself divided by this metaphysical point; and the stronger party, believing that the blessing of God could not be expected to crown with success the arms of such unhallowed men as their opponents in faith on this question, refused to march until their small band was purified by expelling the unclean, and introducing others whose tenets were unexceptionable.

While this operation was performing, the troops of Connecticut, reinforced by a body of friendly Indians and by a small detachment from Saybrooke, determined to march against the enemy. The Piquods had taken two positions which they had surrounded with palisadoes, and had resolved to defend. The nearest was on a small eminence surrounded by a swamp near the head of Mystic river. Against this fort the first attack was made. The Indians, deceived by a movement of the vessels from Saybrooke to Narraghansett, believed the expedition to have been abandoned; and celebrated, in perfect security, the supposed evacuation of their country. About day-break, while they were asleep, the English approached, and the surprise would have been complete, had they not been alarmed by the barking of a dog. They immediately gave the war whoop, and flew undismayed to arms. The English rushed to the attack, forced their way through the works, and set fire to the Indian wigwams. The confusion soon became general, and almost every man was killed or taken.

Soon after this action, the troops of Massachusetts arrived, and it was resolved to pursue the victory. Several skirmishes terminated unfavourably to the Piquods; and, in a short time, they received another total defeat, which put an end to the war. A few only of this once powerful nation survived, who, abandoning their country, dispersed themselves among the neighbouring tribes, and were incorporated with them.[67]

[Footnote 67: Chalmer. Hutchison. Trumbull.]

This vigorous essay in arms of the New England colonists impressed on the Indians a high opinion of their courage and military superiority; but their victory was sullied with cruelties which cannot be recollected without mingled regret and censure.

{1638}

Immediately after the termination of this war New Haven was settled.

[Sidenote: New Haven settled.]

A small emigration from England conducted by Eaton and Davenport, arrived at Boston in June. Unwilling to remain where power and influence were already in the hands of others, they refused to continue within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts; and, disregarding the threats at Manhadoes, settled themselves west of Connecticut river, on a place which they named New Haven. Their institutions, civil and ecclesiastical, were in the same spirit with those of their elder sister, Massachusetts.

The colony was now in a very flourishing condition. Twenty-one thousand two hundred emigrants had arrived from England; and, although they devoted great part of their attention to the abstruse points of theology which employed the casuists of that day, they were not unmindful of those solid acquisitions which permanently improve the condition of man. Sober, industrious, and economical, they laboured indefatigably in opening and improving the country, and were unremitting in their efforts to furnish themselves with those supplies which are to be drawn from the bosom of the earth. Of these, they soon raised a surplus for which fresh emigrants offered a profitable market; and their foreign trade in lumber, added to their fish and furs, furnished them with the means of making remittances to England for those manufactures which they found it advantageous to import. Their fisheries had become so important as to attract the attention of government. For their encouragement, a law was passed exempting property employed in catching, curing, or transporting fish, from all duties and taxes, and the fishermen, and ship builders, from militia duty. By the same law, all persons were restrained from using cod or bass fish for manure.



CHAPTER IV.

Massachusetts claims New Hampshire and part of Maine.... Dissensions among the inhabitants.... Confederation of the New England colonies.... Rhode Island excluded from it.... Separate chambers provided for the two branches of the Legislature.... New England takes part with Parliament.... Treaty with Acadie.... Petition of the non-conformists.... Disputes between Massachusetts and Connecticut.... War between England and Holland.... Machinations of the Dutch at Manhadoes among the Indians.... Massachusetts refuses to join the united colonies in the war.... Application of New Haven to Cromwell for assistance.... Peace with the Dutch.... Expedition of Sedgewic against Acadie.... Religious intolerance.

{1639}

[Sidenote: Massachusetts claims New Hampshire and part of Maine.]

The government of Massachusetts, induced by the rapidity with which the colony had attained its present strength to form sanguine hopes of future importance, instituted an inquiry into the extent of their patent, with a view to the enlargement of territory. To facilitate this object, commissioners were appointed to explore the Merrimack, and to ascertain its northernmost point. The charter conveyed to the grantees all the lands within lines to be drawn three miles south of Charles river, and the same distance north of the Merrimack. The government construed this description as authorising a line to be drawn due east from a point three miles north of the head of Merrimack, which soon leaves that river, and includes all New Hampshire, and a considerable part of Maine. In pursuance of this exposition of the charter, the general court asserted its jurisdiction over New Hampshire, in which there were a few scattered habitations, and proceeded to authorise settlements in that country.[68]

[Footnote 68: Chalmer. Hutchison.]

The attempts which had been made to colonise the northern and eastern parts of New England had proved almost entirely unsuccessful. Sir Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason had built a small house at the mouth of Piscataqua, about the year 1623; and, nearly at the same time, others erected a few huts along the coast from Merrimack eastward to Sagadahock for the purpose of fishing. In 1631, Gorges and Mason sent over a small party of planters and fishermen under the conduct of a Mr. Williams, who laid the foundation of Portsmouth.

When the Plymouth company divided New England among its members, that territory lying along the coast from Merrimack river, and for sixty miles into the country to the river Piscataqua, was granted to Mason, and was called New Hampshire; that territory northeastward of New Hampshire, to the river Kennebec, and sixty miles into the country, was granted to Sir Ferdinando Gorges. In 1639, Gorges obtained a patent for this district under the name of Maine, comprehending the lands for one hundred, instead of sixty miles, into the country, together with the powers of sovereignty. He framed a system of government which, being purely executive, could not even preserve itself. After struggling with a long course of confusion, and drawing out, for several years, a miserable political existence, Maine submitted itself to the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, and consented to become a part of that colony. In the course of the years 1651 and 1652, this junction was effected, and Maine was erected into a county, the towns of which sent deputies to the general court at Boston. To this county was conceded the peculiar privilege that its inhabitants, although not members of the church, should be entitled to the rights of freemen on taking the oath.[69]

[Footnote 69: Chalmer. Hutchison.]

The settlements in New Hampshire, too, were maintaining only a doubtful and feeble existence, when they drew a recruit of inhabitants from the same causes which had peopled Rhode Island and Connecticut.

{1637}

In 1637, when Mrs. Hutchinson and other Antinomians were exiled, Mr. Wheelright, her brother in law, a popular preacher, was likewise banished. He carried with him a considerable number of his followers; and, just passing the north-eastern boundary of Massachusetts, planted the town of Exeter. These emigrants immediately formed themselves, according to the manner of New England, into a body politic for their own government.

{1640}

A few persons arrived soon afterwards from England, and laid the foundation of the town of Dover. They also established a distinct government. Their first act proved to be the source of future discord. The majority chose one Underbill as governor; but a respectable minority was opposed to his election. To this cause of discontent was added another of irresistible influence. They were divided on the subject of the covenant of works, and of grace. These dissensions soon grew into a civil war, which was happily terminated by Williams, who was, according to the practice of small societies torn by civil broils, invited by the weaker party to its aid. He marched from Portsmouth at the head of a small military force; and, banishing the governor, and the leaders of the Antinomian faction, restored peace to this distracted village.

Massachusetts had asserted a right over this territory. Her claim derived aid, not only from the factions which agitated these feeble settlements, but also from the uncertainty of the tenure by which the inhabitants held their lands. Only the settlers at Portsmouth had acquired a title from Mason; and the others were, consequently, unfriendly to his pretensions. These causes produced a voluntary offer of submission to the government of Massachusetts, which was accepted; and the general court passed an order, declaring the inhabitants of Piscataqua to be within their jurisdiction, with the privileges of participating in all their rights, and of being exempted from all "public charges, other than those which shall arise for, or among themselves, or from any action, or course that may be taken for their own good or benefit." Under the protecting wing of this more powerful neighbour, New Hampshire attained the growth which afterwards enabled her to stand alone; and long remembered with affection the benefits she had received.[70]

[Footnote 70: Chalmer. Hutchison.]

Charles, environed with difficulties arising from his own misrule, was at length compelled to meet his Parliament; and, in November, the great council of the nation was again assembled. The circumstances which had caused such considerable emigrations to New England, existed no longer. The puritans were not only exempt from persecution, but became the strongest party in the nation; and, from this time, New England is supposed to have derived no increase of population from the parent state.[71]

[Footnote 71: Hutchison.]

[Sidenote: Confederation of the New England colonies.]

{1643}

About the same period many evidences were given of a general combination of the neighbouring Indians against the settlements of New England; and apprehensions were also entertained of hostility from the Dutch at Manhadoes. A sense of impending danger suggested the policy of forming a confederacy of the sister colonies for their mutual defence; and so confirmed had the habit of self-government become since the attention of England was absorbed in her domestic dissensions, that it was not thought necessary to consult the parent state on this important measure. After mature deliberation, articles of confederation were digested; and in May 1643, they were conclusively adopted.[72]

[Footnote 72: This was an union, says Mr. Trumbull, of the highest consequence to the New England colonies. It made them formidable to the Dutch and Indians, and respectable among their French neighbours. It was happily adapted to maintain harmony among themselves, and to secure the rights and peace of the country. It was one of the principal means of the preservation of the colonies, during the civil wars, and unsettled state of affairs in England. It was the great source of mutual defence in Philip's war; and of the most eminent service in civilising the Indians, and propagating the Gospel among them. The union subsisted more than forty years, until the abrogation of the charters of the New England colonies by King James II.]

By them the united colonies of New England, viz. Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven, entered into a firm and perpetual league, offensive and defensive.

Each colony retained a distinct and separate jurisdiction; no two colonies could join in one jurisdiction without the consent of the whole; and no other colony could be received into the confederacy without the like consent.

The charge of all wars was to be borne by the colonies respectively, in proportion to the male inhabitants of each, between sixteen and sixty years of age.

On notice of an invasion given by three magistrates of any colony, the confederates were immediately to furnish their respective quotas. These were fixed at one hundred from Massachusetts, and forty-five from each of the other parties to the agreement. If a larger armament should be found necessary, commissioners were to meet, and ascertain the number of men to be required.

Two commissioners from each government, being church members, were to meet annually on the first Monday in September. Six possessed the power of binding the whole. Any measure approved by a majority of less than six was to be referred to the general court of each colony, and the consent of all was necessary to its adoption.

They were to choose annually a president from their own body, and had power to frame laws or rules of a civil nature, and of general concern. Of this description were rules which respected their conduct towards the Indians, and measures to be taken with fugitives from one colony to another.

No colony was permitted, without the general consent, to engage in war, but in sudden and inevitable cases.

If, on any extraordinary meeting of the commissioners, their whole number should not assemble, any four who should meet were empowered to determine on a war, and to call for the respective quotas of the several colonies; but not less than six could determine on the justice of the war, or settle the expenses, or levy the money for its support.

If any colony should be charged with breaking an article of the agreement, or with doing an injury to another colony, the complaint was to be submitted to the consideration and determination of the commissioners of such colonies as should be disinterested.[73]

[Footnote 73: Chalmer. Hutchison. Trumbull.]

[Sidenote: Rhode Island excluded from it.]

This union, the result of good sense, and of a judicious consideration of the real interests of the colonies, remained in force until their charters were dissolved. Rhode Island, at the instance of Massachusetts, was excluded; and her commissioners were not admitted into the congress of deputies which formed the confederation.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse