On her petitioning at a subsequent period to be received as a member, her request was refused, unless she would consent to be incorporated with Plymouth. This condition being deemed inadmissible, she never was taken into the confederacy. From the formation of this league, its members were considered by their neighbours as one body with regard to external affairs, and such as were of general concern; though the internal and particular objects of each continued to be managed by its own magistrates and legislature.
The vigorous and prudent measures pursued by the united colonies, disconcerted the plans of the Indians, and preserved peace.
Rhode Island and Providence plantations, excluded from the general confederacy, were under the necessity of courting the friendship of the neighbouring Indians. So successful were their endeavours that, in the year 1644, they obtained from the chiefs of the Narraghansetts a formal surrender of their country.
[Footnote 74: Chalmer.]
The first general assembly, consisting of the collective freemen of the plantations, was convened in May, 1647. In this body the supreme authority of the nation resided. The executive duties were performed by a governor and four assistants, chosen from among the freemen by their several towns; and the same persons constituted also the supreme court for the administration of justice. Every township, forming within itself a corporation, elected a council of six, for the management of its peculiar affairs, and for the settlement of its disputes.
[Footnote 75: Ibid.]
Hitherto the governor, assistants, and representatives, of Massachusetts had assembled in the same chamber, and deliberated together. At first their relative powers do not seem to have been accurately understood; nor the mode of deciding controverted questions to have been well defined. The representatives being the most numerous body, contended that every question should be decided by a majority of the whole, while the assistants asserted their right to a negative. More than once, this contest suspended the proceedings of the general court. But the assistants having, with the aid of the clergy, succeeded on each occasion, the representatives yielded the point, and moved that separate chambers should be provided for the two branches of the legislature. This motion being carried in the affirmative, their deliberations were afterwards conducted apart from each other.
This regulation was subsequently modified with respect to judicial proceedings; for the legislature was the court of the last resort. If, in these, the two houses differed, the vote was to be taken conjointly.
[Sidenote: New England takes part with Parliament.]
In England, the contests between the King and Parliament, at length ripened into open war. The colonies of New England took an early and sincere part on the side of Parliament. Their interests were committed to such agents as might best conciliate the favour of the House of Commons, who, in return, manifested the impression received from them, and from the general conduct of their northern colonies, by passing a resolutions exempting from the payment of "duties or other customs," until the house should order otherwise, all merchandises exported to or from New England. And, in 1644, the general court passed an ordinance declaring "that what person soever shall by word, writing, or action, endeavour to disturb our peace directly or indirectly by drawing a party under pretence that he is for the King of England, and such as join with him against the Parliament, shall be accounted as an offender of a high nature against this commonwealth, and to be proceeded with either capitally or otherwise, according to the quality and degree of his offence; provided always that this shall not be extended against any merchants, strangers and shipmen that come hither merely for trade or merchandise, albeit they should come from any of those parts that are in the hands of the King, and such as adhere to him against the Parliament; carrying themselves here quietly, and free from railing, or nourishing any faction, mutiny, or sedition among us as aforesaid."
[Footnote 76: In the subsequent year Parliament exempted New England from all taxes "until both houses should otherwise direct;" and, in 1646, all the colonies were exempted from all talliages except the excise, "provided their productions should be exported only in English bottoms."]
[Footnote 77: Hutchison.]
These manifestations of mutual kindness were not interrupted by an ordinance of Parliament, passed in 1643, appointing the earl of Warwick, governor in chief and lord high admiral of the colonies, with a council of five peers, and twelve commoners, to assist him; and empowering him, in conjunction with his associates, to examine the state of their affairs; to send for papers and persons; to remove governors and officers, appointing others in their places; and to assign over to them such part of the powers then granted as he should think proper. Jealous as were the people of New England of measures endangering their liberty, they do not appear to have been alarmed at this extraordinary exercise of power. So true is it that men close their eyes on encroachments committed by that party to which they are attached, in the delusive hope that power, in such hands, will always be wielded against their adversaries, never against themselves.
[Sidenote: Treaty with Acadie.]
This prosperous state of things was still farther improved by a transaction which is the more worthy of notice as being an additional evidence of the extent to which the colonies of New England then exercised the powers of self-government. A treaty of peace and commerce was entered into between the governor of Massachusetts, styling himself governor of New England, and Monsieur D'Aulney, lieutenant general of the King of France in Acadie. This treaty was laid before the commissioners for the colonies and received their sanction.
[Sidenote: Petition of the non-conformists.]
The rigid adherence of Massachusetts to the principle of withholding the privilege of a freeman from all who dissented from the majority in any religious opinion, could not fail to generate perpetual discontents. A petition was presented to the general court, signed by several persons highly respectable for their situation and character, but, not being church members, excluded from the common rights of society, complaining that the fundamental laws of England were not acknowledged by the colony; and that they were denied those civil and religious privileges to which they were entitled, as freeborn Englishmen, of good moral conduct. Their prayer to be admitted to the rights, or to be relieved from the burdens, of society, was accompanied with observations conveying a very intelligible censure on the proceedings of the colony, and a threat of applying to Parliament, should the prayer of their petition be rejected.
The most popular governments not being always the most inclined to tolerate opinions differing from those of the majority, this petition gave great offence, and its signers were required to attend the court. Their plea, that the right to petition government was sacred, was answered by saying that they were not accused for petitioning, but for using contemptuous and seditious expressions. They were required to find sureties for their good behaviour; and, on refusing to acknowledge their offence, were fined at the discretion of the court. An appeal from this decision having been refused, they sent deputies to lay their case before Parliament; but the clergy exerted themselves on the occasion; and the celebrated Cotton, in one of his sermons, asserted "that if any should carry writings or complaints against the people of God in that country to England, it would be as Jonas in the ship." A storm having risen during the passage, the mariners, impressed with the prophecy of Cotton, insisted that the obnoxious papers should be thrown overboard; and the deputies were constrained to consign their credentials to the waves. On their arrival in England, they found Parliament but little disposed to listen to their complaints. The agents of Massachusetts had received instructions to counteract their efforts; and the governments of New England were too high in favour, to admit of a rigid scrutiny into their conduct.
[Footnote 78: Chalmer. Hutchison.]
In some of the internal dissensions which agitated Massachusetts, Winthrop, a man of great influence, always among their first magistrates, and often their governor, was charged while deputy governor with some arbitrary conduct. He defended himself at the bar, in the presence of a vast concourse of people; and, having been honourably acquitted, addressed them from the bench, in a speech which was highly approved.
As this speech tends to illustrate the political opinions of the day, an extract from it may not be unworthy of regard. "The questions," he said, "which have troubled the country of late, and from which these disturbances in the state have arisen, have been about the authority of the magistrate and the liberty of the people. Magistracy is certainly an appointment from God. We take an oath to govern you according to God's law, and our own; and if we commit errors, not willingly, but for want of skill, you ought to bear with us, because, being chosen from among yourselves, we are but men, and subject to the like passions as yourselves. Nor would I have you mistake your own liberty. There is a freedom of doing what we list, without regard to law or justice; this liberty is indeed inconsistent with authority; but civil, moral, and federal liberty, consists in every man's enjoying his property, and having the benefit of the laws of his country; which is very consistent with a due subjection to the civil magistrate. And for this you ought to contend, with the hazard of your lives."
[Footnote 79: Hutchison.]
During the remnant of his life, he was annually chosen governor.
About this time, a controversy which had long subsisted between Massachusetts, and Connecticut, was terminated. The latter, for the purpose of maintaining Saybrooke, had laid a duty on all goods exported from Connecticut river. The inhabitants of Springfield, a town of Massachusetts lying on the river, having refused to pay this duty, the cause was laid before the commissioners of the united colonies; and, after hearing the parties, those of Plymouth and New Haven adjourned the final decision of the case until the next meeting, in order to hear farther objections from Massachusetts, but directed that, in the meantime, the duty should be paid.
At the meeting in 1648, Massachusetts insisted on the production of the patent of Connecticut. It was perfectly well known that the original patent could not be procured; and the agents for Connecticut, after stating this fact, offered an authentic copy. The commissioners recommended that the boundary line should be run, to ascertain whether Springfield was really in Massachusetts, but still directed that the duty should continue to be paid. On this order being made, the commissioners of Massachusetts produced a law of their general court, reciting the controversy, with the orders which had been made in it, and imposing a duty on all goods belonging to the inhabitants of Plymouth, Connecticut, or New Haven, which should be imported within the castle, or exported from any part of the bay, and subjecting them to forfeiture for non-payment. The commissioners remonstrated strongly against this measure, and recommended it to the general court of Massachusetts, seriously to consider whether such proceedings were reconcilable with "the law of love," and the tenor of the articles of confederation. In the meantime, they begged to be excused from "all farther agitations concerning Springfield."
In this state of the controversy fort Saybrooke was consumed by fire, and Connecticut forbore to re-build it, or to demand the duty. In the following year, Massachusetts repealed the ordinance which had so successfully decided the contest.
[Footnote 80: Chalmer. Hutchison.]
Thus does a member of a confederacy, feeling its own strength, and the weakness of those with whom it is associated, deride the legitimate decisions of the federal body, when opposed to its own interest or passions, and obey the general will, only when that will is dictated by itself.
Although, while civil war raged in the mother country, New England had been permitted to govern itself as an independent nation, Parliament seems to have entertained very decisive opinions respecting the subordination of the provinces, and its own controlling power. The measures taken for giving effect to these opinions, involved all the colonies equally. The council of state was authorised to displace governors and magistrates, and to appoint others. Massachusetts was required to take a new patent, and to hold its courts, not in the name of the colony, but in the name of the Parliament. The general court, unwilling to comply with these requisitions, transmitted a petition to Parliament, styling that body "the supreme authority," and expressing for it the highest respect. They stated their uniform attachment to Parliament during the civil war, the aid they had given, and the losses they had sustained. After speaking of the favours they had received, they expressed the hope "that it will not go worse with them than it did under the late King; and that the frame of this government will not be changed, and governors and magistrates imposed on them against their will." They declared, however, their entire submission to the will of Parliament; and, avowing for that body the most zealous attachment, prayed a favourable answer to their humble petition.
But the united colonies had lately given great umbrage by supplying Virginia and Barbadoes, then enemies of the commonwealth, with warlike stores and other commodities. It was also matter of real complaint that their exemption from the payment of duties enabled them to enrich themselves at the expense of others; and a revocation of their privileges in this respect was seriously contemplated. Yet the requisitions concerning their charter were never complied with, and do not appear to have been repeated.
[Footnote 81: Chalmer. Hutchison.]
[Sidenote: Machinations of the Dutch with the Indians.]
In this year, war was declared by England against Holland. The united colonies, accustomed to conduct their affairs in their own way, did not think themselves involved in this contest, unless engaged in it by some act of their own. The Dutch at Manhadoes, too weak to encounter their English neighbours, solicited the continuance of peace; and, as the trade carried on between them was mutually advantageous, this request was readily granted. Intelligence however was soon brought by the Indians, that the Dutch were privately inciting them to a general confederacy for the purpose of extirpating the English. This intelligence gave the more alarm, because the massacre at Amboyna was then fresh in the recollection of the colonists. An extraordinary meeting of the commissioners was called at Boston, who were divided in opinion with regard to the propriety of declaring war. In consequence of this division, a conference was held before the general court and several elders of Massachusetts. The elders, being requested to give their opinion in writing, stated "that the proofs and presumptions of the execrable plot, tending to the destruction of so many of the dear saints of God, imputed to the Dutch governor, and the fiscal, were of such weights as to induce them to believe the reality of it; yet they were not so fully conclusive as to clear up a present proceeding to war before the world, and to bear up their hearts with that fullness of persuasion which was mete, in commending the case to God in prayer, and to the people in exhortations; and that it would be safest for the colonies to forbear the use of the sword; but advised to be in a posture of defence until the mind of God should be more fully known either for a settled peace, or more manifest grounds of war." With this opinion of the elders, the vote of the general court concurred.
[Footnote 82: Chalmer. Hutchison.]
The intelligence of the practices of the Dutch governor with the Indians becoming more certain, all the commissioners except Mr. Bradstreet of Massachusetts, declared in favour of war. Their proceedings were immediately interrupted by a declaration of the general court of Massachusetts, that no determination of the commissioners, although they should be unanimous, should bind the general court to join in an offensive war which should appear to be unjust. A serious altercation ensued, in the course of which the other colonies pressed the war as a measure essential to their safety; but Massachusetts adhered inflexibly to its first resolution. This additional evidence of the incompetency of their union to bind one member, stronger than all the rest, threatened a dissolution of the confederacy; and that event seems to have been prevented only by the inability of the others to stand alone. Alarmed at their situation, and irritated by the conduct of their elder sister, Connecticut and New Haven represented Cromwell, then lord protector of England, the danger to which the colonies were exposed from the Dutch and the Indians; and the hazard the smaller provinces must continue to incur, unless the league between them could be maintained and executed according to its true intent, and the interpretation which its articles had uniformly received.
With his usual promptness and decision, Cromwell detached a small armament for the reduction of the Dutch colony, and recommended to Massachusetts to furnish aid to the expedition. Although the legitimate requisitions of the government of the union had been ineffectual, the recommendation of the lord protector was not to be disregarded; and the general court passed a resolution conforming to it. A treaty of peace, which was signed in April, saved the Dutch colony.
[Footnote 83: Chalmer. Hutchison.]
[Sidenote: Expedition against Acadie.]
The progress of the French in their neighbourhood had been viewed with regret and apprehension by all New England. Sedgewic, the commander of the forces which had been destined against Manhadoes, animated with the vigour of his master, was easily prevailed on to turn his arms against a people, whose religious tenets he detested, and whose country he hated. He soon dislodged the French from Penobscot, and subdued all Acadie. The ministers of his most christian majesty, pending the negotiations for the treaty of Westminster, demanded restitution of the forts Pentagoet, St. Johns, and Port Royal; but, each nation having claims on the country, their pretensions were referred to the arbitrators appointed to adjust the damages committed on either side since the year 1640; and the restitution of Acadie was postponed for future discussion.
Cromwell seems not to have intended to restore the countries he had conquered. He granted to St. Etienne, Crown and Temple, for ever, the territory denominated Acadie, and part of the country commonly called Nova Scotia, extending along the coast to Pentagoet, and to the river St. George.
Until the restoration, the colonies of New England continued in a state of unexampled prosperity. Those regulations respecting navigation, which were rigorously enforced against others less in favour, were dispensed with for their benefit. They maintained external peace by the vigour and sagacity with which their government was administered; and, improved the advantages which the times afforded them by industry and attention to their interests. In this period of prosperity, they acquired a degree of strength and consistence which enabled them to struggle through the difficulties that afterwards assailed them.
These sober industrious people were peculiarly attentive to the instruction of youth. Education was among the first objects of their care. In addition to private institutions, they had brought the college at Cambridge to a state of forwardness which reflects much credit on their character. As early as the year 1636, the general court had bestowed four hundred pounds on a public school at Newtown, the name by which Cambridge was then known. Two years afterwards, an additional donation was made by the reverend Mr. John Harvard, in consequence of which the institution received the name of Harvard college. In 1642, this college was placed under the government of the governor, and deputy governor, and of the magistrates, and ministers of the six next adjacent towns, who, with the president were incorporated for that purpose; and, in 1650, its first charter was granted.
[Footnote 84: Chalmer. Hutchison.]
It is to be lamented that the same people possessed a degree of bigotry in religion, and a spirit of intolerance, which their enlightened posterity will view with regret. During this period of prosperity, the government maintained the severity of its institutions against all those who dissented from the church; and exerted itself assiduously in what was thought the holy work of punishing heretics, and introducing conformity in matters of faith. In this time, the sect denominated Quakers appeared. They were fined, imprisoned, whipped, and, at length put to death; but could not be totally suppressed. As enthusiastic as their persecutors, they gloried in their sufferings, and deemed themselves the martyrs of truth.
Transactions succeeding the restoration of Charles II.... Contests between Connecticut and New Haven.... Discontents in Virginia.... Grant to the Duke of York.... Commissioners appointed by the crown.... Conquest of the Dutch settlements.... Conduct of Massachusetts to the royal commissioners.... Their recall.... Massachusetts evades a summons to appear before the King and council.... Settlement of Carolina.... Form of government.... Constitution of Mr. Locke.... Discontents in the county of Albemarle.... Invasion from Florida.... Abolition of the constitution of Mr. Locke.... Bacon's rebellion.... His death.... Assembly deprived of judicial power.... Discontents in Virginia.... Population of the colony.
The restoration of Charles II. was soon known in America, and excited, in the different colonies very different emotions. In Virginia, and in Maryland, the intelligence was received with transport, and the King was proclaimed amidst acclamations of unfeigned joy. In Massachusetts, the unwelcome information was heard with doubt, and in silence. Republicans in religion and in politics, all their affections were engaged in favour of the revolutionary party in England, and they saw, in the restoration of monarchy, much more to fear than to hope for themselves. Nor were they mistaken in their forebodings.
No sooner was Charles seated on the throne, than Parliament voted a duty of five per centum on all merchandises exported from, or imported into, any of the dominions belonging to the English crown; and, in the course of the same session the celebrated navigation act was re-enacted. The difficulty of carrying this system into execution among a distant people, accustomed to the advantages of a free trade, was foreseen; and the law directed that the governors of the several plantations should, before entering into office, take an oath faithfully to observe it.
[Footnote 85: Chalmer. Hutchison.]
As some compensation to the colonists for these commercial restraints, it was also enacted that no tobacco should be planted or made in England or Ireland, Guernsey, or Jersey. These regulations confined the trade of the colonies to England; and confined on them, exclusively, the production of tobacco.
Charles, on ascending the throne, transmitted to Sir William Berkeley a commission as governor of Virginia, with instructions to summon an assembly, and to assure it of his intention to grant a general pardon to all persons, other than those who were attainted by act of Parliament; provided all acts passed during the rebellion, derogating from the obedience due to the King and his government, should be repealed.
The assembly, which had been summoned in March 1660, in the name of the King, though he was not then acknowledged in England, and which had been prorogued by the governor to the following March, then convened, and engaged in the arduous task of revising the laws of the colony. One of the motives assigned for this revision strongly marks the temper of the day. It is that they may "repeal and expunge all unnecessary acts, and chiefly such as might keep in memory their forced deviation from his majesty's obedience."
[Footnote 86: Virginia Laws. Chalmer.]
This laborious work was accomplished; and, in its execution, the first object of attention was religion. The church of England was established by law, and provision was made for its ministers. To preserve the purity and unity of its doctrines and discipline, those only who had been ordained by some bishop in England, and who should subscribe an engagement to conform to the constitution of the church of England and the laws there established, could be inducted by the governor: and no others were permitted to preach. The day of the execution of Charles I. was ordered to be kept as a fast; and the anniversaries of the birth, and of the restoration of Charles II. to be celebrated as holy days. The duties on exports and tonnage were rendered perpetual; the privilege of the burgesses from arrest was established, and their number fixed; the courts of justice were organised; and many useful laws were passed, regulating the interior affairs of the colony.
[Footnote 87: Virginia Laws. Chalmer.]
An effort was made to encourage manufactures, especially that of silk. For each pound of that article which should be raised, a premium of fifty pounds of tobacco was given; and every person was enjoined to plant a number of mulberry trees proportioned to his quantity of land, in order to furnish food for the silk worm. But the labour of the colony had been long directed to the culture of tobacco, and Indian corn; and new systems of culture can seldom be introduced until their necessity becomes apparent. This attempt to multiply the objects of labour did not succeed, and the acts on the subject were soon repealed.
In Maryland, the legislature was also convened, and, as in Virginia, their first employment was to manifest their satisfaction with the restoration; after which they entered upon subjects of general utility.
[Sidenote: Rhode Island incorporated.]
Rhode Island, excluded from the confederacy of the other New England colonies, and dreading danger to her independence from Massachusetts, was well pleased at the establishment of an authority which could overawe the strong, and protect the weak. Charles II. was immediately proclaimed; and an agent was deputed to the court of that monarch, for the purpose of soliciting a patent, confirming the right of the inhabitants to the soil, and jurisdiction of the country. The object of the mission was obtained, and the patentees were incorporated by the name of "The governor and company of the English colony of Rhode Island and Providence." The legislative power was vested in an assembly to consist of the governor, deputy governor, the assistants, and such of the freemen as should be chosen by the towns. The presence of the governor or his deputy, and of six assistants, was required to constitute an assembly. They were empowered to pass laws adapted to the situation of the colony, and not repugnant to those of England. "That part of the dominions of the crown in New England containing the islands in Narraghansetts bay, and the countries and parts adjacent," was granted to the governor and company and their successors, with the privilege to pass through, and trade with, any other English colonies.
[Footnote 88: Chalmer.]
[Sidenote: Patent to Connecticut.]
In Connecticut, the intelligence of the restoration was not attended by any manifestation of joy or sorrow. Winthrop was deputed to attend to the interests of the colony; and, in April, 1662, he obtained a charter incorporating them by the name of "The governor and company of the English colony of Connecticut in New England." The executive, as in the other colonies of New England, consisted of a governor, deputy governor, and assistants. The legislature was composed of the members of the executive, and of two deputies from every town. It was authorised to appoint annually the governor, assistants, and other officers; to erect courts of justice, and to make such laws as might be necessary for the colony, with the usual proviso, that they should not be contrary to those of England. To this corporation, the King granted that part of his dominions in New England, bounded, on the east, by Narraghansetts bay, on the north, by the southern line of Massachusetts, on the south, by the sea, and extending in longitude from east to west, with the line of Massachusetts, to the south sea.
[Sidenote: Contest between Connecticut and New Haven.]
By this charter, New Haven was, without being consulted, included in Connecticut. The freemen of that province, dissatisfied with this measure, determined in general meeting, "that it was not lawful to join;" and unanimously resolved to adhere to their former association. A committee was appointed to address the assembly of Connecticut on this interesting subject. They insisted, not that the charter was void, but that it did not include them.
A negotiation between the two provinces was commenced, in which the people of New Haven maintained their right to a separate government with inflexible perseverance, and with a considerable degree of exasperation. They appealed to the crown from the explanation given by Connecticut to the charter; and governor Winthrop, the agent who had obtained that instrument, and who flattered himself with being able, on his return, to conciliate the contending parties, deemed it advisable to arrest all proceeding on their petition, by pledging himself that no injury should be done to New Haven by Connecticut; and that the incorporation of the two colonies should be effected only by the voluntary consent of both.
The government of Connecticut, however, still persisting to assert its jurisdiction, attempted to exercise it by claiming obedience from the people, appointing constables in their towns, disavowing the authority of the general court of New Haven, and protecting those who denied it. Complaints of these proceedings were laid before the commissioners of the united colonies, who declared that New Haven was still an integral member of the union, and that its jurisdiction could not be infringed without a breach of the articles of confederation.
Disregarding this decision, Connecticut pursued unremittingly, the object of incorporation. The inhabitants of New Haven were encouraged to refuse the payment of taxes imposed by their legislature; and, when distress was made on the disobedient, assistance was obtained from Hartford. These proceedings seemed only to increase the irritation on the part of New Haven, where a deep sense of injury was entertained, and a solemn resolution taken to break off all farther treaty on the subject.
This state of things was entirely changed by a piece of intelligence which gave the most serious alarm to all New England. Information was received that the King had granted to his brother, the duke of York, all the lands claimed by the Dutch, to which he had annexed a considerable part of the territory over which the northern colonies had exercised jurisdiction; and that an armament for the purpose of taking possession of the grant might soon be expected. To this it was added, that commissioners were to come at the same time, empowered to settle the disputes, and to new model the governments, of the colonies.
The commissioners of the united colonies, perceiving the necessity of accommodating internal differences, now took a decided part in favour of the proposed incorporation. The most intelligent inhabitants of New Haven became converts to the same opinion; but the prejudices imbibed by the mass of the people being still insurmountable, a vote in favour of the union could not be obtained.
At length, after the arrival of the commissioners appointed by the crown, and a manifestation of their opinion in favour of the incorporation; after a long course of negotiation which terminated in a compact establishing certain principles of equality required by the jealousy of New Haven; the union was completed, and the representatives of the two colonies met in the same assembly.
During the frequent changes which took place in England after the death of Cromwell, Massachusetts preserved a cautious neutrality; and seemed disposed to avail herself of any favourable occurrences, without exposing herself to the resentments of that party which might ultimately obtain the ascendancy. Although expressly ordered, she did not proclaim Richard as lord-protector; nor did she take any step to recognise the authority of Parliament. The first intelligence of the restoration of Charles was received with the hesitation of men who are unwilling to believe a fact too well supported by evidence to be discredited; and when they were informed of it in a manner not to be questioned, they neither proclaimed the King, nor manifested, by any public act, their admission of his authority. This was not the only testimony of their dissatisfaction. Whaley and Goff, two of the judges of Charles I., came passengers in the vessel which brought this intelligence, and were received with distinction by the government, and with affection by the people.
[Footnote 89: Chalmer. Trumbull.]
In a session of the general court, held in October, 1660, an address to the King was moved; but reports of the yet unsettled state of the kingdom being received, the motion did not prevail. They had seen so many changes in the course of a few months, as to think it not improbable that an address to the King might find the executive power in the hands of a committee of safety, or council of state. This uncertain state of things was not of long continuance. In November, a ship arrived from Bristol, bringing positive advices of the joyful and universal submission of the nation to the King, with letters from their agent, and from others, informing them that petitions had been presented against the colony, by those who thought themselves aggrieved by its proceedings. The time for deliberation was passed. A general court was convened, and a loyal address to the King was voted, in which, with considerable ability, though in the peculiar language of the day, they justified their whole conduct; and, without abandoning any opinion concerning their own rights, professed unlimited attachment to their sovereign. A similar address was made to Parliament; and letters were written to those noblemen who were the known friends of the colony, soliciting their interposition in its behalf. A gracious answer being returned by the King, a day of thanksgiving was appointed to acknowledge their gratitude to Heaven for inclining the heart of his majesty favourably to receive and answer their address.
Their apprehensions, however, of danger from the revolution in England still continued. Reports prevailed that their commercial intercourse with Virginia and the islands was to be interdicted; and that a governor-general might be expected whose authority should extend over all the colonies. On this occasion, the general court came to several resolutions, respecting the rights of the people, and the obedience due from them, which are strongly expressive of their deliberate opinions on these interesting subjects.
It was resolved,
That the patent (under God) is the first and main foundation of the civil polity of the colony.
That the governor and company are, by the patent, a body politic, invested with the power to make freemen.
That the freemen have authority to choose annually a governor, deputy governor, assistants, representatives, and all other officers.
That the government thus constituted hath full power, both legislative and executive, for the government of all the people, whether inhabitants or strangers, without appeals; save only in the case of laws repugnant to those of England.
That the government is privileged by all means, even by force of arms, to defend itself both by land and sea, against all who should attempt injury to the plantation or its inhabitants, and that in their opinion, any imposition prejudicial to the country, contrary to any just law of theirs, (not repugnant to the laws of England) would be an infringement of their rights.
[Footnote 90: Hutchison. Chalmer.]
These strong and characteristic resolutions were accompanied by a recognition of the duties to which they were bound by their allegiance. These were declared to consist, in upholding that colony as belonging of right to his majesty, and not to subject it to any foreign prince; in preserving his person and dominions; and in settling the peace and prosperity of the King and nation, by punishing crimes, and by propagating the Gospel.
[Footnote 91: Idem.]
It was, at the same time, determined that the royal warrant, which had been received sometime before, for apprehending Whaley and Goff, ought to be faithfully executed. These persons however were permitted to escape to Connecticut, where they were received with every demonstration of regard, and to remain during life in New England, only taking care not to appear in public.
At length, in August 1661, it was determined to proclaim the King; but, as if unable to conceal the reluctance with which this step was taken, an order was made, on the same day, prohibiting all disorderly behaviour on the occasion, and, in particular, directing that no man should presume to drink his majesty's health, "which," adds the order, "he hath in a special manner forbid."
Farther intelligence being received from England of the increasing complaints against the government of Massachusetts, agents were deputed with instructions to represent the colonists as loyal and obedient subjects, to remove any ill impressions that had been made against them, and to learn the disposition of his majesty toward them; but to do nothing which might prejudice their charter.
The agents, who engaged reluctantly in a service from which they rightly augured to themselves censure rather than approbation, were received more favourably than had been expected. They soon returned with a letter from the King, confirming their charter, and containing a pardon for all treasons committed during the late troubles, with the exception of those only who were attainted by act of Parliament. But the royal missive also required that the general court should review its ordinances, and repeal such of them as were repugnant to the authority of the crown; that the oath of allegiance should be taken by every person; that justice should be administered in the King's name; that all who desired it, should be permitted to use the book of common prayer, and to perform their devotions according to the ceremonials of the church of England; and that freeholders of competent estates, not vicious, should be allowed to vote in the election of officers, though they were of different persuasions in church government.
[Footnote 92: Hutchison. Chalmer.]
These requisitions gave much disquiet; and that alone seems ever to have been complied with which directed judicial proceedings to be carried on in the name of the King. The agents on their return were ill received by the people; and were considered as having sacrificed the interests of their country, because, with the agreeable, were mingled some bitter though unavoidable ingredients.
During these transactions, the Parliament of England proceeded to complete its system of confining the trade of the colonies to the mother country. It was enacted that no commodity of the growth or manufacture of Europe, shall be imported into the settlements of England, in Asia, Africa, or America, but such as shall be shipped in England, and proceed directly in English bottoms, navigated by Englishmen. Salt for the fisheries, wine from Madeira and the Azores; and servants, horses, and victuals, from Scotland and Ireland, were excepted from this general rule.
To counterbalance these restrictions, duties were imposed on salted and dried fish caught or imported by other vessels than those belonging to subjects of the crown; and additional regulations were made for enforcing the prohibition of the culture of tobacco in England.
These commercial restrictions were the never failing source of discontent and controversy between the mother country and her colonies. Even in those of the south, where similar restraints had been enforced by Cromwell, they were executed imperfectly; but, in New England, where the governors were elected by the people, they appear to have been, for some time, entirely disregarded.
[Footnote 93: Hutchison. Chalmer.]
[Sidenote: Discontents in Virginia.]
The good humour which prevailed in Virginia on the restoration of Charles to the throne, was not of long duration. The restraints on commerce, and the continually decreasing price of tobacco, soon excited considerable discontents. The legislature endeavoured, by prohibiting its culture for a limited time, to raise its value; but, Maryland refusing to concur in the measure, the attempt was unsuccessful. Other legislative remedies were applied with as little advantage. Acts were passed suspending all proceedings in the courts of law, except for goods imported; giving to country creditors priority in payment of debts; and to contracts made within the colony, precedence in all courts of justice. Such expedients as these have never removed the discontents which produced them.
[Sidenote: Grant to the duke of York.]
The English government seems, at all times, to have questioned the right of the Dutch to their settlements in America; and never to have formally relinquished its claim to that territory. Charles now determined to assert it; and granted to his brother the duke of York "all that part of the main land of New England, beginning at a certain place called and known by the name of St. Croix, next adjoining to New England in America, and from thence extending along the sea coast unto a certain place called Pemaquie, or Pemaquid, and so up the river thereof to the farthest Head of the same, as it tendeth northward; and extending from thence to the river Kernbequin, and so upwards by the shortest course to the river Canada northward; and also all that island or islands commonly called by the general name or names of Meitowax, or Long Island, situate and being towards the west of Cape Cod, and the narrow Highgansetts, abutting upon the main land between the two rivers there called and known by the several names of Connecticut and Hudson's river, and all the land from the west side of Connecticut river to the east side of Delaware bay, and also all those several islands called or known by the names of Martha's Vineyard or Nantucks, otherwise Nantucket."
[Sidenote: Commissioners appointed by the Crown.]
To reduce this country, part of which was then in the peaceable possession of the Dutch, colonel Nichols was dispatched with four frigates, carrying three hundred soldiers. In the same ships, came four commissioners, of whom colonel Nichols was one, "empowered to hear and determine complaints and appeals in causes, as well military as civil and criminal, within New England; and to proceed in all things for settling the peace and security of the country." Intelligence of this deputation preceded its arrival, and the preparation made for its reception, evidences the disposition then prevailing in Massachusetts. A committee was appointed to repair on board the ships as soon as they should appear, and to communicate to their commanders the desire of the local government that the inferior officers and soldiers should be ordered, when they came on shore to refresh themselves, "at no time to exceed a convenient number, to come unarmed, to observe an orderly conduct, and to give no offence to the people and laws of the country." As if to manifest in a still more solemn manner their hostility, to the objects of the commissioners, a day of fasting and prayer was appointed to implore the mercy of God under their many distractions and troubles.
[Footnote 94: Chalmer. Hutchison.]
The commissioners arrived in July, and their commission was immediately laid before the council, with a letter from the King requiring prompt assistance for the expedition against New Netherlands.
[Sidenote: Conquest of the Dutch colony.]
The general court, which was immediately convened, after having first resolved "that they would bear faith and true allegiance to his majesty, and adhere to their patent, so dearly obtained, and so long enjoyed, by undoubted right in the sight of God and man," determined to raise two hundred men for the expedition. In the mean time colonel Nichols proceeded to Manhadoes. The auxiliary force raised by Massachusetts was rendered unnecessary by the capitulation of New Amsterdam, which was soon followed by the surrender of the whole province.
The year after captain Argal had subdued Manhadoes, the garrison, having obtained a reinforcement from Holland, returned to their ancient allegiance. In 1621, the states general made a grant of the country to the West India company, who erected a fort called Good Hope on Connecticut (which they denominated Fresh) river, and another called Nassau on the east side of Delaware bay. The fort on Connecticut river, however, did not protect that frontier against the people of New England, who continued to extend their settlements towards the south. The Dutch remonstrated in vain against these encroachments, and were under the necessity of receding as their more powerful neighbours advanced, until the eastern part of Long Island, and the country within a few miles of the Hudson were relinquished. Farther south, the Dutch had built fort Casimir (now New Castle) on the Delaware. This fort was taken from them by the Swedes, who claimed the western shore of that river, but was retaken by the Dutch, who, at the same time, conquered Christina, and received the submission of the few Swedes who were scattered on the margin of the river. They also made a settlement at cape Henlopen, which attracted the attention of lord Baltimore, who sent a commission to New Castle ordering the Dutch governor to remove beyond the 40th degree of north latitude, to which his lordship's claim extended. This mandate however was not obeyed.
On the appearance of colonel Nichols before New Amsterdam, Stuyvesant, the governor, was disposed to defend the place; but the inhabitants, feeling no inclination for the contest, took part with their invaders; and Stuyvesant was compelled to sign a capitulation, by which he surrendered the town to the English, stipulating for the inhabitants their property, and the rights of free denizens. New Amsterdam took the name of New York, and the island of Manhattans that of York Island.
[Footnote 95: Chalmer. Smith.]
Hudson's, and the south, or Delaware river, were still to be reduced. Carteret commanded the expedition against fort Orange, up Hudson's river, which surrendered on the twenty-fourth of September, and received the name of Albany. While at that place, he formed a league with the five nations, which proved eminently useful to the views of the English in America.
The command of the expedition against the settlement on the Delaware was given to sir Robert Carr, who completed the conquest of that country.
Thus did England acquire all that fine country lying between her southern and northern colonies; an acquisition deriving not less importance from its situation, than from its extent and fertility.
Nichols took possession of the conquered territory, but was compelled to surrender a part of it to Carteret.
Soon after the patent to the duke of York, and before the conquest of New Netherlands, that prince had granted to lord Berkeley, and sir George Carteret, all that tract of land adjacent to New England, to the westward of Long Island, bounded on the east, south, and west, by the river Hudson, the sea, and the Delaware; and, on the north, by forty-one degrees and forty minutes north latitude. This country was denominated New Jersey.
[Footnote 96: Chalmer. Smith.]
The conquest of New Netherlands being achieved, the commissioners entered on the other duties assigned them. A great part of Connecticut had been included in the patent to the duke of York; and a controversy concerning limits arose between that colony and New York. In December, their boundaries were adjusted by the commissioners in a manner which appears to have been satisfactory to all parties.
In Plymouth, and in Rhode Island, the commissioners found no difficulty in the full exercise of the powers committed to them. In Massachusetts, they were considered as men clothed with an authority subversive of the liberties of the colony, which the sovereign could not rightly confer. The people of that province had been long in habits of self-government, and seem to have entertained opinions which justified their practice. They did not acknowledge that allegiance to the crown which is due from English subjects residing within the realm; but considered themselves as purchasers from independent sovereigns of the territory which they occupied, and as owing to England, only that voluntary subjection which was created and defined by their charter. They considered this instrument as a compact between the mother country and themselves, and as enumerating all the cases in which obedience was due from them. In this spirit, they agreed, soon after the arrival of the commissioners, on an address to the crown. This address, in which they express great apprehension of danger to their rights from the extraordinary powers granted to men not appointed in conformity with their charter, is drawn up in a style of much earnestness and sincerity, and concludes with these remarkable words, "let our government live, our patent live, our magistrates live, our religious enjoyments live; so shall we all yet have farther cause to say from our hearts, let the King live for ever." This address was accompanied with letters to many of the nobility supposed to possess influence at court, praying their intercession in behalf of the colony; but neither the address, nor the letters were favourably received.
[Footnote 97: Hutchison.]
[Sidenote: Conduct of Massachusetts to the royal commissioners.]
In April the commissioners arrived at Boston, and their communications with the general court commenced. The suspicions which these two bodies entertained of each other, opposed great obstacles to any cordial co-operation between them. The papers, on the part of the commissioners, display high ideas of their own authority, as the representatives of the crown, and a pre-conceived opinion that there was a disposition in the government to resist that authority. Those on the part of the general court manifest a wish to avoid a contest with the crown, and a desire to gratify his majesty, so far as professions of loyalty and submission could gratify him; but they manifest also a conviction of having done nothing improper, and a steadfast determination to make no concession incompatible with their rights. With these impressions, the correspondence soon became an altercation. The commissioners, finding their object was to be obtained neither by reasoning, nor by threats, attempted a practical assertion of their powers by summoning the parties before them, in order to hear and decide a complaint against the governor and company. The general court, with a decision which marked alike their vigour, and the high value they placed on their privileges, announced by sound of trumpet, their disapprobation of this proceeding, which they termed inconsistent with the laws and established authority; and declared that, in observance of their duty to God and to his majesty, and of the trust reposed in them by his majesty's good subjects in the colony, they could not consent to such proceedings, nor countenance those who would so act, or such as would abet them.
As a ground of compromise, the court stated their willingness to hear the case themselves in the presence of the commissioners, who would thereby be enabled to understand its merits; but this proposition was at once rejected, and every effort towards reconciliation proved unavailing.
[Footnote 98: Chalmer. Hutchison.]
From Massachusetts, the commissioners proceeded to New Hampshire and Maine. They decided in favour of the claims of Mason and Gorges, and erected a royal government in each province, appointed justices of the peace, and exercised other acts of sovereignty; after which they returned to Boston. The general court, declaring that their proceedings to the eastward tended to the disturbance of the public peace, asked a conference on the subject, which was refused with a bitterness of expression that put an end to all farther communication between the parties. Massachusetts, soon afterwards, re-established her authority both in New Hampshire and Maine.
[Sidenote: They are recalled.]
Charles, on being informed of these transactions, recalled his commissioners, and ordered the general court to send agents to England, to answer the complaints made against its proceedings. The court, having more than once experienced the benefits of procrastination, affected at first to disbelieve the authenticity of the letter; and afterwards excused themselves from sending agents by saying that the ablest among them could not support their cause better than had already been done.
During these transactions in the north, new colonies were forming in the south.
In the year 1663, that tract of country extending from the 36th degree of north latitude to the river St. Matheo, was made a province by the name of Carolina, and granted to lord Clarendon, the duke of Albemarle, lord Craven, lord Berkeley, lord Ashley, sir George Carteret, sir John Colleton, and sir William Berkeley, in absolute property for ever. This charter bears a strong resemblance to that of Maryland, and was probably copied from it.
[Sidenote: Settlement of Carolina.]
The proprietors took immediate measures for Settlement the settlement of their colony. Its constitution consisted of a governor, to be chosen by themselves from thirteen persons nominated by the colonists; and an assembly to be composed of the governor, council, and representatives of the people, who should have power to make laws not contrary to those of England, which were to remain in force until the dissent of the proprietors should be published. Perfect freedom in religion was promised; and, as an inducement to emigration, one hundred acres of land, at the price of a half penny for each acre, were allowed for every freeman, and fifty for every servant, who should, within the space of five years, be settled in the province.
A small settlement had been made on Albemarle sound by some emigrants from Virginia, the superintendence of which had been conferred by the proprietors, on sir William Berkeley, then governor of that colony; with instructions to visit it, to appoint a governor and council of six persons for the management of its affairs, and to grant lands to the inhabitants on the same terms that those in Virginia might be obtained.
The attention of the proprietors was next turned to the country south of cape Fear, which, as far as the river St. Matheo, was erected into a county by the name of Clarendon. Considerable numbers from Barbadoes emigrated into it, one of whom, Mr. John Yeamans, was appointed commander in chief; and, in 1665, a separate government was erected in it, similar to that in Albemarle.
The proprietors having discovered some valuable lands not comprehended in their original patent, obtained a new charter which bestowed on them a more extensive territory. This charter grants that province within the King's dominions in America, extending north eastward to Carahtuke inlet, thence in a straight line to Wyonok, which lies under 36 degrees 30 minutes north latitude; south westward to the 29th degree of north latitude; and from the Atlantic ocean to the South sea. Powers of government and privileges analogous to those comprised in other colonial charters, were also contained in this.
The people of Albemarle, employed like those of Virginia, in the cultivation of corn and tobacco, received their scanty supplies principally from New England; and carried on their small commerce in the vessels of those colonies. Their progress was slow, but they were contented. A new constitution was given them, by which the executive power was placed in a governor, to act by the advice of a council of twelve, six of whom were to be chosen by himself, and the others by the assembly, which was composed of the governor, the council, and twelve delegates, to be elected annually by the freeholders. Perfect freedom in religion was established, and all were entitled to equal privileges, on taking the oaths of allegiance to the King, and of fidelity to the proprietors.
The first acts of this legislature indicate the condition and opinions of the people. It was declared that none should be sued, during five years, for any cause of action arising out of the country; and that no person should accept a power of attorney to receive debts contracted abroad.
[Sidenote: Constitution of Mr. Locke.]
The proprietors, dissatisfied with their own systems, applied to Mr. Locke for the plan of a constitution. They supposed that this profound and acute reasoner must be deeply skilled in the science of government. In compliance with their request, he framed a body of fundamental laws which were approved and adopted. A palatine for life was to be chosen from among the proprietors, who was to act as president of the palatine court, which was to be composed of all those who were entrusted with the execution of the powers granted by the charter. A body of hereditary nobility was created, to be denominated Landgraves, and Caciques, the former to be invested with four baronies, consisting each of four thousand acres, and the latter to have two, containing each two thousand acres of land. These estates were to descend with the dignities for ever.
The provincial legislature, denominated a Parliament was to consist of the proprietors, in the absence of any one of whom, his place was to be supplied by a deputy appointed by himself; of the nobility; and of the representatives of the freeholders, who were elected by districts. These discordant materials were to compose a single body which could initiate nothing. The bills to be laid before it were to be prepared in a grand council composed of the governor, the nobility, and the deputies of the proprietors, who were invested also with the executive power. At the end of every century, the laws were to become void without the formality of a repeal. Various judicatories were erected, and numerous minute perplexing regulations were made. This constitution, which was declared to be perpetual, soon furnished additional evidence, to the many afforded by history, of the great but neglected truth, that experience is the only safe school in which the science of government is to be acquired; and that the theories of the closet must have the stamp of practice, before they can be received with implicit confidence.
The duke of Albemarle was chosen the first palatine, but did not long survive his election; and lord Berkeley was appointed his successor. The other proprietors were also named to high offices; and Mr. Locke was created a landgrave.
After this change of constitution, the attention of the proprietors was first directed to the south. A settlement was made at Port Royal, under the conduct of William Sayle, who had been appointed governor of that part of the coast which lies south-west of cape Carteret. He was accompanied by Joseph West, who was intrusted with the commercial affairs of the proprietors, and who, with the governor, conducted the whole mercantile business of the colony.
William Sayle, after leading the first colony to Port Royal, and convening a parliament in which there were neither landgraves nor caciques, became the victim of the climate; after which, the authority of sir John Yeamans, who had hitherto governed the settlement at cape Fear, was extended over the territory south-west of cape Carteret. In the same year, the foundation of old Charlestown was laid, which continued, for some time, to be the capital of the southern settlements.
While these exertions were making in the south, great dissatisfaction was excited in Albemarle. In 1670, Stevens, the governor, had been ordered to introduce into that settlement, the constitution prepared by Mr. Locke. This innovation was strenuously opposed; and the discontent it produced was increased by a rumour, which was not the less mischievous for being untrue, that the proprietors designed to dismember the province. There was also another cause which increased the ill humour pervading that small society. The proprietors attempted to stop the trade carried on in the vessels of New England, and the attempt produced the constant effect of such measures—much ill temper both on the part of those who carried on the traffic, and of those for whom it was conducted.
At length, these discontents broke out into open insurrection. The insurgents, led by Culpeper, who had been appointed surveyor-general of Carolina, obtained possession of the country, seized the revenues, and imprisoned the president, with seven deputies who had been named by the proprietors. Having taken possession of the government, they established courts of justice, appointed officers, called a parliament, and, for several years, exercised the powers of an independent state; yet they never, formally, disclaimed the power of the proprietors.
All this time, the titheables of Albemarle, a term designating all the men, with the negroes and Indian women, between sixteen and sixty years of age, amounted only to fourteen hundred; and the exports consisted of a few cattle, a small quantity of Indian corn, and about eight hundred thousand weight of tobacco.
About this time, an event occurred in the southern settlements, showing as well the poverty of the people, as the manner in which the affairs of the proprietors were conducted. Joseph West, their agent, was appointed to succeed Yeamans in the government; and, the colony being unable to pay his salary, the plantation, and mercantile stock of the proprietors, were assigned to him in satisfaction of his claims.
In England, the opinion had been long entertained that the southern colonies were adapted to the production of those articles which succeed in the warmer climates of Europe. In pursuance of this opinion, Charles, in 1679, employed two vessels to transport foreign protestants into the southern colony for the purpose of raising wine, oil, silk, and other productions of the south; and, to encourage the growth of these articles, exempted them, for a limited time, from taxation. The effort, however, did not succeed.
Old Charlestown being found an inconvenient place for the seat of government, the present Charleston became the metropolis of South Carolina. This situation was deemed so unhealthy, that directions were given to search out some other position for a town. The seat of government, however, remained unaltered until the connexion with Great Britain was dissolved.
Carolina continued to increase slowly in wealth and population without any remarkable incident, except the invasion of its most southern settlement by the Spaniards from St. Augustine. This was occasioned, in part, by the jealousy with which the English colony inspired its neighbours, but was principally, and immediately attributable to the countenance given, in Charleston, to the buccaneers who then infested those seas, and who were particularly hostile to the Spaniards. It was with difficulty the colonists were prevented by the proprietors from taking ample vengeance for this injury. Their resentments, though restrained, were not extinguished; and, until the annexation of the Floridas to the British crown, these colonies continued to view each other with distrust and enmity.
[Sidenote: Constitution of Mr. Locke abandoned.]
The dissatisfaction of the colony with its constitution grew with its population. After some time a settled purpose was disclosed, to thwart and oppose the wishes of the proprietors in every thing. Wearied with a continued struggle to support a system not adapted to the condition of the people, the proprietors at length abandoned the constitution of Mr. Locke, and restored the ancient form of government.
[Footnote 99: Chalmer. History of South Carolina and Georgia.]
[Sidenote: Discontents of Virginia.]
The discontents which arose in Virginia soon after the restoration, continued to augment. To the regularly decreasing price of tobacco, and the restraints imposed on commerce by the acts of navigation, other causes of dissatisfaction were soon added. Large grants of land were made to the favourites of the crown: and considerable burdens were produced, and injuries inflicted by the hostility of the Indians. Agents were deputed to remonstrate against these improvident grants, as well as to promote the views of the colony with regard to other objects of great moment; and a considerable tax was imposed to support the expense of the deputation. They are said to have been on the point of obtaining the objects of their mission, when all farther proceedings were suspended in consequence of a rebellion, which, for a time, wore a very serious aspect.
[Sidenote: Bacon's rebellion.]
At the head of the insurgents was colonel Nathaniel Bacon, a gentleman who had received his education, in England, at the inns of court; and had been appointed a member of the council soon after his arrival in Virginia. Young, bold, and ambitious; possessing an engaging person, and commanding elocution; he was well calculated to rouse and direct the passions of the people. Treading the path by which ambition marches to power, he harangued the people on their grievances, increased their irritation against the causes of their disgust, and ascribed the evils with which they thought themselves oppressed to those who governed them, while he professed no other object than their good. He declaimed particularly against the languor with which the Indian war had been prosecuted; and, striking the note to which their feelings were most responsive, declared that, by proper exertions, it might have been already terminated.
The people, viewing him as their only friend, and believing the zeal he manifested to be produced solely by his devotion to their cause gave him their whole confidence and elected him their general. In return, he assured them that he would never lay down his arms until he had avenged their sufferings on the savages, and redressed their other grievances.
He applied to the governor for a commission appointing him general to prosecute the war against the Indians. A temporising policy being pursued, he entered Jamestown at the head of six hundred armed men, and obtained all he demanded, from an intimidated government. No sooner had he withdrawn from the capital than the governor, at the request of the assembly which was then in session, issued a proclamation declaring him a rebel, and commanding his followers to deliver him up, and to retire to their respective homes. Bacon and his army, equally incensed at this piece of impotent indiscretion, returned to Jamestown, and the governor fled to Accomack.
The general of the insurgents called a convention of his friends, who inveighed against the governor, for having, without cause, endeavoured to foment a civil war in the country, and after failing in this attempt, for having abdicated the government, to the great astonishment of the people. They stated farther that, the governor having informed the King "that their commander and his followers were rebellious, and having advised his majesty to send forces to reduce them, it consisted with the welfare of the colony, and with their allegiance to his sacred majesty, to oppose and suppress all forces whatsoever until the King be fully informed of the state of the case by such persons as shall be sent by Nathaniel Bacon in behalf of the people." This extraordinary manifesto was concluded with the recommendation of an oath, first taken by the members of the convention, to join the general and his army against the common enemy in all points whatever; and to endeavour to discover and apprehend such evil disposed persons as design to create a civil war by raising forces against him, and the army under his command.
[Sidenote: His death.]
In the mean time, the governor collected a considerable force which crossed the bay under the command of major Robert Beverly, and several sharp skirmishes were fought. A civil war was commenced; agriculture declined; Jamestown was burnt by the insurgents; those parts of the country which remained in peace were pillaged; and the wives of those who supported the government were carried to camp, where they were very harshly treated. Virginia was relieved from this threatening state of things, and from the increasing calamities it portended, by the sudden death of Bacon.
Having lost their leader, the malcontents were incapable of farther agreement among themselves. They began, separately, to make terms with the government, and all opposition soon ended. Sir William Berkeley was re-instated in his authority, and an assembly was convened, which seems to have been actuated by the spirit of revenge common to those who suffer in civil contests.
[Footnote 100: Chalmer. Beverly.]
The real motives and objects of this rebellion are not perfectly understood. Many were disposed to think that Bacon's original design extended no farther than to gratify the common resentments against the Indians, and to acquire that reputation and influence which result from conducting a popular war successfully. Others believe that he intended to seize the government. Whatever may have been his object, the insurrection produced much misery, and no good, to Virginia.
[Footnote 101: Idem.]
Soon after the restoration of domestic quiet, sir William Berkeley returned to England, and was succeeded by Herbert Jeffreys, who relieved the colony from one of its complaints by making peace with the Indians.
[Sidenote: Assembly deprived of judicial power.]
About the year 1680, an essential change was made in the jurisprudence of Virginia. In early times, the assembly was the supreme appellate court of the province. During the administration of lord Culpeper, a controversy arose between the burgesses, and counsellors, who composed also the general court, concerning the right of the latter to sit as a part of the assembly, on appeals from their own decisions. The burgesses claimed, exclusively, the privilege of judging in the last resort. This controversy was determined by taking all judicial power from the assembly, and allowing an appeal from judgments of the general court to the King in council, where the matter in contest exceeded the value of three hundred pounds sterling.
[Footnote 102: Chalmer. Beverly.]
From the rebellion of Bacon to the revolution in 1688, the history of Virginia affords no remarkable occurrence. The low price of tobacco, that perpetual source of dissatisfaction, still continued to disquiet the country. Combinations were formed among the people to raise its value by preventing, for a time, the growth of the article; and disorderly parties assembled to destroy the tobacco plants in the beds when it was too late to sow the seed again. Violent measures were adopted to prevent these practices, and several individuals were executed.
These discontents did not arrest the growth of the colony. A letter from sir William Berkeley, dated in June, 1671, states its population at forty thousand, and its militia at eight thousand. A letter from lord Culpeper in December, 1681, supposes that there might then be in the colony fifteen thousand fighting men. This calculation however is probably exaggerated, as the report of general Smith, prepared in 1680 from actual returns, represents the militia as then consisting of eight thousand five hundred and sixty-eight men, of whom thirteen hundred were cavalry.
[Footnote 103: Chalmer.]
Prosperity of New England.... War with Philip.... Edward Randolph arrives in Boston.... Maine adjudged to Gorges.... Purchased by Massachusetts.... Royal government erected in New Hampshire.... Complaints against Massachusetts.... Their letters patent cancelled.... Death of Charles II.... James II. proclaimed.... New commission for the government of New England.... Sir Edmond Andros.... The charter of Rhode Island abrogated.... Odious measures of the new government.... Andros deposed.... William and Mary proclaimed.... Review of proceedings in New York and the Jerseys.... Pennsylvania granted to William Penn.... Frame of government.... Foundation of Philadelphia laid.... Assembly convened.... First acts of the legislature.... Boundary line with lord Baltimore settled.
[Sidenote: Prosperity of New England.]
After the departure of the commissioners, New England was for some time quiet and prosperous. The plague, the fire of London, and the discontents of the people of England, engrossed the attention of the King, and suspended the execution of his plans respecting Massachusetts. In the mean time, that colony disregarded the acts of navigation, traded as an independent state, and governed New Hampshire and Maine without opposition.
[Footnote 104: From a paper in possession of the British administration, it appears that in 1673, New England was supposed to contain one hundred and twenty thousand souls, of whom sixteen thousand were able to bear arms. Three-fourths of the wealth and population of the country, were in Massachusetts and its dependencies. The town of Boston alone contained fifteen hundred families.]
[Sidenote: War with Philip.]
This state of prosperous repose was interrupted by a combination of Indians so formidable, and a war so bloody, as to threaten the war with very existence of all New England. This combination was formed by Philip, the second son of Massassoet. The father and eldest son had cultivated the friendship of the colonists; but Philip, equally brave and intelligent, saw the continuing growth of the English with apprehension, and by his conduct soon excited their suspicion. He gave explicit assurances of his pacific disposition; but, from the year 1670 till 1675, when hostilities commenced, he was secretly preparing for them. The war was carried on with great vigour and various success: the savages, led by an intrepid chief, who believed that the fate of his country depended on the entire destruction of the English, made exertions of which they had not been thought capable. Several battles were fought; and all that barbarous fury which distinguishes Indian warfare, was displayed in its full extent. Wherever the Indians marched, their route was marked with murder, fire, and desolation. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Plymouth, were the greatest sufferers. In those provinces especially, the Indians were so intermingled with the whites, that there was scarcely a part of the country in perfect security, or a family which had not to bewail the loss of a relation or friend. For a considerable time no decisive advantage was gained. At length, the steady efforts of the English prevailed; and in August 1676, when the tide of success was running strong in favour of the colonists, Philip, after losing his family and chief counsellors, was himself killed by one of his own nation, whom he had offended. After his death, the war was soon terminated by the submission of the Indians. Never had the people of New England been engaged in so fierce, so bloody, and so desolating a conflict. Though the warriors of the nation of which Philip was prince, were estimated at only five hundred men, he had, by alliances, increased his force to three thousand. In this estimate the eastern Indians are not included. Many houses, and flourishing villages were reduced to ashes, and six hundred persons were either killed in battle, or murdered privately.
[Footnote 105: Chalmer. Hutchison.]
[Sidenote: Edward Randolph.]
While this war was raging with its utmost violence, the government of Massachusetts was under the necessity of directing a part of its attention to the claims of Mason and Gorges. The efforts of Charles to procure an appearance of the colony before the council having proved ineffectual, he determined to give judgment in its absence, unless an appearance should be entered within six months. Edward Randolph, who was dispatched to give notice of this determination, arrived in Boston in the summer of 1676; and, as other letters brought by the same vessel gave assurance that this resolution would be adhered to, the general court hastened the departure of deputies to represent the colony, and support its interests.
[Sidenote: Maine adjudged to Gorges.]
It was the opinion of the King in council that the line of Massachusetts did not run more than three miles north of the Merrimack; and Maine was adjudged to Gorges. The claim of Mason to New Hampshire being confined to the soil, all title to which, though so long exercised, was now waived by Massachusetts; and the terre-tenants not being before the court, that part of the case was decided so far only as respected the boundary of Massachusetts, which, being against the pretensions of that colony, its jurisdiction over New Hampshire ceased. Charles had been for some time treating for the purchase both of New Hampshire and Maine which he intended to bestow on his favourite son, the duke of Monmouth, but his poverty had prevented the contract. Massachusetts, though not ignorant of this fact, finding that the decision respecting Maine would be in favour of Gorges, purchased his title for twelve hundred pounds sterling. The offended monarch insisted on a relinquishment of the contract; but Massachusetts, apologising for what had been done, retained the purchase, and governed the country as a subordinate province.
[Footnote 106: Chalmer. Hutchison.]
[Sidenote: Royal government in New Hampshire.]
New Hampshire having become a distinct colony, a royal government was erected in that province; the legislature of which voted an affectionate address to Massachusetts, avowing a willingness to have retained their ancient connexion, had such been the pleasure of their common sovereign.
The temper and conduct of Massachusetts remaining unchanged, the charges against its government were renewed. The complaints of the Quakers were perseveringly urged; and the neglect of the acts of navigation, constituted a serious accusation against the colony. The general court, in a letter to their agents, declared these acts "to be an invasion of the rights, liberty, and property of the subjects of his majesty in the colony, they not being represented in Parliament." But as his majesty had signified his pleasure that they should be conformed to, "they had made provision by a law of the colony that they should be strictly attended to from time to time, although it greatly discouraged trade, and was a great damage to his majesty's plantation." Their agents gave correct information of the state of things in England, and assured them that only a fair compliance with the regulations respecting trade could secure them from an open breach with the crown. These honest representations produced the usual effect of unwelcome truths. They diminished the popularity of the agents, and excited a suspicion in Boston that they had not supported the interests of the colony with sufficient zeal. On their return, they brought with them a letter containing the requisitions of the King; and were soon followed by Randolph, who had been appointed collector at Boston. The general court began to manifest some disposition to appease their sovereign, and passed several laws for this purpose; but still declined complying with his directions to send agents with full powers to attend to the new ordering of the province; and the collector encountered insuperable obstacles in his attempts to execute the laws of trade. Almost every suit he instituted for the recovery of penalties or forfeitures was decided against him, at the costs of the prosecutor. These difficulties induced him to return to England, to solicit additional powers, which were equally disregarded.
The complaints of the King on these subjects were answered by professions of loyalty, and by partial compliances with the demands of the crown; but the main subject of contest remained unaltered.
At length, being convinced that the King was determined to annul the charter, Massachusetts so far yielded to his will, as to appoint agents to represent the colony. But persons empowered to submit to such regulations as might be made by government, were, in other words, persons appointed to surrender the charter. They were therefore instructed not to do, or consent to, any thing that might infringe the liberties granted by charter, or the government established thereby. These powers were declared to be insufficient; and the agents were informed that, unless others, in every respect satisfactory, should be immediately obtained, it was his majesty's pleasure that a quo warranto should be issued without delay. This unpleasant intelligence was immediately communicated to the general court, accompanied with information of the proceedings which had lately taken place in England. In that country, many corporations had surrendered their charters; and, on the refusal of London, a quo warranto had issued against the city, which had been decided in favour of the crown. The question whether it was advisable to submit to his majesty's pleasure, or to permit the quo warranto to issue, was seriously referred to the general court, and was as seriously taken into consideration throughout the colony. In concurrence with the common sentiment, the general court determined that "it was better to die by other hands than their own." On receiving this final resolution, the fatal writ was issued, and was committed to the care of Randolph, who brought also a declaration of the King, that if the colony, before the writ should be prosecuted, would submit to his pleasure, he would regulate their charter for his service, and their good; and would make no farther alterations in it than should be necessary for the support of his government in the province. The governor and assistants passed a vote of submission; but, the deputies refusing their assent thereto, the high court of chancery, in Trinity term 1684, decreed against the governor and company, "that their letters patent, and the enrolment thereof be cancelled."
[Sidenote: Death of Charles II.]
[Sidenote: James II. proclaimed.]
Charles did not survive this decree long enough to complete his system respecting the New England colonies, or to establish a new government for Massachusetts. He died early in the following year; and his successor, from whose stern temper, and high toned opinions, the most gloomy presages had been drawn, was proclaimed, in Boston, with melancholy pomp.
Their presages were soon verified. Immediately after James had ascended the throne, a commission was issued for a president and council, as a temporary government for Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Narraghansetts; whose powers were entirely executive and judicial. This commission reached Boston in May, and was laid before the general court, not as a body invested with political authority, but as one composed of individuals of the first respectability and influence in the province. The general court agreed unanimously to an address, in answer to this communication, declaring "that the liberty of the subject is abridged, by the new system, both in matters of legislation and in laying taxes; and that it highly concerns them to whom it is directed to consider whether it be safe;" and added "that, if the newly appointed officers, mean to take upon themselves the government of the people, though they could not give their assent thereto, they should demean themselves as loyal subjects, and humbly make their addresses to God, and, in due time, to their gracious prince, for relief."