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VIRGINIA RETAINS ITS FRANCHISES.

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under penalty of the censure of the star-chamber for CHAP. disobedience. In a few days, a new proclamation ap- ~ peared, in which it was his evident design to secure 1625. the profits that might before have been engrossed by 13. the corporation. After a careful declaration of the forfeiture of the charters, and consequently of the immediate dependence of Virginia upon himself, a declaration aimed against the claims of the London company, and not against the franchises of the colonists, the monarch proceeded to announce his fixed resolution of becoming, through his agents, the sole factor of the planters. Indifferent to their constitution, it was his principal aim to monopolize the profits of their industry; and the political rights of Virginia were established as usages by his salutary neglect."

There is no room to suppose that Charles nourished the design of suppressing the colonial assemblies. For some months, the organization of the government was not changed; and when Wyatt, on the death of his father, obtained leave to return to Scotland, Sir George 1626 Yeardley was appointed his successor. This appointment was in itself a guaranty, that, as “ the former interests of Virginia were to be kept inviolate,” 2 so the representative government, the chief political interest, would be maintained; for it was Yeardley who had had the glory of introducing the system. In the Mar. commission now issued, the monarch expressed his desire to benefit, encourage and perfect the plantation ; - the same means, that were formerly thought fit for the maintenance of the colony,” were continued ; and the power of the governor and council was limited, as

1 Hazard, i. 202_205. Burk, ii. 14, 15. 2 Letter of the privy council, in Burk, ii. 18. 3 Hazard, i. 230-234.

196

VIRGINIA RETAINS ITS FRANCHISES.

VI.

e

CHAP. it had before been done in the commission of Wyatt,

by a reference to the usages of the last five years. In that period, representative liberty had becoine the custom of Virginia. The words were interpreted as favoring the wishes of the colonists; and King Charles, intent only on increasing his revenue, confirmed, perhaps unconsciously, the existence of a popular as

sembly. The colony prospered ; Virginia rose rapidly 1627. in public estimation ; in one year, a thousand emi

grants arrived ; and there was an increasing demand

for all the products of the soil. Nov. The career of Yeardley was now closed by death.

Posterity will ever retain a grateful recollection of the man who first convened a representative assembly in the western hemisphere; the colonists, announcing his decease in a letter to the privy council, gave at the

same time a eulogy on his virtues; the surest evidence Nov. of his fidelity to their interests. The day after 'his

burial, Francis West was elected his successor ; ? for the council was authorized to elect the governor, “ from

time to time, as often as the case shall require." 1628. But if any doubts existed of the royal assent to the

continuance of colonial assemblies, they were soon reJune moved by a letter of instructions, which the king ad16.

14.

dressed to the governor and council. After much
caviling, in the style of a purchaser who undervalues
the wares which he wishes to buy, the monarch arrives
at his main purpose, and offers to contract for the
whole crop of tobacco; desiring, at the same time,
that an assembly might be convened to consider his
proposal. This is the first recognition, on the part of
a Stuart, of a representative assembly in America.

i Burk, ii. 22, 23.
2 Hening, i. 4.

3 Hazard i. 23:3.
4 Burk, ii. 19, 20. Hening, i. 129.

VI.

SIR JOHN HARVEY'S ADMINISTRATION.

197 Hitherto, the king had, fortunately for the colony, chap. found no time to take order for its government. His zeal for an exclusive contract led him to observe and to sanction the existence of an elective legislature. The assembly, in its answer, firmly pro- 1629.

Mar. tested against the monopoly, and rejected the con- 261 ditions which they had been summoned to approve. The independent reply of the assembly was signed by the governor, by five members of the council, and by thirty-one burgesses. The Virginians, happier than the people of England, enjoyed a faithful representative government, and, through the resident planters who composed the council, they repeatedly elected their own governor. When West designed to embark for Europe, his place was supplied by election.

No sooner had the news of the death of Yeardley 1628. reached England, than the king proceeded to issue a commission ? to John Harvey. The tenor of the instrument offered no invasions of colonial freedom ; but while it renewed the limitations which had previously been set to the executive authority, it permitted the council in Virginia, which had common interests with the people, to supply all vacancies occurring in their body. In this way direct oppression was rendered impossible.

It was during the period which elapsed between 1628 the appointment of Harvey and his appearance in 1699 America, that Lord Baltimore visited Virginia. The zeal of religious bigotry pursued him as a Romanist ; 3 and the intolerant jealousy of Popery led to memorable results. Nor should we, in this connection, forget the hospitable plans of the southern planters; the people

an

29

Burk,

1 Hening, i. 134-137. ii. 24.

2 Hazard, i. 234—239.

3 Records, in Burk, ii. 24, 25 Hening, i. 552.

198

SIR JOHN HARVEY'S ADMINISTRATION.

V

to

CHAP. of New Plymouth were invited to abandon the cold

and sterile clime of New England, and plant themselves in the milder regions on the Delaware Bay; a plain indication that Puritans were not then molested in Virginia.

It was probably in the autumn of 1629 that Harvey

arrived in Virginia. Till October, the name of Pott 1630 appears as governor; Harvey met his first assembly Mar. 24. of burgesses in the following March. He had for

several years been a member of the council; and as, at a former day, he had been a willing instrument in the hands of the faction to which Virginia ascribed its earliest griefs, and continued to bear a deep-rooted

hostility, his appointment could not but be unpopular. 1630 The colony had esteemed it a special favor from King 1635. James, that, upon the substitution of the royal author

ity for the corporate supremacy, the government had been intrusted to impartial agents; and, after the death of Yeardley, two successive chief magistrates had been elected in Virginia. The appointment of Harvey implied a change of power among political parties; it gave authority to a man whose connections in England were precisely those which the colony regarded with the utmost aversion. As his first appearance in America, in 1623, had been with no friendly designs, so now he was the support of those who desired large grants of land and unreasonable concessions of separate jurisdictions ; and he preferred the interests of himself, his partisans and patrons, to the welfare and quiet of the colony. The extravagant language, which exhibited him as a tyrant, without specifying his crimes, was the natural hyperbole of po

i Burk, ii. 32.
2 Chalmers, 118.

3 Hening, i. 4, and 147.

SIR JOHN HARVEY'S ADMINISTRATION.

199

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litical excitement; and when historians, receiving the CHAP. account, and interpreting tyranny to mean arbitrary * taxation, drew the inference that he convened no as- 1630 semblies, trifled with the rights of property, and levied 1635 taxes according to his caprice, they were betrayed into extravagant errors. Such a procedure would have been impossible. He had no soldiers at his command; no obsequious officers to enforce his will; and the Virginians would never have made themselves the instruments of their own oppression. The party opposed to Harvey was deficient neither in capacity nor in colonial influence ; and while arbitrary power was rapidly advancing to triumph in England, the Virginians, during the whole period, enjoyed the benefit of independent colonial legislation ;' through the agency of their representatives, they levied and appropriated all taxes, secured the free industry of their citizens, guarded the forts with their own soldiers, at their own

was

1 As an opposite statement has 1640, Hening, i. 268. received the sanction, not of Old 1641, June, ibid. 259–262. mixon, Chalmers, and Robertson 1642, January, ibid. 267. only, but of Marshall and of Story 1642, April, ibid. 230. (see Story's Commentaries, i. 28, 1642, June, ibid. 269. * without the slightest effort to con- Considering how imperfect are vene a colonial assembly”), I deem the early records, it is surprising it necessary to state, that many of that so considerable a list can be the statutes of Virginia under Har- established. The instructions to vey still exist, and that, though Sir William Berkeley do not first many others are lost, the first vol. order assemblies; but speak of ume of Hening's Statutes at Large them as of a thing established. At proves, beyond a question, that as an adjourned session of Berkeley's semblies were convened, at least, first legislature, the assembly deas often as follows:

clares 5 its meeting exceeding cus1630, March, Hening, i. 147—153. tomary limits, in this place used." 1630, April, ibid. 257. Hening, i. 236. This is a plain 1632, February, ibid. 153–177. declaration, that assemblies were 1632, September, ibid. 178—202. the custom and use of Virginia 1633, February, ibid. 202–209. at the time of Berkeley's arrival. 1633, August, ibid. 209-222. If any doubts remain, it would be

ibid. 223. easy to multiply arguments and

ibid. 223. references. Burk, ii. App. xlix. li. 1636, ibid. 229.

2 Hening, i. 171, Act 38. ibid. 227.

3 Ibid. 172, Act 40. ibid. 229-230.

1634, 1635,

1637, 1639,

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