« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
SIR JOHN HARVEY'S ADMINISTRATION.
CHAP. charge,' and gave to their statutes the greatest possi
ble publicity. When the defects and inconveniences 1630 of infant legislation were remedied by a revised code, 1635. which was published with the approbation of the gov
ernor and council, all the privileges which the assembly had ever claimed, were carefully confirmed. In
deed, they seem never to have been questioned. 1635 Yet the administration of Harvey was disturbed by
divisions, which grew out of other causes than infringements of the constitution. De Vries, who visited Virginia in 1632-3, had reason to praise the advanced condition of the settlement, the abundance of its products, and the liberality of its governor. The community would hardly have been much disturbed because fines were exacted with too relentless rigor ; 6 but the whole colony of Virginia was in a state of excitement and alarm in consequence of the dismemberment of its territory by the cession to Lord Baltimore. As in many of the earlier settlements, questions about landtitles were agitated with passion; and there was reason to apprehend the increase of extravagant grants, that would again include the soil on which plantations had already been made without the acquisition of an indisputable legal claim. In Maryland, the first occu. pants had refused to submit, and a skirmish had ensued, in which the blood of Europeans was shed for the first time on the waters of the Chesapeake ; and Clay borne, defeated and banisned from Maryland as a murderer' and an outlaw, sheltered himself in Virginia, where he had long been a member of the coun
1 Hening, 175, Acts 57 and 58.
4 Ibid. 180–202. See, particularly, Acts 34, 35, 36. 39. 46. 57, 58. 61.
5 De Vries, Korte Historiael ende Journals--a rare work, which Ebeling had never seen. 6 Beverley, 48. Bullock, 10. 7 Hammond's Leah and Rachel.
SIR JOHN HARVEY'S ADMINISTRATION.
cil. There the contest was renewed ; and Harvey, CHAP. far from attempting to enforce the claims of Virginia against the royal grant, sent Clayborne to England to answer for the crimes with which he was charged. The colonists were indignant that their governor should thus, as it seemed to them, betray their interests; and as the majority of the council favored their wishes, “ Sir John Harvey was thrust out of his government; and Captain John West appointed to the office, till the king's pleasure be known.” An assembly was summoned in May, to receive complaints against Harvey; but he had in the mean time consented to go to England, and there meet his accusers.
The commissioners appointed by the council to man- 1636 age the impeachment of Harvey, met with no favor in England, and were not even admitted to a hearing: Harvey immediately reäppeared to occupy his former Jan. station; and was followed by a new commission, by * which his powers were still limited to such as had been exercised during the period of legislative freedom. General assemblies continued to be held; but the vacancies in the council, which had been filled in Virginia, were henceforward to be supplied by appointment in England. Harvey remained in office till 1639. The complaints which have been brought against him, will be regarded with some degree of distrust, when it is considered, that the public mind
1 Hening, i. 223, and 4. Old- company, furnishes a tissue of inmixon, i. 240. Oldmixon is un- ventions. Keith, 143, 144, places worthy of implicit trust. Beverley, in 1639 the occurrences of 1635. 48, is not accurate. Campbell's His book is superficial. Virginia, 60-a modest little book. 2 Burk, ii. 45. Yet Burk corChalmers, 118, 119, is betrayed into rected but half the errors of his error by following Oldmixon. Burk, predecessors. ii. 41, 42. Bullock's Virginia, 10. 3 Hazard, i. 400—403. Robertson, in his History of Vir- 4 Campbell, 61. Hening, i. 4. ginia, after the dissolution of the
VOL. 1. 26
SIR FRANCIS WYATT'S ADMINISTRATION.
CHAP. of the colony, during his administration, was con
trolled by a party which pursued him with implacable hostility. In April, 1642, two months only after the accession of Berkeley, a public document declares the comparative happiness of the colony under the royal government; a declaration which would hardly have been made, if Virginia had so recently and so long
been smarting under intolerable oppression. 1639. At length he was superseded, and Sir Francis Nov. Wyatt? appointed in his stead. Early in the next 1640. year, he convened a general assembly. History has
recorded many instances where a legislature has altered the scale of debts : in modern times, it has frequently been done by debasing the coin, or by introducing paper money. In Virginia, debts had been contracted to be paid in tobacco; and when the article rose in value, in consequence of laws restricting its culture, the legislature of Virginia did not scruple to provide a remedy, by enacting that “no man need pay more than two thirds of his debt during the stint ;” and that all creditors should take " forty pounds for a hundred.” 3 The artificial increase of the value of tobacco seemed to require a corresponding
change in the tariff of debts. 1641. After two years, a commission 5 was issued to Sir 8. William Berkeley. Historians, reasoning, from the
revolutions which took place in England, that there had been corresponding attempts at oppression and corresponding resistance in Virginia, have delighted
1 Hening, i. 231.
governor as Wyatt, in 1639, and 2 Rymer, xx. 484. Hazard, i. represent Berkeley as the immedi477. Savage on Winthrop, ii. 160, ate successor of Harvey. 161. A note by Savage settles a 3 Hening, i. 225, 226. question. Hening, i. 224, and 4. 4 Brockenbrough's Virginia, 586. Campbell, 61. But Keith, and Bev- 5 Hazard, i. 477–480. Rymer, erly, and Chalmers, and Burk, and xx. 484-486. Marshall, were ignorant of such a
SIR WILLIAM BERKELEY'S ADMINISTRATION.
to draw a contrast, not only between Harvey and CHAY. the new governor, but between the institutions of an Virginia under their respective governments; and 1641 Berkeley is said to have “restored the system of freedom," and to have “ effected an essential revolution. "i I cannot find that his appointment was marked by the slightest concession of new political privileges, except that the council recovered the right of supplying its own vacancies; and the historians, who make an opposite statement, are wholly ignorant of the intermediate administration of Wyatt; a government so suited to the tastes and habits of the planters, that it passed silently away, leaving almost no impression on Virginia history, except in its statutes. The commission of Berkeley was exactly analogous to those of his predecessors.
The instructions? given him, far from granting franchises to the Virginians, imposed new, severe and unwarrantable restrictions on the liberty of trade; and, for the first time, England claimed that monopoly of colonial commerce, which was ultimately enforced by the navigation act of Charles II., and which never ceased to be a subject of dispute till the war of independence. The nature of those instructions will presently be explained.
It was in February, 1642, that Sir William Berke- 1642 ley, arriving in the colony, assumed the government. His arrival must have been nearly simultaneous with the adjournment of the general assembly, which was held in the preceding January. He found the American planters in possession of a large share of the legis
i Chalmers, 120, 121.
i. 267–269, in the acts 49, 50, 51, 2 Ibid. 131–133.
52. The statutes, of course, call 3 The acts of that session are the year 1641, as the year then lost, but are referred to in Hening, began in March.
SIR WILLIAM BERKELEY'S ADMINISTRATION.
CHAP. lative authority; and he confirmed them in the enjoym ment of franchises which a long and uninterrupted 1642
succession had rendered familiar. Immediately after Mar
his arrival, he convened the colonial legislature. The utmost harmony prevailed; the memory of factions was lost in a general amnesty of ancient griefs. The lapse of years had so far effaced the divisions which grew out of the dissolution of the company, that when George Sandys, an agent of the colony, and an opponent of the royal party in England, presented a petition to the commons, praying for the restoration of the ancient patents, the royalist assembly promptly
disavowed the design, and, after a full debate, opApril " posed it by a solemn protest. The whole document
breathes the tone of a body accustomed to public discussion and the independent exercise of legislative power. They assert the necessity of the freedom of trade, 6 for freedom of trade,” say they, " is the blood and life of a commonwealth.” And they defended their preference of self-government through a colonial legislature, by a conclusive argument. “There is more likelyhood, that such as are acquainted with the clime and its accidents may upon better grounds prescribe our advantages, than such as shall sit at the helm in England." In reply to their urgent petition, the king immediately declared his purpose not to change a form of government in which they “received so much content and satisfaction.” 4
The Virginians, aided by Sir William Berkeley," could now deliberately perfect their civil condition. Condemnations to service had been a usual punish
i Chalmers, 121. Hening, i. 230. 4 Chalmers, 133, 134. Burk, ii.
2 Hening, i. 230--236. Burk, ii 74. 68–74.
5 Hammond's Leah and Rache: 3 Hening, i. 233.