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plained of the conduct of the general court, for not taking suitable measures to prevent the destruction and waste of the king's forests and spars, and for not submitting to his veto on their election of one of the counsellors. The general court employed an agent, Dr. Cook, of Boston, a distinguished advocate for the rights of the colonial government, to vindicate their conduct. There was a hearing before the king's privy council; the governor was fully justified for his conduct, and the assembly of Massachusetts expressly censured.
These proceedings of Massachusetts, with other previous acts, indicating a want of due submission to the parent government, as was alleged by the then administration, gave such dissatisfaction, that there was a proposition to withdraw the charter of 1692. Jeremiah Dummer, then an agent in England, from Massachusetts, and a man very eminent for his talents and learning, defended the province with great ability. He did not, however, justify the general court in all the measures, of which Governor Shute complained. He pleaded, that the powers delegated by the charter had seldom been exceeded by the government, and that, although these were various and extensive, they were necessary for the welfare and prosperity of the province.* The charter was saved; but an explanatory article was added, by which the king's right, by bis governor, to negative the election of the counsellors, was expressly asserted and declared. In the absence of Governor Shute, William Dummer, 'the lieutenant governor, filled the chair, with fidelity and ability. In 1723, a fort was erected on Connecticut river, near the boundary line of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and called fort Dummer, in honor of the lieutenant governor. It was also after the return of Governor Shute to England, while Mr. Dummer acted as chief magisrate, that a treaty was made with the eastern tribes of India ans,
which gave peace and security to the inhabitants in Maine.t
He contended that its withdrawal, or a material diminution of powers, would be great injustice, when the sufferings, efforts, and sacrifices, of the inhabitants, and their fathers, were considered; that the authority exercised in the province was no more than belonged to British subjects, and was necessary, as the people were not represented in parliament. Similar considerations were urged in 1691, by Bishop Burnet, father of Governor Burnet, who said in the House of Lords, “ that the charters of the colonies in New England were far more sacred than of corporations in England, as the former were contracts with the patentees; they promised to enlarge the king's dominions, if they could have certain privileges; they had performed their part of the contract; and if the king did not fulfil his part, it would be manifest injustice.”
+ When the chiefs were asked if they would be responsible for the good conduct of the young men of their tribes, they said “they would answer for them when they were not intoxicated.”
In 1725, Capt. Lovell, of Dunstable, made an attack on the Indians at Pigwackett, on Saco River, about thirty miles west of Portland. He made a bold assault on them; but they were very numerous, and and his men were overpowered. Most of the party were slain, or mortally wounded. It was considered a very heroic adventure; and provision was made for the relief of the fanzilies of those who were slain on that occasion. So much were the people harassed on the frontier settlements, at this time, that agents were sent to Montreal, from Massachusetts, to prevail with the French to prevent the hostilities of the Indians.
The power of the clergy appears to have been less, at this period, than in the early days of the colony: At their annual convention, in 1725, they proposed, that a synod should be called, to take into consideration the religious state of the country; but the general court, whose consent was deemed proper, and by whose order or advice former synods had been convened, declined giving their countenance to the proposal. Many of the laity had become jealous of ecclesiastical power ; and, perhaps, the disapprobation, with which the proposed measure was viewed by the British ministry, prevailed with some in the province to object to it.*
The year 1727 was memorable for a severe earthquake in New England, which was felt as far as Delaware.
This was the third in the country, noticed in the records of rare occurrences, which excited great alarm. But other small shocks had been experienced, during a period of seventy or eighty years.
* A writer of this period, however, represents the clergy to be catholic, “making the basis for union vital and substantial piety, in which all good men might join. The terms of communion run parallel with the terms of salvation. Presbyterians, Lutherans, Anabaptists, Episcopalians, &c., meet together at the same table of the Lord.”
Governor Burnet-His Character-Dispute with General Court, about his
salary-Governor Belcher-His Character-At first very popular-Paper Money depreciated—Occasion of long embarrassments— Parties–Opposition to Governor Belcher_Naval Officer removed by the King, and not by the Governor--Expedition to the West Indies--Line between Massachusetts and New Hampshire run-Line run between Rhode Island-Governor Shirley-His Character-War between England and France-Disputes and contests with Eastern Indians-Expedition to Louisbourg—successful—New England threatened by the French -Plans against Canada, and Nova Scotia—Peace, and troops recalled from Nova Scotia-Impressments in Boston, and Riots--Plan for Bishops in America-Paper Money redeemed, and discontinued-Reimbursements from England-Society for Industry and Economy-ClergyEastern Indians—British Prohibitions on Trade-Agent in EnglandHeavy Taxes-Commerce.
In 1728, Mr. Burnet, who had been Governor, both of New York and New Jersey, received a commission from the king, to be commander-in-chief of Massachusetts. He was a son of Bishop Burnet, and had the reputation of being a great scholar and an elegant writer. His administration was short; but so unpleasant, as to have given him great anxiety and vexation. "He was fond of parade, but of an amiable temper; and yet was engaged in controversy with the general court, on the vexed question, which before and long after excited the strongest feelings, among political characters. This was the subject of a stated salary for the governor.
It appears that he made it a point of importance to be settled when he first received the royal commission. It was the principal theme of his communications with the representatives; and in so doing he only obeyed the instructions of the king. The house declined establishing a salary, as recommended; and the majority of the counsellors agreed with them in their non-compli
A grant, however, was made him, as had been to former governors, to meet the expenses of his station. The amount was £1700, to defray the expenses of his journey from New York, and for his support during the year.
The dispute was maintained with warmth and obstinacy, both by the governor and the representatives; the former was probably influenced by pride of opinion, rather than avarice ;
and the latter appear to have acted from a regard to the rights of the people. The House insisted, that by their charter, and by virtue of their common rights as Englishmen, it rested with them to raise money, to what amount and for what purpose they chose; and that they did not perceive that the welfare of the people, or the due support of government, required them to establish a salary for the chief magistrate. They appealed to the several towns in the province, and received the support of their constituents in the course they had adopted; but the council, at this time, was on the side of the governor. He removed the court to Salem, in the belief that the country members were too much influenced by the people of Boston, in voting on the subject; and he complained that their conduct savored too much of republicanism." He suffered himself to be greatly excited by the controversy; and it was supposed that his anxiety was so extreme as to have impaired his health. He died at Boston, in 1729, when he had been in the chair less than two years.
This controversy afforded evidence of the unhappy effects of supporting, with pertinacity and bitterness, the measures of a political character, which might be as well settled by argument and good temper. The governor did no more than to obey the instructions of the king, except that he had resolved to carry the point, in opposition to the will of the House. On their part, it was a question of supposed right and a measure identified with political liberty. They had been nursed in the arms of freedom, and felt that their sacrifices and struggles had given them a just claim to all the authority necessary to selfgovernment; saving always their allegiance to the crown; which, as they usually interpreted it, meant little more than a bare acknowledgment.
Governor Belcher was commissioned in 1730. He was a native of the province, a graduate of Harvard College; and his father was a merchant of eminence in Boston. He was some time in England, where he had an opportunity of a personal acquaintance with men high in authority at that period. After he came into office, there was not so much of violent party disputes as had been a short time before ; though his political views did not differ much from those of his predecessor.
* At the completion of a century from the first settlement of Massachu. setts, its population was estimated at 120,000. The number of vessels of all descriptions was 600; about half of which traded to Europe and the West India Islands. And the other moiety was engaged in the fishery, which was followed on the coast of Nova Scotia, and eastward; and nearly 6000 men were employed on the ocean. These were proofs of prosperity, notwithstanding the heavy taxes growing out of the numerous wars with the French and Indians.
The general court might have become discouraged from keeping up the contest with the king and his ministers, as in several points they had been obliged to yield; and the governor, from motives of policy, might have chosen to avoid all harshness in the disputes which should arise. He made an effort, however, to persuade the representatives to provide a stated salary for him, which his directions from the king required; but as they still declined it, he accepted a compensation by way of grants; and in this the court were more liberal to him than they had been to others, except his immediate predecessor, with whom they had an obstinate contest to the last. Governor Belcher had the consent of the king to accept of a compensation in this manner.
But Mr. Belcher had political opponents from other considerations. The difficulties growing out of the paper money system had been increasing for several years; and though the embarrassments which it created were great and extensive, no relief had been provided. The bills, issued from time to time, were to a large nominal amount, but they had greatly depregiated, and thus injured the public credit, and produced much evil in the common transactions and business of society. Projects were offered for a public bank, and also for individuals to issue bills, which should be redeemed by specie when they became due, and the market value of land was to be the standard by which the paper was to be estimated. Parties were thus formed, which soon became of a political character; for, as a governor, or the members of the general court were for the bank, or opposed to it, and for some other project, so were they popular or unpopular with each class or party of the people.
These projects grew out of the great amount of paper circulation, issued on several occasions, when the taxes could not be paid ; and were intended to introduce a specie currency, and thus gradually to redeem the bills of the government. But none of these plans proved successful, or afforded the remedy desired. As there were different schemes to effect the same object, each had its advocates, as patriotism in some and speculation in others, perhaps, prompted. The consequence was, as before suggested, that parties were formed, from selfish motives; which added to those of older standing, and wholly of a political character.
This state of things continued through the administrations of Shute, Burnet, Belcher, and of a part of that of Shirley; and served to render the office of chief magistrate exceedingly difficult to sustain, with peace to himself, or the approbation of the people. The paper system had been so long maintained, and being supposed to operate to the relief