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Virginia After the Restoration
Characteristics of the Virginians-Causes of the Success of the Royalists—Growth of the Aristocratic Class-Berkeley De
cides Against the People—The Aristocratic Assembly Claims the Right to Sit Perpetually—Deprives the Common People of Their Liberties—Revival of the Navigation Act by Charles II.—The King Bestows Virginia as a Gift Upon His Favorites—Protests of the Assembly-Growing Hostility of the Virginians to the Colonial Government–The Indian War—The Governor Refuses to Allow the Colonists to Defend Themselves—Nathaniel Bacon-He Marches Against the Indians-Rebellion of the People Against Berkeley and the Assembly—The Convention-Repeal of the Obnoxious LawsBerkeley's Duplicity—The People Take Up Arms—Flight of Berkeley—Destruction of Janiestorn-Death of Bacon-Causes of the Failure of the Rebellion—Berkeley's Triumph—Execution of the Patriot Leaders--Berkeley's Course Condemned by the King—Death of Berkeley—The Unjust Laws Re-enacted—Lord Culpepper Governor-His Extortions—James II. and Virginia-Effects Upon Virginia of the Revolution of 1688—William and Mary College Founded.
N the eighth of May, 1660, Charles | the people."* The restoration was to change
made his entry into London. The colony had been settled by adventurers unrebellion and the commonwealth had pro- der circumstances which compelled equality duced but little effect upon Virginia. The among all classes of its people. Thus there restoration was productive of the most mo- had grown up a strong population born to mentous consequences in the colony. During the enjoyment of this equality, and devoted the long period of the commonwealth Vir- to its maintenance. They constituted the ginia had been practically independent. The bulk of the inhabitants. By degrees there people had acquired political rights, and had had sprung up a colonial aristocracy comexercised them with prudence.
posed of the large landholders. These were The colony had prospered in a marked persons of culture, many of whom had been degree under the blessings of popular gov- men of position and education in England. ernment, and the rights of the people were The laws favored the accumulation of large jealously guarded by their legislators. “No estates, and the possession of them awakened trace of established privilege appeared in its feelings of family pride. code or its government : in its forms and in The large emigration of men of rank and its legislation Virginia was a representative culture at the overthrow of Charles I. greatly democracy; so jealous of a landed aris- increased this class. The existence of an tocracy that it insisted on universality of suf- established church gave it another element frage; so hostile to the influence of com- of strength, since the interests of the state mercial wealth, that it would not tolerate the church and the aristocracy are always identi'mercenary' ministers of the law; so con- cal. Education was almost entirely confined siderate for religious freedom, that each to the landholding class, and with this neverparish was left to take care of itself. Every officer was, directly or indirectly, chosen by * Bancroft's History of the United States, vol. ii., p. 188
failing weapon in their grasp they soon ob- sinking deeper into ignorance and helplesstained the direction of the affairs of the ness, and a rising aristocracy, composed of colony, and retained it. Unfortunately for men of wealth and education, and united by Virginia, the mass of the people had no a common interest. Unhappily for the means of acquiring knowledge. There were people, the governor was a natural aristocrat. no common schools in the colony. In 1671, In spite of his professions of loyalty to the Sir William Berkeley wrote: “Every man assembly, he regarded the people with coninstructs his children according to his tempt, and could never tolerate the exercise ability.” He added: “I thank God there of the least of their rights. are no free schools nor printing, and I hope In the midst of the rejoicings in Virginia we shall not have these hundred years; for which hailed the return of Charles II. to the learning has brought disobedience and heresy and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them and libels against the best government. God keep us from both !” Thus were the common people doomed to hopeless ignorance, and left helpless and at the mercy of the smaller but educated class. There was no printing press in Virginia, and the colony remained without one until nearly a century after New England had enjoyed its benefits.
An Element of Weakness.
Bitterly did the people of Virginia atone for their neglect of their best interests. They had shown at the first the power of creating free institutions ; but these institutions cannot be preserved among an ignorant people. Freedom and intelligence go hand in hand. The institution of negro slavery was another element of weakness and degradation. Labor was debased in the eyes of the whites by being made the task of a slave, when it should have been the glory of a freeman. The institution served to confirm the power of the throne of his fathers, Berkeley took a decisive landed aristocracy, while it sank the common stand, and boldly declared that he was people deeper into ignorance.
governor of Virginia, not by the election of Thus when Sir William Berkeley entered the assembly, but by virtue of his commission upon his second term of office, at the period from the king. At the same time he issued of the restoration, there were two elements, writs for the election of a new assembly in by nature hostile to each other, contending the name of King Charles. Popular soverfor the control of the colony—a people eager eignty was struck dead in Virginia. The for the enjoyment of popular liberty, bu new assembly met in March, 1661. It was
KING CHARLES II.
composed exclusively of landholders. Until | “ The organization of the judiciary placed now the assembly had been elected for but a that department of the government almost single year, and its members were chosen by beyond the control of the people. The govthe people. This first aristocratic assembly, ernor and council were the highest ordinary true to its instincts, at a blow deprived the tribunal, and these were all appointed, directly people of the right of choosing their repre- or indirectly, by the crown. Besides this, sentatives, by assuming to itself the power to there were in each county eight unpaid sit perpetually.
justices of the peace, commissioned by the Sustained by the governor, the burgesses governor during his pleasure. These justices were enabled to continue their usurpation held monthly courts in their respective counfor fourteen years, and only yielded to an in- ties. Thus the administration of justice in surrection. The salaries of the members the counties was in the hands of persons were paid by their respective counties, and holding their offices at the good will of the the house, in 1662, passed a law regulating governor; while the governor himself and the pay and allowances of its members. The his executive council constituted the general compensation was fixed at two hundred and court, and had cognizance of all sorts of causes. fifty pounds of tobacco per day, or about nine dollars-a rate deemed enormous in
Religious Liberty Destroyed. these days of abundant wealth, and utterly “Was an appeal made to chancery it was unsuited to the period of poverty and struggle but for another hearing before the same men ; we are considering. In order to perpetuate
In order to perpetuate and it was only for a few years longer that its power, the assembly repealed the laws appeals were permitted from the general giving the right of suffrage to every citizen, court to the assembly. The place of sheriff and confined it to freeholders and house- in each county was conferred on one of the keepers.
justices for that county, and so devolved to every commissioner in course.
But Laws Against the Quakers.
the county courts, thus independent of the Nor did the assembly neglect to provide people, possessed and exercised the arbitrary for the church. Conformity was required power of levying county taxes, which, in by severe laws. Every inhabitant of the their amount, usually exceeded the public colony was compelled to attend its services levy. This system proceeded so far that the and to contribute a fixed sum to its support. commissioners, of themselves, levied taxes to The assessment of parish taxes was intrusted meet their own expenses. In like manner, to twelve vestrymen in each parish, who had the self-perpetuating vestries made out their power to fill all vacancies in their number. lists of tithables, and assessed taxes without They thus became practically a close corpo- regard to the consent of the parish. These ration, responsible to no one for their acts. private levies were unequal and oppressive, Rigorous laws were directed against the were seldom—it is said, never-brought to Quakers. They were forbidden to hold their audit, and were, in some cases, managed by own religious assemblies, and their absence
men who combined to defraud the public." * from church was punished by a heavy fine. These were the effects upon Virginia of In September, 1663, the house expelled one the restoration of Charles II. to the throne of its members " because he was well
the United States. By George Bancroft, affected to the Quakers.”
vcl. ii., pp., 204
of England. The guarantee which a frequent Charles was not satisfied with crippling renewal of the assembly secured to the rights the industry of the colony that had remained of the people was removed by the perpetu- faithful to him in his adversity. In order ation of that body. The right of suffrage- to please his worthless favorites at home he the sole protection of the liberties of a free consented to plunder the Virginians of their people—was taken from a majority of the property. In 1649, a patent was granted to a inhabitants of the province. Religious lib. company of cavaliers for this region lying beerty, which it was fondly believed had been tween the Rappahannock and the Potomac, established, was struck down at a single and known in Virginia as the Northern Neck. blow. A system of arbitrary taxation by It was intended to make this region a refuge irresponsible magistrates was set up in the for their partisans, but the design was never place of the carefully scrutinized levies of carried out. Other settlers located themthe representatives of the people. Education selves there, and in 1669 it contained a numwas discouraged and the press regarded with ber of thriving plantations. In the latter year hostility. Ignorance, with all its accompany. Lord Culpepper, one of the most avaricious ing evils, was fastened upon the colony. Ten men in England, obtained from the king a patyears sufficed to accomplish these changes; ent for the Northern Neck, having previously but it took more than a century for the people acquired all the shares of the company to of Virginia to recover their lost rights. whom the grant of 1649 had been made.
This patent was in direct violation of the An Infamous Law.
rights of the actual settlers, and bore very Charles II. remembered the loyalty of hard upon them. But it was as nothing comVirginia only in his adversity. One of his pared with the next gift of the king. In first acts was to revive in a more odious form 1673, he bestowed, as a free gift, upon Lord the navigation act, which had originated in the Culpepper and the Earl of Arlington, “ all the Long Parliament as a measure for compelling dominion of land and water called Virginia," the submission of the colonies to the authority for a term of thirty-one years. of the commonwealth. In 1660, a new and
Firm Remonstrance. enlarged navigation act was passed by Parliament. It forbade foreign vessels to trade with Even the aristocratic assembly was startled the colonies, and required colonists to ship by this summary disposal of the colony and certain "enumerated articles, such as sugar, commissioners were sent to England to retobacco, cotton, wool, ginger or dyewoods monstrate with the king. “We are unwillproduced in the colony, to England alone. ing,” the assembly declared,“ and conceive
This act bore very hard upon Virginia, as that we ought not to submit to those to whom it gave to the English merchants the monop- his majesty, upon
his majesty, upon misinformation, hath oly of her tobacco trade. The merchants granted the dominion over us, who do most were thus enabled to regulate the price of contentedly pay to his majesty more than we the commodity, and to supply the wants of have ourselves for our labor. Whilst we the colonists in return upon their own terms. labor for the advantage of the crown, and do Efforts were made to evade this iniquitous wish we could be more advantageous to the law, but it remained fastened upon the colo- king and nation, we humbly request not to nies, and was the first of a long series of out. be subjected to our fellow-subjects, but, for rages.
the future, to be secured from our fears of
being enslaved." The commissioners were exhausted, and they only lacked an excuse granted no satisfaction in England, and the for taking up arms. The opportunity soon efforts of the colony to obtain justice at the
In the meantime the governor and hands of the king failed.
the assembly, with characteristic contempt
for the commons, went on extorting money General Discontent.
from the people by unjust taxes principally Virginia at this time was a sparsely settled for their own benefit, and put in successive province. Jamestown was the only town operation the measures we have already deserving the name within the limits of the described for strengthening their own power, colony. The inhabitants were scattered over and reducing the people to subjection to the country, separated from each other. them. They dwelt on their farms and plantations,
Six Chiefs Murdered. coming together rarely except on Sundays, on court-days, and at elections. This soli- The people of Maryland had become intary life taught them independence and self- volved in a war with the Susquehannah reliance. They were proud of their personal Indians and their confederates, and the liberty, and so long as this was not taken struggle was so serious that the savages exfrom them they were willing to submit to tended their depredations to the Potomac, almost any form of government that might and even to the limits of Virginia. To guard be imposed upon them. The truth is that against this danger the border militia were until the restoration the Virginians were not set to watch the line of the river, and in 1675 accustomed to being governed much. The a body of them, under Colonel John Washmeasures of the royalist governor and assem- ington, crossed over into Maryland to help bly greatly curtailed the freedom which the the people of that colony.
This John people had enjoyed under their former Washington had emigrated from the north governments, and the imposition of new bur- of England about eighteen years before, and dens upon them aroused a general discon- had settled in Westmoreland County. He tent.
became the great-grandfather of George Men began to come together to discuss Washington. The war was conducted with their wrongs, and the hostility to the aristo- great fury on both sides. Six of the chiefs cratic party and the governor increased of the Susquehannah tribe at length came rapidly, so rapidly, indeed, that the people into the camp of the Virginians to treat for were ripe for insurrection in 1674, and would peace, and were treacherously murdered. have risen in revolt had not some of the This barbarous act aroused the indignation cooler heads induced them to try more of Governor Berkeley. “If they had killed peaceful measures of redress. Still the taxes my father and my mother, and all my were continued at such a rate that the cold friends," said he, "yet if they had come to onists were driven to desperation. They treat of peace, they ought to have gone in complained, with justice, that they were de- peace.” The massacre was bloodily avenged prived of all the fruits of their labors by the by the Indians. The Susquehannahs iminiquitous levies made upon them, and their mediately crossed the Potomac and waged a complaints, instead of producing a change relentless warfare along the borders of Virfor the better, merely brought an increase of ginia until they had slain ten whites for each their burdens. At length their patience was one of their chiefs, a sacrifice required of