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CHAP. produced corresponding results in the institutions,
which were to rise in America.
A revolution had equally occurred in the purposes for which voyages were undertaken. The hope of Columbus, as he sailed to the west, had been the discovery of a new passage to the East Indies. The passion for rapidly amassing gold soon became the prevailing motive. Next, the islands and countries near the equator were made the tropical gardens of the Europeans for the culture of such luxuries, as the warmest regions only can produce. At last, the higher design was matured, not to plunder, nor to destroy, nor to enslave; but to found states, to plant permanent Christian colonies, to establish for the oppressed and the enterprizing, places of refuge and abode, with all the elements of independent national existence.
The condition of England favored adventure in America. A redundant population had existed even before the peace with Spain;' and the timid character of King James, throwing out of employment the gallant men, who had served under Elizabeth by sea and land, left to them no option, but to engage as mercenaries in the quarrels of strangers, or to incur the hazards of emigration to a new world. The minds of many persons of intelligence, rank and enterprize, were directed to Virginia. Gosnold, a brave soldier and very ingenious man, who had himself witnessed the fertility of the western soil, long
1 Lord Bacon on Queen Elizabeth.
2 Gorges' Brief Narration, c. ii.
solicited the concurrence of his friends for the estab- CHAP.
IV. lishment of a colony ;' and at last prevailed with Wingfield, a merchant of the west of England, 1606. Hunt, a clergyman, and Smith, the adventurer of rare genius and undying fame, to consent to risk their own lives and their hope of fortune in an expedition. For more than a year, this little company revolved the project of a plantation. At the same time, Sir Ferdinand Gorges was gathering information of the native Americans, whom he had received from Weymouth, and whose descriptions of the country, joined to the favorable views, which he had already imbibed, filled him with the strongest desire to become a proprietary of domains beyond the Atlantic. Gorges was a man of wealth, of rank, and of influence; he readily persuaded Sir John Popham, lord chief justice of England, to share his intentions. Nor had the assigns of Raleigh become indifferent to "western planting ;” the most distinguished of them all, Richard Hakluyt, the historian of maritime enterprize, still favored the establishment of a colony by his personal exertions and the firm enthusiasm of his character. Possessed of whatever information could be derived from foreign sources and a correspondence with the eminent navigators of his times, and anxiously watching the progress of the attempts of Englishmen in the west, his extensive knowledge made him a counsellor in
1 Edmund Howes' Continuation 2 Smith, v. i. p. 149, or Purchas, of Stowe, p. 1018. A prime au- v. iv. p. 1705; Stith, p. 35. Comthority on Virginia. See Stith, pare Belknap, v. i. p. 239 and 252.
3 Gorges, c. ii.--v.
CHAP. the enterprizes which were attempted, and sustained
in him and his associates the confidence, which 1606. repeated disappointments did not exhaust. Thus
the cause of colonization obtained in England zealous and able defenders, who, independent of any party in religion or politics, believed that a prosperous state could be established by Englishmen in the temperate regions of North America.
The king of England, too timid to be active, yet too vain to be indifferent, favored the design of enlarging his dominions. He had attempted in Scotland the introduction of the arts of life among the Highlanders and the western isles, by the establishment of colonies; and the English plantations, which he formed in the northern counties of Ireland, are said to have contributed to the affluence and the security of that island. When, therefore, a company of men of business and men of rank, formed by the experience of Gosnold, the enthusiasm of Smith, the perseverance of Hakluyt, the hopes of profit and the extensive influence of Popham and
Gorges," applied to James I. for leave “to deduce a April colony into Virginia,” the monarch promoted the
noble work, by readily issuing an ample patent.
The first colonial charter, under which the English
1 Hakluyt, v. iii. passim; v. v. 4 Gorges, c. v. and vi. Dedication of Virginia Valued. 5 See the Charter, in Hazard, v. The first Virginia charter contains i. p. 51–58; Suith's Appendix, p. his name.
1-8; Hening's Statutes of Vir2 Robertson's Scotland, b. viii. ginia at large, v. i. p. 57—66. In
3 Leland's History of Ireland, referring to this collection, I canv. ii. p. 204—213; Lord Bacon's not but add, that no other state in speech as Chancellor to the Speak- the Union possesses so excellent er, Works, v. iii. p. 405.
a work on its legislative history.
were planted in America, deserves careful considera- CHAP tion. A belt of twelve degrees on the American coast, embracing the soil from Cape Fear to Halifax, 1606. excepting perhaps the little spot in Acadia, then actually possessed by the French, was set apart to be colonized by two rival companies. Of these, the first was composed of noblemen, gentlemen, and merchants in and about London, the second, of knights, gentlemen, and merchants in the west. The London adventurers, who alone succeeded, had an exclusive right to occupy the regions from thirtyfour to thirty-eight degrees of north latitude, that is, from Cape Fear to the southern limit of Maryland; the western men had equally an exclusive right to plant between forty-one and forty-five degrees. The intermediate district, from thirty-eight to fortyone degrees, was open to the competition of both companies. Yet collision was not possible; for each was to possess the soil, extending fifty miles north and south of its first settlement; so that neither could plant within one hundred miles of a colony of its rival. The conditions of tenure were homage and rent; the rent was no other than one fifth of the net produce of gold and silver, and one fifteenth of copper. The right of coining money was conceded, perhaps to facilitate commerce with the natives, who, it was hoped, would receive Christianity and the arts of civilized life. The superintendence of the whole colonial system was confided to a council in England; the local administration of each colony was entrusted to a council residing
CHAP. within its limits. The members of the superior
council in England were appointed exclusively by 1606. the king, and the tenure of their office was his good
pleasure. Over the colonial councils the king likewise preserved a control, for the members of them were from time to time to be ordained, made and removed according to royal instructions. Supreme legislative authority over the colonies, extending alike to their general condition and the most minute regulations, was likewise expressly reserved to the monarch. A hope was also cherished of an ultimate revenue to be derived from Virginia; a duty, to be levied on vessels trading to its harbors, was, for one and twenty years, to be wholly employed for the benefit of the plantation; at the end of that time, was to be taken for the king. To the emigrants it was promised, that they and their children should continue to be Englishmen; a concession, which secured them rights on returning to England, but offered no barrier against colonial injustice. Lands were to be held by the most favorable tenure.
Thus the first written charter of a permanent American colony, which was to be the chosen abode of liberty, gave to the mercantile corporation nothing but a desert territory, with the right of peopling and defending it; and reserved to the monarch absolute legislative authority, the control of all appointments, and a hope of an ultimate revenue. To the emigrants themselves it conceded not one elective franchise, not one of the rights of self-government. They were subjected to the ordinances of a com