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IV.

The return of Lord Delaware to America might CHAP. have restored tranquillity; the health of that noble- a man was not equal to the voyage; he embarked 1617. with many emigrants, but did not live to reach Virginia. The tyranny

The tyranny of Argall was, therefore, left unrestrained; but his indiscriminate rapacity and vices were destined to defeat themselves, and procure for the colony an inestimable benefit; for they led him to defraud the company, as well as to oppress the colonists. The condition of Virginia became intolerable; the labor of the settlers was 1618 perverted to the benefit of the governor; servitude, for a limited period, became a common penalty, annexed to trifling offences; and, in a colony where martial law still continued in force, life itself was insecure against his capricious passions. The first appeal, ever made from America to England, directed, not to the king, but to the company, was in behalf of one whom Argall had wantonly condemned to death, and whom he had with great difficulty been prevailed upon to spare. The colony was fast falling into disrepute, and the report of the tyranny established beyond the Atlantic, checked emigration. A reformation was demanded, and was conceded with guarantees for the future; because the interests of the colonists and the company coincided in requiring a redress of their common wrongs. After a strenuous contest on the part of rival factions for the

1 Stith, p. 148. In Royal and 1618. The writers on Virginia Noble Authors, v. ii. p. 180—183, uniformly relate, that he died at Lord Delaware is said to have sea. Smith, v. ii. p. 34. died at Wherwell, Hants, June 7, 2 Stith, p. 150–153. VOL. I.

22

170

YEARDLEY'S ADMINISTRATION. COLONIAL ASSEMBLY.

IV.

CILAP. control of the company, the influence of Sir Edwin

Sandys prevailed ; Argall was displaced, and the mild

and popular Yeardley was now appointed captain1619. general of the colony. But before the new chief

magistrate could arrive in Virginia, Argall had withdrawn, having previously, by fraudulent devices, preserved for himself and his partners the fruits of his extortions. The London company suffered the usual plagues of corporations, faithless agents and fruitless law-suits.3

The administration of Yeardley began with acts of benevolence. The ancient planters were fully released from all further service to the colony, and were confirmed in the possession of their estates, both personal and real, as amply as the subjects of England. The burdens imposed by his predecessor were removed, and martial law gradually disappeared. But these were not the only benefits, conferred through Yeardley; his administration marks an era in the progress of American liberty.

By the direction of the London company, the authority of the governor was limited by a council, which had power to redress such wrongs as he should

commit; and the colonists themselves were admitted June to a share in legislation. In June, 1619, the first

colonial assembly that ever met in Virginia,' was convened at Jamestown. The governor, the newly appointed council, and the representatives of the CHAP. boroughs, hence called burgesses, constituted the an first popular representative body, ever convened in 1619. the western hemisphere. All matters were debated, which were thought expedient for the good of the colony. The legislative enactments of these earliest American law-givers, now no longer extant, could not be of force, till they were ratified by the company in England. It does not appear, that the ratification took place; yet they were acknowledged to have been “in their greatest part very well and judiciously carried." The gratitude of the Virginians was expressed with cheerful alacrity; former griefs were buried in oblivion ; and the representatives of the colony expressed their “ greatest possible thanks” for the care of the company in settling the plantation.

1 Stith, p. 154.

5 Ibid, p. 161; Chalmers, p. 2 Ibid, p. 157.

44. 3 The company's Chief Root of 6 State of Virginia, 1620, p. 6, the Differences and Discontents, 7. A rare tract of the highest in Burk, v. i. p. 317–322; the authority. It is iu the Cambridge leading authority, written in 1623. Library. 4 Stith, p. 158.

7 Hening, v. i. p. 118.

This was the happy dawn of legislative liberty in America. They, who had been dependent on the will of a governor, now claimed the privileges of Englishmen, and demanded a code based upon the English laws. They were now willing to regard Virginia as their country and their home; and, since English jurisprudence was established and legislative liberty permitted, they resolved to perpetuate the colony.

The patriot party in England, now possessed of the control of the London company, engaged with

1 Stith, p. 160.

Purchas, v. iv. p. 1775, 1776. 2 Smith, v. ii. p. 39.

Chalmers, p. 44, perversely at3 Ancient Records, in Hening, tributes to the colonial assembly v. i. p. 121, 122.

the language employed by the 4 State of Virginia, 1620, p. 7; London company.

CHAP. earnestness in schemes to advance the population n and establish the liberties of Virginia ; and Sir Ed1619. win Sandys, the new treasurer, was a man of such

judgment and firmness, that no intimidations, not even threats of blood, could deter him from investigating and reforming the abuses, by which the progress of the colony had been retarded. At his accession to office, after twelve years' labor and an expenditure of eighty thousand pounds by the company, there were in the colony no more than six hundred persons, men, women and children; and now, in one year, he provided a passage to Virginia for twelve hundred and sixty-one persons. Nor must the character of the emigration be overlooked. “The people of Virginia had not been settled in their minds,” and, as, before the recent changes, they had gone there with the design of ultimately returning to England, it was necessary to multiply attachments to the soil. Few women had as yet dared to cross the Atlantic; but now the promise of prosperity induced ninety: agreeable persons, young and incorrupt,4 to listen to the wishes of the company and the benevolent advice of Sandys, and to embark for the colony, where they were assured of a welcome. They were transported at the expense of the corporation; and were married to the tenants of the company; or to men, who were well able to support them, and who willingly defrayed the costs

1 Chief Root of the Differences, and Provisions sent to Virginia in in Burk, v. i. p. 323; Stith, p. 1619, p. 1, 2 and 3. 159.

3 Ibid, p. 3. % A Note of the Shipping, Men Stith, p. 165.

IV.

other;

of their passage, which were rigorously demanded. CHAP. The adventure succeeded so well, that it was designed to send the next year another consignment 1620. of one hundred ; but before these could be collected, the company found itself so poor, that its design could be accomplished only by a subscription. After some delays, sixty were actually despatched, maids 1621. of virtuous education, young, handsome, and well recommended. The price rose from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco, or even more ; so that all the original charges might be repaid. The debt for a wife was a debt of honor, and took precedence of

any and the company, in conferring employments, gave a preference to the married men. Domestic ties were formed; virtuous sentiments and habits of thrift ensued; the tide of emigration swelled; within three 1619, years fifty patents for land were granted, and three 1621. thousand five hundred persons found their way to Virginia. The deliberate and formal concession of legisla- 1620.

May tive liberties was an act of the deepest interest. When Sandys, after a year's service, resigned his office as treasurer, a struggle ensued on the election of his successor. The meeting was numerously attended; and, as the courts of the company were now become the schools of debate, many of the distinguished leaders of parliament were present. King James attempted to decide the struggle ; and a mes

17.

1 Sir Edwin Sandys' Speech, nexed to State of Virginia, 1620. reported in Stith, p. 166.

3 Stith, p. 196; State of Vir2 Supplies for 1620, p. 11, an- ginia, 1622, p. 6, &c.

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