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CHAP. sage was communicated from him, nominating four
candidates, one of whom he desired should receive 1621. the appointment. The company resisted the royal
interference as an infringement of their charter; and while James exposed himself to the disgrace of an unsuccessful attempt at usurpation, the choice of the meeting fell upon the earl of Southampton, the early friend of Shakspeare. Having thus vindicated their own rights, the company proceeded to redress former wrongs, and to provide colonial liberty with its written guarantees.
In the case of the appeal to the London company from a sentence of death pronounced by Argall, the friends of that officer had assembled, with the earl of Warwick at their head, and had voted, that trial by martial law is the noblest kind of trial, because soldiers and men of the sword were the judges. This opinion was now reversed and the rights of the colonists to trial by jury amply sustained.? Nor was it long before the freedom of the northern fisheries was equally asserted; and the early history of NewEngland will explain with what success the monopoly of a rival corporation was opposed.
The company had silently approved, yet never expressly sanctioned the colonial assembly which
had been convened by Sir George Yeardley. It was July. in July, 1621, that a memorable ordinance“ estab
lished for the colony a written constitution. The
Stith's Appendix, p. 32; Hazard, 2 Ibid, p. 181, 182.
v. i. p. 131–133.. Compare Chal3 Ibid, p. 185; Gorges' Descrip- mers, p. 54, 55; Story's Commention, c. xvii.-xxii.
taries, v. i. p.
26. 4 Hening, v. i. p. 110, 111;
form of government prescribed for Virginia was CHAP. analogous to the English constitution, and was, with some modifications, the model of the systems, which 1621. were afterwards introduced into the various royal provinces. Its purpose was declared to be the greatest comfort and benefit to the people, and the prevention of injustice, grievances and oppression." Its terms are few and simple; a governor, to be appointed by the company; a permanent council, likewise to be appointed by the company; a general assembly, to be convened yearly, and to consist of the members of the council, and of two burgesses to be chosen from each of the several plantations by their respective inhabitants. The assembly might exercise full legislative authority, a negative voice being reserved to the governor; but no law or ordinance would be valid, unless ratified by the company in England. With singular justice and a liberality without example, it was further ordained, that, after the government of the colony shall have once been framed, no orders of the court in London shall bind the colony, unless they be in like manner ratified by the general assembly. The courts of justice were required to conform to the laws and manner of trial, used in the realm of England.
Such was the constitution, which Sir Francis Wyatt, the successor of the mild but inefficient Yeardley, was commissioned to bear to the colony. The system of representative government and trial by jury, was thus established in the new hemisphere as an acknowledged right; the colonists, ceasing to
CHAP. depend as servants on a commercial company, now
became freemen and citizens. The ordinance was 1621. the basis, on which Virginia erected the superstruc
ture of its liberties. Its influences were wide and enduring, and can be traced through all following years of the history of the colony. It constituted the plantation, in its infancy, a nursery of freemen; and succeeding generations learned to cherish institutions, which were as old as the first period of the prosperity of their fathers. The privileges, which were now conceded, could never be wrested from the Virginians; and, as new colonies arose at the south, their proprietaries could hope to win emigrants only by bestowing franchises as large, as those enjoyed by their elder rival. The London company merits the fame of having acted as the successful friend of liberty in America. It may be doubted, whether any public act during the reign of King James was of more permanent or pervading influence; and it reflects glory on the earl of Southampton, Sir Edwin Sandys, and the patriot party of England, who, unable to establish guarantees of a liberal administration at home, were careful to connect popular freedom so intimately with the life, prosperity and state of society of Virginia, that they never could be separated.
1 The oldest book, printed on tion of such occurrences and acVirginia, is in our Cambridge Li- cidents of note, as bath hapned in brary, though not mentioned in Virginia since the first planting of the catalogue. It is a thin quarto, that Collony, which is now resiin Black Zetter, by John Smith, dept in the South part thereof, till printed in 1608. “A True Rela- the last returne."
SLAVERY. DISSOLUTION OF THE LONDON COMPANY.
While Virginia, by the concession of a represen- CHAP. tative government, was constituted the asylum of liberty, by one of the strange contradictions in human affairs, it became the abode of hereditary bondsmen. The unjust, wasteful and unhappy system was fastened upon the rising institutions of America, not by the consent of the corporation, nor the desires of the emigrants; but, as it was introduced by the mercantile avarice of a foreign nation, so it was subsequently riveted by the policy of England, without regard to the interests or the wishes of the colony.
The traffic of Europeans in negro slaves was fully established before the colonization of the United States, and had existed a half century before the discovery of America. In the middle ages the Venetians,' in their commercial intercourse with the of unbelieving nations, purchased Christians and infidels in every market, where they were exposed; and sold them again to the Arabs in Sicily and Spain.
1 Heeren on the Crusades, in de Veneziani; Venezia, 1789, 8 Historische Werke, v. ii. p. 260. vols., v. i. p. 206, and v. ii. p. 55. Heeren cites C. A. Marin, Storia I have never met with the work civile e politica del commerzio of Marin. VOL. I.
CHAP. The commerce was denounced by the see of Rome;'
but avarice triumphed, and the prohibitionbecame limited to the sale of Christians into bondage among the infidels. Christian avarice continued to supply the slave market of the Saracens. In England, the Anglo-Saxon nobility sold their servants as slaves to foreigners; and so tempting was the gain, that the
terrors of religion were required to restrain the com1102. merce.3 Even after the conquest, slaves were ex
ported from England to Ireland,“ till the reign of Henry II., when the Irish, in a national synod, to remove a pretext for an invasion, decreed the emancipation of all English slaves within the island.5
It was not long after the first conquests of the Portuguese in Barbary, that their maritime enter
prize conducted their navy to the ports of Westera 1441. Africa ; and the first ships, which sailed so far south
as Cape Blanco, returned, not with negroes, but with Moors. The subjects of this importation were treated, not as laborers, but rather as strangers, from whom information respecting their native country
was to be derived; Antony Gonzalez, who had 1443. brought them to Portugal, was commanded to restore
I Heeren on the Crusades.
4 Giraldus Cambrensis, in Wil2 Hallam, in Middle ages, c. ix. kins, v. i. p. 471. Anglorum nampart i. near the end, cites a law of que populus, adhuc integro eorum Carloman, ut mancipia Christia- regno, communis gentis vitio, lina paganis non vendantur. beros suos venales exponere, et,
3Concilium Londinense, ex- priusquam inopiam ullam aut intracted from William of Malmes- ediam sustinerent, filios proprios bury and Eadmer, in Wilkins' et cognatos in Hiberniam vendere Coucilia magnæ Britanniæ, &c. consueverant. Decretum est igifolio, v. i. p. 383. Ne quis illud tur, ut Angli ubique per insulam, nefarium negotium, quo hactenus servitutis vinculo mancipati, in homines in Anglia solebant velut pristinam revocentur libertatem. bruta animalia venundari, dein- 5 Compare Lyttleton's History ceps ullatenus facere præsumat. of the Life of Henry II., v. iii. p.70.