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ative idea was expressed in the beginning, and did not, as later in Maryland, develop through the proxy system. As this assembly was most important as marking an era in Anglo-American history, and as the body afterward represented the counties taken collectively, it may be well to treat the topic at this point. *
This primitive Assembly first turned its attention to the qualifications of its members. Captain Warde's seat was disputed and objection was raised against Captain Martin's burgesses. Warde was admitted, but the burgesses of Martin were excluded, because he refused to yield the claim in his patent, exempting him and his followers from the laws of the colony's charter. t On Monday the laws which had been made up from the instructions to Yeardley and his two immediate predecessors were passed ; religion, morality, relations with Indian, planting, manufacturers, were
stricted to the actual settlement or collection of houses, in which form it has been preserved in Bermuda Hundred.
* Mr. Arthur Gilman in his “History of the American People," p. 601, states that “The documentary basis of the Representative government established by Governor Yeardley in Virginia has not been preserved.” This is a great mistake, for the Virginia Historical Society published, some years ago, under the supervision of Messrs. T. H. Wynne and W. S. Gilman, the records of this Assembly, with an account of the discovery of and the transcription of the MSS. in England.
+ Captain Martin was a member of the Virginia Company and created considerable trouble in the colony. Martin's Brandon had been given him in at private meeting of the company which, after many protests, revoked his charter and offered him a new one, which after some delay he accepted. On October 22, 1623, he voted in England for the surrender of the Virginia Charter, and in December of the same year the privy council recommended that “more than ordinary respect should be had of him," and that he and all under him should not be oppressed, but allowed to enjoy their lands and goods in peace. [Calendar of State Papers, Colonial, 1574 1660, edited by Sainsbury, p. 55.] The dispute about the rights of his delegates to seats calls attention to the existence of manorial rights in Virginia, for his patent for his possessing lands“ in as ample manner as any lord of any manor in England." The Assembly very honestly confessed its ignorance of the prerogatives of all English manors. Martin and his people were free from all service to the colony except in case of war. He seems to have exercised his power, for there was a complaint made against him that he had made “his owne Territory there a Receptacle of vagabonds and bankrupts and other disorderly psons (wherof there hath bin made publique complaint) * * * who hath presumed of his owne authority (no way derived from his Matie) to giue uniust sentence of death up on diuers of his Mats subjects and euer the same put in cruell execution." This, however, may have been an exaggeration due to the bitter feeling against him. Somewhat similar grants were offered in 1679 by the Assembly to Major Laurence Smith and Captain William Bird. For the defense of the frontiers, Captain Bird was to settle at the Falls two hundred and fifty men, of whom fifty were to be always ready to arm, and Major Smith was to do the same way at the head of the Rappahannock River. Upon the fulfillment of these and certain similar conditions, the two commanders were to possess full powers to execute martial discipline, and each, with two other inhabitants of this settlement who should be commissioned by the Governor, were to be intrusted with the rights of a county court, and could with six others elected by a majority of the inhabitants make by laws. There is no definite record of these settlements having been made, though there is an implication of it in the language of Colonel William Byrd some years later.
provided for. On Tuesday the Assembly sat as a court to try Thomas Garnett for indecent behavior, and he was sentenced by the Governor “to stand fower dayes with his eares nayled to the Pillory * * * and euery of those fower dayes should be publiquely whipped.”* After passing more laws on Wednesday and trying Henry Spelman for endeavoring to stir up trouble among the Indians, and providing salaries for the speaker, the clerk, and the sergeant, the Assembly was prorogued by the Governor.
Although many things may have been said and done contrary to laws and customs of England, the Assembly should always be studied with great interest by the constitutionalist and historian, for with it began the real prosperity of Virginia, which encouraged the planting of other settlements in America. The laws which were enacted were characteristic of the men and of the times, and the Company in London could abrogate them, although it was petitioned that they might pass current until the Company's further pleasure was known. The growth of the Assembly is a question rather of constitutions than of institutions, but the relations of the county to it after it had become determined cannot be omitted in this paper. When the governor called an Assembly, burgesses were elected from each county and from some parishes. The number allowed to each county was for a time indefinite, and was probably reckoned according to population. But in 1660 the number was reduced to two for each county and one for Jamestown, it being the metropolis, and if a county should “ lay out one hundred acres of land and people itt with one hundred tithable persons,” that place could send a burgess. † The right of representation was afterwards conferred upon Williamsburg, Norfolk, and other large towns or cities. The election was held at the court-house, and the sheriff presided and took the votes which freeholders cast, and those who were absent from the poll were liable to be fined. $ "All voted openiy and aloud without the intervention of the sneaking ballot. The candidates sat on the magistrates' bench above. The sheriff stood at the clerk's table below; called every voter to come, and how he voted. The favored candidate invariably bowed to the friend who gave him his vote, and sometimes thanked him in words. All over the Court-House were men and boys with pens and blank paper, who kept tally, and could at any moment tell the vote which each candidate had received * * * The election over and the result proclaimed by the Sheriff from the Court-House steps, forthwith the successful candidates were snatched up, hoisted each one on the shoulders of two stalwart fellows with two more behind to steady them, and carried thus to the tavern * * * where there was a free treat for all at the candidate's charge." * This is an account of an election in the beginning of this century, and it may be considered as characteristic of others earlier and later. The old time practice of marching in squads to the polls is still continued, if reports regarding the election of 1883 in Virginia were true. The people took great pride in sending a clever man to the Assembly, and expected him to look after his county's interests before those of the colony or of the crown. Such remarks as “ I expect we shall have another election, as I am certain Mr. T will not be allow'd to take a seat in the house, where none but gentlemen of character ought to be admitted,” show the sentiments of high-minded Virginians about their representatives. † Before going to the Assembly the burgesses received the wishes and complaints of their constituents, and upon their return were wont in later times to report upon their own actions and the proceedings of the Assembly, which was composed of burgesses and the members of council, who after 1680 sat as an upper house. Burgesses were free from arrest during its sessions, and were paid by the county which sent them. The Assembly, called frequently to pass some act favorable to the Crown or its representative, the Governor, seized every opportunity to strengthen its rights—the power of laying taxes in the colony, for instance, which has always been deemed an assertion of the right of self-government.
* Colonial Records of Virginia, 1619-80, p. 24.
+ Hening's Statutes, ii., p. 20. In South Carolina a similar plan was proposed. Governor Johnson was directed in 1730 to encourage the building of towns. “ Each Town shall be formed into a Parish, the Extent whereof shall be about 6 miles round the Town on the same side of the River, and as soon as a Parish shall contain 100 masters of Families, they may send Two members to the Assembly of the Province." (A Description of the Province of South Carolina, Drawn up at Charlestoun in September, 1731, p. 125 of Carroll's “Hist. Col., S. C.”] This plan seemed to have been unsuccessful, for in a work published in 1761, it is stated that "some towns, which by the king's Instructions have a right to be erected into Parishes, and to send two members are not allowed to send any." Carroll, etc., p. 220.
# The qualifications of voters were for some years shifting, but at last settled down to freeholders, and at the beginning of the Revolution the voters were those “possessing an estate for life in 100 acres of uninhabited land or 25 acres with a house on it, or in a house or lot in some town." Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, p. 160.
Notwithstanding the instructions to Governors for setting up various forms of government in the colony, no county was created before 1630. The unsettled state of the public mind on account of fears of assaults from the Indians, who hovered about outlying plantations, ready to fall upon the unprotected, the gathering together of the people into “great families” after the great Indian massacre, caused extensive powers to be granted
* W. O. Gregory : from the Farmer and Mechanic of Raleigh, N. C., in the Baltimorean, Oct. 27, 1883.
Bland Papers, i., p. 12.
to the commissioners of the plantations, and in those persons were com bined military and civil jurisdiction. But in 1634 there were created eight counties, which were to be governed as shires in England, with lieutenants, elected sheriffs, sergeants and bailiffs. They were James Citty, the country around Jamestown, Henrico, around the settlement of Sir Thomas Dale, Charles Citty and Elizabeth Citty, around the forts, Warwick River, Warrosquayack, Charles River, and on the eastern shore, Accomac. That these counties, as a rule, took their names from and embraced the settlements is a curious phase in English institutions—for it was nothing more or less than the towns growing into the counties. This was very different from the origin of counties in England and in New England. In the former they represented the original divisions of petty kings or a collection of such small principalities under one strong hand; in the latter the county arose from a combination of townships for judicial purposes, it is supposed, for the origin of counties in that section has not been definitely ascertained. This peculiar feature of the Virginian county history is easily explained. Planting having originally been along the rivers, as transportation and intercourse required, was confined to a small area. As Indian scares became less frequent, people ventured forth beyond stockades, and gradually went away from the towns, in their pursuits of agriculture imposed upon them by inclination and the nature of the country. New planters came in and settled at once in comparatively remote regions, and population thus became too scattered to be ruled by a few military leaders. The complications arising from the new conditions, the importations of servants, the introduction of negro slavery and the settling of new lands, required a court and its proper ministers to secure harmony. The wishes of the original settlers had great influence in the selection of sites for court-houses, so that in some of the older counties many of the inhabitants were often considerably inconvenienced by having to travel forty or fifty miles to attend court, and saw a better alternative in submitting to injustice and injury. In the counties afterward created the attempt was made to place the court-house as near the center as possible, but as long as population remained in cismontane regions there was a natural desire to seek the river banks for sites. The great point to be remembered is that at first the counties were the outspreading of towns, not that the towns, as later, were the results of the people in the county seeking a place for the transaction of business necessary even in a planting community. *
In 1680 there were twenty counties, a word introduced into the laws in 1639, and the number increased as it became necessary. For Englishmen
* Spotswood Letters, Brock, p. 37.
were not content to remain always in piedmont regions, but crossing the mountains gave names to vast tracts of territory, out of which were afterward carved states. In the formation of new counties natural boundaries were adopted whenever it was possible to be done. When the county had finally become crystallized, it was divided into parishes, precincts for the constables, and walks for the surveyors of highways, the last two divisions being subject to such rules and alterations as the county court thought fit to make. Every county bore its share of the public levy, was obliged to pay the charges of its convicted prisoners, to make and clear its roads, and to keep the rivers free from underbrush and other obstructions. The public roads were made by the inhabitants under the guidance of the survey. ors of highways and were extended to the county lines. The obligation to work on the roads finally devolved upon laboring tithables, who were summoned by the surveyors. Bridges were in the care of surveyors of highways, and when a bridge was built between two counties, the expense was shared by those counties. In the absence of bridges many ferries were established at convenient places along deep rivers.
Turning now from a consideration of the county in general to a study of the particular officers in the county, one is struck almost at first glance by the prominence of the lieutenant, anciently the commander, who besides being the chief of militia in his county, was a member of the Council, and as such, a judge oi the highest tribunal in the colony. In early days he was charged with the duty of keeping sufficient powder and ammunition in each plantation, of seeing that people attended church regularly and refrained from work and traveling on Sunday; of levying men to battle with dusky foes who might be lurking in the vicinity of bogs; of making annually a muster of men, women and children, and of reporting to the governor the names of new comers. He was obliged also to see that there were no infringements of the tobacco laws, a most important duty in Virginia. With commissioners of the Governor he held monthly courts for the settlement of suits not exceeding in value one hundred pounds of tobacco, and from this court appeal was to the Governor and Council. This court also heard petty causes and inflicted proper punishments. But as the head of the militia the lieutenant was most important. The military character imposed upon the colony in the beginning was for some years necessary, but the practice of arms seems to have been neglected for a time after Yeardley's return to the colony. The record of the reorganization of the militia is found in the law made in 1624-25: “ That at the beginning of July next the inhabitants of every corporation shall fall upon their adjoining salvages as we did the last yeare, those that shall be hurte upon service to