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dispensed justice seated on a stump in his fields, and, as governor, had been content with twenty pounds a year. Did hopes dawn of a brighter day with a kinsman to the queen as governor of the united royal province. In the administration of Olive, there had been tranquillity and contentment,—the happiness of a blameless community under its own guardianship. Would more even justice be administered by one so nearly allied to the nobility and the throne of England !
In New York, the dread of Popery and despotism bewildered the hasty judgment of the less cultivated. There were differences in origin; the Dutch were not blended with the English; and if, of the latter, the stern dissenters opposed the churchmen and those who had gathered round the royal governor, among the Dutch, also, the humbler class of people had not amalgamated with “the gentlemen of figure.” From the first, feudal distinctions had existed among the emigrants from Hol. land. In assuming power, Leisler rested chiefly for his support upon the less-educated classes of the Dutch, and English dissenters were not heartily his friends. The large Dutch landholders, many of the English merchants, the friends to the Anglican Church, the cabal that had grown up round the royal governors, were his wary and unrelenting opponents. But his greatest weakness was in himself. Too restless to obey, and too passionate to command, as a Presbyterian, Leisler was averse to the Church of England; as a man of middling fortunes, to the aristocracy; while, as a Dutchman and a Calvinist, he was an enthusiast for William of Orange. Destitute of equanimity, his failure was inevitable.
The Protestant insurgents had, immediately after the revolution in New England, taken possession of the fort in New York. A few companies of militia, from the first, sided with Leisler openly, and nearly five hundred men in arms soon joined him. Their declaration, published to the world, avows their purposes : “ As soon as the bearer of orders from the prince of Orange shall have let us see his power, then, without delay, we do not intend to obey, not the orders only, but also the bearer thereof."
A committee of safety of ten assumed the task of ' reorganizing the government, and Jacob Leisler received their commission to command the fort of New York. Of this he gained possession without a struggle.
An address to King William was forwarded, and a letter from Leisler was received by that prince, if not with favour, yet with respect, and without rebuke. Nicholson, the deputy-governor, had been heard to say, what was afterwards often repeated, that the people of New York were a conquered people, without claim to the rights of Englishmen; that the prince might lawfully govern them by his own will, and appoint what laws he pleased. The dread of this doctrine sunk deeply into the public mind, and afterwards attracted the notice of the assemblies of New York. At that period of disorder, the committee of safety reassembled ; and “Leisler, an insolent alien, assisted," say “the principal men” of New York, “by those who formerly were thought unfit to be in the meanest offices,” was constituted the temporary governor of the province.
The appointment was, in its form, open to censure. Courtland the mayor of the city, Bayard, and others of the council, after fruitless opposition, retired to Albany, where the magistrates, in convention, proclaimed their allegiance to William and Mary, and their resolution to disregard the authority of Leisler. When Milborne, the son-in-law of Leisler, first came to demand the fort, he was successfully resisted. In December, letters were received addressed to Nicholson, or, in his absence, to “such as, for the time being, take care for preserving the peace and administering the law” in New York. A commission to Nicholson accompanied them. The commission proved the royal favour to be with the Tory party, the friends of the late government; but, as Nicholson was absent, Leisler esteemed his own authority to have received the royal sanction. . A warrant was soon issued for the apprehension of 1090. Bayard; and Albany, in the spring, terrified by the calamity of an Indian invasion, and troubled by the anger and the outrages of domestic factions, yielded to Milborne.
To protect the frontier, and invade and conquer Canada, was the ruling passion of the northern colonies; but the summer was lost in fruitless preparations, and closed in strife.
Meantime, a House of Representatives had been con. vened, and, amidst distress and confusion, the government constituted by the popular act.
In January of 1691, the Beaver arrived in New York harbour with Ingoldsby, who bore a commission as captain. . Leisler offered him quarters in the city: "Pos1691. session of his majesty's fort is what I demand,” replied Ingoldsby, and issued a proclamation requiring submission. Thus the aristocratic party obtained as a leader one who held a commission from the new sovereign. Leisler, conforming to the original agreement made with his fellow-insurgents, replied, that Ingoldsby had produced no order from the king, or from Sloughter, who, it was known, had received a commission as governor, and, promising him aid as a military officer, refused to surrender the fort. The troops, as they landed, were received with all courtesy and accommodation; yet passions ran high, and a shot even was fired at them. The outrage was severely reproved by Leisler, who, amidst proclamations and counter-proclamations, promised obedience to Sloughter on his arrival.
On the evening on which the profligate, needy, and narrow-minded adventurer, who held the royal commission, arrived in New York, Leisler sent messengers to receive his orders. The messengers were detained. Next morning, he asked, by letter, to whom he should surrender the fort. The letter was unheeded; and Sloughter, giving no notice to Leisler, commanded Ingoldsby “to arrest Leisler, and the persons called his council.”
The prisoners, eight in number, were promptly arraigned before a special court constituted for the purpose by an ordinance, and having inveterate royalists as judges. Six of the inferior insurgents made their defence, were convicted of high treason, and were reprieved. Leisler and Milborne denied to the governor the power to institute a tribunal for judging his predecessor, and they appealed to the king. On their refusal to plead, they were condemned of high treason as mutes, and sentenced to death,-Joseph Dudley, of New England, now chief-justice in New York, giving the opinion that Leisler had had no legal authority whatever. "Certainly never greater villians lived," wrote Sloughter; but he “resolved to wait for the royal pleasure, if by any other means than hanging he could keep the country quiet.”
Meantime, the assembly, for which warrants had been issued on the day of Leisler's arrest, came together. In its character it was thoroughly royalist, establishing a revenue, and placing it in the hands of the receivergeneral, at the mercy of the governor's warrant. It passed several resolves against Leisler, especially declaring his conduct at the fort an act of rebellion; and Sloughter, in a time of excitement, assented to the vote of the council, that Leisler and Milborne should be executed. “The house, according to their opinion given, did approve of what his excellency and council had done."
Accordingly, on the next day, amidst a drenching rain, Leisler, parting from his wife Alice, and his numerous family, was, with his son-in-law, Milborne, led to the gallows. Both acknowledged the errors which they had committed “ through ignorance and jealous fear, through rashness and passion, through misinformation and misconstruction;" in other respects they asserted their innocence, which their blameless private lives confirmed. “Weep not for us, who are departing to our God,"—these were Leisler's words to his oppressed friends,"but weep for yourselves, that remain behind in misery and vexation;" adding, as the handkerchief was bound round his face, “I hope these eyes shall see our Lord Jesus in heaven." Milborne exclaimed, “I die for the king and queen, and the Protestant religion, in which I was born and bred. Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” ano The appeal to the king, which had not been per1092 mitted during their lives, was made by Leisler's son ; and, though the committee of lords of trade reported that the forms of law had not been broken, the estates of “the cleceased” were restored to their families. Dissatisfied
son with this imperfect redress, the friends of Leisler per1095. severed till an act of parliament, strenuously but vainly opposed by Dudley, reversed the attainder.
Thus fell Leisler and Milborne, victims to party spirit. The event struck deep into the public mind. Long afterwards, their friends, whom a royalist of that day described as “the meaner sort of the inhabitants,” and who were distinguished always by their zeal for popular power, for toleration, for opposition to the doctrine of legitimacy, formed a powerful, and ultimately a successful party. The rashness and incompetency of Leisler were forgotten in sympathy for the judicial murder by which he fell; and the principles which he upheld, though his opponents might rail at equality of suffrage, and demand for the man
of wealth as many votes as he held estates, necessarily became the principles of the colony.
There existed in the province no party which would 1091. sacrifice colonial freedom. Even the legislature, composed of the deadly enemies of Leisler, asserted the right to a representative government, and to English liberties, to be inherent in the people, and not a consequence of the royal favour. This act received the veto of King William. “No tax whatever shall be levied on his majestie's subjects in the province, or on their estates, on any pretence whatsoever, but by the act and consent of the representatives of the people in general assembly conVened :"-"supreme legislative power belongs to the governor and council, and to the people by their representatives :"-such was the voice of the most royalist assem
en bly that could ever be convened in New York. What 1097. though the enactment was annulled by the English sovereign? The spirit lived, and was openly displayed. It was soon said by a royal governor to the mixed races of legislators in the province, "There are none of you but what are big with the privileges of Englishmen and Magna Charta.”
In the administration of the covetous and passion1092. ate Fletcher, a man of great mobility and feeble judgment, the people of New York were soon disciplined into more decided resistance. As to territory, the old hope of extending from Connecticut River to Delaware Bay revived ; and, for the security of the central province, the command of the militia of New Jersey and Connecticut was, by a royal commission, conferred on Fletcher.
An address was also sent to the king, representing the great cost of defending the frontiers, and requesting that the neighbouring colonies might be compelled to contribute to the protection of Albany. In the necessity of common defence lay the root of the parliamentary attempt at taxation; for it created the desire of a central will, and this desire looked sometimes to the English monarch as the fountain of sovereignty, sometimes to the idea of a confederacy of the colonies, and at last to the action of
en parliament. In this age it led only to instructions. 1095. All the colonies north of Carolina were directed to furnish quotas for the defence of New York or the attacks on Canada ; but the instructions, though urgently renewed, VOL. II.