網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

SIR JOHN HARVEY'S ADMINISTRATION.

217

VI.

2

Jan. 3.

Captain John West appointed to the office, till the CHAP. king's pleasure be known.” An assembly was summoned in May, to receive complaints against Harvey; but he had in the mean time consented to go to England, and there meet his accusers.

The commissioners appointed by the council to 1636. manage the impeachment of Harvey, met with no favor in England, and were not even admitted to a hearing. Harvey immediately re-appeared to occuру

his former station ; and was followed by a new commission, by which his powers were still limited to such as had been exercised during the period of legislative freedom. General assemblies continued to be held; but the vacancies in the council, which had been filled in Virginia, were henceforward to be supplied by appointment in England. Harvey remained in office till 1639. The complaints, which have been brought against him, will be regarded with some degree of distrust, when it is considered, that the public mind of the colony, during his administration, was controlled by a party, which pursued him with implacable hostility. In April, 1642, two months only after the accession of Berkeley, a public document declares the comparative happiness of

1 Hening's Statutes, v. i. p. 223, History of Virginia, after the disand p. 4; Bullock's Virginia, in solution of the company, furnishes Oldmixon, v. i. p. 240. Oldmix- a tissue of inventions. Keith, p. on himself is wholly unworthy of 143, 144, places in 1639 the occurtrust. Beverley, p. 48, is not ac- rences of 1635. His book is sucurate. Campbell's Virginia, p. perficial. 60. A modest and valuable little 2 Burk, v. ii. p. 45. Yet Burk book.-Chalmers, p. 118, 119, is corrected but one half of the betrayed into error by following errors of his predecessors. Oldmixon. Burk, v. ii. p. 41, 42. 3 Hazard, v. i. p. 400—403. Compare Bullock's Virginia ex- 4 Campbell's Virginia, p. 61; amined, p. 10. Robertson, in his Hening's Statutes, v. i. p. 4. VOL. I.

28

VI.

1639. Nov.

Jan.

ܪ

CHAP. the colony under the royal government; a declara

tion, which would hardly have been made, if Virginia had so recently and so long been smarting under intolerable oppression.

At length he was superseded; and Sir Francis

Wyatt appointed in his stead. Early in the next 1640. year, he convened a general assembly. History has

recorded many instances, where a legislature has altered the scale of debts; in modern times, it has frequently been done by debasing the coin, or by introducing paper money. In Virginia, debts had been contracted to be paid in tobacco; and when the article rose in value, in consequence of laws, restricting its culture, the legislature of Virginia did not scruple to provide a remedy, by enacting that “no man need pay more than two thirds of his debt during the stint ;3 and that all creditors should take “ forty pounds for a hundred."4 Probably the members of the legislature and the council were themselves much in debt.5

After two years, a commission was issued to Sir Aug. William Berkeley. Historians, reasoning from the

revolutions, which took place in England, that there had been corresponding attempts at oppression and corresponding resistance in Virginia, have delighted

a

1641.

9

1 Hening's Statutes at Large, v. shall, were ignorant of such a i. p. 231.

governor as Wyatt, in 1639;

and 2 Rymer's Fædera, v. xx. p. 484; represent Berkeley as the immeHazard, v. i. p. 477 ; Savage on diate successor of Harvey. Winthrop, v. ii. p. 160, 161. A 3 Hening, v. i. p. 226, Act 8. note by Savage settles a question. 4 Ibid, p. 225, Act 1. Hening, v. i. p. 224, and p. 4; 5 Bullock's Virginia Examined, Campbell's Virginia, p. 61. But p. 10, 11. Keith, and Beverley, and Chal- 6 Hazard, v. i. p. 477–480; Rymers, and even Burk and Mar- mer, v. XX. p. 484–486.

SIR WILLIAM BERKELEY'S ADMINISTRATION.

219

VI.

to draw a contrast, not only between Harvey and the CHAP. new governor, but between the institutions of Virginia under their respective governments; and Berke- 1641. ley is said to have “restored the system of freedom,” and to have effected an essential revolution." I cannot find that his appointment was marked by the slightest concession of new political privileges; except that the council recovered the right of supplying its own vacancies; and the historians, who make an opposite statement, are wholly ignorant of the intermediate administration of Wyatt; a government, suited to the tastes and habits of the planters, that it passed silently away, leaving almost no impression on Virginia history, except in the archives of its statutes. The commission of Berkeley was exactly

. analogous to those of his predecessors.

The instructions given him, far from granting franchises to the Virginians, imposed new, severe and unwarrantable restrictions on the liberty of trade; and, for the first time, England claimed that monopoly of colonial commerce, which was ultimately enforced by the navigation act, and which never ceased to be a subject of dispute till the war of independence. The nature of those instructions will presently be explained.

It was in February, 1642, that Sir William Berke- 1642. ley, arriving in the colony, assumed the government. His arrival must have been nearly simultaneous with the adjournment of the general assembly, which

3

1 Chalmers, p. 120, 121. 2 Ibid, p. 131-133.

3 See Instructions, in Chalmers, Nos. 14 and 15.

VI.

2

CHAP. was held in the preceding January.' He found the

~ American planters in possession of a large share of 1642. the legislative authority, and he confirmed them in

the enjoyment of franchises, which a long and uninMar. terrupted succession had rendered familiar. Imme

diately after his arrival, he convened the colonial legislature. The utmost harmony prevailed; the memory of factions was lost in a general amnesty of ancient griefs. The lapse of years had so far effaced the divisions, which grew out of the dissolution of the company, that when George Sandys, an agent of the colony and an opponent of the royal party in England, presented a petition to the commons, praying for the restoration of the ancient patents,?

the assembly promptly disavowed the design; and, April after a full debate, opposed it by a solemn protest.3

The whole document breathes the tone of a body, accustomed to public discussion and the independent exercise of legislative power. They assert the necessity of the freedom of trade, “ for freedom of trade," say they, “is the blood and life of a commonwealth.” And they defended their preference of self-government through a colonial legislature, by a conclusive argument.

" There is more likelyhood, that such as are acquainted with the clime and its accidents may upon better grounds prescribe our advantages, than such as shall sit at the helm in

a

1.

3

1 The acts of that session are 2 Chalmers, p. 121 ; Hening's lost; but are referred to in Hening, Statutes at Large, v. i. p. 230. v. i. p. 267—269, in the acts 49, Hening's Statutes at Large, v. 50,51,52. The statutes, of course, i. p. 230—236; Burk’s Virginia, call the year 1641; as the year v. ii. p. 68–74. then began in March.

SIR WILLIAM BERKELEY'S ADMINISTRATION.

221

1

VI.

1642.

a

England." In reply to their urgent petition, the CHAP. king immediately declared his purpose not to change a form of government, in which they “received so much content and satisfaction."2

The Virginians could now deliberately perfect their civil condition. Condemnations to service had been a usual punishment; these were abolished. In the courts of justice, a near approach was made to the laws and customs of England. Religion was provided for; the law about land-titles adjusted ;3 an amicable treaty with Maryland successfully matured; and peace with the Indians confirmed. Taxes were assessed, not in proportion to numbers, but to men's abilities and estates. The spirit of liberty, displayed in the English parliament, was transmitted to America; and the rights of property, the freedom of industry, the solemn exercise of civil franchises, seemed to be secured to themselves and their posterity. “A future immunity from taxes and impositions,” except such as should be freely voted for their own wants, “was expected as the fruits of the endeavors of their legislature." As the re

4 straints, with which colonial navigation was threatened, were not enforced, they attracted no attention; and Virginia enjoyed nearly all the liberties, which a monarch could concede, and retain his supremacy.

Believing themselves secure of all their privileges, the triumph of the popular party in England, did not

1

Hening's Statutes at Large, v. i. p. 233.

2 Chalmers, p. 133, 134; Burk, v. ii. p. 74.

3 Keith's Virginia, p. 145; Hening, v. i. p. 237, 238.

4 Hening, v. i. p. 237, 238.
5 Chalmers, p. 124.

« 上一頁繼續 »