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COMMERCIAL POLICY OF THE STUARTS.
taxed the produce of the colonies, without the con- CHAP. sent of the people and without an act of the national legislature ;' and Sandys, and Diggs, and Farrar, the 1621. friends of Virginia, procured the substitution of an April act for the arbitrary ordinance. In consequence of the dissensions of the times, the bill, which had passed the house, was left among the unfinished business of the session; nor was the affair adjusted, till, as we have already seen, the commons, in 1624, 1624. again expressed their regard for Virginia by a petition, to which the monarch readily attempted to give effect.
The first colonial measure of King Charles related 1625. to tobacco; and the second proclamation, though its object purported to be the settling of the plantation of Virginia, partook largely of the same character. In a series of public acts, King Charles attempted during his reign to procure a revenue from this
The authority of the star-chamber was 1626. invoked to assist in filling his exchequer by new and onerous duties on tobacco ;6 his commissioners were ordered to contract for all the product of the 1627. colonies; though the Spanish tobacco was not steadily excluded. All colonial tobacco was soon ordered to be sealed ;' nor was its importation permitted except with special license ;10 and we have
5 Ibid, p.
1 Debates of the Commons in
203—205. 1620 and 1621, v. i. p. 169. This 6 March 2, 1626. Ibid, p. 224 minute work was sent me by I. P. —230. Davis, of Boston.
7 Jan. 1627. Rymer, v. xviii. 2 Ibid, p. 269–271, and 296; p. 831. Chalmers, p. 51. 70–74.
8 Feb. 1627. Ibid, p. 848. 3 Hazard, v. i. p. 193—198 and 9 March, 1627. Ibid, p. 886. 198–202.
10 August, 1627. Rymer, v. 4 Ibid, p. 202, 203.
xviii. p. 920.
CHAP. seen, that an attempt was made, by a direct negotia
tion with the Virginians, to constitute the king the 1628. sole factor of their staple. The measure was de
' feated by the firmness of the colonists; and the 1631. monarch was left to issue a new series of proclama
tions, constituting London the sole mart of colonial 1633. tobacco ;2 till, vainly attempting
till, vainly attempting to regulate the 1634. trade, he declared “his will and pleasure to have
the sole pre-emption of all the tobacco” of the Eng1639. lish plantations. He long adhered to his system
with resolute pertinacity.”
The measures of the Stuarts were ever unsuccessful; because they were directed against the welfare of the colonists, and were not sustained by popular interests in England. After the long continued efforts, which the enterprize of English merchants and the independent spirit of English planters had perseveringly defied, King Charles, on the appointment of Sir William Berkeley, devised the expedient, which was destined to become so celebrated. No vessel, laden with colonial commodities, might sail from the harbors of Virginia for any ports but those of England, that the staple of those commodities might be made in the mother country; and all trade with foreign vessels, except in case of necessity, was forbidden. This system, which the instructions of Berkeley commanded him to introduce, was ultimately successful; for it sacrificed no rights
1 Hening, v. i. p. 129 and 134. 2 Jan. 1631. Rymer, v. xix. p. 235.
3 Ibid, p. 474 and 522.
4 June 19. Hazard, v. i. p. 375. 5 August, 1639. Rymer, v. XX.
6 Chalmers, p. 132, 133.
THE PARLIAMENT AND VIRGINIA.
but those of the colonists, while it identified the CHAP. interests of the English merchant and the English government, and leagued them together for the oppression of those, who, for more than a century, were too feeble to offer effectual resistance.
The Long Parliament was more just; it attempted 1646. to secure to English shipping the whole carrying 23. trade of the colonies, but with the free consent of the colonies themselves; offering an equivalent, which the legislatures in America were at liberty to reject.
The memorable ordinance of 1650 was a war 1650. measure, and extended only to the colonies, which had adhered to the Stuarts. All intercourse with them was forbidden, except to those, who had a license from parliament or the council of state. Foreigners were rigorously excluded ;” and this
prohibition was designed to continue in force even after the suppression of all resistance. While, therefore, the navigation act secured to English ships the entire 1651. carrying trade with England, in connexion with the ordinance of the preceding year, it conferred a monopoly of colonial commerce.
But this state of commercial law was essentially modified by the manner, in which the authority of the English commonwealth was established in the Chesapeake. The republican leaders of Great Britain, conducting with true magnanimity, suffered the fever of party to subside, before decisive measures were adopted; and then two of the three commission
1 Hazard, v. i. p. 634, 635.
2 Ibid, p. 636_638.
CHAP. ers, whom they appointed, were taken from among
the planters themselves. The instructions given 1651.
them, were such as Virginians might carry into Sept.
effect; for they constituted them the pacificators and benefactors of their country. In case of resistance, the cruelties of war were threatened. If Virginia would but adhere to the commonwealth, she might be the mistress of her own destiny.
What opposition could be made to the parliament, 1652. which, in the moment of its power, voluntarily pro
posed a virtual independence ? No sooner had the Guinea frigate anchored in the waters of the Chesapeake, than “all thoughts of resistance were laid aside, and the colonists, having no motive to contend for a monarch, whose fortunes seemed irretrievable, were earnest only to assert the freedom of their own institutions. It marks the character of the Virginians, that they refused to surrender to force; but yielded by a voluntary deed and a mutual compact. It was agreed upon the surrender, that the “PEOPLE OF VIRGINIA” should have all the liberties of the freeborn people of England ; should entrust their business as formerly to their own grand assembly; should remain unquestioned for their past loyalty; and should have "as free trade as the people of England.” No taxes, no customs, might be levied, except by their
1 Let the reader consult the in- been introduced into Virginia hisstructions themselves, in Thurloe, tory, and continued, even when v. i. p. 197, 198, or in Hazard, v. i. means of correcting it were abunp. 556—558, rather than the com- dant and easy of access.
Clarenmentary of Chalmers or Gra- don relates the matter rightly. hame.
See also Strong's Babylon's Fall, ? Clarendon, b. xiii. p. 466, 467. p. 2, 3, and Langford's Refutation, It is strange how much error has p. 6, 7.
VIRGINIA CAPITULATES TO THE COMMONWEALTH.
own burgesses; no forts erected, no garrisons main- CHAP. tained, but by their own consent." ' In the settlement of the government, the utmost harmony prevailed 1652. between the burgesses and the commissioners; it was the governor and council only, who had any apprehensions for their safety, and who scrupulously provided a guarantee for the security of their persons and property, which there evidently had existed no design to injure.
These terms, so favorable to liberty and almost conceding independence, were faithfully observed till the restoration. Historians” have, indeed, drawn gloomy pictures of the discontent, which pervaded a colony, that remained loyal to the last, and have represented that discontent as heightened by commercial oppression. The statement is a pure fiction. The colony of Virginia enjoyed liberties as large as the favored New-England; and displayed an equal degree of fondness for popular sovereignty and political independence. The executive officers became elective; and so evident were the designs of all parties to promote an amicable settlement of the government, that Richard Bennett, himself a commissioner of the par- April liament, was unanimously elected governor. Under the administration of Berkeley, he had been com
1 Hening, v. i. p. 363_365, and Sparks, in North American Re367, 368; Jefferson's Notes on view, v. xx. new series, p. 433— Virginia; Hazard, v. i. p. 560— 436. 564; Burk, v. ii. p. 85–91.
3 Hening, v. i. p. 371. See 2 Beverley, Chalmers, Robert- Stith, p. 199, who tells the story son, Marshall. Even the accurate rightly. Strange that historians and learned Holmes has transmit- would not take a hint from the ted the error.
Compare Jared accurate Stith. VOL. I.