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CHAP. the governor “from time to time, as often as the case ~ ?
But if any doubts existed of the royal assent to the continuance of colonial assemblies, they were
soon removed by a letter of instructions, which the June king addressed to the governor and council. After
much cavilling in the style of a purchaser, who undervalues the wares which he wishes to buy, the monarch arrives at his main purpose, and offers to contract for the whole crop of tobacco; desiring, at the same time, that an assembly might be convened to consider his proposal. This is the first recognition, on the part of a Stuart, of a representative assembly in America. Hitherto, the king had, fortunately for the colony, found no time to take order for its government. His zeal for an exclusive con
tract led him to observe and to sanction the existence 1629. of an elective legislature. The assembly, in its
answer, firmly protested against the monopoly; and rejected the conditions, which they had been summoned to approve. The independent reply of the assembly was signed by the governor, by five members of the council, and by thirty-one burgesses. The Virginians, happier than the people of England, enjoyed a faithful representative government, and, through the resident planters who composed the council, they repeatedly elected their own governor. When West designed to embark for Europe, his place was supplied by election.
1 Hazard, v. i.
3 Hening, v. i. p. 134-136; 2 Burk, v. ii. p. 19, 20; Hening, Burk, v. ii. p. 24. v. i. p. 129.
• Hening, v. i. p. 4. 137.
SIR JOHN HARVEY'S ADMINISTRATION.
No sooner had the news of the death of Yeardley CHAP. reached England, than the king proceeded to issue a a commission to John Harvey. The tenor of the in- 1628. strument offered no invasions of colonial freedom; but, while it renewed the limitations which had previously been set to the executive authority, it permitted the council in Virginia, which had common interests with the people, to supply all vacancies, occurring in their body. In this way direct oppression was rendered impossible.
It was during the period, which elapsed between 1628, the appointment of Harvey and his appearance
in America, that Lord Baltimore visited Virginia. The zeal of religious bigotry pursued him as a Romanist;? and the intolerance of the colony led to memorable results. Nor should we, in this connexion, forget the hospitable plans of the southern planters; the people of New-Plymouth were invited to abandon the cold and sterile clime of New-England, and plant themselves in the milder regions on the Delaware Bay.
It was probably in the autumn of 1629 that Harvey arrived in Virginia. Till October, the name of Pott appears as governor ;5 Harvey met his first 1630. assembly of burgesses in the following March. He had for several years been a member of the council; and, as at an earlier day he had been a willing instrument in the hands of the faction, to which Virginia ascribed its earliest griefs and continued to bear
1 Hazard, v. i. p. 234–239.
4 Chalmers, p. 118.
CHAP. a deep-rooted hostility, his appointment could not - but be unpopular. The colony had esteemed it a 1630, special favor from King James, that, upon the substi1635. tution of the royal authority for the corporate su
premacy, the government had been entrusted to impartial agents; and, after the death of Yeardley, two successive chief magistrates had been elected in Virginia. The appointment of Harvey implied a change of power among political parties; it gave authority to a man, whose connections in England were precisely those, which the colony regarded with the utmost aversion. As his first appearance in the colony, in 1623, had been with no friendly designs, so now he was the support of those, who desired large grants of land and unreasonable concessions of separate jurisdictions; and he preferred the interests of himself, his partisans and patrons to the welfare and quiet of the colony. The extravagant language, which exhibited him as a tyrant, without specifying his crimes, was the natural hyperbole of political excitement; and when historians, receiving the account and interpreting tyranny to mean arbitrary taxation, drew the inference, that he convened no assemblies, trifled with the rights of property, and levied taxes according to his caprice, they were betrayed into extravagant errors. Such a procedure would have been impossible. He had no soldiers at his command; no obsequious officers to enforce his will; and the Virginians would never have made themselves the instruments of their own oppression. The party, opposed to Harvey, was
SIR JOHN HARVEY'S ADMINISTRATION.
deficient neither in capacity, nor in colonial influence; CHAP. and while arbitrary power was rapidly advancing to triumph in England, the Virginians, during the whole 1630, period, enjoyed the benefit of independent colonial 1635. legislation; through the agency of their representatives, they levied and appropriated all taxes, secured the free industry of their citizens,3 guarded the forts with their own soldiers at their own charge,1 and gave to their statutes the greatest possible publicity.5 When the defects and inconveniences of infant legislation were remedied by a revised code, which was published with the approbation of the governor and council, all the privileges which the assembly had ever claimed, were carefully confirmed. they seem never to have been questioned.
1 As an opposite statement has received the sanction, not of Oldmixon, Chalmers and Robertson only, but of Marshall and of Story, (see Story's Commentaries, v. i. p. 28, "without the slightest effort to convene a colonial assembly,") I deem it necessary to state, that many of the statutes of Virginia under Harvey still exist, and that, though many others are lost, the first volume of Hening's Statutes at Large proves, beyond a question, that assemblies were convened, at least, as often as follows:
1630, March, H.v.i.p.147-153.
1632, February, ibid, 153–177.
H.v.i.p.259-262. ibid, 267. ibid, 230. ibid, 269. Considering how imperfect are the early records, it is surprising that so considerable a list can be established. The instructions to Sir William Berkeley do not first order assemblies; but speak of them as of a thing established. At an adjourned session of Berkeley's first legislature, the assembly declares "its meeting exceeding customary limits, in this place used." Hening, v. i. p. 236. This is a plain declaration, that assemblies were the custom and use of Virginia at the time of Berkeley's arrival. If any doubts remain, it would be easy to multiply arguments and references.
2 Hening, v. i. p. 171, Act 38. 3 Ibid, p. 172, Act 40.
4 Ibid, p. 175, Acts 57 and 58. 5 Ibid, p. 177, Act 68.
6 Ibid, p. 179.
7 Ibid, p. 180-202.
Yet the administration of Harvey was disturbed
by divisions, which grew out of other causes than 1635. infringements of the constitution. The community
would hardly have been much disturbed, because fines were exacted with too relentless rigor;' but the whole colony of Virginia was in a state of excitement and alarm in consequence of the dismemberment of its territory by the cession to Lord Baltimore. As in many of the earlier settlements, questions about land-titles were agitated with passion; and there was reason to apprehend the increase of extravagant grants, that would again include the soil, on which settlements had already been made without the acquisition of an indisputable legal claim. In Maryland, the early settlers had refused to submit, and a skirmish had ensued, in which the blood of Europeans was shed for the first time on the waters of the Chesapeake; and Clayborne, defeated and banished from Maryland as a murderer and an outlaw, sheltered himself in Virginia, where he had long been a member of the council. There the contest was renewed; and Harvey, far from attempting to enforce the claims of Virginia against the royal grant, sent Clayborne to England to answer for the crimes with which he was charged. The colonists were indignant, that their governor should thus, as it seemed to them, betray their interests; and as the majority of the council favored their wishes, “ Sir John Harvey was thrust out of his government; and
ticularly Acts 34, 35, 36. 39. 46. 57, 58. 61.
1 Beverley, p. 48; Bullock, p. 10.