The History of the United States from 1492 to 1910, Volume 1
by
Julian Hawthorne

Part 3 out of 7



men who had only the good of the colony at heart, and possessed power to
enforce their will.

It seemed almost too good to be true: it was like the sun rising after
the long arctic night. Those sad faces flushed, and the moody eyes
kindled. The burgesses straightened their backs and lifted their heads;
they looked at one another, and felt that they were once more men. There
was a murmur of joy and congratulation; and thanks were uttered to God,
and to the Company, for what had been done. And forthwith they set to work
with life and energy, and with a judgment and foresight which were hardly
to have been looked for in legislators so untried, to construct the
platform of enactments upon which the commonwealth of Virginia was
henceforth to stand.

From the body of the delegates, two committees were selected to devise
the new laws and provisions, while the governor and the rest reviewed the
laws already in existence, to determine what part of them, if any, was
suitable for continuance. Among the articles agreed upon were regulations
relating to distribution and tenure of land, which replaced all former
patents and privileges, and set all holders on an equal footing: the
recognition of the Church of England as governing the mode of worship in
Virginia, with a good salary for clergymen and an injunction that all and
sundry were to appear at church every Sunday, and bring their weapons with
them--thus insuring Heaven a fair hearing, while at the same time making
provision against the insecurity of carnal things. The wives of the
planters as well as their husbands were capacitated to own land, because,
in a new world, a woman might turn out to be as efficient as the man. This
sounds almost prophetic; but it was probably intended to operate on the
cultivation of the silkworm. Plantations of the mulberry had been ordered,
and culture of the cocoon was an industry fitting to the gentler sex, who
were the more likely to succeed in it on account of their known partiality
for the product. On the other hand, excess in apparel was kept within
bounds by a tax. The planting of vines was also ordered; but as a matter
of fact the manufacture of neither wine nor silk was destined to succeed
in the colony; tobacco and cotton were to be its staples, but the latter
had not at this epoch been attempted. Order and propriety among the
colonists were assured by penalties on gaming, drunkenness, and sloth; and
the better to guard against the proverbial wiles of Satan, a university
was sketched out, and direction was given that such children of the
heathen as showed indications of latent talent should be caught, tamed and
instructed, and employed as missionaries among their tribes. Finally, a
fixed price of three shillings for the best quality of tobacco, and
eighteen pence for inferior brands, was appointed; thus giving the colony
a currency which had the double merit of being a sound medium for traffic,
and an agreeable consolation and incense when the labors of the day were
past.

It was a good day's work; and the assembly dissolved with the conviction
that their time had never before been passed to such advantage. Yeardley,
knowing the disposition of the managers in London, opposed no objection to
the immediate practical enforcement of the new enactments; and indeed
Sandys, when he had an opportunity of examining the digest, expressed the
opinion that it had been "well and judiciously formed." The colonists, for
their part, dismissed all anxieties and shadows from their minds, and fell
to putting in crops and putting up dwellings as men will who have a stake
in their country, and feel that they can live in it. Their confidence was
not misplaced; within a year from this time the number of the colonists
had been more than doubled, and all troubles seemed at an end.

So long, however, as James I. disgraced the throne of England, popular
liberties could never be quite sure of immunity; and during the five or
six years that he still had to live, he did his best to disturb the
felicity of his Virginian subjects. He was unable to do anything very
serious, and what he did do, was in contravention of law. He got Sandys
out of the presidency; but Southampton was immediately put in his place;
he tried to get away the patent which he himself had issued, and finally
did so; but the colony kept its laws and its freedom, though the Throne
thenceforward appointed the governors. He put a heavy tax on tobacco,
which he professed to regard as an invention of the enemy; and he
countenanced an attempt by Lord Warwick, in behalf of Argall, to continue
martial law in the colony instead of allowing trial by Jury; but in this
he was defeated. He sent out two commissioners to Virginia to discover
pretexts for harassing it, and took the matter out of the hands of
Parliament; but the Virginians maintained themselves until death stepped
in and put a final stop to his majesty's industry, and Charles I. came to
the throne.

The climate of Virginia does not predispose to exertion; yet farming
involves hard physical work; and, beyond anything else, the wealth of
Virginia was derived from farming. Manufactures had not come in view, and
were discouraged or forbidden by English decree. But, as we saw in the
early days of Jamestown, the settlers there were unused to work, and
averse from it; although, under the stimulus of Captain John Smith, they
did learn how to chop down trees. After the colony became popular, and
populous, the emigrants continued to be in a large measure of a social
class to whom manual labor is unattractive. A country in which laborers
are indispensable, and which is inhabited by persons disinclined to labor,
would seem to stand no good chance of achieving prosperity. How, then, is
the early prosperity of Virginia to be explained? The charter did not make
men work.

It was due to the employment of slave labor. Slaves in the Seventeenth
Century were easily acquired, and were of several varieties. At one time,
there were more white slaves than black. White captives were often sold
into slavery; and there was also a regular trade in indentured slaves, or
servants, sent from England. These were to work out their freedom by a
certain number of years of labor for their purchaser. Convicts from the
prisons were also utilized as slaves. In the same year that the Virginia
charter bestowed political freedom upon the colonists, a Dutch ship landed
a batch of slaves from the Guinea coast, where the Dutch had a footing.
They were strong fellows, and the ardor of the climate suited them better
than that of the regions further north. Negroes soon came to be in demand
therefore; they did not die in captivity as the Indians were apt to do,
and a regular trade in them was presently established. A negro fetched in
the market more than twice as much as either a, red or a white man, and
repaid the investment. There was no general sentiment against traffic in
human beings, and it was not settled that negroes were human, exactly.
Slavery at all events had been the normal condition of Guinea negroes from
the earliest times, and they undoubtedly were worse treated by their
African than by their European and American owners. They were born slaves,
or at least in slavery. There had of course been enlightened humanitarians
as far back as the Greek and Roman eras, who had opined that the principle
of slavery was wrong; and such men were talking still; but ordinary people
regarded their deliverances as being in the nature of a counsel of
perfection, which was not intended to be observed in practice. There are
fashions in humanitarianism, as in other matters, and multitudes who
denounced slavery in the first half of this Nineteenth Century, were in no
respect better practical moralists than were the Virginians two hundred
years before. But the time had to come, in the course of human events,
when negro slavery was to cease in America; and those whose business
interests, or sentimental prejudices, were opposed to it, added the chorus
of their disapproval to the inscrutable movements of a Power above all
prejudices. Negro slavery, as an overt institution, is no more in these
States; but he would be a bold or a blind man who should maintain that
slavery, both black and white, has no existence among us to-day. Meanwhile
the Seventeenth Century planters of Virginia bought and sold their human
chattels with an untroubled conscience; and the latter, comprehending even
less of the ethics of the question than their masters did, were reasonably
happy. They were not aware that human nature was being insulted and
degraded in their persons: they were transported by no moral indignation.
When they were flogged, they suffered, but when their bodies stopped
smarting, no pain rankled in their minds. They were treated like animals,
and became like them. They had no anxieties; they looked neither forward
nor backward; their physical necessities were provided for. White slavery
gradually disappeared, but the feeling prevailed that slavery was what
negroes were intended for. The planters, after a few generations, came to
feel a sort of affection for their bondsmen who had been born on the
estates and handed down from father to son. Self-interest, as well as
natural kindliness, rendered deliberate cruelties rare. The negroes, on
the other hand, often loved their masters, and would grieve to leave them.
The evils of slavery were not on the surface, but were subtle, latent, and
far more malignant than was even recently realized. The Abolitionists
thought the trouble was over when the Proclamation of Emancipation was
signed. "We can put on our coats and go home, now," said Garrison; and
Wendell Phillips said, "I know of no man to-day who can fold his arms and
look forward to his future with more confidence than the negro." We shall
have occasion to investigate the intelligence of these forecasts
by-and-by. But there is something striking in the fact that that country
which claims to be the freest and most highly civilized in the world
should be the last to give up "the peculiar institution." How can devotion
to liberty co-exist in the mind with advocacy of servitude? This, too, is
a subject to which we must revert hereafter. At the period we are now
treating, there were more white than black slaves, and the princely
estates of later times had not been thought of. Indeed, in spite of
their marriage to liberty, the colonists did not yet feel truly at home.
Marriage of a more concrete kind was needed for that.

This defect was understood in England, and the Company took means to
remedy it. A number of desirable and blameless young women were enlisted
to go out to the colony and console the bachelors there. The plan was
discreetly carried out; the acquisition of the young ladies was not made
too easy, so that neither was their self-respect wounded, nor were the
bachelors allowed to feel that beauty and virtue in female form were
commonplace commodities. The romance and difficulty of the situation were
fairly well preserved. There stood the possible bride; but she was
available only with her own consent and approval; and before entering the
matrimonial estate, the bridegroom elect must pay all charges--so many
pounds of tobacco. And how many pounds of tobacco was a good wife worth?
From one point of view, more than was ever grown in Virginia; but the
sentimental aspect of the transaction had to be left out of consideration,
or the enterprise would have come to an untimely conclusion. From one
hundred to one hundred and fifty pounds of the weed was the average
commercial figure; it paid expenses and gave the agents a commission; for
the rest, the profit was all the colonist's. Many a happy home was founded
in this way, and, so far as we know, there were no divorces and no
scandals. But it must not be forgotten that, although tobacco was paid for
the wife, there was still enough left to fill a quiet pipe by the conjugal
fireside. They were the first Christian firesides where this soothing
goddess had presided: no wonder they were peaceful!

Charles I. was a young man, with a large responsibility on his shoulders;
and two leading convictions in his mind. The first was that he ought to be
the absolute head of the nation; Parliament might take counsel with him,
but should not control him when it came to action. The same notion had
prevailed with James I., and was to be the immediate occasion of the
downfall of James II.; as for Charles II., his long experience of hollow
oak trees, and secret chambers in the houses of loyalists, had taught him
the limitations of the kingly prerogative before he began his reign; and
the severed head of his father clinched the lesson. But the Stuarts, as a
family, were disinclined to believe that the way to inherit the earth was
by meekness, and none of them believed it so little as the first Charles.

The second conviction he entertained was that he must have revenues, and
that they should be large and promptly paid. His whole pathetic career
--tragic seems too strong a word for it, though it ended in death--was a
mingled story of nobility, falsehood, gallantry and treachery, conditioned
by his blind pursuit of these two objects, money and power.

Upon general principles, then, it was to be expected that Charles would
be the enemy of Virginian liberties. But it happened that money was his
more pressing need at the time his attention first was turned on the
colony; he saw that revenues were to be gained from them; he knew that the
charter recently given to them had immensely increased their
productiveness; and as to his prerogative, he had not as yet felt the
resistance which his parliament had in store for him, and was therefore
not jealous of the political privileges of a remote settlement--one, too,
which seemed to be in the hands of loyal gentlemen. "Their liberties harm
me not," was his thought, "and they appear to be favorable to the success
of the tobacco crop; the tobacco monopoly can put money in my purse;
therefore let the liberties remain. Should these planters ever presume to
go too far, it will always be in my power to stop them." Thus it came
about that tobacco, after procuring the Virginians loving wives, was also
the means of securing the favor of their king. But they, naturally,
ascribed the sunshine of his smile to some innate merit in themselves, and
their gratitude made them his enthusiastic supporters as long as he lived.
They mourned his death, and opened their arms to all royalist refugees
from the power of Cromwell. When Cromwell sent over a man-of-war, however,
they accepted the situation. Virginia had by that time grown to so
considerable an importance that they could adopt a somewhat conservative
attitude toward the affairs even of the mother country.

The ten years following Charles's accession were a period of peace and
growth in the colony; of great increase in population and in production,
and of a steady ripening of political liberties. But the conditions under
which this development went on were different from those which existed in
New England and in New York. The Puritans were actuated by religious
ideals, the Dutch by commercial projects chiefly; but the Virginia
planters were neither religious enthusiasts nor tradesmen. Their tendency
was not to huddle together in towns and close communities, but to spread
out over the broad and fertile miles of their new country, and live each
in a little principality of his own, with his slaves and dependants around
him. They modeled their lives upon those of the landed gentry in England;
and when their crops were gathered, they did not go down to the wharfs and
haggle over their disposal, but handed them over to agents, who took all
trouble off their hands, and after deducting commissions and charges made
over to them the net profits. This left the planters leisure to apply
themselves to liberal pursuits; they maintained a dignified and generous
hospitality, and studied the art of government. A race of gallant
gentlemen grew up, well educated, and consciously superior to the rest of
the population, who had very limited educational facilities, and but
little of that spirit of equality and independence which characterized the
northern colonies. Towns and cities came slowly; the plantation system was
more natural and agreeable under the circumstances. Orthodoxy in religion
was the rule; and though at first there was a tendency to eschew
narrowness and bigotry, yet gradually the church became hostile to
dissenters, and Puritans and Quakers were as unwelcome in Virginia as were
the latter in Massachusetts, or Episcopalians anywhere in New England. All
this seems incompatible with democracy; and probably it might in time have
grown into a liberal monarchical system. The slaves were not regarded as
having any rights, political or personal; their masters exercised over
them the power of life and death, as well as all lesser powers. The bulk
of the white population was not oppressed, and was able to get a living,
for Virginia was "the best poor man's country in the world"; there was
little or none of the discontent that embarrassed the New Amsterdam
patroons; the charter gave them representation, and their manhood was not
undermined. Had Virginia been an island, or otherwise isolated, and free
from any external interference, we can imagine that the planters might at
last have found it expedient to choose a king from among their number, who
would have found a nobility and a proletariat ready made. But Virginia was
not isolated. She was loyal to the Stuarts, because they did not bring to
bear upon her the severities which they inflicted upon their English
subjects; but when she became a royal colony, and had to put up with
corrupt and despotic favorites of the monarch, who could do what they
pleased, and were responsible to nobody but the monarch who had made them
governor, loyalty began to cool. Moreover, men whose ability and advanced
opinions made them distasteful to the English kings, fled to the colonies,
and to Virginia among the rest, and sowed the seeds of revolt. Calamity
makes strange bedfellows: the planters liked outside oppression as little
as did the common people, and could not but make common cause with them.
The distance between the two was diminished. Social equality there could
hardly be; but political and theoretic equality could be acknowledged.
The English monarchy made the American republic; spurred its indolence,
and united its parts. Man left to himself is lax and indifferent; from
first to last it is the pressure of wrong that molds him into the form of
right. George I. gave the victory to the Americans in the Revolution as
much as Washington did. And before George's time, the colonies had been
keyed up to the struggle by years of injustice and outrage. And this
injustice and outrage seemed the more intolerable because they had been
preceded by a period of comparative liberality. It needs powerful pressure
to transform English gentlemen with loyalist traditions, and sympathies
into a democracy; but it can be done, and the English kings were the men
to do it.

Until the period of unequivocal tyranny arrived, the chief shadow upon
the colony was cast by its relations with the Indians. Powhatan, the
father of Pocahontas, and chief over tribes whose domains extended over
thousands of square miles, kept friendship with the whites till his death
in 1618. His brother, Opechankano, professed to inherit the friendship
along with the chieftainship; but the relations between the red men and
the colonists had never been too cordial, and the latter, measuring their
muskets and breastplates against the stone arrows and deerskin shirts of
the savages, fell into the error of despising them. The Indians, for their
part, stood in some awe of firearms, which they had never held in their
own hands, and the penalty for selling which to them had been made capital
years before. But they had their own methods of dealing with foes; and
since neither side had ever formally come to blows, they had received no
object lesson to warn them to keep hands off. Opechankano was intelligent
and far-seeing; he perceived that the whites were increasing in numbers,
and that if they were not checked betimes, they would finally overrun the
country. But he did not see so far as his brother, who had known that the
final domination of the English could not be prevented, and had therefore
adopted the policy of conciliating them as the best. Opechankano,
therefore, quietly planned the extermination of the settlers; the familiar
terms on which the white and red men stood played into his hands. Indians
were in the habit of visiting the white settlements, and mingling with the
people. Orders for concerted action were secretly circulated among the
savages, who were to hold themselves ready for the signal.

It might after all never have been given, but for an unlooked for
incident. A noisy and troublesome Indian, who imagined that bullets could
not kill him, fell into a quarrel with a settler, and slew him; and was
himself shot while attempting to escape from arrest. "Sooner shall the
heavens fall," devoutly exclaimed Opechankano, when informed of this
mishap, "than I will break the peace of Powhatan." But the waiting tribes
knew that the time had come.

On the morning of March 22, 1622, the settlers arose as usual to the
labors of the day; some of them took their hoes and spades and went out
into the fields; others busied themselves about their houses. Numbers of
Indians were about, but this excited no remark or suspicion; they were not
formidable; a dog could frighten them; a child could hold them in check.
Indians strolled into the cabins, and sat at the breakfast-tables. No one
gave them a second thought. No one looked over his shoulder when an Indian
passed behind him.

But, miles up the country from Jamestown lived a settler who kept an
Indian boy, whom he instructed, and who made himself useful about the
place; and of all the Indians in Virginia that day he was the only one
whose heart relented. His brother had lain with him the night before, and
had given him the word: he was to kill the settler and his family the next
morning. The boy seemed to assent, and the other went on his way. The boy
lay till dawn, his savage mind divided between fear of the great chief and
compassion for the white man who had been kind to him and taught him. In
the early morning he arose and stood beside his benefactor's bed. The man
slept: one blow, and he would be dead. But the boy did not strike; he
wakened him and told him of the horror that was about to befall.

Pace--such was the settler's name--did not wait for confirmation of the
tale; indeed, as he ran to the paddock to get his packhorse, he could see
the smoke of burning cabins rising in the still air, and could hear, far
off, the yells of the savages as they plied their work.

He sprang on the horse's back, with his musket across the withers, and
set off at a gallop toward Jamestown. Most of the colonists lived in that
neighborhood; if he could get there in time many lives might be saved. As
he rode, he directed his course to the cabins, on the right hand and on
the left, that lay in his way, and gave the alarm. Many of the savages,
who had not yet begun their work, at once took to flight; they would not
face white men when on their guard. In other places, the warning came too
late. The missionary, who had devoted his life to teaching the heathen
that men should love one another, was inhumanly butchered. Pace arrived in
season to avert the danger from the bulk of the little population; but, of
the four thousand scattered over the country-side, three hundred and
forty-seven died that morning, with the circumstances of hideous atrocity
which were the invariable accompaniments of Indian massacre. The colonists
were appalled; and for a time it seemed as if the purpose of Opechankano
would be realized. Two thousand settlers came in from the outlying
districts, panic-stricken, and after living for a while crowded together
in unwholesome quarters in the vicinity of Jamestown, took ship and
returned to England. Hardly one in ten of the plantations was not
deserted. The bolder spirits, who remained, organized a war of
extermination, in which they were supported and re-enforced by the
company, who sent over men and weapons as soon as the news was known in
England. But the campaign resolved itself into long and harassing attacks,
ambuscades and reprisals, extending over many years. There could be no
pitched battles with Indians; they gave way, but only to circumvent and
surprise. The whites were resolved to make no peace, and to give no
quarter to man, woman or child. The formerly peaceful settlement became
inured to blood and cruelty. But the red men could not be wholly driven
away. Just twenty years after the first massacre the same implacable
chief, now a decrepit old man, planned a second one; some hundreds were
murdered; but the colonists were readier and stronger now, and they
gathered themselves up at once, and inflicted a crushing vengeance. The
ancient chief was finally taken, and either died of wounds received in
fight, or was slain by a soldier after capture. After 1646, the borders
of Virginia were safe. There is no redeeming feature in this Indian
warfare, which fitfully survives, in remote parts of our country, even
now. It aided, perhaps, to train the race of pioneers and frontiersmen who
later became one of the most remarkable features of our early population.
Contact with the savage races inoculated us, perhaps, with a touch of
their stoicism and grimness. But in our conflicts with them there was
nothing noble or inspiring; and there could be no object in view on either
side but extermination. Our Indian fighters became as savage and merciless
as the creatures they pursued. The Indian must be fought by the same
tactics he adopts--cunning, stealth, surprise, and then unrelenting
slaughter, with the sequel of the scalping knife. They compel us to
descend to their level in war, and we have utterly failed to raise them to
our own in peace. Some of them have possessed certain harshly masculine
traits which we can admire; some of them have showed broad and virile
intelligence, the qualities of a general, a diplomatist, or even of a
statesman. There have been, and are, so-called tame Indians; but such were
not worth taming. As a whole, the red tribes have resisted all attempts to
lift them to the civilized level and keep them there. Roger Williams, and
the "apostle," John Eliot, were their friends, and won their regard; but
neither Williams' influence nor Eliot's Bible left any lasting trace upon
them. The Indian is irreclaimable; disappointment is the very mildest
result that awaits the effort to reclaim him. He is wild to the marrow; no
bird or beast is so wild as he. He is a human embodiment of the untrodden
woods, the undiscovered rivers, the austere mountains, the pathless
prairies--of all those parts and aspects of nature which are never brought
within the smooth sway of civilization, because, as soon as civilization
appears, they are, so far as their essential quality is concerned, gone.
To hear the yelp of the coyote, you must lie alone in the sage brush near
the pool in the hollow of the low hills by moonlight; it will never reach
your ears through the bars of the menagerie cage. To know the mountain,
you must confront the avalanche and the precipice uncompanioned, and stand
at last on the breathless and awful peak, which lifts itself and you into
a voiceless solitude remote from man and yet no nearer to God; but if you
journey with guides and jolly fellowship to some Mountain House, never so
airily perched, you would as well visit a panorama. To comprehend the
ocean, you must meet it in its own inviolable domain, where it tosses
heavenward its careless nakedness, and laughs with death; from the deck of
a steamboat you will never find it, though you sail as far as the Flying
Dutchman. But the solitude which nature reveals, and which alone reveals
her, does but prepare you for the inaproachableness that shines out at you
from the Indian's eyes. Seas are shallow and continents but a span
compared with the breadths and depths which separate him from you. The
sphinx will yield her mystery, but he will not unveil his; you may touch
the poles of the planet, but you can never lay your hand on him. The same
God that made you, made him also in His image; but if you try to bridge
the gulf between you, you will learn something of God's infinitude.

Sir George Yeardley and Sir Francis Wyatt both held the office of
governor twice, and with good repute; in 1630, Sir John Harvey succeeded
the former. He was the champion of monopolists; he would divide the land
among a few, and keep the rest in subjection. He fought with the
legislature from the first; he could not wring their rights from them, but
he distressed and irritated the colony, levying arbitrary fines, and
browbeating all and sundry with the brutality of an ungoverned temper. His
chief patron was Lord Baltimore, a Roman Catholic, and therefore
disfavored by the Protestant colony, who would not suffer him to plant in
their domain. He bought a patent authorizing him to establish a colony in
the northern part of Virginia, which was afterward called Maryland, being
cut off from the older colony; and this diminution of their territory much
displeased the Virginians. But Harvey supported him throughout; and
permitted mass to be said in Virginia. He likewise prevented the settlers
from carrying on the border warfare with the Indians, lest it should
disturb his perquisites from the fur trade. Violent scenes took place in
the hall of assembly, and hard words were given and exchanged; the
planters were men of hot passions, and the conduct of the governor became
intolerable to them. Matters came to a head during the last week in April
of 1635. An unauthorized gathering in York complained of an unjust tax and
of other malfeasances; whereupon Harvey cried mutiny, and had the leaders
arrested. But the boot was on the other leg. Several members of council,
with a company of musketeers at their back, came to his house; Matthews,
with whom the governor had lately had a fierce quarrel, and the other
planters, tramped into the broad hall of the dwelling, with swords in
their hands and threatening looks, and confronted him. John Utie brought
down his hand with staggering force on his shoulder, exclaiming, "I arrest
you for treason!" "How, for treason?" queried the frightened governor.
"You have betrayed our forts to our enemies of Maryland," replied several
stern voices. Harvey glanced from one to another; in the background were
the musketeers; plainly this was no time for trifling. He offered to do
whatever they demanded. They required the release of prisoners, which was
immediately done, and bade him prepare to answer before the assembly. They
would listen to no arguments and no excuses; he was told by Matthews, with
a menacing look, that the people would have none of him. "You intend no
less than the subversion of Maryland," protested Harvey; but he promised
to return to England, and John West, who had already acted as ad-interim
governor while Harvey was on his way to Virginia, was at once elected in
his place.

This incident showed of what stuff the Virginians were made. It was an
early breaking-out of the American spirit, which would never brook
tyranny. In offering violence to the king's governor they imperiled their
own lives; but their blood was up, and they heeded no danger. When Harvey
presented himself before Charles at the privy council, his majesty
remarked that he must be sent back at all hazards, because the sending him
to England had been an assumption on the colonists' part of regal power;
and, tobacco or no tobacco, the line must be drawn there. If the charges
against him were sustained, he might stay but a day; if not, his term
should be extended beyond the original commission. A new commission was
given him, and back he went; but this shuttlecock experience seems to have
quelled his spirit, and we hear no more of quarrels with the Virginia
council. Wyatt relieved him in 1639; and in 1642 came Sir William
Berkeley. This man, who was born about the beginning of the century, was
twice governor; his present term, lasting ten years, was followed by a
nine years' interval; reappointed again in 1660, he was in power when the
rebellion broke out which was led by Nathaniel Bacon. Little is known of
him outside of his American record; in his first term, under Charles I.,
he acted simply as the creature of that monarch, and aroused no special
animosities on his own account: during the reign of Cromwell, he
disappeared; but when Charles II. ascended the throne, Berkeley, though
then an old man, was thought to be fitted by his previous experience for
the Virginia post, and was returned thither. But years seemed to have
soured his disposition, and lessened his prudence, and, as we shall see,
his bloodthirsty conduct after Bacon's death was the occasion of his
recall in disgrace; and he died, like Andros more than half a century
later, with the curse of a people on his grave.

But his first appearance was auspicious; he brought instructions designed
to increase the reign of law and order in the colony, without infringing
upon its existing liberties. Allegiance to God and the king were enjoined,
additional courts were provided for, traffic with the Indians was
regulated, annual assemblies, with a negative voice upon their acts by the
governor, were commanded. The only discordant note in the instructions
referred to the conditions of maritime trade, afterward known in history
as the Navigation Acts. The colony desired free trade, which, as it had no
manufactures, was obviously to its benefit. But it was as obviously to the
interest of the king that he alone should enjoy the right of controlling
all imports into the colony, and absorbing all its exports; and his
rulings were framed to secure that end. But for the present the Acts were
not carried into effect; and, on the other hand, the prospect was held out
that there should be no taxation except what was voted by the people
themselves; and their contention that they, who knew the conditions and
needs of their colonial existence, were better able to regulate it than
those at home, was allowed. By way of evincing their recognition of this
courtesy, the assembly passed among other laws, one against toleration of
any other than the episcopalian form of worship; and when Charles was
beheaded, in 1649, it voted to retain Berkeley in office. But when in the
next year, the fugitive son of the dead king undertook to issue a
commission confirming him in his place, Parliament intervened. Virginia
was brought to her bearings; and the Navigation Acts were brought up
again. Cromwell, no less than Charles, appreciated the advantages of a
monopoly.

Restrictions on commerce, first imposed by Spain, were first resisted by
the Dutch, with the result of rendering them the leading maritime power.
Cromwell wished to appropriate or share this advantage; but instead of
adopting the means employed for that purpose by the Dutch, he decreed that
none but English ships should trade with the English colonies, and that
foreign ships should bring to England only the products of their own
countries. The restriction did little harm to Virginia, so long as England
was able to take all her products, and to supply all her needs; but it
brought on war with Holland, in which both the moral and the naval
advantage was on the side of the Dutch. But England acquired a foothold in
the West Indies, and her policy was maintained. Virginia asked that she
should have representatives to act for her in England, and when a body of
commissioners was appointed to examine colonial questions, among them were
Richard Bennett and William Clairborne, both of them colonists, and men of
force and ability. In the sequel, the liberties of the colony were
enlarged, and Bennett was made governor by vote of the assembly itself,
which continued to elect governors during the ascendency of Parliament in
England. When Richard Cromwell, who had succeeded the great Protector,
resigned his office, the Virginia burgesses chose Sir William Berkeley to
rule over them, and he acknowledged their authority. Meanwhile the
Navigation Acts were so little enforced that smuggling was hardly illegal;
and, in 1658, the colonists actually invited foreign nations to deal with
them. This was the period of Virginia's greatest freedom before the
Revolution. The suffrage was in the hands of all taxpayers; in religious
matters, all restrictions except those against the Quakers were removed;
loyalists and roundheads mingled amicably in planting and legislation, and
the differences which had arrayed them against one another in England were
forgotten. The population increased to thirty thousand, and the
inhabitants developed among themselves an ardent patriotism. It is not
surprising. Their country was one of the richest and loveliest in the
world; everything which impairs the enjoyment of life was eliminated or
minimized; hucksters, pettifoggers and bigots were scarce as June
snowflakes; indentured servants, on their emancipation, were speedily
given the suffrage; it might almost be said that a man might do whatever
he pleased, within the limits of criminal law. Assuredly, personal liberty
was far greater at this epoch, in Virginia, than it is today in New York
City or Chicago. The instinct of the Virginians, in matters of governing,
was so far as possible to let themselves alone; the planters, in the
seclusion of their estates, were practically subject to no law but their
own pleasure. There was probably no place in the civilized world where so
much intelligent happiness was to be had as in Virginia during the years
immediately preceding the Restoration.

What would have been the political result had the absence of all
artificial pressure indefinitely continued? Two tendencies were
observable, working, apparently, in opposite directions. On one side were
the planters, many of them aristocratic by origin as well as by
circumstance; who lived in affluence, were friendly to the established
church, enjoyed a liberal education, and naturally assumed the reins of
power. The law which gave fifty acres of land to the settler who imported
an emigrant, while it made for the enlargement of estates, created also a
large number of tenants and dependants, who would be likely to support
their patrons and proprietors, who exercised so much control over their
welfare. These dependants found the conditions of existence comfortable,
and even after they had become their own masters, they would be likely to
consult the wishes of the men who had been the occasion of their good
fortune. Neither education nor religious instruction were so readily
obtainable as to threaten to render such a class discontented with their
condition by opening to them hitherto unknown gates of advantage; and the
suffrage, when by ownership of private property they had qualified
themselves to exercise it, would at once appease their independent
instincts, and at the same time make them willing, in using it, to follow
the lead or suggestion of men so superior to them in intelligence and in
political sagacity. From this standpoint, then, it seemed probable that a
self-governing community of the special kind existing in Virginia would
drift toward an aristocratic form of rule.

But the matter could be regarded in another way. Free suffrage is a power
having a principle of life within itself; it creates in the mind that
which did not before exist, and educates its possessor first by prompting
him to ask himself of what improvement his condition is susceptible, and
then by forcing him to review his desire by the light of its realization
--by practical experience of its effects, in other words: a method whose
teachings are more thorough and convincing than any school or college is
able to supply. The use of the ballot, in short, as a means of instruction
in the problems of government, takes the place of anything else; it will
of itself build up a people both capable of conducting their own affairs,
and resolved to do so. The plebeians of Virginia, therefore, who began by
being poor and ignorant emigrants, or indentured servants, to whom the
planters accorded such privileges because it had never occurred to them
that a plebeian can ever become anything else--these men, unconsciously to
themselves, perhaps, were on the road which leads to democracy. The time
would come when they would cease to follow the lead of the planters; when
their interests and the planters' would clash. In that collision, their
numbers would give them the victory. With a similar community planted in
the old world, such might not be the issue; the strong influence of
tradition would combat it, and the surrounding pressure of settled
countries, which offered no escape or asylum for the man of radical ideas.
But the boundaries of Virginia were the untrammeled wilderness; any man
who could not have his will in the colony had this limitless expanse at
his disposal; there could be no finality for him in the decrees of
assemblies, if he possessed the courage of his convictions in sufficient
measure to make him match himself against the red man, and be independent
not only of any special form of society, but of society itself. The
consciousness of this would hearten him to entertain free thoughts, and to
strive for their embodiment. It was partly this, no doubt, which, in the
Seventeenth Century, drove hundreds of Ishmaels into the interior, where
they became the Daniel Boones and the Davy Crocketts of legend and
romance. So, although Virginia was as little likely as any of the colonies
to breed a democracy, yet even there it was a more than possible outcome
of the situation, even with no outside stimulus. But the old world,
because it desired the oppression of America, was to become the immediate
agent of its emancipation.

There was rejoicing in Virginia when Charles II. acceded to power; on the
part of the planters, because they saw opportunity for political
distinction; on the part of the plebeians, as the expression of a loyalty
to kingship which centuries had made instinctive in them. Berkeley,
putting himself in line with the predominant feeling, summoned the
assembly in the name of the king, thus announcing without rebuke the
termination of the era of self-government. The members who were elected
were mostly royalists. They met in 1661. It was found that the Navigation
Acts, which had been a dead letter ever since their passage, were to be
revived in full force; and the increase of the colony in the meanwhile
made them more than ever unwelcome. The exports were much larger than
before, and unless the colony could have a free market for them the
profits must be materially lessened. And again, since England was the only
country from which the Virginian could purchase supplies, her merchants
could charge him what they pleased. This was galling alike to royalists
and roundheads in Virginia, and quickly healed the breach, such as it was,
between the parties. Charles's true policy would have been to widen the
gulf between them; instead of that, he forced them into each other's arms.
It was determined to send Berkeley to England to ask relief; he accepted
the commission, but his sympathies were not with the colonists, and he
obtained nothing. Evidently, there could be no relief but in independence,
and it was still a hundred years too early for that. The exasperation
which this state of things produced in the great landowners did more for
the cause of democracy than could decades of peaceful evolution. But the
colonists could no longer have things their own way. Liberal laws were
repealed, and intolerance and oppression took their place. Heretics were
persecuted; the power of the church in civil affairs was increased; and
fines and taxes on the industry of the colony were wanton and excessive.
The king of England directly ruled Virginia. The people were forced to pay
Berkeley a thousand pounds sterling as his salary, and he declared he
ought to get three times as much even as that. His true character was
beginning to appear. The judges were appointed by the king, and the
license thus given them resulted in a petty despotism; when an official
wanted money, he caused a tax to be levied for the amount. Appeals were
vain, and ere long were prohibited. The assembly, partisans of the king,
declared themselves permanent, so that all chance for the people to be
better represented was gone, and as the members fixed their own pay, and
fixed it at a preposterous figure, the colony began to groan in earnest.
But worse was to come. The suffrage was restricted to freeholders and
householders, and at a stroke, all but a fraction of the colonists were
deprived of any voice in their own government. The spread of education,
never adequate, was stopped altogether. "I thank God there are no free
schools nor printing," Sir William Berkeley was able to say, "and I hope
we shall not have, these hundred years; for learning has brought
disobedience and heresy and sects into the world, and printing has
divulged them, and libels against the best government. God keep us from
both!" This was a succinct and full formulation of the spirit which has
ever tended to make the earth a hell for its inhabitants. "The ministers,"
added the governor, "should pray oftener, and preach less." But he spake
in all solemnity; there was not the ghost of a sense of humor in his whole
insufferable carcass.

The downward course was not to stop here. Charles, with the
freehandedness of a highwayman, presented two of his favorites, in 1673,
for a term of one and thirty years, with the entire colony! This act
stirred even the soddenness of the legislature. At the time of their
election, a dozen years before, they had been royalists indeed, but men of
honor, intending the good of the colony; and had tried, as we saw, to stop
the enforcement of the Navigation Acts. But when they discovered that they
could continue themselves in office indefinitely, with such salary as they
chose to demand, they soon became indifferent about the Navigation Acts,
or anything else which respected the welfare and happiness of their
fellows. Let the common folk do the work, and the better sort enjoy the
proceeds: that was the true and only respectable arrangement. We may say
that it sounds like a return to the dark ages; but perhaps if we enter
into our closets and question ourselves closely, we shall find that
precisely the same principles for which Berkeley and his assembly stood in
1673, are both avowed and carried into effect in this same country, in the
very year of grace which is now passing over us. A nation, even in
America, takes a great deal of teaching.

But the generosity of Charles startled the assembly out of their porcine
indifference, for it threatened to bring to bear upon them the same
practices by which they had destroyed the happiness of the colony. If the
king had given over to these two men all sovereignty in Virginia, what was
to prevent these gentlemen from dissolving the assembly, who had become,
as it were, incorporate with their seats, and had hoped to die in them--
and ruling the country and them without any legislative medium whatever?
Accordingly, with gruntings of dismay, they chose three agents to sail
forthwith to England, and expostulate with the merry monarch. The
expostulation was couched in the most servile terms, as of men who love to
be kicked, but hope to live, if only to be kicked again. Might the colony,
they concluded, be permitted to buy itself out of the hands of its new
owners, at their own price? And might the people of Virginia be free from
any tax not approved by their assembly? That was the sum of their petition.

The king let his lawyers talk over the matter, and, when they reported
favorably, good-naturedly said, "So let it be, then!" and permitted a
charter to be drawn up. But before the broad seal could be affixed to it
he altered his mind, for causes satisfactory to him, and the envoys were
sent home, poorer than they came. But before relating what awaited them
there, we must advert briefly to the doings of George Calvert, Lord
Baltimore in the Irish peerage, in his new country of Maryland.



CHAPTER SIXTH

CATHOLIC, PHILOSOPHER, AND REBEL


The first Lord Baltimore, whose family name was Calvert, was a
Yorkshireman, born at the town of Kipling in 1580. He entered Parliament
in his thirtieth year, and was James's Secretary of State ten years later.
He was a man of large, tranquil nature, philosophic, charitable, loving
peace; but these qualities were fused by a concrete tendency of thought,
which made him a man of action, and determined that action in the
direction of practical schemes of benevolence. The contemporary interest
in America as a possible arena of enterprise and Mecca of religious and
political dissenters, attracted his sympathetic attention; and when, in
1625, being then five-and-forty years of age, he found in the Roman
Catholic communion a refuge from the clamor of warring sects, and as an
immediate consequence tendered his resignation as secretary to the head of
the Church of England, he found himself with leisure to put his designs in
execution. He had, upon his conversion, been raised to the rank of Baron
Baltimore in the peerage of Ireland; and his change of faith in no degree
forfeited him the favor of the king. When therefore he asked for a charter
to found a colony in Avalon, in Newfoundland, it was at once granted, and
the colony was sent out; but his visits to it in 1627 and 1629 convinced
him that the climate was too inclement for his purposes, and he requested
that it might be transferred to the northern parts of Virginia, which he
had visited on his way to England. This too was permitted; but before the
new charter had been sealed Lord Baltimore died. The patent thereupon
passed to his son Cecil, who was also a Catholic. He devoted his life to
carrying out his father's designs. The characters of the two men were, in
their larger elements, not dissimilar; and the sequel showed that colonial
enterprise could be better achieved by one man of kindly and liberal
disposition, and persistent resolve, than by a corporation, some of whose
members were sure to thwart the wishes of others. Conditions of wider
scope than the settlement of Maryland obstructed and delayed its
proprietor's plans; conflicts and changes of government in England, and
jealousy and violence on the part of Virginia, had their influence; but
this quiet, benign, resolute young man (who was but seven-and-twenty when
the grant made him sovereign of a kingdom) never lost his temper or
swerved from his aim: overcame, apparently without an effort, the
disabilities which might have been expected to hamper the professor of a
faith as little consonant with the creed of the two Charleses as of
Cromwell; was as well regarded, politically, by cavaliers as by
roundheads; and finally established his ownership and control of his
heritage, and, after a beneficent rule of over forty years, died in peace
and honor with his people and the world. The story of colonial Maryland
has a flavor of its own, and throws still further light on the subject of
popular self-government--the source and solution of American history.

The idea of the Baltimores, as outlined in their charter, and followed in
their practice, was to try the experiment of a democratic monarchy. They
would found a state the people of which should enjoy all the freedom of
action and thought that sane and well-disposed persons can desire, within
the boundaries of their personal concerns; they should not be meddled
with; each man's home should be his castle; they should say what taxes
should be collected, and what civil officers should attend to their
collective affairs. They should be like passengers on a ship, free to
sleep or wake, sit or walk, speak or be mute, eat or fast, as they
pleased: do anything in fact except scuttle the ship or cut the rigging
--or ordain to what port she should steer, or what course the helmsman
should lay. Matters of high policy, in other words, should be the care of
the proprietor; everything less than that, broadly speaking, should be
left to the colonists themselves. The proprietor could not get as close to
their personal needs as they could: and they, preoccupied with private
interests, could not see so far and wide as he could. If then it were
arranged that they should be afforded every facility and encouragement to
make their wants known: and if it were guaranteed that he would adopt
every means that experience, wisdom and good-will suggested to gratify
those wants: what more could mortal man ask? There was nothing abnormal in
the idea. The principle is the same as that on which the Creator has
placed man in nature: man is perfectly at liberty to do as he pleases;
only, he must adapt himself to the law of gravitation, to the resistance
of matter, to hot and cold, wet and dry, and to the other impersonal
necessities by which the material universe is conditioned. The control of
these natural laws, as they are called, could not advantageously be given
in charge to man; even had he the brains to manage them, he could not
spare the time from his immediate concerns. He is well content,
accordingly, to leave them to the Power that put him where he is; and he
does not feel his independence infringed upon in so doing. When his little
business goes wrong, however, he can petition his Creator to help him out:
or, what amounts to the same thing, he can find out in what respect he has
failed to conform to the laws of nature, and, by returning into harmony
with them, insure himself success. What the Creator was to mankind at
large, Lord Baltimore proposed to be to his colony; and, following this
supreme example, and binding himself to place the welfare of his people
before all other considerations, how could he make a mistake?

In arguments about the best ways of managing nations or communities, it
has been generally conceded that this scheme of an executive head on one
side, and a people freely communicating their wants to him on the other,
is sound, provided, first, that he is as solicitous about their welfare as
they themselves are; and secondly, that means exist for continuous and
unchecked intercommunication between them and him:--it being premised, of
course, that the ability of the head is commensurate with his willingness.
And leaving basic principles for the moment aside, it is notorious that
one-man power is far prompter, weightier, and cleaner-cut than the
confused and incomplete compromises of a body of representatives are apt
to be.

All this may be conceded. And yet experience shows that the one-man
system, even when the man is a Lord Baltimore, is unsatisfactory. Lord
Baltimore, indeed, finally achieved a technical success; his people loved
and honored him, his wishes were measurably realized, and, so far as he
was concerned, Maryland was the victim of fewer mistakes than were the
other colonies. But the fact that Lord Baltimore's career closed in peace
and credit was due less to what he did and desired, than to the necessity
his career was under of sooner or later coming to a close. Had he
possessed a hundred times the ability and benevolence that were his, and
had been immortal into the bargain, the people would have cast him out;
they were willing to tolerate him for a few years, more or less, but as a
fixture--No! "Tolerate" is too harsh a word; but another might be too
weak. The truth is, men do not care half so much what they get, as how
they get it. The wolf in Aesop's fable keenly wanted a share of the bones
which made his friend the mastiff so sleek; but the hint that the bones
and the collar went together drove him hungry but free back to his desert.
It is of no avail to give a man all he asks for; he resents having to ask
you for it, and wants to know by what right you have it to give. A man can
be grateful for friendship, for a sympathetic look, for a brave word
spoken in his behalf against odds--he can be your debtor for such things,
and keep his manhood uncompromised. But if you give him food, and ease, or
preferment, and condescension therewith, look for no thanks from him;
esteem yourself fortunate if he do not hold you his enemy. The gifts of
the soul are free; but material benefits are captivity. So the Maryland
colonists, recognizing that their proprietor meant well, forgave him his
generosity, and his activities in their behalf--but only because they knew
that his day would presently be past. Man is infinite as well as finite:
infinite in his claims, finite in his power of giving. And for Baltimore
to presume to give the people all they claimed, was as much as to say that
his fullness could equal their want, or that his rights and capacities
were more than theirs. He gave them all that a democracy can possess
--except the one thing that constitutes democracy; that is, absolute
self-direction. It may well be that their little ship of state, steered by
themselves, would have encountered many mishaps from which his sagacious
guidance preserved it. But rather rocks with their pilotage than port with
his: and beyond forgiving him their magnanimity could not go.

There is little more than this to be derived from study of the Maryland
experiment. Let a man manage himself, in big as well as in little things,
and he will be happy on raw clams and plain water, with a snow-drift for a
pillow--as we saw him happy in Plymouth Bay: but give him roast ortolans
and silken raiment, and manage him never so little, and you cannot relieve
his discontent. And is it not well that it should be so? Verily it is--if
America be not a dream, and immortality a delusion.

Lord Baltimore would perhaps have liked to see all his colonists
Catholics; but his experience of religious intolerance had not inflamed
him against other creeds than his own, as would have been the case with a
Spaniard; it seemed to awaken a desire to set tolerance an example. Any
one might join his community except felons and atheists; and as a matter
of fact, his assortment of colonists soon became as motley as that of
Williams in Providence. The landing of the first expedition on an island
in the Potomac was attended by the making and erecting by the Jesuit
priests of a rude cross, and the celebration of mass; but there were even
then more Protestants than Catholics in the party; and though the
leadership was Catholic for many years, it was not on account of the
numerical majority of persons of that faith. Episcopalians ejected from
New England, Puritans fleeing from the old country, Quakers and
Anabaptists who were unwelcome everywhere else, met with hospitality in
Maryland. Let them but believe in Jesus Christ, and all else was forgiven
them. Nevertheless, Catholicism was the religion of the country. Its
inhabitants might be likened to promiscuous guests at an inn whose
landlord made no criticisms on their beliefs, further than to inscribe the
Papal insignia on the signboard over his door. Thus liberty was
discriminated from license, and in the midst of tolerance there was order.

The first settlement was made on a small creek entering the north side of
the Potomac. Here an Indian village already existed; but its occupants
were on the point of deserting it, and were glad to accept payment from
the colonists for the site which they had no further use for. On the other
hand, the colonists could avail themselves of the wigwams just as they
stood, and had their maize fields ready cleared. Baltimore, meanwhile,
through his agent (and brother) Leonard Calvert, furnished them with all
the equipment they needed; and so well was the way smoothed before them,
that the colony made progress ten times as rapidly as Virginia had done.
They called their new home St. Mary's; and the date of its occupation was
1634. Their first popular assembly met for legislation in the second month
of the ensuing year. In that and subsequent meetings they asserted their
right of jurisdiction, their right to enact laws, the freedom of "holy
church": his lordship gently giving them their head. In 1642, perhaps to
disburden themselves of some of their obligation to him, they voted him a
subsidy. Almost the only definite privilege which he seems to have
retained was that of pre-emption of lands. At this period (1643) all
England was by the ears, and Baltimore's hold upon his colony was relaxed.
In Virginia and the other colonies, which had governors of their own, the
neglect of the mother country gave them opportunity for progress; but the
people of Maryland, no longer feeling the sway of their non-resident
proprietor, and having no one else to look after them, became disorderly;
which would not have happened, had they been empowered to elect a ruler
from among themselves. Baltimore's enemies took advantage of these
disturbances to petition for his removal from the proprietorship; but he
was equal to the occasion; and by confirming his colonists in all just
liberties, with freedom of conscience in the foreground, he composed their
dissensions, and took away his enemies' ground of complaint. In 1649, the
legislature sat for the first time in two branches, so that one might be a
check upon the other. Upon this principle all American legislatures are
still formed.

But the reign of Cromwell in England gave occasion for sophistries in
Maryland. All other Englishmen, in the colonies or at home, were members
of a commonwealth; but Baltimore still claimed the Marylanders'
allegiance. On what grounds?--for since the king from whom he derived his
power was done away with, so must be the derivative power. Baltimore stood
between them and republicanism. To give edge to the predicament, the
colony was menaced by covetous Virginia on one hand, and by fugitive
Charles II., with a governor of his own manufacture, on the other.
Calamity seemed at hand.

In 1650, the year after Charles I.'s execution, the Parliament appointed
commissioners to bring royalist colonies into line; Maryland was to be
reannexed to Virginia; Bennett, then governor of Virginia, and Clairborne,
unseated Stone, Baltimore's lieutenant, appointed an executive council,
and ordered that burgesses were to be elected by supporters of Cromwell
only. The question of reannexation was referred to Parliament. Baltimore
protested that Maryland had been less royalist than Virginia; and before
the Parliament could decide what to do, it was dissolved, carrying with it
the authority of Bennett and Clairborne. Stone now reappeared defiant; but
the Virginians attacked him, and he surrendered on compulsion. The
Virginian government decreed that no Roman Catholics could hereafter vote
or be elected.

Baltimore, taking his stand on his charter, declared these doings
mutinous; and Cromwell supported him. Stone once more asserted himself;
but in the skirmish with the Virginians that followed, he was defeated,
yielded (he seems to have had no granite in his composition), and, with
his supporters, was ordered to be shot. His life was spared, however; but
Cromwell, again appealed to, refused to act. The ownership of Maryland was
therefore still undetermined. It was not until 1667 that Baltimore and
Bennett agreed to compromise their dispute. The boundary between the two
domains was maintained, but settlers from Virginia were not to be
disturbed in their holdings. The second year after Cromwell's death, the
representatives of Maryland met and voted themselves an independent
assembly, making Fendall, Baltimore's appointee, subject to their will.
Finally, being weary of turmoil, they made it felony to alter what they
had done. The colony was then abreast of Virginia in political privileges,
and had a population of about ten thousand, in spite of its vicissitudes.

But the quiet, invincible Lord Baltimore was still to be reckoned with.
At the Restoration, he sent his deputy to the colony, which submitted to
his authority, and Fendall was convicted of treason for having allowed the
assembly to overrule him. A general amnesty was proclaimed, however, and
the kindliness of the government during the remainder of the proprietor's
undisputed sway attracted thousands of settlers from all the nations of
Europe. Between Baltimore and the people, a give-and-take policy was
established, one privilege being set against another, so that their
liberties were maintained, and his rights recognized. Though he stood in
his own person for all that was opposed to democracy, he presided over a
community which was essentially democratic; and he had the breadth of mind
to acknowledge that because he owned allegiance to kings and popes, was no
reason why others should do so. Suum cuique. Could he but have gone a step
further, and denied himself the gratification of retaining his hard-earned
proprietorship, he would have been one of the really great men of history.

The ripple of events which we have recorded may seem too insignificant;
of still less import is the story of the efforts of Clairborne, from 1634:
to 1647, to gain, or retain possession of Kent Island, in the Chesapeake,
on which he had "squatted" before Baltimore got his charter. Yet, from
another point of view, even slight matters may weigh when they are related
to the stirring of the elements which are to crystallize into a nation.
Maryland, like a bird half tamed, was ready to fly away when the cage door
was left open, and yet was not averse to its easy confinement when the
door was shut again. But, unlike the bird, time made it fonder of liberty,
instead of leading it to forget it; and when the cage fell apart, it was
at home in the free air.

The settlement of the Carolinas, during the twenty years or so from 1660
to 1680, presented features of singular grotesqueness. There was, on one
side, a vast wilderness covering the region now occupied by North and
South Carolina, and westward to the Pacific. It had been nibbled at, for a
hundred years, by Spaniards, French and English, but no permanent hold had
been got upon it. Here were thousands upon thousands of square miles in
which nature rioted unrestrained, with semi-tropic fervor; the topography
of which was unknown, and whose character in any respect was a matter of
pure conjecture. This wilderness was on one side; on the other were a
worthless king, a handful of courtiers, and a couple of highly gifted
doctrinaires, Lord Shaftesbury and John Locke, the philosopher. We can
picture Charles II. lolling in his chair, with a map of the Americas
spread out on his knees, while the other gentlemen in big wigs and silk
attire, and long rapiers dangling at their sides, are grouped about him.
"I'll give you all south of Virginia," says he, indicating the territory
with a sweep of his long fingers. "Ashley, you and your friend Locke can
draw up a constitution, and stuff it full of your fine ideas; they sound
well: we'll see how they work. You shall be kings every man of you; and
may you like it no worse than I do! You'll have no France or Holland to
thwart you--only bogs and briers and a few naked blacks. Your charter
shall pass the seals to-morrow: and much good may it do you!"

So the theorists and the courtiers set out to subdue the untutored
savageness of nature with a paper preamble and diagrams and rules and
inhibitions, and orders of nobility and a college of heralds, and
institutions of slavery and serfdom, and definitions of freeholders and
landgraves, caciques and palatines; and specifications of fifths for
proprietors, fifths for the nobility, and the rest for the common herd,
who were never to be permitted to be anything but the common herd, with no
suffrage, no privileges, and no souls. All contingencies were provided
against, except the one contingency, not wholly unimportant, that none of
the proposals of the Model Constitution could be carried into effect.
Strange, that Ashley Cooper--as Lord Shaftesbury was then--one of the most
brilliant men in Europe, and John Locke, should get together and draw
squares over a sheet of paper, each representing four hundred and eighty
thousand acres, with a cacique and landgraves and their appurtenances in
each--and that they should fail to perceive that corresponding areas would
never be marked out in the pathless forests, and that noblemen could not
be found nor created to take up their stand, like chessmen, each in his
lonely and inaccessible morass or mountain or thicket, and exercise the
prerogatives of the paper preamble over trees and panthers and birds of
the air! How could men of such radiant intelligence as Locke and
Shaftesbury unquestionably were, show themselves so radically ignorant of
the nature of their fellowmen, and of the elementary principles of
colonization? The whole thing reads, to-day, like some stupendous jest;
yet it was planned in grave earnest, and persons were found to go across
the Atlantic and try to make it work.

Lord Shaftesbury was one of the Hampshire Coopers, and the first earl. He
was a sort of English Voltaire: small and thin, nervous and fractious,
with a great cold brain, no affections and no illusions; he had faith in
organizations, but none in man; was destitute of compunctions, careless of
conventions and appearances, cynical, penetrating, and frivolous. He was a
skeptic in religion, but a devotee of astrology; easily worried in safety,
but cool and audacious in danger. He despised if he did not hate the
people, and regarded kings as an unavoidable nuisance; the state, he
thought, was the aristocracy, whose business it was to keep the people
down and hold the king in check. His career--now supporting the royalists,
now the roundheads, now neither--seems incoherent and unprincipled; but in
truth he was one of the least variable men of his time; he held to his
course, and king and parliament did the tacking. He was an incorruptible
judge, though he took bribes; and an unerring one, though he disregarded
forms of law. He was tried for treason, and acquitted; joined the Monmouth
conspiracy, and escaped to Holland, where he died at the age of sixty-two.
What he lacked was human sympathies, which are the beginning of wisdom;
and this deficiency it was, no doubt, that led him into the otherwise
incomprehensible folly of the Carolina scheme.

Locke could plead the excuse of being totally unfamiliar with practical
life; he was a philosopher of abstractions, who made an ideal world to fit
his theories about it. He could write an essay on the Understanding, but
was unversed in Common-sense. His nature was more calm and normal than
Shaftesbury's, but in their intellectual conclusions they were not
dissimilar. The views about the common people which Sir William Berkeley
expressed with stupid brutality, they stated with punctual elegance. They
were well mated for the purpose in hand, and they performed it with due
deliberation and sobriety. It was not until five years after the grant was
made that the constitution was written and sealed. It achieved an
instantaneous success in England, much as a brilliant novel might, in our
time; and the authors were enthusiastically belauded. The proprietors
--Albemarle, Craven, Clarendon, Berkeley, Sir William Berkeley, Sir John
Colleton and Sir George Carteret, and Shaftesbury himself--began to look
about for their serfs and caciques, and to think of their revenues.
Meanwhile the primeval forest across three thousand miles of ocean laughed
with its innumerable leaves, and waved its boughs in the breath of the
spirit of liberty. The laws of the study went forth to battle with the
laws of nature.

Ignorant of these courtly and scholarly proceedings, a small knot of
bonafide settlers had built their huts on Albemarle Sound, and had for
some years been living there in the homeliest and most uneducated peace
and simplicity. Some had come from Virginia, some from New England, and
others from the island of Bermuda. They had their little assembly and
their governor Stevens, their humble plantations, their modest trade,
their beloved solitudes, and the plainest and least obtrusive laws
imaginable. They paddled up and down their placid bayous and rivers in
birch-bark canoes; they shot deer and 'possums for food and panthers for
safety, they loved their wives and begat their children, they wore shirts
and leggins of deerskin like the Indians, and they breathed the pure
wholesomeness of the warm southern air. When to these backwoods innocents
was borne from afar the marvelous rumors of the silk-stockinged and
lace-ruffled glories, originated during an idle morning in the king's
dressing-room, which were to transfigure their forest into trim gardens
and smug plantations, surrounding royal palaces and sumptuous hunting
pavilions, perambulated by uniformed officials, cultivated by meek armies
of serfs, looking up from their labors only to doff their caps to lordly
palatines and lily-fingered ladies with high heels and low corsages: when
they tried to picture to themselves their solemn glades and shadow-haunted
streams and inviolate hills, their eyries of eagles and lairs of stag and
puma, the savage beauty of their perilous swamps, all the wild
magnificence of this pure home of theirs--metamorphosed by royal edict
into a magnified Versailles, in which lutes and mandolins should take the
place of the wolf's howl and the panther's scream, the keen scent of the
pine balsam be replaced by the reek of musk and patchouli, the honest
sanctity of their couches of fern give way to the embroidered corruption
of a fine lady's bedchamber, the simple vigor of their pioneer parliament
bewitch itself into a glittering senate chamber, where languid chancellors
fingered their golden chains and exchanged witty epigrams with big-wigged,
snuff-taking cavaliers:--when they attempted to house these strange ideas
in their unsophisticated brains, they must have stared at one another with
a naive perplexity which slowly broadened their tanned and bearded visages
into contagious grins. They looked at their hearty, clear-eyed wives, and
watched the gambols of their sturdy children, and shook their heads, and
turned to their work once more.

The first movements of the new dispensation took the form of trying to
draw the colonists together into towns, of reviving the Navigation Acts,
of levying taxes on their infant commerce, and in general of tying fetters
of official red tape on the brawny limbs of a primitive and natural
civilization. The colony was accused of being the refuge of outlaws and
traitors, rogues and heretics; and Sir William Berkeley, governor of
Virginia, one of the proprietors under the Model Constitution, was deputed
to make as much mischief in the virgin settlement as he could.

The colonists numbered about four thousand, spread over a large
territory; they did not want to desert their palmetto thatched cabins and
strenuously-cleared acres; they disliked crowding into towns; they saw no
justice in paying to intangible and alien proprietors a penny tax on their
tobacco exports to New England--though they paid it nevertheless. They
particularly objected to the interference of Governor Berkeley, for they
knew him well. And when the free election of their assembly was attacked,
they sent emissaries to England to remonstrate, and meanwhile, John
Culpepper leading, and without waiting for the return of their emissaries,
they arose and wiped out the things and persons that were objectionable,
and then returned serenely to their business. They did not fly into a
passion, and froth at the mouth, and massacre and torture; but quietly and
inflexibly, with hardly a keener flash from their fearless eyes, they put
things to rights, and thought no more about it.

Such treasonable proceedings, however, fluttered the council chambers in
London sorely, and stout John Culpepper, who believed in popular liberty
and was not afraid to say so, went to England to justify what had been
done. He was arrested and put on trial, though he demanded to be tried, if
at all, in the place where the offense was committed. The intent of his
adversaries was not to give him justice, but simply to hang him; and why
go to the trouble and expense of carrying him to Carolina to do that? He
went near to becoming a martyr, did stout John; but, unexpectedly,
Shaftesbury, who might believe in despotism, but who fretted to behold
injustice, undertook his defense and brought him out clear. The rest of
the "rebels" were amnestied the following year, 1681. But one Seth Sothel,
who had bought out Lord Clarendon's proprietary rights, was sent out as
governor; and after escaping from the Algerine pirates, who captured and
kept him for a couple of years, he arrived at Albemarle, commissioned, as
Bancroft admirably puts it, to "Transform a log cabin into a baronial
castle, a negro slave into a herd of leet-men." Sothel was not long in
perceiving that this was beyond his powers, but he could steal: and so he
did for a few years, when the colonists, thinking he had enough, unseated
him, tried him, and sentenced him to a year's exile and to nevermore be
officer of theirs.

These planters of North Carolina were good Americans from the beginning,
endowed with a courage and love of liberty which foretold the spirit of
Washington's army,--and a religious tolerance which did not prevent them
from listening with sympathy and approval to the spiritual harangues of
Fox, the Quaker, who sojourned among them with gratifying results. Their
prejudice against towns continued, and one must walk far to visit them,
with only marks on the forest trees to guide. They were inveterately
contented, and having emancipated themselves from the blight of the Model
Constitution, rapidly became prosperous. The only effect of Messrs. Locke
and Shaftesbury's scheme of an aristocratic Utopia was to make the
settlers conscious of their strength and devoted to their freedom. Indeed,
the North Carolinians were in great part men who had not only fled from
the oppressions of England, but had found even the mild restraints of the
other colonies irksome.

The fate of the Model in South Carolina was similar, though the
preliminary experiences were different. When Joseph West, agent for the
proprietors, and William Sayle, experienced in colonizing, took three
shiploads of emigrants to the junction of the Ashley and Cooper rivers,
about twenty miles south of latitude 33, they had a copy of the Model
with them. But the first thing they did after getting ashore was to vote
that its provisions were impracticable, and to revise it to such a degree
that, when it was sent over to England for approval, its authors did not
recognize their work, and disowned it. But the settlers constituted their
assembly on the general lines which might now be called American, and put
up their huts, in 1672, on the ground where now stands Charleston. The
climate was too hot for white labor, and the timely arrival of negro
slaves was welcome; in a few years they doubled the number of the whites.
The staple crops of the southern plantations needed much more work than
those of New England and the north, and this, as well as the preference of
the negroes themselves for the warmer climates, determined the
distribution of black slavery on the Atlantic coast.

Dutch settlers presently joined the English; a Scotch-Irish colony at
Port Royal was set upon by the Spaniards, who, in accordance with the
characteristic Spanish policy, massacred the inhabitants and burned the
houses. But later the revocation by Louis XIV. of the amnesty to Huguenots
caused the latter to fly their country and disperse themselves over Europe
and America; no higher or finer class of men and women ever joined the
ranks of exile, and they were everywhere welcomed. Colonies of them
settled all along the Atlantic seaboard; and around Charleston many from
Languedoc found a congenial home, and became a valuable and distinguished
part of the population. America could not have been complete without the
leaven of the heroic French Protestants.

Meanwhile the proprietors were gradually submitting, with no good grace,
however, to the inevitable. Their Model remained a model--something never
to be put to practical use. On paper was it born, and on paper should it
remain forever. The proprietors were kings, by grace of Charles II., but
they had neither army nor navy, and their subjects declined to be serfs.
They declined into the status of land speculators; the governors whom they
sent out did nothing but fill their pockets and let the people have the
rest. At last, it was enough for the proprietors to suggest anything for
the people to negative it, whether it were good or bad. They not only
avowed their natural right to do as they pleased, but deemed it due to
their self-respect not to do what was pleasing to their tinsel sovereigns
in London. And finally, when Colleton, one of the sovereigns in question,
tried to declare martial law in the colony, on the plea of danger from
Indians or Spanish, the indomitable freemen treated him as their brethren
at Albemarle had treated Sothel. The next year saw William and Mary on the
English throne; Shaftesbury had died seven years before; and the Great
Model subsided without a bubble into the vacuum of historical absurdities.

We left Virginia awaiting the return of the envoys who had gone to ask
Charles for justice and protection against the tyranny of Berkeley.
Charles, as we know, first promised the reforms, and then broke his
promise, as all Stuarts must. But before the envoys could return with
their heavy news, there had been stirring things done and suffered in
Virginia.

The character of Berkeley is as detestable as any known in the annals of
the American colonies. Many of his acts, and all the closing scenes of his
career, seem hardly compatible with moral sanity; in our day, when science
is so prone to find the explanation of crime in insanity, he would
undoubtedly have been adjudged to the nearest asylum. In his early years,
he had been stupid and illiberal, but nothing worse; in his old age, he
seemed to seek out opportunities of wickedness and outrage, and at last he
gave way to transports which could only be likened to those of a fiend
from the Pit, permitted for a season to afflict the earth. He was as base
as he was wicked; a thief, and perjured, as well as an insatiable
murderer. The only trait that seems to ally him with manhood is itself
animal and repulsive. He had wholly abandoned any pretense of
self-control; and in some of the outbursts of his frenzy he seems to have
become insensible even to the suggestions of physical fear. But this can
hardly be accorded the name of courage; rather is it to be attributed to
the suffusion of blood to the brain which drives the Malay to run amuck.

Virginia had been nurtured in liberty, and was ill prepared for
despotism. On the contrary, she was almost ready to doubt the wisdom or
convenience of any government whatever, except such as was spontaneously
furnished by the generous and magnanimous instincts of her people. There
were no towns, and none of the vice and selfishness which crowded
populations engender. Roads, bridges, public works of any sort were
unknown; the population seldom met except at races or to witness court
proceedings. The great planters lived in comparative comfort, but they
were as much in love with freedom as were the common people. This state of
things was the outcome of the growth of fifty years; and most of the eight
thousand inhabitants of the colony were born on the soil, and loved it as
the only home they knew.

The chief injury they had suffered was from the depredations of the
Indians, who, on their side, could plead that they had received less than
justice at the colonists' hands. Border raids and killings became more and
more frequent and alarming; the savages had learned the use of muskets,
and were good marksmen. They built a fort on the Maryland border, and for
a time resisted siege operations; and when at length some of the chiefs
came out to parley, they were seized and shot. The rest of the Indian
garrison escaped by night, and slaughtered promiscuously all whom they
could surprise along the countryside. A force was raised to check them,
and avenge the murders; but before it could come in contact with them,
Berkeley sent out a peremptory summons that they should return.

What was the explanation of this extraordinary step? Simply that the
Governor had the monopoly of the Indian trade, which was very valuable,
and would not permit the Indians who traded with him to be driven away. In
order to supply his already overloaded pockets with money, he was willing
to see the red men murder with impunity, and with the brutalities of
torture and outrage, the men, women and children of his own race. But the
Indians themselves seem admirable in contrast with the inhumanity of this
gray-haired, wine-bloated, sordid cavalier of seventy.

The troops on which the safety of the colonists depended reluctantly
retired. Immediately the savages renewed their attacks; three hundred
settlers were killed. Still Berkeley refused to permit anything to be
done; forts might be erected on the borders, but these, besides being of
great expense to the people, were wholly useless for their defense,
inasmuch as the savages could without difficulty slip by them under cover
of the forest. The raids continued, and the plantations were abandoned,
till not one in seven remained. The inhabitants were terror-stricken; no
man's life was safe. At last permission was asked that the people might
raise and equip a force at their own expense, in the exercise of the
universal right of self-protection; but even this was violently forbidden
by the Governor, who threatened punishment on any who should presume to
take arms against them. All traffic with them had also been interdicted;
but it was known that Berkeley himself continued his trading with those
whose hands were red with the blood of the wives, fathers and children of
Virginia.

Finally, in 1676, the report came that an army of Indians were
approaching Jamestown. Unless resistance were at once made, there seemed
nothing to prevent the extinction of the colony. Berkeley, apparently for
no better reason than that he would not recede from a position once taken,
adhered to his order that nothing should be done.

There was at that time in Virginia a young Englishman of about thirty,
named Nathaniel Bacon. He was descended from good ancestors, and had
received a thorough education, including terms in the Inns of Court. He
was intellectual, thoughtful, and self-contained, with a clear mind, a
generous nature, and the power of winning and controlling men. He had
arrived in the colony a little more than a year before, and had been
chosen to the council; he was wealthy and aristocratic, yet a known friend
of the people. Born in 1642, he was familiar with revolutions, and had
formed his own opinions as to the rights of man. He had a plantation on
the site of the present city of Richmond; and during the late Indian
troubles, had lost his overseer. Coming down on his affairs to Jamestown,
he fell into talk with some friends, who suggested crossing the river to
see some of the volunteers who had come together for defense. These men
were in a mood of excited exasperation at the sinister conduct of the
governor, and ready to follow extreme counsels had they had a leader with
the boldness and ability to put himself at their head.

The tall, slender figure and grave features of Bacon were well-known. As
he advanced toward the troop of stalwart young fellows, who were sullenly
discussing the situation, he was recognized; and something seems to have
suggested to them that he was come with a purpose. Conclusions are sudden
at such times, and impulses contagious as fire. He was the leader whom
they sought. "A Bacon--a Bacon!" shouted some one; and instantly the cry
was taken up. They thronged around him, welcoming him, cheering him,
exclaiming that they would follow him, that with them at his back he
should save the country in spite of the governor! They were fiery and
emotional, after the manner of the sons of the Old Dominion, and the
wrongs of many kinds which had long been rankling in their hearts now
demanded to be requited by some action--no matter how daring. Virginians
never shrank from danger.

Bacon had been wholly unprepared for this outburst; but he had a strong,
calm soul, a ready brain, and the blood of youth. He knew what the colony
had endured, and that it had nothing to hope from the present government.
He had come to America after making the European tour, intending only a
visit; but he had grown attached to Virginia, and now that chance had put
this opportunity to help her, he resolved to accept it. He would throw in
his lot with these spirited and fearless young patriots--the first men in
America who had the right to call the country their own. Standing before
them, with his head bared, and in a voice that all could hear, he solemnly
pledged himself to lead them against the Indians, and then aid them to
recover the liberties which had been wrested from them. "And do you," he
added, "pledge yourselves to me!" His words were heard with tumultuous
enthusiasm, and a round-robin was signed, binding all to stick to their
captain and to one another. That is a document which history would fain
have preserved.

With an army of three hundred Virginians, Bacon set forward against the
Indians. Meanwhile Berkeley, enraged at this slight on his authority,
called some troops together and despatched them to bring back "the
rebels." Thus was seen the singular spectacle of a government force
marching to apprehend men who were risking their lives freely to repel a
danger imminent and common to all.

But Berkeley was going too far. Bacon's act had the sympathy of all
except such as were as corrupt as the governor, and the men of the lower
counties revolted, and demanded that the long scandal of the continuous
assembly should cease forthwith. Berkeley was intimidated; he had not
believed that any spirit was left in the colony; he recalled his men, and
consented to the assembly's dissolution. By the time Bacon and his three
hundred got back from their successful campaign, the writs for a new
election were out; and he was unanimously chosen burgess from Henrico. The
assembly of which he thus became a member was for the most part in
sympathy with him; and though, for the benefit of the record, censure was
passed upon the irregularity of his campaign, and he was required to
apologize for fighting without a commission, yet he was at the same time
caressed and praised on all sides, returned to the council, and dubbed the
darling of Virginia's hopes. The assembly then proceeded to undo all the
evil and clean out all the rottenness that had disgraced the conduct of
their predecessors. Taxes, church tyranny, restriction of the franchise,
illegal assessments, fees, and liquor-dealing were done away with; two
magistrates were proved thieves and disfranchised, and trade with Indians
was for the present stopped. Bacon received a commission; but Berkeley
refused to sign it; and when Bacon appealed to the country, and returned
with five hundred men to demand his rights, the governor was beside
himself with fury.

Private letters and other documents, made public only long after this
date, are the authority for what occurred; but though certain facts are
given, explanations are seldom available. Berkeley appears to have been
holding court when Bacon and his followers appeared; it is said that he
ran out and confronted them, tore his shirt open and declared that sooner
should they shoot him than he would sign the commission of that rebel; and
the next moment, changing his tactics, he offered to settle the issue
between Bacon and himself by a duel. All this does not sound like the acts
of a man in his sober senses. It seems probable either that the old
reprobate was intoxicated, or that his mind was disordered by passion.
Bacon, of course, declined to match his youthful vigor against his
decrepit enemy, as the latter must have known he would: and told him
temperately that the commission he demanded was to enable him to repel the
savages who were murdering their fellow colonists unchecked. The governor,
after some further parley, again altered his behavior, and now overpowered
Bacon with maudlin professions of esteem for his patriotic energy; signed
his commission, and sent dispatches to England warmly commending him. A
formal amnesty, obliterating all past acts of the popular champion and his
supporters which could be construed as irregular, was drawn up and
ratified by the governor; and the clouds which so long had lowered over
Virginia seemed to have been at last in the deep bosom of the ocean
buried. To those whom coincidences interest it will be significant that
this victory for the people was won on the 4th of July, 1676.

Operations against the Indians were now vigorously resumed; but Berkeley
had not yet completed the catalogue of his iniquities. Bacon's back was
scarcely turned, before he violated the amnesty which he had just
ratified, and tried to rouse public sentiment against the liberator. In
this, however, he signally failed, as also in his attempt to raise a levy
to arrest him; and frightened at the revelation of his weakness, he fled
in a panic to Accomack, a peninsula on the eastern side of Chesapeake Bay.
Word of his proceedings had in the meantime been conveyed to Bacon by
Drummond, former governor of North Carolina, and Lawrence. "Shall he who
commissioned us to protect the country from the heathen, betray our
lives?" said Bacon. "I appeal to the king and parliament!" He established
himself in Williamsburg; at Drummond's suggestion Berkeley's flight was
taken to mean his withdrawal from the governorship--which, at any rate,
had now passed its appointed limit--and a summons was sent out to the
gentlemen of Virginia to meet for consultation as to the future conduct of
the colony. It was at this juncture that the envoys returned from England,
with the dark news that Charles had refused all relief.

At the conference, after full discussion, it was voted that the colony
take the law into their own hands, and maintain themselves not only
against the Indians and Berkeley, but if need were against England
herself. "I fear England no more than a broken straw," said Sarah
Drummond, snapping a stick in her hands as she spoke: the women of
Virginia were as resolved as the men. Pending these contingencies, Bacon
with his little army again set out in pursuit of the Indians; hearing
which, Berkeley, with a train of mercenaries which he had contrived to
collect, crossed from Accomack and landed at Jamestown, where he repeated
his refrain of "rebels!" He promised freedom to whatever slaves of the
colony would enlist on his side, and fortified the little town. The crews
of some English ships in the harbor assisted him; and in the sequel these
tars were the only ones of his rabble that stayed by him. The neighborhood
was alarmed, fearing any kind of enormity, and messengers rode through the
woods post haste, and swam the rivers, in the sultry September weather, to
find and recall their defenders, and summon them to resist a worse foe
than the red man. Before they could reach the young leader, the Indians
had been routed, the army disbanded, and Bacon, with a handful of
followers, was on his way to his plantation. They were weary with the
fatigues of the campaign, but on learning that the prime source of the
troubles was intrenched in Jamestown, and that "man, woman and child" were
in peril of slavery, they turned their horses' heads southeastward, and
galloped to the rescue. They gathered recruits on their way--no one could
resist the eloquence of Bacon--and halting at such of the plantations as
were owned by royalist sympathizers, they compelled their wives to mount
and accompany them as hostages. This indicates to what extremes the
violence of Berkeley was expected to go. It was evening when they came in
sight of the enemy. But the moon was already aloft, and as the western
light faded, her mellow radiance flooded the scene, giving it the
semblance of peace. But the impatient Virginians wished to attack at once;
and a lesser man than Bacon might have yielded to their urging. Knowing,
however, that the country was with him, and feeling that the enemy must
sooner or later succumb, he would not win by a dashing, bloody exploit
what time was sure to give him. He ordered an intrenchment to be dug, and
prepared for a siege. But there was no lust for battle in the disorderly
and incoherent force which the frantic appeals and reckless promises of
the governor had assembled; they were beaten already, and could not be
induced to make a sortie. Desertions began, and all the objurgations,
supplications and melodramatic extravaganzas of Berkeley were impotent to
stop them; the more shrilly he shrieked, the faster did his sorry
aggregation melt away. When it became evident that there would soon be
none left save himself and the sailors, he ceased his blustering, and
scuttled off toward Gloucester and the Rappahannock.

Bacon, Drummond, Lawrence and their men occupied the abandoned town, in
which some of them owned houses, and burned it to the ground. The act was
deliberate; the town records were first removed; and the men who had most
to lose by the conflagration were the first to set the torch.

Jamestown at that time contained hardly twenty buildings all told; but it
was the first settlement of the Dominion, and sentiment would fain have
preserved it. A mossy ruin, draped in vines, is all that remains of it
now. The ascertainable causes of its destruction seem inadequate; yet the
circumstances show that it could not have been done in mere wantonness.
Civilized warfare permits the destruction of the enemy's property; but the
enemy had retreated, and the expectation was that he would never return.
That Bacon had reasons, his previous record justifies us in believing; but
what they were is matter of conjecture. As it is, the burning of Jamestown
is the only passage in his brief and gallant career which can be construed
as a blemish upon it. Unfortunately, it was, also, all but the final one.

He pursued Berkeley, and the army of the latter, instead of fighting,
marched over to him with a unanimity which left the governor almost
without a companion in his chagrin. The whole of Virginia was now in
Bacon's hand; he had no foes; he was called Deliverer; he had never met
reverse; he was a man of intellect, judgment and honor, and he was in the
prime of his youth; in such a country, beloved, and supported by such a
people, what might he not have hoped to achieve? Men like him are rare; in
a country just emerging into political consciousness, he was doubly
precious. There was no one to take his place; the return of Berkeley meant
all that was imaginable of evil; and yet Bacon was to die, and Berkeley
was to return.

In the trenches before Jamestown, Bacon had contracted the seeds of a
fever which now, in the hour of his triumph, overcame him. After a short
struggle he succumbed; and his men, fearing, apparently, that the ghoulish
revenge of the old governor might subject his remains to insult, sunk his
body in the river; and none know where lie the bones of the first American
patriot who died in arms against oppression. His worth is proved by the
confusion and disorganization which ensued upon his death. Cheeseman,
Hansford, Wilford and Drummond could not make head against disaster. On
the governor's side, Robert Beverly developed the qualities of a leader,
and a series of small engagements left the patriots at his mercy. Berkeley
was re-established in his place; and then began the season of his revenge.

His victims were the gentlemen of Virginia; the flower of the province.
He had no mercy; his sole thought was to add insult to the bitterness of
death. He would not spare their lives; he would not shoot them; they must
perish on the gallows, not as soldiers, but as rebels. When a young wife
pleaded for her gallant husband, declaring that it was she who persuaded
him to join the patriotic movement, Berkeley denied her prayer with coarse
brutality. When Drummond was brought before him, he assured him of his
pleasure in their meeting: "You shall be hanged in half an hour." One can
see that mean, flushed countenance, ravaged by time and intemperance, with
bloodshot eyes, gloating over the despair of his foes, and searching for
means to torture their minds while destroying their bodies. Trial by jury
was not quick or sure enough for Berkeley; he condemned them by
court-martial and the noose was round their necks at once. Their families
were stripped of their property and sent adrift to subsist on charity. In
his bloodthirstiness, he never forgot his pecuniary advantage, and his
thievish fingers grasped all the valuables that his murderous instincts
brought within his power. But the spectacle is too revolting for
contemplation.

"He would have hanged half the country if we had let him alone," was the
remark of a member of the assembly. It was voted that the execution should
cease; more than two-score men had already been strangled for defending
their homes and resisting oppression. Even Charles in London was annoyed
when he heard of the wasteful malignity of "the old fool," and sent word
of his disapproval and displeasure. A successor was sent over to supersede
him; but he at first refused to go at the king's command, though he had
ever used the king's name as the warrant for his crimes. He had sold
powder and shot to the Indians to kill his own people with; he had
appropriated the substance of widows and orphans whom he had made such; he
had punished by public whipping all who were reported to have spoken
against him; he forbade the printing-press; but all had been done "for the
King". And now he resisted the authority of the king himself. But Charles,
for once, was determined, and Berkeley, under the disgrace of severe
reprimand, was forced to go. The joy bells clashed out the people's
delight as the ship which carried him dropped down the harbor, and the
firing of guns was like an anticipation of our celebration of Independence
Day. He stood on the poop, in the beauty of the morning, shaking out
curses from his trembling hands, in helpless hatred of the fair land and
gallant people that he had done his utmost to make miserable. In England,
the king would have none of him, and he met with nothing but rebuffs and
condemnation on all sides. The power which he had misused was forever
gone; he was old, and shattered in constitution; he was disgraced,
flouted, friendless and alone. He died soon after his arrival, of
mortification; he had lived only to do evil, and to withhold him from it
was to take his life away.

It is not the function of the historian to condemn. Berkeley was by birth
and training an aristocrat and a cavalier, and he was a creature of his
age and station. He had been taught to believe that the patrician is of
another flesh and blood than the plebeian; that authority can be enforced
only by tyranny; that the only right is that of birth, and of the
strongest. He was early placed in a position where every personal
indulgence was made easy to him, where there was none to call in question
his authority, and where there was temptation to assert authority by
oppression, and by arrogating absolute license to act as the whim
prompted, and to lay hands on whatever he coveted. Add to these conditions
a nature congenitally without generous instincts, a narrow brain, and a
sensual temperament, and we have gone far to account for the phenomenon
which Berkeley finally, in his approaching senility, presented. He was the
type of the worst traits that caused England ultimately to forfeit
America; the concentration of whatever is opposite to popular liberties.
His deeds must be execrated; but we cannot put him beyond the pale of
human nature, or deny that under different circumstances he would have
been a better man. We may admit, too, that, in the wisdom of Providence,
he was placed where, by doing so much mischief, he was involuntarily the
cause of more good than he could ever willingly have accomplished. He
taught the people how to hate despotism, and how to struggle against it.
He wrought a mutual understanding and sympathy between the upper and lower
orders; he led them to define to their own minds what things are
indispensable to the existence of true democracy. These are some of the
uses which he, and such as he, in their own despite subserved. He and the
young Bacon were mortal foes; but he, by opposing Bacon, and murdering his
friends, aided the cause for which they laid down their lives.

After his departure there ensued a period of ten years or more, during
which the pressure upon Virginia seemed rather to grow heavier than to
lighten. The acts of Bacon's assembly were repealed; all the former abuses
were restored; the public purse was shamelessly robbed; the suffrage was
restricted; the church was restored to power. In 1677 the Dominion became
the property of one Culpepper, who had the title of governor for life; and
the restraints, such as they were, of its existence as a royal colony were
removed. But Culpepper's course was so corrupt as to necessitate his
removal, and in 1684 the king resumed his sway. James II. reached the
English throne the following year, and his persecutions of his enemies in
England gave good citizens to America. But the Virginians, who could be
wronged and oppressed, but never crushed, protested against the arbitrary
use of the king's prerogative; they were punished for their temerity, but
rose more determined from the struggle. No man could be sent to Virginia
who was strong enough to destroy its resolve for liberty.

And now the English Revolution was at hand; and we are to inquire what
influence the new dispensation was to have on the awakening national
spirit of the American colonies.



CHAPTER SEVENTH

QUAKER, YANKEE, AND KING


The American principle, simple in that its perfection is human liberty,
is of complex make. It is the sum of the ways in which a man may
legitimately be free. But neither Pilgrims, Puritans, New Amsterdamers,
Virginians, Carolinians nor Marylanders were free in all ways. Even the
Providence people had their limitations. It is not meant, merely, that the
old world still kept a grip on them: their several systems were
intrinsically incomplete. Some of them put religious liberty in the first
place; others, political; but each had its inconsistency, or its
shortcoming. None had gone quite to the root of the matter. What was that
root?--or, let us say, the mother lode, of which these were efferent veins?

The Pilgrims and Puritans, heretics in Episcopalian England, had escaped
from their persecution, but had banished heretics in their turn. Tranquil
Lord Baltimore having laid the burden of his doubts at the foot of God's
vicegerent on earth, had sought no further, and was indifferent as to what
other poor mortals might choose to think they thought about the unknown
things. Roger Williams' charity, based on the dogma of free conscience,
drew the line only at atheists. The other colonists, since their salient
contention was on the lower ground of civil emancipation and
self-direction, are not presently considered.

But, to the assembly of religious radicals, there enters a plain Man in
Leather Breeches, and sees fetters on the limbs of all of them. "Does thee
call it freedom, Friend Winthrop," says he, "to fear contact with such as
believe otherwise than thee does? Can truth fear aught? And fear, is it
not bondage? As for thee, George Calvert, thee has delivered up thine
immortal soul into the keeping of a man no different from what thee
thyself is, so to escape the anxious seat; but the dead also are free of
anxiety, and thy bondage is most like unto death. Thee calls thy colony
folk free, because thee lets them believe what they list; but they do but
follow what their fathers taught them, who got it from theirs; which is to
be in bondage to the past. And here is friend Roger, who makes private
conscience free; but what is private conscience but the private reasonings
whereby a man convinceth himself? and how shall he call his conviction the
truth, since all truth is one, but the testimony of no man's private
conscience is the same as another's? Nay, how does thee know that the
atheist, whom thee excludes, is further from the truth than thee thyself
is? Truly, I hear the clanking of the chains on ye all; but if ye will
accept the Inner Light, then indeed shall ye know what freedom is!"

This Man in Leather Breeches, who also wears his hat in the king's
presence, is otherwise known as George Fox, the Leicestershire weaver's
son, the Quaker. In his youth he was much troubled in spirit concerning
mankind, their nature and destiny, and the purpose of God concerning them.
He wandered in lonely places, and fasted, and was afflicted; he sought
help and light from all, but there was none could enlighten him. But at
last light came to him, even out of the bosom of his own darkness; and he
saw that human learning is but vanity, since within a man's self, will he
but look for it, abides a great Inner Light, which changeth not, and is
the same in all; being, indeed, the presence of the Spirit of God in His
creature, a constant guide and revelation, withheld from none, uniting and
equalizing all; for what, in comparison with God, are the distinctions of
rank and wealth, or of learning?--Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His
righteousness, and these things shall be added unto you. In the lowest of
men, not less than in such as are called greatest, burns this lamp of
Divine Truth, and it shall shine for the hind as brightly as for the
prince. In its rays, the trappings of royalty are rags, jewels are dust
and ashes, the lore of science, folly; the disputes of philosophers, the
crackling of thorns under the pot. By the Inner Light alone can men be
free and equal, true sons of God, heirs of a liberty which can never be
taken away, since bars confine not the spirit, nor do tortures or death of
the body afflict it. So said George Fox and his followers; and their lives
bore witness to their words.

The Society of Friends took its rise not from a discovery--for Fox
himself held the Demon of Socrates, and similar traditional phenomena, to
be identical with the Inner Light, or voice of the Spirit--but rather in
the recognition of the universality of something which had heretofore been
regarded as exceptional and extraordinary. In the Seventeenth Century
there was a general revolt of the oppressed against oppression, declaring
itself in all phases of the outer and inner life; of these, there must
needs be one interior to all the rest, and Quakerism seems to have been
it. It was a revolution within revolutions; it saw in the man's own self
the only tyrant who could really enslave him; and by bringing him into the
direct presence of God, it showed him the way to the only real
emancipation. Historically, it was the vital element in all other
emancipating movements; it was their logical antecedent: the hidden spring
feeding all their rivers with the water of life. It enables us to analyze
them and gauge their values; it is their measure and plummet. And this,
not because it is the final or the highest word justifying the ways of God
to man--for it has not proved to be so: but because it indicated, once for
all, in what direction the real solution of the riddle of man was to be
sought: a riddle never to be fully solved, but forever approximately
guessed. Quakerism has not maintained its relative position in religious
thought; but it was the finest perception of its day, and in the turmoil
of the time it fulfilled its purpose. Probably its best effect was the
development it gave to the humbler element of society--to the yeomen and
laborers; affording them the needed justification for the various demands
for recognition that they were urging. Puritanism banished Quakers, and
even hanged them; but the Quaker was the Puritan's spiritual father,
although he knew it not. And therefore the Quaker, who was among the last
to appear in America as a settler in virgin soil, had a right thereto
prior to any one of the others. There must be a soul before there can be a
body.

On the other hand, a soul without a body is not adapted to life in this
world; and an America peopled exclusively by Quakers would have been
unsatisfactory. It is a prevailing tendency of man, having hit upon a
truth, to begin to theorize upon it, and, as the phrase is, run it into
the ground. Quakers would not fight, would not take an oath, would not
baptize, or wear mourning, or flatter the senses with pictures and
statues. A Quaker would resist evil and violence only by enlightening
them. He would not be taxed for measures or objects which he did not
approve. He could see but one way of reforming the world, and thought that
God was equally circumscribed in His methods. But though the leaven may
make bread wholesome, we cannot subsist on leaven alone. The essence of
Americanism may be in a Quaker, but he is far from being a complete
American, and therefore he was fain to take his place only as a noble
ingredient in that wonderful mixture. By degrees, the singularities which
distinguished him were softened; his thee and thy yielded to the common
forms of speech; his drab suit altered its cut and hue; his hat came off
occasionally; his women abated the rigor of their poke bonnets; he was
able to say to the enemy of his country, "Friend, thee is standing just
where I am going to shoot." The disintegration of his individuality set
free the good that was in him to permeate surrounding society; his fellow
flowers in the garden were more beautiful and fragrant for his sake.

When persecution of Quakers was at its worst, they became almost
dehumanized, attaching more value to their willingness to endure ill-usage
than to the spiritual principle for avouching which they were ill-used.
Many persons--such is the oddity of human nature--were drawn to the sect
for love of the persecution; and gave way to extravagances such as Fox
would have been the first to denounce. But when toleration began, these
excesses ceased, and they bethought themselves to make a home in the
wilderness of their own. There was room enough. George Fox returned from
his pilgrimage to the Atlantic colonies in 1674, with good accounts of the
resources of the new country; and the owner of New Jersey sold half of it
to John Fenwick for a thousand pounds; and the next year the latter went
there with many Friends, and picked out a pleasant spot on the east bank
of the Delaware for the first settlement, to which he gave the name of
Salem. It was at this juncture that William Penn became, with two others,
assigns of the proprietor of the colony, and thus took the first step
toward assuming full responsibility for it. He did not, however,
personally visit America till seven years later.

Penn was the son of an English admiral: not the kind of timber,
therefore, out of which one would have supposed a great apostle of
non-resistance could be made. He was brought up to the use of ample
wealth, and his training and education were aristocratic. After leaving
Oxford, he made the grand tour, and came home a finished young man of the
world, with the pleasures and rewards of life before him. He had good
brains and solid qualities, and the old admiral had high hopes of him. No
doubt he would have made a very good figure in the English world of
fashion; but destiny had another career marked out for him.

The plain Man with the Leather Breeches got hold of him; and all the
objurgations, threats, and even the act of disinheritance of the admiral
were powerless to extricate him from that grasp. Penn had found something
which seemed to him more precious than rubies, and he was quite as
resolute as the old hero of the Navy. Penn could endure the beating and
the being turned into the streets, but he could not stop his ears and eyes
to the voice and light of God in his soul. He did not care to conquer
another Jamaica, but he passionately desired to minister to the spiritual
good of his fellow creatures. He was of a sociable and cheerful
disposition; he could disarm his adversary in a duel; he could take charge
of the family estates, and qualify himself for the law; the king was ready
to smile upon him; but all worldly ambitions died away in him when he
heard Thomas Lee testify of the faith that overcomes the world. Nothing
less than that would satisfy Penn. In 1666, when he was two and twenty, he
made acquaintance with the inside of a jail on account of his
conscientious perversities; but the only effect of the experience was to
make him perceive that he had thereby become "his own freeman." When he
got out, his friends cut him and society made game of him; finally, he was
lodged in the Tower, which, he informed Charles II., seemed to him "the
worst argument in the world." They let him out in less than a year, but in
less than a year more he was again arrested and put on trial. The jury,
after having been starved for two days and heartily cursed by the judge,
brought him in not guilty; upon which the judge, with a fine sense of
humor, fined them all heavily and sent him back to prison. But this was
too much for the admiral, who paid his fines and got him out; and, being
then on his death-bed, surrendered at discretion, restoring to him the
inheritance, and observing, not without a pensive satisfaction, that he
and his friends would end by "making an end of the priests."

A six months' term in Newgate was still in store for Penn; but after that
they gave up this method of reforming him. He spent the next years in
exhorting Parliament and reproving princes all over Europe; and in the
midst of these labors he met one of the best and most beautiful women in
England; she had suitors by the score, but she loved William Penn, and
they were married. She was the wife of his mind and soul as well as of his
bed and board. He was now doubly fortified against the world, and doubly
bound to his career of human benevolence. His studies and meditations had
made him a profound philosopher and an able statesman; and in all ways he
was prepared to begin the great work of his life.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, the Quakers in the new world were building up the framework of
their state. They decreed to put the power in the people, and all the
articles of their constitution embody the utmost degree of freedom, with
constant opportunities for the electors to revise or renew their
judgments. When the agent of the Duke of York levied customs on ships
going to New Jersey, the act drew from the colonists a remarkable protest,
which was supported by the courts. They had planted in the wilderness,
they said, in order, among other things, to escape arbitrary taxation; if
they could not make their own laws in a land which they had bought, not
from the Duke, but from the natives, they had lost instead of gaining
liberty by leaving England. Taxes levied upon planting left them nothing
to call their own, and foreshadowed a despotic government in England, when
the Duke should come to the throne. The future James II. gave up his
claim, and in 1680 signed an indenture to that effect. Later, at the
advice of Penn, they so amended their constitution as to give them power
to elect their own governor. A charter was drawn up by Penn and confirmed
in 1681, and he became proprietor. No man ever assumed such a trust with
less of personal ambition or desire for gain than he. "You shall be
governed by laws of your own making," said he; "I shall not usurp the
right of any, or oppress his person." He had already made inroads on his
estate by fighting the cause of his brethren in England in the courts; but
when a speculator offered him six thousand pounds down and an annual
income for the monopoly of Indian trade, he declined it; the trade
belonged to his people. He was ardently desirous to benefit his colony by
putting in operation among them the schemes which his wisdom had evolved;
but he would not override their own wishes; they should be secured even
from his power to do them good; for, as liberty without obedience is
confusion, so is obedience without liberty slavery. Instead therefore of
imposing his designs upon them, he submitted them for their free
consideration. Pennsylvania now occupied its present boundaries, with the
addition of Delaware; and western New Jersey ceased to be the nominal home
of the Friends in America. In 1682, Penn embarked for the Delaware. He had
founded a free colony for all mankind, believing that God is in every
conscience; and he was now going to witness and superintend the working of
his "holy experiment."

On October 29th he was received at Newcastle by a crowd of mixed
nationality, and the Duke of York's agent formally delivered up the
province to him. The journey up the Delaware was continued in an open
boat, and the site of Philadelphia was reached in the first week of
November. There a meeting of delegates from the inhabitants was held and
the rules which were to govern them were reviewed and ratified. Among
these it was stipulated that every Christian sect was eligible to office,
that murder only was a capital crime, that marriage was a civil contract,
that convict prisons should be workhouses, that all who paid duties should
be electors, and that there should be no poor rates or tithes. Then Penn
proceeded to lay out the city of Philadelphia, where they "might improve
an innocent course of life on a virgin Elysian shore." It was here that
the Declaration of Independence was signed ninety-three years afterward.

In March, before the leaves had budded on the tall trees whose colonnades
were as yet the only habitation for the emigrants, the latter set to work
to settle their constitution. "Amend, alter or add as you please," was the
recommendation with which Penn submitted it to them--the work of his
ripest wisdom and loving good-will. To the governor and council it
assigned the suggestion of all laws; these suggestions were then to be
submitted by the assembly to the body of the people, who thus became the
direct law-makers. To Penn was given the power to negative the doings of
the council, he being responsible for all legislation; but he could
originate and enforce nothing. He would accept no revenues; and, indeed,
except in the way of helpfulness and counsel, never in any way imposed
himself upon his people. He was the proprietor; but in all practical
respects, Pennsylvania was a representative democracy. That they should be
free and happy was his sole desire.

In its relations with the Indians, the colony was singularly fortunate;
the doctrine of non-resistance succeeded best where least might have been
expected from it. All lands were purchased, conferences being held and
deeds signed; and the red men were given thoroughly to understand that
nothing but mutual good was intended. They took to the new idea kindly;
the law of retaliation had been the principle of their lives hitherto; but
if a man did good to them, and dealt honestly by them, should not they
retaliate by manifesting the same integrity and good-will? At one time it
was reported that a band of Indians had assembled on the border with the
design of avenging some grievance with a massacre. Six unarmed Quakers
started at once for the scene of trouble, and the Indians subsided. It has
long been admitted that it takes two sides to make a fight; but this was
an indication that it needs resistance to make a massacre. Penn, who was
fond of visiting the Indians in their wigwams, and sharing their
hospitality, formed an excellent opinion of them. He discoursed to them of
their rights as men, and of their privileges as immortal souls; and they
conceded to him his claim to peaceful possession of his province. Not less
remarkable was the fate of witchcraft in Pennsylvania. The Swedes and
Finns believed in witches, upon the authority of their native traditions;
and a woman of their race having acted in a violent and unaccountable
manner, they put her on her trial for witchcraft. Both Swedes and Quakers
composed the jury; there were no hysterics; the matter was dispassionately
canvassed; impressions and prejudices were not accepted as evidence; and
in the end the verdict was that though she was guilty of being called a
witch, a witch she nevertheless was not. The distinction was so well taken
that no more witch trials or panics occurred. This was in 1684, eight
years before the disasters in New England. But newspapers did not exist in
those days, and public opinion was undeveloped.

The colony, receiving a world-wide advertisement by dint of the
excellence of its institutions and the singularity of its principles,
became a magnet to draw to itself the "good and oppressed" of all Europe.
There were a good many of them; and within a couple of years from the time
when Philadelphia meant blaze-marks on trees and three or four cottages,
it had grown to be a real town of six hundred houses. The colony
altogether mustered eight thousand people. With justifiable confidence,
therefore, that all was well, and would stay so, Penn, with many loving
words for his people, returned to England to continue the defense of the
afflicted there. A dispute as to the right boundaries of Delaware and
Maryland was also to be determined; but it proved to be a lingering
negotiation, chiefly noteworthy on account of its leading to the fixing of
the line by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, which afterward became the
recognized boundary between the States where slaves might be owned and
those where they might not. The line was surveyed, finally, in 1767.

Penn being gone, the people applied themselves to experimenting with
their constitution. A constitution which is devised to secure liberty to
the subject, including liberty to modify or change it, is as nearly
unchangeable as any mortal structure can be. The inhabitants of
Pennsylvania had never known before what it was to be free, and they
naturally wished to test the new gift or quality in every way open to
them. Not having the trained brain and unselfish wisdom that belonged to
Penn, of which the constitution was the offspring, they thought that they
could improve its provisions. But the more earnestly they labored to this
end, the more surely were they brought to the confession that he had known
how to make them free better than they themselves did. When they resolved
against taxes, they found themselves without revenue; when they refused to
discipline a debtor, they found that credit was no longer to be had. They
fussed and fretted to their hearts' content, and no great harm came of it,
because the constitution was always awaiting them with forgiveness when
they had tired themselves with abusing it. The only important matter that
came to judgment was the slavery question; Penn himself had slaves, though
he came to doubt the righteousness of the practice, and liberated them in
his will--or would have done so, had the injunction been carried out by
his heirs. Slaves in Pennsylvania were to serve as such for fourteen
years, and then become adscripts of the soil--that is to say, they were
permitted to become the same thing under another name. Penn ultimately
conceived the ambition to vindicate the presence of the Inner Light in the
negroes' souls; but he met with small success--even less than with the
Indians. The problem of the negro was not to be solved in that way, or at
that time. No doubt, if a negro slave could be made to feel that the mere
circumstance of external bondage was nothing, so long as his inner man was
untrammeled, it would add greatly to the convenience both of himself and
his master. But the theory did not seem to carry weight so long as the
practice accompanied it; and the world, even of Pennsylvania, was not
quite ready to abolish negro slavery in 1687.

Of the thirteen colonies, twelve had now had their beginning, and
Georgia, the home of poor debtors, shed little or no fresh light upon the
formation of the American principle. The Revolution of 1688, which put
William of Orange on the English throne, was now at hand; but before
examining its effect upon the American settlements we must cast a glance
at the transactions of the previous dozen years in the New England
division.

The theory of the English government regarding the American colonies had
always been, that they were her property. The people who emigrated had
been English subjects, and--to adapt the Latin proverb--Coelum, non Regem,
mutant, qui trans mare currunt. Moreover, the English, as was the custom
of the age, asserted jurisdiction over all land first seen and claimed by
mariners flying their flag; and though Spain and France might claim
America with quite as much right as England, yet the latter would not
acknowledge their pretensions. A country, then, occupied by English
subjects, and owned by England, could not reasonably assert its private
independence.

Such was England's position, from which she never fully receded until
compelled to do so by force of arms. But the colonists looked at the
matter from a different point of view. They held the right of ownership by
discovery to be unsubstantial; it was a mere sentiment--a matter of
national pride and prestige--not to be valued when it came in conflict
with the natural right conveyed by actual emigration and settlement. The
man who transferred himself, with his family and property, to a virgin
country. Intending to make his permanent home there, should not be subject
to arbitrary interference from any one; his vital interests and welfare
were involved; he should be ruled by authority appointed by himself;
should pay only such taxes as he himself levied for the expenses of his
establishment; and should enjoy the profits of whatever products he raised
and whatever commerce he carried on. He had withdrawn himself from
participation in the advantages of home civilization, and had voluntarily
faced a life of struggle and peril in the wilderness, precisely because he
had counted these things as nothing in comparison with the gain of
controlling his own affairs; but if, nevertheless, the mother country
insisted on managing them, or in any way controlling him, then all
enterprise became vain, all his sacrifices had been fruitless, and he was
in all ways worse off than before he took steps to better himself. An
Englishman living in England might rightly be taxed for the protection to
life and property and the enjoyment of privileges which she afforded him,
and which he, through a representative parliament, created; but England
gave no protection to her colonies, and the colonists were not represented
in her parliament; neither had the English government been put to any
expense or trouble in bringing those colonies into existence; to tax them,
therefore, was an act of despotism; it deprived them of the right which
all Englishmen possessed to the fruits of their own labor; it robbed them
of values for which no equivalent had been yielded; and thus, from
freemen, made them slaves. Not less unjustifiable, for the same reasons,
was interference with colonial governments, and with religious liberties
of all kinds.

England could not categorically refute these arguments; but she could
reply that her granting of a charter to the colonies had implied some hold
upon them, including a first lien upon commercial products; while so far
as governmental jurisdiction was concerned, it might be considered an open
question whether the colonies were capable of adequately governing
themselves, and she was therefore warranted, in the interests of order, in
exercising that function herself. But the reply was a weak one; and when
the colonists rejoined that the charter, if it had any practical
significance at all, merely gave expression to a friendly interest in the
adventure, as a parent might give a son a letter hoping that he would do
well; and that the question of government was not an open one, inasmuch as
the orderliness and efficiency of their institutions were visible and
undeniable:--it was left to England only to say that, once an English
subject, always an English subject, and that when she commanded the
colonies must comply.

As a matter of fact, she avoided as much as possible putting this
ultimatum in precise words; and the colonies were at least as reluctant to
oppose a definite defiance. Diplomacy labors long before acknowledging a
finality. There was on both sides a deeply-rooted determination to
prevail; but an open rupture was shunned. Furthermore, a strong sentiment


 


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