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doomed to see their crops rotting on their hands by this injudicious legis. lation, or if they attempted to evade the law, have them wrested from them in the shape of penalties.* These several subjects of complaint induced the people of several counties to petition the deputy governor to call an assembly, to endeavor to provide a remedy for the evils. At the meeting of the Assembly, there was much debate and declamation upon the condition of the country, but no measure of relief was adopted. By order of the king however the two companies of infantry were paid off and disbanded, which put an end to one of the subjects of difficulty. The dissolution of the Assembly without effecting anything caused the impatience of the poor and ignorant people of several of the counties to break through all restraint, and expend their wrath in the destruction of tobacco plants, at a season of the year when it was too late to sow more seed. Sir Henry Chicherly with commendable moderation only took measures to stop these misguided people, without resorting to harsh punishments, but lest it should be drawn into a precedent, the Legislature not long afterwards made it treason. In the mean time Lord Culpeper arrived and his haughty bearing to the Council and the Burgesses soon gave intimation to them that his Lordship's feelings towards the colony had undergone a change. He enlarged, in his speech to the Assembly, much upon the favor of his majesty in disbanding the troops, and spoke of permission which he had obtained to raise the value of the current coin,-he then went on to declare that the colonists did not deserve these gracious favors, but rather punishment for their recent turbulence; he also expressed bis majesty's great dissatisfaction at the refusal of the journals, and desired that that portion of their proceedings should be expunged.
The Assembly expressed their gratitude for the concessions which had been made by the king, but at the same time with admirable good sense, and a knowledge of the principles of commerce which shows that they were not acting blindfold with regard to the alterations in the price of tobacco heretofore alluded to, protested by a large majority against raising the value of the coin; stating as a reason that the exercise of this dangerous power would be made a precedent, and specie which of course as the standard of other value should be as fixed as possible itself, would be blown about by the breath of the governor, and the people would have no certainty of the value of the coin in their pockets. They stated moreover that it was the duty of the Legislature to enact all laws for the regulation of commerce, and of course to prescribe the current price of specie, and they aecordingly introduced a bill for that purpose; but this bill
, which was necessary, as the coins of many different countries were in circulation, was stopped short in its progress by the governor, who declared that it was trespassing upon executive prerogative, and that he would veto any bill which the legislature might pass upon the subject. He then proceeded to fix the value himself by proclamation, raising the current price considerably, but making exception of his own salary and the revenue of the king. This exception was in effect nothing more or less than a new tax of the inost odious and oppressive character, and the colony plainly recognised it as such, and refused to regard the exceptions, but paid the revenue as other debts according to the new standard. And the governor afraid to bring
*Hening, vol. 11. 561-2--3., and Burk, vol. II. p. 230. +Hening, vol. III. p. II,
such a case before any court of law, which he well knew would expose his contemptible meanness, and yet afraid to allow his proclamation to be openly disregarded, which would have put an end at once to the authority of his edicts, was compelled by the dilemma to lower the value of the coin as suddenly as he had raised it. This was at once realizing all the worst anticipations of the legislature as to the arbitrary fluctuations in the standard of value, besides being highly unjust and oppressive to such persons as had made payment of debts according to the new standard, and such as had given credit during the time of the alteration. The governors had by some means been suffered to exercise the power of dissolving the Assemblies, and this having now grown into a usage was a favorite method of silencing their clamors, and they having rashly made the provision for the revenue perpetual and put the control of that subject into the king's hands, were bound hand and foot, and could not control executive usurpation by stopping the wheels of government. The governor now made use of this dangerous power and dissolved the Assembly. The governor thus les without a watch or control over his actions proceeded to a vigorous exercise of executive powers. The unfortunate plant-cutters who had merely been inprisoned, and such of them dismissed from time to time as irould give assurance of penitence, and promise a peaceable demeanor, were now proceeded against with the utmost rigor for what the king was pleased to call their treasonable conduet. But the noblest victim for tyrannical persecution was Robert Beverly, the former clerk of the Assembly, who had refused to give up its papers without authority from "his masters, the house of Burgesses. For some reason it seems that an inspection of journals was demanded by the council again in 1682, and Beverley again relusing to deliver them was thrown into prison, in a king's ship, the Duke of York, then lying in the river, his persecutors being afraid to trust him to the keeping of the jails among his countrymen. Whilst he was in prison a committee of the council was appointed to seize the papers, which he foreseeing this event had secreted. The pretence for this imprisonment were the most frivolous that can well be imagined; he is accused of fomenting discord and stirring up the late partial insurrections, but the only specifie act of which he was accused was setting on foot petitions for an Assembly. Under these arbitrary proceedings he was detained a prisoner, denied the writ of habeas corpus, and hurried about from prison to prison until the governor at last thought proper, after two years searching for charges, to commence a regular prosecution.
The accusation consisted of three heads :
1st. That he had broken open public letters, directed to the Secretary's office, with the writs enclosed for calling an Assembly, in April 1682, and took upon him the exercise of that part of the government, which belongs to the Secretary's office and was contrary to his ;
2nd. That he had made up the journal, and inserted his majesty's letter therein (which was first communicated to the house of Burgesses at their prorogation) after their prorogation;
3d. That he had refused to deliver copies of the journal of the house of Burgesses in 1682, to the lieutenant governor and council, saying, “that he might not do it without leave of his masters.”
This was all which could be charged against this faithful officer, after so * Hening, vol. III p 543,
long an imprisonment, and so long a preparation for the prosecution. But of course they will not bear scrutiny, being only a flimsy veil thrown over their designs, rather indicating a wish to hide the naked deformity of the prosecution, than actually concealing it.
Before this notable prosecution was ended Lord Culpeper forfeited his commission, and was superceded by Lord Howard, who took the oaths of office on the 28th of February 1684. His first measure was to call an assembly which as a popular act, induced the colony to hope some degree of mildness in his administration; but these hopes were soon dissipated. He pursued the unfortunate plani-cutters with renovated vigor, and such of ihein as had been excepted in a proclamation of general pardon, were now executed and their estates after paying officer's secs, appropriated to the governor's own use.
The assembly met and refused to proceed with business for the want of a clerk, as their former clerk was in prison, and they refused to elect another. In this situation of affairs the matter seems to have been compromised, the governor no doubt despairing of his conviction upon the absurd charges made, and Beverley and his friends willing to end his long imprisonment and sufferings, by asking pardon, at the same time not giving up the papers or the principles for which he suffered. Be this as it may Beverley threw binnself upon the mercy of the court, declining to employ counsel or make any defence, and was pardoned.* Probably these long continued sufferings, with other persecutions afterwards endured, injured the constitution of Beverley, for we find that he died prior to April 1687. His noble conduct induced king James the then reigning monarch, to deprive the Burgesses of the election of their own clerk, ordering the governor to elect him, and requiring the assembly to make the clerk so elected, the usual allowance for his services.
The accession of James II. was proclaimed with the usual demonstrations Feb. 15, 1635.
of respect in the colony, and complimentary assurances of
loyalty on the one side and gracious regard on the other were exchanged between his subjects and the assembly. But nothing was done to secure the freedom of the colony, and Lord Howard took advantage of the succeeding recess of the assembly, to enlarge the fees and perquisites of his office, and to impose new ones without the advice or authorily of the assembly. This body which met in November, immediately took into consideration these arbitrary exactions, and passed spirited resolutions in reprobation of them, and made provision for lhe defence of the citizens from similar encroachments in suture. To these acts the governor applied his negative, without assigning any reason Lord Howard not satisfied with thus stopping the legislation of the colony, proceeded in effect to acts of exeentive legislation, by issuing a proclamation, in obedience he said to the king's instructions, repealing several acts of the legislature, which were themselves repeals of former acts, and declaring the acts repealed by that body to be revived, and in full force as before the passage of the repealing
This proclamation the assembly protested against as illegal and unwarrantable, as utterly subversive of the government, annihilating the right of the popular branch, and bringing all to bow in humble submission to the mercy of the prerogative. The spirited conduct of the Burgesses, could
Hening, v. III. p. 518-9. Ibid p. 550.
not be endured by the governor and he prorogued them. Oct. 20, 1686.
The governor had sent to James an account of the conduct of this assembly. This representation produced in reply from James, a furious, quarrelsome order, calling their conduct mutinous, and attributing it to their " unquiet dispositions and sinister intentions to protract the time of their sitting to the great oppression of his subjects, from whom they received wages" concluding by an order for the prosecution of their clerk Beverley, to whom he ascribes all of these evils.
In the same year several persons were imprisoned and punished for treasonable expressions. The council was 'now as servile as the governor could wish, and he proceeded without interruption in his system of arbitraTy innovation upon the established usuages of the colony, and the liberties of its citizens. . The province of New York belonged to the king as proprietor as well Nov. 10, 1987. as sovereign; and in order to strengthen this his own es
tate, he sent orders for all the other colonies to assist in building forts, and supplying garrisons for its western frontier, alledging that these measures were equally necessary for the protection of all; in conformity to these orders a message was received from governor Dungan, requiring the quota of Virginia, but the legislature refused to appropriate a man or a farthing for purposes from which they were to derive no benefit but rather an injury, as the protec.ion of the north-western frontier would drive the Indians further south, where they might commit their depredations upon the unprotected citizens with more impunity.
Whilst the colony was contending against their governor, a revolution 1689.
in England had dethroned the sovereign, and placed William and
Mary upon the throne. This change whilst at placed the council which had made many loyal professions to James, in an awkward position, was an event producing analloyed joy to the people of Virginia, as they could now hope for justice to be done to their oppressive governor.
Soon after this occurrence the war broke out between the allied powers and Lewis XIV. of Fratice, and the colony was ordered to place itself in the best posture of defence
The complaints of the Virginia legislature against their governor at length were iaken up by the privy coancil, and although the charges against Howard were not tried, yet redress against his usurpation was granted, at the same time that the principles upon which they contended that their rights had been violated, were denied to be correct
. Howard pleading illhealth was not deprived of his 'commission for not returning to the colony, but as it was necessary that there should be a governor upon the eve of a war, Sir Francis Nicholson was sent over. His conduct was mild and conciliatory, and consequently popular; among other highly beneficial acts passed under his government, was one for the establishment of a college which was very liberally endowed.
He was succeeded by Sir Edmund Andros as governor-in-chief, who is Sept. 20, 1692. represented to have been actuated in his administration by
a sound judgment and a liberal policy; to have been exact, diligent and methodical in the management of business; of a conciliatory deportment and great generosity.* Sir Francis Nicholson was again made
*Burk, vol. II. p. 316.
governor-in-chief, in November 1698. He was an ambitious man, who had served in the capacity of a governor, aud deputy governor in several of the colonies, and taken great pains to become popular, and to make himself well acquainted with the situation of all the colonies,-their wants--their trade, and their capabilities, with a view to unite them if possible under one government, over which he hoped to obtain the appointment of governor general. The pressure of war with the combined force of the French and Indians, which seemned now about to fall upon the colonies, and rendered some union necessary for the purpose of defence, seemed highly favorable to his design.
The French at an early day conceived a correct idea of the importance of the British colonies in America. The Count De Callier, governor of Montreal, during his residence in Canada, after a long experience derived from observations on the spot, had formed the bold project of separating in two the English colonies by the capture of New York. The success of this scheme would manifestly have destroyed that concert so necessary to har. mony and efficiency of co-operation, and left the other colonies liable to be cut off in detail, and would effectually establish the safety of Canada by enabling the French to keep in check the powerful savage confederation, composed of the Five Nations which had lately by a furious irruption laid waste the country even to the gates of Montreal and Quebec. This plan of Sept. 1692.
Callier's was adopted by the French government. A fleet wag
sent to the bay of New York, with orders to retain possession of it, until December, when if no further orders were received, it was to-sail for Port Royal, land its munition and stores and return to France. The land force were to have marched from Quebec by the route of the Sorel river and Lake Champlain. This expedition was defeated by a destructive inroad of the Five Nations, which carried death and desolation over the whole country, even to the very gates of the capital. This unforeseen oce currence rendered it necessary to retain the whole force at home in mea. sures of self-defence, and saved New York, without her having to strike a blow in her own behalf.
The British government daily becoming more sensible of the importance of the North American colonies, and seeing the danger to wbich they were exposed by the plan of De Callier, set on foot a plan of general defence in the year 1695, adjusting the quotas of each colony to the ratio of its popu. lation, and forwarding the scale to the diferent governors, to recommend for the adoption of the respective colonial assemblies. Several of the colo. nies rejected this scheme, because several of those which were thought most exposed wished to employ it as their own interest dictated. Among the refractory was Virginia, which could not be prevailed upon by all the art and ingenuity of the governor, aided by his great enthusiasm in this his favorite plan, -to vote a cent to the enterprize,--to his inconceivable chagrin and mortification. Nicholson finding his own efforts utterly unavailing. laid the matter before the king, and urged the propriety of forcing Virginia to see her true interests upon this occasion. William in reply recommend ed a new consideration of the matter by the General Assembly, alledging upon the authority of Nicholson's report, “ that New York was the barrier of Virginia against the Indians and the French of Canada, and as such it was but justice she should defend it." The assembly deemed it but due respect to his majesty to take the subject again into consideration, but found no rea. son to change their former opinion, declaring "that neither the forts then in