صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني



by burgesses, of whom each borough, hundred, or plantation chose two.1

As long as Powhatan lived, the Indians continued on friendly terms with the colonists; but after his death in 1618, and when his brother Opechancanough had succeeded to his authority, the temper of the natives underwent a great change; and in 1622, they planned a general massacre of the English. The plot was revealed by an Indian who had been recently converted to Christianity. Though most of the colonists thus had time to make hasty preparations for defence, no less than three hundred and forty-seven persons were surprised and butchered without regard to age or sex. The surviving colonists were computed to be less than two thousand.

This disaster and its injurious consequences to the colonists, whose fears it excited, and whose vengeance it provoked, increased the dissensions of the proprietors in London, which had previously been very warm and bitter. Differing about the management of a settlement which had disappointed their hopes of gain, they were divided into a court and a country party. King James, who had sided with the court party, now ordered a writ of quo warranto against the Virginia company. Two new charters had been previously granted to the company, at their own instance, the last of which comprehended the Bermuda Islands. On the trial of the quo warranto,


1Some historians state the number of boroughs which selected deputies to the first Assembly to have been seven, and others, eleven; but the discrepancy is easily reconciled. At the meeting of the Assembly in June, only seven boroughs were represented, but, in the course of the same summer, four more were added, thus increasing the burgesses from fourteen to twenty-two. See Hening's Stats. at large, which furnishes copious, as well as the most authentic materials for the early history of Virginia.



judgment was given against the company, and its patent was cancelled.

Virginia was now a royal province, and twelve years afterwards, Sir John Harvey, one of its governors appointed by Charles the First, had rendered himself so obnoxious by his tyranny and rapacity, that he was suspended by the council, and sent over to England with two members of that body to prosecute his impeachment. The king, however, refused to inquire into his conduct, and forthwith reinstated him in his government.

At the very time that James granted the southern part of the new territory called Virginia to a London company, he made a similar grant of the northern part to another company, consisting of chief justice Popham, Sir Ferdinando Gorges and others, who were principally merchants of the towns of Plymouth, Bristol, and Exeter.

The first settlement of this company was on the river Sagadahok, now Kennebec in Maine; but it terminated the same year it began. The winter was a severe one, and the sufferings of the settlers from five months of ice and snow without intermission, together with a loss from fire, induced them to return home. To justify themselves with the proprietors, they pronounced the country to be unhealthful, and so intolerably cold as to be uninhabitable by Englishmen.

[ocr errors]

This region was afterwards visited by Captain Smith in a voyage which seems to have been prompted by his own spirit of adventure, though it was at the charge of others.' He surveyed its coasts and rivers with his wanted diligence, and called it "New England," to which name, on his return to England, he obtained the

[blocks in formation]



sanction of the prince royal, afterwards Charles the Second.1

He gave a very favorable account of the country, particularly for the abundance of its fish, which he justly thought might prove as great a source of wealth to New England as it had proved to Holland.

He made another voyage thither in the following year, in the employment of Sir Ferdinando Gorges and some London merchants. His purpose was to remain in the country and attempt to found a colony with only fourteen men and two boys. He set sail with two vessels; was compelled to put back, from the crazy condition of his own ship; made another attempt in a bark of fifty tons; but having been captured by the French, he never again reached New England; and his purpose of planting a colony there was thus defeated.

A successful attempt was, however, made soon afterwards, and the second permanent settlement by Englishmen in America was at Plymouth in Massachusetts. It was made by the sect called "Puritans," and they came directly from Leyden in Holland, to which they had, some eleven or twelve years before, exiled themselves to escape the religious persecution they experienced in England.

They reached Plymouth Rock in December, 1620, and their whole number, consisting of one hundred persons, came in a single ship, the Mayflower.

The colonists had received no charter from the crown to exercise the powers of government; nor had they at first even a right to the soil. But in the following year they obtained a grant of the adjoining lands from the Plymouth company, to whom James, in November, 1620,

1 Grahame is mistaken in supposing it was Charles with whom the name originated. I. Grahame, 158; II. Smith, 262.



had made a grant of all the territory in North America between the fortieth and forty-eighth degrees, and reaching from the Atlantic to the Pacific-comprehending more than a million of square miles.

This grant professed to be "for the planting, ruling, ordering, and governing New England in America; and under it several distinct communities were soon afterwards formed. These were New Plymouth, already mentioned; Massachusetts, settled in 1629; Boston, in the succeeding year; New Hampshire, about the same time; Connecticut, in 1635; Rhode Island, in 1636; and New Haven in 1637. The last adopted the sacred Scriptures as the rule of their commonwealth.

The grant of Maryland, lying between the settlements of Virginia and New England, was made in 1632 to George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, and it was first settled by Catholics, to which sect the grantee belonged. This colony, by its charter, was to be perpetually exempted from English taxation, and by an early act of its legislature, no preference was to be given to any Christian sect whatever. This was the first instance in America of religious toleration formally recognized by the government.

In the interval between the settlement of Virginia and that of New England, Henry Hudson, an English navigator in the service of the Dutch, in a voyage of discovery on the American coast, ascended the river which now bears his name; and in a few years afterwards the Dutch settled New York, and part of New Jersey, called by them New Netherlands, which they claimed by right of discovery, and retained until it was, about half a century afterwards, conquered by the English.

This Dutch settlement, as well as that of the French in Acadie (now Nova Scotia), became an object of jealousy and apprehension to the English colonies in the




North, afterwards called New England; and, for their greater security, four of those colonies-Plymouth, Massachusetts, (to which New Hampshire. had annexed herself,) Connecticut and New Haven-entered into a league offensive and defensive, under the name of "the United Colonies of New England." Rhode Island was excluded from the confederacy, because she was considered to be a part of the colony of Plymouth; and when, three years afterwards, some of her people applied for admission, they were told that they must first be incorporated with Plymouth; but they refused to join the league on these terms.

The provisions of this confederation which thus early showed the propensity of distinct communities to form political union-related only to a state of war; to the relations of the Indians with its members; and to the delivering up of fugitives from justice. In all other respects each colony retained its own jurisdiction and government. But on more than one occasion the members differed about the construction of the articles of union-each one, as is usual, insisting on that interpretation which best accorded with its interests.1


In these new settlements questions of boundary and jurisdiction were already of frequent recurrence. Besides the one mentioned between Plymouth and Rhode Island, the patents to John Mason of New Hampshire, and to Sir Ferdinando Gorges of a part of Maine, were fruitful of much controversy. England, moreover, asserting her exclusive right to the whole American coast from the forty-eighth to the thirty-first degree of north latitude, denied the right of the Dutch to make settlements in New York and New Jersey; and she contested with France the proper limits of Acadie. Virginia, in like 1 I. Pitkin, 52.


« السابقةمتابعة »