The Colonies In Their Political Relations
SCARCELY had Columbus brought back the news that the waters of the Atlantic laved accessible lands in the distant west before full provision was made for the ownership of the new regions. Alexander VI., though one of the most unsavory among the ecclesiastical potentates who have had their seat in Rome, felt no hesitation about portioning out the planet according to his discretion. He seemed in fact to possess a fully average consciousness of what is implied in being heir to the immeasurable wealth of Peter. By a bull issued May 4th, 1493, he ordained that countries which should be discovered a hundred leagues or more to the west of the Azores and Cape Verde Islands should fall to Spain.
1 Lands actually possessed by any other Christian power up to the time of the first discovery by Columbus, were excepted from the grant to Spain. All other lands within the defined limits, whenever and however they might be discovered, were to fall to the Spanish sovereigns, as appears from the following language of the bull: Motu proprio, hon ad vestrum vel alterius pro vobis super nobis oblatæ petitionis instantiam, sed de nostra mera liberalitate, et ex certa scientia, ac de apostolicæ potestatis plenitudine, omnes insulas et terras firmas inventas et inveniendas, detectas et detegendas versus Occidentem et Meridiem fabricando et consteuendo unam lineam a Polo Arctico, scilicet Septentrione, ad Polum Antarcticum, silicet Meridiem, sive terræ firmæ et insulæ inventæ et inveniendæ sint versus Indiam aut versus aliam quamcumque partem, quæ linea distet a qualibet insularum quæ vulgariter nuncupantur de los Azores y cabo vierde, centum leucis versus Occidentem et Meridiem, ita quod omnes insulæ et terræ firmæ repertæ et reperiendæ, detectæ et detegendæ, a præfata linea versus Occidentem et Meridiem per alium regem aut principem Christianum non fuerint actualiter possessæ usque ad diem nativitatis Domini Nostri Iesu Christi proximi præteritum, a quo incipit annus præsens millesimus quadringentesimus nonagesimus tertius, quando fuerunt per nuntios et capitanos vestros inventæ aliquæ prædictarum insularum, auctoritate omnipotentis Dei nobis in beato Petro concessa, ac vicariatus Jesu Christi, qua fungimur in terris, cum omnibus illarum dominiis, civitatibus, castris, locis, et villis, juribusque et jurisdictionibus apertinentiis universis, vobis hæredibusque et successoribus vestris (Castellæ et Legionis regibus) in perpetuum tenore præsentium donamus, concedimus, et assignamus. Vosque et hæredes ac successores præfatos illarum dominos cum plena, libera, et omnimoda potestate, auctoritate et jurisdictione, facimus, constituimus, et deputamus.
The following year the papal gift was modified, in that the dividing line was placed three hundred and seventy leagues to the west of the Cape Verde Islands. The bull of Alexander VI. was of course made out in the dark. No one at that time had anything like an accurate knowledge of the earth's surface. Nevertheless so far as America is concerned, the Pope, as a Spaniard, could not better have satisfied his partiality for his native land had he acted in the light. Only a section of Brazil was located east of the line which he drew in the plenitude of his authority. To the rest of the two continents Spain held the title.
The papal parchment was doubtless a convenient thing for Spain. Still the real basis of her success in the New World was her own enterprise. She pushed forward energetically in the project of discovery and occupation. Herein she preceded France and England by the breadth of a century. Before they had ceased merely to dream of transatlantic possessions, she had extended her rule to a continental range.
The beginning of a permanent settlement in the West Indies was made during the second visit of Columbus (1493-1496), at which time he planted a colony upon the island of Hispaniola or Hayti. In the succeeding years the other principal islands of the group were occupied. Possession was taken of Cuba in 1511.
Darien served as the first permanent foothold upon the main land. A settlement was begun there in 1510. Three years later Vasco Nuñez crossed the Isthmus and won the distinction of being the first European to gaze upon the Pacific. In 1519, by the founding of Panama, Spain secured an advantageous position on the western coast.
From the Isthmus the tide of conquest rolled both northward and southward. In the former direction it met the impetuous wave which had been started by Hernando Cortés, whose splendid piracy had won the Aztec empire for the Spanish crown (1519-1521). Central America was thus in large part brought under the sword. While its subjugation was in progress the avaricious thirst of the Spaniards was excited by rumors of an empire in the south, where the accumulated treasures of a civilized people presented a prize rivalling that which had fallen to the conquerors of Mexico. Here was a chance for a master-stroke in brigandage, and Francisco Pizarro, a man rivalling Cortés in daring and hardihood, but inferior in culture and magnanimity, was ready to improve the chance. After spending some years in preliminary expeditions, he sailed from Panama for the conquest of Peru in 1531. The same order of tactics which had triumphed over Montezuma in Mexico speedily sufficed to overthrow the power of the Inca ruler. The fabulous heap of gold gathered for his ransom only served to line with a brilliant mockery his way to the scaffold.
Peru supplied a vantage ground for further conquests. An attack upon Chili was undertaken as early as 1535. It was not, however, till a few years later that any substantial acquisition was made in that direction; and then the work of subjugation was incomplete. The advance into southern Chili was held in check by the Araucanians. This hardy people withstood successfully all efforts to subdue them, and still had the courage in the eighteenth century to match arms several times with the Spaniards.
Simultaneously with the advance into Chili the districts toward the north were invaded. Quito was captured in 1533, and the city of Bogota was founded in 1538.
Meanwhile settlements were being effected from the eastern side of the continent. Spanish vessels, bearing a company of colonists, entered the La Plata in 1534, and two or three years later the first permanent settlement in Paraguay, or the La Plata basin, was begun at Asuncion. The continuous history of Buenos Ayres dates from 1580, though its primary foundation was forty-five years earlier.
To the north of Mexico Spanish conquest did not advance so rapidly as in the regions to the south of the Isthmus. The country with its wild tribes appeared less inviting. Considerable interest, however, was awakened at quite an early date in New Mexico, where the Pueblo Indians exhibited, if not so advanced a civilization as that of the Mexicans and Peruvians, still a state noticeably above sheer barbarism. The first regular expedition into New Mexico, which occurred under Coronado in 1540, did not result in the occupation of the country. Fifty years or more elapsed before a settlement was made; and this can hardly be described as permanent, since an uprising of the natives in 1680 either destroyed or swept away every Spaniard in the province. Twelve years later a reconquest was effected.
In Lower California, California, and Texas, Spanish colonization was scarcely more than a means of planting and sustaining missions. The first of these countries witnessed the beginning of a permanent settlement in 1697, the second in 1769, and the third in 1714. Texas had been entered at an earlier date. Aside from the visits of individual missionaries and travelers, a formal attempt to plant a colony is recorded for the year 1690; but this proved to be so unpromising that it was soon abandoned.
Florida also was never largely occupied by the Spaniards. The first expeditions to the country ended in utter disaster. Instead of the looked-for paradise, the invaders found hunger, disease, and the grave. The real settlement of the country was not begun till 1565, when Menendez founded St. Augustine on the eastern coast. About one hundred and thirty years later (1696) Pensacola was founded in western Florida. A few other settlements were started; but the country was rather garrisoned than occupied. The Spanish population is supposed not to have exceeded six or seven thousand when the province was surrendered to Great Britain (1763); and its return to Spanish control twenty years later was probably not followed by a sufficient influx to make up for the deficit in the Spanish element which had resulted from the foregoing evacuation.
In the theory of Spain, as in that of other European powers who acquired territory in America, her colonies ranked as attachments to the crown. Proprietorship in the full sense pertained to the sovereign. He held the primary title to the land, and those who settled upon it were counted as subjects of his unrestricted rule.
The more immediate instrument for exercising the royal pleasure in relation to the colonies was the Council of the Indies. This council, which had its seat at Madrid, possessed supreme jurisdiction over every department of colonial administration. The appointment of officials and the origination of the laws by which they were to be guided fell alike within its province.
In the early stages of discovery and conquest captains-general and governors were the foremost officers in the new settlements.
1 The title of viceroy may have been used in connection with Columbus, but the vice-regal function as a regular and permanent feature of colonial administration was introduced later.But as great populations mere brought into subjection the system of viceroys was introduced. Privileged with not a little of royal state and holding the chief executive power over a vast stretch of territory, the viceroy enjoyed a sort of princely dignity. In his accountability, however, and his liability to recall, he was made to recognize that he still remained in the relation of subject and servant. The first to be appointed viceroy was Mendoza, who was installed in Mexico in 1535. For a considerable time, Lima, the capital of Peru, was the only rival of Mexico in the honors of viceroyalty, the one being the governmental centre of the provinces to the south of the Isthmus, and the other of those to the north. But in 1718 a third viceroyalty was instituted at Santa Fé de Bogota, and in 1776 a fourth was erected at Buenos Ayres. During most of the colonial era all the provinces were regarded as under the supervision of one viceroy or another. In some regions, however, located at a distance from the seat of the viceroy, his authority was scarcely more than nominal.
Next to the chief executive the most notable authority was the audiencia. This in its central function was a judicial tribunal. But its prerogatives extended somewhat beyond the mere consideration of questions and suits at law, so that its authority served in a measure to limit that of the viceroy. At the height of colonial expansion there were twelve of these tribunals distributed through the provinces.
The conviction that colonies ought above all things to enrich the mother country, in conjunction with the narrow commercial system which dominated the age, led Spain to impose upon the trade and industries of her American States a most damaging and oppressive system of restriction. Everything needed by the colonies had to be imported from the mother country. Trade with foreigners was even reckoned among capital offenses. As for inter-colonial traffic, it was either grievously hampered with restrictions or entirely prohibited.
These restraints, together with a constant burden of taxation, though amounting to a grievance appreciably greater than that which fired the resentment of the English colonies, seemed for a long time to awaken no serious alienation or thought of rebellion. But at length the ambition for freedom and self-government awoke throughout the length and breadth of the Spanish dependencies. The temporary usurpation by Napoleon over the crown of Spain, though resented by the colonies in the first instance, interrupted their connection with the mother country, and prepared them finally to think that they could dispense with the rule of a distant monarch, whether in or out of the regular line. At the same time, the example of the independence and rising prosperity of the Anglo-American States stimulated their courage. The result was that between 1810 and 1822 the standard of revolt was everywhere raised and everywhere carried forward to victory, -in Hayti, or such portion of it as still remained under Spanish rule, in Mexico, in Central America, and in the various provinces of South America. The dependencies of Mexico to the north, as they still continued in connection with her, shared her new political status. Accordingly, since Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1819, she held in 1822 only the merest fragment of the magnificent domain beyond the Atlantic, over the greater part of which she had ruled for nearly three centuries.
1 Among the works found serviceable in preparing the preceding outline, special mention may be made of H. H. Bancroft's "History of the Pacific States," and R. G. Watson's "Spanish and Portuguese South America."
The era of Portuguese colonization in Brazil dates from the year 1531. The country had indeed been visited earlier by the explorer and the trader; but it was then that the government began in earnest to encourage occupation. While a vast stretch of territory in the interior remained untouched, a tolerably continuous line of settlements extended along the coast by the end of the seventeenth century.
At the initial stage of occupation hereditary captaincies were bestowed upon a number of persons, giving them unrestricted rule over the districts which they undertook to colonize. This arrangement seemed to be too favorable to the despotic instincts of the captains, and in answer to complaints the country was placed under a governor-general in 1549. Between 1580 and 1640 Brazil, sharing the fortune of the mother country, was under the crown of Spain. Before the close of this interval the Dutch had succeeded in gaining a foothold. They were not allowed, however, to enjoy their acquisitions for more than the space of a generation.
The great European upheaval under Napoleon affected Brazil as well as the Spanish dependencies. For a time the unique spectacle was witnessed of the throne being transferred from the European to the American side. On the return of the King to Portugal, Brazil declared for independence (1822-23). But while a separate monarchy was erected, the ruler was taken from the family of the sovereign to whom allegiance had previously been rendered. The house of Braganza still held the sceptre.
In the earlier attempts of the French to colonize America the Huguenots took a conspicuous part. Their great leader Coligny, interested at once to extend the domains of France and to provide an asylum for his co-religionists, gave his encouragement to several expeditions. In the first of these Brazil was the objective point, and a settlement was effected upon an island in the harbor of Rio Janeiro in 1555. Its history was a brief chapter of disasters. Weakened by the faithless conduct of its leader, Villegagnon, who began to persecute the Protestants in the little community, it fell an easy prey to the jealous Portuguese (1558).
A darker fate still befell the settlement in Florida. The small company left in the country in 1562 abandoned their post the next year, to endure upon the sea the combined horrors of famine and exposure in a crazy and unseaworthy craft. The larger community, composed mainly of Huguenots, which was settled on the St. John's river in 1564 and 1565, encountered a foe more merciless than famine and storm. The sword of a Spanish bigot cut off the greater part of them in one of the most cold-blooded massacres which have been perpetrated on this continent. The French commander, the brave and able Ribaut, fell with the rest. Menendez, the agent of the atrocity, took pains to mix his religion with the deed, representing that the butchery was a suitable treatment of an evil and accursed sect. Philip II., it is hardly necessary to state, was well pleased with the work of his subordinate. A despatch to Menendez bore this endorsement, supposed to be in the handwriting of the king: "Say to him that, as to those he has killed, he has done well; and as to those he has saved, they shall be sent to the galleys." To Pius V. also the massacre was no offense. If he did not formally approve it, he did approve its author, addressing him a few years later in very flattering terms as "a much-beloved and dear son in Christ." 1 Parkman, Pioneers of France in the New World; Fairbanks, History of Florida; Charlevoix, History of New France (Shea's translation).
Meanwhile there were Roman Catholics in France who were disposed to regard the work of Menendez as a crime against Frenchmen, and not merely a deserved infliction upon heretics. One of these, Dominique de Gourgues, had the hardihood to plan and to execute (1568) a terrible reprisal upon the Spanish garrisons which had taken the place of the Huguenot colony.
2 That Spanish writers should wish to call Gourgues a "heretic" is explained by their abhorrence of the man. We regard the declaration of Charlevoix, that he never forsook the ancient faith, as deserving much greater credit. Ferland follows Charlevoix, as is seen in his Cours d'Histoire du Canada, i. 55.
The proper era of French colonization began about forty years from the destruction of the settlement in Florida. After sending her fishermen for a century to the northern waters, France at length concluded that it was worth while to occupy some portion of the vast domain which had been discovered. Beginning in Acadia, or Nova Scotia, the bearers of the French standard passed up the St. Lawrence to Quebec and Montreal; then penetrated through the lake region, and finally advanced through the Mississippi valley to the Gulf of Mexico. It was in 1682 that the intrepid La Salle, by pushing his boat into the waters of the Gulf, solved the mystery of the great river. By the end of the century the settler had followed the explorer. France stood sentinel at the mouth of the Mississippi as well as at the mouth of the St. Lawrence. Her claims covered the heart of the continent.
Huguenot patronage had its share in this later enterprise which created a New France, as well as in the abortive efforts at colonization which had preceded. It was under the patent which the Huguenot De Monts obtained from Henry IV. that the oldest permanent settlement of the French in America was effected (1605), that of Port Royal- now Annapolis--in Acadia.
1 This is reckoned as the oldest settlement. It should be noticed, however, that it was abandoned temporarily (1607-1610), though the buildings were left standing and were reoccupied on the return of colonists.It was also under the auspices of De Monts that Champlain established a colony at Quebec in 1608. New France, however, was not destined to be a home or refuge for the Huguenots. Their worship was soon put under the ban, and they were given to understand that in the American domains of the "Very Christian King" only savages and orthodox Romanists were to be tolerated. In the period of the dragonnades tens of thousands went to other countries, but none were admitted through the barred gates of Canada and Louisiana. This exclusion, for the time being, saved the minds of the untutored Indians from being infected with Calvinistic heresy; but the ultimate result of the intolerant policy was not so happy, since thereby the country was made a ready prey to the Protestant rule of Great Britain. Thus have judged some of the French Canadians themselves. Speaking of the period of the great exodus in the reign of Louis XIV., Garneau remarks: "What a mighty advantage would have accrued to New France, if a licensed emigration of the Protestant population of Old France had taken place, at this time, to Canada and the newly explored regions of the West! Other inimical and rival countries had not then been enriched and strengthened by what the French nation thus lost, both in contemporary and coming times; nor had we, Gallo-Canadians, been reduced to defend foot to foot, against an alien race, our language, our laws, and our nationality." History of Canada, i. 272 (Bell's translation). The French colonies in their early stage were little more than appendages to trading companies. They were frontier posts subordinate to the convenience and profit of those who had the monopoly of the trade in peltries. The cultivation of the land was a secondary consideration, and but little pains were taken to foster the growth of the population.
Even to the end of the French jurisdiction the fur trade held an unhealthy pre-eminence, and the population remained miserably inadequate to defend so broad a stretch of territory. But in time efforts began to be made to reinforce the settlements and to place them upon a better basis. In 1663 we find the Governor of Canada advising the King to send a large body of soldiers into the province, who, after being employed in subduing the Iroquois and driving the Dutch out of New York, should be given lands and settled in the country. 2 Parkman, The Old Régime in Canada.
This scheme in its full extent was not attempted. But from that time the French government felt the necessity of building up and extending the colonies. As the emigration to New France rarely took place by families, shiploads of maidens were sent out from time to time, and the unmarried settlers were well-nigh coerced into a selection of wives, very considerable deprivations being imposed upon those who dared to defy sovereign authority and to remain single.
As an encouragement to the occupation of land a species of feudalism was transplanted to Canada. Large domains were granted to such as would promise to improve them within a given time. To meet this condition, the seignior, or holder of the grant, was under constraint to parcel out his lands among a number of tenants, who paid him a moderate rent, and acknowledged certain legal obligations to him, such as patronizing his mill, and setting apart for him a percentage of the fish caught in waters bordering his domain. In the more trivial causes the seignior had judicial power over his tenants. But this prerogative appears not to have been much exercised, and as the seignior himself was directly amenable to the colonial government, he had little of the relative independence which pertained to the feudal lord in mediæval times. The system survived the transition to British rule. Down to the year 1854 many estates in Canada were held under feudal tenure.
In the colonial administration the chief officials were the governor-general and the intendant. The latter exercised important judicial functions, and besides served the king as a kind of spy upon the governor. These two, in conjunction with a few councilors, had the whole control of affairs.
The general cast of government was that of a paternal absolutism. Popular sovereignty was entirely ignored. A fair degree of nursing was expended on the people. They received, however, no training in the faculty of self-rule. The exigencies of their position made them hardy soldiers; but in the qualities which are needed for a free, durable, and progressive commonwealth, their English neighbors were rapidly outstripping them.
In advancing to the possession of the great waterways, France seemed to be grasping the keys of the continent. Before the construction of railroads such means of communication were of immense import. But there were great obstacles in the way of following up the advantage. The hostility of the Iroquois, early provoked by the alliance of Champlain with their enemies, not only raised a formidable barrier in the direction of the Hudson, but carried back a tide of desolation into Canada. Then again, as has been indicated, colonization was not fostered on a scale at all comparable with the national opportunity. At the middle of the eighteenth century the English colonists outnumbered the French ten to one, and during most of the previous part of their history the ratio was doubtless equally unfavorable. To offset the disparity the French put forth special efforts to gain the alliance of the Indian tribes. Their missionaries were continually utilized to this end. Considerable success rewarded their pains; but it was a kind of success which worked toward future overthrow. The undisguised way in which the French colonists spurred on, and co-operated with, the savages in their murderous raids upon the New England towns enkindled a deep animosity, and beget the conviction that the conquest of Canada was a necessary antecedent to peace and security.
1 Apologists for the Canadians have been inclined to allege that the English in New York instigated the Iroquois to the great massacre which took place at La Chine and its neighborhood in 1689. The allegation is not unnatural. There can be no doubt that the New Yorkers, at one time and another, took pains to foster in the Iroquois a hostile attitude toward the French and their allies. But with this massacre they had no responsible connection. The immediate cause of the atrocity was the treachery of a Huron chief, the Rat, who wished to break off the treaty between the French and the Iroquois, as being dangerous to the Hurons. No document verifies the accusation against the English in New York, and it is moreover opposed by known facts. Parkman says: "I find nothing in contemporary documents to support the accusation. Denonville wrote to the minister, after the Rat's treachery came to the light, that Andros had forbidden the Iroquois to attack the colony. Immediately after the attack at La Chine, the Iroquois sachems, in a conference with the agents of New England, declared that 'we did not make war on the French at the persuasion of our brethren at Albany; for we did not so much as acquaint them of our intention till fourteen days after our army had begun their march.'" (Count Frontenac and New France under Louis XIV.) But even if New York, acting without concert with the New England authorities, had been guilty in this instance, it would not have justified the sacking of peaceful hamlets in Massachusetts and Maine. That some of the missionary priests were immediately engaged in urging on these cruel raids is far from being a feature of relief.
The first great step toward the conquest was made in 1710. At this time Acadia, which had previously been taken and restored at intervals, was taken to be permanently retained. By the treaty of Utrecht in 1713 this region was surrendered to England, together with Newfoundland and the Hudson Bay territory. A little more than forty years later (1755) the French element in Acadia was much reduced by the forced embarkation of some thousands, and their distribution among the English colonies.
1 This violent dealing cannot be justified. The expulsion of the Acadians, in the manner in which it was accomplished, was a cruel deed. At the same time there is a poor excuse for inserting the fancies of the poet in the place of history, and depicting the Acadians as a harmless, innocent folk who gave no occasion for the blow that fell upon them. Before the English occupation they had not exhibited a specially peaceable and exemplary disposition. After the transfer of their country to England, they were disposed to claim the neutral position which was conceded to them for a time, as a finality, and refused to take the unconditional oath of allegiance. "There can be no room to doubt," says Beamish Murdock, "that such a neutrality as had been suffered but never sanctioned by the British crown was wholly incompatible with its just righter of sovereignty." (History of Nova Scotia, ii.,287. Compare C.C. Smith in Critical and Narrative History of America, vol. v.) Parkman, while confessing the harshness of a measure which punished the innocent with the guilty, does not hesitate to say that "many of the sufferers had provoked their fate, and deserved it." (Count Frontenac and New France, p. 190.)In 1763, the valor of Montcalm, having failed to save Quebec, the whole of Canada passed under British rule, together with a large share of French territory to the south of the lakes. As, at the same time, Louisiana, including the great region of the Mississippi valley, west of the river, was ceded to Spain, France completely relinquished her empire in the western world. Louisiana, it is true, was restored to France in the time of the first Napoleon, but it was only to be passed over at once to the United States for a specified sum. This occurred in 1803.
In acquiring Canada, England obtained a province that was loyal enough after a fashion, but one nevertheless that refused to be anglicized. From that time to this the French Canadians have shown a singular indisposition to be anything else than French Canadians, Immediately after the conquest it seems to have been presumed that they might be treated in all respects as British subjects, and English law was declared to be in force in the province. But it was found impracticable to make so great a transition on the instant. By the Quebec Act of 1774 French laws were allowed to rule in questions of property and civil rights, while English law was to apply in criminal cases. At the same time Roman Catholics were granted the right to practise their religion and to levy tithes upon themselves for its support. By the constitution of 1791 a still further concession was made to the French element, in that a division was effected between Lower and Upper Canada, and each province was allowed to have its own legislature. As the French greatly preponderated in Lower Canada, this arrangement was agreeable to their preference for a separate and distinct position.
The overthrow of French rule on the St. Lawrence doubtless prepared the way for the overthrow of British rule in the regions to the south. Being relieved of the presence of an aggressive rival the colonies of English descent felt free to present a bold front to the mother country in demanding what they esteemed to be their rights. They could now contend with England without incurring the danger of falling into the hands of France. Some of the French statesmen of the era were keen enough to see the probable course of events, and to pre-diet the revolution which followed so speedily upon the retirement of their nation from its colonial possessions. 1 Bancroft, History of the United States, ii. 564; iii. 75.
English colonization ran parallel with the French. Two years after De Monts had settled Annapolis, and one year before Champlain had founded Quebec, the nucleus of a rival dominion had been provided at Jamestown in Virginia (1607).
In each case alike success was preceded by disaster. The colony which Sir Waiter Raleigh planted at Roanoke (1585-1590) was as completely swept away as the Huguenot settlement in Florida had been twenty years earlier. Nor was the patron of the English enterprise more happy in his personal fortunes than the pioneers of French colonization. While the sword of Menendez shed the blood of Ribaut, and Coligny fell a victim to royal jealousy and religious fanaticism, Raleigh was kept in prison for many years, and finally sent to the block by the mean-spirited James I.
The energy and genius of Raleigh kindled a spirit of enterprise in Richard Hakluyt and others, that issued in 1606 in an organized effort to secure for English rule the middle portion of the continent, which then was called Virginia. In response to a petition for this end, King James granted in that year a patent for the territory between the 34th and 45th degrees of latitude. The patentees, while subject to the instructions of the crown, were invested with a general superintendence over the country to be settled. They were expected to form two colonies, one in the southern and another in the northern part of their grant. The patentees connected with the former project came to be designated as the London Company, and it was under their auspices that a settlement was effected at Jamestown.
The adventurers or patentees for the northern colony did not meet with so speedy a success. The colony planted by Popham at the mouth of the Kennebec (1607, 1608) had but a brief existence. The earliest permanent settlement in New England, that at Plymouth in 1620, did not in strictness take place under the authority of either of the English companies. While the Pilgrims obtained their patent from the London Company, they settled where it had no validity, New England being outside of the jurisdiction of that company.
The same year that the Pilgrims landed a reorganization of the adventurers of the Northern Colony of Virginia was effected. As newly constituted the company was called the "Council established at Plymouth, in the county of Devon, for the planting, ruling, ordering, and governing of New England in America." It was under a grant from this Council for New England that the Puritan colony of Massachusetts Bay made their settlement in 1628 and the following years. The Pilgrims at [New] Plymouth secured themselves in the possession of their district by a patent from the same source (1621, 1630). The claims of Ferdinando Gorges to territories in Maine rested likewise primarily upon grants from the Council for New England (1622, 1635), as did also those of John Mason and his heirs to the region of New Hampshire (1621, 1622, 1635). The Connecticut colony (1635, 1636) was an overflow from the large Puritan population which had emigrated to Massachusetts Bay, and its principal settlements on the Connecticut river were made under the protection of the older colony. But it was deemed prudent to found a claim upon a patent which was understood to have emanated from the Council of New England, and which passed from the Earl of Warwick to Lord Say and Sele. The New Haven colony, founded in 1638, and the Providence and Rhode Island plantations (1636, 1638) held their lands in the first instance by purchase from the Indians, and depended for continuous possession upon the sanction or connivance of the crown.
In actual settlement New England may be regarded as having been in advance of New York. For while the Dutch kept up a connection with the region of the Hudson after its discovery in 1609, for a number of years they employed no other means of occupation than the establishment of trading-posts. It was first in 1623, under the auspices of the West India Company, which had been chartered by the States General two years previously, that an agricultural colonization was seriously attempted. Even from that date the influx was not rapid. The population of New Netherland was small compared with that of New England when in 1664 it passed under English rule.
After New England, Maryland was the next theatre of a permanent English settlement. The patent which assigned the country to George Calvert (Lord Baltimore) was prepared in 1632. Before it passed the great seal Sir George died. The patent, however, remained intact to his son Cecil, and under its provisions Maryland was settled in 1634.
The royal grant which bestowed the Carolinas upon a company of English gentlemen dates from the year 1663. Shortly before this time the northern part of the Carolina coast, or the Albemarle region, had begun to be occupied by emigrants from Virginia. In 1665 a settlement was made on Cape Fear River. Five years later a colony was established in South Carolina. In 1680 Charleston became the chief seat of this branch of the Carolina province.
New Jersey became a field for English settlement at about the same time as Carolina. During the preceding years it had been reckoned by the Dutch as a part of New Netherland, and in 1655 they had given a practical indication of a disposition to sustain their claim by bringing into subjection the Swedish colony which had been planted on the Delaware seventeen years before. Accordingly when the Dutch surrendered their possessions to the English, New Jersey was transferred along with New York (1664). It was, however, at once made a separate province, or rather two provinces. By grant of the Duke of York, to whom the whole territory of New Netherland had been consigned, the Jersey portion was divided between Sir George Cartaret and Lord Berkeley. Under their patronage an English population began forthwith to be established in the country.
Pennsylvania was given to William Penn in 1681 in payment of a debt which the crown had incurred to his father, Admiral Penn. The next year the newly constituted province, which afforded a welcome asylum to the Quakers, received the first company of colonists. The territory constituting the present state of Delaware was reckoned in the grant of Penn. After 1703 it had its own legislative assembly, though continuing under the proprietary of Pennsylvania.
The founding of Georgia was the latest example of English colonization (the temporary occupation of Florida excepted) in this country. In its motive it was one of the most worthy in the list of colonial enterprises. As devised and conducted by Oglethorpe it was designed to provide a refuge for imprisoned debtors, whose incompetency was rather their misfortune than their crime, as also for other classes of the unfortunate or oppressed. The charter for the colony was granted in 1732, and early in the following year the settlement at Savannah was begun.
In considering the political status of the English colonies one is struck with the manifest contrast which they present to the Spanish and the French communities in America. While in theory the first were as truly appendages of the crown as the others, the offspring of its grants and the immediate subjects of its unrestricted sovereignty, they were in fact very differently circumstanced. They exhibited in their political condition a variety, a movement, and a freedom not to be found in the Spanish or the French dependencies. These traits, especially in the earlier portion of the colonial period, were due in part to the procedure of the English government, -- to the measure in which it left the management of the American settlements to patentees and colonists. But from the first it was due also in part to the character of the colonists. Their independent spirit in no small proportion of instances was the motive to emigration, and that spirit was not likely to lie dormant in the free air of the wilderness. It grew and throve, so that when the English government was ready to lay a stricter hand upon the colonies, it was found that they could not be moulded at will. Where outward conformity was rendered to the requisitions of throne or parliament, a spirit of independence was still manifest back of the conformity.
Three different forms of government were represented in the colonies, -- the charter, the proprietary, and the royal. Several of the colonies had experience of two different forms, since the cancelling of a charter or of a proprietary right brought in the direct control of the crown.
New England was the proper theatre of the charter governments. Virginia, it is true, was settled under the provisions of a charter, and the powers conveyed in the second instrument, or that of 1609, were large. But it was the London Company, not the colony which held the charter. The company indeed treated the colony with a good degree of liberality, and in the concessions which it made laid a foundation for self-rule. These concessions, however, were granted simply as a matter of policy and good-will. With the cancelling of the charter in 1624 Virginia fell into the rank of a royal province, over which the governor was the appointee of the crown. This was its political status down to the American Revolution, with the exception of an interval in the commonwealth era.
1 At a later date a long step was taken toward bringing Virginia under the proprietary régime. In 1673 Charles II. gave the whole territory to Arlington and Culpepper. The enormous grant, however, while it included great privileges, such as the entire church patronage of the colony, seems not to have involved a transfer of the government to the said lords. Culpepper, it is true, became governor a few years later,but by a special appointment from the king. The territorial right, too, as the case was managed, did not long continue in its full extent.But while in theory immediately dependent upon the crown, the Virginia colony nurtured a preference for self-rule, and was as well prepared as any of the American sisterhood for the era of independence.
The charter of Massachusetts Bay was made out in 1629 to an English corporation under the name of the "Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England." In this instrument powers were conveyed for electing the officers needed in the government of the colony, and for making laws and ordinances not repugnant to those of England. The same year that the charter was granted a plan was devised to transfer it, or the whole administration under it, to the soil of New England. The offices were filled with those who engaged to reside in the new country. Thus from the start the colony of Massachusetts Bay was in a large sense a self-governed community. Rhode Island was equally favored. The charter which Roger Williams obtained in 1644, and under which the several settlements in that region were united two or three years later, was remarkably liberal. The colony was really exempted from the obligation to conform its laws to those of England, it being required only to secure such conformity as was agreeable to the nature and constitution of the place and the people. It was one of the anomalies of the reign of Charles II. that he renewed substantially the provisions of this charter (1663). From the same king Connecticut received a charter (1662) scarcely less generous in the measure of self-rule which it conferred. At the same time the territory of Connecticut was extended so as to include that of the New Haven colony. After some show of reluctance New Haven consented to the union. Plymouth never possessed a royal charter. It ranged nevertheless with its neighbors as regards the actual management of its affairs till its union with Massachusetts (1691). New Hampshire and Maine, being disputed territory, had during their earlier history no very definite political status. The claims of Massachusetts over the former were settled adversely, and in 1679 New Hampshire was made a royal province. As for Maine, by purchase from the heirs of Gorges Massachusetts secured a title in that quarter (1677), that is, to the portion between the Piscataqua and Kennebec rivers. In general, it may be said that New England, during the whole middle portion of the seventeenth century was virtually a cluster of self-governed republics.
Among these free states, community of feeling and interest led Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and New Haven to enter into a species of confederation (1643). The arrangement had considerable significance for New England affairs till the consolidation of New Haven with Connecticut (1662-1665). In their internal administration these colonies were closely akin. The stamp of Puritanism was upon them a11. Their people were generally hardy, frugal, and enterprising. Education was cared for as in no other colonies. As early as 1636-38, fifty years before a like enterprise was executed in any other English settlement, Harvard College was founded. Illiteracy among those born in the country was comparatively unknown. Social life bore traces of an austere spirit. The laws were stringent. Yet they constituted no such strait-jacket as those have been wont to imagine who have based their notions on the fabulous "blue laws" of New Haven. In no part of New England was there so near an approach to a genuine Draconian code as that under which Virginia was placed for an interval in her early history. Compared with contemporary European codes those of Massachusetts and Connecticut were unquestionably humane.
The closing part of the Stuart era was a time of gloom and disaster for the New England colonies. Charles II. canceled the charter of Massachusetts in 1684. James II. was minded to treat those of Rhode Island and Connecticut in like manner. New England was joined with New York under the supervision of a royal governor. The former system of self-rule was effectually swept away, and James was prepared to exemplify the theory that colonies are only appendages of the crown, when the Revolution of 1688 made him an exile from his kingdom. With the accession of William III. Rhode Island and Connecticut resumed their charters. Massachusetts, however, failed to recover the full measure of her liberties. Under the new charter which was granted her in 1691 the governor and deputy-governor were appointees of the crown. From this date to the Declaration of Independence there were no other colonies which ranked with Rhode Island and Connecticut in respect of political privileges.
The examples of proprietary governments were Maryland, Carolina, including both the northern and the southern province, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania along with Delaware. Georgia does not properly fall under this description, the trustees for founding that colony having rather the character of temporary managers than that of owners. Their right ended after twenty years, and Georgia then assumed the status of a royal colony. By a royal charter given in 1639 Ferdinando Gorges was made Lord Proprietor of the Province of Maine, with full powers of government. But his trans-Atlantic kingdom never became much more than a parchment affair.
In Maryland - the earliest example of the proprietary government--we have that type presented in all its length and breadth. By the terms of the charter Lord Baltimore was made the real sovereign of Maryland, the owner of the land, and the head of the legislative, judicial, and military systems within its limits; and what was secured to him personally was secured also to his heirs. In much the same terms Pennsylvania was conveyed to William Penn and his heirs. With intervals of interruption this form of government continued in these colonies till the war of Independence. In the two provinces of New Jersey it had a much shorter history. Proprietary rule ceased in them in 1702, after which they were united to form a royal province. In the Carolinas the rule of the proprietaries was practically overthrown in 1719, and ten years later their right was wholly canceled. From the latter date North and South Carolina held each the status of a province under the crown. In general the proprietaries acted the part of liberal sub-monarchs and granted their subjects a fair share of political privileges. Those who held the Carolinas seem to have given the most ground of complaint; not so much that they wished to rule despotically as that they had an inordinate desire to illustrate political speculations. Having gotten up, with the aid of John Locke, an elaborate scheme of official dignities and class distinctions, they wished to make the colonists the mediums of displaying its merits. Thus, with a perseverance worthy of a better cause, they pressed their "Fundamental Constitutions" upon a people to whom they were in no wise suited.
New York after its surrender to the English remained in the condition of a royal colony,
Technically speaking, there was an era of proprietary rule, but the proprietor, the Duke of York, was heir to the crown, and on his accession New York fell into the ordinary relation of a royal colony.and for the greater part of the time enjoyed about the same political privileges as were conceded to Massachusetts under the charter of William III. During the period of Dutch control the most distinctive feature in its government was the full-blown feudal system which was introduced under the direction of the West India Company.
In the internal government of the colonies generally there were three main factors, the governor, the governor's council, and the assembly chosen by the people, the second being the prototype of the State senate.
Such was the political school in which were trained the communities that were to found the great republic of the western world. Separate units, with different antecedents and points of obvious dissimilarity, they felt the connecting bond of a common lore for civil liberty. Hence the attempts of England to manacle their industries, to control their trade, and to impose taxes upon them without their consent, provoked a common resentment, which at length issued in a united declaration of independence.
When we speak of a common resentment and consequent uprising, the expression must be taken with a qualification. Recent writers justly notice the fact that the Revolutionary War was not altogether the war of one country against another. There were Tories in this country, and in some regions they formed no small percentage of the population. There were friends of the struggling colonists in England, leaders in Parliament who openly espoused their cause, and counted their victory in America a necessary safeguard for the cause of liberty in England. The war was a struggle of party with party, of the party holding liberal principles in both countries with the conservative upholders of arbitrary government in both.
The majority in America had sore need of the help of the minority in England. The achievement of independence was a desperate enterprise. It was not, however, one whit more desperate than the work of construction which was undertaken immediately afterward. Men who had no special motive to prophesy evil declared at the time that such diverse political units as were the colonies, scattered along such an extent of territory, could by no possibility be compacted into a stable government. That the task should have been successfully achieved shows that there were statesmen in the field quite above the rank of the ordinary manufacturers of paper constitutions. In truth, the nation which blesses the Divine Providence that gave a Washington and others to lead through the smoke and din of battle may well pour out equal thanksgiving for the Madison, the Hamilton, the Washington and others who, in the time of peace, wrought out the Federal Constitution and secured its adoption. No single group of statesmen in any country has ever reared a nobler monument of political wisdom.
That the unique structure, however, had one serious blemish was not hid even from those by whose hands it was shaped. They reluctantly admitted the blemish because they considered it impassible otherwise to unite the colonies into a single nation. Thus resulted the compromise with slavery, --a postponing of trouble to fall in tenfold volume upon a later generation, which may have had, however, more than tenfold strength to bear the ordeal.
To one who knows how firm a hold slavery had upon the whole South before the middle of this century, a surprise can hardly fail to come, as he reads for the first time the numerous declarations and protests against it which were put on record at the close of the colonial period.
The traffic in human flesh had indeed been practised with little compunction in all the colonies. It was recognized in their several statute-books. Rhode Island, it is true, passed a law in 1652 limiting the enslavement of Negroes, as well as of other bondmen, to a period of ten years. But it cannot be said that the law was steadily enforced. The northern colonies as well as the southern had their slaves, though in much smaller numbers in proportion to their population. For any colony to have excluded African bondmen would have been in direct contravention of the will of the mother country. It was a favorite item in the mercantile policy of England to keep an open slave market in her American dependencies. Even before the famous clause,-the so-called asiento, -- in the treaty of Utrecht, (1713) had given her a relative monopoly of the slave traffic, she would not tolerate a legislative restriction of it in any province under the crown. Of course after the enormous extension of the traffic had fostered a corresponding greed, she was still less inclined to admit restriction. It was but a continuation of the policy which had been pursued in the preceding years when in 1770 the King sent an instruction to the Governor of Virginia, commanding him, "upon pain of the highest displeasure, to assent to no law by which the importation of slaves should be in any respect prohibited or obstructed." 1 Bancroft, History of the United States, iii. 410.
This governmental fostering of an inhuman traffic had begun, not far from the date of the above instruction, to provoke criticism on both sides of the Atlantic. Among the colonies there was a marked quickening of conscience on the subject, beginning near the middle of the century, -when the Quakers inaugurated their effective opposition to slavery,--and showing tokens of increasing vitality till the adoption of the Federal Constitution in 1789. In the northern colonies the small profit of the institution provided a favorable ground for the spread of the moral antipathy against it which some of the more generous and thoughtful minds entertained. In this quarter, therefore, the struggle for independence was the signal for the legal abolition of slavery. The same era of enlarged thought upon the essential rights of men called forth also many adverse comments on the system of human bondage from the southern communities. The leading statesmen of Virginia -- Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Mason, Richard Henry Lee, and Washington --all spoke against it, some of them in very positive terms. Jefferson denounced it in the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, and afterwards characterized it in terms which might well-nigh have satisfied the zeal of the typical abolitionist. The first assembly of colonial representatives, in 1774, passed a resolution against the further importation of slaves, and in 1787 the proposition to exclude slavery from the northwestern territories received the assent of a11 the southern States. In fact only two States, South Carolina and Georgia, seem to have been at that time thoroughly wedded to slavery.
1 For sixteen years Negro slavery was excluded from Georgia. The motive for the regulation may have been considerations of prudence as well as humanitarian zeal. At any rate, shortly after the repeal of the restriction, the slave code of Georgia indicated very little tenderness for the bondman. A slave could be put to death for burning a stack of rice or barrel of pitch. Striking a white person entailed the same penalty in case of a third offense, or even for a first offense if the assault resulted in a grievous wound. Teaching slaves to write was strictly prohibited.But for the necessity of conciliating them, it is probable that no recognition of this form of human oppression would have been allowed to mar the constitution of the republic.
2 Some of the principal works consulted in connection with the English colonies are the following: Bancroft, History of the United States; Narrative and critical History of America, edited by Justin Winsor; Palfrey, History of New England; C. W. Elliott, The New England History; S. G. Arnold, History of the State of Rhode Island; J. R. Brodhead, History of the State of New york; J. T. Scharf, History of Maryland; E. D. Neill, The Colonization of America, The Founders of Maryland, and Virginia Carolorum; F. L. Hawks, History of North Carolina; C. C. Jones, History of Georgia; John Fiske, The Beginnings of New England; also, the Critical Period of American History; J. A. Doyle, The English in America.