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    Ch. 5: Liberty, Slavery, and Tyranny

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    Chapter 6
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    We left the colony at Jamestown emerging from thick darkness and much
    tribulation toward the light. Some distance was still to be traversed
    before full light and easement were attained; but fortune, upon the whole,
    was kinder to Virginia than to most of the other settlements; and though
    clouds gathered darkly now and then, and storms threatened, and here and
    there a bolt fell, yet deliverance came beyond expectation. Something
    Virginia suffered from Royal governors, something from the Indians,
    something too from the imprudence and wrong-headedness of her own people.
    But her story is full of stirring and instructive passages. It tells how a
    community chiefly of aristocratic constitution and sympathies, whose
    loyalty to the English throne was deep and ardent, and whose type of life
    was patrician, nevertheless were won insensibly and inevitably to espouse
    the principles of democracy. It shows how, with honest men, a king may be
    loved, and the system which he stands for reverenced and defended, while
    yet the lovers and apologists choose and maintain a wholly different
    system for themselves. The House of Stuart had none but friends in
    Virginia; when the son of Charles the First was a fugitive, Virginia
    offered him a home; and the follies and frailties of his father, and the
    grotesque chicaneries of his grandfather, could not alienate the
    colonists' affection. Yet, from the moment their Great Charter was given
    them, they never ceased to defend the liberties which it bestowed against
    every kingly effort to curtail or destroy them; and on at least one
    occasion they fairly usurped the royal prerogative. They presented, in
    short, the striking anomaly of a people acknowledging a monarch and at the
    same time claiming the fullest measure of political liberty till then
    enjoyed by any community in modern history. They themselves perceived no
    inconsistency in their attitude; but to us it is patent, and its meaning
    is that the sentiment of a tradition may be cherished and survive long
    after intelligence and experience have caused the thing itself to be
    consigned to the rubbish-heap of the past.

    So long as Sir Thomas Smythe occupied the president's chair of the London
    Company, there could be no hope of substantial prosperity for the
    Jamestown emigrants. He was a selfish and conceited satrap, incapable of
    enlightened thought or beneficent action, who knew no other way to magnify
    his own importance than by suffocating the rights and insulting the
    self-respect of others. He had a protégé in Argall, a disorderly ruffian
    who was made deputy-governor of the colony in 1617. His administration
    was that of a freebooter; but the feeble and dwindling colony had neither
    power nor spirit to do more than send a complaint to London. Lord Delaware
    had in the meantime sailed for Virginia, but died on the trip; Argall was,
    however, dismissed, and Sir George Yeardley substituted for him--a man of
    gracious manners and generous nature, but somewhat lacking in the force
    and firmness that should build up a state. He had behind him the best men
    in the company if not in all England: Sir Edward Sandys, the Earl of
    Southampton, and Nicolas Ferrar. Smythe had had resignation forced upon
    him, and with him the evil influences in the management retired to the
    background. Sandys was triumphantly elected governor and treasurer, with
    Ferrar as corporation counsel; Southampton was a powerful supporter. They
    were all young men, all royalists, and all unselfishly devoted to the
    cause of human liberty and welfare. Virginia never had better or more
    urgent friends.

    Yeardley, on his arrival, found distress and discouragement, and hardly
    one man remaining in the place of twenty. The colonists had been robbed
    both by process of law and without; they had been killed and had died of
    disease; they had deserted and been deported; they had been denied lands
    of their own, or the benefit of their own labor; and they had been
    permitted no part in the management of their own affairs. The rumor of
    these injuries and disabilities had got abroad, and no recruits for the
    colony had been obtainable; the Indians were ill-disposed, and the houses
    poor and few. Women too were lamentably scanty, and the people had no root
    in the country, and no thought but to leave it. Like the emigrants to the
    Klondike gold-fields in our own day, they had designed only to better
    their fortunes and then depart. The former hope was gone; the latter was
    all that was left.

    Yeardley's business, in the premises, was agreeable and congenial; he had
    a letter from the company providing for the abatement of past evils and
    abuses, and the establishment of justice, security and happiness. He sent
    messengers far and wide, summoning a general meeting to hear his news and
    confer together for the common weal.

    Hardly venturing to believe that any good thing could be in store for
    them, the burgesses and others assembled, and crowded into the place of
    meeting. Twenty-two delegates from the eleven plantations were there, clad
    in their dingy and dilapidated raiment, and wide-brimmed hats; most of
    them with swords at their sides, and some with rusty muskets in their
    hands. Their cheeks were lank and their faces sunburned; their bearing was
    listless, yet marked with some touch of curiosity and expectation. There
    were among them some well-filled brows and strong features, announcing men
    of ability and thoughtfulness, though they had lacked the opportunity and
    the cue for action. Their long days on the plantations, and their uneasy
    nights in the summer heats, had given them abundant leisure to think over
    their grievances and misfortunes, and to dream of possible reforms and
    innovations. But of what profit was it? Their governors had no thought but
    to fill their own pockets, the council was powerless or treacherous, and
    everything was slipping away.

    It was in the depths of summer--the 30th of July, 1619. More than a year
    was yet to pass before the "Mayflower" would enter the wintry shelter of
    Plymouth harbor. In the latitude of Jamestown the temperature was almost
    tropical at this season, and exhausting to body and spirit. The room in
    which they met, in the governor's house in Jamestown, was hardly spacious
    enough for their accommodation: four unadorned walls, with a ceiling that
    could be touched by an upraised hand. It had none of the aspect of a hall
    of legislature, much less of one in which was to take place an event so
    large and memorable as the birth of liberty in a new world. But the
    delegates thronged in, and were greeted at their entrance by Yeardley, who
    stood at a table near the upper end of the room, with a secretary beside
    him and a clergyman of the Church of England on his other hand. The
    colonists looked at his urbane and conciliating countenance, and glanced
    at the document he held in his hand, and wondered what would be the issue.
    Nothing of moment, doubtless; still, they could scarcely be much worse off
    than they were; and the new governor certainly had the air of having
    something important to communicate. They took their places, leaning
    against the walls, or standing with their hands clasped over the muzzles
    of their muskets, or supporting one foot upon a bench; and the gaze of all
    was concentrated on the governor. As he opened the paper, a silence fell
    upon the assembly.

    Such, we may imagine, were the surroundings and circumstances of this
    famous gathering, the transactions of which fill so bright a page in the
    annals of the early colonies. The governor asked the clergyman for a
    blessing, and when the prayer was done suggested the choosing of a
    chairman, or speaker. The choice fell upon John Pory, a member of the
    former council. Then the governor read his letter from the company in

    The letter, in few words, opened the door to every reform which could
    make the colony free, prosperous and happy, and declared all past wrongs
    at an end. It merely outlined the scope of the improvements, leaving it to
    the colonists themselves to fill in the details. "Those cruel laws were
    abrogated, and they were to be governed by those free laws under which his
    majesty's subjects in England lived." An annual grand assembly, consisting
    of the governor and council and two burgesses from each plantation, chosen
    by the people, was to be held; and at these assemblies they were to frame
    whatever laws they deemed proper for their welfare. These concessions were
    of the more value and effect, because they were advocated in England by
    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

    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

    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.
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