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This exception was, in effect, nothing more or less than a new tax of the most odious and oppressive character, and the colony plainly recognised it as such, and refused to regard the exceptions, but paid the revenue as other debts, according to the new standard. And the governor, afraid to bring such a case before any court of law, which he well knew would expose his contemptible meanness, and yet afraid to allow his proclamation to be openly disregarded, which would have put an end at once to the authority of his edicts, was compelled, by the dilemma, to lower the value of the coin as suddenly as he had raised it. This was at once realizing all the worst anticipations of the legislature as to the arbitrary fluctuations in the standard of value, besides being bighly unjust and oppressive to such persons as had made payment of debts according to the new standard, and such as had given credit during the time of the alteration. The governors had, by some means, been suffered to exercise the power of dissolving the Assemblies, and this having now grown into a usage, was a favorite method of silencing their clamors; and they having rashly made the provision for the revenue perpetual, and put the control of that subject into the king's hands, were bound hand and foot, and could not control executive usurpation by stopping the wheels of government. The governor now made use of this dangerous power and dissolved the Assembly. The governor, thus left without a watch or control over his actions, proceeded to a vigorous exercise of executive powers. The unfortunate plant-cutters, who had merely been imprisoned, and such of them dismissed from time to time as would give assurance of penitence, and promise a peaceable demeanor, were now proceeded against with the utmost rigor, for what the king was pleased to call their treasonable conduct. But the noblest victim for tyrannical persecution was Robert Beverly, the former clerk of the Assembly, who had refused to give up its papers without authority from "his masters, the house of Burgesses.” For some reason, it seems that an inspection of journals was demanded by the council again in 1682, and Beverly again refusing to deliver them, was thrown into prison, in a king's ship, the Duke of York, then lying in the river, his persecutors being afraid to trust him to the keeping of the jails among his countrypen. While he was in prison, a committee of the council was appointed to seize the papers, which he, foreseeing this event, had secreted. The pretences for this imprisonment were the most frivolous that can well be imagined; he is accused of fomenting discord, and stirring up the late partial insurrections, but the only specific act of which he was accused, was setting on foot petitions for an Assembly. Under these arbitrary proceedings, he was detained a prisoner, denied the writ of habeas corpus, and hurried about from prison to prison, until the governor at last thought proper, after two years searching for charges, to coinmence a regular prosecution.
The accusation consisted of three heads :
1st. That he had broken open public letters directed to the Secretary's office, with the writs enclosed for calling an Assembly, in April, 1682, and took upon him the exercise of that part of the government which belongs to the Secretary's office, and was contrary to his;
2d. That he had made up the journal, and inserted his majesty's letter therein (which was first communicated to the house of Burgesses at their prorogation) after their prorogation ;
3d. That he had refused to deliver copies of the journal of the house of Burgesses in 1682, to the lieutenant-governor and council, saying, " that he might not do it without leave of his masters."
This was all which could be charged against this faithful officer, after so long an im. prisonment, and so long a preparation for the prosecution. But of course they will not bear scrutiny, being only a flimsy veil thrown over their designs, rather indicating a wish to hide the naked deformity of the prosecution, than actually concealing it.
Before this notable prosecution was ended, Lord Culpeper forfeited his commission, and was superseded by Lord Howard, who took the oaths of office on the 28th of February, 1684. His first measure was to call an assembly, which, as a popular act, induced the colony to hope some degree of mildness in his administration ; but these hopes were soon dissipated. He pursued the unfortunate plant-cutters with renovated vigor, and such of them as had been excepted in a proclamation of general pardon were now executed, and their estates, after paying officer's fees, appropriated to the governor's own use.
The assembly met and refused to proceed with business for the want of a clerk, as their former clerk was in prison, and they refused to elect another. In this situation of affairs the matter seems to have been compromised, the governor no doubt despairing of his conviction upon the absurd charges made, and Beverly and his friends willing to end his long imprisonment and sufferings, by asking pardon, at the same time not giving up the papers or the principles for which he suffered. Be this as it may, Beverly threw himself upon the mercy of the court, declining to employ counsel or make any defence, and was pardoned. Probably these long-continued sufferings, with other persecutions afterwards endured, injured the constitution of Beverly, for we find that he died prior to April, 1687. His noble conduct induced king James, the then reigning monarch, to deprive the Burgesses of the election of their own clerk, ordering the governor to elect him, and requiring the assembly to make the clerk, so elected, the usual allowance for his services.
The accession of James II. was proclaimed with the usual deFeb. 15, 1685. monstrations of respect in the colony, and compli
mentary assurances of loyalty on the one side, and gracious regard on the other, were exchanged between his subjects and the assembly. But nothing was done to secure the freedom of the colony, and Lord Howard took advantage of the succeeding recess of the assembly, to enlarge the fees and perquisites of his office, and to impose new ones without the advice or authority of the assembly. This body, which met in November, immediately took into consideration these arbitrary exactions, and passed spirited resolutions in reprobation of them, and made provision for the defence of the citizens from similar encroachments in future. To these acts the governor applied his negative, without assigning any reason. Lord Howard, not satisfied with thus stopping the legislation of the colony, proceeded in effect to acts of executive legislation, by issuing a proclamation, in obedience, he said, to the king's instructions, repealing several acts of the legislature, which were themselves repeals of former acts, and declaring the acts repealed by that body to be revived, and in full force, as before the passage of the repealing acts. This proclamation the assembly protested against as illegal and unwarrantable, as utterly subversive of the government, annihilating the right of the popular branch, and bringing all to bow in humble submission to the mercy of the prerogative. The spirited conduct of the Burgesses could not be enOct. 20, 1686.
dured by the governor, and he prorogued them.
The governor had sent to James an account of the conduct of this assembly. This representation produced in reply from James, a furious, quarrelsome order, calling their conduct mutinous, and attributing it to their “unquiet dispositions and sinister intentions to protract the time of their sitting to the great oppression of his subjects, from whom they received wages;" concluding by an order for the prosecution of their clerk Beverly, to whom he ascribes all of these evils.
In the same year, several persons were imprisoned and punished for treasonable expressions. The council was now as servile as the governor could wish, and he proceeded without interruption in his system of arbitrary innovation upon the established usages of the colony, and the liberties of its citizens.
The province of New York belonged to the king as proprietor as Nov. 10, 1687.
well as sovereign ; and, in order to strengthen this
his own estate, he sent orders for all the other colonies to assist in building forts, and supplying garrisons for its western frontier, alleging that these measures were equally necessary for the protection of all. In conformity to these orders a message was received from governor Dungan, requiring the quota of Virginia ; but the legislature refused to appropriate a man or a farthing for purposes from which they were to derive no benefit, but rather an injury, as the protection of the north-western frontier would drive the Indians further south, where they might commit their depredations upon the unprotected citizens with more impunity. While the colony was contending against their governor, a revo
lution in England had dethroned the sovereign, and placed 1689.
William and Mary upon the throne. This change, while it placed the council, which had made many loyal professions to James, in an awkward position, was an event producing unalloyed joy to the people of Virginia, as they could now hope for justice to be done to their oppressive governor.
Soon after this occurrence, the war broke out between the allied powers and Louis XIV. of France, and the colony was ordered to place itself in the best posture of defence.
The complaints of the Virginia legislature against their governor at length were taken up by the privy council, and although the charges against Howard were not tried, yet redress against his usurpation was granted, at the same time that the principles upon which they contended that their rights had been violated, were denied to be correct. Howard pleading ill-health, was not deprived of his commission for not returning to the colony; but as it was necessary that there should be a governor upon the eve of a war, Sir Francis Nicholson was sent over. His conduct was mild and conciliatory, and consequently popular; among other highly beneficial acts passed under his government, was one for the establishment of a college, which was very liberally endowed.
He was succeeded by Sir Edmund Andros as governor-in-chief, Sept. 20, 1692. administration by a sound judgment and a liberal
who is represented to have been actuated in his policy; to have been exact, diligent, and methodical in the management of business; of a conciliatory deportment, and great generosity. Sir Francis Nicholson was again made governor-in-chief, in November, 1698. He was an ambitious man, who had served in the capacity of a governor and deputy governor in several of the colonies, and taken great pains to become popular, and to make
himself well acquainted with the situation of all the colonies, their wants, their trade, and their capabilities, with a view to unite them, if possible, under one government, over which he hoped to obtain the appointment of governor-general. The pressure of war, with the combined force of the French and Indians, which seemed now about to fall upon the colonies, and rendered some union necessary for the purpose of defence, seemed highly favorable to his design.
The French, at an early day, conceived a correct idea of the importance of the British colonies in America. The Count De Callier, governor of Montreal, during his residence in Canada, after a long experience, derived from observations on the spot, had formed the bold project of separating in two the English colonies by the capture of New York. The success of this scheme would manifestly have destroyed that concert so necessary to harmony and efficiency of co-operation, and left the other colonies liable to be cut off in detail, and would effectually establish the safety of Canada, by enabling the French to keep in check the powerful savage confederation, composed of the Five Nations, which had lately, by a furious irruption, laid waste the country, even to the gates of Montreal and Quebec. This plan of Callier's was adopted Sept. 1692.
by the French government. A fleet was sent to the
bay of New York, with orders to retain possession of it until December, when, if no further orders were received, it was to sail for Port Royal, land its munition and stores, and return to France. The land force were to have marched from Quebec by the route of the Sorel River and Lake Champlain. This expedition was defeated by a destructive inroad of the Five Nations, which carried death and desolation over the whole country, even to the very gates of the capital. This unforeseen occurrence rendered it necessary to retain the whole force at home, in measures of self-defence, and saved New York, without her having to strike a blow in her own behalf.
The British government, daily becoming more sensible of the importance of the North American colonies, and seeing the danger to which they were exposed by the plan of De Callier, set on foot a plan of general defence in the year 1695, adjusting the quotas of each colony to the ratio of its population, and forwarding the scale to the different governors, to recommend for the adoption of the respective colonial assemblies. Several of the colonies rejected this scheme, because several of those which were thought most exposed wished to employ it as their own interest dictated. Among the refractory was Virginia, which could not be prevailed upon, by all the art and ingenuity of the governor, aided by his great enthusiasm in this his favorite plan, to vote a cent to the enterprise, to his inconceivable chagrin and mortification. Nicholson, finding his own efforts utterly unavailing, laid the matter before the king, and urged the propriety of forcing Virginia to see her true interests upon this occasion. William, in reply, recom
mended a new consideration of the matter by the General Assembly, alleging, upon the authority of Nicholson's report, “ that New York was the barrier of Virginia against the Indians and French of Canada ; and as such, it was but justice she should defend it." The assembly deemed it but due respect to his majesty to take the subject again into consideration, but found no reason to change their former opinion, declaring " that neither the forts then in being, nor any others that might be built in the province of New York, could in the least avail in the defence or security of Virginia ; for that either the French, or the northern Indians, might invade the colony, and not come within a hundred miles of such fort."
The failure of this great subject irritated the governor beyond expression; and excited in his mind the most inordinate antipathy to the assembly. He charged the conduct of the assembly to a spirit of rebellion, and inveighed against what he called its parsimony, in the most unmeasured terms, offering to pay the quota of Virginia out of his own pocket, and boasting afterwards that he had done it ; but, at the same time, taking the obligation of the gentleman to whom he gave the bills, that no use should be made of them until the queen should remit money to pay them. This affectation of generosity was designed to gain popularity with the other colonies.
EVENTS FROM THE YEAR 1705 TO THE TERMINATION OF THE FRENCH AND
Gov. Nicholson superseded by Nott, and he by Jennings.-Administration of God.
Spotswood--he effects a passage over the Blue Ridge. Drysdale governor-succeeded by Gooch.-Death of Rev. James Blair.—Notice of Col. Wm. Byrd.-Gooch's charge to the Grand Jury, against Presbyterians, Methodists, fc.—Burning of the Capitol at Williamsburg - Revision of the Colonial Laws.-Departure of Gooch.Dinwiddie governor.-Encroachments of the French.— Mission of George Washington beyond the Alleganies, to the French Commandant of a Fort—its inauspicious results.-Gov. Dinwiddie prepares to repel the encroachments of the French--Expe. dition against them under Col. Fry, and the erection of Fort Duquesne.-Washing. ton's skirmish with Jumonville--he erects Fort Necessity-he surrenders to the French, and marches back to Virginia.—The Burgesses pass a vote of thanks to him, Gov. Dinwiddie resolves to prosecute the war—the futility of his projects.- Arrival of Gen. Braddock.–Braddock's defeat.-Bravery of Washington and the Virginia troops.-Frontiers open to incursions from the savages.--Fauquier governor. Troops destined for the conquest of Duquesne rendezvous at Raystown. - Defeat of Major Grant, and heroism of Capt. Bullet.- Fort Duquesne evacuated.-End of the War.
The first half of the eighteenth century, to the breaking out of the French and Indian war, is extremely barren of incident in the history of Virginia. Very little more can be given than a list of