« FöregåendeFortsätt »
1 receipt of a paper from persons that desired to settle near the Cape Fear, in which our considerations are as low as it is possible for us to descend. This was not intended for your meridian, where we hope to find more facile people, who by your interest may settle upon better terms for us, which we leave to your management, with our opinion that you grant as much as is possible rather than deter any from planting there.
“ The reason of giving you power to settle two governors, that is, of either side of the river ; one is, because some persons, that are for liberty of conscience, may desire a governor of their own proposing, which those on the other side of the river may not so well like. Our desire being to encourage those people to plant abroad, and to stock well those parts with planters, incites us to comply always with all sorts of persons as far as possibly we can.”
Thus it appears that the inhabitants of Old Town Creek lost no time in bringing their settlement to the attention of the proprictaries; and that they contended for freedom of conscience, the power to choose their own governor, and for other important privileges. The covetous noblemen by whom this paper was prepared were chiefly anxious to get planters on almost any terms; but they hoped to find at Albemarle "a more facile people.” How far these hopes were realized will be seen hereafter.
XIV. The colony at Old Town Creek did not flourish; and, having got into difficulties with the Indians, finally abandoned the country, and went on a visit to Massachusetts. Some there were who remained till the year 1667; and it is possible that a remnant of the colony became permanently fixed in the country.
The settlers on Albemarle received the early attention of Sir William Berkely; and William Drummond was appointed their governor.
Berkely had previously visited the colony; and no doubt his observation of the character of the people induced him to select Drummond for their ruler. This latter was an emigrant from Scotland to Virginia, probably a Presbyterian, a sedate, educated gentleman, of upright character, of an inflexible soul, and strong attachment to liberty; and, in the subsequent troubles of Virginia during the celebrated rebellion of Bacon, played an important and honourable part; he and his wife, Sarah Drummond, exhibiting the highest and noblest virtues, with a heroism and devotion to principle that give a melancholy interest to their brief and glorious history. Where he imbibed his philosophy, is not known; but doubtless his residence in Carolina tended to fix
in his mind those great maxims which he promulgated a century too soon in Virginia, and to which he fell an illustrious and purehearted martyr. A simple form of government was instituted; an assembly was allowed, an easy tenure of lands, freedom of conscience and conduct, and the people left pretty much to themselves.
XV. In the year 1663, some planters of Barbadoes, desiring to better their condition, fitted out an expedition under Captain Hilton, to examine the soil of the neighbouring territory; and in December it entered the Cape Fear, and found the now deserted settlement at Old Town Creek.
They purchased of the Indians a tract of land thirty-two miles square, on the Cape Fear River, and begged of the proprietaries a confirmation of the purchase and a separate charter of govern
Their request was in part granted; and Sir John Yeamons, the son of a cavalier, and who had become a Barbadoes planter, was appointed governor, (1663,) with a jurisdiction extending from the Cape Fear to the St. Mathew in Florida. The country was called Clarendon; and, instructed to make things easy to the people of New England, from whence the greatest supplies were expected, Sir John, in the autumn of 1665, led a band of emigrants from Barbadoes, and on the south bank of the Cape-Fear River laid the foundation of a town. The trade of the little colony, in boards, shingles, and staves, became profitable; emigration increased, and in 1666 the plantation contained eight hundred souls. From Barbadoes, whose climate was not so pleasant, numbers continued to emigrate; and Yeamons, understanding the nature of colonial trade, managed its affairs with prudence.
XVI. ACCORDING to the charter of 1665, laws for the government of the colony and of particular parts were to be enacted " by and with the advice, consent, and approbation of the freemen of the said province, or territory, or of the freemen of the county, barony, or colony, for which such law or constitution shall be made;" and for the enacting of said laws the proprietaries were required, as often as necessary, to convene the said freemen or their delegates.
The reader of North-Carolina history, as it has been written, will sometimes be bewildered by accounts of several governors existing and exercising authority at the same time; and he will look in vain for an explanation of the anomaly. This is found in the clause quoted above : legislative assemblies could be convened in separate counties or colonies; and governors, acting for the proprietaries, were appointed for these different settlements in the same province. Yeamons and Drummond, or Stephens, his successor, perhaps held commission at the same time; oné was governor, not of the province, but of the county of Clarendon, and the other of the county of Albemarle, in the province of Carolina.
The proprietaries, anxious to promote the settlement of the country, were, at first, prudent in their measures; and to this worldly wisdom, or covetous disposition, is perhaps to be attributed the following clause in their last patent : - And that no person or persons unto whom such liberty (of settling, &c.) shall be given, shall be in any way molested, punished, or disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinion or practice in matters of religious concernments, who do not actually disturb the civil peace of the province, county, or colony that they shall make their abode; but all and every such person or persons may, from time to time, and at all times, freely and quietly have and enjoy his and their judgments and consciences, in matters of religion, throughout the said province.”
The first legislative body known to the history of NorthCarolina, commenced in 1666, and petitioned the proprietors to permit the people of Albemarle to hold their lands
the terms that the people of Virginia held theirs; a prayer which, on the first of May, 1668, was granted, in an instrument called the Great Deed. This grant was made, or rather addressed, to “Samuel Stevens, Esq., Governor of our County of Albemarle, and the Isles and Islets within ten leagues thereof;" by which language some idea may be formed of the jurisdiction of the first governors of Albemarle.
William Drummond left the colony in the year 1667; and in October of that year, Samuel Stevens was appointed in his place.
XVII. In the autumn of 1669, the assembly of Albemarle was again conyened; and at this session were framed a few simple laws suited to the exigency of the times, and the wisdom of which was manifest from the fact that they were in force for more than half a century.
Among other enactments equally well adapted to the state of the country, marriage was made a civil contract, requiring for its validity nothing but the consent of parties before a magistrate,
with witnesses. Strangers were prohibited from trading with the Indians; and as every adventurer who joined the colony received a bounty in lands, frauds were checked by withholding a perfect title till the emigrant should have resided two years in the colony. The members of this early legislature, probably, received no compensation : to meet the expenses of the governor and council, a fee of thirty pounds of tobacco was exacted in
The colony of Albemarle was literally the nursery of liberty; without inducements to tempt disputative theologians, politicians, or noble adventurers, it was happily free from the religious and political inequalities which follow in the wake of these.
It was a land of peace ; it was involved in no territorial disputes, with ambitious and larcenous designs on the rights of its neighbours, had no heretics to scourge, no witches to burn, and no social orders warring on each other and obstructing the course of public justice by their private feuds. It was the home of simplicity, quiet, and unadulterated religion; the general refuge of that select few, that wise sect of philosophers, who attend. exclusively to their own concerns.
As much may be said also of the colony on the Cape Fear; it had its gentry and men of rank, but they made no pretensions and exacted no peculiar privileges. They came to Carolina, not to promote theories or enjoy the honours of rank; they came to plant, and to better their fortunes by subduing and replenishing the earth.
THE FUNDAMENTAL CONSTITUTIONS OF CAROLINA: THE PHI.
LOSOPHY OF ART AND THE WISDOM OF NATURE COME IN CONFLICT.
XVIII. A DISTINGUISHED politician once boasted that he had never owed an obligation to any man: a boast as false as that of the vainglorious Spaniard, in whose epitaph it was declared that he had never known fear. But if the boast had been true, instead of being a recommendation to office, it amounted to a disqualification. Men of the same natures must be the judges of the motives and actions of each other; men of the same destiny, and subject to the same visitations of want, disease, accident, and misfortune, must legislate for their common condition. Jesus Christ, before he became our Judge and King, took on himself the infirmities of our nature, was born of a woman, and subjected to all the calamities which flesh is heir to.
He only is fit to make laws for a people who has experienced the condition of that people; who knows, by having felt them, the hardships, the disabilities, and the necessities under which they labour.
This is the wisdom of nature, who, in all her works, is perfect; and yet this simple rule of government was discovered by planters, in log-cabins, nearly six thousand years after the creation of the world, and more than sixteen centuries after the example of Christ was placed before the eyes of all mankind.
The legislators of the Old World were privileged orders; and it was a rule there to consider that the more any one was disconnected from the common lot, the more capable he was of making laws for that condition.
Is not this an absolute absurdity? And yet it comprised the political wisdom of many centuries, while improvement followed art: in America, nature was found again.
Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, one of the eight proprietaries of Carolina, was the highest specimen of an infidel statesman of the Old World. Intellectual by nature, and born to wealth and rank, he had enjoyed and made diligent use of every opportunity of learning.
A legislator by birth, he had much political experience, during the most interesting and stormy period of English history; and, in England, was an advocate of rather liberal principles.
The proprietaries of Carolina, after the grant of their new charter, in 1665, and as their colonies began to increase in number and grow in importance, desired to establish a government commensurate with the vastness and dignity of the country which they owned; and Shaftesbury was deputed to frame, for the dawning states, a constitution worthy to endure for ever.
At this time, John Locke, the celebrated author of a treatise on the human understanding, though not then known to fame, was in the meridian of his life and powers; and, with an intellect and accomplishments equal to those of Shaftesbury, was of a temperament altogether different. He was mild, gentle, and ingenuous; a devoted lover of truth, and a sincere believer in the revealed word of God.
He was afterwards considered the first intellect of England during his day; and he it was, with the aid and advice of Shaftesbury, who drew up a form of government for Carolina. Both were masters of the political philosophy of the Old World; but neither had ever crossed the Atlantic, and witnessed the simple systems of the New.