Слике страница
PDF
ePub

dent of the colony, by James II. then king of England; together with Maine, New Hampshire, and Narragansett. Narragansett, as well as New Hampshire, had been decreed to belong to the crown, in opposition to the conflicting claims of several individuals, and of Massachusetts. Sixteen persons. were joined with Dudley, in the government of these places. They were taken from all the colonies, of which they were to be the rulers; and most of them had been in public stations before. There was no provision made for a house of representatives; and Mr. Danforth said, that without this, the people would be little better than slaves.

When Dudley laid his commission before the general court, which was in session at the time, or soon after his arrival from England, they protested against it, as a measure of gross usurpation, and appealed to his patriotism, and his conscience, for reasons to justify him in accepting such an appointment.* He evaded a direct reply, and referred to the authority of the king, by whom he had been commissioned. But his period of power was short, and was not particularly oppressive. It was the nature of the government established, and the seizing of the charter, which alarmed the people, and excited the popular indignation against the measure. The principles of Dudley were known to be in favor of arbitrary power; for he said, while agent in England, in reply to some friend of liberty, who was contending for the preservation of the charter, "that the people in the colony must not suppose that the rights of Eng

royal grace. But they concluded, after due deliberation, and the people generally approved of their resolution, "that it was better to die by the hands of others, than by their own." They professed themselves to be true and loyal subjects of his majesty, but said "they could not consent to give up their charter, nor surrender the rights they had enjoyed under it; that they would make their humble address to God, and in due time to the king, for relief." From this firm declaration, there were some dissentients, as there had been in most of the similar resolutions for several preceding years. There seems to have been two political parties; one of which was deeply imbued with the principles of civil liberty, and the other was ready to submitt o the royal prerogatives, and the oppressive measures of the parent

state.

They objected, that there was no certain and determinate rule for the administration of justice; and what did appear was too arbitrary; that the subjects were abridged of their liberties, as Englishmen, both as to legislation and taxes; that all power was transferred to the president and council, and no house of representatives provided for; that it concerned him to consider, whether such a state of things were safe for him or the people; that if he were satisfied with the commission, and felt bound to govern the people under it, they would not give their consent, but would demean themselves as loyal subjects of the king. At the same time, they ordered the papers relating to the charter, and to the titles to lands, to be put into the hands of a committee for safe keeping.

lishmen would follow them to the ends of the earth." Dudley had a quarrel with Randolph, at this period; a proof, that mere political aspirants, and selfish rulers, have little principle, and act in concert often, only with a view to personal advantage. Several of those associated with Dudley were excellent characters, and they probably had a favorable influence on his public conduct.

At the close of the year in which he received his commission, (1686) Dudley was succeeded as chief magistrate of Massachusetts, by Sir Edmund Andros, who had been some time governor of New York. He now received a commission to govern all the New England colonies.* Andros was a military character, and of known arbitrary principles. It was feared, that he would govern rather from caprice and prejudice, than with just and equitable purposes. Nor did the fears of the people prove unfounded. The press was taken under his special care and inspection; and under the pretence of religious toleration, the Episcopalians received marks of peculiar favor and support. Randolph, who was justly obnoxious to the people, for his enmity, and his arbitrary conduct in past years, had unbounded influence with the governor. He acted as Judge of Probate, and Secretary of the colonies, as well as collector of the customs; and exacted much higher fees than had ever been required. He also commanded all. who had business of this kind, to attend on him at his own house.

The counsellors of Andros were, probably, a check upon his purposes and measures. The greater part of them were friends of civil liberty, and could not but have used their influence in the cause of justice and equity. But some of them were less devoted to the interests of the people, and the cause of freedom; and such were often with him, ready to flatter his vanity, and to approve his conduct. The measure which gave the most general alarm, perhaps, and tended to the most extensive evil, was a declaration, and order, that all the titles to land in the colony were invalid, or incomplete. The reason given, was, that the charter was vacated, and that the fee was in the crown. The people were required to take a confirmation from the governor, and most exorbitant fees were demanded.‡ An

This is the language of his commission-but it does not appear that Connecticut was included.

The counsellors were Dudley, Stoughton, Winthrop, Bulkley, and Tyng, of Massachusetts, Hinckley, Bradford, Lothrop, and Walley, of Plymouth, Coggeshall, Usher, and Wharton, of New Hampshire, Arnold, Clark, Newbury, and Smith, of Rhode Island, and Narragansett.

Andros' salary was £1200 sterling, paid from England, (as was proposed, in 1673, to provide the royal governor's stipend) yet the motto of his official seal was "nunquam libertas gratior extat.'

address and protest were forwarded to the king, complaining of the oppressive conduct of Andros* and of Randolph ; in which they pleaded the original grant, in November, 1620, to the council of Plymouth, in England, and of 1628-9, from that council to the company, by which Massachusetts was settled; the confirmation of Charles I. of the grant, and his charter for a government, with a governor, assistants, and a general court, to make laws, (not repugnant to England,) and to dispose of lands as they might choose; their purchase, also, of the native Indians; possession for nearly sixty years; and the great cost and charge attending the settlements, without expense to England.

Andros and his council, or a part of them, proceeded to levy taxes, in an arbitrary manner. In some towns, payment was refused, and respectable citizens were fined and imprisoned. The complaints of the people became general. There were

no acts of violence, but strong disapprobation was manifested as to these oppressive and arbitrary proceedings. Rev. Increase Mather was deputed, by some men of influence, and ardent friends of liberty, to proceed to England, and state their grievances to the king.

In the spring of 1689, the people, oppressed by the arbitrary measures of Andros and Randolph, and impatient for deliverance from such odious thraldom, on receiving a report of the revolution in England, but before there was formal intelligence of it, seized the governor, and some of his official friends, and placed them in confinement; the captain of an English frigate, then in the harbor of Boston, was of the number. A temporary government was immediately formed, of those who had been magistrates or representatives, and called "a committee for the safety of the people, and the conservation of the peace of the colony." Bradstreet, who was governor in 1686, and more than eighty years old, was appointed president; Addington, secretary, and Wait Winthrop, commander of the militia. This whole committee was very respectable, both for talents and patriotism. They gave notice to the government of England of what proceedings had taken place in Massachusetts, and requested advice and direction in the case. They were directed to continue the government, as it was before the appointment of Dudley and Andros, and orders were also

* While Andros was governor of Massachusetts, he suspended one of the counsellors, who probably opposed some of his arbitrary measures; and threatened to shut up the doors of a church in Boston, because the proprie tors declined having the episcopal service performed in it. Under the plea of toleration, he was partial, arbitrary, and oppressive.

received for the release of Andros, Randolph, and others. Randolph, on his return to England, preferred many serious complaints against the colony; but the agents, then in that country, were attentive and faithful to the interests of Massachusetts; and those in power in the kingdom were far more favorable in their views and purposes to the people of New England, than the administration of Charles and James.* These complaints, however, had an unfavorable influence with the government, after the revolution; for the ministry and parliament were then disposed to keep the colonies in due dependence and subjection; and William was as ready to maintain the authority and prerogatives of the crown, as his predecessors had been. Andros, and others of similar political views, were retained in power under the new administration.

Massachusetts was without a charter till the year 1692; but during this period, the courts were held and representatives were chosen, as before the usurpation of Andros. The people had confidence in those who were in power, and yielded ready obedience to their orders.

During the administration of Andros, particularly the latter part of it, the Indians at the eastward, within the territory then claimed and possessed by the French, made frequent attacks on the frontier settlements of the English, and plundered and murdered many of the inhabitants. But Andros, from friendship to that nation, or from a mistaken policy, failed to give the people efficient protection. Yet, on one occasion, he went to Pemaquid, a few leagues east of Kennebec, or Sagadahoc, and the eastern bounds of the English settlements, at that period; but the expedition did not prevent future aggressions. 1690 an attack was made, under Sir William Phipps, an enterprising, resolute character, against Port Royal, in Nova Scotia, which proved highly successful; and he took possession, in the name of the English government, of the coast, from that place to Penobscot, hitherto occupied by the French.

In

This success led to a formidable expedition against Quebec, the same year, commanded also by Phipps, which consisted of nearly forty vessels and two thousand men, most of whom were impressed for the service, in Massachusetts. A fleet sailed from Boston, and land forces proceeded by way of the lakes and Montreal, for this purpose. But the expedition was got up with such haste, that proper military stores and provisions were not provided; the weather was unfavorable, (it being

One of the professed objects of the revolution in England was "to put the liberties of the people out of the reach of arbitrary power."

late in the season:) incorrect reports were made, as to the best place to land and make the attack; and the small pox prevailed among the land forces also. After one unsuccessful attack with part of the men, it was resolved to relinquish the undertaking, and such portion of the fleet as was not wrecked on the coast, returned to Boston.

This proved a very expensive and disastrous affair to Massachusetts. To meet the expenses and pay the men, who were clamorous in demanding their wages, which amounted to more than £50,000 sterling; paper money was issued, which was the occasion of great and continued distress, for many years, though the measure afforded temporary relief.

The obtaining of a new charter, and defining the powers conferred, or allowed, was a work of much difficulty. It was first attempted to have the former charter renewed, with some additional powers; but this was found to be impossible. The professed friends of the colony, in England, were opposed to the grant or recognition of powers, to the extent solicited by the agents of Massachusetts. It was soon apparent, that no charter would be issued, giving even equal powers with the former. When Mr. Mather objected to the project of a charter, prepared by the officers of the crown, he was told, "that his approbation was not necessary, that the colony was an applicant for favors, and must not dictate in the affair." That which was finally matured and issued differed from the old one, in some important respects, less favorable to the power of the colonial government, and to the urgent wishes of the agents. It united Plymouth,* and Maine, and Nova Scotia, and the islands between, to Massachusetts, with the style and title of "The Province of Massachusetts Bay." By this charter, the king reserved to the crown the right to appoint the governor, lieutenant governor, and the secretary. The assistants, or counsellors, were to be chosen, as before, by the general court. The governor had a full negative on the representatives, and with advice of the counsellors, was to appoint all officers in the province. The council was to consist of twenty-eight members, four of whom to be from Plymouth, and three from Maine. A voter must have personal estate of £40 sterling, or an income of 40s. a year. At their first meet

It included Martha's Vineyard, also, which had been under the government of New York. Rev. Mr. Wiswall, agent for Plymouth colony, objected to the union of that colony with Massachusetts; believing, probably, that it would thus lose much of its importance; but when he learnt there was a plan to annex that colony to New York, he readily consented to its being a part of Massachusetts.

« ПретходнаНастави »