Conceived in Liberty

Volume 1

A New Land, A New People:

The American Colonies in The Seventeenth Century

Murray N. Rothbard

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Below are some quotes I enjoyed from Murray Rothbard’s phenomenal history of the early American colonies.



PART I  Europe, England, and the New World

1  Europe at the Dawn of the Modern Era

Feudalism (p. 15)

Western Europe, during the early Middle Ages, was a stagnant and war-torn region, burdened by feudalism, a hierarchical rule based on assumed and conquered land titles, and on the virtual enslavement of the peasantry, who worked as serfs in support of the ruling castes.

The Slave Trade Begins (p. 22)

In 1441, a few Negro slaves were brought back to Portugal, thus beginning the extensive and barbarous slave trade.

The “Right” to Conquer Exists Not (pp. 28–29)

The right to conquer, coercively convert, govern, and enslave the natives of the New World was subjected to intense criticism in a series of lectures in 1539 at the University of Salamanca by the great Dominican scholastic philosopher Francisco de Vitoria.  In international law based upon the natural law, insisted Vitoria, the native peoples as well as European peoples have full equality of rights.  No right of conquest by Europeans could result from crimes or errors of the natives, whether they be tyranny, murder, religious differences, or rejection of Christianity.  Having grave doubts of the right of the Spaniards to any government of the natives, Vitoria advocated peaceful trade, in justice and in practice, as against conquest, enslavement, and political power, whether or not the last mentioned were aimed at individual profit, tax revenue, or conversion to Christianity.  Although the Spanish government prohibited further discussion of these questions, the Vitoria lectures influenced the New Laws of 1542, which gave greater legal protection to the natives in America.

Nevertheless, there were defenders of imperialism in Spain who rejected international law and scholastic individualism and returned to the slave theories of the classical authors.  Based on the theory of natural servitude—that the majority of mankind is inferior and must be subdued to government by the ruling class, of course in the interest of that majority—these imperial apologists proposed that the natives be taught better morals, be converted, and be introduced to the blessings of economic development by being divided among the conquistadores, for whom they must labor.

The serfdom of the Indians was most strongly and zealously opposed by the Dominican missionary Bishop Bartolome de Las Casas.  Tireless in working to influence European public opinion against the practices of Spanish officials in America, Las Casas argued that all men must have freedom so that reason, which naturally inclines men to live together in peace, justice, and cooperation, can remain free and unhampered.  Therefore, concluded Las Casas, even pursuit of the great objective of conversion to Christianity cannot be used to violate these rights.  Not only was all slavery evil, but the natives had a right to live independently of European government.  The papacy, in 1537, condemned as heretical the concept that natives were not rational men or were naturally inferior persons.  These progressive views were also reflected in the abolition of conquistador feudalism in the New Laws of 1542; however, this abolition was revoked by the Spanish Crown three years later.

Capitalism Requires No Statism (pp. 31–32)

Too many historians have fallen under the spell of the interpretation of the late nineteenth-century German economic historians (for example, Schmoller, Bucher, Ehrenberg): that the development of a strong centralized nation-state was requisite to the development of capitalism in the early modern period.  Not only is this thesis refuted by the flourishing of commercial capitalism in the Middle Ages in the local and noncentralized cities of northern Italy, the Hanseatic League, and the fairs of Champagne—not to mention the disastrous economic retrogression imposed by the burgeoning statism of the fourteenth century.  It is also refuted by the outstanding growth of capitalist economy in free, localized Antwerp and Holland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  Thus the Dutch came to outstrip the rest of Europe while retaining medieval local autonomy and eschewing state-building, mercantilism, government participation in enterprise—and aggressive war.

There Goes Roanoke (pp. 39–40)

Having secured his monopoly grant of colonization, Sir Walter Raleigh “planted” in 1585 the first English colony in what would later be the United States, on Roanoke Island off the coast of present-day North Carolina.  The area had been first explored by Ralph Lane and Richard Grenville under Raleigh’s direction the previous year, and was named Virginia in honor of England’s virgin queen.  The new colony had few dedicated settlers, however, and the people returned to England two years later.  In 1587 still another Raleigh expedition, headed by the painter John White, tried to effect a permanent settlement of Roanoke Island.  Indeed, the first English child born in America, Virginia Dare, granddaughter of John White, was born that summer at Roanoke Colony.  But English interest in and communication with the tiny colony was cut off during the battle with the Spanish Armada, and White, stranded in England, could not return to Roanoke until 1591.  He could then find no trace of any of the colonists.  The first attempt at English colonization of America had totally failed.

The East India Trading Company (pp. 40–41)

The Dutch began in 1594 to form companies for distant voyages around Africa to India.  Their first fleet returned in 1597, thereby giving a new impetus to the activity of English merchants.  In 1598 alone, Dutch companies sent five fleets, totaling twenty-two ships, to the Indies; John Davis was the chief pilot of the Zeeland fleet.  By 1601 over a dozen Dutch fleets of almost seventy ships had sailed for the East Indies.  Because of renewed English voyages and conflicts with the Portuguese, the Dutch merchants forming the companies that had sent the ships to the East Indies began to amalgamate them, and in March 1602 all the Dutch companies merged into the United East India Company.

In September 1599, London merchants belonging to various trading companies, especially the Levant Company, formed an association on the model of the successful Dutch companies and petitioned the government to charter a company of London merchants having a monopoly of trade by sea to the East Indies.  The charter to the East India Company was granted on December 31, 1600, under the title of the “The Governor, and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies”; the Levant Company was granted a new charter to distinguish the monopoly areas of the two companies.  The governor named in the charter of the East India Company was Sir Thomas Smith (or Smythe).  Smith’s grandfather, Andrew Judd, had been a principal founder of the Muscovy Company.  His father had preceded him as a leading tax collector, and had been a key royal official in erecting the edifice of royal absolutism, high taxation, and economic restrictionism during the Elizabethan era.  Smith was governor also of the Muscovy Company and the Levant Company, of which he was a founder, and was also the principal member of the group of London merchants to whom Raleigh had in 1589 assigned his patent for American colonization.  Indeed, Smith was the governor of every one of England’s privileged companies then interested in foreign commerce and colonization.  Smith has been referred to as the greatest “merchant-prince” of his era, but it is clear that his status and wealth arose not from private trade, but from the governmental privileges of tax-farming and grants of monopoly.

Jamestown (pp. 43–44)

The London Virginia Company sent forth its first settlers in December 1606; they were carried then as in succeeding years on ships provided by the Muscovy Company, which long remained the major operator in the Virginia trade.  With them the colonists took the king’s instructions to the company, which concluded the requirement of a public oath of obedience by the colonists and a death penalty for all manner of crimes, including tumults, sedition, conspiracy, and adultery.  The president and the council of the company were empowered to make laws for the colonists, consistent with the laws of England, subject to revision by the Royal Council.

The ships landed at Chesapeake Bay the following May 6.  A settlement was founded thirty miles inland on the James River, called Jamestown, in honor pf the king.  This was the first sucessful English settlement in North America.  The colony of Virginia had begun.

2  New World, New Land

The Escape to a New Continent (pp. 46–47)

The Englishmen and other Europeans of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries faced westward to the New World in awe and in hope.  For here was a vast virgin continent, and its most striking feature was the millions of square miles of new and potentially highly productive land.  To a Europe beset by the incubus of feudalism and statism, of absolute monarchy, of state-controlled churches, of state restrictions on human labor and human enterprise; to a Europe with scarce land, which was engrossed by feudal and quasi-feudal landlords whose vast government-granted estates drained in rents the surplus over subsistence earned by the peasantry—to this Europe the new and vast land area appeared as potential manna from Heaven.  At home the mass of Europeans—middle class and peasants alike—faced centuries of weary struggle against the frozen cake of status restrictions, a network of taxes, feudal dues and rents, and controls and shackles by states and state-fostered guilds.  This was a relatively stagnant Old World, whose population pressed heavily upon the means of subsistence; this was a Europe but recently emerged from the secular depression into which the growth of statism had plunged it at the beginning of the fourteenth century.  But abroad they saw a quite different vision: new, productive, and virtually unoccupied land (with the important exception of the rather thinly populated Indians), a land relatively unencumbered with the feudalism and restrictions that humbled them at home.  In short, here at last was the opportunity for the individual to leave his unsatisfactory conditions at home to try to carve out of the wilderness a better life for himself and his family—a life offering him the freedom and opportunity to make his own way, stand on his own feet, and keep what he himself had earned.  It is not the privilege of many generations of men to experience a revolution—a breeze of fresh air upon the stagnant social structure—and an opportunity to break loose from the old mold and strike out afresh on one’s own.  Through the discovery of the New World, the men of the seventeenth century experienced at least the potential of such a revolution.  For the escape hatch to the untapped storehouse of the New World law always at hand.

The State (p. 47)

[T]he state [is] that institution that asserts its claim to a monopoly of legalized coercion in a given territorial area.

More on Feudalism (p. 48)

England, the major sovereign over the lands of North America, had been subjected to feudalism since at least the Norman Conquest of the eleventh century.  After the conquest of England in 1066, the conquerors parceled out large tracts of land to the ownership of their leading warlords, and this newly created nobility became the liege lords of the subdued peasantry.  Since the overwhelming mass of Englishmen were still engaged in agriculture, feudalism became the crucial fact about English—as well as other European—society.  The major attributes of the feudal system were: the granting of huge estates to landowning warlords, the coerced binding of the peasants (serfs) to their land plots, and hence to the rule of their lords, and the further bolstering by the state of feudal status through compulsory primogeniture (the passing on of the estate to the oldest son only) and entail (prohibiting the landowner from alienating—selling, breaking up, etc.—his land).  This process froze landlordship in the existing noble families, and prevented any natural market or genealogical forces from breaking up the vast estates.

Why Feudalism Did Not Fully Take Hold in America (p. 49)

That the first English settlements in the New World were organized not directly by the Crown, but by private monopoly companies, meant that the proprietary company would be interested in subdividing its granted land as quickly as possible to the individual settlers, in order to reap a rapid gain for its shareholders.  The situation was of course not that of the free market; if it were, the British government would: (a) have refrained from claiming sovereignty over the unused American domain, or especially (b) have granted ownership of the land titles to the actual settlers rather than to the company.  The privileges to the chartered companies, however, did not prove disastrous in the long run: the companies were eager to induce settlers to come to their granted land and then dispose of the land to them at a profit.  The cleansing acid of profit was to dissolve incipient feudalism and land monopoly.  It is true that the fact of the land grant to the company engrossed the land for a time, and raised its price to the settlers, thus restricting settlement from what it would have been under freedom; but the quantitative effects were not very grave.

PART II  The Southern Colonies in the Seventeen Century

3  The Virginia Company

The Smuggling Industry (p. 54)

In 1604 the English government initiated new increases in the customs duties, making the farming of the duties [i.e. tax-farming] even more profitable.  At the same time, the increases in tariffs made smuggling such a profitable business that it became organized on a professional basis.  The smuggling business was a well-organized system of purchase, transportation, delivery, and distribution in which the free trader was not only sailor and merchant, but also policeman, to protect his property from attacks by government officials.  Tobacco became one of the most important of the basic items for smuggling.  Besides increasing direct taxation, the government, in effect, encouraged smuggling through indirect taxes via sale of monopoly privileges.

Sir Edwin Sandys Quote (p. 54)

All free subjects are born inheritable as to their land, as also to the free exercise of their industry, in those trades whereto they apply themselves and whereby they are to live.

Grotius and Suárez on International Law (p. 56)

In opposition to the claims of exclusive control of the high seas by England…and by Spain and Portugal…, the Dutchman Hugo Grotius contended for the freedom of the seas in his work Mare Liberum (1609).  That the seas were to be open to all and free from government control was an idea that Grotius, the founder of international law, derived from Spanish philosophical thought, especially from the work of Francisco Suárez.  Suárez had established the basis for international law by deducing from the variety of peoples and states that the unity of the human race can only be represented by a general rational international law, and not by a general political organization or domination, whether over the lands or over the seas.

Jamestown and Virginia (pp. 58–61)

Communistic Principles in Jamestown (p. 59)

The incentives provided by the charter of 1609, however, were still only future promises.  The colony was still being run on “communist” principles—each person contributed the fruit of his labor according to his ability to a common storehouse run by the company, and from this common store each received produce according to his need.  And this was a communism not voluntarily contracted by the colonists themselves, but imposed upon them by their master, the Virginia Company, the receiver of the arbitrary land grant for the territory.

The result of this communism was what we might expect: each individual gained only a negligible amount of goods from his own exertions—since the fruit of all these went into the common store—and hence had little incentive to work, or to exercise initiative or ingenuity under the difficult conditions in Virginia.  And this lack of incentive was doubly reinforced by the fact that the colonist was assured, regardless of how much or how well he worked, of an equal share of goods from the common store.  Under such conditions, with the motor of incentive gone from each individual, even the menace of death and starvation for the group as a whole—and even a veritable reign of terror by the governors—could not provide the necessary spur for each particular man.

First American Slaves (pp. 63–64)

The crucial point, however, is that the planters would not have been able to cultivate these large tobacco plantations—and therefore would not have been moved to acquire and keep so much land—if they had had to rely on free and independent labor.  So scarce was such labor in relation to land resources that the hiring of free labor would not have been economically feasible.  But the planters then turned to the use of forced labor to render their large plantations profitable: specifically, the labor of the indentured servants and of the even more thoroughly coerced Negro slaves.  In slavery, the laborer is coerced not only for a term of years, or for life, but for the lives of himself and all his descendants.  It was an ironic commentary on the later history of America that 1619, the very year of the Yeardley reforms, saw the first slave vessel arrive at Jamestown with twenty Negroes aboard, to be sold as slaves to the tobacco planters.  Until the mid-seventeenth century, the planters preferred to rely on indentured serf labor.  These white servants, once their term had expired, could obtain their land, generally fifty acres each, on the western fringe of the settlement, and become independent settlers.  But Negro slavery, unlike indentured service, had no means of dissolving into the general society; once introduced, it became the backbone of the Virginian (and other Southern) labor system.  It could only remain as a continual canker on the American body social.

4  From Company to Royal Colony

5  The Social Structure of Virginia: Planters and Farmers

The Yeomen (pp. 67–68)

The great bulk of the free populace were not large planters, but small farmers with holdings of fifty to a few hundred acres.  These were independent yeomen who had acquired titles to the land they were to settle by headright grant, or at the end of their indentured term of service.  A few small farmers had one or two indentured servants, but most had none, the labor being performed by the farmer and his family.  Despite the rule of the royal governor and the preemption of choice land and the use of slaves by the large planters, the yeomen enjoyed a far freer, more mobile society than they had ever known.  They were free, above all, from the hopelessness of the rigid feudalism and caste structure that they had left behind in England.  Here they were, at last, owners of their own land and products.  They were pioneers, hewing out their living from a new and untapped continent.

Free Schools (p. 69)

Early in the colony’s history, King James and the Virginia Company tried to found a school, but their efforts came to naught.  The first successful school in Virginia was founded by the planter Benjamin Symmes, who in 1635 left 200 acres and eight cows for the education of children from Elizabeth City and Kecoughtan parishes.  This school was soon established as the Symmes Free School.  The Eaton Free School was established in 1659, in Elizabeth City, by Thomas Eaton, with a gift of 500 acres of land.  These schools began a pattern of many private “free schools” founded by wealthy planters of Virginia (generally in their wills).  The schools collected tuition from parents able to pay, and admitted poor children and orphans free.  The schools generally taught the three Rs and a little Latin.  Children on farms remote from the schools were taught, if at all, by their parents or by the local parson.

6  The Social Structure of Virginia: Bondservants and Slaves

Types of Bondservants (pp. 70–71)

Bondservant Rebellions (pp. 71–72, 74)

Many of the oppressed servants were moved to the length of open resistance.  The major form of resistance was flight, either individually or in groups; this spurred their employers to search for them by various means, including newspaper advertisements.  Work stoppages were also employed as a method of struggle.  But more vigorous rebellions also occurred especially in Virginia in 1659, 1661, 1663, and 1681.  Rebellions of servants were particularly pressing in the 1660s because of the particularly large number of political prisoners taken in England during that decade.  Independent and rebellious by nature, these men had been shipped to the colonies as bondservants.  Stringent laws were passed in the 1660s against runaway servants striving to gain their freedom.

In all cases, the servant revolts for freedom were totally crushed and the leaders executed.  Demands of the rebelling servants ranged from improved conditions and better food to outright freedom.  The leading example was the servant uprising of 1661 in York County, Virginia, led by Isaac Friend and William Clutton.  Friend had exhorted the other servants that “he would be the first and lead them and cry as they went along who would be for liberty and freed from bondage and that there would be enough come to them, and they would go through the country and kill those who made any opposition and that they would either be free or die for it.”  The rebels were treated with surprising leniency by the county court, but this unwonted spirit quickly evaporated with another servant uprising in 1663.

This servant rebellion in York, Middlesex, and Gloucester counties was betrayed by a servant named Birkenhead, who was rewarded for his renegacy by the House of Burgesses with his freedom and 5,000 pounds of tobacco.  The rebel leaders, however,—former soldiers under Cromwell—were ruthlessly treated; nine were indicted for high treason and four actually executed.  In 1672 a servant plot to gain freedom was uncovered and a Katherine Nugent suffered thirty lashes for complicity.  A law was passed forbidding servants from leaving home without special permits and meetings of servants were further repressed.

One of the first servant rebellions occurred in the neighboring Chesapeake tobacco colony of Maryland.  In 1644 Edward Robinson and two brothers were convicted for armed rebellion for the purpose of liberating bondservants.  Thirteen years later Robert Chessick, a recaptured runaway servant in Maryland, persuaded several servants of various masters to run away to the Swedish settlements on the Delaware River.  Chessick and a dozen other servants seized a master’s boat, as well as arms for self-defense in case of attempted capture.  But the men were captured and Chessick was given thirty lashes.  As a special refinement, one of Chessick’s friends and abettors in the escape, John Beak, was forced to perform the whipping.

In 1663 the bondservants of Richard Preston of Maryland went on strike and refused to work in protest against the lack of meat.  The Maryland court sentenced the six disobedient servants to thirty lashes each, with two of the most moderate rebels compelled to perform the whipping.  Facing force majeure, all the servants abased themselves and begged forgiveness from their master and from the court, which suspended the sentence on good behavior.

In Virginia a servant rebellion against a master, Captain Sisbey, occurred as early as 1638; the lower Norfolk court ordered the enormous total of one hundred lashes on each rebel. In 1640 six servants of Captain William Pierce tried to escape to the Dutch settlements.  The runaways were apprehended and brutally punished, lest this set “a dangerous precedent for the future time.”  The prisoners were sentenced to be whipped and branded, to work in shackles, and to have their terms of bondage extended.

Slaves resisted their plight in many ways, ranging from such nonviolent methods as work slowdowns, feigning illness, and flight, to sabotage, arson, and outright insurrection.  Insurrections were always doomed to failure, outnumbered as the slaves were in the population.  And yet the slave revolts appeared and reappeared.  There were considerable slave plots in Virginia in 1687, 1709–10, 1722–23, and 1730.  A joint conspiracy of great numbers of Negro and Indian slaves in Surry and Isle of Wight counties was suppressed in 1709, and another Negro slave conspiracy crushed in Surry County the following year.  The slave who betrayed his fellows was granted his freedom by the grateful master.  The 1730 uprising occurred in five counties of Virginia, and centered on the town of Williamsburg.  A few weeks before the insurrection, several suspected slaves were arrested and whipped.  An insurrection was then planned for the future, but was betrayed and the leaders executed.

Joint flight by slaves and servants was also common during the seventeenth century, as well as joint participation in plots and uprisings.  In 1663 Negro slaves and white indentured servants in Virginia plotted an extensive revolt, and a number of the rebels were executed.  The colonists appointed the day as one of prayer and thanksgiving for being spared the revolt.  Neither slave nor indentured servant was permitted to marry without the master’s consent; yet there is record of frequent cohabitation, despite prohibitory laws.

Example of Mistreatment of Slaves (p. 73)

Response to the Claim that Africans Enslaved Blacks First (p. 74)

Why Blacks Were Enslaved Instead of Native Americans (p. 75)

Negroes came into use as slaves instead of the indigenous American Indians because: (a) the Negroes proved more adaptable to the onerous working conditions of slavery—enslaved Indians tended, as in the Caribbean, to die out; (b) it was easier to buy existing slaves from African chieftains than to enslave a race anew; and (c) of the great moral and spiritual influence of Father Bartolome de Las Casas in Spanish America, who in the mid-sixteenth century inveighed against the enslavement of the American Indians.  Spanish consciences were never agitated over Negro slavery as they were over Indian; even Las Casas himself owned several Negro slaves for many years.  Indeed, early in his career, Las Casas advocated the introduction of Negro slaves to relieve the pressure on the Indians, but he eventually came to repudiate the slavery of both races.  In the seventeenth century two Spanish Jesuits, Alonzo de Sandoval and Pedro Claver, were conspicuous in trying to help the Negro slaves, but neither attacked the institution of Negro slavery as un-Christian.  Undoubtedly one reason for the different treatment of the two races was the general conviction among Europeans of the inherent inferiority of the Negro race.  Thus, the same Montesquieu who had scoffed at those Spaniards who called the American Indians barbarians, suggested that the African Negro was the embodiment of Aristotle’s “natural slave.”  And even the environmental determinist David Hume suspected “the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the whites.  …”

Racist Gun Control (p. 76)

From a very early date, owned Negroes were worked as field hands, whereas white bondservants were spared this onerous labor.  And also from an early date, Negroes, in particular, were denied any right to bear arms.

Partial Feudalism in the New World (pp. 76–77)

By the end of the seventeenth century, the growing Virginia colony had emerged from its tiny and precarious beginnings with a definite social structure.  This society may be termed partly feudal.  On the one hand, Virginia, with its abundance of new land, was spared the complete feudal mold of the English homeland.  The Virginia Company was interested in promoting settlement, and most grantees (such as individual settlers and former indentured servants) were interested in settling the land for themselves.  As a result, there developed a multitude of independent yeomen settlers, particularly in the less choice up-country lands.  Also, the feudal quitrent system never took hold in Virginia.  The settlers were charged quitrents by the colony or by the large grantees who, instead of allowing settlers to own the land or selling the land to them, insisted on charging and trying to collect annual quitrents as overlords of the land area.  But while Virginia was able to avoid many crucial features of feudalism, it introduced an important feudal feature into its method of distributing land, especially the granting of large tracts of choice tidewater river land to favorite and wealthy planters.  These large land grants would have early dissolved into ownership by the individual settlers were it not for the regime of forced labor, which made the large tobacco plantations profitable.  Furthermore, the original “settlers,” those who brought the new land into use, were in this case the slaves and bondservants themselves, so it might well be said that the planters were in an arbitrary quasi-feudal relation to their land even apart from the large grants.

Temporary indentured service, both “voluntary” and compulsory, and the more permanent Negro slavery formed the base of exploited labor upon which was erected a structure of oligarchic rule by the large tobacco planters.  The continuance of the large land tracts was also buttressed by the totally feudal laws of entail and primogeniture, which obtained, at least formally, in Virginia and most of the other colonies.  Primogeniture compelled the undivided passing-on of land to the eldest son, and entail prevented the land from being alienated (even voluntarily) from the family domain.  However, primogeniture did not exert its fully restrictive effect, for the planters generally managed to elude it and to divide their estate among their younger children as well.  Hence, Virginia land partly dissolved into its natural division as the population grew.  Primogeniture and entail never really took hold in Virginia, because the abundance of cheap land made labor—and hence the coerced supply of slaves—the key factor in production.  More land could always be acquired; hence there was no need to restrict inheritance to the eldest son.  Furthermore, the rapid exhaustion of tobacco land by the current methods of cultivation required the planters to be mobile, and to be ready to strike out after new plantations.  The need for such mobility militated against the fixity of landed estates that marked the rigid feudal system of land inheritance prevailing in England.  Overall, the wealth and status of Virginia’s large planters was far more precarious and less entrenched that were those of their landowning counterparts in England.

7  Religion in Virginia

8  The Royal Government of Virginia

9  British Mercantilism over Virginia

Mercantilism (p. 87)

Rule in the European governments of the seventeenth century was exercised, not only by the great landowners—through feudalism—but also by groups of merchants and capitalists specially privileged and subsidized by the state, in the system that later came to be known as “mercantilism.”  The essence of mercantilism was the granting or selling of monopolistic privilege and subsidy by the state to favored groups of businessmen.  Thus, Crown, feudal nobility, and privileged capitalists exercised rule over the exploited remainder of the populace—which included the bulk of merchants and capitalists who sought profit by voluntary service in the marketplace rather than by obtaining privileges from the coercive power of the state.

Statist Exploitation Encourages Private Exploitation (p. 90)

Thus, the English orientation of Virginia trade and finance was compelled by the Navigation Acts [mercantilist restrictions on free trade], which gravely injured Virginians and retarded Virginia development.  Furthermore, the canker of slavery was also due partly to the Navigation Acts.  The economic pressure of the acts on the planters led them to look to slavery as a way to cut costs by exploiting forced labor.  Moreover, the English government forbade Virginia from restricting the infamous slave trade, the monopoly of which had by the wars against the Dutch been assured to British traders.

Tax Rebellion Against Governor Berkeley (pp. 90, 93)

Added to the devastation caused by the Navigation Acts was the burden of increased taxes.  In addition to the crippling penny a pound on all coastal tobacco trade imposed in 1673, the hated poll tax was reimposed.  In his first years of rule, Governor Berkeley had abolished the poll tax, which, being levied equally on all, particularly burdened the poorer strata of the population.  In 1674, however, when Berkeley reintroduced the poll tax, a number of farmers assembled with their arms in Kent County to prevent collection of the new taxes, by force if necessary.  This incipient tax rebellion was dispersed upon Berkeley’s proclamation that tax rebels would be accounted guilty of treason and punished accordingly.

Hints of revolt and mutiny against Berkeley began to emerge in the 1670s.  On December 12, 1673, fourteen people met at Lawnes Creek Parish Church in Surry County to protest against excessive taxation and to insist that they would thereafter refuse to pay their taxes.  Here was one of the first tax rebellions, or organized refusals to pay taxes, in America.  On January 3, the very day that Berkeley’s judges issued a writ to haul the fourteen into court for “sedition,” the group met again in a field and one of their leaders, Roger Delke, declared that “we will burn all before one shall suffer.”  Berkeley lost no time in hauling the rebels into court where Delke explained that they had met “by reason their taxes were so unjust, and they would not pay it.”  Very heavy fines were levied on the protesters, especially on the main leader of the Surry tax protest, Matthew Swan, who continued to insist that the taxes were unjust.  Proceedings against Swan lasted longer than against the others, and in April 1674 Swan was brought before the Council and General Court of Virginia for his “dangerous contempt and unlawful project and his wicked persisting in the same.”  Berkeley was forced, however, by popular resentment at the treatment accorded the tax rebels, to remit all the fines some months later.

Religious Persecution in Early Virginia (p. 91)

Whenever anyone in the American colonies in the seventeenth century decided to embark on a policy of tyranny and religious persecution, the first group to bear the brunt was usually the hapless Quakers—of all sects the least devoted to idolatry of church or state.  Upon embarking on the dictatorial rule of his second term, Governor Berkeley did not hesitate to revive the old laws against Dissenters, and naturally concentrated on the handful of Quakers.  An English Quaker, George Wilson, upon arriving at Jamestown in 1661, was thrust into a dungeon, scourged, and kept in irons until death.  While dying, he wrote, in a truly saintly manner:  “For all their cruelty I can truly say, Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”  The previous year 1660, the Assembly had passed an act outlawing “an unreasonable and turbulent sort of people commonly called Quakers…[who are] endeavoring…to destroy religion, laws, communities and all bonds of civil society.”  Apparently these “bonds of civil society” were to rest, not on voluntary consent, but on the dungeon and the torture rack.

In 1662 Berkeley decreed heavy fines on any Nonconformists who refused to have their children baptized, and threatened to exile any ship masters who brought any Dissenters into the colony.  The next year two Quaker women entered Virginia, spreading the message in the colony.  The two, Mary Tomkins and Alice Ambrose, were imprisoned and inflicted with thirty-two lashes from a whip of nine cords.  After this their property was seized and they were expelled from Virginia.

It stands to reason that a man with this sort of attitude toward religious liberty and search for truth should be vehemently hostile toward education, freedom of inquiry, and individual and collective search for the truth.  We are fortunate to have on record, however, a classic statement by Berkeley, revealing the despot’s fury toward learning and free inquiry.  When asked in 1671 by the Crown what he had been doing to instruct the people in the Christian religion, Berkeley, in the course of his answer, declared:  “I thank God, there are no free schools nor printing 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!”  Learning and culture apparently were to be reserved to the safe hands of the ruling class, and were not to be permitted the ruled, who might learn enough to want to cast off their chains.

10  Relations with the Indians

Example of Native Oppression (p. 99, see also pp. 99–101)

It is no wonder that under this treatment the Indians of Virginia began to get a bit restive, a restiveness due also, as the Assembly admitted, to “violent intrusions of diverse English” into Indian lands.  But this was only the beginning of white aggression.  In 1665–66 the Assembly set further arbitrary bounds to Indian settlement, pushing back the Indians once more.  It also prohibited any white sales of guns and ammunition to the Indians, and decreed that the governor select the chieftains for the Indian tribes.  Militarism was imposed on the white settlers by ordering them to go armed to all public meetings, including church services.  Even collective guilt was imposed on the Indians, it being provided that if an Indian murdered a white man, all the people of the neighboring Indian town would be “answerable for it with their lives or liberties.”  But this law taxed even the often elastic consciences of the Virginians of the day, and was soon repealed.

Militarisation of Society (pp. 101–102)

It is another common rule that militarization of a society ostensibly to bring force majeure against an enemy often succeeds also (or even only) in bringing that force against the very society being militarized.  Thus, soldiers, conscripted into the garrisons, were to be subject to highly rigorous articles of war: any blasphemy, for example, when “either drunk or sober” was punished by forcing the soldier to run the terrible gantlet.  Public prayers were to be read in the field or garrison twice a day, and any soldier refusing or neglecting to attend the prayers or the preaching or to show proper diligence in reading homilies and sermons was to be punished at the whim of the commander.  A great many Virginians, driven forward by war hysteria, by ingrained hatred of the Indians, and by the desire to grab Indian lands, began to accuse Berkeley of being soft on the Indians.  The softness was supposed to be motivated by economic interest, as Berkeley’s monopoly of the fur trade was supposed to give him a vested interest in the existence of Indians with whom to trade.  The common expression of the day was that “no bullet would pierce beaver skins.”  The charge, if charge it be, was probably partially correct, at least insofar as trade between peoples generally functions as a solvent of hatreds and of agitations for war.  At any rate, in deference to these charges, the Assembly took the Indian trade from Berkeley and his licensees and transferred the authority for licenses to the county justices of the peace.

The middle-of-the-road policy of defensive war, however, was probably the most unpolitic course that Berkeley could have taken.  If he had concluded peace, he would have ended the Indian raids and thus removed the constant sparkplug for war hysteria among the whites.  As it was, the expensive policy of constructing mighty defensive forts prolonged the war, and hence the irritant, and did nothing to end it.  The only result, so far as the Virginians were concerned, was a highly expensive network of forts and higher taxes imposed to pay for them.  Furthermore, Berkeley reportedly reacted in his usual tyrannical fashion against several petitions for an armed troop against the Indians, by outlawing all such petitions under threat of heavy penalty.

11  Bacon’s Rebellion

Libertarian Elements in Bacon’s Rebellion (pp. 105–106)

No common purity of doctrine or motive can be found among the Bacon rebels, or, for that matter, in the succeeding rebellions of the late seventeenth century in the other American colonies.  But the bulk of their grievances were certainly libertarian: a protest of the rights and liberties of the people against the tyranny of the English government and of its Virginia agency.  We have seen the accumulation of grievances: against English mercantilist restrictions on Virginian trade and property rights, increasing taxation, monopolizing of trade by political privilege, repeated attempts to impose feudal landholdings, tightening rule by the governor and his allied oligarchs, infringements of home rule and local liberties, and, to a far lesser extent, persecution of religious minorities.  On the other hand, there is no denying that some of the grievances and motives of the rebels were the reverse of libertarian: hatred of the Indians and a desire for land grabbing, or, as in the allied and later rebellions in neighboring Maryland, hatred of Roman Catholicism.  But even though the spark of Bacon’s Rebellion came from an anti-libertarian motif—pursuit of more rigorous war against the Indians, and Bacon’s motives were originally limited to this—it is also true that as the rebellion developed and the dynamics of a revolutionary situation progressed, the other basic grievances came to the fore and found expression, even in the case of Bacon himself.

Overall, therefore, Bacon’s Rebellion may be judged as a step forward to liberty, and even a microcosm of the American Revolution, but despite, rather than because of, the motives of Bacon himself and of the original leaders.  Nathaniel Bacon was scarcely a heroic and conscious torchbearer of liberty; and yet the dynamics of the revolutionary movement that he brought into being forged such a torch out of his rebellion.

Anti-Libertarian Origins of Bacon’s Rebellion (p. 106)

To many Virginians, it was incomprehensible that Berkeley should proclaim men as traitors whose only crime seemed to be hard-line pursuit of victory against all Indians; at the same time, Berkeley was clearly soft on the Pamunkeys.  The protests poured in: how can anyone tell “friendly” Indians from enemy Indians?  “Are not the Indians all of a color?”  Thus, racism and war hysteria formed a potent combination to sweep away reason, as a time-honored phrase of the racists, “You can’t tell one from another,” became logically transmuted into: “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”  Or, as the Baconian rebels put it: “Away with these distinctions…we will have war with all Indians which come not in with their arms, and give hostages for their fidelity and to aid against all others; we will spare none. If we must be hanged for rebels for killing those that will destroy us, let them hang us….”

Terror and Loyalty (p. 109)

Terror is a poor way to persuade someone to be loyal.

Anthony Arnold’s Rebel Quote (p. 111)

Most defiant of the captured rebels was Anthony Arnold, who delivered a trenchant attack on the rights of kings:  “They have no rights but what they got by conquest and the sword, and he that can by force of the sword deprive them of it has as good and just a title to it as the king himself. If the king should deny to do me right I would make no more to sheath my sword in his heart or bowels than of my mortal enemies.”  The court hung “the horrible resolved rebel and traitor” Arnold in chains, openly regretting that it could not draw and quarter him as well.

12  Maryland

The Proprietary Grant (p. 114)

A proprietary grant was a far more feudalistic device than the chartered company.  For a company, being a joint venture of capitalists, was bent on parceling out land to its shareholders, on earning rapid profits rather than acting as a long-time or permanent feudal landlord.  But the gift of a huge tract of land to a single proprietor was a more enticing invitation to feudalism to come to American shores.

Lord Baltimore (pp. 114–115)

The first American proprietary was a grant of land in 1632 by King Charles I to Cecilius Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore.  The grant was carved out of Virginia territory and extended from the Potomac River north to the fortieth parallel, including (but rather larger than) the present boundaries of Maryland.  The king reserved for himself but one-fifth of the gold and silver that might be mined each year in the province.  Otherwise, Lord Baltimore was as free to govern in his vast domain as the king was in England.  The king even expressly granted the power to levy any taxes on Maryland, so named in honor of the English queen Henrietta Maria.  The charter granted to Lord Baltimore ownership of all the land, minerals, rivers, and fisheries in the area as well as the right to confer titles, incorporate cities and towns, levy taxes, erect churches and feudal manors, and constitute courts.  This was a veritable feudal government—a “Palatinate” as existed in Europe, specifically like the Palatinate of Durham in England.  One important limitation on Calvert’s absolute rule, as in the case of the king himself, was that he could levy taxes only with the consent of an Assembly representing the freemen, or landholders, of the province.

Captain Ingle (p. 116)

Captain Ingle took the opportunity, “for conscience’” sake, to plunder and pillage “papists and malignants,” seizing property and jailing his enemies.  The venerable Father Andrew White, a Jesuit missionary who had arrived on the first ships to land in Maryland, was sent to England in irons to be tried for treason.  Happily, the old missionary was acquitted.

The Toleration Act (p. 117)

[I]n April 1649, the Maryland Assembly passed the famous Toleration Act, which guaranteed all Christians the free exercise of their religion.  However, tolerance and religious liberty went only so far and the death penalty was levied against all non-Christians, including Jews and Unitarians.  Neither did toleration extend to freedom of speech, for any use of such religious epithets as “heretic” and “popish priest” was outlawed.  Also prohibited on the Sabbath were swearing, drinking, unnecessary work, and disorderly recreation.  Actually, the much vaunted Toleration Act was a retreat from the religious liberty that had previously prevailed in Catholic-ruled Maryland, and was a compromise with the growing spirit of Puritan intolerance.

The Quakers (p. 118)

The ambivalence of religious toleration in Maryland may be seen in its treatment of the Quakers.  Quakers were people who had no priests, declined to swear oaths, and refused determinedly to fight or bear arms.  They were, accordingly, highly unpopular wherever adoration of the state ran high.  They proclaimed, indeed, that they were “governed by God’s laws and the light within and not by man’s laws.”  In Maryland the Quakers were steadily persecuted; forty were publicly whipped within one year.  Finally the Quakers were branded as “rebels and traitors,” and in a law of 1659 Maryland ordered their expulsion from the colony.  The law decreed that “any of the vagabonds or idle persons known by the name of Quakers, who should again enter the province, should be whipped from constable to constable out of it.”  The proprietary, however, soon ceased to enforce the law, and before long many Quakers were reestablished in the colony.  When the founder of the Quakers, George Fox, visited Maryland in 1672, he welcomed the full religious liberty in the province and rejoiced in the number of public officials who had been converts.

Nonviolent Resistance (p. 120)

A Negro slave in Maryland had the distinction of staging perhaps the first demonstration of nonviolent resistance in America.  In 1656 Tony, a slave of one Symon Overzee, ran away and was captured with the aid of bloodhounds.  When he ran away and was captured a second time, Tony sat down and refused to rise and work as a slave.  Mr. Overzee bound and beat him repeatedly, but Tony still refused to act as a slave.  Enraged because “his property” was refusing to function as property, Overzee poured hot lard over Tony and killed him.  A court acquitted Overzee of the murder because, after all, Tony had proved to be “incorrigible.”

13  The Carolinas

A Check on Despotic Rule (p. 122)

The proprietors were given a grant with feudal powers virtually as sweeping as the Maryland gift of privilege—a veritable palatinate.  The proprietors were empowered to work their will, with the very important exception that an Assembly of the freemen of the colony, or their representatives, had to approve of the laws.  Thus, as in the other colonies, the popularly elected Assembly originated less as a sovereign branch of government than as a check on the despotic rule of the executive.

Property Claims Can Be Libertarian or Authoritarian (p. 123)

The contradiction has often been noted between the archfeudalism of Locke’s Fundamental Constitutions and the individualist, laissez-faire liberalism of his Civil Government— a liberalism destined to have great intellectual impact on eighteenth-century America.  The latter was written not much more than a decade later.  This is largely true.  However, we must also point out that a staunch defense of private-property rights will mean laissez-faire liberalism in a new country largely unsaddled by the yoke of feudal land tenure, while an equivalent defense in a country already hagridden by feudalism will be, at least in part, an apologia for feudal rather than justly private property and a free society.  In short, the crucial issue is the justice of the private-property titles that are being defended.  Glossing over this question means that the same set of principles may lead to a libertarian society in a nonfeudal America, where land titles devolved fairly rapidly upon the actual settlers, but to retention of quasi-feudalism in an England where land titles had been largely feudal.  A conservative bulwark for feudalism, when transplanted, can prove to be a radically libertarian call for a free society.

Religious Freedom Was to Be Guaranteed (p. 123)

Religious freedom was to be guaranteed—a long-standing conviction of Locke’s—even for Quakers, Jews, and slaves, but the Church of England was to be established by the government, with churches to be built and the ministers paid by the state.  But although Locke did not agree with the establishment of the Church of England, he was perhaps partially compensated for this disappointment by receiving the title of landgrave.  It was, however, also decreed that no non-theist could hold public office or even have the protection of the law.  Another libertarian provision was the guarantee of trial by jury.

Individualism in North Carolina (pp. 124–125)

In the early eighteenth century, the Virginia planter William Byrd was to write of the North Carolinians that they “treat [their governors] with all the excesses of freedom and familiarity.  They are of the opinion that rulers would be apt to grow insolent if they grow rich, and for that reason take care to keep them poorer.”  Another shock to visitors was the absence of churches—apparently the North Carolinians preferred to practice their religion in private.  The great English founder of the Quakers, George Fox, visiting Albemarle in 1672, discovered to his chagrin that he could find no place of worship in all the colony.  And some years later William Byrd was again stunned to find that “this is the only metropolis in the Christian or Mohammedan world where there is neither church, chapel, mosque, synagogue, or any other place of public worship of any sect or religion whatsoever.”

14  The Aftermath of Bacon’s Rebellion in the Other Southern Colonies

William Davyes and John Pate: Rebels in Maryland (p. 126)

At the height of Bacon’s Rebellion, in September 1676, sixty persons, led by William Davyes and John Pate, assembled in Calvert County, Maryland, to declare their opposition to crushing taxation and to Lord Baltimore’s disfranchisement of the freemen.  They also declared their refusal to swear to a new loyalty oath proposed by the proprietor.  They refused to obey the governor’s order to disband on promise to consider their grievances in the next Assembly, pointing out that the manipulated Assembly no longer represented the people.  But the death of Bacon caused the quick collapse of the embryo Davyes-Pate rebellion, and Davyes and Pate were hanged after being denounced as traitors.  The governor observed with satisfaction that the people were now suitably “terrified.”  The threat was over, but the governor wrote in warning to Lord Baltimore that never had a people been “more replete with malignancy and frenzy.”  Apparently, the Maryland regime had had a close call. The result increased the bitterness in the colony against the proprietor.

Josiah Fendell, Thomas Gerrard, and John Coode: Rebels in Maryland (pp. 126–127)

However, the struggle against the oppression of the feudal proprietary in Maryland had not been crushed.  The veteran rebel Josiah Fendall of Charles County, elected to the Assembly but barred from his seat for his rebellious activities in 1660, now took up the libertarian torch.  In particular, Fendall led a movement against high taxes and quitrents imposed by the proprietor.  Fendall also championed freedom of speech—a rarity in that era.  Philip Calvert denounced Fendall for “telling the people they were fools to pay taxes” and for allegedly saying that “now nothing was treason…a man might say anything.”  Assisting Fendall were Thomas Gerrard, a veteran rebel and a Catholic, and John Coode, an ex-Catholic and ex-clergyman, in a welcome display of religious amity.  In 1681 Lord Baltimore had a law passed forbidding the dissemination of “false” news—that is, news aiming to stir up unrest and rebellion—in an attempt to hamper the Fendall movement.  Finally, in the same year, a Fendall-Coode plan for rebellion was betrayed and the leaders imprisoned.  The jury, drawn necessarily from the populace, favored the defendants, whereas the judges, being appointees of the proprietor, were hostile.  Fendall was convicted, fined heavily, and exiled forever from the province.  Coode, an Assemblyman, won acquittal.  Lord Baltimore denounced Fendall and Coode as “rank Baconists” and wrote afterwards to a friend that had these leaders not “been secured in time, you would have heard of another Bacon.”

John Jenkens: The Rebellious Governor of North Carolina (pp. 127–128)

Trouble began to come to a head in Albemarle upon the passage of the crippling Navigation Act of 1673.  With the colonists determined to avoid payment of the tax, Governor Peter Carteret resigned and fled the colony and John Jenkins remained as acting governor.  Jenkins, a precharter settler of Albemarle, belonged to the poplar opposition to the proprietary rule, opposition led by wealthy tobacco planter George Durant, one of the founders of the original settlement.  Upon his assumption of office, Jenkins heroically determined not to enforce the Navigation Act upon the colony—in short, to occupy the post of ruler in order to diminish the extent of his rule.  Jenkins simply ignored the order of the king to appoint collectors of customs with the duty of enforcing the hated levy.

Rebels Arrest Governor Miller (pp. 128–129)

With [Thomas] Miller now added to the provocation of the Navigation Act and other grievances, North Carolina was truly ripe for rebellion.  George Durant had fearlessly threatened the proprietors with revolt upon hearing of [Thomas] Eastchurch’s appointment.  The revolutionary ferment was stirred further by the example of Bacon’s Rebellion in neighboring Virginia, by the influx of rebellious Baconian refugees from that colony, and by the influence in Albemarle of former governor William Drummond, one of the Baconian leaders.  Furthermore, the popular opposition had another dynamic leader in John Culpeper, surveyor-general of Carolina, who had years ago been arrested in South Carolina for sedition and rebellion, and had escaped north to avoid the hangman.  Arriving in Albemarle, he joined Durant and the opposition, and called upon the people to resist the enforcement of the Navigation Act.  The revolution, in short, needed but a spark to be ignited into flame.  It found its spark in December 1677, when a New England merchantman arrived at Albemarle with a cargo of supplies.  Miller arrested the skipper, who promised to leave at once and not return.  When the North Carolinians tried to persuade the master of the cargo to stay, Miller arrested the eminent George Durant on the charge of treason.  This tyrannical act touched off the rebellion and Culpeper, Valentine Byrd, and their men arrested the governor and his Council and called free elections for a new Assembly.  The elections revealed the overwhelming popular support for the rebellion, and the newly elected Assembly appointed a Council and chose John Culpeper as governor and collector of the customs.  The Assembly proceeded to indict Miller, appoint new justices in the colony, and warn Eastchurch, hurrying to the American mainland, to stay out of Albemarle.

15  The Glorious Revolution and its Aftermath

The Proprietorship in Maryland (p. 132)

[John] Coode and the Assembly petitioned William and Mary to end the proprietary regime and finally, in 1691, the new king agreed.

While the Coode rebellion succeeded in overturning the proprietary, the success was only temporary.  Aside from the fact that the structure of land tenure remained the same, the proprietor was only displaced for a short period of years.  When the third Lord Baltimore died in 1715, the Crown granted the proprietorship once again to the Baltimore family, which had converted from Catholic to Protestant.  In the meanwhile, the Crown continued to turn over part of the collected quitrents to the proprietary.

Coode and Anti-Catholicism (p. 132)

Coode and his followers engaged in violent anti-Catholic propaganda in the course of their revolutionary agitation.  However, Coode’s close association with Catholics and his ancient opposition to the proprietary lead to the conclusion that, at least on Coode’s part, the anti-Catholic agitation was but a convenient point d’appui for his aim of ridding Maryland of the tyrannical and feudal proprietary. In Coode’s own history of the rebellion, he stressed the “injustice and tyranny under which we groan…the absolute authority exercised over us in the seizure of their persons, forfeiture and loss of their goods.”

From St. Marys to Protestant Providence (p. 133)

The old tradition of religious toleration in Maryland was abandoned, taxes immediately began to be levied in 1692 for the establishment of the Anglican church, and any further immigration of Catholics into the colony was prohibited under severe penalties.  Furthermore, the public celebration of the mass was outlawed.  The capital city was summarily shifted from St. Marys, the center of Catholicism in the colony, to Protestant Providence, now renamed Annapolis.

Anti-Catholic Hysteria (p. 135)

One amusing byproduct of the anti-Catholic hysteria among the Maryland Anglicans was the apparent existence of a plot by Governor Hart and some leading Anglican clergymen to spread the rumor that young Lord Baltimore and his guardian Lord Guilford were secret Catholics.  They thereby hoped to persuade the Crown to turn the proprietary over to Hart himself.  The man who reported the plot to the bishop of London was himself a leading Anglican minister in the colony, the Reverend Jacob Henderson.  Henderson in turn was accused of being soft on Catholics, an accusation he indignantly denied.

Gresham’s Law (p. 135)

The oppressive poll tax for support of the newly established Anglican church was made payable in a fixed rate in tobacco, which was then the medium of exchange in Maryland.  Gresham’s law operated here as in currency, and since the law did not specify the quality of tobacco, payment was always made in the very poorest and most unmarketable grades.

Native Enslavement in South Carolina (p. 136)

Further problems were caused by the practice of kidnapping Indians to use for slaves and thus make economically viable the tobacco plantations, a procedure that naturally stimulated retaliatory attacks by the Indians.

Revolutionary Effects: Seth Sothel Liberalises Significantly (p. 137)

John Archdale: Liberal Quaker Governor of the Carolinas (p. 138)

Separation of Church and State in the Carolinas (p. 140)

But this happy condition—this approach to separation of church and state—was not destined to last.  Instead, at the turn of the eighteenth century, the Anglican Old Guard moved purposefully and aggressively to fasten a state church upon the only Southern colonies that had yet escaped this incubus.  This was a particularly bitter pill for the dissenting majority that had enjoyed religious freedom.

A Woman’s Political Club (p. 141)

The Dissenters were naturally angry at their treatment.  Though they were no longer excluded from the Assembly, any repeal of the state church would be blocked by the governor’s veto.  The Dissenters rioted at length during 1707, the riots being led by a political club headed by prominent Dissenters.  Included in these rebellious protests was a new phenomenon: a woman’s political club.

Imposition of Church by State (p. 141)

North Carolina’s troubles began with the appointment of Henderson Walker, a zealous Anglican, as deputy governor in 1699.  Walker, deeply disturbed that North Carolina had successfully gone forty years “without priests or altar,” maneuvered through the Assembly the Vestry Act of 1701, which imposed a state church on North Carolina, including a poll tax on the colonists for support of the Anglican clergymen.

Goodbye Feudal Proprietary (p. 143)

These struggles in the Carolinas weakened the authority of the proprietary and helped make them ripe for the abolition of proprietary rule in South Carolina in 1719 and in North Carolina in 1729.  By 1730, then, the Carolinas and Virginia were both royal colonies, leaving Maryland with its restored proprietary as the only proprietary colony in the South.

16  Virginia After Bacon’s Rebellion

The Perennial Tobacco Problem (pp. 145–146)

Badly-needed Land Reform (p. 150)

Nicholson also tried to institute land reforms.  During the 1680s and 1690s, land engrossing through large arbitrary land grants had grown apace.  Governor Andros, in particular, had granted large tracts to individuals, by selling to individual engrossers “rights” to land.  The old headright system of granting fifty acres of land for each person settled in or brought to Virginia was hardly ideal; but selling rights to fifty-acre plots at one to five shillings per “right,” completely cut the natural link between land settlement and ownership, and added to the monopolizing of unused land by speculators.

Typical of land abuses in Virginia was the case of a large planter, William Byrd II.  The law required a land grantee to establish at least one settler to every 100 acres of his grant within ten years of the date of issue.  Now this was hardly a satisfactory safeguard against land abuses, since the grantee rather than the settlers themselves was considered the property owner.  The settlers either were forced into a quasi-feudal subservience to the privileged grantee, or else had to buy the land at prices far higher than the zero price that would have obtained without the engrossment by the government and its pet grantees.  Of course, the settlers still had to spend money immigrating, clearing the land, etc., but at least no arbitrary cost would have been imposed on top of these expenses.  Yet, despite these grave weaknesses, the law at least tried to establish some connection between landownership and settlement, and grantees like Byrd proceeded to evade even this vague limitation.

Thus, in 1688 William Byrd obtained a grant from the government of over 3,000 acres.  He failed to get the land settled within the ten years, but being head of the Virginia land office he managed to delay forfeiting the land until 1701.  At that point, Byrd got the same tract regranted to his close friend Nathaniel Harrison, who soon had the land regranted to Byrd for another ten years’ chance.  An additional tract of 6,000 acres was secured by Byrd. Failing to settle it in time, he had it transferred to his son.

Nicholson tried to reform these practices, but accomplished little.  In his first administration he tried to revoke some land grants, but the Council refused to cooperate; in his second term he prohibited the practice of gaining more headright land by bringing in more Negro slaves.  On the other hand, far less helpful were Nicholson’s attempts to enforce quitrent payments to the Crown.

A Persisting Rebellious Spirit Among Slaves (pp. 152–153)

While Virginia, in the decades after Bacon’s Rebellion, increasingly settled down to a rather placid oligarchic rule, one element in Virginia society persisted in being the reverse of placid about its condition. From Bacon’s Rebellion to 1710, the colony seethed with incipient and actual revolts by the Negro slaves. Being an oppressed minority of the populace, the slaves, in revolt by themselves and lacking mass white support, could not hope to succeed, and yet they continued to try to break through to freedom.

In the early 1680s, the Virginia legislature was troubled enough to pass the Act for Preventing Negroes Insurrections. Frequent meetings of Negro slaves were denounced as “dangerous,” as conspiratorial activity abounding “under pretext of feast, and burials.” Yet, despite such precautions, slave revolts broke out in Virginia in 1687, 1691, 1694, 1709, and 1710, as well as in other years.

The 1687 uprising was centered in Virginia's Northern Neck. The plan of uprising was uncovered, and the leaders executed. The Council, as a consequence, prohibited public slave funerals, which the rebels had used as their meeting ground. But this did not prevent the uprising of 1691, in which the slave Mingoe, having escaped his master in Middlesex County, gathered a guerrilla band and attacked plantations, especially in Rappahannock County.

By 1694 Governor Andros condemned the lack of enforcement of antislave rebellion legislation, thus permitting Negroes to “run together in certain parts of the colony, causing assemblages so dangerous as to threaten the peace of the whole community.”

As Negro slaves increased in number after the turn of the century, threats of slave rebellion grew correspondingly. Early in 1709 a plot for rebellion by both Negro and Indian slaves in Surry, James City, and Isle of Wight counties was uncovered. The court inquiry found that the “late dangerous conspiracy [was] formed and carried on by great numbers of…Negroes and Indian slaves for making their escape by force from the service of their masters, and for the destroying and cutting off such…as should oppose their design.” The revolt conspiracy was led by four slaves: Scipio, Peter, Salvadore, and Tom Shaw.

The following year, a slave revolt planned for Easter in Surry and James City counties was betrayed by the slave Will, whose freedom was purchased by the Virginia legislature as a “reward of his fidelity and for encouragement of such services.” It was ironic that the informer should be rewarded with the very goal that the rebels were desperately trying to achieve: freedom. The two main rebel leaders were duly executed, said Lieutenant Governor Jennings, “to strike such terror in the other Negroes as will keep them from forming such designs in the future….”

PART III  The Founding of New England

17  The Religious Factor

18  The Founding of Plymouth Colony

19  The Founding of Massachusetts Bay

20  The Puritans “Purify”: Theocracy in Massachusetts

21  Suppressing Heresy: The Flight of Roger Williams

22  Suppressing Heresy: The Flight of Anne Hutchinson

23  The Further Settlement of Rhode Island: The Odyssey of Samuell Gorton

24  Rhode Island in the 1650s: Roger Williams’ Shift from Liberty

25  The Planting of Connecticut

26  The Seizure of Northern New England

27  Joint Action in New England: The Pequot War

28  The New England Confederation

29  Suppressing Heresy: Massachusetts Persecutes the Quakers

30  Economics Begins to Dissolve the Theocracy: Disintegration of the Fur Monopoly

31  Economics Begins to Dissolve the Theocracy: The Failure of Wage and Price Control

32  Mercantilism, Merchants, and “Class Conflict”

33  Economics Begins to Dissolve the Theocracy: The Failure of Subsidized Production

34  The Rise of the Fisheries and the Merchants

35  Theocracy Begins to Wither: The Half-Way Covenant

36  The Decline and the Rigors of Plymouth

37  The Restoration Crisis in New England

PART IV  The Rise and Fall of New Netherland

38  The Formation of New Netherland

39  Governors and Government

40  The Dutch and New Sweden

41  New Netherland Persecutes the Quakers

42  The Fall and Breakup of New Netherland

PART V  The Northern Colonies in the Last Quarter of the Seventeenth Century

43  The Northern Colonies, 1666–1675

44  The Beginning of Andros’ Rule in New York

45  Further Decline of the Massachusetts Theocracy

46  King Philip’s War

47  The Crown Begins the Takeover of New England, 1676–1679

48  The Crown Takes over New Hampshire, 1680–1685

49  Edward Randolph Versus Massachusetts, 1680–1684

50  The Reopening of the Narragansett Claims, 1679–1683

51  The Rule of Joseph Dudley and the Council of New England

52  New York, 1676–1686

53  Turmoil in East New Jersey, 1678–1686

54  The Development of West New Jersey

55  “The Holy Experiment”: The Founding of Pennsylvania, 1681–1690

56  The Dominion of New England

57  The Glorious Revolution in the Northern Colonies, 1689–1690

58  The Glorious Revolution in the Northern Colonies, 1690–1692

59  Aftermath in the 1690s: The Salem Witch-Hunt and Stoughton’s Rise to Power

60  The Liberalism of Lord Bellomont in the Royal Colonies

61  The Aftermath of Bellomont

62  Rhode Island and Connecticut After the Glorious Revolution

63  The Unification of the Jerseys

64  Government Returns to Pennsylvania

65  The Colonies in the First Decade of the Eighteenth Century