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King Charles, informed of the situation of affairs, despatched a body of troops to the assistance of Berkeley. Bacon and his followers, unintimidated by their approach, determined to oppose them; but when prepared to take the field, this daring and successful leader, having exercised the supreme power for seven months, sickened and died; and no person being found among the insurgents qualified to supply his place, as the general of an army, or as a popular leader, they laid down their arms and dispersed.
Governor Berkeley again assumed the supreme authority, and finding the rebels in his power, pursued them with unsparing rigour. Many were tried by courts martial, and executed. The assembly interfered, praying him to stop the work of death, and enacted laws which gradually restored tranquillity. Soon after Sir William returned to England, and his authority devolved on Colonel Jeffreys, the lieutenant-governor. Under his administration, peace was concluded with the Indians; and notwithstanding the tyrannical regulations of the king, and the oppressive restrictions upon commerce, the colony increased in wealth and population. In the year 1688, the number of inhabitants exceeded 60,000.
Between this period and the commencement of the French war of 1756, an account of which will be found in a subsequent chapter, but few events occurred in the colony of sufficient importance to find a place in history. Its position, remote from the settlements of the French in Canada, and of the Spaniards in Florida, was favourable to its quiet. New England and New
York, on the one hand, Georgia and the Carolinas on the other, protected it from savage incursions. Its affairs were administered by governors appointed by the king, and representatives chosen by the people.
The laudable efforts of these representatives to arrest the progress of slavery in the colony, ought not to be passed over in silence. Convinced of its inhumanity, and foreseeing the dreadful evils which it must produce, they often passed laws prohibiting the importation of slaves; but those who were higher in authority, yielding to the wishes of merchants engaged in the abominable traffic, persisted with criminal obstinacy in withholding their assent. England, not America, is responsible for the wretchedness which her kings and her officers were often importuned, but refused, to avert.
Of the two companies incorporated by King James, an account of the proceedings and dissolution of one, and a history of the colony it founded, have been given in the preceding chapter. To the other, or Plymouth company, was assigned a portion of the American continent lying farther to the north, and at that time called North Virginia. The latter, in 1606, the year in which both were incorporated, dispatched a ship to make discoveries within the limits of its grant. Before the voyage was completed, she was captured by the Spaniards. Another ship, afterwards sent for the same purpose, returned with such a favourable account of the territory, that the company was encouraged to proceed in the undertaking.
The next year, forty-five men were sent over, and left at the mouth of the river Kennebec. In 1608, dispirited by the hardships they had endured, they returned to England in ships which had brought them provisions and succours. The company, disappointed and dissatisfied, desisted for a while from all attempts to effect a settlement.
In 1614, John Smith, the same who acted a conspicuous part in the settlement of Virginia, made a voyage to this northern country, touching first at the mouth of the Kennebec. Sailing thence, in an open boat, he surveyed the coast to the southern boundary of Massachusetts bay. The northern promontory he named Tragabigzanda, in honour of the Turkish lady to whom he had formerly been a slave. The three small islands, lying near the head of the promontory, he called the three Turks' Heads, in memory of his victory over the three Turkish champions. Both appellations have been changed for others. On his return to England, he presented to Prince Charles a map of the country, and gave him such a glowing description of its beauty and excellence, that he, in the warmth of his admiration, declared it should bear the name of New ENGLAND.
Smith afterwards made an attempt to transport a colony thither, which was unsuccessful; and New England might long have remained the abode of wild beasts and savages only, had not motives more powerful thân the love of gain or of perilous adventures, impelled men, differing from all others who had been the founders of colonies, to select it as the place of their residence.
In the beginning of the seventeenth century, James the First asserted and maintained a despotic power over the consciences of his English subjects, All who présumed to dissent from the creed which he had adopted were persecuted with extreme rigour. In that age, the maxim was avowed by ecclesiastics of all sects as well as politicians, that uniformity in religion was essential to the repose of society, and that it was therefore the right and duty of every sovereign to preserve it in his dominions, by the exercise of all his powers of restraint and punishment.
But free inquiry had lately received such an impulse from the success of Luther and the other reformers, that the civil authority was unable to arrest or controul it. Various sects arose, dissenting from the established religion, and all distinguished by their democratic tenets respecting church government. Persecuted at home, a small number belonging to the sect which were afterwards called Independents, removed to Leyden, in Holland, where they formed a distinct society under the care of their pastor, the Rev. John Robinson. By their rigid virtues and exemplary
deportment, they acquired the respect of the magistrates and citizens.
After residing several years in that city, various considerations induced them to resolve to leave it. In 1618, they applied to the London or South Virginia company, for a grant of land in America; and to ensure success, they observed, “ that they were well weaned from the delicate milk of the mother country, and inured to the difficulties of a strange land; that they were knit together by a strict and sacred bond, by virtue of which they held themselves bound to take care of the good of each other and of the whole; that it was not with them as with other men, whom small things could discourage, or small discontents cause to wish themselves home again.”
A grant was obtained, and in September, 1620, a part of them set sail for Hudson's river; but the master of the ship, bribed, it is said, by the Dutch, who claimed the sole right of trading in that quarter, carried them farther north, and the first land they discovered was Cape Cod. This, they were aware, was beyond the limits of the London company, but it was now November, and too late in the season to put again to sea. They therefore determined to land at the first place they could find suitable for a settlement.
Before leaving the ship, the heads of families and freemen, forty-one in number, signed a solemn covenant, combining themselves into a body politic, for the purpose of making equal laws for the general good. They ordained that a governor and assist