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who refused to attend the parish churches. . The Restoration of Charles II. was made a holiday and the Church of England was hedged about by the most partial laws (1662). The Governor and sixteen Councilors held from the restored King a commission of oyer and terminer, and judged civil causes above £15. The Assembly was still the highest court of appeal. In 1671, Governor Berkeley thanked God there were no free schools nor printing in Virginia, for “learning,” said he,
“has brought disobedience and heresy and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them and libels against the best government.” * The friends of prerogative had formed a government in accord with this notion of popular education. In the provincial manner, the King appointed the Governor and Council, and † the Governor appointed eight Commissioners in each county, who had the power of justices of the peace, levied taxes, and enacted local laws. They held their powers at the will of the Governor, or for life. By such means, did the wealthy planters and the friends of royalty rule Virginia. The Assembly continued in office for an indefinite number of years, from 1661 to 1675, and enacted that none but householders and freeholders should have a voice in the election of Burgesses. The General Assembly, which was composed of the Council and the Burgesses sitting in one house, was divided into two houses, and the Council was given a negative on the laws. Appeals lay from the Supreme Court to the King and Council in England. Trade with foreigners was suppressed and the State was stripped of her territory.*
* Hildreth, vol. i., p. 526. † Hildreth, vol. i., p. 516,
In 1676, Bacon's Rebellion was the indignant uprising of the people against aristocratic violence and extortion. Bacon's laws, for a time, restored popular government, but the triumph of Governor Berkeley brought back arbitrary government. (1677.)
From among the wealthy planters, were chosen the Council, Assembly, justices and other officers of government. Financial prosperity gave contentment to the poorer classes, and the oligarchy that ruled the colony were satisfied with the extensive powers granted to them.
In 1705, finding out that other colonies enjoyed greater privileges than they enjoyed, “they began,” says Surveyor General Quarry, “to imbibe the malignant humor of the charter colonies.” Hostility to British taxation, began to sow the seeds of independent self-government, and the agents of the King of England began to find trouble. The Governor of Virginia, from the reign of Queen Anne to the Revolution, a period of 63 years, † drew his pay in England, while the duties of his office were performed by his deputy, who received two-fifths of the salary (£800) for his services. Thus, in the provincial governments as well as the proprietary, the Governor's deputy ruled the colony.
Deputy Governor Mott effected the fifth revision of the Virginia code of laws, in 1705. Slavery was now regulated and protected. Each county was given two Burgesses, to be elected by the freeholders, and the possession of large tracts of land in the hands of individuals encouraged. * Three hundred pounds (£300) of quit-rents, together with the duty from exports of tobacco to the extent of £4,000, were applied to support the civil list.
* Jefferson's Notes on Va., p. 358. † Hildreth, vol. ii., p. 235.
In 1718, however, the Assembly declared that its consent was necessary for their taxation by Parliament. †
The sixth and last revision of the colonial laws of Virginia took place in 1749. $ The King having made a free use of his veto power, the Assembly in an address to him expounded the principles of colonial legislation as it knew them. When a law enacted here hath once received your Majesty's approbation,
the same cannot by the legislature here be revised, altered, or amended without your Majesty's permission.” Thus the laws approved by the King had a more fixed and fundamental position than the mere local legislative enactments which might yet be vetoed by him.
The progress of the spirit of independence was slow in Virginia since the power of the crown was surrounded by so many bulwarks. Its provincial form of government, its wealthy planters who clung to aristocratic forms and customs, its poor whites, dependant on the rich, and slaves submissive to their masters, its established church and its hostility to Puritanism, made its government cling to the mother country.
* Hildreth, vol. ii., p. 240. † Hildreth, vol. ii., p 327. * Hildreth, vol. ii., p. 414.
The petition of the Council and Burgesses of Virginia to the King, their memorials to the Lords and remonstrances to the Commons in the year 1764, began the Revolutionary contest in Virginia. The Stamp Act was followed by the resolutions of the House of Burgesses of 1765, which declared the independence of Virginia of Parliament in matters of taxation. For eleven years the people of Virginia were agitated by the colonial dispute with Great Britian, and finally joined in the war for Independ
When the Assembly cried “Treason !!” in response to Patrick Henry's eloquent appeal in favor of armed opposition to the King, it was the clashing of the conservative cavalier element with the pent up indignation of one who rose from the people and who knew and felt the wrongs of a long-outraged and down-trodden community. The reaction placed Virginia in the front of Revolutionary affairs, and in wealth and population she excelled every other colony.
In 1776, upon the recommendation of the Continental Congress, Virginia, like most of the other States, established a new constitution or ordinance of government in harmony with the systems of popular government about to succeed colonial English rule. Jefferson f names the ordinance framed in Virginia the first constitution which was formed in the United States. It was so skillfully framed that it was not found necessary to change it until 1830. This indicates the growth Virginia had made in Republicanism, during the years just before the Revolution.
* Jefferson's Notes on Va., p. 416. † Notes on Va., p. 360 of vol. viii. of his Works.
The Presbyterians led in an attack on the Anglican Church, and demanded the civil equality of every denomination of Christians. Madison is said to have imbibed his belief in the freedom of the conscience in matters of religion from the Presbyterian, Witherspoon. The Quakers, too, and other sects that sprung from the people, aided by Jefferson and the most liberal of the Episcopalians, united to secure religious equality before the law.* Here, then, rose one article in the Virginia Bill of Rights. It prevented a repetition of a dark page in her history.f
Several acts of the Virginia Assembly of 1659, 1662 and 1693 had made it penal in parents to refuse to have their children baptized; had prohibited the unlawful assembling of Quakers; had made it penal for any master of a vessel to bring a Quaker into the State; had ordered those already here, and such as should come thereafter, to be imprisoned till they should abjure the country ; provided a milder punishment for their first and second return, but death for their third; had inhibited all persons from suffering their meetings in or near their houses, entertaining them individually or disposing of books which supported their tenets. The Anglicans ruled for a century, but the constitution of 1776 placed thero on a level with other sects.
This first popular Virginia government consisted of a Governor, Council, two legislative houses, and a judiciary appointed by the legislature, as were also the executive officers of the State. To insure the dignity
* Bancroft, vol. ix., chap. 15. † Jefferson's Notes on Va,