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the general emancipation of the slaves in the province, the assembly rejected the proposal, (1712.) The slaves did not every where sit still while the masters legislated. New York was thrown into terror by a negro plot to fire the city, (1712.) South Carolina was twice threatened by a negro massacre, (1730, 1738.) It was not to be expected, with all the advantages or all the alleviations of slavery in the English colonies, that the system was to escape the dangers and the wrongs to which it had led in every land and in every age of its history. One earnest voice was lifted up against it in the colonies by John Woolman, of New Jersey, a Quaker of singular refinement as well as singular simplicity, who published Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes, towards the close of the period, (1753.) Woolman's Journal of his life and his devotions should be mentioned as one of the most attractive works in our early literature. Colonies: Between colony and colony there were new bands of union. Suggestions of combining them in some common organization had appeared from time to time. The first project of the sort, on the part of the colonies, was of William Penn's proposal. He urged a congress of twenty members, to be elected by the colonial assemblies, with a president appointed by the king. This body was to keep the peace amongst the colonies, to regulate their commerce, and to secure their defence, (1697.) A quarter of a century later, Daniel Coxe, of New Jersey, brought forward a plan of much the same nature, (1722.) Thirty years later, the deputies of seven colonies the four of New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland at Albany on the recommendation of the secretary of state in England, (1754.) The subjects before this assembly were the relations of the colonies with the Indians and with one another, referring chiefly to the war then opening between England and France. It was to promote the mil
itary rather than the civil union of the colonies, that Benjamin Franklin, a deputy from Pennsylvania, laid his proposals before the convention. He suggested a council of forty-eight, apportioned to the contributions of each colony, who were to conduct the affairs of war, and, to a certain extent, the affairs of peace; the members, chosen for three years, by the colonial assemblies, to elect their own speaker, but to be under a president, or governor general, nominated by the crown. This system suited neither those who favored nor those who opposed the interests of the colonies, the appointing power and the veto, with which the president was armed, being deemed as unfavorable to colonial liberty as the rights of the council were to royal prerogative. It was at the same time that the king commanded one of his ministers, the Earl of Halifax, to prepare a plan of colonial union. Each colony was to elect, by common consent of assembly, council, and governor, a single commissioner to a federal body, by which a revenue was to be raised and the general defence assured. A commander-in-chief was to be placed at the head of the government, which, as we see, was a merely military organization. Union was not to be achieved by a fluctuating succession of projects like these.
The sympathy existing amongst the colonies aptions to pears on another record than that of systems or assemblies. A great fire, breaking out in Boston, caused immense loss and immense distress, (1760.) What Boston itself could do was promptly done; its people were not in the habit of giving up, however severe the trial. But there came a large sum from New York, another from Pennsylvania, besides one from Nova Scotia, and various. subscriptions from England. The colonial contributions to Boston proved that there were bonds, if not yet drawn together, still capable of being tightened, closely and lastingly, amongst the colonies.
Views of the
THE MOTHER COUNTRY.
As the colonies passed through the struggles of infancy into the promises of manhood, they wore a new look in the sight of the mother country. Something more than had been anticipated was to be hoped, something more also was to be feared from them. It seemed as if they might be able to contribute largely to the resources of Great Britain; and yet it seemed as if they might think themselves able to withhold as well as to contribute. Strange symptoms of insubordination had appeared. The crown, the parliament, and the officials by which both were represented, had been confronted, here and there, with amazing boldness. It was high time, so thought the English rulers, to take the colonies in hand, to tighten the reins of government, and to confine them to the course marked out, as it was thought, by the interests of the mother country.
Chief of the agencies put in operation was the trade. board of trade, consisting of a president and seven members, entitled the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, (1696.) To this body were committed the functions hitherto exercised by committees of the privy council, but now magnified into large powers of administration. It was intrusted with the execution of the navigation acts, to which were at this time appended fresh and oppressive provisions of colonial Courts of Admiralty. It was also empowered to carry out the new acts by which not merely
the trade but the administration of the colonies was to be brought under stricter control. The royal approval of all colonial governors, and the conformity of all colonial laws to the statutes of Parliament, were amongst the first steps to be taken. The board entered heartily into its mission. It proposed the appointment of a captain general with absolute power to levy and to organize an army without reference to any colonial authority, (1697.) It laid a prohibition upon the exportation of colonial woollens, even from one colony to another, (1698.) It actually went so far as to recommend the resumption of the charters that remained to some of the colonies, (1701.) Time and again, a bill was brought into Parliament to declare the charters void; but, for one reason or another, the design was postponed. The board of trade, approving itself by its zeal, became a sort of ministerial body on being attached to a secretary of state as its chief, (1714.) Its course, however, was not improved. The secretary longest in office (1724-48) the Duke of Newcastle-supposed New England to be an island. The board of trade acted as if they thought all the colonies a broken cluster off the British coast.
About the same time that the board of trade was Company organized, the Royal African Company, previously a monopoly, was so enlarged as to allow general participation in its operations. What these were appears from its name. But the name gives no indication of the near connection of the company with the American colonies, of their restiveness, and of its oppressiveness. "Give due encouragement," say the royal instructions of Queen Anne to the governor of New York and New Jersey, "to merchants, and, in particular, to the Royal African Company," (1702.) "The slave trade," reëchoes Parliament, half a century afterwards, in making the trade independent of the African Company, "is very advantageous to Great Britain,”
(1750.) It was, in fact, a cardinal point in the treaties of England with the European powers. The treaty of Utrecht contained a contract on the part of Spain that her colonies should be provided with slaves by Great Britain alone, (1713.) The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was followed by a convention indemnifying Great Britain, to the amount of a hundred thousand pounds, for relinquishing the monopoly of the slave trade with the Spanish colonies, (1750.) The closer was the gripe upon the English colonies. Vainly did Virginia and South Carolina, for instance, lay a prohibitory duty upon the importation of slaves; their acts were annulled by the royal command. And by what reasoning, it will be asked, were the advantages of the traffic upheld in the mother country? The answer is simple. In the first place, the profits of the African Company and of the private slave traders were enormous. In the second place, the dependence of the colonists in agriculture, manufacture, and trade, as well as in government, was assured, so long as they were kept to slave labor. This was openly avowed in England; so that, resist as they would, the colonies were at the mercy of the Royal African Company as long as it endured.
The boards and companies of the mother country govern- found congenial instruments in the governors of the ors. various colonies. All but those whom the colonists were able to elect for themselves, as in Connecticut and Rhode Island, may be said, as a general remark, to have been the main stays of the policy pursued by the English authorities. A needier, greedier set of men was never sent forth to rule than the spendthrift courtiers, the brokendown officials, and the cringing colonists, who successively appeared in the scramble after colonial spoils.
An illustration offers itself in the career of Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury, grandson of the great Earl of Clar