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sure or soften the severity of their enemies. Persecution, however, seldom finds its victims among the disturbers of the human race; the weak and the friendless, those who are struggling with adversity or emerging from the weakness of infancy, are often the objects of intolerance and fury. The quakers in Virginia were excluded from the rights of citizens, and exposed to the arbitrary control of the magistrate. In the assembly of the year 1663, one of that sect was expelled from his seat in the house, to which he had been elected by the inhabitants of Norfolk county
About this time a conspiracy against the government of the colony was formed, and when nearly ripe for execution was discovered by the vigilance of the governor, and the conspirators executed. The assembly, which convened a few days after the disclosure of the plot, expressed their gratitude by appointing the 13th of September, the day on which the conspiracy was to be carried into execution, a day of thanksgiving.
Charles II. with a generosity which cost him
nothing, and from which he gained but little credit, bestowed upon his favourites large tracts of land in Virginia, some of which grants included the plantations of actual settlers, and proved the source of much trouble and em. barrassment. The assembly, after remonstrat. ing against the injustice and impolicy of the grants, appointed four gentlemen to go to England to act as agents for the colony in this affair. In the event of this mission proving ineffectual, it was resolved to purchase those grants from the patentees. The commissioners exerted themselves for the interests of the.ca. lony, but the rebellion, which broke out in Virginia about this time, rendered their zeal and fidelity abortive.
During the year 1667 an expedition was set on foot for exploring the western parts of Virginia. Captain Batte was appointed by the governor to the command of this party, which consisted of about an equal number of whites and Indians. In seven days after their depar. ture from Appamattox, they arrived at the foot of those lofty mountains which ignorant cre.
dulity had hitherto pronounced impassable. According to the accounts given by Beverley, the first ridge of mountains they reached was neither high nor difficult to surmount; but after crossing this, their march was obstructed by others that seemed to reach to the clouds. In these transmontane regions they discovered numerous flocks of deer, elks, buffaloes and other animals feeding on the luxuriant herbage which the rich valleys and lofty hills presented to their view. These explorers continued their course westward, until they saw, to use their own language, the waters “ running back. wards,” or taking a different course from those which empty into the Atlantic ocean.
The accounts brought by Batte and his company, of the beauty and fertility of this country, induced sir W. Berkeley to undertake an expedition in person; but his plans were disconcerted by the rebellion above alluded to, the circumstances of which we are now going to detail.
The discontents that had long existed in the bosom of the colony, began at length to wear
a more serious aspect, and to threaten direful consequences. Those who imagined their rights and privileges abridged, by restrictions on commerce, united themselves with disaffected emigrants, whose misguided zeal for liberty had been repressed in England only to break out with greater violence in the colony. The incursions of the Indians, and the rumors of a plot for a general massacre, gave a pretext for popular commotion and military preparation. So great an alarm was excited by groundless rumors and inflammatory reports, that the people flew to arms, and prepared for defence or aggression, as their fears or ambition might dictate. Blending their fears of Indian hostility with their domestic and civil grievances, they excited the passions of the populace as well by their dread of extermination as by their horror of oppression.
No serious danger, however, could at this time be justly apprehended from the incursions of the natives. Their strength was broken by the dissolution of the Powhatan confederacy, and the population of Virginia was sufficient
to repel the attacks of their most powerful tribes. But their proximity, and known hostility, afforded to the disaffected a pretext for arming without law and without authority, while a deadly enmity to the measures of government was the principal cause of their movements.
The insurgents chose for their leader, Na. thaniel Bacon, a young man of enterprise and talents, who had been educated in England. The first object of this aspiring man was to inflame the minds of the populace by portraying the grievances they had suffered from the interruption of their trade, and from the arbitrary measures of their rulers. Being possessed of a lively and impressive elocution he did not fail to employ it on those topics which had excited murmurs among the colonists. He also published a paper setting forth the numerous causes of discontent since the restoration, and the mo. tives that induced them to take up arms on this occasion. Having collected a body of about six hundred men, he directed his course towards the Indian settlements, where alone he.