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commissioners to inquire into all the transactions of the company from its first organization. The result of this investigation, the most infamous and tyrannical, was, as designed, a pretext for depriving the company of its charter, a consequent dissolution of its incorporation, and an escheat of all the privileges, powers, and immunities it bad conferred.
Although the existence of this company had not been favorable to the rapid prosperity of the colony of Virginia, although its government over the settlers was in its spirit and provisions most rigorous and arbitrary, and tended rather to their oppression, still its dissolution was regretted. It was more easy of resistance, and as we have seen, had been practically deprived of most of its power, and awed from the exercise of its most odious prerogatives, by the proud and indignant resistance of the colonists to any unwarrantable infringement of their privileges. But the entire prostration of the company, and the assumption of absolute control by the crown, seemed a heavy and fatal blow to all their flattering hopes, and robbed them of their few and hard-earned liberties.
James now (1624) issued a special commission appointing a council of twelve persons to take temporary direction of affairs in the colony, till he might himself find leisure to frame an appropriate and permanent code for its government. We will not stop to speculate upon the probable conse. quences to the colonies from the ordinances his wisdom and sagacity might have seen fit to adopt. Death, that haughty leveller of all human projects and aspirations, withdrew him from the scene of life.
Yet it is neither idle speculation, nor unprofitable, to note the changes consequent upon the interruption of his plans. It is one of those striking and startling incidents, so abundant in our country's annals, which teach us that there is a providence presiding over and directing the destinies of the world, and regulating the allotments of mankind, which serve to attach us to our own institutions, by the enforced conviction that they were in their origin and progress, and will be in their continuance, the objects of His especial protection. The progress of our history will determine the value of these suggestions.
It is well known that the first Charles was not unlike his predecessor in his ideas of sovereignty, though of a more weak and wavering character. He adopted the same maxims in reference to the colonies in America, and declared them to be a part of the empire, annexed to his crown, and subject to its jurisdiction. The council appointed by his father was em. powered, conjointly with Sir George Yeardley and a secretary, to exercise supreme authority, obligated to conform, however, to whatever instructions they might from time to time receive from the crown. It was no part of his provisions, nor was it his design to revive, or even to countenance the assemblies of the people, or to allow them any voice or influence in enacting laws or imposing taxes; and for nearly the whole period of his rule they were governed by this council and the crown. Their property was invaded ; with but unimportant exceptions they were prohibited all trade, and knew but little of the rights and privileges of “ English-born subjects." Yeardley, not being pliant enough to obey the directions of the crown, was succeeded by a governor who was rapacious, unfeeling, and tyrannical and loaded the colonists with oppressive indignities. In a transport of rage, their loyalty pressed beyond the limit of endurance, they seized him and sent him a prisoner to England. So summary a method of redressing their own wrongs was revolting to Charles's ideas of the submission and
nomage due from his subjects. It was regarded as a daring act of rebel. lion, and the governor was sent back again with powers less limited, and with enlarged prerogatives.
At about this period (1630) Charles was visited with estic troubles, and found less leisure to interest himself in the difficulties existing abroad. Accordingly, a more lenient policy was countenanced, which should have a tendency to conciliate the colonists; and in this change of measures Sir William Berkeley, a man of superior worth and intelligence, of mild and engaging manners, was appointed governor. He was directed to proclaim that, in all its concerns, civil as well as ecclesiastical, the colony should be governed according to the laws of England. He was also directed to issue writs for the election of representatives of the people, who, with the governor and council, should form a general assembly, clothed with su. preme legislative power; and to erect courts of justice, to be governed in their proceedings by the forms of England. Thus were the rights of Englishmen again secured to the colonists, and under the auspices of this excel. lent governor, the colony advanced in prosperity, with but little interrup. tion, for the space of forty years. Without pausing to solve the motives which may have influenced him, and which have been the theme of frequent speculation, the colonists were indebted to Charles for that reformation in the constitution and policy of government which gave so agreeable a com. plexion to their institutions, and infused new life and a healthful vigor into its administration. The restrictions to which they were subject were but few, and do not appear to have been regarded as oppressive, being prin. cipally of a nature to secure their connection with the parent state. The population of their settlements increased, industry and enterprise were successful in all the occupations of life, and the commercial relations of the several colonies were so established as to give security and the prospect of revenue to the mercantile interests, in which flourishing condition they continued, without any material change in their governmental regulations, down to the time of the revolution in England, when the colony contained more than twenty thousand inhabitants.
We do not find in the enactments of the colony of Virginia as wide a departure from the laws of the mother country as we shall discover in those of the colony of New England. The common law of England was regarded in the former as the foundation of its jurisprudence; and its legis. lature stated, with apparent pride, soon after the restoration of the second Charles, that it had been their care “in all things, as near as the capacity and constitution of this country would admit, to adhere to those excellent and often refined laws of England, to which we profess and acknowledge all due obedience and reverence.” And Sir William Berkeley, in his re. ply to the lords commissioners in 1671, says, “ Contrary to the laws of Eng. land we never did nor dare to make any (law) only this, that no sale of land is good and legal, unless, within three months after the conveyance, it be recorded.” All the charters from this period, respectively provided for the operation of the common law in the several colonies ; and the provision was regarded by them as an important right, so far as applicable to their situation and circumstances. The other provisions which gave a dif. ferent complexion to their governmental history from those we have al. ready noticed, and which was an important aid of her code in the colony of Virginia, had reference to ecclesiastical affairs. The Church of England was established as the religion of the colony, and its doctrines and dis
cipline were enforced by statutory provisions. Non-conformists were obliged to quit the colony. The clergy were provided for by glebes and tithes. Non-residence was prohibited, and a personal, strict, and regular performance of parochial duties was required. Marriages were not cele. brated unless published in the parish church, and according to the form in the book of common prayer. Besides these were the laws regulating the descent and distribution of estates, which at first were conformable to the laws of England, but in 1748 an act passed the legislature, adapting them to the peculiar circumstances and condition of the colonists. Estates-tail were cherished, however, with peculiar care, and their zeal to perpetuate family inheritances, seems to have far outstripped the provisions of the mother country. It was also provided that no taxes should be levied by the governor without the consent of the assembly, nor appropriated, when raised, but according to the direction of the legislature. The burgesses, during their attendance, were privileged from arrest
. We have thus traced the most important changes in the governmental regulations of the colony of Virginia, and under these they continued down to the time of our revolution. We can discover, at least thus far, no causes which would probably have led to a separation from the mother country, had the southern colonies never been affected by the spirit which planted and reared the northern colonies. The influences which brought about the settlement of the latter, had not been felt or understood in the policy which dictated the planting of the former. We shall discover a striking contrast between the two sections, running through nearly all their history, governmental, literary, and religious; and may also read evidence of the fact that the pure principles of the Christian religion were the cause, if not of our origin, yet of our prosperity, our liberties, our independence; and to the subversion of these, if ever that day should arrive, some future Gibbon may ascribe the decline and fall of the republic of the United States.
Art. III.-LAKE NAVIGATION OF NORTH AMERICA.
GREAT WESTERN LAKES-ONTARIOERIE-HURON-MICHIGAN-SUPERIOR
WELLAND CANAL-LAKE HARBORS-CONSTRUCTION OF PIERS, BREAKWA. TERS, ETC. — BUFFALO-ERIE-OSWEGO-TORONTO-KINGSTON-VESSELS EMPLOYED IN LAKE NAVIGATION-VIOLENT EFFECTS OF STORMS ON THE LAKES-ICE ON THE LAKES--EFFECTS OF ICE ON THE CLIMATE-LAKE CHAM. PLAIN.
The great chain of inland lakes, whose vast expanse justly entitles them to the name of seas, are the largest bodies of fresh water in the known world, and constitute an important feature in the physical geography of North America. When viewed in connection with the River and Gulf of St. Lawrence, by which their surplus waters are discharged into the Atlantic Ocean, ideas of magnitude and wonder are excited in the mind, which it is impossible to describe. But the effects which they produce on the com. mercial and domestic economy of the country are considerations far more
important and striking. With the aid of some short lines of canal, formed to overcome the natural obstacles presented to navigation by the Falls of Niagara and the rapids of the St. Lawrence, these great lakes are convert. ed into a continuous line of water-communication, penetrating upwards of 2000 miles into the remote regions of North America, and affording an outlet for the produce of a large portion of this continent, which, but for these valuable provisions of nature, must, in all probability, have remained forever inaccessible.
The great western lakes of America are five in number :--Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior. The extent of these lakes has been va. riously stated, and the several accounts which have been given of them, differ very considerably; but the dimensions which I shall quote are taken partly from the work of Mr. Bouchette, the surveyor.general of Canada, and partly from the charts constructed by Captain Bayfield, of the royal navy.
Lake Ontario, the most eastern of the chain, lies nearest to the Atlantic. The river St. Lawrence, which has a course of about a thousand miles be. fore reaching the ocean, is its outlet, and flows from its eastern extremity. This lake is 172 statute miles in length, 594 miles in extreme breadth, and about 483 miles in circumference. It is navigable throughout its whole extent for vessels of the largest size. Its surface is elevated 220 feet above the medium level of the sea ; and it is said to be, in some places, upwards of 600 feet in depth. The trade of Lake Ontario, from the great extent of inhabited country surrounding it, is very considerable, and is rapidly in. creasing. Many sailing vessels and splendid steamers are employed in navigating its waters. Owing to its great depth, it never freezes, except at the sides, where the water is shallow; so that its navigation is not so effectually interrupted as that of the comparatively shallow Lake Erie.
The most important places on the Canadian or British side of Lake Ontario, are the city of Toronto, which is the capital of Upper Canada, and the towns of Kingston and Niagara ; and, on the American shore, the towns of Oswego, Genesee, and Sackett's Harbor. Lake Ontario has a direct communication with the Atlantic Ocean, in a northerly direction, by the St. Lawrence, and in a southerly direction, by the river Hudson and the Erie Canal, with which it is connected by a branch canal, leading from Oswego to a small town on the line of the Erie Canal called Syracuse.
Lake Erie is about 265 miles in length, from thirty to sixty miles in breadth, and about 529 miles in circumference. The greatest depth which has been obtained in sounding this lake, is 270 feet, and its surface is ele. vated 565 feet above the level of the Hudson at Albany. Its bottom is composed chiefly of rock. Lake Erie is said to be the only one of the chain in which there is any perceptible current, a circumstance, which may, perhaps, be occasioned by its smaller depth of water. This current, which runs always in the same direction, and the prevailing westerly winds, are rather against its navigation. The shallowness of the water also, which varies from 100 to 270 feet in depah, renders it more easily and more per. manently affected by frost, its navigation being generally obstructed by ice for some weeks every spring, after that of all the other lakes is open and unimpeded.
The principal towns on Lake Erie are Buffalo, Dunkirk, Ashtabula, Erie, Cleveland, Sandusky, Portland, and Detroit. Between fifty and sixty splendid steamboats, and many sailing-vessels, are employed in its trade VOL. III.-NO. III.
which is very extensive ; and several harbors with stone piers have been erected on its shores for their accommodation.
The surface of Lake Erie is elevated 322 feet above Lake Ontario, into which its water is discharged by the river Niagara. In the course of this river, which is only thirty-seven miles in length, the accumulated surplus waters of the four upper lakes descend over a perpendicular precipice of 152 feet in height, and form the “ Falls of Niagara.' These falls, with the rapids which extend for some distance both above and below them, render seven miles of the river's course unfit for navigation. The unfavora. ble structure of the bed of the river Niagara—the connecting link between Lakes Erie and Ontario—for the purposes of navigation, induced a com. pany of private individuals, assisted by the British government, to construct the Welland Canal, by which a free passage from the one lake to the other is now afforded for vessels of 125 tons burden.
This undertaking was commenced in the year 1824, and completed in 1829, five years having been occupied in its execution. The expense of the works connected with it is said to have been about £270,000.
The canal extends from Port Maitland on Lake Erie to a place called Twelve-Mile Creek on Lake Ontario. Its length is about forty-two miles; its breadth at the surface of the water is fifty-six feet, and at the bottom twenty-six feet, and the depth of water is eight feet six inches. The whole perpendicular rise and fall from the surface of Lake Ontario to the summit level, and thence to Lake Erie, is 334 feet, which is overcome by means of thirty-seven locks of various lifts, measuring one hundred feet in length and twenty-two feet in breadth, most of which are formed of wood. The most considerable work occurring on the Welland Canal is an extensive excavation of forty-five feet in depth, from which 1,477,700 cubic yards of earth, and 1,890,000 cubic yards of rock, are said to have been removed.
Lake Erie is connected by the Erie Canal with the river Hudson and the Atlantic Ocean, and again by the Ohio Canal with the river Ohio and the Gulf of Mexico. The Erie Canal is 363, and the Ohio Canal 334, miles in length.
Lake Huron is about 240 miles in length, from 186 to 220 miles in breadth, and 1000 miles in circumference. The outline of this lake is very irregular, and Mr. Bouchette says of its shores, that they consist of “clay cliffs, rolled stones, abrupt rocks, and wooded steeps.” Its connec. tion with Lake Erie is formed by the river St. Clair, which conveys its water over a space of thirty-five miles into a small lake of the same name, of a circular form, and about thirty miles in diameter, from whence the river Detroit, having a course of twenty-nine miles, flows into Lake Erie. The communication between the two lakes is navigable for vessels of all sizes.
Lake Michigan is connected with Lake Huron by the navigable strait Michilimackinac, in which is situate the island of Mackinaw, now the seat of a customhouse establishment, and a place of considerable trade. Lake Michigan is about 300 miles in length, seventy-five miles in breadth, and 920 miles in circumference, having a superficies of 16,200 square miles. It is navigated by many steamers throughout its whole extent. The prin. cipal towns on the lake, the southern shore of which has now become the seat of many prosperous settlements, are Michigan, Chicago, and Milwaukie. The Illinois river takes its rise near the shores of Lake Michigan, and flows into the Mississippi ; and a canal, for the purpose of connecting