Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

;

The Dutch were strengthened by the advent of other dissenting settlers. French Huguenots came from England and the West Indies, smarting under recent proscription; a few poor Lutherans from the Lower Palatinate in Germany, also escaping persecution, were placed, by the charity of Queen Anne, in Ulster, on the Hudson, to which an Irish population gave its name ; other Germans were seen on the east side of that river, while some sub. sequently settled on the fertile Mohawk, called the Ger. man flats. A body of Scotch Calvinists from Argyle followed, planting a town of that name in northern New York—a region as bleak as their own Highland homeserving as a brave frontier guard. A few emigrants from Wales were scattered through the province. These, together with the Puritans, from Connecticut, constituted a mass of discordant material,* but agreeing in one common feeling of resistance to the union of Church and State ; somewhat tolerant to each other, wholly intolerant to those of the Romish creed,t and to the unoffending Quakers.

Before the excitement, which this moving question of a paramount church caused, had subsided, for it had been kept up by recent instances of religious violence, the assembly of this province took its stand on the great question of subsidies.

Dissatisfaction with the Governor had recently

Governor Dongan's Report, 1687. “ In New York were a minister of the Church of England—a Dutch Calvinist—a French Calvinist—a Dutch Lutheran Church.” “Here bee not many of the Church of England; few Roman Catholicksmabundance of Quakers—preachers men, women especially—anti. Sabbatarians—some Anabaptists—some Independents—some Jews--in short of all sorts of opinion there are some, and the most part of none at all.”

† An act was passed (1700), “ for hanging every Popish priest that came voluntarily into the province,”—excused for the reason they were

"continually practising upon our Indians.”—Smith's N. Y., i. 135.

| 1705.

prompted them to appoint a treasurer of the moneys raised by them, which, in an act for the defence of the frontier, they made payable to him. This was objected to, and a prorogation followed. The assembly was again convened in seventeen hundred and eight. Its purpose was not changed. Their “Charter of Liberties” had provided that "no tax shall be assessed, on any pretence whatever, but by the consent of the assembly.” * They now pronounced such a procedure “a grievance, and a violation of the people's property;” and, with a large view of the future, declared that “any tax or burthen on goods imported or exported, or any clog or hindrance on traffic or commerce, will unavoidably prove the ruin of this colony.” The obnoxious governor was removed, but the assembly was unmoved. They granted supplies, but limited them to the year, thus asserting their control over the public purse.

From this period, the history of this province exhibits an almost unceasing contest between the governors and the assemblies; the former menacing or soothing, as was their temperament; the latter firm in the main, but sometimes yielding from special motives or to special influences.

A short time after their declaration, that they could not be taxed without their own consent, the governor declared to them, “ If you have been in any thing distinguished, it is by an extraordinary measure of royal bounty and care. I hope you will make suitable returns, lest some insinuations much repeated of late years, should gain credit at last, that, however your resentment has fallen upon the governor, it is the government you dislike. It is necesary at this time you be told also, that giving money for the support of government, and disposing of it

* Oct. 7th, 1683.

at your pleasure, is the same with giving none at all.” They were told, that, like the council, they existed " by the mere grace of the crown.” Not yielding, they were dissolved. Their successors, more compliant, and diverted by an expedition to Canada, voted a five years' support. Their septennial term expiring, a new election returned a more determined body. But indications of a purpose still more to limit their limited commerce, alarmed them. They voted a support to the government for six years ; and granted out of it a salary, with emoluments, to the governor. * Not meeting the full extent of his expectations, open insult followed. The population of the colony had doubled within thirty years. It now contained sixty thousand people, seven thousand of whom were slaves.

A new governor sought to conciliate this thriving province, which kept up its relations with Holland by a contraband trade, especially in teas. The assembly were inflexible, stigmatizing their predecessors as “betrayers of the rights of the people,” in granting permanent funds, which, they charged, had been used with prodigality. They told him, “You are not to expect that we either will raise sums unfit to be raised; or put what we shall raise into the power of a governor to misapply, if we can prevent it; nor shall we make up any other deficiencies than what we conceive are fit and just to be paid, or continue what support or revenue we raise for any longer time than one year; nor do we think it convenient to do even that, until such laws are passed as we conceive necessary for the safety of the inhabitants of this colony, who have reposed a trust in us, for that only purpose, and which we

* 1732.

† The governor accosted Mr. Morris, one of the members, on this occasion, in terms expressing a contempt of the vote. “Why did they not add, shillings and pence? Do they think I came from England for money? I'll make them know better."-Smith, ii. 2.

are sure you will think it reasonable we should act agreeably to; and, by the grace of God we will endeavor not to deceive them.” A recent verdict vindicating the liberty of the press in its American infancy,* had quickened the heart of the colony.

As results † of their patriotism, the militia act was remodelled; the practice of the law amended; courts of summary decision established; a school, recently instituted, encouraged; the system of annual provision reasserted; and triennial elections ordained. Other efforts to abridge the influence of the crown, and for the public good were made, but failed; and to complete the disappointment, the triennial act was rejected by the king.

Sore at this result, the next session exhibited the same determined spirit in all their acts, but denying their desire for independence. Sir George Clinton was now governor. With a temper little disposed to conciliation, and unable to control by patronage the growing dissatisfaction, after frequent altercations with, and prorogations of the assembly, application was made by him to the crown for the direct interposition of its authority. Yielding to this request, a new instruction was issued. It enjoined the commander-in-chief “to call the council and assembly together, and in the strongest and most solemn manner to declare the king's high displeasure for their neglect and contempt; to exact due obedience, to recede from all encroachments, to demean themselves peaceably, to 'consider without delay of a proper law for a permanent revenue, solid, indefinite, and without limitation, giving salaries to the officials, and providing for “all such other

* The first Newspaper, it is stated, was established in New York in 1733. The trial of Zenger was in 1735. Grahame's U. S. says the paper commenced in 1725.-iii. 167.

† 1737.

charges as may be fixed or ascertained.”

And it expressly directed that the assembly should have no supervision of the expenditure of their supplies. Clinton had been recalled, but the assembly were not the less resolved. Vindicating their conduct, and lamenting the discord, they still declared their conviction * " that it is not for the interest of his majesty and for the public good of this colony, to raise a support in any other manner than has been done for sixteen or seventeen years past, whatever it may be for the private interest of the governor.” Their liberality, without any recompense from the crown, as granted to the other colonies, was stated; and they avowed their willingness “to hazard their lives, fortunes, and all that was dear to them, against all the king's enemies whatsoever.

This language had a meaning, for unwilling as New York was to surrender its rights to arbitrary mandates, it was most willing to enter upon a war for the acquisition of Canada. This accomplished, the pretext would no longer exist for a demand of extraordinary supplies; their colonial rights would be more definitely confirmed, and the terrible evils of an Indian war removed. The crown was not slow to avail itself of a feeling common to the British colonies. Regarding, from the recent extension of the French possessions, a contest for dominion in America as not remote, instructions were now addressed from England to the governor of each province, calling a Convention of Commissioners to represent it at Albany, in June, seventeen hundred fifty-four. The avowed objects of this assemblage were to preserve the friendship of the Six Nations of Indians, and to prevent encroachments on the British dominions. The commissions from the colonies all contemplated these ends, but their tone differed.

* 1753.

« ZurückWeiter »