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1765. GENERAL OGLETHORPE. 77
At their own request they were expressly restrained from receiving any grant of land, or any emolument whatever, for themselves. Their Common Seal represented a group of silkworms at work, with the motto NoN sibi SED ALIIs; thus alluding not only to their own disinterested views, but also, more clearly, to the expected produce of their settlement. - A few months after the grant of the Charter Oglethorpe himself embarked with the first band of emigrants, and sailing up the boundary river of his province laid the foundations of the present city of Savannah. Other accessions speedily joined him, including Moravians from Germany; and so much favour did the rising colony find in England that the House of Commons voted in its support various sums of money which in the course of two years amounted to 36,000l. It is a remarkable indication of the spirit of that age or of these persons that the land open to Jews was closed against “Papists.” But, on the other hand, it deserves most honourable commemoration that the introduction or use of megro-slaves was expressly prohibited, - prohibited motwithstanding the complaints of many of the colonists, and even the secession of some. “Slavery,” said Oglethorpe himself, “is against the Gospel, as well as against the “fundamental law of England. We refused, as Trustees, “to make a law permitting such a horrid crime.”* With the native Indians Oglethorpe had from the first cultivated friendly and frequent intercourse, and he trusted ere long to hail them as brother Christians. Many zealous clergymen, including, as we have seen elsewhere, the two Wesleys, had come forth from England to assist in their conversion. Oglethorpe, however, though the Colony which he had founded continued to thrive and grow, was by no means always wise, nor always successful, in his conduct. Several of his favourite schemes, small and great, from the cultivation of silk to the conversion of the Indians, may be * Memoirs of Sharpe, vol. i. p. 234. as quoted by Mr. Bancroft.
considered to have failed. Nor did his prohibition of slavery endure against strong temptation and neighbouring example, when once his personal influence had been withdrawn. Returning to England in 1743, after ten years' toil upon his object, he never again revisited the Colony. In his later years he had the honour of numbering Dr. Johnson among his friends, and he died in a green old age in 1785. But Oglethorpe might have died more happy had his days been more few. He had lived too long, since he, a loyal subject, and soldier of the British Crown, and proud of having been the means of giving it one province more, survived to see that province severed from its sway, and arrayed against its arms. At the time when the troubles began the numbers of the people in these thirteen States might be estimated at two millions of European blood, and about half a million of others. * Substantial comfort had prevailed among them from an early period, though in some, refinements, which we have come to consider almost necessaries, were of much later growth. Thus, notwithstanding the importance which the city of Philadelphia had attained, no measures were taken towards either lighting or paving it until 1757.** As in all rising settlements, skilled labour commanded a high price; we find, for example, Washington, when only a stripling of sixteen, and employed in surveying among the Alleghany mountains, write as follows:– “A doubloon is “my constant gain every day that the weather will admit, “and sometimes six pistoles.”* In only one of the States, namely, in Virginia, had there been introduced the English system of entails for landed property. i Monarchical as
* See Burke's Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies, March 22. 1775. He adds, “I have taken for some years a good deal of pains on [ascertain“ing] that point.”
** Franklin's Life by himself, ch. ix. *** Writings, vol. ii. p. 419. ed. 1840. For this large gain, however,
young men had to undergo many hardships: “We camped in the woods . . . “every one was his own cook ... our plates were large chips; as for dishes, “we had none.”
+ Wirt's Life of Patrick Henry, p. 33. ed. 1818.
1765. STATE OF THE COLONIES. 79
was the form of government in these Colonies, as being part of the British dominions, it can hardly be alleged that there prevailed in them at that time any arrogant state or haughty barrier of rank. As one instance to the contrary, we may observe that Benjamin Franklin, while still a very young man, and a journeyman printer at Philadelphia, used to be freely admitted to the table of Sir William Keith, the Governor of the province, who, as Franklin states, was wont to converse with him “in a most affable, familiar, and “friendly manner.” — But when the Revolutionary War had once begun, and the Monarchical distinctions been cast aside, we find another and more galling distinction — that of wealth and poverty — even in the same societies, most punctiliously observed. For example, in the year 1780, and at the same city of Philadelphia, a French officer, and warm partisan of the Americans, the Marquis de Chastellux, after describing a ball, proceeds to say: “When the time came “to go into the supper-room, our Minister offered his arm to “Mrs. Morris, and made her walk out the first; an honour “here commonly paid to her, because she is the wealthiest “lady in the city, and because, all ranks being now equal, “men are free to follow their natural bent, which is to award “the highest respect to riches.”* At the first plantation or the legal settlement of each American Colony, its government had been framed upon the English model, so far as its circumstances would allow. There was in each, a House of Assembly elected by the people. There was a Council, sometimes derived from election, but more commonly from nomination, or sometimes with a right of Veto on the former. There was a Governor appointed by the Crown, or, in the case of Proprietary rights, by the Proprietaries and the Crown in conjunction. In one single Colony, namely, in Connecticut, the Governor owed his post to popular election. But besides this and a few other such exceptions of principle, the general outline was moulded into a great variety of forms, nor were the laws * Voyages du Marquis de Chastellux, vol. i. p. 235.
of any one province assimilated in all respects to the laws of any other. There also prevailed between them no small amount of rival pretensions, of jealousies and heartburnings. It may be asserted that such variations were fully equal to those between the Italian states at the present day; there were as many and as wide differences, legal, political, and social; and in the case of America there were religious superadded. Thus the difficulty of concert and union, which we so often hear alleged in Italy, must have been felt not less keenly in North America. It is a difficulty which should ever be borne in mind by every candid historian of the Revolutiomary War, as tending to enhance the success of the Americans when they succeeded, and to excuse in some degree their failure when they failed. In all these North American states, except only, as we have seen, at the foundation of Georgia, both the use and the importation of negro slaves prevailed. For this, however, no blame whatever can be ascribed to the colonists, since at that time slavery and the slave trade formed a part of the general colonial policy of England. In some cases we may even observe that the colonists, dreading an excessive cultivation, and consequent low price of their produce, endeavoured to restrain the practice within more narrow bounds; thus in 1727 “the vast importation of negroes” was a subject of complaint in South Carolina. All the indigo and rice from Carolina, and nearly all the tobacco from Virginia and Maryland, were the fruit of slave-labour. Even in the northern states, where negroes were far less numerous, they were still employed in menial offices, and the culture of wheat and maize. An accomplished American writer of our own day has well observed of the negro, at that period, among his countrymen, that “the early writers tell us little of his history, “except the crops which he raised.”* Testimonies of the planter's cruelty, and, still oftener, indifference towards him, are, however, to be found. Thus in the reign of George the * Bancroft's History, vol. iii. p. 407.
1765. . CONVICTS OR BOND-SERVANTS. 81
Second, Bishop Berkeley, in referring to these Colonies, found it needful to rebuke “the irrational contempt of the “blacks,” which regarded them “as creatures of another “species, having no right to be instructed, or admitted to the “Sacraments.”* At the very same period Charles Wesley writes as follows from South Carolina: “I had observed “much and heard more of the cruelty of masters towards “their negroes; but now I received an authentic account of “some horrid instances thereof. I saw myself that the giving “a slave to a child of its own age, to tyrannize over, to abuse “and beat out of sport, was a common practice; nor is it “strange that being thus trained up in cruelty they should “arrive at such perfection in it.”**
Besides the negro slaves, there were also in these Colonies bond-servants — felons transported from England and assigned in service to the settlers. It was nearly the same system as recently prevailed in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, but here the convicts were so few in comparative numbers as to exercise little or no tainting influence on the mass of the population. There were, besides, other bond-servants, obtained through the villany of some captains of merchant ships, who used by flattering promises to entice the forlorn and unwary to embark for America, and then sold them into slavery on the plea of defraying their passage and entertainment. In 1686 it was found necessary to issue an Order in Council against this infamous practice. Again, in other cases, these Colonies were deemed a fitting refuge for persons of slender intellect or broken fortune. Thus, for instance, in Johnson's Life of Waller, we are told that Benjamin, the eldest son of the poet, “was disinherited, “and sent to New Jersey, as wanting common understand“ing.”
* Sermon preached before the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, February 18. 1731.
** Charles Wesley's MS. Journal, A.D. 1736, as quoted in Mr. Grahame's History, vol. iii. p. 422. Wesley adds, “Another much applauded punish“ment is drawing the teeth of their slaves.”
Muhon, History. V. 6