Virginia And Maryland 1640-1660
Virginia Loyalists.—During the civil war Virginia remained loyal to the king. The large plantation owners, who were almost all members of the Established Church, were in control of the house of burgesses. The small landowners made up the minority. In this class were a few Puritans and many freemen who had formerly been indented servants. Their sympathies were on the side of parliament. Sir William Berkeley, who was appointed in 1642, was a staunch supporter of the king. His administration seems to have been tempered with justice, and he showed little of the arbitrary attitude which appeared in his later career.
Opechancanough's War.—The chief event in Berkeley's administration was the Indian war of 1644. The plantations had gradually spread up the James and Rappahannock, encroaching upon the Indian lands. The chief Opechancanough planned to massacre the whites. On April 18 the outlying settlements were attacked and five hundred people were massacred. The governor led several expeditions against the Indians, their crops and villages were destroyed, and their chief became a captive. While in captivity he was foully murdered. The Indians sued for peace, and in a treaty acknowledged the rights of the white man to all the lands between the York and the James as far as the falls.
Berkeley's struggle with the Commonwealth.—When the news of the death of Charles I reached Virginia, Berkeley proclaimed Charles II as king and the assembly declared it high treason to question his right to Virginia. Parliament decided to punish the colony by blockading it. Berkeley, nowise daunted, delivered a defiant address to the assembly, which warmly supported him. The blockade proved a failure, for Dutch traders sailed unmolested into Chesapeake Bay. A group of Virginia parliamentarians visited England and demanded that Berkeley be overthrown. The Council of State responded by sending out a fleet to subdue both Barbados and Virginia. Commissioners were also sent to Virginia to persuade the colony to submit peaceably. In the spring of 1652 when the fleet appeared in the James River, it found the governor prepared for resistance. The commissioners intervened, and by offering lenient terms, bloodshed was avoided. It was agreed that the colony should "voluntarily" acknowledge the authority of the Commonwealth, that the Virginians should have as free trade as the people of England, and that taxation was to be in the hands of the house of burgesses. Neither Berkeley nor his councilors were to be compelled to take the oath of allegiance for a year, and the use of the Book of Common Prayer was permitted for a similar length of time. Berkeley retired from the governorship but remained in the colony.
Settled Areas in Virginia and Maryland, 1660.
Government under the commonwealth.—The burgesses and commissioners proceeded to remodel the government. The house of burgesses was made the chief governing body, with unlimited powers except the veto of the English government. It was to elect the governor and council, specify their duties and remove them if they proved unsatisfactory. All officials were also appointed by the burgesses.
A period of prosperity.—The kingless period was one of prosperity for Virginia. In 1649 the colony contained about 15,000 people; in 1666 the population was estimated at 40,000. This great migration was recruited from various classes: Cavaliers who sought refuge after the death of the king, people who fled from the horrors of civil war, prisoners who were sent as indented servants, gentlemen, tradesmen, and laborers, all found room in the abundant lands of tide-water Virginia.
Maryland during the civil war.—During the first part of the civil war, Lord Baltimore leaned toward the royalist side, but in the colony there was a strong Protestant element, augmented by this time by Puritans from Virginia. In 1645 they got control and expelled the Jesuits. The following year Governor Calvert, who had been in England, returned and reëstablished his authority, but his rule was shortlived, for he died in 1647.
Puritan rule in Maryland.—Fearing that he would be deprived of Maryland, Baltimore veered to the parliamentary side and appointed as governor William Stone, a prominent Virginia planter, and invited Virginia Puritans to settle in his territory. This was followed by a religious toleration act passed by the Maryland assembly in 1649. Baltimore's trimming, however, did not save him from trouble, for in 1650, when the Commonwealth expedition was sent out, the commissioners were instructed to reduce all the Chesapeake Bay plantations. For a time Stone was left in authority, but in 1654 he was deposed and the government was placed in the hands of a council, at the head of which was a Puritan, William Fuller. In the ensuing assembly the Royalists and Catholics were barred. Baltimore ordered Stone to recover his authority by force, but he was defeated and imprisoned by the forces of Fuller, and four of his followers executed. Baltimore appears to have ingratiated himself with Cromwell, for in 1657 he was restored to power.
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