given for the proprietors in England and the charter govern
ments in America to rally all their influences, public and secret. 1
The Whigs in parliament had great respect for charters and
for " vested rights " ; and the movement came to nothing.
187. The English government then fell back upon the early
policy of William III, and attacked colonial grants one by one,
as occasion offered. Before 1730, by taking advantage of a
legal flaw, a serious disorder, or of the willingness of an em
barrassed proprietor to sell, it added New Jersey and North and
South Carolina to the list of royal provinces. Out of the last
named, Georgia was carved for a proprietary province a little
later ; but it, too, soon came under a royal government. Down
to the Revolution Maryland and Pennsylvania remained pro
prietary, and Connecticut and Rhode Island remained " corpo
188- The common distinction between royal, proprietary, and charter
colonies is not of great consequence. Connecticut and Rhode Island did
keep their right to elect all branches of their government. Pennsylvania,
not classed as a charter colony, possessed, through its grant from Penn,
the next freest constitution, in the security of its legislature from inter
ruption ( 175). Massachusetts, with its charter, had less valuable privi
leges, and resembled a royal province in all practical respects. But the
1 The report of the Board of Trade is in the Source Book (No. 111). Greene's
Provincial America (58-62) gives an excellent account.
189] VETO OF KING AND GOVERNOR 151
really important thing about the colonial governments was their resemblances.
All had representative Assemblies, with no small degree of control over
their governors ( 189) and all had the private rights of Englishmen,
jury trial, free speech, freedom from arbitrary imprisonment, which
were not then found in the colonies of any other country.
189. The next step in the new colonial policy was to attempt
closer control in the charter and proprietary colonies : (1) to re
quire royal approval for the appointment of proprietary gover
nors ; (2) to place the militia of charter colonies under the
command of a neighboring royal governor ; l (3) to set up ap
pointed admiralty courts, without juries, so as to prevent eva
sion of the navigation laws ; (4) to compel colonial courts to
permit appeal to the privy council in England ; (5) to enforce
a royal veto upon colonial legislation ; and (6) to free royal and
proprietary governors from dependence upon colonial Assemblies.
The last two points require some explanation.
(a) In theory, the king always possessed a veto, just as in
parliament ; but, even in Virginia, so early a royal colony, he
rarely exercised it until after Bacon's Rebellion. Thereafter,
it was expressly reserved in all colonial grants (as in that to
Penn and in the Massachusetts charter of 1691), and the right
was emphasized in every commission to a governor of a royal
province (cf. Source Book, No. 112). True, a colonial law went
into effect pending adverse royal decision ; but the veto was no
mere form. Scores of important statutes were disallowed,
sometimes after they had been in- force for years. Fifteen
Massachusetts laws of 1692 were vetoed in 1695, and eight
statutes of North Carolina as late as 1754.
(&) Even in a royal province, the governor often showed little
desire to carry out English instructions that conflicted with
colonial views. Partly, this ivas because the governor, living in
close touch with the colonists, was likely to see their side of the
case; 2 but more commonly it was because his salary depended upon
1 Special report on Connecticut's resistance to Governor Fletcher of New
York. See Johnston's Connecticut, and cf. Source Book, No. Ill, d, for
Fletcher's aggrieved letter.
2 For illustrations, cf. Berkeley's Report (Source Book, No. 104).
152 COLONIAL AMERICANS, 1690-1760 [ 189
his keeping up a good understanding with the colonial legisla
ture. Every governor, in the words of a colonist, had " two Mas
ters, one who gives him his commission, and one who gives him his
Pay." If the Assembly passed a bill distasteful to the home
government, the governor could veto it; but the Assembly
PETITION OF THE HEIRS OF SIMON BBADSTREET, governor of Massachu
setts under William III, for the salary not paid him by the Assembly.
They were granted 1000 acres of land to satisfy the claim. From the
Massachusetts State Archives.
might then cut down his salary, or leave it altogether out of
the vote of supply, which, according to good English custom,
was always the last business of the session.
To free the governors from this dependence upon the popu
lar will, the English government tried for many years, in vain, to
secure from the Assemblies a standing grant for such salaries.
191] GAINS IN FREEDOM 153
In 1727, Burnet, Governor of Massachusetts, laid before the
Assembly his instructions to secure from that body a fixed grant
of 1000 a year. Refusal, he said, would be taken by the
King as "a manifest mark of undutiful behavior." On the
other hand, a Boston town meeting bluntly called upon the As
sembly " to oppose any bill . . . that may in the least bear
upon our natural rights and charter privileges, which, we appre
hend, the giving in to the King's instructions would certainly do."
Burnet was popular, as well as able ; and the Assembly voted
him not 1000, but 1700, for one year. The governor indig
nantly refused to be "bribed 7 ' into proving false to his in
structions. The Assembly raised their offer, still in vain. For
three years the struggle continued. Then a new governor, in
want of money, petitioned the crown to allow him to receive the
annual grant temporarily. The English government assented,
and Massachusetts had won.
190. To the credit of the rnonarchs, no attempt was made,
in this long contest, to suppress any colonial Assembly. Indeed,
while the English government did in some respects extend its
powers in the colonies, still the Assemblies also made substantial
gains. Everywhere the elected Houses claimed the powers and
privileges of the English House of Commons. Especially did
they get more control over finances. After long struggles, they
shut out the appointed Councils from any authority over
money bills, ] and, in each colony, they created a Treasurer,
not appointed by the governor, but elected by the Assembly.
191. Private rights, too, were more clearly defined. With
the approval of the crown lawyers, the doctrine was established
that the Common Law of England, with all its emphasis on
personal liberty, was also the common law of the colonies even
ivithout express enactment. And at least one advance was made
in the colonies over English custom in the matter of personal
liberty namely, a greater safety for a free press.
In 1735 a tyrannical governor of New York removed the
1 Just as in England, the appointed and hereditary House of Lords was no
longer permitted to amend or reject bills of supply.
154 COLONIAL AMERICANS, 1690-1760 [ 191
chief justice of the colony from office for personal reasons.
John Zenger in his Weekly Journal published vigorous criticism
of this action, declaring that, if unchecked, it threatened slav
ery to the people. Zenger was prosecuted for criminal libel.
In England at that day such a prosecution, backed by the gov
ernment, was sure of success. In New York, the new chief
justice, too, showed a determination to secure a conviction.
He tried to limit the jury to deciding only whether Zenger was
responsible for the publication (a matter not denied), reserving
to himself the decision whether the words were punishable.
This was the custom of English courts in such cases to a
much later period. 1 But Zenger's lawyer in a great speech
argued that public criticism is a necessary safeguard for free
government, and that, to prevent the crushing out of a legiti
mate and needed criticism, the jury in such a trial must decide
whether the words used were libelous or true.
This cause, said he, is "not the Cause of a poor Printer alone, nor of
New York alone," but of "every free Man on the Main of America.' 1
He called upon the jury to guard the liberty " to which Nature and the
Laws of our Country have given us the Right, the Liberty of exposing
and opposing arbitrary Power (in these parts of the World at least) by
speaking and writing the Truth." " A free people,^ he exclaimed bluntly,
"are not obliged by any Law to support a Governor who goes about to
destroy a Province.'' 1
The jury insisted upon this right, and declared Zenger "Not
guilty." Gouverneur Morris afterward styled this acquittal
" the morning star of that liberty which subsequently revolu
tionized America." 2
FOR FURTHER READING. The best treatments (outside of special
monographs) are Greene's Provincial America, 1-80, Channing's second
volume, 217-281, and Becker's Beginnings, 126-200. An excellent treat
ment of Virginia is given in Fiske's Old Virginia, II, 174-269.
1 Cf . Modern World, 746.
2 This trial was one of several at about the same time. The fullest account
in a general history is in Channing, II, 475^89. Zenger's own account, re
sembling a modern " report," is reproduced in the Source Book, No. 113.
191] RIGHT OF FREE SPEECH 155
EXERCISE. 1. Classify the "navigation acts" under three heads
with subdivisions. Why are the restrictions on manufactures classed with
navigation acts ?
2. What are the two main subdivisions of the colonial period 9 Into
what two subperiods is the second of those divisions again subdivided, and
by what ? Write a brief paragraph upon the matter of these divisions
and subdivisions, stating dates for each, and the characteristic marks.
192. Much colonial legislation goes under the name of Blue
Laws. The term signifies either undue severity in punishing
ordinary crime, or unreasonable interference with personal
In the first sense (that of bloody laws), the colonists could
not be blamed by Europeans of their day. Everywhere, life
was still harsh and cruel ; but American legislation was more
humane and rational than that of England or France. True,
many barbarities did survive. The pillory and whipping post
(with clipping of ears) were in universal use. As late as 1748,
a Virginian law (Source Book, No. 115) required every parish
to have these instruments ready, and suggested also a ducking
stool for "brabbling women." Prison life was unspeakably
foul and horrible. Death was the penalty for many deeds not
now considered capital crimes in any civilized land ; l and
many punishments seem to us ingeniously repulsive, such as
branding for robbery.
In the second meaning of Blue Laws, that of inquisitorial
legislation, New England comes in for just criticism. Not
that she was much worse than the rest of the world even in
that. To-day, as a rule, legislation aims to correct a man's
1 When the colonies were growing up, there were over fifty offenses punish
able with death in England. This number increased to about two hundred
before the "sanguinary chaos " was reformed in the nineteenth century (cf.
Modern World, 746) ; but not more than eighteen offenses were ever
"capital" in New England. Virginia ran the number up to twenty-seven;
but in large part this was due to her cruel slave laws, which were rarely en
194] BLUE LAWS 157
conduct only where it directly affects other people ; but in that
day, all over Christendom, the state tried to regulate conduct
purely personal. This was because state and church were
so closely connected. In. Virginia, the colonial law required
attendance at church, and forbade traveling on Sunday. 1 In
the Puritan colonies such legislation was more minutely vexing,
and more rigorously enforced.
193. At the same time, the most common specific charges
against New England are wholly false. It is still widely believed
that in Connecticut the law forbade a woman to kiss her child
on Sunday ; that it prohibited playing on " any instrument of
music except the drum, trumpet, and jewsharp " ; and that it
required " all males " to have their hair " cut round according
to a cap." These " laws " are merely the ingenious vengeance
of a fugitive Tory clergyman (S. A. Peters), who during the
Revolution published in England a History of Connecticut.
This quaint book contains a list of forty-five alleged " Blue
Laws." Some are essentially correct, and most have some basis
in fact ; but a few are mere malicious inventions, and it is
by these almost alone that the " code " is generally known.
The veracity of the Reverend Mr. Peters may be judged from other
items in his History. He pictures the inhabitants of a Connecticut village
fleeing from their beds, mistaking the croaking of an "army of thirsty
frogs" (on their way from one pond to another) for the yells of an
attacking party of French and Indians ; and he describes the rapids of the
Connecticut Kiver thus, " Here water is consolidated without frost, by
pressure, by swiftness, between the pinching, sturdy rocks, to such a
degree of induration that an iron crow [bar] floats smoothly down its
current " !
194. Soon after 1650 there began a slow decay in Puritanism.
The English historian, Freeman, complains that students of
history go wrong because they think that "all the Ancients
lived at the same time." It is essential for us to see the colo
nist of 1730 or 1700 as a different creature from his great grand
father of 1660 or 1630. Even in the first century in Massachu-
i Cf. 37 and Source Book, No. 35.
158 COLONIAL LIFE [ 194
setts, the three generations had each its own character. The first
great generation of founders (the leaders, at least) were strong,
genial, tactful men, broadened by European culture and by
wide experience in camp and court, and preserving a fine
dignity, sometimes tender graces even, in their stern frontier
lives. 1 Their Puritanism was sometimes somber, but never
petty. It was like the noble Puritanism of Milton in his
youth, the splendid enthusiasm of the " spacious Elizabethan
days," sobered and uplifted by moral earnestness and religious
devotion. Winthrop and Cotton and their fellows, who had
left ancestral manor houses to dwell in rude cabins for con^
science' sake, lived an exalted poem day by day in their
unfaltering conviction of the Divine abiding within them and
Their children could not easily rise to this height. As early
as 1646, the Massachusetts General Court laments the dese
cration of the Sabbath by "youths and maydes " "uncivilly
walkinge in the streets and fields . . . and otherwise misspend
ing that precious time ; " and in the records of Watertown for
1669 we read,
" It was agreed that the selectmen shall take their turnes, every man his
Day, to site upon the Gallary to looke to the youthes ... in the time of
publike exercises on the Lords Days, and that the two Constables shalbe
desired to take their turnes to site there also."
Grown to manhood, these sons and grandsons of the founders
laid aside frivolity, it is true, and became solemn and stern ;
but they show Puritanism in the sere. The necessities of
frontier life made them nimble-witted, inquisitive, pushing,
better able than their fathers " to find their way in the woods "
and to rear crops and children under New World conditions.
But the unceasing struggle and petty privations (theirs not by
choice now, but by compulsion), made their lives harsh and
unlovely and bitter. Most of the finer thought and broad out
look of the first generation fell away, and they had never felt
1 See Winthrop's letters in the Source Book.
195] DECAY OF PURITANISM 159
its splendid self-sacrifice. Faith gave way to formula ; inspira
tion was replaced by tradition and cant. The second genera
tion lost the poetry out of Puritanism ; the third generation
began to lose the power.
Much that is vital to man always remained. Puritanism
continued to teach the supremacy of conscience with emphasis
never excelled in religious movements ; and, in its darkest
period, sweet and gentle lives sometimes blossomed out of it.
But before 1700 it showed a great decline. That decay was
associated with three other phenomena ( 195-197).
195. There was a marked increase in gloom in New England
life. Gloom had been an incident of Puritanism in its best
day : now it became so dominant as to distort religion. The
damnation scene of Wigglesworth's Day of Doom was long the
most popular " poetry " in New England. Two extracts may
indicate its character for literature and for thought :
" They cry, they roar, for Anguish sore,
And gnash their Tongues for horror :
But get away without delay ;
Christ pities not your Cry.
Depart to Hell : there you may yell
and roar eternally.
* * * # *
"God's direful Wrath their bodies hath
Forever immortal made ....
And live they must, while God is just,
That He may plague them so." 1
To modern ears this seems comic. But men of that day
preferred Wigglesworth's ghastly doggerel to Milton ; and, as
1 Among these "damned," over whose fate the poet gloats in this way, he
is careful to include all unbaptized infants as well as
" civil honest men,
That loved true Dealing and hated Stealing,
Nor wronged their brethren,"
but whose righteousness had not been preceded by " effectual calling," in the
grotesque phrase of the day.
160 COLONIAL LIFE [ 196
Lowell says with biting satire, the damnation scene was " the
solace of every Puritan fireside."
196. The second phenomenon connected with the fanaticism of
Puritanism in its worst age is the " Salem witchcraft madness "
of 1692. Throughout the seventeenth century, all but the
rarest men believed unquestioningly that the Devil walked the
earth in bodily form and worked his will sometimes through
men and women who had sold themselves to him. These
suspected "witches," usually lonely, scolding, old women,
were objects of universal fear and hate. In Switzerland,
Sweden, Germany, France, Great Britain, great numbers of
such wretches were put to death, not merely by ignorant mobs,
but by judicial processes before the most enlightened courts.
In England, in 1603, parliament sanctioned this Common Law
process by a statute providing the penalty of death for those
who should have " Dealinges with evill Spirits," l and the New
England codes contained similar legislation. In Virginia,
Grace Sherwood was " swum for a witch " in 1705, and the
jury declared her guilty ; but she escaped punishment through
the enlightened doubts of the gentry Justices. In the more
progressive Pennsylvania, the most that could be secured from
a jury was a verdict against an accused woman of " guilty of
haveing the Common fame of a witch, but not guilty as Sliee
stands Indicted." In Maryland a woman was executed on the
charge of witchcraft. But most of the American persecutions
occurred in New England.
Connecticut executed eleven witches, and about as many
more suffered death in Massachusetts before 1690. Then
came the frenzy at Salem ; and within a feiv months twenty were
executed, while the prisons were crammed with many scores
more of the accused. The clergy took a leading part in the
prosecutions ; and the hideous follies of the trials are almost
incredible. While the madness lasted, the flimsiest accusations
1 This law remained on the English statute books until 1735 ; and in 1711
Jane Wenham was convicted under it of " conversing with the Devil in the
shape of a cat."
THE WITCHCRAFT DELUSION
were equivalent to proof. One neat woman had walked some
miles over Lad roads without getting herself muddy : " I scorn
to be drabbled," she said. Plainly she must have been carried
by the Devil ! And so " she was hanged for her cleanliness."
Finally the common sense of the people awoke, and the
craze passed as suddenly as it had come. With it, closed all
THE " WITCH HOUSE," SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS. The oldest house now
standing in Salem, built about 1635. There is a tradition that examina
tions of accused persons were held here. It was the dwelling of Judge
Jonathan Corwin of the Witchcraft trials.
legal prosecution for witchcraft in New England, rather earlier
than in the rest of the world ; but the atrocities of the judicial
murders crowded into those few months must always make a
terrible chapter of history. 1
1 Good brief treatments of the witchcraft delusion are found in Eggleston's
Transit of Civilization, 15-34, and in Channing's History of the United States,
II, 456-462. Longer treatments, containing some exaggerations, are given in
James Russell Lowell's "Witchcraft" in his Works, and in Lecky's History
of European Rationalism.
162 COLONIAL LIFE [ 197
197. In the early eighteenth century the reaction against the
witchcraft delusion, the general decline of Puritanism, and the
influx of dissenting Baptists and Episcopalians into New England
greatly lowered the old influence of the Puritan clergy in society
and in politics. There began, too, here and there, a division
within Puritan churches, foreshadowing the later Unitarian
movement. This loss of religious unity brought with it for a
time some loosening of morals, and part of the people ceased
to have any close relation to the church, though, all were
still compelled to go to service each Sunday.
198. Education. Of the original immigrants below the
gentry class, a large proportion could not write their names ;
and for many years, in most colonies except Massachusetts and
Connecticut, there were few schools. Parents were sometimes
exhorted by law to teach their children themselves ; but all lacked
time, and many lacked knowledge. 1 The closing years of the
seventeenth century were a period of deplorable ignorance,
the lowest point in book education ever reached in America. 2
With the dawn of the eighteenth century, and its greater
prosperity, conditions began to improve. In Pennsylvania,
parents were required, under penalty of heavy fine, to see that
their children could read, and several free elementary schools
were established. In Maryland the statute book provided
that each county should maintain a school, with a teacher
belonging to the established Episcopalian Church ; but, since
most of the inhabitants were Catholics or Protestant dissenters,
the law was ineffective. In Virginia, in 1671, Governor Berke
ley had boasted, " I thank God there are no free schools here
nor printing," and had hoped that for a hundred years the
province might remain unvexed by those causes of "disobe
dience and heresy." Half a century later another governor of
1 See the " marks " for signatures to a Khode Island document of 1636
(Source Book, No. 89). There is much evidence of this sort. Mary Williams,
wife of Roger Williams, signed by her " mark." So, too, did Priscilla Alden
2 For instance, the Watertown Records in the Source Book, No. 83, show
a gross and increasing illiteracy after the middle of the century.
198] SCHOOLS AND LEARNING 163
Virginia complained bitterly that chairmen of committees in
the Assembly could not write legibly or spell intelligibly.
But by 1724, twelve free schools had been established by
endowments of wealthy planters, and some twenty more
private schools were flourishing.
/South of that colony there was no system of schools whatever.
Here and there, however, the churches did something toward
teaching children; and of course the wealthy planters of
South Carolina, like those of Virginia and Maryland, had
private tutors in their families, and sent their sons to colleges
in their own or neighboring colonies or to the English uni
versities. In New York, the Dutch churches had begun free
schools ; but at a later time, because of the connection with
the church, these almost disappeared. Massachusetts and Con
necticut from the beginning had a remarkable system of public
education ( 199) ; and the other New England colonies gradu
ally followed in their footsteps.
By 1760, though the actual years of schooling for a child were
usually few, an astonishingly large part of the population could
read, many times as large, probably, as in any other country
of the world at that time ; but there was still dolefully little cul
ture of a much higher quality. Between 1700 and 1770 several
small colleges were established, 1 in addition to the older Har
vard ( 199) ; but none of these institutions equaled a good high
school of to-day in curriculum, or equipment, or faculty.
With a few notable exceptions, the only private libraries of consequence
were the theological collections of the clergy. In 1698 the South Caro