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This law did not escape the censure of the commissioners, but the confederacy had no power to restrain these differences.
In the year 1653, the commissioners of the colonies took into consideration, the question of making war upon the Dutch, who had driven the New-Haven settlers from the land they had purchased on the Delaware, and burnt their fort ; who had constantly sold arms and ammunition to the savages, which exposed the colonies to extirpation; and who, on the rupture between England and Holland, had attempted to engage the Indians in a plot to destroy the English. The commissioners of Plymouth, Connecticut and New-Haven, agreed on the necessity of a war 10 put a stop to such outrages and a dangerous conspiracy ; but those of Massachusetts opposed it, and no arguments or powers of persuasion availed. The legislature of Massachusetts denied the authority of the commissioners to declare war; alledging that each colony was a sovereignty, and could not be subject to another sovereign power. The other colonies held this to be a direct violation of the articles of union-but the confederation was a rope of sand. The savages continued to purchase arms and ammunition of the Dutch ; and by the time of Philip's war, they were well furnished and well acquainted with arms. This proved the principal cause of that war and its horrors.
On the accession of King William to the throne of England, a plan was formed in New England to take Canada. Commissioners from the colonies met at New-York and agreed upon a plan of operations. A fleet under Sir William Phips was to sail from Boston to Quebec, and a body of troops from Connecticut and New-York was to advance by land to the lakes and Montreal. The fleet arrived before Quebec, though late in the season ; but the land forces, after proceeding to the lake, were obliged to retreat for wánt of canoes and provisions. These articles were to be furnished by a commissary of New-York; but he failed. The colony of New York was distracted with factions under the usurpation of Lesler
General Winthrop, who commanded the forces, was blamed for retreating; but was fully exculpated by a court of enquiry. In truth, the plan of co-operation with the fleet was frustrated for want of a common head or government over the colonies, which would have given union, concert and energy to the whole system of measures. There is no doubt but the French would have been expelled from Canada or totally subdued in the reign of king William or queen Ann, had it not been for the division of the Americans into small sovereignties.
When the projected expedition against Lewisburg was proposed to the colonies as far south as Pennsylvania, they all declined giving assistance except Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island; and the latter deliberated so long, that her troops did not arrive till after the garrison had surrendered; so that the troops of three colonies only, of which Massachusetts furnished four fifths, were employed in that important service. In short, nothing prevented the expulsion of the French from Canada sixty or seventy years sooner than it happened, but the weakness of the colonies, resulting from a division of their power, and the jealousy of their councils. And it is very evident that, in those seventy years, the French, and Indians in their employment, killed twenty thousand men, women and children; which greatly retarded the population of the northern states. Had Canada been conquered in 1690, and retained under the British government, it is probable this part of America would have had, in the year 1800, two hundred thousand inhabitants beyond the actual number.
HISTORY OF THE REVOLUTION.
The first planters of New-England were all dissenters from the Church of England, who declined to conform to its ritual ceremonies, and, by their opposition, called down upon their heads the vengeance of Archbishop Laud. To get rid of such turbulent subjects was rather to be desired than dreaded, by the king and court. But within a few years, the numerous emigrations from England alarmed the government, and orders were issued to stop the sailing of ships bound to America. These orders, however, were temporary, and most or all those men departed from England, who wished to settle in a country where they might be exempt from arbitrary government. As the plantations increased and became respectable, the court of England began to be alarmed with the apprehension, that the colonies would become wholly independent of the parent state.
With a view to secure the dominion of England over the colonies, in ecclesiastical as well as civil affairs, king Charles the First granted a commission, dated April 10, 1634, by which he empowered the two archbishops, with certain other persons, to superintend the colonies, to erect courts, civil and ecclesiastical, to remove governors for causes which to them should seem meet, to inquire into the conduct of all officers, to punish offenses with fine and imprisonment, to make and repeal laws, and revoke charters. This extraordinary commission excited great alarm in the infant colonies, but the inhabitants determined to resist the execution of it; and on receiving intelligence that a governor, appointed by the commissioners, would proceed to America, the government of Massachusetts hastened the fortifications in Boston harbor. It does not appear that any attempt was made to enforce this commission.
During the reign of Charles the First, the colonies were frequently alarmed with the report of some act of the English government, to abridge their freedom. Their enemies represented the people as aiming at an entire independence, and a plan was devised and nearly matured, to deprive the colonies of their charters, and place over them a general governor.Probably the dispute and civil war in England, were among the causes which frustrated that plan. Aster king Charles was beheaded, and the goveroment of England assumed the shape of a commonwealth, the colonies were relieved from their apprehensions, and the Protector, Cromwell, appeared to favor the views and interests of the settlers in America. Under his administration, however, the parliainent passed an act for encouraging the commerce of England, which was the ground work of the famous Navigation Act in 1660, which restrained the trade of the colonies, and was the means of drying up the sources of their prosperity.
Upon the restoration of the monarchy in England, the colonies submitted, and sent addresses, congratulating the king on his accession to the throne. Connecticut and Rhode Island obtained charters with ample privileges, and so well pleased was the king with the respectful manner in which they treated him, that he wrote letters, giving the most flattering assurances that he would protect the colonies, in all their chartered rights. He also appointed commissioners to examine the state of the colonies, and decide controversies between them. The king required that the laws derogatory to the crown should be repealed; that free liberty should be given to use the common prayer, and the service of the Church of England; that all persons of honest lites should be admitted to the sacrament, and their children to baptism ; and that magistrates should be chosen, and freemen admitted, without regard to opinions and professions of religion. The king required also, that every person in the plantations should take the oath of allegiance to his majesty. These requisitions gave the colonies some alarm, and indicated that the king
was apprehensive the people intendedto become independent. The union of the four colonies was regarded by the crown with an eye of jealousy, but the people assured the king's agents, that it was not intended for the purpose of casting off a dependence on England.
No measure of the English court or parliament excited more discontent, or was resisted with more firmness by the first setilers, than the law for regulating the trade of England and the colonies, first enacted by the parliament in 1651, during the administration of Cromwell, and in 1660, re-enacted by the king and parliament, with considerable additions. By this act, all trade with England and the colonies was restricte ed to English ships, the master of which, and three fourths at least of the seamen, were to be English; and the colonies were probibited from shipping many of their most valuable articles to any ports but to England, where they were to be landed, before they could be sent to market in any other country. This regulation threw the advantages of the colo
al trade into the hands of the English ; but deprived the colonies of their best markets. The colonies opposed the execution of it many years; at length, in 1680, governor Leet of Connecticut submitted, and took the oath required. But Massachusetts was more obstinate, and her opposition was one of the reasons for vacating her charter. She finally submitted to the regulations, by passing a law requiring them to be observed, but denied the right of parliament to bind the colonies to observe them.
The king, determined to enforce the Navigation Act, sent over Edward Randolph, with power to inspect the conduct of the colònies, to make seizures for breaches of the act, and in short, to be a common informer. This man made it his business to collect charges against the colonies, and return to England to excite the jealousy of the English government.In this manner, the way was prepared for annulling the charters of the colonies, and the appointment of Sir Edmund Andross, as governor general over New-England and New-York.