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arisen from the subsidence of the waters, and are the bottoms of ancient lakes; nay, had the waters of the Mississippi, in the summer of 1844, risen but a few feet higher,* they would again have been converted into lakes. Thus Featherstonbaugh (p. 120) designates the prairies in Arkansas as the beds of ancient lakes, and remarks that meadow and forest often seemed there to contend for the mastery. The soil of the prairies is either perfectly level, or else it assumes the form of waves, and presents the appearance of a green sea which has suddenly become fixed while in motion. But to this color of the grass are soon joined the hues of a variety of brilliant blossoms; red, it is said, predominating in spring, blue in summer, and yellow in autumn. The moister parts are the resort of innumerable water-fowl, and the drier are traversed by immense herds of buffaloes.
Yet even here drinkable water is found not far beneath the surface. It is easier to cultivate these meadow-lands, girt with trees at the edges, than to extirpate the giant sons of the primitive forest; these plains also offer the most favorable opportunity for the construction of roads, canals, and railways.
With the exception of many poor or swampy places on the shores of the Atlantic, and the great deserts that lie beyond all the present settlements at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, the entire soil of the American republic admits with care of profitable cultivation, and exhibits for the most part a superior degree of fertility. That the wild beasts are constantly forced further back, while man and the domestic animals take their place, is an incalculable gain; and the diminution of the vegetable kingdom is no loss, as this is rarely carried further than is necessary, while a rich indemnification is presented in the prodigious store of coal and iron.
Even in Maine, the state lying furthest to the north, all the necessaries of life can be produced; and from here down to Florida and Louisiana there extends the cultivation of such a variety of articles, that the United States are better capable than any other country upon earth of forming a commercial state exclusive and sufficient for itself. But as they have not wished to put into execution this unphilosophic and unpractical idea, they have naturally already attained the second rank among the commercial nations of the world.
* In some of the northwestern regions, as, for instance, in the Traverse des Sioux, the water is still decreasing.
DISCOVERIES AND FIRST SETTLEMENTS.
Travellers and Discoverers--Virginia-Maryland— New England--Carolina-New
York - New Jersey - Pennsylvania — Georgia - Delaware - General state of things. As soon as Columbus had revealed another horizon to the eyes of all Europe by means of his grand discovery, every seafaring nation sought to secure for itself a share in the new countries. The Spaniard Ponce de Leon landed in Florida in 1512;* Soto penetrated to the Mississippi in 1541; and in 1565 the Spaniards founded St. Augustine in Florida, the oldest city in the United States, but at the same time they most barbarously destroyed, out of religious hatred, a settlement of French Huguenots.
In the year 1524 Verazzani undertook for France the first voyage to the coasts of the United States; Cartier arrived at the St. Lawrence in 1535; and in 1608, Champlain penetrated to the lake that bears his name.
More continuous and indefatigable were the enterprises of the English. John Cabot, a Venetian merchant residing in Bristol, received from King Henry VII., on the 5th of March, 1495, a patent to discover and take possession of countries. On the 24th of June, 1497, he reached the continent (Columbus reached it in 1498, and Amerigo in 1599) in the 56th degree of north latitude, and he followed down the coast to the 38th degree. This discovery was at that time equivalent to taking possession. Cabot's son, Sebastian, went in 1517 in search of a northwest passage,
and on this occasion penetrated into Hudson's bay. Drake's voyages and plundering excursions (1577–1580) were of no lasting consequence; and in spite of the boldness and perseverance exhibited by Raleigh (since the year 1584) in his endeavors to establish the colony of Virginia, so called after Queen Elizabeth, it was not till twenty years later (in 1607) that Jamestown, the oldest Anglo-American city, was founded. And even at this time every thing wore an unfavorable aspect. Among those who had ventured over there were more gold-hunters, nobles, and idlers, than husbandmen and mechanics. There was a lack of women, and numerous dissensions gave the Indians opportunities for attacks and for inflicting barbarities.
The aim of
The best information on all these matters is to be found in Bancroft's History
the greater part was rather to amass sudden wealth, than to settle and labor. It was very correctly remarked by Capt. John Smith, the man to whom Virginia is so highly indebted, that mechanics and husbandmen were needed most of all, and that nothing was to be hoped for or gained in the country but by labor. And such, thank Heaven, is still the case!
In the two first patents for a company of adventurers, only their and the king's rights were guaranteed. In 1619, Governor Yeardley boldly convoked a representative assembly; and in the year 1621, the London Company established a constitution similar to that of England; the Governor and members of a Council were appointed by the company; but the legislative power was entrusted to an Assembly, in which sat the councillors above mentioned, and two burgesses chosen to represent each plantation. Orders from London needed ratification by the assembly, and vice versa. The governor was allowed a negative, restraining vote. Judicial proceedings and the trial by jury were the same as in England.
In the year 1623 King James broke up the company; yet the rights of Virginia were not hereby diminished. On the contrary, it was distinctly declared that the governor should levy no taxes without the authority of the assembly. The designs of kings James and Charles I. to abolish the company altogether, met with failure ; nor did the last-named monarch succeed any better in obtaining for himself a monopoly of the increasing tobacco-trade. When England, in the year 1642, demanded a general monopoly of their trade: the reply of Virginia was, “ Freedom of trade is the blood and life of a commonwealth.” Nor could the English Navigation Act of a later date be fully enforced.
But while such laudable progress was making, the introduction of slaves was unhappily permitted, and afterwards even approved of by Locke. Less objectionable was the introduction of respectable females from Europe, who were disposed of at the rate of from 120 to 150 pounds of tobacco each.*
Cromwell treated the colonies with good sense and moderation; but after the restoration of Charles II., ecclesiastical and political usurpations soon showed themselves. The high church was declared to be the religion of the state, a strict conformity in all doctrines was enjoined, force was employed against the Quakers, and a heavy finet prescribed for non-attendance at church. This intentional infringement of the rights of the people led to revolts, and under Governor Berkeley to very severe punishments. This indeed Charles II. afterwards disapproved of in words; but he failed to grant a new patent with more ample public rights. The
Grahame, ii. 72. A pound was worth three shillings.
altered government in England since William III. operated also in a different manner on Virginia.
Persecuted Catholics founded Maryland under the conduct of Sir George Calvert and his son Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore. He received from the crown, in the year 1632, almost unlimited powers; though to these a representative constitution was annexed. These immigrant Catholics likewise gave the first praiseworthy example of general religious toleration; although during the English rebellion political and religious disputes were not wanting
In the year 1650, twelve persons were convoked by Lord Baltimore to form an Upper House, and from each county four per. sons were chosen for the Lower House. About 1660, Maryland was in the possession of political freedom, based on a partial application of the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people; and in the year 1692, Lord Baltimore's prerogatives were almost wholly abolished.
As Maryland owes its origin to intolerance against Catholics, so the settlements in New England were brought about by persecutions inflicted on Protestant dissenters and Puritans.* But, as it usually happens, the persecuted also held their views to be the only right ones, and sought to enforce them by stringent laws.
Charles I. was eager to get rid of the turbulent Puritans, and accordingly he here made larger concessions than he had done to Virginia. At least, from the year 1629, there was gradually deve. loped out of a charter granted to a trading company for Massachusetts, a constitution with representative forms, based on democracy.
In the spirit of this political freedom, Roger Williams demanded also religious tolerance, and said that no creed, no opinion should be persecuted. Heresy should remain unattacked by laws, and orthodoxy needed no frightful protection by means of punishments. To this the Puritans opposed the conviction that the state must root out all errors : thus very naturally assuming their own views to be the only correct ones. Williams, a truly pious, noble, and disinterested man, suffered on account of these princi. ples, persecution, banishment, and distress of every kind; yet he afterwards (about the year 1638) became the founder and law. giver of Rhode Island with democratic forms and entire religious freedom.
In Boston, however, the capital of Massachusetts (founded 1630), religious discussions, in which the women took an active share, continued to exist, and led to legal decisions inflicting ban. ishment on Catholics, Jesuits, and Quakers.
* The first settlement was in 1620 at New Plymouth.
In the year 1629, arose New Hampshire, and in 1636, Connecticut; and in both of these, republican institutions were developed. Charles I. and his ministers (Strafford and Laud) entertained the design of carrying out their political and religious plans in New England also ;* but they were prevented. It is also said in a petition of that colony: “Suffer us to live in the wilderness undisturbed; and we hope to find as much grace with the king and his councillors, as God imparteth to us already.” From that time forward New England remained unmolested by the king, withstood all closer dependence on the Long Parliament, and was not disturbed in its development by the favorably disposed Cromwell. Still, the echo of the ecclesiastical disputes in the mother-country was heard beyond the Atlantic.
" Faith,” it was repeated, “should not grow so cold as to tolerate errors. Polypiety is the greatest impiety, and only gross ignorance can demand liberty of conscience."
This keenness and determination operated more advantageously in another direction, in establishing greater popular freedom and opposing oppressive restrictions on trade.
In the year 1662 and 1663, Connecticut and Rhode Island obtained new charters, which fully secured municipal independence, permitted the election of public officers, extended religious toleration, and very much restricted the influence of the king and of the mother-country. Many things were already deliberated and acted upon in North America, which elsewhere were hardly thought of; such as making provision for the poor, the construction of public roads,f the registering of births, deaths, &c. The zeal for schools was so great, that parents were commanded to send their children to them, under pain of punishment.
About the time when the restored Stuarts deprived most of the English towns of their charters, or essentially altered them, the like danger threatened the American colonies. They stood up, however, with equal sense and spirit (with Massachusetts at their head) to defend their rights, and declared that no appeal should go from America to England. “Our connection with that kingdom," said they, “is a voluntary one; and it has no right, either to bind us or to give away our lands, since we have acquired all by our own labor and means."
The province of Carolina, or the country between the 31st and 36th degrees of north latitude, extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean (a territory equal to several kingdoms), was granted by Charles II., in 1663, to several eminent noblemen. Shaftesbury and Locke sketched a constitution, in which the latter had the chief hand, for the future state yet in embryo; but which * Grahame, i. 252, Bancroft, i. 44.
† De Tocqueville, i. 46.