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furnishes any criterion of his qualifications for the power. The letters of the governor and council task. Most of the foregoing objections apply to in Virginia to the privy council, are marked by a Girardin. He is more correct than Burke, but is coldness, a jealousy, and distance, but ill calculated also too fond of discoursing de rebus omnibus. to supply by conjecture or analogy, the want of
more genuine matter; and the members of the He has written the histories of North and South British council, in the true spirit of courtiers, Carolina and the other colonies nearly as much as haughty, insincere, and incommunicative, confirmed of Virginia. Indeed, it would hardly be too much the disgust and jealousy of the colony, by their to say that the portions of the four volumes under cold and stupted communications; so that the man review, that refer properly to this State, can, with who should endeavor to depict the state of art and
manners, the military and civil events within the the aid of a pair of scissors only, be reduced into colony, by the help of this correspondence, will be one volume, The rest is an imperfect history of infallibly disappointed.” the separate, or united Colonies, with a dash of
The reign of James I. is by no means a blank in French and Dutch affairs, and a sprinkling of phi- English history, and as the colony then began to aslosophy. In short, if we wished conclusively to sume more importance in the eyes of the Royal Goprove to any one that Virginia has no worthy his
vernment, we might expect to learn something contory, we would induce him to read Burk’s which cerning it in the English historians. But this is not is the only one that pretends to such a character. the case: the greatest of them, Hume, has not a word But the scantiness of his materials and the great upon the subject. The only hope of supplying the obstacles which beset a pioneer in historical re- deficiencies of this period is from the documents in search should not be forgotten.
the State paper office of England and from any conIn the case before us, many of these obstacles
temporary letters or publications that may possibly were insuperable to the most patient and laborious be found across the Atlantic. The Colony of Virsearch ; and this will bring us to the breaches in ginia was not unmindful of her records ; but a sinour public records.
gular fatality seems to have attended them. NegDown to the year 1624, when the charter was lect, fire, and devastation, particularly during the taken from the London Company, the materials for revolution, made their combined rarages upon them, our history are gnite complete even in this country. and destroyed many inestimable portions, which But doubtless a great deal additional of deep interest can be restored, if at all, only from the archives of might be procured in England. During this period, England. One signal instance will exhibit the the Colonists were in constant correspondence with neglect to which they were exposed. Speaking their friends and the company in England, and of Sir Edmund Andross, Governor of Virginia in many memoirs respecting the Colonies were written 1692, Burk says: and published in the mother country, to impart in
“He was likewise a great lover of method, and formation of its prospects and condition, and to in- despatch in all sorts of business, which made him duce adventurers to embark their fortunes in it. find fault with the management of the Secretary's Many of these productions, besides the papers and office. And, indeed, with very good reason; for, documents transmitted the Home Government, from the time of Bacon's rebellion, till then, there might be obtained by an active agent. Some of never was any office in the world mure negligently
kept. Several patents of land were entered blank them are extant in this country and are known to
upon record; many original patents, records, and possess very great value to the Historian of Vir- deeds of land, with other matiers of great conseginia. It will be remembered that the above re- quence, were thrown loose about the office, and sufmarks as to memoirs and letters, apply also to other fered to be dirtied, torn and eaten by the moths and
other insects. periods of the Colony. But from the commence
But upon this genileman's accesment of the Royal Government, darkness and ob
sion to the government, he immediately gave direc
Lions to reform all these irregularities; he caused scurity begin to settle upon the history of the Co- the loose and torn records of value to be translony. The royal prerogative then so overshadowed cribed into new books; and ordered conveniences it, that now it is impossible for any lights here to to be built within the office, for preserving the dispel the gloom. We find Mr. Burk himself be- records from being lost and confounded as before. wailing it.
He prescribed methods to keep the papers dry and
clean, and to reduce them into such order as that " But soon as the proprietary government sank beneath the arm of prerogative, the chain of facts is any thing might be turned to immediately. But
all these conveniences were burnt soon after they broken, and a black and melancholy chasm supplies the place of method and arrangement. During the office itself, and the whole state house. But his
were finished, in October, 1698, together with the existence of the proprietary government, historians diligence was so great in that affair, that though could scarcely differ in the relation of facts : After his stay afterward in the country was very short
, its dissolution, there was hardly any chance of their
vet he caused all the records and papers which had agreement, or any means of reconciling or detect- been saved from the fire, to be sorted again and ing their inconsistencies. The well grounded ap- registered in order, and indeed in much better order prehensions excited among the colonists by the than ever they had been before. In this condition recall of their charter, and the character of the he left 'em, at his quitting the government. king, prevented them from immediately repairing the breaches made in their records by the hand of * Burk. Hist. Va., vol. II. 316-17. Beverly 90-91.
In the above extract we see how conflagration When Georgia sent over her agent, the colonial came in to the aid of the former neglect and to the documents were thus divided in these two deposioverthrow of the order that had been so lately estab- tories, and hence she failed to procure materials lished. But this is by no means the only instance. for some years of her early bistory. But in a short The State House had been previously destroyed time the missing papers were discovered in the by fire in 1676, and was again burnt during the ad- other office, only one having at first been examined. ministration of Gooch, in 1746. Jf Burk be cor- Since then all the colonial documents have been de. rect there must have been two fires before any of posited and arranged in the State Office, whence cothese, for he says that as early as 1667, “At the pies are allowed to be made by the accredited agents instance of Secretary Ludwell, it was enacted that of the States, down to the year 1775. For reasons of the existing titles of lands, the records of which State all posterior to 1775 are positively interdicted. were lost, or to which titles were annexed in re- But with this limitation, the English Government are cords, should be considered valid, the defects hav- liberal in affording the States copies of whatever ing been found to have happened by the neglect of documents she may possess. From what Georgia the clerks of those times, and the casualty of two and New York have obtained, we can readily infer several fires."*
what there is relating to Virginia. A letter from During the war of the Revolution, many barba- England to the Corresponding Secretary of the rous and unpardonable ravages were made upon Georgia Historical Society, says "Mr. Brodhead, our public documents. Even in this respect the of New York, has left England with a large chest Historian may justly inveigh as he does against full of transcripts. His collection will make a the “vandalic inroads" of the British. In the year sensation and will have the effect of stimulating 1781, when the archives of state were removed others to follow such an example.” There is also from Richmond on account of the British invasion, another guide already adverted to. In 1827, the the proceedings of the Council were accidentally Governor of North Carolina, in pursuance of a exposed, taken and destroyed by the enemy. These resolution of her Legislature, wrote to the Hon. losses can never be repaired by any thing in Eng- Albert Gallatin, then our Minister at London, reland ; and are the more deeply to be lamented. questing him to bave merely a catalogue made of
3. There is no doubt, however, that many of the documents relating to her as a Colony and to the distressing chasms, which we have pointed out, transmit the said catalogue to him. Mr. Gallatin, can be completely filled by materials from Eng. always imbued with a love of letters, readily comland; and they are fully worth the trouble and ex- plied, and the list of the titles only of the docapense of procuring them.
ments occupies 120 printed octavo pages. la glanThe intercourse between the colony and the cing over it, our eye was arrested by the title of mother country was always intimate, sometimes several relating to Virginia also. We sincerely submissive. Frequent returns of the state of the hope that the old North State will very soon avail Colony were required by law, and duplicates were herself of the valuable stores which she now so made of every document relating to it, whether clearly knows to be there laid up for her. We here or at home. These documents were all care- are afraid that she too will outstrip Virgioia in this fully preserved in the State Paper Office and in laudable work ; which may your honorable body that of the Board of Trade.t
prevent by your prompt, nay, your immediate action.
The pecuniary value of the treasures wbich the # Burk. Hist. Va., vol. II. 141.
archives of England contain can best be estimated + “ It is well known that the administration of the
gene. ral affairs of the British colonies in America was originally by considering the expense now daily incurred in entrusted to several Lords of the Privy council, who were order to preserve and perpetuate records of pubconstituted by Royal commission a "committee for trade lic transactions and events. Reflect for a moment and plantations." Some years subsequently, the commit- upon the expenditures of your honorable body for tee was discontinued, and a new and distinct board was this purpose alone. Estimate the salaries of the organized, and styled “the Lords conmissioners for trade multitude of public officers, the cost of public ofiand plantations.'
“The records of the proceedings of the committee of ces, the State Guard and of every other arrangecouncil, and subsequently
, of the board of trade and plan- ment for the preparation and care of the public tations, are very full and voluminous, and include likewise the records of the proprietary governments which were consist of the originals of the several documents from time transferred to their custody. All these records relating to to time received from America, by the proprietaries, the the American colonies have lately been removed from the committee and the board. Board of Trade to the State Paper Office, where they are " In addition to these records, there is a large series of hereafter to remain as a part of the archives of the empire. volumes belonging to the State Paper Office, properly;
“They consist principally of two general series, denomi-containing the correspondence of the Secretaries of State nated Entries and Papers. The 'Entries' are composed, with the Colonial and Provincial Governors, and others; chiefly, of the commissions and instructions to the Gover. and comprising, also, a large mass of original papers *** nors, of despatches and letters to them, and their respec. ceived from America, among which are many dupheates tive answers; and also, of various other important papers, of documents in the Board of Trade records."-[Leteor copied into these books for preservation. The · Papers?' Mr. Brodhead, Hist. agt. to Governor Seward of New Yea
records, and you will have some idea of the ines-procuring copies is enjoyed. This courtesy may timable value of the documents which England is be wearied and exhausted by repeated applications, now willing to restore to us. They are equivalent and some of the late comers may be denied what to the labors of a number of public functionaries they will then find to have been above price. for a century and a half, and can probably all be The impartiality of history, too, requires that these procured for the small sum of a few thousand dol- foreign materials should be sought. Not only should
What would these be to such a State as England's archives be consulted, but her voice heard Virginia for such a noble purpose ; for an object and represented in the history of the Colonies. identified with the honor and more enlarged inter. On this head we adopt the following observations ests of the Commonwealth ? What though no from the Southern Quarterly Review. mode may be pointed out by which she could con
“ The accounts we now have of the first settlevert them into money! What though they cannot minister to her immediate pecuniary interest! colonial era, are partial, one-sided, imperfect, and
ment of this country, embracing the provincial and Would she traffic in the memorials of her Council full of exaggeration. They have come to us from Chamber? Would she sell the papers in the cus- the hands of friends alone.-from the hands of tody of the keeper of the rolls? Would she make warm, enthusiastic and ambitious friends and citiprofit of any of her archives? Does she value zens of the New World, who sincerely loved their them according to their actual cost in money ? Are disposed, from motives of interest, as well as pa
country, but who, at the time they wrote, were they prepared and preserved with any view to pe- triotisın, to magnify both the advantages they encuniary gain? It is the general utility to which joyed in their new Viopia, as well as the evils masshe looks and to her honor and fame : to your re-tered by the courage and prowess of their countrygard for these, we appeal in behalf of the defec
The Old World, as well as the New, has a tive and mutilated annals of your State.
voice to utter in this matter, and the archives of
those European nations whose history is connected If, then, every independent State should have with our own, during the colonial and revolutionary the materials in her possession for her full and eras, must be searched and examined, before the complete history, and the histories of our state now whole truth can be ascertained, or the historian be extant are so meagre and defective, and there are prepared, from a knowledge of opposing stateno sources here whence to draw information indis- which influenced both parties, to pronounce an im
ments, and a fair consideration of the motives pensable to the historian, how surely must the con
partial judgment. Each of the old States should clusion follow, that it is the duty of your honora- make liberal appropriations to accomplish so noble, ble body promptly to apply to those fruitful sources patriotic and indispensable a design,-that is to which are known to exist? The known effects of say, each State that has a name encircled with the tiine in obliterating and destroying records of the fame of worthy deeds, and wishes to transmit a
faithful record of its acts to after times. We wish, past should stimulate you to diligence. When Mr. Henning was engaged in preparing his “ Sta- especially, that South-Carolina might move, and
move effectually in this matter. The appropriatutes at large,” Mr. Jefferson, who had tendered lion of a few thousand dollars to such an object, him the use of his collection of laws, thus wrote, would be honorable to the State, and would be “Those in MS. were not sent, because not sup- money well expended. We want light especially posed to have been within your view, and because ries that have been written, injustice has been done
In most of the histosome of them will not bear removal, being so rot-to the Southern States generally, and to Southten that, on turning over a leaf, it sometimes falls Carolina in particular, respecting the part they into powder. These I preserve by wrapping and took, the labors they performed, and the credit to sewing them up in oiled cloth, so that neither air which they are entitled, in the great struggles for nor moisture can have access to them.” And be remedied. We want some person possessed of
our liberties. It is time that this injustice should again, “ But the unprinted laws are dispersed the competent learning, genius, industry, spirit and through many MS. volumes, several of them so perseverance,-not a mere pretender,—to underdecayed, that the leaf can never be ened but once take the task, and perform it in a manner worthy without falling into powder.”
of the age and the merits of those who acted well The documents in England may not be in such during the most eventful period of the world's hisa decayed state, but this will give some idea of the tory,—in a manner, too, honorable to our literature.
We want such a work to be undertaken speedily, importance of speedily securing them.
before those memorable men, who were themselves It is important that Virginia should not suffer actors in the great drama, and who have much herself to be anticipated by any other States. valuable information still 10 impart to the histoBeing the oldest, she should have been the first to rian-information that will be soon lost to the move in the matter; and having lost more of her world—shall all have passed off the stage of life.” records, she has the most to expect from it. In You perceive our earnestness in pressing this Georgia " the last has been first;" let not " the subject upon the attention of your honorable body. first be the last !"
As the honored legislators of your State, you must Besides, it is only through the liberal courtesy feel a desire to become acquainted with her history. of the British Government, that the privilege of History is the teacher of political wisdom. But to what sources will you go ? To the public ar-| proposed to write a history of Virginia, are lasting chives, defective as they are ? You would then have memorials of his interest and solicitude in relation no time for the duties devolved upon you. Hence to this subject. arises the deep obligation to the faithful historian, Can it be any disparagement to your honorable who by his researches redeems the precious time body to suppose that it were now composed alloof many thousands.
Provide some competent gether of such characters as this illustrious triummind with the proper resources and he will spread virate ? Think, if such a constellation were possibefore you and your successors and your children, ble, of its splendor! And what would be their view what the nature of your offices needs and what you of the present application? The elegant and acnow desire in vain, because it is inaccessible. complished Byrd, if bis own unbounded munif
The history of Virginia is adorned with three cence had not already supplied the deficiency, illustrious names, that stand forth conspicuously would be intent upon procuring MSS. from Eng. in this connection. First in the order of time was land. That voice once so eloquent in calling for Col. William Byrd of Westover, a Virginia gen-“ Liberty or death" would be calling for the chertleman and a scholar, of whom Burk says, “about ished history and antiquities of bis native State. the same time, (1743) died William Byrd of the Instead of our own feeble pen, that which drew Council, one of the most distinguished characters the Declaration of Independence would be wielded which had shone out for a long time in Virginia. in this cause. As you could not withstand their
Extensive knowledge attained by study, united appeal, (“though dead they yet speak,") do improved by observation and refined by a familiar not disregard this humble effort. Prove yourselves acquaintance with the illustrious characters of his worthy to be their successors as guardians of the time, were the qualities aniversally ascribed to him State, and imbued with the same patriotic and eleby the prints of the day. It is the duty of vated spirit. History to pronounce one part of his eulogy, which, A few words as to the course to be pursned. as it is justly earned, will become him better than the plan that best comports with the dignity and a thousand wreaths of false and fantastic adulation. importance of the subject and the character of s He felt a laudable and rational pride in preserving sovereign State, is to send an agent, with a very the antiquities of his country : nor can we believe respectful application to her Majesty's government, that this proceeded merely from the cold spirit of with full power and ample means to procure matean antiquarian. The antiquities he preserved con- rials for the history of the State, both MS. and tained materials for an history of his country."* printed. He could also pursue some collateral inThe other two were cotemporaries, leaders of the vestigations, and might find in the families of those Assembly and the first Governors of the State : early connected with the colony valuable letters and one spoken of as her Dictator," in times that tried other papers. The appointment of sach person men's souls ;" the other subsequently the leader of might be confided to the Executive and council, the whole Union. Of Patrick Henry it is express- who should have the discretionary power to send ly recorded, “ his favorite studies were the history him over immediately, or first to proenre, through and antiquities of his native State ; and so strong the kindness of Mr. Everett, a catalogue of the was the determination of his mind to objects at Documents relating to Virginia. This, however, this time little known or attended to, that at an we think useless and would of itself be quite erearly age he was minutely acquainted with the va- pensive. It would be utterly impossible to order rious grants and charters, which compose the foun- copies by the titles only, and it is known certainly dation and edifice of the rights and pretensions of that there are abundant materials in the State office Virginia.
relating to Virginia. “ Owing to the security arising from long and un- It is proper to state that copies may be obtained, interrupted possession, and the apprehensions ex- as mentioned in the subjoined letter of Mr. Teflt
, cited by foreign hostility, these rights were but im- without the expense of sending over a special perfectly understood, and to his superior knowledge agent. But then every thing would have to be coin topics gradually becoming more interesting, pied, or an agent appointed here to inform the should be ascribed in a great measure the high and agent resident there what materials our own ardeserved reputation he afterwards acquired.”+chives still afford. The services of a very able
What shall be said of “the philosophic ardor of and honorable gentleman in London might be proJefferson, smitten with the elegances of Literature cured, but his investigations could not extend beand fired with the passion of making his country yond the State office and there could not be the the rival of civilized Europe."! His “ Notes on same confidence and freedom of communicatios, as Virginia," his correspondence, his large historical in the case of an agent specially delegated, whose collections of books and MSS.; bis aid to Hen- zeal, interest and devotion would all incite him to ning and to the late Edmund Randolph, when he the task. An agent in London could only superio• Burk's Hist. Va., vol. III., 114, 115.
tend the copying of what was ordered; bat how + 1b., p. 300. Id., p. 390.
can specific knowledge be obtained of what should be ordered ? From having once sent out a special illy corresponds with his high and elevated chaagent, Georgia has facilities in giving orders for racter and acknowledged abilities. I have always further copies that we can not have. Nor could a believed, that taking advantage of the then concomplete catalogue assist us much, since it is im- vulsed state of England, produced by the struggles possible to read the contents of a long article by a Bacon had at that early day, (1775-6,) formed the
between the Commonwealth-men and the Royalists, short title. Take the index of a large volume, and design of giving permanent independence to Virhow often will you fail to find what you desire and ginia, which had in fact refused to acknowledge know to be there, even under its most appropriate the Commonwealth, and had regarded the bond of head! We speak from experience.
her allegiance as severed by the overthrow and
final execution of Charles I. Certain it is that One other brief view of the subject and the sub- Bacon acted in all things in the absence of authorjoined letters will close this article. It seems ity from England-changed the Seat of Governhighly appropriate that Congress should at once ment from James Town to the middle plantations, obtain all that England possesses in relation to the (Williamsburg,)—convoked the House of BurHistory of the Colonies. There can hardly be a gesses,-passed laws, and maintained an indepenState that would not rejoice at it; and the State dent sway for nearly two years, when falling a vicLegislatures might address Congress in reference of a suitable leader to conduct the Revolution suc
tim to disease, the former authorities, for the want to it. It would cost no more probably than was cessfully, were restored, and the whole fell to the paid for the Madison Papers; and less than is now ground. When we take into consideration the disspoken of for the purchase of Morse's Magnetic tracted state of the times, the comparatively limitTelegraph ; and it seems to come as legitimately ed extent of the British Navy at that early day
the difficulty of transporting large bodies of troops within the scope of their authority as either of the
across so broad an Ocean as the Atlantic,-the difforegoing measures, or the purchase of a library, ficulty of supporting them after their transportastatuary and paintings. But your honorable body tion was accomplished, we can well imagine that may take a different view of Congressional powers; an ardent and enthusiastic mind like that of Naand the States who have already expended their thaniel Bacon, might have dared to think that Virmoney, together with the new Slates who have no
ginia should be and was “ of right a free, soveimmediate interest in the subject, might withhold the motives of the actors in those stirring scenes
reign and independent State." But, my dear Sir, their consent to the action of Congress. The are as obscure as the last 'resting places of their State of Virginia ought to possess copies of these mortal rernains, and much that they did has been foreign records, and should not wait for Congress lost to the cause of truth and justice. If a competo perform a work so valuable and honorable, and tent person could be found, with zeal and sufficient so necessary for herself.
energy to clear away the rubbish and to explore the dark places in our history, it would be gratifying and instructive to the present and all future gene
rations. Who shall thread the labyrinth, or head Washington, Oct. 2, 1844.
the Argonautic expedition, it is not for me to say. . My Dear Sir,—I am in receipt of your letter butions to this great task, and with my cordial salu
I can only wish you every success in your contriof the 23rd of September, and fully concur with tations I tender you my best wishes for your health you in the importance you attach to a more thorough and happiness. and accurate history of Virginia than any hereto
John Tyler. fore written ; and doubt not that the Archives of England would furnish important and valuable material, for such a work. Much, very much of our
Savannah, 11th Sept., 1844. early history remains in doubt and obscurity ; and yet nothing could be more interesting than to be My Dear Minor,—You ask we what investigaable to trace with accuracy the struggles of the tion our Historical Society are prosecuting abroad. first settlers to meet and overcome the difficulties You are aware no doubt, that by an act of our Legthat surrounded them-10 keep op, without falter- islature in 1837, an agent was appointed to proing, the march of events, and to mark with preci- ceed to Europe in search of material for a history sion the advances annually made in the occupation of Georgia. "The Rev. C. W. Howard was apof the country. The account of the bloody battle pointed ihat agent. He went to London in the fought within a few miles only of the City of Rich- summer of 1838, and in October of that year, mond by the settlers under the lead of Nathaniel three months after his arrival, he obtained permisBacon, and the Indian Tribes, is more indistinct sion through Lord Palmerston to inspect and make than could be desired, considering the consequences extracts from the records and papers in the State which flowed from it. It led the way to the com- Paper Office, relating to the State of Georgia from plete mastery of the white race over the red, and the years 1735 to 1775 inclusive, but no later. assisted in no small degree to swell the mighty tor- The result of Mr. Howard's labors you will find rent of civilization which has overflowed this con-referred to in a report of a Committee of our Sotinent. The history of that remarkable man is ciety, a copy of which I sent you by the mail of and must be greatly defective. He is made to yesterday. figure on the page of history, as governed chiefly In consequence of the expense to which, in years in what he did by enmity to Sir William Berkely, past, the State of Georgia has been put in the quest the then Governor, and actuated solely by the de- after the documents in Europe, exceeding I think sire to expel him the colony. And yet this but'$,6000, any further application to the Legislature