The English conquest of New Netherland from the Dutch speedily followed the Stuarts' return to the throne. Cromwell had mooted an attack on Dutch America, and, as noticed in Chapter I., Connecticut's charter of 1662 extended that colony to include the Dutch lands. England based her claim to the territory on alleged priority of discovery, but the real motives were the value of the Hudson as an avenue for trade, and the desire to range her colonies along the Atlantic coast in one unbroken line. The victory was not bloody, nor was it offensive to the Dutch themselves, who in the matter of liberties could not lose. King Charles had granted the conquered tract to his brother, the Duke of York, subsequently James II., and it was in his honor christened with its present name of New York.
The Duke's government was not popular, especially as it ordered the Dutch land-patents to be renewed--for money, of course; and in 1673, war again existing between England and Holland, the Dutch recovered their old possession. They held it however for only fifteen months, since at the Peace of 1674 the two belligerent nations mutually restored all the posts which they had won.
The reader already has some idea of Sir Edmond Andros's rule in America. New York was the first to feel this, coming under the gentleman's governorship immediately on being the second time surrendered to England. Such had been the political disorder in the province, that Andros's headship, stern as it was, proved beneficial. He even, for a time, 1683-86, reluctantly permitted an elective legislature, though discontinuing it when the legislatures of New England were suppressed. This taste of freedom had its effect afterward.
When news of the Revolution of 1688 in England reached New York, Andros was in Boston. Nicholson, Lieutenant-Governor, being a Catholic and an absolutist, and the colony now in horror of all Catholics through fear of French invasion from Canada, Jacob Leisler, a German adventurer, partly anticipating, partly obeying the popular wish, assumed to function in Nicholson's stead. All the aristocracy, English or Dutch, and nearly all the English of the lower rank were against him. Leisler was passionate and needlessly bitter toward Catholics, yet he meant well. He viewed his office as only transitory, and stood ready to surrender it so soon as the new king's will could be learned; but when Slaughter arrived with commission as governor, Leisler's foes succeeded in compassing his execution for treason. This unjust and cruel deed began a long feud between the popular and the aristocratic party in the colony.
From this time till the American Revolution New York continued a province of the Crown. Royal governor succeeded royal governor, some of them better, some worse. Of the entire line Bellomont was the most worthy official, Cornbury the least so. One of the problems which chiefly worried all of them was how to execute the navigation acts, which, evaded everywhere, were here unscrupulously defied. Another care of the governors, in which they succeeded but very imperfectly, was to establish the English Church in the colony. A third was the disfranchisement of Catholics. This they accomplished, the legislature concurring, and the disability continued during the entire colonial period.
Hottest struggle of all occurred over the question of the colony's right of self-taxation. The democracy stood for this with the utmost firmness, and even the higher classes favored rather than opposed. The governors, Cornbury and Lovelace, most frantically, but in vain, expostulated, scolded, threatened, till at last it became admitted by law in the colony that no tax whatever could, on any pretext, be levied save by act of the people's representatives.
Dutch America, it will be remembered, had reached southward to the Delaware River, and this lower portion passed with the rest to the Duke of York in 1664. The territory between the Hudson and the Delaware, under the name of New Jersey, he made over to Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, proprietaries, who favored the freest institutions, civil and religious. The population was for long very sparse and, as it grew, very miscellaneous. Dutch, Swedes, English, Quakers, and Puritans from New England were represented.
After the English recovery Berkeley disposed of his undivided half of the province, subsequently set off as West Jersey, to one Bylling, a Quaker, who in a little time assigned it to Lawrie, Lucas, Penn, and other Quakers. West Jersey became as much a Quaker paradise as Pennsylvania. Penn with eleven of his brethren, also bought, of Carteret's heirs, East Jersey, but here Puritan rather than Quaker influence prevailed.
The Jersey plantations came of course under Andros, and after his fall its proprietors did not recover their political authority. For twelve years, while they were endeavoring to do this, partial anarchy cursed the province, and at length in 1702 they surrendered their rights to the Crown, the Jerseys, now made one, becoming directly subject to Queen Anne. The province had its own legislature and, till 1741, the same governors as New York. It also had mainly the same political vicissitudes, and with the same result.
William Penn, the famous Quaker, received the proprietorship of Pennsylvania in payment of a claim for sixteen thousand pounds against the English Government. This had been left him by his father, Sir William Penn, a distinguished naval commander in the Dutch war of 1665-67, when he had borne chief part in the conquest of Jamaica.
William Penn was among the most cultivated men of his time, polished by study and travel, deeply read in law and philosophy. He had fortune, and many friends at court, including Charles II. himself. He needed but to conform, and great place was his. But conform he would not. True to the inner light, braving the scoffs of all his friends, expelled from Oxford University, beaten from his own father's door, imprisoned now nine months in London Tower, now six in Newgate, this heroic spirit persistently went the Quaker way. In despair of securing in England freedom for distressed consciences he turned his thoughts toward America, there to try his "holy experiment."
The charter from Charles II. was drawn by Penn's own hand and was nobly liberal. It ordained perfect religious toleration for all Christians, and forbade taxation save by the provincial assembly or the English Parliament. Under William and Mary, greatly to his grief, Penn was forced to sanction the penal laws against Catholics; but they were most leniently administered, which brought upon the large-minded proprietary much trouble with the home government.
As Pennsylvania, owing to the righteous and loving procedure of Penn toward them, suffered nothing from the red men to the west, so was it fortunately beyond Andros's jurisdiction on the east. Once, from 1692, for two years, the land was snatched from Penn and placed under a royal commission. Returning to England in 1684, after a two years' sojourn in America to get his colony started, the Quaker chief became intimate and a favorite with James II., devotedly supporting his Declaration of Indulgence toward Catholics as well as toward all Protestant dissenters. He tried hard but vainly to win William and Mary to the same policy. This attitude of his cost him dear, rendering him an object of suspicion to the men now in power in England. Twice was he accused of treasonable correspondence with the exiled James II., though never proved guilty. From 1699 to 1701 he was in America again, thereafter residing in England till his death in 1718. He had literally given all for his colony, his efforts on its behalf having been to him, so he wrote in 1710, a cause of grief, trouble, and poverty.
But the colony itself was amazingly prosperous. There were internal feuds, mainly petty, some serious. George Keith grievously divided the Quakers by his teachings against slavery, going to law, or service as magistrates on the part of Quakers, thus implying that only infidels or churchmen could be the colony's officials.
Fletcher's governorship in 1693-94, under the royal commission, evoked continual opposition, colonial privileges remaining intact in spite of him. The people from time to time subjected their ground-law to changes, only to render it a fitter instrument of freedom. In everything save the hereditary function of the proprietary, it was democratic. For many years even the governor's council was elective. The colony grew, immigrants crowding in from nearly every European country, and wealth multiplied to correspond.
We have, dating from 1698, a history of Pennsylvania by one Gabriel Thomas, full of interesting information. Philadelphia was already a "noble and beautiful city," containing above 2,000 houses, most of them "stately," made of brick; three stores, and besides a town house, a market house, and several schools. Three fairs were held there yearly, and two weekly markets, which it required twenty fat bullocks, besides many sheep, calves, and hogs, to supply. The city had large trade to New York, New England, Virginia, West India, and Old England. Its exports were horses, pipe-staves, salt meats, bread-stuffs, poultry, and tobacco; its imports, fir, rum, sugar, molasses, silver, negroes, salt, linen, household goods, etc. Wages were three times as high as in England or Wales. All sorts of "very good paper" were made at Germantown, besides linen, druggets, crapes, camlets, serges, and other woollen cloths. All religious confessions were represented.
In 1712, such his poverty, the good proprietary was willing to sell to the Crown, but as he insisted upon maintenance of the colonists' full rights, no sale occurred. English bigots and revenue officials would gladly have annulled his charter, but his integrity had gotten him influence among English statesmen, which shielded the heritage he had left even when he was gone.
It is particularly to be noticed that till our Independence Delaware was most intimately related to Pennsylvania. Of Delaware the fee simple belonged not to Penn, but to the Duke of York, who had conquered it from the Dutch, as they from the Swedes. Penn therefore governed here, not as proprietary but as the Duke's tenant. In 1690-92, and from 1702, Delaware enjoyed a legislature by itself, though its governors were appointed by Penn or his heirs during the entire colonial period.