The establishment of Charles II. as king fully restored Lord Baltimore as proprietary in Maryland, and for a long time the colony enjoyed much peace and prosperity. In 1660 it boasted twelve thousand inhabitants, in 1665 sixteen thousand, in 1676 twenty thousand. Plantation life was universal, there being no town worthy the name till Baltimore, which, laid out in 1739, grew very slowly.
Tobacco was the main production, too nearly the only one, the planters sometimes actually suffering for food, so that the raising of cereals needed to be enforced by law. For long the weed was also the money of the province, not disused for this even when paper currency was introduced, being found the less fluctuating in value of the two. Partly actual over-production and partly the navigation acts, forcing all sales to be effected through England, fatally lowered the price, and Maryland with Virginia tried to establish a "trust" to regulate the output.
In its incessant and on one occasion bloody boundary disputes with Pennsylvania and Delaware, Maryland had to give in and suffer its northern and eastern boundaries to be shortened.
One of the most beautiful traits of early Maryland was its perfect toleration in religion. Practically neither Pennsylvania nor Rhode Island surpassed it in this. Much hostility to the Quakers existed, yet they had here exceptional privileges, and great numbers from Virginia and the North utilized these. All sorts of dissenters indeed flocked hither out of all European countries, including many Huguenots, and were made welcome to all the rights and blessings of the land.
But from the accession of Charles Calvert, the third Lord Baltimore, in 1675, the colony witnessed continual agitation in favor of establishing the English Church. False word reached the Privy Council that immorality was rife in the colony owing to a lack of religious instruction, and that Catholics were preferred in its offices. This movement succeeded, in spite of its intrinsic demerit, by passing itself off as part of the rising in favor of William and Mary in 1688-89.
James II. had shown no favor to Maryland. If its proprietary, as a Catholic, pleased him, its civil and religious liberty offended him more. He was hence not popular here, and the Marylanders would readily have proclaimed the new monarchs but for the accidental failure of the proprietary's commands to this effect to reach them. This gave occasion for one Coode, with a few abettors, to form, in April, 1689, an "Association in Arms for the Defence of the Protestant Religion, and for Asserting the Right of King William and Queen Mary to the Province of Maryland." The exaggerated representations of these conspirators prevailed in England. The proprietary, retaining his quit rents and export duty, was deprived of his political prerogatives. Maryland became a Crown province, Sir Lionel Copley being the first royal governor, and the Church of England received establishment therein.
The new ecclesiastical rule did not oppress Protestant dissenters, though very severe on Catholics, whom it was supposed necessary, here as all over America, to keep under, lest they should rise in favor of James II., or his son the Pretender.
The third Lord Baltimore died in 1714-15. The proprietaries after this being Protestants, were intrusted again with their old political headship. By this time a spirit of independence and self-assertion had grown up among the citizens, enforcing very liberal laws, and the vices of the sixth Lord, succeeding in 1751, made his subjects more than willing that he should, as he did, close the proprietary line.
Virginia, passionately loyal, at first gloried in the Restoration. This proved premature. It was found that the purely selfish Charles II. cared no more for Virginia than for Massachusetts. The Commonwealth's men were displaced from power. Sir William Berkeley again became governor, this time, however, by the authority of the assembly. A larger feeling of independence from England had sprung up in the colony in consequence of recent history at home and in the mother-land. It was developed still further by the events now to be detailed.
The Old Dominion contained at this time 40,000 people, 6,000 being white servants and 2,000 negro slaves, located mainly upon the lower waters of the Rappahannock, York, and James Rivers. Between 1650 and 1670, through large immigration from the old country, the population had increased from 15,000 to 40,000, some of the first families of the State in subsequent times arriving at this juncture. About eighty ships of commerce came each year from Great Britain, besides many from New England. Virginia herself built no ships and owned few; but she could muster eight thousand horse, had driven the Indians far into the interior, possessed the capacity for boundless wealth, and had begun to experience a decided sense of her own rights and importance. The last fact showed itself in Bacon's Rebellion, which broke out in 1676, just one hundred years before the Declaration of Independence. The causes of the insurrection were not far to seek.
The navigation acts were a sore grievance to Virginia as to the other colonies. Under Cromwell they had not been much enforced, and the Virginians had traded freely with all who came. Charles enforced them with all possible rigor, confining Virginia's trade to England and English ships manned by Englishmen. This gave England a grinding monopoly of tobacco, Virginia's sole export, making the planters commercially the slaves of the home government and of English traders. Duties on the weed were high, and mercilessly collected without regard to lowness of price. All supplies from abroad also had to be purchased in England, at prices set by English sellers. Even if from other parts of Europe, they must come through England, thus securing her a profit at Virginia's expense.
This was not the worst. The colonial government had always been abused for the ends of worthless office-holders from England. Now it was farmed out more offensively than ever. In 1673 Charles II. donated Virginia to two of his favorites, Lords Arlington and Culpeper, to be its proprietaries like Penn in Pennsylvania and Baltimore in Maryland. They were to have all the quit rents and other revenues, the nomination of ministers for parishes, the right of appointing public officers, the right to own and sell all public or escheated lands; in a word, they now owned Virginia. This shabby treatment awoke the most intense rage in so proud a people. The king relented, revoked his donation, made out and was about to send a new charter. But it was too late; rebellion had already broken out.
The Indians having made some attacks on the upper plantations, one Nathaniel Bacon, a spirited young gentleman of twenty-eight, recently from England, applied to Sir William Berkeley for a commission against them. The governor declined to give it, fearing, in the present excited condition of the colony, to have a body of armed men abroad. Bacon, enraged, extorts the commission by force. The result is civil war in the colony. The rebels are for a time completely victorious. Berkeley is driven to Accomac, on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake, but, succeeding in capturing a fleet sent to oppose him, he returns with this and captures Jamestown. Beaten by Bacon in a pitched battle, he again retires to Accomac, and the colony comes fully under the power of his antagonist, the colonists agreeing even to fight England should it interpose on the governor's side, when a decisive change in affairs is brought about by the rebel leader's death.
The rebellion was now easily subdued, but it had soured and hardened old Governor Berkeley's spirit. Twenty-three in all were executed for participation in the movement. Charles II. remarked: "That old fool has hanged more men in that naked country than I for the murder of my father."
After Bacon's Rebellion the colonial annals show but a dull succession of royal governors, with few events specially interesting. Under the governorship of Lord Howard of Effingham, which began in 1684, great excitement prevailed in Virginia lest King James II. should subvert the English Church there and make Catholicism dominant, which indeed might possibly have occurred but for James's abdication in 1688.
Under Governor Nicholson, from 1690, the capital was removed from Jamestown to Williamsburg, and the College of William and Mary founded, its charter dating from 1693. The Attorney-General, Seymour, opposed this project on the ground that the money was needed for "better purposes" than educating clergymen. Rev. Dr. Blair, agent and advocate of the endowment, pleading: "The people have souls to be saved," Seymour retorted: "Damn your souls, make tobacco." But Blair persisted and succeeded, himself becoming first president of the college. The initial commencement exercises took place in 1700.
Governor Spotswood, who came in 1710, did much for Virginia. He built the first iron furnaces in America, introduced wine-culture, for which he imported skilled Germans, and greatly interested himself in the civilization of the Indians. He was the earliest to explore the Shenandoah Valley. It was also by his energy that the famous pirate "Black beard" was captured and executed. Lieutenant Maynard, sent with two ships to hunt him, attacked and boarded the pirate vessel in Pamlico Sound, 1718. A tough fight at close quarters ensued. Blackbeard was shot dead, his crew crying for quarter. Thirteen of the men were hung at Williamsburg. Blackbeard's skull, made into a drinking-cup, is preserved to this day. The great corsair's fate, Benjamin Franklin, then a printer's devil in Boston, celebrated in verse.
Carolina was settled partly from England, France, and the Barbadoes, and partly from New England; but mainly from Virginia, which colony furthermore furnished most of its political ideas.
In March, 1663, Carolina was constituted a territory, extending from 36 degrees north latitude southward to the river San Matheo, and assigned to a company of seven distinguished proprietaries, including General Monk, who had been created Duke of Albemarle, and John Locke's patron, the famous Lord Ashley Cooper, subsequently Earl of Shaftesbury. Governor Sir William Berkeley, of Virginia, was also one of the proprietaries.
Locke drew up for the province a minute feudal constitution, but it was too cumbersome to work. Rule by the proprietaries proved radically bad. They were ignorant, callous to wrongs done by their governors, and indifferent to everything save their own profits. Many of the settlers too were turbulent and criminals, fugitives from the justice of other colonies. The difficulty was aggravated by Indian and Spanish wars, by negro slavery, so profitable for rice culture, especially in South Carolina, by strife between dissenters and churchmen, by the question of revenue, and by that of representation.
A proprietary party and a larger popular party were continually at feud, not seldom with arms, support of the Church allying itself mainly with the former, dissent with the latter, Zealots for the Church wished to exclude dissenters from the assembly. Their opponents would keep Huguenot immigrants, whom the favor of the proprietaries rendered unwelcome, entirely from the franchise. The popular party passed laws for electing representatives in every county instead of at Charleston alone, and for revenue tariffs to pay the debt entailed by war. The proprietaries vetoed both. They even favored the pirates who harried the coast. Civil commotions were frequent and growth slow. Interference by the Crown was therefore most happy. From the time the Carolinas passed into royal hands, 1729, remarkable prosperity attended them both.
Assuming charge of Carolina, the Crown reserved to itself the Spanish frontier, and here, in 1732, it settled Oglethorpe, the able and unselfish founder of Georgia, under the auspices of an organization in form much like a mercantile company, but benevolent in aim, whose main purpose was to open a home for the thousands of Englishmen who were in prison for debt. Many Scotch and many Austrians also came. Full civil liberty was promised to all, religious liberty to all but papists. Political strife was warm here, too, particularly respecting the admission of rum and slaves. Government by the corporators, though well-meaning, was ill-informed and a failure, and would have been ruinous to the colony but for Oglethorpe's genius and exertions. To the advantage of all, therefore, on the lapse of the charter in 1752, Georgia, like the Carolinas, assumed the status of a royal colony.
Savannah, from a Print of 1741