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the views, which we are about to express, have men who had been transported to Virginia at an been long entertained ; yet, for the want of time expense of eight or ten pounds, were sometimes for arrangement, they must necessarily assume a
sold for forty or fifty, or even three score pounds. crude and undigested form, and we send them to business, and a class of men, nicknamed spirits,
The supply of white servants became a regular press, rather with the view of calling attention to used to delude young persons, servants and idlers, an interesting subject, than with any expectation of into embarking into America, as to a land of spon. illastrating it. He, indeed, who shall present the taneous plenty. White servants came to be a usual public with a thorough analysis of the Social Sys- article of traffic. They were sold in England to tem of Virginia will have performed a useful task, he transported, and, in Virginia, were resold to the and made an invaluable contribution to the State. chased on shipboard, as men buy horses at a fair.
highest bidder; like negroes, they were to be purIt is unnecessary to say that the crude malter In 1672, the average price in the colonies, whose which follows has no such pretension.
five years of service were due, was about ten When the confusion, which necessarily attended pounds; while a negro was worth twenty or twentythe conquest and occupation of the country by the five pounds.”—Bancroft's Hist. U. S., vol. 1, p. 175. English colonists, had, in some degree, subsided, and Again : the Social System of Virginia began to develop its true features, the first thing which attracts attention
“The condition of apprenticed servants in Viris the division of society into two distinct classes—ginia
differed from that of slaves chiefly in the du
ration of their bondage."--Ibid, p. 176. Masters and Slaves. Under the latter denomination, we include indented servants. We do so, We thus see that the relation subsisting in Virbecause there was really little or no difference, in ginia between master and indented servant was, social position, between the slave and the indented during the period of servitude, the same with that servant. They both stood in the same relation to subsisting between master and slave, and that the their master, and the indented servant was, to all only material difference in the condition of the two intents and purposes, a slave, during the period of classes was in the duration of their bondage-the his servitude. And the only important difference slave, in almost every case, being bound to serviin the condition of these two classes of men was tode for life, and the indented servant for the time in the duration of their servitude-the slave, in specified in his deed of indenture. We have, therealmost every instance, being doomed to servitude fore, for the sake of brevity and perspicuity, classed for life; while the indented servant was only bound them together, and we how return to the proposition for the time mentioned in his indenture. But, with which we started—viz : that from an early during the period of servitude, their social position period in colonial history, the population of Virwas, in all important particulars, the same. Mr. ginia was divided into two distinct classes—Masters Jefferson, speaking of the early population of Vir- and Slaves. With the relation subsisting between ginia, says:
these two classes, all are familiar, and it is only “Indented servants formed a considerable sup- lation of perfect control on the one side, and of
necessary to remark, in passing, that it was a reply. These were poor Europeans, who went to
The master America to settle themselves. If they could pay complete subjection on the other. their passage, it was well. If not, thév must find was the absolute lord of the slave. And this relameans of paying it. They were at liberty, there- tion, so far as we have been able to discover, was fore, to make an agreement with any person they nearly universal. Almost every man who was not chose, to serve him such a length of time as they himself either a slave or indented servant, was the agreed on, upon condition that he would repay, to the master of the vessel, the expenses of their owner of slaves or indented servants—some of passage. If, being foreigners, unable to speak many, others of few-each man according to his the language, they did not know how to make a means; for, at that time, property in Virginia albargain for themselves, the Captain of the vessel most always assumed the form of land and slaves. contracted for them, with such persons as he could. And, between the lord of thousands and the pro. This contract was by deed indented, which occasioned them to be called indented servants."
prietor of a single slave, there was every variety 1 Jeff. Works, p. 406.
of gradation, as there is in the apportionment of
property in other communities. Almost every man, But Bancroft has described, with more minute. we repeat, then, who was not himself a slave or ness, the social condition of this class of the indented servant, was the owner of slaves or in. early colonial population of Virginia, and we make dented servants. Such a thing as free labor, or an a short extract from his history
independent body of laborers, was not known at
that time in Virginia. If a man was compelled to “Conditional servitude, nnder indentures or covo rely exclusively upon his own labors to support him, enants, had from the first existed in Virginia. The he labored in subjection to another—if, upon the servant stood to his master in the relation of a debtor, bound to discharge the costs of imigration other hand, he had capital to invest, however in. by the entire employment of his powers for the considerable it might be, he invested it in land and benefit of his creditor. Oppression early ensued :' slaves, or indented servants. This was the form
which labor and capital almost universally assumed tion was voluntary, undertaken, for the most part, at that time in the colony—the laborer was a slave to repair their broken fortunes, and, not unfrequentand the capitalist was his master, and thus the re- ly, with intentions of ultimately returning to the lation of master and slave became almost univer- land of their nativity. It is not wonderful, theresal. At all events, if this relation was not so near-fore, that the affections of the first colonists should ly universal as we believe it to have been, it was have clang, as we know they did, for a long time, certainly so general as to prevail over all other re- to England, and that, in the wild forests of Virgilations and constitute a controlling element in the nia, they should have pined for their homes across social system of the colony.
the ocean. They could not divest themselves of The relation, thus established between these two the idea that they were sojourners here, and were classes, was confirmed by the fact, that almost every ever looking forward to the time when, their pilslave owner was, at the same time, a landed pro- grimage being over, they would return to their prietor, and the laborer, therefore, became a serf country and their friends. The consequence was of the soil. Most of the colonists of Virginia were that society in Virginia was, as far as circumstanmen of Anglo-Saxon descent, and love for the soil ces would admit, a continuation of English socieis said to be an Anglo-Saxon passion. On the ty. From the beginning, a decided preference for shores of the Chesapeake and its tributaries, this England and her institutions manifested itself every passion had ample room for indulgence. Land was where, and there was a disposition among all classes cheap and large tracts could be procured at low to conform the infant colony to the model of the prices. Not only so, but, for the purpose of en- mother country. So strong was this partiality for couraging immigration, the government of the col- old England, and so loyal were the colonists to her ony had provided, at a very early period, that each ancient institutions, that they never manifested the planter should receive fifty acres of land for every slightest sympathy with Cromwell in his effort to person whom he should transport into the planta- erect a commonwealth on the ruins of monarchy. tions. Thus the Virginia planter, by the same The Virginians were always true to the Stuarts, operation, increased the number of his serfs and and, through all the vicissitudes of that ill-starred enlarged his territorial possessions. The result house, they never, for a mornent, abandoned its was, as we learn from authentic documents, that fortunes. They did, it is true, submit, for about there existed in the colony, from a very early pe. eight years, to the dominion of Cromwell ; but it riod, a body of wealthy landed proprietors, who was through necessity, and, immediately upon the coltivated large tracts of country with African restoration of Charles II., the fact was proclaimed slaves, or European serfs. Along the banks of in Virginia, which heartily responded to the pasJaines river, York river and its tributaries, the sionate joy manifested by England on that memoRappahannock, Potomac and other water courses rable occasion. Berkeley, who then governed the of the country, there resided, in almost baronial colony by virtue of powers delegated by the peostate, the Gentry of Virginia-as they were styled ple, now, by common consent, issued writs for a in the language of those times—a class of men new Assembly in the name of the King, and the holding vast landed possessions, rivalling in extent royalists carried the elections every where. The and fertility the estates of many of the English first Assembly which convened after the restoranobility, and controlling, with absolute despotism, lion was composed of royalists and cavaliers-men a body of serfs, which a feudal lord of the middle loyal to the house of Stuart and devoted to Engages might have envied.
land and her ancient institutions. And this AsAnd here the question naturally suggests itself— sembly was the type of those which succeeded it who were these lords of the soil and masters of for many years. slaves, whom we find, in those early times, stand- We thus discover, in the very infancy of the ing on the summit of society, and controlling the colony, the elements of a Landed Aristocracy. social and political destinies of the colony? Our There existed, from the first, a class of men, desrecords furnish satisfactory information upon this cended from the nobility of England-imbued with point. A considerable portion, in point of num- the tastes, feelings and principles of their order, bers, and a much larger portion in point of wealth, and confirmed in power by their superior culture, education and influence, were Cavaliers, and youn- the extent of their possessions, and the character ger branches of noble English houses. As was of the laboring classes. These men naturally asto be expected, they brought with them, into the pired to the government of the colony, and we accolony, the feelings, habits and principles in which cordingly find that all the important offices were they had been educated at home. Nothing had filled from their ranks. They were made Counoccurred to wean them from the mother country. cillors, returned as members of the Assembly, The colonists of Virginia, were not, like the Puri- commissioned as officers in the militia, and appointtans of New England, fugitives from persecution. ed by the Governor to be justices of the peace. They embarked, upon the contrary, under the aus. In this latter capacity, their powers were large pices of the crown and the nobility-their emigra-'and anomalous, as are to this day the powers of Justices of the peace. Men, in no manner, dele- / were brought into the colony by the first seitlers gated by the people, but commissioned by gover- as a part of the laws of the mother country, and nors, who were themselves, in turn, commissioned that, down to the period of the Revolution, their by the Crown, were authorized, contrary to the policy was much favored. Indeed, the principle first rudiments of American liberty, to fix the of entails was carried much further in the colony amount of the county levies, which are generally than it had ever been carried in England. In the much larger than the State tax, 10 apportion those first place, nothing but land, or something issuing levies, and control their collection and disburse. out of, or appurtenant to, land, could be entailed in ments. We thus find power of every sort—legis- England. But, by an Act of Assembly passed in lative, executive, judicial and military, uniting in 1727, slaves, as well as land, could be entailed in the hands of a class of men who, as descendants the colony. There was another most important of the ancient nobility of England, had been edu- distinction between the law of entails in Virginia cated in aristocratic habits and feelings, and who, and in England. In England, fines and recoveas proprietors of large estates, masters of indented ries, as they were called, were always a part of servants, and lords of slaves, controlled the social the law of Entails. This was a provision which destinies of the colony. And the influence thus put it in the power of the tenant in tail, at any acquired by this order was confirmed and augmen- moment, to defeat the estate tail, and vest in him. ted by the lamentable state of education among the self an absolute fee simple, over which he had great mass of the people. Indeed, there seems to complete dominion, to alien, devise, or transmit by have been no provision whatever for general edu- descent to his heirs general, as he saw fit. And cation at that time-common schools were un- when the law of entails was received into the colknown—and each man had to instruct his children ony, fines and recoveries, as a part of that law, at home as best he could. The consequence was, were, as a matter of course, received with it. of course, that, as a general rule, they grew up in But, as early as October, 1705, it was enacted by absolute ignorance. Not only was this so, but it the Assembly, that fines and recoveries, and seems to have been the good pleasure of the gov- every other act for the purpose of avoiding and ernment, that it should continue so. This certainly defeating estates tail,” except by act of the Genwas the case during the administration of Berkeley, eral Assembly, “shall be utterly null and void." which lasted for about thirty-six years. We quote And, although this restraint was so far removed in from Bancroft's history :
1734, as to allow the entail of lands not exceeding
£200 in value to be defeated on certain conditions, “The system of common schools was unknown. yet all entails of estates over £200 sterling in • Every man,” said Sir William Berkeley, in 1671, value were indestructible. And, if our memory
instructs his children according to his ability;' a method which left the children of the ignorant to serves us aright, this continued to be the law until hopeless ignorance. The instinct of aristocracy 1776, when all entails were abolished. By this dreaded the general diffusion of intelligence, and course of legislation, restraints upon the alienaeven the enfranchising influence of the preaching tion of property in the colony became more burof the ministers. The ministers, continued Sir thensome than in the mother country, and it was William, in the spirit of the aristocracy of the Tudors, should pray oftener and preach less. But in the power of the owner to bind up his property I thank God, there are no free schools, nor print- in a particular line of transmission for an almost ing; and I hope we shall not have these hundred indefinite period. All this, of course, favored the years; for learning has brought disobedience, and growth of wealthy families, and tended to confirm heresy, and sects into the world, and printing has and perpetuate their power. divulged them, and libels against the best govern
From these elements, and others which it is not ments. God keep us from both.”—Vol. 2, P
necessary to enumerate at this time, sprung the With this disposition upon the part of the gov- Landed Aristocracy of Virginia, which, for more ernment, and that lamentable ignorance among the than a century, controlled her destinies—in many masses, of which all the co-temporaneous writers respects, a remarkable race of men, illustrious first speak, it is easy to see that the administration of in the annals of the colony, and afterwards in the affairs must necessarily have fallen into the hands history of the commonwealth and the councils of of those wealthy proprietors, who had brought with the nation. them into the colony the culture which belonged to We have now pointed out, in an imperfect manthe English gentry of that day, or into the hands ner, what we understand to have been the characof their children, who had been sent to England ter of the population of Virginia during the coloto be educated—as was the fashion of those times. nial period, as also the relations subsisting between
In this connection, we should not omit to men the two great classes into which that population tion the laws of Primogeniture and Entails, as was divided. Let us next ascertain, if we can, they exerted great influence in building up the aris- how the people of Virginia lived in those times tocracy of Virginia, and confirming its power. It what manner of life they led. And here the first can scarcely be necessary to say that these laws 'thing which attracts our attention is preponderance
of country life over town life. We find that the We have now described what we conceive to people of Virginia were, from the first settlement have been the three most prominent features in the of the colony, an agricultural people. They lived Social System of Virginia during her colonial exisisolated upon their farms, at long distances apart, tence, and which still continue such, though in a rarely congregating together in towns or cities, as mitigated form. First, the general prevalence of did the Purilans of New England. We learn from the relation of master and slave. Second, the exthe best authority that, as late as 1660—fifty-three istence of a Landed Aristocracy, who gave tone to years from the foundation of the colony—“ Vir- society and controlled, for a long period, the destiginia possessed no considerable town.” And Ban- nies of the colony. Third, isolated country life. croft, writing of the year 1674, says
And now a deeply interesting problem presents
itself. What was to have been expected of a so" There was scarcely such a thing as a cluster cial system thus constituted? What progress was of three dwellings. Jamestown was but a place of a statehouse, one church, and eighteen houses, oc- such a systein likely to make in civilization? What copied by about a dozen families. Till very re-would be its probable fate among the other systems cently the legislature had assembled in the hall of by which it was surrounded ? No more interesting an olehouse. Virginia had neither towns or law- problem could possibly be presented to the consideyers." Vol. 2, p. 212.
ration of the present generation of Virginians. And again describing the manner in which the For we believe that a truthful solution of it will Virgioians of that period lived, he says
throw a flood of light upon our past progress and
future destiny as an independent people. If, as " The generation now in existence was chiefly has been already stated, Virginia has hitherto done the froit of the soil; they were the children of the little for the melioration of man's social conditionwoods, nurtured in the freedom of the wilderness, if she has made but inconsiderable progress in inaand dwelling in lonely cottages, scattered along the terial greatness, and, notwithstanding her rich soil
, streams. No newspaper entered their houses ; no printing-press furnished them a book. They had her genial climate, and vast natural resources, has no recreations but such as nature provides in her always been, and is to this day, poor, very poor ; wilds; no education but such as parents in the if, upon the other hand, she has been always ferdesert could give to their offspring. The paths tile in general ideas, if she has abounded in great were bridle-ways rather than roads; and the high- men and striking developments of character and way surveyors aimed at nothing more than to keep passion—if all this be true, as we believe it is, it them clear of logs and fallen trees. We doubt if there esisted what we should call a bridge in the may, in our judgment, be traced direcily to those whole dominion, though it was intended to build elements which, as we have seen, preponderated in some. Visits were made in boats, and on horse- her social system during her colonial existence. back through the forests; and the Virginian, trav. Let us then return to this system, and, by an exelling with his pouch of tobacco for currency, swam amination of those elements, ascertain, if we can, the rivers, where there was neither ferry nor ford." Vol. 2, p. 212.
what progress it was likely to make in civilization.
A word or two, by way of explanation, before we Let us, for a moment, visit one of these Vir- attempt a solution of this problem. In order to asginia farmers in his forest home-let us see the certain what progress the social system of Virginia course of life, he leads there, and the society by was likely to make in civilization, it is necessary which he is surrounded. Having selected a saiia- that we should first get some distinct idea of what ble location, generally on an eminence and in the thing we call civilization is. And the first idea sight of a lovely river," he builds his mansion. comprised in it, as it seems to us, is that of imHere he locales himself and family. In addition provement in civil life—of melioration in man's to his wife, children and other relatives, he has outward condition and social relations. When aparound him a few menjals—sometimes indented plied to a community, it awakens at once the notion servants, but generally slaves. These constitute of general prosperity, social progress, and increase his household. At a distance from the mansion in the means of subsistence, comfort, and material house, in some retired corner of his estate, we find well-being. This much is certainly implied in the huddled together, in log hots, the serfs who culti-terin civilization; but is this all ? Our nature at Fate his lands. The number of these will, of once rejects the definition as too narrow-it tells course, vary in each case according to the wealth us that man was formed for a higher destiny than of the proprietor and the extent of his possessions. this—that the full development of his nature inHere, in the depths of the forest, with no society volves something more than progress in malebut that of his family, surrounded by slaves and rial well-being and social melioration. To feed indented servants, the Virginia farmer spent his life, and clothe the body, and keep the social relations seldom leaving home except to visit the horse-race, well adjusted are very excellent things; but man the county court, and sometimes, perhaps, the has a soul as well as a body-he has a spiritual naparish church. Isolated country life was a con- ture as well as a carnal nature, endowed with Irolling element in colonial society.
moral and intellectual faculties, the cultivation, of
which is quite as essential to his development and word, their whole plıysical existence is comfortably civilization, as eating, drinking, dressing, house- regulated—they eat, drink, and are merry.
But building and keeping the social machine well ad- the moral culture of this people has been neglectjusted. And when we come to look closely into ed—their intellectual energies are in a state of torthe matter, it will be found, we think, that civiliza- por and inertness—their whole inward and spiritual tion consists essentially of two elements--the im- nature has remained barren and unimproved. They provement, first, of the individual, and then of resemble a well-kept flock of sheep more than any society. Neither of these elements alone is suffi- thing else. Society has made prodigious progress, cient--neither the development of man's social wealth has rapidly accumulated, material comforts condition, nor of his inward and personal nature, have multiplied--the social relations have been taken separately, constitutes civilization. Its pro- perfected; but in the midst of this genere movegress pre-supposes their union and combined move- ment, man himself has remained stationary-his ment. In proof of this, let us imagine, for a mo- moral and mental faculties have withered and dement, a society abandoned to the absolute dominion cayed. It is manifest that this civilization is unof either one of these elements, and trace, if we sound, precarious and illegitimate—that it has no can, the probable destiny of such a society. In just foundation to stand upon, and that, however this manner, it will appear, we think, that our defi- imposing it may be for the time, it is destined to nition is correct, and that civilization presents itself be short-lived. Such is the aspect generally preunder the double aspect which we have described. sented by those countries whose civilization, after
First, let us imagine a society where the moral a long and prosperous career, has at last exhausted and intellectual elements prevail. We will sup- itself, and, its vital elements having deserted it, is pose that this society has made eminent progress verging lo speedy dissolution. in the development of the individual man-ihat his We repeat, then, that civilization consists essenmoral and intellectual nature have been highly cul- tially of two elements--that it manifests itself untivated, and that general ideas and striking mani- der two forms—the improvement of the exterior festations of character abound. Looking at the and general condition of man, and that of his inindividual man, one would say that this people pos- ward and personal nature-in a word, the improvesess the elements of a fine civilization. But when ment both of society and humanity. We do not we come to look at their social condition we find pretend that these two elements always move that it has not kept pace with their moral and intel- abreast. The reverse is much more frequently the lectual progress—the individual is greater than so We sometimes find one in advance, someciety. Among this people there are few common times the other. Sometimes man's moral and inideas, but little public feeling, and such a thing as tellectual nature progresses faster than his outward a general interest is scarcely known. Individoalism and social condition; at others, society, taking a reigns almost supreme. The principle of associa- start, far outstrips man's moral and intellectual detion, if it exists at all, exists in its weakest form, velopment. But these two elements, however they and men's powers and faculties are exhausted in iso- may separate for a time, must ultimately come tolated effort. There is force enough to carry society gether and advance shoulder to shoulder. For, so forwards, but society does not move, because that soon as one progresses any great distance without force is dissipated over a large surface, and there the other and their union has long been interrupted, are no means of collecting it and directing it to a a painful hiatus is produced—a general conviction common purpose.
of unfitness, illegitimacy and incompleteness takes It is obvious that such a social system cannot possession of the minds of men. They feel that advance. There is much effort but no progress. the relation of things, and the harmony of society, Generation after generation sweeps by and leaves have been disturbed. If any important social imno trace of its existence. This society con-provement, any great progress in material welltains one of the elements of civilization, but the being, manifests itself among a people, unaccomother is absent, and, until it arrives, immobility, if panied by a corresponding mental movement, such not dissolution, is its necessary condition. The improvement and progress seem to us strange, undevelopment of man's inward and personal nature, accountable and almost unjust. One desires imwithout a corresponding progress in his social con-mediately to know how it has been produced-upon dition, can do little for the cause of civilization. It what foundation it rests—to what principle it atprepares the way, and that is all.
laches itself. Not only so, but men feel that an Let us now reverse the hypothesis. Let us sup- obligation rests upon them to correct this state of pose the case of a people whose outward condition things--to conform their inner nature to this new is easy and agreeable. They have made vast pro- improvement which has manifested itself in the gress, we will suppose, in material well-being--outer world, and thus restore the relations which all their physical wants are supplied, and their so- should subsist between man's mental progress and cial relations happily adjusted. They are well fed, social condition. So, on the other band, if any well clothed, well housed and well governed-in a'great moral and intellectual movement makes its