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CHAPTER V The Restoration Period
 The people of Virginia hailed the Restoration with unaffected joy. Not only did they anticipate that the termination of the long period of civil war and unrest in England would react favorably upon their own prosperity, but they felt that Sir William Berkeley's well known loyalty and his action in proclaiming Charles II immediately after the execution of his father, might assure them the King's especial favor now that he at last had come into undisputed possession of his throne. They were doomed to bitter disappointment, however, for the Restoration brought them only hardship and suffering, discontent and rebellion.  
No sooner had the royal Government been safely installed than it set to work to perfect and to enforce the colonial policy which in principle had been accepted from the first. The ties which united the colonies with the mother country were strengthened, those which gave them a common interest with foreign nations in so far as possible were snapped. The British empire was to become a unit, closely knit by economic bonds and presenting to all other nations a hostile front. With this in view Parliament passed a series of Navigation Acts, under which the trade of the colonies was regulated for many years to come.
It is necessary for us to enquire, therefore, into the effects of these laws upon the tobacco trade, for tobacco, as we have seen, was the key to the prosperity of the colony, and favorable economic conditions alone could make it possible for the newcomer to establish himself as a member of the Virginia[85] yeomanry. If the strict enforcement of the Navigation Acts should bring low prices for tobacco and wipe out the margin of profit for the man who tilled the soil with his own hands, not only would the small planter class not expand, but might actually decline in numbers.
There were three main features of the colonial legislation of Parliament during this period, all of them interrelated and all tending toward the one great object of keeping the English plantations for the English. It was provided that the chief colonial products such as tobacco and sugar should be sent only to England or to English colonies, that the colonies should with few exceptions import goods only from British territory, that all products taken to or from any colony should be conveyed only in English vessels manned by crews composed mainly of Englishmen.
In committing itself to this policy the royal Government felt that the plantations would play a useful and necessary part in the great system which was planned, and in so doing would find prosperity. It had been the hope of the English people that their colonies would produce the articles which were so badly needed by the mother country to revive her waning industry and permit a greater measure of economic independence. Although more than half a century had passed since the first foothold had been gained upon the American continent, this expectation was as far from realization as ever. The colonies, from Massachusetts to Barbados were producing, not the articles which England especially needed, but those for which they had the greatest natural aptitude, especially tobacco and sugar. And these staples they sent, not to England alone, but to various foreign countries as well.
In short the vision of a closely knit, self-sustaining empire, the vision which had been in men's minds for many decades before the founding of Jamestown, seemed to have proved[86] delusive. The colonies were developing interests and commercial connections hostile to those of the mother country, were nourishing the manufactures and shipping of foreign nations almost as much as those of England. And this the Government at London would not tolerate. The colonial trade with strangers must come to an end. If Virginia and Maryland produced more tobacco than the English market could absorb, they could find ready relief by turning their energies into other channels. Let them furnish the old country with pig iron or potash or silk or ship-stores and they would find ready and eager purchasers. So reasoned the English, and as their views were backed by the mandates of Crown and Parliament, the colonists were forced to submit. If they could fit themselves into the system prescribed for them, all would be well and good; if they found this impossible, they would have to suffer without hope of redress.
And suffer Virginia did for a full quarter of a century. The tobacco of the Chesapeake bay colonies had long since reached the point where it required a world market. If confined to England alone, only a fraction of the output could be consumed and disaster was certain. It was well enough for the Government to restrict the importation of Spanish leaf and to prohibit the planting of tobacco in England, these regulations could do no more than give the colonists undisputed possession of the home market, and the home market was not enough. This point seems to have been ignored by those writers who have contended that the strict enforcement of the British colonial system in itself entailed no hardship upon the tobacco colonies.
"It is obvious that any criticism of England's regulation of the colonial tobacco trade, which is based on a laissez-faire social philosophy," says George Lewis Beer, in The Old Colonial System, "is equally applicable to the arrangement by[87] means of which the tobacco planter secured exclusive privileges in the home market."[5-1] Yet it is certain that the tobacco growers of England could never have competed with Maryland and Virginia had there been free trade. The prohibition of planting in the old country was necessary only because of the tariff, varying from 200 per cent in 1660 to 600 per cent in 1705, upon the colonial product. And though the exclusion of Spanish tobacco was a more real benefit, for the Spaniard produced varieties unknown in Virginia, there is exaggeration here also. This is clearly shown by the fact that at the end of the Seventeenth century England was sending millions of pounds of her colonial tobacco to Spain itself.[5-2] The leaf was brought from Virginia and Maryland, forced to pay a duty of about fifty per cent, and re-exported to the Spanish ports, where it found a ready sale. Had there been free exchange of commodities, the English colonies would have sold to Spain more tobacco than the Spanish colonies to England.
In truth the loss of the foreign market was a terrible disaster. In framing the Navigation Acts it was not the intention of the Government to stop entirely the flow of tobacco to the continent of Europe, but to divert it from the old channels and make it pass through England. It was therefore provided that in case the leaf was shipped out again to foreign ports, all the duties, except one half of the Old Subsidy, should be withdrawn.[5-7] The remaining half penny, however, amounted to forty or fifty per cent of the original cost of the goods, and proved at first an almost insuperable barrier to the European trade. Moreover, the shortage of ships which resulted from the exclusion of the Dutch merchants, the expense of putting in at the English ports, the long and troublesome procedure of reshipping, all tended to discourage the merchants and hamper re-exportation.
We may take for granted also that the resentment of Holland[88] at the Navigation Acts, which struck a telling blow at her maritime prestige, played an important part in blocking foreign trade. The Dutch had been the chief European distributors of the Virginia and Maryland tobacco, and if they refused to take it, now that it could be secured only in England, it would pile up uselessly in the London warehouses. They understood well enough that the half penny a pound duty was a tribute levied upon them by their most dangerous rival. It is not surprising that instead of bowing to the new restrictions, they sought to free their trade entirely from dependence on British tobacco, by fostering the cultivation of the plant in their own country.
The colonists found an able defender in the merchant John Bland. In a Remonstrance addressed to the King this man set forth with remarkable clearness the evils which would result from the Navigation Acts, and pleaded for their repeal. The Hollander was already beginning to plant tobacco, he said, and would soon be able to supply all his needs at home. "Will he, after accustomed to the tobacco of his own growth," he asked, "ever regard that which is in Virginia? Will he ever afterwards be induced to fetch it thence, when he finds his profit higher at home? Will he ever buy that of us, when by passing so many hands, and so much charge contracted thereon, is made so dear, that he can have it cheaper in his own territories? (Surely no.) Therefore it clearly appears, that being so, of necessity we must lose that Trade and Commerce."
"If the Hollanders must not trade to Virginia, how shall the Planters dispose of their Tobacco? The English will not buy it, for what the Hollander carried thence was a sort of tobacco not desired by any other people, nor used by us in England but merely to transport for Holland. Will it not then perish on the Planters hands?... Can it be believed that[89] from England more ships will be sent than are able to bring thence what tobacco England will spent? If they do bring more, must they not lose thereby both stock and Block, principle and charges? The tobacco will not vend in England, the Hollanders will not fetch it from England; what must become thereof?... Is not this a destruction to the commerce? For if men lose their Estates, certainly trade cannot be encreased."[5-8]
The enforcement of the trade laws was indirectly the cause of still another misfortune to the colonies, for the two wars with Holland which grew out of it reacted disastrously upon their trade. In fact, on each occasion the small stream of tobacco which had trickled over the dam of restrictions into foreign countries was for a time almost entirely cut off. Not only did the tobacco exports to Holland itself come to an end, but the Dutch war vessels played havoc with the trade between England and other countries and even between England and her colonies.
The loss of their foreign exports was calamitous to the planters. Had the demand for tobacco been more elastic, the consequences might not have been so fatal, for declining prices would have stimulated consumption and made it possible for England to absorb most of the output. But the duty kept up the price and the result was a ruinous glut in the English market. Tobacco sufficient for a continent poured into the kingdom, where since the normal outlet was blocked by the half penny a pound on re-exported leaf, it piled up uselessly.
The effect upon prices was immediate. The planters were forced to take for their crops half of what they had formerly received and had reason for rejoicing if they could dispose of it at all. In 1662 Governor Berkeley and other leading citizens stated that the price of tobacco had fallen so low that it would not "bear the charge of freight and customs, answer the adventure, give encouragement to the traders and subsistence[90] to the inhabitants."[5-9] In 1666 Secretary Thomas Ludwell told Lord Arlington that tobacco was "worth nothing."[5-10] Later in the same year the planters complained that the price was so low that they were not able to live by it.[5-11] "For the merchants, knowing both our necessities and the unconsumable quantities of tobacco we had by us," they said, "gave us not the twentieth part of what they sold it for in England."[5-12] Tobacco had so glutted the markets, it was declared, and brought the planter so small a return, that he could "live but poorly upon it." In fact, the merchants in 1666 had left the greater part of the two preceding crops upon their hands.[5-13]
"Twelve hundred pounds of tobacco is the medium of men's crops," wrote Secretary Ludwell to Lord John Berkeley in 1667, "and half a penny per pound is certainly the full medium of the price given for it, which is fifty shillings out of which when the taxes ... shall be deducted, is very little to a poor man who hath perhaps a wife and children to cloath and other necessities to buy. Truly so much too little that I can attribute it to nothing but the great mercy of God ... that keeps them from mutiny and confusion."[5-14] The following year he wrote in similar vein. The market was glutted; a third of the planters' tobacco was left on their hands; the rest sold for nothing.[5-15]
The Governor and Council declared that the merchant "allows not much above a farthing a pound for that which the planter brings to his door. And if there shall be any amongst us who shall be able to ship his tobacco on his own account, it will be at such a rate as the tobacco will never repay him, since they are inforced to pay from £12 to £17 per ton freight, which usually was but at seven pounds."[5-16] "A large part of the people are so desperately poor," wrote Berkeley in 1673, "that they may reasonably be expected upon any small advantage[91] of the enemy to revolt to them in hopes of bettering their condition by sharing the plunder of the colony with them."[5-17] That matters had not changed in 1681 is attested by the statement of the Council that the impossibility of disposing of their tobacco without a heavy loss overwhelmed both Virginia and Maryland, and brought upon them a "vast poverty and infinite necessity."[5-18] "The low price of tobacco staggers the imagination," Lord Culpeper wrote to Secretary Coventry, "and the continuance of it will be the speedy and fatal ruin of this noble Colony."[5-19]
These distressing conditions bore with telling weight upon the small planters. The margin of profit which formerly had made it possible for the freedman to advance rapidly was now wiped out entirely and the poor man found it impossible to keep out of debt. In 1668 Secretary Ludwell declared that no one could longer hope to better himself by planting tobacco.[5-20] Eight years later Nathaniel Bacon, in justifying his rebellion declared that the small farmers were deeply in debt and that it was "not in the power of labor or industry" to extricate them.[5-21] "The poverty of Virginia is such," said a certain John Good in 1676, "that the major part of the inhabitants can scarce supply their wants from hand to mouth, and many there are besides can hardly shift without supply one year."[5-22] In 1673 the Governor and Council reported that of the planters, "at least one third are single persons (whose labor will hardly maintain them) or men much in debt," who might reasonably be expected to revolt to the Dutch upon any small advantage gained by them.[5-23] In 1680 they again reported that "the indigency of the Inhabitants is such that they are in noe manner capacitated to support themselves."[5-24] Three years later they wrote that "the people of Virginia are generally, some few excepted, extremely poor, not being able to provide against the pressing necessities of their families."[5-25]
Despite this repeated and explicit testimony of the misery and poverty of the colony during this period, which resulted from the stagnation of the tobacco market after the passage of the Navigation Acts, the surprising statement is made by Mr. George Lewis Beer, in The Old Colonial System, that England's trade restrictions had nothing to do with Bacon's Rebellion. "It has been at various times contended," he says, "that the uprising was, in part at least, one against the laws of trade and navigation. If there had existed in Virginia any widespread and well defined feeling of antagonism to these laws, it would unquestionably have found expression in the county grievances. Most of these reports were drawn up in a number of articles, and in all there were nearly two hundred of such separate subdivisions, yet only three of this number refer in any way to these statutes. There is no valid reason for assuming that the commercial system played any part whatsoever, or was in any degree, an issue, in the upheaval of 1676."[5-26]
If by this statement it is meant that Bacon and his men did not rebel in order to force the repeal of the Navigation Acts, or even that they did not have the acts in mind at the time, there are many students of Virginia history who will agree with it. But if Mr. Beer means that these laws, with their baleful effect upon the prosperity of Virginia, did not produce the conditions fundamental to the rising, he is certainly wrong. The evidence is overwhelming.
Surely no one will deny that misery, poverty and nakedness are breeders of sedition. Had it not been for the Navigation Acts there would not have been so many desperate persons in Virginia ready at any excuse to fly in the face of the Government. Bacon's men were just the type of miserably poor freemen that Berkeley several years before had feared would rebel. He himself, in his proclamation of Feb. 10, 1677, spoke of[93] them as "men of mean and desperate fortunes."[5-27] William Sherwood called the rebels rude and indigent persons, alluding to them as "tag, rag and bobtayle."[5-28] Over and over again they are described as the multitude, the rabble, the skum.
Exception must be taken also to the statement that had there existed in Virginia any well-defined feeling of antagonism to the Navigation Acts it would have found expression in the county grievances. It should be remembered that these reports had been called for by the commissioners sent over by Charles II to investigate the troubles. The men who drew them up occupied the position of defeated rebels, and the grievances were primarily a list of excuses for their treason. They all stood trembling for their property, if they had any, and for their miserable lives. The memory of the fate of Drummond and Bland and Arnold and many others of their fellow rebels was fresh in their minds. It is not reasonable to suppose that they would tell the King that they had risen in arms against his authority in order to secure the overthrow of laws which his Majesty considered of such vital importance, laws which concerned intimately the royal revenue. Such a declaration would not have seconded successfully their plea for mercy. This is made amply clear by the reception accorded one of the few complaints which did actually touch the Navigation Acts. The commissioners report it to the King as "an extravagant request for liberty to transport their tobacco to any of his Majesty's plantations without paying the imposts, payable by act of Parliament, etc. This head is wholly mutinous—to desire a thing contrary to his Majesty's royal pleasure and benefit and also against an act of Parliament."[5-29]
Despite the obviously ruinous effects of the Navigation Acts upon Virginia, Mr. Beer makes the assertion that there was no very serious and general opposition to them in Virginia. "Apart from the criticisms of Bland and Berkeley," he says,[94] "there was virtually no complaint against the system of trade enjoined by the Navigation Acts. While the Barbados Assembly and that colony's governors were vociferous in their protests, the Virginia legislature remained strangely mute."[5-30]
This silence on the part of the Virginia Assembly can by no means be interpreted as an indication that the people of the colony felt the Navigation Acts to be equitable and not injurious to their interests. It meant only that no Assembly under Sir William Berkeley would dare protest against an act which had received the royal sanction. That would have seemed the veriest treason to the fiery old loyalist. And the Assembly was entirely under Sir William's control. The members of both Houses were his creatures and his henchmen. Over and over again it is testified that the Assembly did nothing more than register his will.[5-31] If then it did not protest, it was because Sir William did not wish it to protest.
But this does not prove that the planters were not angered and alarmed at the stringent acts. That they considered them baleful is amply proved by their continuous complaints of the economic ruin which had overtaken the colony. The method they chose of combatting the trade laws, a method apt to be far more effective than the angry protests of the Barbados Assembly, was to send the Governor to England to use his influence at Court to have the acts modified or repealed. And Berkeley did what he could. While in England he wrote a paper called A Discourse and View of Virginia, which he hoped would induce the Government to change its policy in regard to the colonies. "Wee cannot but resent," he said, "that 40,000 people should be impoverished to enrich little more than 40 merchants, who being the whole buyers of our tobacco, give us what they please for it. And after it is here sell as they please, and indeed have 40,000 servants in us at cheaper rates, than other men have slaves, for they find them[95] meat and drink and clothes. We furnish ourselves and their seamen with meat and drink, and all our sweat and labor as they order us, will hardly procure us coarse clothes to keep us from the extremities of heat and cold."[5-32] That Sir William was but the mouthpiece of the colony in this protest there can be no doubt.
But his pleadings were in vain. England would not change the laws which were the expression of her settled colonial policy. The planters must adjust themselves to changed conditions no matter how bitter was the experience. Sir William was told to go home to report to the Virginians that they need not kick against the pricks, but that England would be most pleased could they turn from the all-absorbing culture of tobacco to the production of the raw materials she so greatly desired. And Berkeley did return determined to exert every effort to lead the colonists into new prosperity by inducing them to devote a part of their energies to basic commodities. In fact he promised that in seven years he would flood the British market with new Virginia goods.[5-33]
Although he set to work with his accustomed vigor to make good this boast, he met with but scant success. Lack of efficient and skilled labor, high wages, and not very favorable natural conditions, made it impossible for him to compete with the long-established industries of Europe. After a few years all attempts to make silk and potash and naval stores were abandoned, and the planters continued to put their trust in tobacco.
That Berkeley was never persuaded that the Navigation Acts were just or beneficial is shown by his answer to the query of the Lords of Trade in 1671, when they asked him what impediments there were to the colony's trade. "Mighty and destructive," he replied, "by that severe act of Parliament which excludes us from having any commerce with any nation[96] in Europe but our own, so that we cannot add to our plantation any commodity that grows out of it ... for it is not lawful for us to carry a pipe-staff or a bushel of corn to any place in Europe out of the King's dominions. If this were for his Majesty's service or the good of his subjects we should not repine, whatever our sufferings are for it. But on my soul it is the contrary of both."[5-35]
Nor is this the only direct testimony that the colonists were filled with bitterness against the Navigation Acts. In 1673, during the war with Holland, Sir John Knight declared that "the planters there do generally desire a trade with the Dutch and all other nations, and speak openly there that they are in the nature of slaves, so that the hearts of the greatest part of them are taken away from his Majesty and consequently his Majesty's best, greatest and richest plantation is in danger, with the planters' consent, to fall into the enemy's hands, if not timely prevented."[5-36] This is corroborated by the Council itself, in an official letter to the King. "For in this very conjuncture had the people had a distasteful Governor," they wrote, "they would have hazarded the loss of this Country, and the rather because they doe believe their Condicon would not be soe bad under the Dutch in Point of Traffique as it is under the Merchants who now use them hardly, even to extremity."[5-37]
It is evident, then, that throughout the entire reign of Charles II the unhappy effects of the trade restrictions made of Virginia, which formerly had been the land of opportunity for the poor man, a place of suffering, poverty and discontent. The indentured servant who came over after 1660 found conditions in the colony hardly more favorable for his advancement than in England. The price of tobacco was now so low that it was not possible for a man, by his unassisted efforts, to make a profit by its cultivation. If Thomas Ludewell is correct in estimating the return from the average crop at fifty[97] shillings, the lot of the poor man must have been hard indeed. Hungry he need not be, for food continued to be abundant and easy to obtain, but of all that the merchants gave him in return for his tobacco—clothing, farm implements, household furnishings—he had to content himself with the scantiest supply. And only too often his pressing needs brought him into hopeless debt. As for imitating his predecessors of the earlier period in saving money, purchasing land and servants and becoming a substantial citizen, the task was well nigh impossible of accomplishment.
It would be expected, then, that even the most exhaustive investigation could reveal but a few indentured servants, coming over after 1660, who succeeded in establishing themselves in the Virginia yeomanry. And such, indeed, is the case. Fortunately we have at hand for the period in question the means of determining this matter with an exactness impossible for the first half of the century. Nicholson's rent roll of 1704 supplies a complete list, with the exception of those in the Northern Neck, of every landowner in Virginia. At the same time we have in the Land Office at Richmond, the names of many thousands of persons listed as headrights, constituting almost all the immigrants who came in during the years from 1666 to the end of the century. Thus by comparing the two lists and trying to identify on the rent roll the names found in the patents, it is possible to fix the proportion of servants who won for themselves at this time places among the landowning class.
Selecting the year 1672 as typical of the Restoration period, we find that an examination of 672 of the names which are listed as headrights, eleven only can be identified with any degree of certainty upon the rent roll. Of 1116 names examined in the years from 1671 to 1674 inclusive, only 26 are positively those of persons listed as landowners in 1704. After making[98] due allowance for the fact that uncertainty exists in a number of other cases, and that some who prospered must have died in the intervening years, it is safe to say that not more than five or six per cent of the indentured servants of this period succeeded in establishing themselves as independent planters.
These conclusions are borne out by the slowness with which the population increased during the years following the passage of the Navigation Acts. In the Commonwealth period the colony had advanced by leaps and bounds, and the inhabitants, estimated at 15,000 in 1649,[5-38] were placed by Berkeley thirteen years later at 40,000.[5-39] Under the system which existed during these years, when the colonists enjoyed a comparatively free trade, the population had tripled. But after 1660, while the Virginia tobacco was dumped upon the restricted English market and prices fell lower and lower, no such rapid growth is noted. In 1671, nine years after his first estimate, Governor Berkeley still placed the population at 40,000.[5-40] And even if we accept the statement of the Virginia agents sent to England to secure a charter for the colony that in 1675 the number of inhabitants was 50,000, it is evident that some pernicious influence was at work to retard the development of England's most important American province.[5-41] A drop in the rate of increase from 200 per cent during the thirteen years prior to 1662, to 25 per cent in the thirteen years following, is a clear index to the startling change brought about in the colony by the British trade regulations.
These figures are the more significant in that there was no appreciable slackening of the stream of servants. It is probable that in the period from 1662 to 1675, which marked this estimated increase of 10,000 persons, fully 20,000 immigrants had come to the colony.[5-42] The patent rolls for 1674 alone give the names of 1931 headrights, and this year is by no means exceptional. No wonder Edward Randolph was surprised[99] at the smallness of the population and wrote to the Board of Trade that it should be investigated why Virginia had not grown more, "considering what vast numbers of servants and others had been transported thither."[5-43]
But Randolph failed to realize that it is not the volume of immigration but the number of people a country will support which in the end determines the size of the population. It was not enough to pour into the colony tens of thousands of poor settlers; opportunity had also to be afforded them for earning an adequate living. And this opportunity, because of the enforcement of the Navigation Acts and the consequent ruin of trade, they did not have in Virginia. Throughout the Restoration period not more than forty or fifty thousand people could exist upon the returns from the tobacco crop, and beyond that the population could hardly rise. If more poured in, they must of necessity live in misery and rags, or migrate to other colonies where more favorable conditions existed.
We are not at present concerned with what become of this surplus population, but only with the fact that the Navigation Acts brought to a dead halt the process of moulding freedmen and other poor settlers into a prosperous yeomanry. By the year 1660 this class seems to have reached its highest development, and had a rent roll of land owners been drawn up at that date it would doubtless have shown almost as many names as that of 1704. In fact it is fortunate that in the bitter years from 1660 to 1685 it did not succumb entirely. With the price of tobacco so low that no profit was to be derived from it, with his family in rags, the small planter might well have sold his land to his more wealthy neighbor and joined the newly freed servants in moving on to western Carolina or to the northern colonies.
In fact it is an indication of the solid character of the Virginia[100] yeomanry that it survived to enter the Eighteenth century, that under Andros and Nicholson as well as under Sir William Berkeley it was the soundest element in the life of the colony. Had it not been for the crowning misfortune of the introduction of great swarms of negro slaves, sooner or later it would have come once more into its own, would have carved out for itself a new prosperity, would have filled Virginia from the Atlantic to the Alleghanies.

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