authority; and he confirmed them in the enjoy
ment of franchises which a long and uninterrupted succession had rendered familiar.
Immediately after his arrival, he convened the colonial legislature.
The utmost harmony prevailed; the memory of factions was lost in a general amnesty of ancient griefs.
The lapse of years had so far effaced the divisions which grew out of the dissolution of the company, that when George Sandys
, an agent of the colony, and an opponent of the royal party in England
, presented a petition to the commons, praying for the restoration of the ancient patents,1
the royalist assembly promptly disavowed the design, and, after a full debate, op-
posed it by a solemn protest.2
The whole document breathes the tone of a body accustomed to public discussion and the independent exercise of legislative power.
They assert the necessity of the freedom of trade, ‘for freedom of trade,’ say they, ‘is the blood and life of a commonwealth.’
And they defended their preference of self-government through a colonial legislature, by a conclusive argument.
‘There is more likelyhood, that such as are acquainted with the clime and its accidents may upon better grounds prescribe our advantages, than such as shall sit at the helm in England
In reply to their urgent petition, the king immediately declared his purpose not to change a form of government in which they ‘received so much content and satisfaction.’4
The Virginians, aided by Sir William Berkeley
could now deliberately perfect their civil condition.
Condemnations to service had been a usual punishment;