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[229] to absolute independence, but, awaiting the settlement
Chap VI.} 1660
of affairs in England, hoped for the Restoration of the Stuarts.1

The legislation of the colony had taken its character from the condition of the people, who were essentially agricultural in their pursuits; and it is the interest of society in that state to discountenance contract ing debts. Severe laws for the benefit of the creditor are the fruits of commercial society; Virginia possessed not one considerable town, and her statutes favored the independence of the planter, rather than the security of trade. The representatives of colonial landholders voted ‘the total ejection of mercenary attornies.’2 By a special act, emigrants were safe against suits designed to enforce engagements that had been made in Europe;3 and colonial obligations might be easily satisfied by a surrender of property.4 Tobacco was generally used instead of coin. Theft was hardly known, and the spirit of the criminal law was mild. The highest judicial tribunal was the assembly, which was convened once a year, or oftener.5 Already large landed proprietors were frequent; and plantations of two thousand acres were not unknown.6

During the suspension of the royal government in England, Virginia attained unlimited liberty of commerce, which she regulated by independent laws. The ordinance of 1650 was rendered void by the act of capitulation; the navigation act of Cromwell was not designed for her oppression,7 and was not enforced within her borders. If an occasional confiscation took

1 Hening's note, i. 526—529.

2 Hening, i. 275. 302. 313. 349. 119. 482. 495; and Preface, 18.

3 Ibid. 256, 257.

4 Ibid. 294.

5 Hammond, 13. Sad State, 21.

6 Virginia's Cure, 2 and 8. Sad State, 9.

7 The commerce between the Dutch and Virginia was hardly interrupted.

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