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[190] a twelvemonth.1 The commissioner unfortunately died on his passage to Europe.2
Chap. V.} 1624.

The spirit of liberty had planted itself deeply among the Virginians. It had been easier to root out the staple produce of their plantations, than to wrest from them their established franchises. The movements of their government display the spirit of the place and the aptitude of the English colonies for liberty. A faithless clerk, who had been suborned by one of the com missioners to betray the secret consultations of the Virginians, was promptly punished. In vain was it attempted, by means of intimidation and promises of royal favor, to obtain a petition for the revocation of the charter. It was under that charter, that the assembly was itself convened; and, after prudently rejecting a proposition which might have endangered its own existence, it proceeded to memorable acts of independent legislation.3

The rights of property were strictly maintained against arbitrary taxation. ‘The governor shall not lay any taxes or compositions upon the colony, their lands or commodities, other way than by the authority of the general assembly to be levyed and ymployed as the said assembly shall appoynt.’ Thus Virginia, the oldest colony, was the first to set the example of a just and firm legislation on the management of the public money. We shall see others imitate the example, which could not be excelled. The rights of personal liberty were likewise asserted, and the power of the executive, circumscribed. The several governors had in vain attempted, by penal statutes, to promote the culture of corn; the true remedy was now discovered

1 Hening, l. 28, Act 35.

2 Burk, i. 277.

3 Hening, i. 122—128. Burk, i. 278—286. Stith, 318—322.

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