CHAPTER VII. HOW THE COLONIES WERE GOVERNED

In New York (1725) Bradford started the first newspaper in that colony. One of his old apprentices, John Peter Zenger, started the second (1733), and soon called down the wrath of the governor because of some sharp attacks on his conduct. Copies of the newspaper were burned before the pillory, Zenger was put in jail, and what began as a trial for libel ended in a great struggle for liberty of the press; Zenger's acquittal was the cause of great public rejoicings. [15]

CHANGES BETWEEN 1660 AND 1760. - By 1760 the conditions of life in the colonies had changed for the better in many respects. Stagecoaches had come in, and a line ran regularly between New York and Philadelphia. Post offices had been established. There were printing presses and newspapers in most of the colonies, there were public subscription libraries in Charleston and Philadelphia, and six colleges scattered over the colonies from Virginia to Massachusetts.

EDUCATION. - What we know as the public school system, however, did not yet exist. Children generally attended private schools kept by wandering teachers who were boarded around among the farmers or village folk; and learned only to read, write, and cipher. But a few went to the Latin school or to college, for which they were often prepared by clergymen.

SPORTS AND PASTIMES. - Amusements in colonial days varied somewhat with the section of the country and the character of the people who had settled it. Corn huskings, quilting parties, and spinning bees were common in many colonies. A house raising or a log-rolling (a piling bee) was a great occasion for frolic. Picnics, tea parties, and dances were common everywhere; the men often competed in foot races, wrestling matches, and shooting at a mark. In New England the great day for such sports was training day, which came four times a year, when young and old gathered on the village green to see the militia company drill.

In New York there were also fishing parties and tavern parties, and much skating and coasting, horse racing, bull baiting, bowling on the greens, and in New York city balls, concerts, and private theatricals. In Pennsylvania vendues (auctions), fairs, and cider pressing (besides husking bees and house raisings) were occasions for social gatherings and dances. South of the Potomac horse racing, fox hunting, cock fighting, and cudgeling were common sports. At the fairs there were sack and hogshead races, bull baiting, barbecues, and dancing. There was a theater at Williamsburg and another in Charleston.

MANUFACTURES AND COMMERCE. - Little manufacturing was done in 1760, save for the household. A few branches of manufactures - woolen goods, felt hats, steel - which seemed likely to flourish in the colonies were checked by acts of Parliament, lest they should compete with industries in England. But shipbuilding was not molested, and in New England and Pennsylvania many ships were built and sold.

Land commerce in 1760 was still confined almost entirely to the Indian fur trade. In sea-going commerce New England led, her vessels trading not only with Great Britain and the West Indies, but carrying on most of the coasting trade. In general the Navigation Acts were obeyed; but the Molasses Act (1733), which levied a heavy duty on sugar or molasses from a foreign colony, was boldly evaded. The law required that all European goods must come by way of England; but this too was evaded, and smuggling of European goods was very common. Tobacco from Virginia and North Carolina often found its way in New England ships to forbidden ports.

SUMMARY

1. The English colonies were of three sorts - charter, royal, and proprietary; but before 1660 each managed its affairs much as it pleased.

2. Charles II and later kings tried to rule the colonies for the benefit of the crown and of the mother country. They acted through the Lords of Trade in England and through colonial governors in America.

3. In 1676 Bacon led an uprising in Virginia against Governor Berkeley's arbitrary rule.

4. In 1684 Massachusetts was deprived of her charter, and within a few years all the New England colonies, with New York and New Jersey, were put under the tyrannical rule of Governor Andros.

5. When James II lost his throne, Andros was deposed, and Massachusetts was given a new charter (1691).

6. The government of each colony was managed by (1) a governor elected by the people (Rhode Island, Connecticut) or appointed by the king or by the proprietor; (2) by an appointed Council; and (3) by an Assembly or lower house elected by the colonists.

7. Local government was of three sorts: in New England the township system prevailed; in the Southern Colonies the county system; and in the Middle Colonies a mixture of the two.

8. In 1660-1760 the population increased nearly tenfold; stagecoaches, post offices, and newspapers were introduced; commerce increased, but little manufacturing was done.

FOOTNOTES

[1] New Hampshire after 1679, New York after 1685 (when the Duke of York became king), New Jersey after 1702, Virginia after 1624, North and South Carolina after 1729, Georgia after 1752.

[2] These goods were products of the colonies and were named in the act - such as tobacco, sugar, indigo, and furs. There was a long list of such "enumerated goods," as they were called.

[3] In the royal colonies they were appointed by the crown; in Massachusetts, by the General Court; in the proprietary colonies, by the proprietor.