The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Andros, Edmund

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
The Encyclopedia Americana
Andros, Edmund
Edition of 1920. See also Edmund Andros on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

ANDROS, Sir Edmund, an American colonial governor; b. in London, England, 6 Dec 1637; d. there, 27 Feb. 1714. His father was master of ceremonies to Charles I. His son earned the favor of the Stuarts by steady and laborious service, unwavering loyalty and military and executive ability. In 1666 he was made major of an infantry regiment and sent to America, where he won laurels against the Dutch. In 1672, after his return to England, he became titular commander of the British forces in Barbados, and in the same year was made major in a regiment of dragoons raised for Prince Rupert; also a “landgrave” in Carolina, two years later succeeding his father as bailiff of Guernsey.

In 1674 Andros was made “lieutenant and governor” of “all the Duke of York's territories in America,” including New York (just restored by the Dutch, who had retaken it the year before), New Jersey and Delaware, Martha's Vineyard and parts of Maine, and a claim to all Connecticut west of that river. He arrived in November, and the next year began to push the Connecticut claim; but the Duke did not desire an appeal to force, and after making formal declarations at Saybrook, Andros retired. During the next two years the Indian troubles were acute; and in settling these he proved himself one of the ablest and most useful of Indian managers, winning the good will of the Iroquois at a critical time, and not only keeping his own colony protected, but sending help to the outlying points in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine. He spent a few months in England in 1677-78, and was knighted. In 1678-80 there was increasing friction, reli- gious and otherwise. He was an Episcopalian, and one of his appointees to a coadjutorship in an Albany church was tried for heresy but acquitted; Andros, however, tactfully quieted the disturbance and contributed to build a Reformed church in New York. Then the merchants charged him with unfairness in trade matters, and with suppressing part of his receipts in his public accounts, with the object of inducing the Duke to sell to some of them the right to farm the New York revenues. At this period Philip Carteret was acting as governor of East Jersey under the Duke of York's grant to his brother and Berkeley; there were complications inherited from previous changes which forced Andros to keep interfering, under his superior commission, and at last he sent a body of soldiers to seize Carteret and bring him to New York to be tried for exercising illegal jurisdiction. Andros acted as judge, but the jury acquitted Carteret, who was triumphantly reinstated. Lady Carteret complained to the Duke of York, who recalled Andros, and sent out a commissioner to investigate this and the other charges: he reported that Andros was not in fault, but the latter was retained at home, made gentleman of the privy chamber to Charles II, and received a 99-years' grant of the island of Alderney and other favors.

The accession of the Duke of York as James II (February 1685) was followed by the return of Andros to New England, as the agent in an unpopular scheme of consolidation, and in consequence his memory has been loaded with unjustifiable abuse. The Massachusetts charter had been revoked in October 1684, and Charles II had appointed the notorious Col. Piercy Kirke governor; but as he never entered on his duties, Andros was commissioned governor of all New England as one centralized colony on 3 June 1686. Dislike to James has done injustice to this statesmanlike scheme, distasteful though it was to the New Englanders. The intention was to create, out of the several weak and mutually contending colonies, one strong confederated colony with a militia powerful enough to resist French and Indian aggression, and under one command. Andros can only be blamed for needless harshness or blundering or corruption in obeying his instructions; and despite the current opinion there was none of this, but rather the reverse. On arriving at Boston, 19 Dec. 1686, he organized his new government, which, as the people had no longer the right to tax themselves, levied a new tax, the exact counterpart of the old. Ipswich refused to pay, and the ringleaders were fined and imprisoned, as must happen under any law. Andros was ordered to proclaim all land titles invalid unless confirmed by the Crown for a quitrent. Outrageous as this may seem, it was held to be sound law, and he enforced it in the most humane way by bringing test suits against a few of the wealthiest citizens before proceeding further. As a fact, only a part had yielded when the Revolution interrupted it. He granted waste common-lands to individuals who would improve them; a venial crime. Heavy fees were charged by the public officials; but he neither fixed the rates, received the proceeds nor appointed the officers who did. He had Episcopal services held in the Old South Church, but only when its regular congregation was not using it; this sacrilege, however, has blackened his memory worse than anything else. He was sometimes sharp in speech; but when some wickedly foolish people charged him with secretly fomenting an Indian war, he only laughed at them and left the courts to attend to the matter. In a word, there was neither a political nor a religious reign of terror set up; no one was persecuted for non-conformity or executed or whipped for political offenses. Andros behaved like a statesman, an honest man and a humane one. He early extended his authority over Plymouth, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, as well as Maine and Massachusetts. In October 1687 he visited Hartford, to take up the Connecticut charter: the story of its being hidden in the Charter Oak is classic, and it is certain enough that one copy was hidden and was efficient in restoring the charter rights of the colony later; but there was another copy, and the event was regarded as of no significance at the time. Andros, on returning to Boston in 1688, received the news that he was made governor also of all the British provinces in America except Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. While making a tour of his northern provinces he was checked by the information that the Penobscot Indians, stirred up by Castine (q.v.), whose property had been taken, were about to go on the war-path. He collected 700 troops, and in November proceeded to Maine and garrisoned several posts. On 4 April 1689 news was received of the deposition of James II; on the 18th the citizens of Boston rose and captured Andros, and kept him prisoner till 2 August, when he escaped to New York, but was recaptured and brought back, and not released till February 1690. He returned to England to face a trial with a committee of his accusers, but the charges fell through. William III needed officials as able and upright as he, and in 1692 made him governor of Virginia. He carried with him the charter of William and Mary College, and till 1698 remained in Virginia, a most public-spirited, hard-working, excellent ruler, doing much for the progress of the colony and esteemed by its people. His removal was caused by a quarrel with the commissary of the bishop of London and president of the college, who quarreled with all the governor. He was governor of Jersey 1704-06. He had been governor of every mainland English province in North America, and won the confidence of four successive monarchs of hostile lines. Even for New England, his departure was not an unmixed good, for it was followed by one of her bloodiest and most disastrous Indian wars, which his presence might have averted. See Brodhead, ‘Governorship of Sir Edmund Andros’ (1867); ‘Andros in New England’ (1691); Andros Tracts, with Notes and a Memoir’ (Prince Society, Boston 1868-74).