Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/143

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The Colonial Virginian. 137

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." In 1642 they declared "freedom of trade to be the blood and life of a community." 33

The cumulus of political grievance in 1676 was stoutly met by what in history has been termed Bacon's Rebellion. In 1718 the payment of a penny-a-letter postage on letters from England was re- sisted on the ground that Parliament could not levy a tax here with- out the consent of the General Assembly, which body wrote Gover- nor Spotswood, to the Lords of Trade, rendered the imposition in- operative by declaring the postmaster "in no ways lyable by the Act of Parliament," and by laying a penalty of ^5 on him for every letter 41 he demands or takes from a Board any ship " The appointing of stages was also interdicted by onerous penalties 33 .

Thus was the prime resistance of Virginia to the Stamp Act her- alded. You are familiar with the exemplification of Virginians in the struggles for independence. They are admitted to be whole-souled rebels.

It is an old subject of complaint that Virginians devoted themselves too exclusively to agricultural and individual enterprises. The his- tory of our colonial legislation is replete with acts to encourage the establishment of towns. To Virginia belongs the honor of inaugu- rating the manufacture of iron in America. In 1619, on Falling creek, a tributary of James river, Chesterfield county, about seven miles below the present city of Manchester, works for smelting iron were erected. The Indian massacre of 1622 unfortunately termi- nated the enterprise. There were early efforts for the cultivation of flax and hemp, and the breeding of silk-worms for the manufacture of fabrics. In 1657 premiums were offered for the production of silk, flax, and other staple commodities. 3 *

Mr. Meredith, whose able address I have referred to, conclusively refutes the charge of illiteracy and disregard for education in our an- cestors. My limits, with the comprehensive view I have essayed, will allow me only opportunity for the statement of some facts in augmentation of his valuable presentation.

My own examination of various records of Virginia, incidental to historical research, has proven to me that the general educational attainments of the Virginia colonists, from the earliest period, com-

82 Ibid, page 223.

33 Spotswood Lette rs, Volume II, page 280.

34 Hening, Volume I, page 169.