Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/18

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12 Southern Historical Society Papers.

rather than debase his press. Not one ray would I withdraw from the radiant glory which floods our historic fields from the colonial stars that constituted the old Plymouth Colony. The appeal of this hour of fraternal graces is rather to that broad and just national spirit which will award to the old original South of the Colonies the largest of pride and praise for its contributive proportion of the wis- dom, heroism and all other political virtues by which our free gov- ernment was founded.

With the country-loving spirit moving most powerfully my whole nature at this moment, I will collate in very brief historical statement some of those acts which place my queenly South on an illumined eminence as a panoplied and inflexible vindicator of man's political rights in a government of his intelligent choice. Examining the record, I find that before 1613, within ten years after the feudal charters of King James were granted, the outspoken demands of the Southern English colonists caused the changing of those charters into free democratic form, and that in 1619 the first representative Legislature in America selected by ballot met in this Southern Vir- ginia to make laws for its people. The gray dawn of self-govern- ment began at that hour to break out of a long night of hereditary misrule, and it was on the land of the South fell the first white beams of the splendid day of popular self-government in America. There is a principle of liberty expressed by the terse phrase, ' ' no taxation without representation," which is firmly embedded in our common political faith, and the star which stood over the birth of that great American maxim shed its first light, in 1623, down upon the capital city of your illustrious Virginia. Following along the logical line of its first step, in 1619, the Colony of Virginia acquired in 1652 the right to trade with all nations without hindrance, to ex- ercise general suffrage of all freemen, to levy its own taxes, and to be ruled by Governors of its own choosing. The perfidy of royalty brought on a period of oppression, bravely but vainly resisted by petition, remonstrance and non-intercourse, until at length the South, by representative Virginia, made the first armed resistance to foreign oppression by the patriotic rebellion of Nathaniel Bacon, one century before the War of the Revolution. The earliest estab- lishment of freedom in conscience, or the free exercise of religious worship, was in the organic law of Maryland. The Carolinas, North and South, in 1670 made a bold fight for home and established repre- sentative governments. From the public expression of Southern views during these early days on the general doctrines of human