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Historical and Political Science 


History is past Politics and Politics present History — /r««na» 






N. Murray, Publication Aoknt 








I. Arnold Toynbee. By F. C. Montague, Fellow of 
Oriel College. With an Account of the Work of 
Toynbee Hall in East London, by Philip Lyttel- 
ton Gell, M. A., Chairman of the Council. Also 
an Account of the Neighborhood Guild in New 
York, by Charles B. Stover, A. B., . . . 1 

U-III. The Establishment of Municipal Government in San 
Francisco. By Bernard Moses, Ph. D., Professor 
of History and Politics in the University of Cali- 
fornia, 71 

• rV. Municipal History of New Orleans. By William 

W.Howe, 156 

V-VI. English Culture in Virginia. A Study of the Gilmer 
Letters, and an Account of the English Professors 
obtained by Jefferson for the University of Vir- 
ginia. By William P. Trent, M. A., Professor 
of History and English in the University of the 
South, 189 

VII-VIII-IX. The River Towns of Connecticut. Wethersfield, 
Hartford and Windsor. By Charles M. Andrews, 
Fellow in History, J. H. U., . . . .331 

X-XI-XII. Federal Government in Canada. By John G. 
Bourinot, Hon. LL. D., D. C. L., Clerk of the 
House of Commons of Canada, .... 457 





Historical and Political Science 


History ia past Politics and Politics present History— ^reenum 




Fellov qf Oriel College, Oj/ord 

With as Acxx)Unt op the Work op Toynbee Hall in East London, 

BY Philip Lyttelton Gell, M. A., Chairman of the Council. 

Also an Account of the Neighborhood Guild in 

New York, by Charles B. Stover, A. B. 









Arnold Toynbee, the second son of Joseph Toynbee, the 
distinguished aurist, was born on the 23rd of August, 1852, 
in Savile Row, London. Whilst he was yet an infant, his 
family removed to a house at Wimbledon in Surrey, where he 
spent the greater part of his childhood. Mr. Toynbee is 
remembered by friends to have taken the keenest interest in 
Arnold of whom, when only four years old, he spoke as his 
child of promise, and on whose development he exercised a 
very powerful influence. He was always anxious to improve 
the condition of the poor, and assisted in the erection of model 
cottages and the establishment of a lecture hall at Wimbledon. 
He employed Arnold whilst yet very young in the lectures 
u|)on elementary science which he used to give to the working- 
men of the neighborhood. Nor was it only by setting an 
example of public spirit that Mr. Toynbee did much to form 
the character of his son. He was a lover of art, a discerning 
collector of pictures, who knew how to communicate to others 
his enthusiasm for the works of great masters, and like all who 
sincerely love art, he took an especial delight in natural beauty. 
Wimbledon was then a pretty village situated in a fresh rural 
landscape, the fairest to be found in the imme<liate vicinity of 
London. In later years Arnold Toynbee would look back as 
to the happiest hours of childhood to those rambles over 
\Viml)le<lon Common on which his father would take out a 
volume of poetry and as they rested in pUutsant s|)ot8 here 


6 Arnold Toynbee, 

and there read aloud such passages as a child could feel at 
least, if not understand. 

Whilst yet very young Arnold Toynbee delighted in 
reading history, especially military history, and his favorite 
pastime was to construct mimic fortifications, which he built 
with more than childish precision and armed with the heaviest 
ordnance procurable. Always delicate and exquisitely sensi- 
tive to pain, he had not the animal courage common to strong, 
healthy boys; yet, by the unanimous testimony of brothers 
and of schoolfellows, he was singularly fearless, throwing 
himself into everything which he attempted with an impetu- 
osity which made him forgetful of consequences and even of 
actual suffering. With this high-strung vehemence he united 
a very resolute will. From first to last, he was one of those 
who would sooner be dashed to pieces than fail to climb any 
height which they have once determined to surmount. In 
later life these qualities were tempered by scrupulous anxiety 
to be just and fair, by a beautiful kindliness and delicacy ; 
but in early youth they were accompanied with a violent 
temper, and an excess of self-confidence. He was but eight 
years old when he went to his first school, a private establish- 
ment at Blackheath, where he became the leader in amusement 
and mischief of boys much older than himself. Having once 
planned with many of his schoolfellows a joke to be executed 
when the master's back was turned, he failed to notice the 
entrance by an opposite door of another master and the hasty 
retreat of all his accomplices who left him alone in the middle 
of the floor, absorbed in the execution of a caricature for which 
he alone suffered, although all were guilty. 

As a schoolboy and ever after he was slow in acquiring a 
knowledge of any subject distasteful to him, such as languages 
or mathematics, but showed great power in grasping any sub- 
ject which, like history, fired his imagination. Rapidity of 
acquisition was never the distinguishing quality of his intelli- 
gence. A fastidious taste and eager passion for truth made 
half knowledge distasteful to him; and whole knowledge 

Ai-noUl Toynbce. 7 

comes readily to no man. At school he grew so decided in 
his preference for a military life that, when he was fourteen 
years of age, his father sent him to a college which prepared 
candidates for army examinations. Here he held his own 
among comrades who were not very congenial. He had a 
boy^s instinct for games and his swiftness of foot and high 
spirit made him an excellent football player; but he played 
football, as he did everything else, with an eagerness which 
overstrained his delicate nervous system, and in consequence 
he suffered from illness and sleepless nights. Here too he 
enlarged his reading in history and surprised his tutors by the 
force and originality of his essays. He began to feel an 
impulse towards purely intellectual pursuits and an unfitness 
for the career of a soldier. His father was no longer living, 
and, at his own request, he left the college when he was about 
sixteen years of age. He had not made many friends among 
his fellow students, but he had impressed the masters as a 
youth of singular talent and singular elevation of character; 
so much so, that one of them, making him a present on his 
departure, asked him to accept it as a token ** of real respect 
and esteem." 

Having abandoned all thoughts of entering the army, 
Toynbee next thought of preparing himself to enter the 
Civil Service; and with this view spent the two following 
years in reading at home and in attending lectures at King's 
College, London. Subsequently he resolved to be called to 
the Bar; a resolution which he only abandoned after a pain- 
ful struggle and in ol)edience to circumstances. These were 
to him years of paiuful uncertainty. Although he had many 
who were very dear to him, none fully understood, certainly 
he did not himself understand the tendency of that inward 
restlessness which he seems to have experienced at this })eriod. 
It is the fashion to say that youth is the happiest season of 
life, and, in one sense, this is true, but in another sense it is 
equally true, that the youth of thoughtful persons is often 
racked with pains which they cannot express and which arc 

8 Arnold Toifubcc. 

not tlic lo.cs real, because their elders can prescribe nothing 
better than platitudes. The suffering of" middle and of latter 
life bear no more analogy to these pains than does the anguish 
of a toothache to the torture of cutting one's teeth. Whilst 
the surface-current of Toynbee's mind set now towards this, 
now towards that profession, the undercurrent set more and 
more steadily towards the pursuit of truth. At length that 
current swept him right away and he deliberately resolved to 
devote his life to the study of history and of the philosophy 
of hit^tory. In order to secure quiet for his meditations, 
Toynbee took lodgings, first, in the village of Bracknell in 
Berks, and afterwards in the village of East Lulworth on the 
Dorsetshire coast; in these retreats he spent many months. 
For the first time he began to see what he really wished 
to do, and, still more important, what it was that he really 
could do. 

Toynbee's aspirations and plans of study of this period may 
best be gathered from a letter which he wrote to the late Mr. 
Hinton, a warm friend of his father and a spirit in many 
ways congenial to his own. It will be necessary to refer 
hereafter to the correspondence in which this letter occurs. 
It is dated the 18th of September, 1871, when the writer had 
just completed his nineteenth year and was written from East 
Lulworth. The passage relevant in this context is as fol- 
lows : — 

" For myself, I have, since the beginning of April, with 
the exception of a short interval in July, been reading alone 
at this quiet little village near the seacoast, ostensibly with a 
view to a University career; but determined to devote my 
life and such power as I possess to the study of the philosophy 
of history. With this object in view, I have no inclination to 
enter any profession ; nor do I think it probable that I shall 
compete for a scholarship at the University. To these pur- 
suits I wish to give my whole life. The small means at my 
disposal, and those which without the expenditure of much 
time 1 hope to be able to add to them, will be sufficient for 

Arnold Toynbee, 9 

my maintenance. I do not care to spend my life in acquiring 
material benefits which might have an evil, and at any rate 
could not have a good effect upon me. These ideas may appear 
ridiculous in one so young and of powers so immature, but 
they are not the result of mere ambition, or of an empty desire 
for fame in itself, or for the rewards with which it is accom- 
panied. My sole, and so far as it can be so, unalloyed motive 
is the pursuit of truth ; and for truth I feel I would willingly 
sacrifice prospects of the most dazzling renown. I do not 
even think myself capable of accomplishing any work of 
importance. If my labors merely serve to assist another in 
the great cause, I shall be satisfied." 

As time went on Toynbee found reason to vary the pro- 
gramme of work laid down in this letter, but he never swerved 
from the spirit expressed therein. Few men have combined so 
much self-confidence with so much modesty, or have been so 
entirely absorbe<^l in their work, so totally free from motives of 
vanity or of egotism. Yet a solitary life was neither natural 
nor wholesome for one so young. At this time he was an 
absolute recluse in his habits, and even when at home shut 
himself up with his books, disdaining, like so many clever 
boys, to mix with ordinary society. Happily, this stage of 
his life was not to continue much longer. When he had 
reached the age of twenty-one years, he found himself master 
of a small capital, and trusting to this for maintenance during 
a university career, he became a member of Pembroke College, 
Oxford, in the January of 1873. In the autumn of that year 
he resolved to oonn)ete for a scholarship in Modern History 
at Balliol College. Here he wius unsuccessful. He had 
brought up to the University a considerable knowledge of 
history and of general literature. But he had awumulated 
knowledge in order to satisfy his own cravings, not the curi- 
osity of examiners. He had accumulated it without advice or 
assistance, and had never gone through that singular prooess 
whereby a lad who knows little and cares nothing for knowl- 
edge is enabled to turn out dozens of tolerably oorrect essays 

10 Arnold Toynbee, 

upon dozens of great subjects. In short, he had not read for 
examination, and, when examined, could not do himself 

From this repulse, however, Toynbee derived a benefit impos- 
sible to estimate too highly. As he had read and reflected 
by himself, and had honestly worked out his own opinions, 
he imagined himself to have gone deeper and further than was 
really the case. Extreme, therefore, was his disgust when 
one of his examiners, in explaining to him the reasons of his 
ill-success, said : " You have picked up your ideas from hear- 
ing the clever talk of London society, and you have written 
your papers just as you would talk." He used afterwards 
to say that this criticism, baseless as it was, had done him the 
greatest good imaginable. It is true that the incisive way of 
putting ideas which struck his examiners derived itself from 
an incisive way of thinking, and continued with him througli- 
out life. But it is also true that, in the present stage of 
learning, the student who does not avail himself of the recog- 
nized methods is like a traveller who prefers his own legs to an 
express train. With all their faults, the universities supply 
to the scholar that which he cannot dispense with and cannot 
get so well anywhere else — the methods elaborated by thous- 
ands of his predecessors ; the correction supplied by contem- 
poraries equal or superior to himself; the powerful current of 
spiritual electricity set up in the assemblapje of so many eager 
wits. Had Toynbee never gone to the University, he might 
have remained all his life groping towards results long since 
attained by men far inferior in force of character and of intel- 
ligent. His new exi)erience taught him his defects and how 
to amend thorn. 

Hut the immediate result of the scholarship examination 
was one of those tedious illnesses which consumed so much of 
the short time allotted to him upon earth. He was forced to 
leave Oxfoixl, to susjxind all his work, to go down into the 
country and try slowly and painfully to rally his exhausted 
powers. From this and many other such intervals of mourn- 

Arnold Toynbee, 11 

ful leisure he, Indeed, drew profit, as such a nature draws profit 
from every experience. For his friends they were an unmixed 
sadness. It was not until a year had passed away that he was 
able to return to Oxford. In the January of 1875 he became 
a commoner of Balliol College. His real undergraduate life 
commences from this date ; and here the narrative of his early 
years may best conclude, 


Toynl)ee*s health continued to be so delicate that he could 
not read for honors in any school, much less compete for any 
university prizes or distinctions. As he was unable to study 
hard for more than an average of two or three hours a day, 
he was obliged to content himself with a pass degree. Yet 
few men have derived more profit from a university course. 
He continued to read widely and judiciously. The Master 
and the tutors of Balliol College fully comprehended his 
great gifts and great embarrassments, and gave him sym- 
pathy, guidance and frank, discerning criticism. He always 
gratefully acknowledged much he owed especially to the 
Master and to the late Professor Thomas Hill Green. As 
regards his merely academic studies, it is here enough to 
say that he took a pass degree in the summer of 1878. 

Every one who knows Oxford will allow that, valuable as 
is the teaching supplied by the university and the colleges, it 
is hardly more valuable than the genial intercourse between 
the young inquisitive spirits there assembled. 

Although Toynbee had hitherto lived in seclusion, he fell 
very readily into this intercourse and gave even more good 
than he received. He was in truth formed for society and 
friendship. At this time he was very comely and attractive 
in appearance. An oval face, a high forehead crowned wnth 
masses of soft brown hair, features very clearly cut, a straight 
nose and a rather large, full-lipped mouth, only needed more 
color to produce the impression of beauty ; and even the color 

12 Arnold Toynbec. 

wanting to his gray eyes and brown complexion was supplied 
when he grew warm in conversation by a lighting up of his 
whole countenance, a brilliant yet soft irradiation, which 
charmed the beholder and can never be forgotten by those 
who knew him well. Together with this winning countenance 
he had a manner singularly frank, open and animated. A 
student and an invalid, he was free from the vexatious oddi- 
ties of either ; was neither shy nor slow nor abstracted nor 
languid, but always prompt and lively. He talked extremely 
well, without exactly conversing. For that delightful pastime 
which the French call a causerie he was not altogether adapted. 
For that the mind must be habitually at ease — not unemployed, 
but never taxed up to its utmost strength, not strained by 
crowding ideas on vehement feelings. Toynbee, as time went 
on, came to concentrate more and more upon a few momentous 
subjects which were ever present to him, concerning which he 
spoke with wonderful eloquence and enthusiasm. The faces 
of listeners supplied him with the stimulus which his sensitive 
temperament and weak body required. He never was quite 
happy in writing out his thoughts. He complained that they 
came upon his mind faster than he could set them down on 
paper. That he had real literary talent, many passages in the 
volume of fragments published after his death show ; but 
nothing which he has written gives any idea of his power of 
expreasing himself by word of mouth. Although he spoke 
rapidly and copiously, he never was betrayed into a vulgar 
phrase or slovenly construction ; he spoke as one to whom 
idiomatic utterance is natural, correctly and forcibly, without 
the cant phrases of the undergraduate or the studied negli- 
gence of the college tutor. Nor did he, like so many other 
exuberant speakers, suggest to those who heard him that he 
Bpoke out of a passion for display. If he talked much it was 
because he forgot himself in his subject. No man ever was 
more willing to hear all that others had to say, or sought with 
more kind and courteous attention to encourage criticism, even 
opposition. Naturally combative and fond of controversy, he 

Arnold Toynbee, 13 

was never betrayed into those little breaches of amenity so 
common even among men of good temper and good breeding 
when heated by argument. Naturally somewhat intolerant, 
he had schooled himself into genuine tolerance. Naturally 
sensitive and excitable, he had, whilst retaining all his original 
warmth, subdued in a surprising degree the impulse to exag- 
gerate. Everything he said bore the impress of an exquisitely 
fine nature. One could not listen to him without admiring, 
or argue against him without loving. One could no more 
say a brutal or profane thing to him than to the most delicate 
lady. Not that he was finical, or censorious, or assumed the 
right to check others in an impertinent or condescending tone, 
but that no man of good feeling could, without a cutting pang 
of remorse, shock such an exquisite sensibility. 

Good looks, talent, information and social gifts are more 
than enough to gain friends at the University ; but Toynbee 
had many other attractions. He was in all senses of the word, 
sympathetic. He had sympathy for men's suiferings, for their 
interests and pursuits, even for their failings and misdeeils. 
No matter what the troubles of an acquaintance — ill health, 
ill success, disappointment or poverty, they always seemed to 
raise his value in Toynbee's eyes. Nor was compassion with 
Toynbee a mere sentiment. He was always eager to assist in 
any useful way, studied his friend's affairs as if they were his 
own, gave the warmest, sincerest encouragement to the de- 
8i>onding, the kindest, tenderest criticism to the erring, yet 
seemed never to expect any thanks and to take gratitude as a 
free gift. Out of his small store of life and strength he 
bestowed freely upon all. With this evangelical charity he 
joined the widest sympathy of another kind. All fellow stu- 
dents were his brethren. Their labors, their acquisitions, their 
suooesses were his. He admired talent of all sorts, and rejoiced 
in all achievements which enriched the life of the individual 
or of the race. 

For a man of this temj)oramcnt the years spent at oollejije 
are his happiest. The ycai*s that come after may bring the 

14 Arnold Toynbee, 

philosophic mind; but thej' cannot add the joy and the fulness 
of life. Toynbee had not hitherto felt how much he was alive ; 
he felt it now, and was charmed with a new sense of expansion. 
"The garden quadrangle at Balliol," he writes to a friend, "is 
where one walks at night, and listens to the wind in the trees, 
and weaves thest;u*s into the webof one^s thoughts; where one 
gazes from the pale inhuman moon to the ruddy light of the 
windows, and hears broken notes of music and laughter and 
the complaining murmur of the railroad in the distance. . . . 
The life here is very sweet and full of joy ; at Oxford, after all, 
one's ideal of happy life is nearer being realized than anywhere 
else — I mean the ideal of gentle, equable, intellectual inter- 
course, with something of a prophetic glow about it, glancing 
brightly into the future, yet always embalming itself in the 
memory as a resting-place for the soul in a future that may 
be dark and troubled after all, with little in it but disastrous 

Soon after Arnold Toynbee came up to Oxford, Mr. 
Rusk in, then Professor of Fine Arts in the University, 
made a characteristic endeavor to illustrate the dignity and 
good effects of even the coarsest bodily toil. He persuaded 
many undergraduates to work under him at the repair of a 
road in the village of Hinksey near Oxford. Among thase 
undergraduates was Toynl)ee, who rose by his zeal to the rank 
of a foreman. He was thus entitled to appear frequently at 
those breakfasts which Mr. Ruskin gave to his young friends 
and enlivened with quaint, eloquent conversation. Upon men 
like Toynbee, intercourse with Mr. Ruskin had a stimulating 
effect more durable than the actual improvement of the road 
near Hinksey. Toynl)ee came to think very differently from 
Mr. Ruskin upon many subjects, and especially upon democ- 
racy; but always regarded him with reverence and affection. 
About the same time Toynbee joined the Oxford University 
Rifles, bei'ause he thought that every man should qualify 
himself to take part in the defence of his country; he was 
unable, however, long to fulfil the duties of a volunteer. 

Arnold Toynbee, 16 

His bodily weakness, which also forbade him to study long 
or with strict regularity, constrained him, as it were, to enjoy 
Oxfoni and its society more than he might have 
allowed himself to do. It brought another indirect advantage 
of even more consequence. It saved him from tlie bad effects 
of our fashionable method of intellectual instruction, which 
tends to make the student read as much and as widely as 
possible without any reference to the effect which reading 
may have upon the mind. Toynbee was naturally exact in 
his intelligence, and gained in accuracy and thoroughness as 
time went on. He derived nothing but good from his 
studies as an undergraduate. Older than most under- 
graduates, he felt the genial influence of Oxford, without 
being overpowered by it. Without ceasing to be original he 
appropriated, more freely than he had ever done before, the 
ideas of his time. Soon after coming into residence at Balliol 
College, he had decided to take political economy for his prov- 
ince and to study it upon historical methods. Politiciil econ- 
omy attracted him chiefly as affording instruction respeciting 
the conditions of social life, and his interest in that science 
was singularly intertwined with interest in other subjects, in 
popular prejudice the most remote from it of any. 

Religion daily came to occupy his thoughts more and more. 
In his boyhood it had no very important place. He had 
received the usual instruction in religious subjects and this had, 
as usual, made very little impression. His father, although, 
full of religious feeling, had perhaps wisely abstained from 
indoctrinating his children with any rigid creed or drilling 
them in any strict forms of worship. When Arnold Toynbee 
had reached the age at which life first becomes serious, his 
first aspirations were, as we have s<»en, purely intellectual. 
He wished to live for others and resolved to live for them as 
a student. An increase of knowledge was the blessing which 
he wished to confer u|><)n his raa*. Rut his early ideal was 
not to give him full satisfaction. Even at the age of nineteen 
yearS; as is shown by the correspondence with Mr. Hinton 

16 Arnold Toynbee, 

above quoted, he had begun to ponder the most vexino: 
problems which offer themselves to the devout mind. Thf 
tx)rresjx)ndence turned chiefly upon Mr. Hinton's book "The 
Mysterj' of Pain." Mr. Hinton's speculative enthusiasm, his 
real elevation of mind and sympathy with religious cravings 
were such as might well fascinate an eager clever lad arrived 
at the age when the very few who are not absorbed in careless 
gaiety are so frequently devoured by ascetic earnestness. As 
time went on the spell which Mr. Hinton exercised over 
Arnold Toynbee lost much of its force. The young man 
came to see that Mr. Hinton's remarkable book leaves the 
mystery as mysterious as it was before, and felt perhaps a 
growing sense of discord between his own nature and that 
of his early teacher. Their exchange of ideas nevertheless 
marked an epoch in Toynbee's life. 

His religious development was not checked but accelerated 
by his residence at Oxford. " Most men/' he said, " seem to 
throw off their beliefs as they pass through a University 
career; I made mine." Just before becoming an undergradu- 
ate he had, of his own accord, turned to the classics of religion 
and read them with the eagerness of one who is quenching a 
real and painful thirst. He read the Bible so earnestly as to 
draw from one of his friends the deliciously naive remark 
"Toynbee reads his Bible like any other book — as if he liked 
it." In the course of his first year at Balliol he writes to a 
friend : " The two things the Bible speaks to our hearts most 
unmistakably are the unfathomable longing for God, and the 
forgiveness of sins ; and these are the utterances that fill up 
an aching void in my secular religion — a religion which is 
slowly breaking to pieces under me. It is astonishing to 
think that in the Bible itself we find the most eloquent heart- 
rending expression of that doubt and utter darkness and 
disbelief which noisy rhetoricians and calm sceptics would 
almost persuade us were never before adequately expressed — 
they would tell us we must look for it all in their bald lan- 
guage." And a little later, " A speechless thrill of spiritual 

Arnold Toyiibee. 17 

desire sometimes nms through me and makes me hope even 
when most weary." "As to position in life," he wrote about 
the same time, " the position I wish to attain to is that of a 
man consumed with the thirst after righteousness." 

As Toynbee^s religion had not come to him through the 
medium of customary religious forms, or in association with 
accepted religious dogmas, these dogmas and forms never 
were to him so momentous as they are to many devout souls. 
Not indeed that he was hostile to either. He knew that the 
practice of simple religious observances was beneficial to the 
spiritual life of the individual and necessary to the spiritual 
life of the nation ; he joined in them and, as time went on, 
valued them more highly than he had done in youth. He 
would earnestly seek out the truth contained in accepted 
dogmas; but he could not help seeing how mischievous to 
religion and to civilization some of them have proved, and 
how inadequate all must necessarily be. His incisive intelli- 
gence and historical feeling forbade him to dress his faith in 
the worn out garb of medisBval devotion, or to try the spiritual 
discipline of believing what he knew to be untrue. Yet the 
same intelligence and feeling forbade him to set up an infin- 
itesimal church of his own or to worship assiduously an ideal 
existing only in his own imagination. He thou^^ht that any 
follower of Christ might live in the Church of England. He 
always strove to find some definite intellectual conceptions to 
support his faith, for he saw that without such conceptions 
piety must degenerate into sentiment. It seemed to him that, 
whilst every age and country, nay every serious believer, must 
more or less differ in religious doctrine from every other, since 
religious doctrine is related to the whole spiritual, moral and 
intellectual life, which is infinitely various, yet doctrine of 
some kind or another is necessary in every instance, and peace 
and freedom are to be found, not in luxurious dreamy fiction, 
but in the humble acknowledgment that the best and highest 
utterances of man concerning God are inevitably im|)erfect, 
iuooherent and transitory. Thus eagerly searching to har- 

18 AimoUl loynbee, 

monize the piety which lie Imd learned from the Bible, and 
the Imitation of Thomas A Kempis, with those modern ideas 
to which he was equally loyal, he found especial help in the 
teaching and convei*8ation of the late Professor Green, whose 
lay sermons delivered in Balliol College made a memorable 
impression upon many who heard them. Professor Green 
united the critical temper of a German philosopher with the 
fervor of a Puritan saint. Between him and Toynbee there 
was an entire confidence and an intimate intellectual and 
spiritual communion which only death interrupted. 

It would not be right here to set out a body of doctrine 
with Toynbee's name attached to it. He was ever feeling his 
way, seriving after truth, without arrogance, but with the 
honest resolution not to accept propositions merely because 
they flattered his higher sentiments. His nearest friends 
caught from his conversation, and still more from his daily 
life, a bright reflection of his inward fire ; but none probably 
would venture to catalogue his beliefs. It will be better to 
try to gather from his own words what he really thought, 
always remembering that he was very young and oppressed 
by the immensity of religious conceptions. The following 
passage occurs in a letter written to an old schoolfellow who 
had become an officer and was then serving in the Indian 
Array. The letter is dated the 2nd of October, 1875, the first 
year of his residence at Balliol College : 

" * To love God ' — those words gather amazing force as life 
gets more difficult, mysterious and unfathomable ; one's soul 
in itfl loneliness at last finds religion the only clue. And yet 
how weary is the search for God among the superstitions, 
antiquities, contradictions and grossness of popular religion ; 
but gleams of divinity are everywhere, and slowly in the end 
comes divine })eace. ... It seems to me that the primary 
element of all religion is the faith that the end for which the 
whole universe of sense and thought from the Milky Way to 
the lowest form of animal life, the end for which everything 
came into existence, is that the dim idea of perfect holiness 

Aimold Toynbee, 19 

which is found in the mind of man might be realized ; that 
this idea is God Eternal and the only reality; that the relation 
between this idea which is God and each individual is religion, 
the consciousness of the relation creating the duty of perfect 
purity of inner life or being, and the duty of living for others, 
that they too may be perfectly pure in thought and action ; 
and, lastly, that the world is so ordered that the triumph of 
righteousness is not impossible through the efforts of the indi- 
vidual will in relation to eternal existence. I speak of God 
as an idea and not as personal ; I think you will understand 
what 1 mean if you ask yourself if the pure love and thoughts 
of a man are not all that makes his jxirsonality clear to you — 
whether you would care that anything else of him should be 
immortal ; whether you do not think of all else of him as the 
mere expression and symbol of his eternal, invisible existence. 
My dear fellow, don't think it strange that I send you these 
bare, abstract thoughts all those dizzy leagues to India. I 
only want to tell you what I am thinking of; do not take 
heed of them except in so far as they chime harmoniously with 
your own belief; I think they are the truth, but truth comes 
to every mind so differently that very few can find the longed- 
for unity except in love.*' 

From the passage just quoted the reader might draw an 
inference which it does not justify. Toynbee was perfectly 
well aware that a Divinity who is nothing more than an 
abstraction has never been and never can l)e the object of a 
real, living religion. Concerning the creed of the Positiv- 
ists, whose virtues he honored, he wrote some years later. 
"Humanity is really an abstraction nianufactui-ed by the intel- 
lect; it can never be an object of religion, for religion in every 
form demands something that lives and is not made. It is 
the vision of a living thing that makes the Psalmist cry * As 
the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so longelh my soul 
after thee, the living God.* ** The following words quoted 
from an addi-css upon the ideal relations of Church and State, 
may remove some doubts as to his own position : 

20 Arnold Toynbee, 

" God is a person — how else could man love and worship 
Got! ? What jKirsonality is, we only faintly apprehend — who 
has withdrawn the inii)enetrable veil which hides our own 
jK^rsonality from us? God is a father — but who has explained 
a father's love? There is limitation to man's knowledge, and 
he is disposed to cry out, Why this impassable barrier? He 
knows he is limited — why he is limited he knows not. Only 
by some image does he strive to approach the mystery. The 
sea, he may say, had no voice until it ceased to be supreme on 
the globe. There, where its dominion ended and its limits 
began, on the edge of the land, it broke silence. Man would 
liave had no tongue had he been merely infinite. Where he 
feels his limits, where the infinite spirit within him touches 
tiie shore of his finite life, there he, too, breaks silence." 

On the other hand, all notions of a special Providence 
fjivoring this or that race, this or that individual, were shock- 
ing to Toynbee's moral and religious feelings. Nothing 
scandalized him more than the self-congratulation so often 
uttered by serious people on the occasion of their escape from 
the plagues and miseries which visit others. Miracles do not 
seem to have been felt by him as aids to the belief in God. 
The strangest of these supposed irregularities appeared to him 
less divine than the order and harmony of the universe. He 
might have chosen to express his feeling of the presence of 
God in the words of one of his favorite poets : 

" A sense 
Of something, far more deeply interfused, 
V/hose ilwelling is the light of setting suns, 
And the round ocean, and the living air, 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man 
A motion and a spirit that impels 
All thinking things, all objects of all thought, 
And rolls through all things." 

Not that his creed was pantheism, if by pantheism we mean 
merely a vague awe or admiration inspired by the mighty sum 
of existence. To him, as we have seen, God was a spirit, a 

Arnold Toyiibce. 21 

person in the fullest sense of the word. For him religion was 
insejmrably bound up with conduct and with righteousness. 
"If I did not believe that the moral law was eternal," he 
once said, " I should die." But he felt irresistibly impelled 
to struggle out of the dualism which contents the multitude. 

From weakness of imagination most religious people r^ard 
the visible world as something external to God, and related to 
Him only as a picture is related to the painter or as a king- 
dom is related to its sovereign. They find something reassur- 
ing and comforting in direct exertions of the Divine preroga- 
tive. As the inexplicable is for them the sacred, every 
expansion of their knowledge is a contraction of their faith. 
Most touching it is to hear them say. Ah ! there are many 
things for which the men of science cannot account, many 
things which show that there must be a God. Most strange 
is their reluctant conviction that, in so far as the universe can 
be shown to be rational, it is proved to have no soul. Their 
frame of mind was quite im[X)ssible to Toynbee, who believed 
in science as he believed in God. He saw that the so-called 
conflict of religion and science really grows out of two intel- 
lectual infirmities common — the one among the devout multi- 
tude, the other among students of particular physical sciences. 
On the one hand, religious exjxjriences have been almost 
inseparably associated in the popular mind with the belief 
in certain historical statements, which, whether true or false, 
must be tried by the critical canons applicable to all state- 
ments of that kind. On the other hand, absorption in the 
pursuit of physical science often leads men to forget that such 
science can give no ultimate explanation of anything, because 
it always postulates certain conceptions which it does not 
criticise. For facts of geology or biology we must always 
have recourse to geologists or to biologists, not because they 
know everything but because they alone can know anything 
relating to these sciences. On the other hand, neither the 
g(X)logist nor the biologist, as such, can give the ultimate 
interpretation to be put upon all facta whatsoever. Free from 

22 Arnold Ihynbee. 

these oontendinpj projiuHces, Toynbee always felt sure that the 
progress of criticism must end, not in destroying religion, but 
in purifying religion from all that is not essential. Of the 
great Christian ideas he wrote : " They are not the creations 
of a particular hour and place, they are universal, but they 
became a compelling power owing to the inspiration of one 
teacher in a particular corner of the earth. What the real 
character of Christ was, what is the truth about certain inci- 
dents of his life, we may never ascertain, but the ideal Christ, 
the creation of centuries of Christian suifering and devotion, 
will be as little affected by historical scepticism as the charac- 
ter of Shakespeare's Hamlet by researches into the Danish 
chronicles. Prove to-morrow that the Scripture records and 
the Christian tradition are inventions and you would no more 
destroy their influence as a delineation of the spiritual life 
than the critics destroyed the spell of the Homeric poems by 
proving that Hector and Achilles never fought on the plains 
of Troy. This may seem a paradox, but the time will come 
when we shall no more think it necessary to agree with those 
who assert that Christianity must stand or fall with the 
resurrection of Christ than we now dream of saying with St. 
Bernard that it must stand or fall with belief in the Virgin 
Mary. The Christian records and the lives of the saints will 
be indispensable instruments for the cleansing of the spiritual 
vision, and the power which they exercise will be increased as 
their true value as evidence is understood. The Christian 
religion itself will in future rest upon a correct interpretation 
of man's spiritual character.'^ 

Toynbee was well aware of the spiritual languor which has 
been among the immediate results of the extraordinary growth 
of physical science in our own age. He had none the less a 
steadfast assurance that religion must in the end gain strength 
from the increase of knowledge. The following passage from 
an unpublished essay shows with what confidence he awaited 
the issue of that revolution in thought which has terrified so 
many good people : — 

Ai-nold. Toynbec. 23 

" Most terrible is the effect of the Reign of Law on the 
belief in immortality. Fever and despair come upon action, 
and the assertion that this world is all in all, narrows and 
perverts the world of ethical science. And, indeed, it is veiy 
awful, that great contrast of the Divine Fate of the world 
pacing on resistless and merciless, and our passionate indi- 
viduality with its hopes and loves, and fears ; that vision of 
our warm throbbing personal life quenched for ever in the 
stern sweep of Time. But it is but a passing picture of tlie 
mind ; soon the great thought dawns upon the soul, * It is 
I, this living, feeling man, that thinks of fate and oblivion ; 
I cannot reach the stars with my hands, but I pierce beyond 
them with my thoughts, and if things go on in the illimitable 
depth of the skies which would shrivel up the imagination 
like a dead leaf, I am greater than they, for I ask " why *' 
and look before and after, and draw all things into the tumult 
of my personal life — the stars in their courses, and the whole 
past and future of the universe, all things as they move in 
their eternal paths, even as the tiniest pool reflects the sun 
and the everlasting hills.' 

"Like all great intellectual revolutions, the effect of the 
Reign of Law upon ethical temper has been harassing and 
disturbing ; but as every great intellectual movement has in 
the end raised and ennobled the moral character of man 
through the purification of his beliefs, so will this great con- 
ception leave us the belief in God and the belief in immor- 
tality purified and elevated, strengthening through them the 
spirit of unselfishness which it is already beginning to inten- 
sify, and which makes us turn our faces to the future with 
an ever-growing hope." 

Religion was the inspiring force of Toynbee's later years 
and his efforts to understand and contribute to the cure of 
social evils were prompted al)ove all by the hojXJ of raising 
the people to that degree of civilization in which a pure and 
rational religion would l)e possible to them. Sensitive to 
their physical sufferings he was in a degree which at times 

24 Arnold Toynbcc» 

almost overpowered his judgnient ; but he never imagined 
that the franchise, regular enij)loyment at fair wages and 
cheap necessaries were in themselves capable of appeasing 
the tremendous cravings of human nature, of quieting the 
animal appetites or of satisfying the nobler aspirations. He 
did perceive, however, that a great number of our people live 
in such a manner as to make materialism and fanaticism 
almost unavoidable alternatives for them. Having found 
religion for himself and being eager to help others to find it 
he did not immediately become a missionary. He would 
speak frankly of religion to those who appeared to him really 
concerned about it ; and he hoped that at some future time 
he might find a way of preaching to the people. But it was 
not in his nature to be loquacious about spiritual matters and 
he was fond of quoting Bacon's saying : " The greatest of 
itheists are the hypocrites; for they handle sacred things 
without feeling them.^' 

Toynbee's desire to understand and help the poor led him to 
spend part of the vacations of 1 875 in .Whitechapel. Already 
he had arrived at the conclusion that mere pecuniary assist- 
ance unaccompanied by knowledge and sympathy is not 
enough to bring about any lasting change for the better in 
their condition. But such knowledge and sympathy, he saw, 
can only grow out of long and familiar intercourse, in which 
both parties meet as nearly on an equality as the facts of the 
case will allow. Acting upon these beliefs he took rooms in 
a common lodging house in the Commercial Road, White- 
cha|)el, and furnished them in the barest possible manner. 
He cordially enlisted himself in the endeavors made by the 
good people there to assist their neighbors. He always was 
well aware of the value of existing organizations, of the fact 
that the worst use which can be made of an institution is to 
destroy it. He would have endorsed that fine saying of 
Burke: "Wisdom cannot create materials; her pride is in 
their use." He put himself at the disposal of the Reverend 
Mr. Barnett, the Vicar of St. Jude's, and entered with zest 

Arnold Toynbee, 25 

into all the little feasts and amusements of the school children 
and their teachers. He also worked under the Charity Or- 
ganization Society, and particularly valued this employment 
as giving an incomparable insight into the real condition of 
those who are so much talked about and so little known. He 
also joined the Tower Hamlets Radical Club and spent many 
an evening there, trying to appreciate the ideas of East End 
politicians. Finding that many members of the club enter- 
tained especially strong prejudices upon the subjects of religion 
and of political economy, he chose these for his subjects when 
asked to address the club. In giving the address upon reli- 
gion he discovered in himself a new power. Although he had 
not had any previous experience and had not elaborated his 
discourse beforehand, he spoke eagerly, clearly and contin- 
uously for nearly three-quarters of an hour and succeeded in 
fixing the attention of his hearers. He was thus led to the 
conclusion that speaking rather than writing would be the 
best medium for his ideas, and resolved to repeat the exjieri- 
ment as often as time and strength would allow. In sub- 
stance, this address was an attempt to express, freed from 
accretions, the essence of religion, the thoughts and feelings 
common to the saints of all creeds and of all ages. When he 
sat down there followed a debate, more lively than orthodox 
in tone. One orator in particular derided the common con- 
ception of heaven as a place where the angels have nothing 
to do but to let their hair go on growing and growing for 
ever. His indefatigable industry, the noisy situation of his 
lodgings, the extreme dullness and dreariness of the east end 
of London, and, most of all, the constant sjKH^tacle of so much 
evil, so difficult, I will not say of cure, but of mitigation, 
made residence in Whitechapel too exhausting for Toynbee*8 
delicate constitution. He never found fault with anything, 
and stuck to his post as long as he could. But he was at 
length foixxxl to give up his ex|KTiment. Although he was 
never able to rciKjat it, it confirmed him in the belief that 
tlic prospcHiUs must know Ix'forc they can really assu^t the 

26 Aimold Toyixbee, 

poor ; and he was fond of insisting that thought and knowl- 
edge must now in philanthropy take the place of feeling. 
His example and teaching in this matter have resulted in the 
foundation of Toynbee Hall in Whitechapel, the inmates of 
which are enabled, without forsaking their own friends or 
pursuits, to live among those whom they wish to benefit. 
' Whilst thus busied with many things, Toynbee contrived to 
find delicious intervals of rest. He was a keen lover of the 
country. His naturally high spirits became almost boisterous 
in its pure air. Once or twice every year he escaped to some 
charming place, where with one or two friends and a few 
favorite books he revelled in pleasures that needed not to bor- 
row from luxury. He preferred to all other beautiful districts 
that of the I^kes, endeared to him by memories of rambles 
enjoyed there in boyhood and by association with Words- 
worth's poems. He was peculiarly sensitive to all charms of 
association. Beauty was to him rather suggestive than satis- 
fying. He looked out upon the world with the eyes of a 
philosopher rather than that of an artist. In the National 
Galler)', one of his favorite haunts, he was fascinated less by 
revelations of perfect form and color than by the austere grace 
and pathos of such a painter as Francia. He was esjxjcially 
fascinated by the face of one of the angels in Francia's picture 
of the Entombment. " Shall I tell you to what I liken it ? " 
he writes in a letter. " Have you on a still summer evening 
ever heard far-off happy human voices, and yet felt them to 
be sad because far-off? In this angePs face there is that 
happy tone, but so distant that you feel it is also sad. Have 
you ever, when the raindrops are pattering softly on the leaves, 
heard the sweet, low song of birds? In that angel's face are 
joy and sadness thus mingled." His travels in Italy in the 
year 1877 were to him full of interest and enjoyment; but 
Italy does not seem to have become dear to him ; her art and 
her climate were perhaps felt by him as oppressively splendid ; 
her sunny magnificence was not congenial to a temperament in 
its depths so full of seriousness. 

Arnold Toynbee, 27 

He was a very accurate observer of outward things, and in 
his lettei's or conversation would reproduce with a fine touch 
the features of a remarkable landscape. He had leai-nt much 
from Mr. Ruskin's extraordinary descriptions of nature, but 
both by reading and by experiments of his own, had become 
convinced that the pictorial powers of language are narrowly 
limited. He saw that the mania for word-painting has for 
the most part resulted in verbosity, confusion and weakness. 
Writing to a friend, he observes : 

" The best pieces of description are little bits of incidental 
observation. The worst are those interminable pages of mere 
word-daubing, which even Ruskin is not guiltless of. When 
you look for tojx)graphical accuracy, you are utterly disap- 
pointed. Since my interest in surface geology and physical 
geography has been sharpened by the study of political econ- 
omy, I have looked out for |)lain facts in these fine rhapsodies, 
and have found them as useless as the purple mountains and 
luxuriant foregrounds of a conventional landscape. The fact 
is, a man must do one of two things. Either give a strict 
topographical account of a place, noting down relative heights 
and distances, conformation of the rocks, character of the veg- 
etation, in such a way that you can piece the details together 
into an accurate outline ; or he must generalize his description, 
carefully eliminating all local details and retaining only the 
general effect of the scene on his mind at the time. The great- 
est poets do the last ; if you turn to the Allegro and Penseroso 
of Milton, you will Ik* struck by the vividness of every touch 
and the absence of any attempt to picture an actual scene. In 
most modern descriptions there is a mixture of lx)th kinds. 
You will find plenty of vague, often exaggerated expressions, 
confused by little pieces of irrelevant local detail which tease 
the imagination ; they tell you a rose tree grew on the right 
side of the door, yet never give the slightest chance of placing 
yourself in the scene." 

Unlike most travellers who, if they care for anything, care 
only for the picturesque, Toynbee was insatiable of informa- 

28 Af^old Toynbee. 

tion respecting the condition and way of thinking of the 
jXK)ple amongst whom he travelleih So frank and cordial 
was he in his conversation with all sorts of men that all readily 
opened tlieir minds to him. It is true that they took pains to 
show him as little as they could of their meanness or trivi- 
ality, and it is probable that he, quick and eager as he was, 
sometimes read into their words thoughts which were not 
clearly there. Yet from this j)ersonal intercourse Toynbee 
derived knowledge which he could not have so well acquired 
in any other way. Young as he was, and almost overpowered 
by his feelings of benevolence and sympathy, he yet knew a 
great deal concerning the classes for whom he labored. In 
this respect he differed much from many good men of our 
own generation. 

Indeed, notwithstanding his warm and enthusiastic devo- 
tion to the ideal and his indifferenpe to the honors and rewards 
80 hij.;hly valued by most of us, Arnold Toynbee had a great 
deal of common sense. He understood that if we cannot live 
by bread alone, neither can we subsist solely on nectar and 
ambrosia. One example of the prudence which he exercised, 
at least in counselling others if not always for himself, may 
be quoted here. A younger brother, having gone into busi- 
ness in the City, was oppressed with a growing distaste for 
his work and for his companions. He began to think 
seriously of choosing another walk in life, and took counsel 
with Arnold. Arnold, in reply, wrote as follows : 

" I am ver}' sorry you are so disappointed with your work. 
What you say about the habits and tastes of business men is, 
no doubt, true ; but don't imagine that other classes are very 
different. If you came here and went to a small college, you 
would find tjjat the tastes and habits of the majority of under- 
graduates were iniivh the same as the tiistes and habits of 
clerks in the City. I say a small college, because in large 
collegia, where yon have greater numbers to choose from, you 
would find a certain number like yourself, who c«ire for refine- 

Arnold Toynbee, 29 

raent and dislike coarseness : but you would have to pick 
them out. Remember, refinement is not common. In no 
occupation which you wished to adopt would you find the 
ways and opinions of your fellows, or most of them, those 
which you have been brought up to seek and approve. Don't 
misunderstand me. All I mean to say is, human nature in 
the City is much like human nature in the University. The 
passions of men who cast up accounts and buy and sell tea are 
not very unlike the passions of men who study Plato and 
struggle for University distinctions. Whatever work you 
undertake, you must expect to have to do with coarse men 
who pursue low aims. You will, perhaps, answer : * But in 
this case there is literally not a single person I care for or can 
make my friend. In another occupation there would, at least, 
be one or two men I could like.' 

"Granting this, let me advise you on one point — don't think 
of throwing up your present work, until you see quite clearly 
what other work there is you can do which will suit you bet- 
ter and enable you to make a livelihood. Look about, make 
enquiries, but don't allow yourself to change until you have 
fixed on some new line and fixed it after fullest consideration 
of all you will have to face. 

" People who have no decided bent for any one thing, 
naturally think that whatever tiiey undertake is not the work 
they are best fitted for ; this is true of a great many people. 
If you can point to anything you would like to do l^etter than 
anything else — I should say, do it at once, if you can get a 
livelihood by it. As it is, I say, wait, l)e patient, make the 
best of your work, and be glad you have the refinement you 
miss in other people. 

"There — I hope you don't think I am harsh. I know 
your position is difficult, is unpleasant — but I don't see how 
it ctan be altered yet, and therefore I advise you to do what I 
am sure you cau do— make the best of it. 

" Ever your loving brother, 

"A. Toynbee." 

30 Arnold Toynbce, 

The author of this wise and sententious letter had said in 
one written some time before, "As a rule we find our friends 
and counsellors anywhere but in our own family." The say- 
ing, although a hanl one, is true ; and the explanation given 
is ingenious. " We are so near and so alike in many things, 
we brothers and sisters, that in certain details we have a more 
intimate knowledge of each other^s characters than our dearest 
friends. We know the secret of every little harsh accent or 
selfish gesture; words that seem harmless to others are to us 
full of painful meaning because we know too well in our- 
selves the innermost folds of the faults they exprsss. There 
is nothing we hate more than our own faults in others; that 
is the reason why so many brothers are in perpetual feud, why 
so many sistere are nothing to each other, why whole families 
live estranged. And yet it is equally obvious that a chance 
acquaintance often judges us more fairly than our own nearest 
relations, because these details worked into prominence by the 
trying friction of everyday life, are after all only a very small 
part of us which our relations rarely see in perspective. That 
is the reason. Though near in some ways, we are never far 
enough otf. We never see each other's characters in propor- 
tion, as wholes." 


Having taken his degree, Toynbee had next to consider 
liow he should secure a livelihood. He had come up to 
Oxford without definite prospects and during his stay there 
had become more and more unwilling to adopt any of the 
ordinary professicms. He had not gained those distinctions 
or accumulated that sort of knowledge which may he said to 
ensure election to a fellowship. He had, however, impressed 
the authorities of Balliol College with his rare gifts of talent 
and character ; and by them he was appointed tutor to the 
students at that college who were qualifying themselves for 
the Indian Civil Service. The performance of the duties 

AiTiold Toyiibce, 31 

attached to his ]>ost left him a gocxl deal of leisure in which 
to prosecute his favorite studies. The sti|>end was not large, 
but he was a man of few wants and always held simplicity of 
life to be a sacred duty. He was not without desires, but 
they were impersonal, and besides were under the control of a 
strong will. Always delicate and often suffering from severe 
illness, he had never acquired the habit of petting himself. 
He had retained all the manliness which we usually fancy 
inseparable from robust health. Yet, whilst thus severe 
towards himself, he was indulgent to others, generous, spirited 
and quite free from those boorish or cynical oddities which 
have so often deformed the appearance and conversation of 
men distinguished by unworldliness. In his countenance, in 
his words, in his tastes, in his actions, there was a distinction 
and an elegance which preserved his simplicity from plain- 
ness. There was something in his presence which checked 
impertinence and frightened vulgarity. 

Had Arnold Toynbee lived in the thirteenth century, he 
would probably have entered or founded a religious order, 
unless he had been first burnt for a heretic. In the nineteenth 
century, he lived to show how much may be done, ^ay, how 
much may be enjoyed by a man whom society would think 
poor. When about to address audiences of workingmen, 
mostly artisans and mechanics, he used to say that he 
liked to think he was not himself much richer than they 
were. True, there was just the least tou(;h of exaggera- 
tion in his scorn of superfluities. His ideas respecting the 
income sufficient for keeping a house and rearing a family 
sometimes forced a smile from those more verse<l in the sordid 
struggles of the world and in the sad defacement of human 
nature which those struggles cause. These ideas, however, 
influenced his political creed. He always believed in the pos- 
sibility of a democratic society, whose meml)er8 should l)c 
intellectual, refined, nay spiritual ; and, believing in this pos- 
sibility, lie joyfully hailed the spread of democratic institu- 
tions. Perhai>8 he did not fully retdize the enormous cost and 

32 Arnold Toynbce, 

trouble required in most instances for the full development of 
luinmn faculties. Perhaps he did not quite understand how 
deep-rooted in the necessity of things is the frantic eagerness 
of all men of all classes and parties to seize the means of life 
and expansion. Carlyle^s comparison of mankind to a pot of 
t;iineil Egyptian vipers, each trying to get its head above the 
others, was foreign to his way of thinking. Men's generous 
instincts and high aspirations he shared and therefore under- 
stood ; but their imperious appetites and sluggish consciences 
he had only studied from without; he had not learnt by 
communing with his own soul. Like Milton, Shelley or 
Mazziui, totally dissociated from the vulgar wants of the 
upper, the lower or any other class, he was a democrat, be- 
cause he contemned the riches and honors of this world, not 
l>ecause he was anxious to secure for himself as much thereof 
as fell to the lot of any other man. 

In June of the year 1879 Toynbee married a lady who 
had for several years been his close friend. She survives* to 
mourn an irreparable loss, and it would not be fitting to say 
of their married life more than this that it was singularly 
happy and beautiful. During the few months immediately 
following upon his marriage Toynbee seemed to regain much 
of the healtli and elasticity proper to his time of life. The 
pleasure of finding himself understood by the person whom of 
all others he most valued and the calming influence of a regu- 
lar occupation had a most wholesome effect upon his highly 
strung and over-taxed nerves. His constitution seemed to 
recruit itself daily in the genial atmosphere of a home. His 
spirits became higher and more equable than they had been 
for many years. His thoughts grew clearer and clearer to 
him. It seemed, alas ! it only seemed that he was about to 
rise out of the pain and weakness of youth, and to enter upon 
a long career of beneficent industry. Too soon this fair pros- 
pect was clouded. He plunged with redoubled ardor into end- 
less and multifarious labors. He found so much to do, he was 
so eager to d6 it all, that he would never seek rest and so at 

Arnold Toynbee. 33 

length rest would not corae to him. He felt his intellectual 
power grow day by day and could not or would not own that 
day by day its working frayed more and more the thread of 
the thin-spun life. 

He had never lost his early preference for quiet study. 
Although he had relinquished history and the philosophy of 
history in favor of political economy, he remained by the 
bent of his mind an historian. He had learnt much from 
the economic writings of Cliffe Leslie which are distinguished 
by the constant use of the historical method ; but he saw that 
without the help of deduction, this method can serve only to 
accumulate a mass of unconnected and unserviceable facts. 
He did full justice to the logical power displayed in the 
economic writings of John Stuart Mill and Cairnes. It is 
the more necessary to bear this in mind because in his essay 
upon " Ricardo and the Old Political Economy " he assailed 
their spiritual father with somewhat of youthful vehemence 
and even styled the Ricardian system an intellectual impos- 
ture. He felt very strongly that our English economists had 
made, not too much use of logic, but too little use of history, 
and, by constructing their theories upon too narrow a basis of 
fact, had lessened as well the value as the popularity of their 
science. He saw that these theories needed correction and 
re-statcment. He would not have denied their partial truth 
nor would he have echoed the newspa|>er nonsense about 
political economy having been banished to the planet Saturn. 
Here as in so many other instances his intellectual fairness 
and love of truth checked a sensibility as keen as that of 
Owen or Rusk in. 

He was anxious to make some worthy contribution to 
economic literature, and finally chose for his subject the in- 
dustrial revolution in England. Considering the magnitude 
of that revolution, which turned feudal and agricultural into 
democratic and commercial England, it is somewhat surpris- 
ing that its history should have remained unwritten to this 
day. For Toyubee it had a peculiar fasciiiatiou. During the 

34 Arnold Ihynbee, 

last two years of his life he accumulatetl a great deal of 
material for the work and made original investigations upon 
several points, especially upon the decline of the yeomanry. 
Part of the knowlalge thus amassed he gave out in a course 
of lectures delivered in Balliol College; and from the notes 
of these lectures the fragments which have been published 
were collected. Few and broken, indeed, they are; yet full 
of unavailing promise. Other economists have shown greater 
dialectical power; but none have made a happier use of his- 
torical illustration. He had the faculty of picking out from 
whole shelves of dusty literature the few relevant facts. 
These facts he could make interesting because he never lost 
sight of their relation to life. Political economy was always 
for him a branch of politics, in the nobler sense of that term ; 
the industrial revolution but a phase of a vaster and more 
momentous revolution, touching all the dearest interests of 

The problems suggested by a competitive system of society 
were always present to his mind. He felt as deeply as any 
socialist could feel the evils incidental to such a system, the 
suffering which it often brings upon the weak, the degradation 
which it often brings about in the strong. For the cure of 
these evils, however, he looked further than most socialists 
do. Owning that competition was a mighty and, in some 
respects, a beneficent power, he wrote that "of old it was 
hindered and controlled by custom ; in the future, like the 
other great physiral forces of society, it will be controlled by 
morality." To the same effect is the following passage : " In 
the past all associations had their origin in unconscious physi- 
cal motives; in the future all associations will have their 
origin in conscious ethical motives. Here, as in so many 
other things, the latest and most perfect development of 
society seems to be anticipated in its outward form by the 
most primitive ; only the inner life of the form has changed." 
In the meantime, he held with John Stuart Mill that the 
problem of distribution was the true problem of political 

Arnold Ibynbee, 36 

economy at the present day. Certainly it was the problem 
which most interested him, and his way of handling it was 
characteristic. With the habit of forming somewhat startling 
ideals, he had the instinct of scientific investigation. Con- 
vinced that feeling, however pure or intense, is not alone 
equal to the improvement of society, he was always toiling to 
find in the study of that which is, the key to that which ought 
to be. He would bury himself in the dry details of an actual 
economic process, and emerge only to suggest in the soberest 
terms some modest but practicable amelioration. This singu- 
larly positive side of his enthusiastic nature is illustrated by 
the letter to Mr. Thomas lllingworth of Bradford, which is 
printed at the end of this memoir. 

Toynbee's interest in tlie welfare of mankind was too eager 
and impatient to be satisfied solely by the pursuit of truth. 
Pie was zealous for that diffusion of i)olitical knowleilge 
which halts so immeasurably behind the diffusion of political 
power. He felt that even now, in spite of better education 
and greater opportunities of reading, the bulk of the nation 
scarcely partakes in the progress of science. The growing 
wealth of recorded experience, the enlargement and correction 
of thought are real only to a few students who exercise almost 
no direct influence upon the course of public affairs, whilst 
public men who do exercise this influence are so enslaved to 
the exigencies of each passing day that they have little time 
or strength to spare for the educration of their followers. 
Toynbee was anxious to utilize for political reform the fer- 
ment of thought at the Universities. With this pur|x)se he 
drew together into an informal society several of the most 
studious among his younger contem|X)raries. Each meml)er 
was to select for his special study some princi|)al department 
of politics, but all were to work in concert, and to maintain, 
by meeting from time to time for discussion, a general level 
of sympathy and information. When they had matured their 
views they were to tiike part in forming public opinion by 
writing or by speaking as be^t suited each man's talent and 

36 Aimold Toynbee, 

opportunities. The conception of such a society had long 
been familiar to him and this was not his first attempt to 
carry it out. He would dwell mournfully on that practical 
impotence of clever and earnest University men which has 
alfortled so much matter for exultation to the enemies of polite 
letters. " Every one is organized," he wrote, " from licensed 
victuallers to priests of the Roman Catholic Church. The 
men of wide thought and sympathies alone are scattered and 

The society held its first meeting in the June of 1879 and 
continued for three years to meet once a term, sometimes in 
London, but oftener in Oxford. As time went on it was 
joined by one or two younger men who shared the studies 
and aims of the original members. Toynbee was throughout 
the guiding and animating spirit. Deep differences of opinion 
necessarily came to light, but those who differed most from 
Toynbee would be the first to confess how much they have 
learnt from discussion with him. So penetrating was his 
earnestness, so thorough his dialectic, that the faculties of all 
who listened to him were strained to the utmost. All were 
forced to ask themselves what they really believed and why 
they believed it. Toynbee was anxious that these debates 
should not prove merely academic; and he and his friends 
SfKjnt some time in considering how they could best preach 
their doctrines. He himself had a gift of addressing large 
audiences; but this gift is rare, and it is hard to find any 
other mode of communicating new ideas to the people. A 
volume of essays can only be published at a considerable cost; 
pamphlets are scarcely read at all ; and a newspaper can be 
floated only by those who have considerable capital or are 
totally subservient to a political party. In this as in all other 
efforts to diffuse enlightenment we have to shift as best we 
can ; put forth our opinions when we get a chance and not 
expect any one else to mind them. 

Toynlxje had not forgotten his own success in addressing 
the Tower Hamlets Radical Club. He was resolved to use 

Arnold Toynbee, 27 

the power which he had then found himself to possess in 
communicating to the artisans of our great towns the ideas 
which he had matured in the quiet of Oxford. It was his 
design to give every year a certain number of lectures upon 
such economic problems as were of the most pressing practical 
importance to workingmen. These lectures were not to be 
merely academic or merely partisan. They were to combine 
the directness and liveliness of a party harangue with the pre- 
cision and fairness of a philosophical discourse. He knew 
how prejudiced against political economy are the poor; but 
he knew that mistakes made by economists have helped to 
strengthen that prejudice, and he believed that it would yield 
to frankness and sympathy. He believed that the masses 
were eager for illumination — that they would be delighted to 
follow any intelligent man of whose sincerity and disinterested- 
ness they felt assured. He used to refer to the success which 
bad attended Mr. Bradlaugh's lectures and to the influenpe 
which they had exerted, and would urge that other preachers 
with equal courage and faith might gain a greater success and 
wield a far better influence. 

It was in the January of 1880 that Toynbee began his 
series of popular addresses by giving at Bradford three lec- 
tures upon Free Trade, the Law of Wages and England's 
Industrial Supremacy. He did not write out his lectures 
beforehand nor did he speak from notes ; but having mas- 
tered his subject by intense thought, trusted for fitting words 
to the inspiration of the moment. This practice, whilst it 
increased the fatal strain u|K)n his nervous system, added 
much to the grace and naturalness of his delivery. From the 
faces of expectant listeners he drew the needful stimulus to 
his |)ower of expression. He 8|X)ke rapidly and continuously, 
yet with clearness and accuracy. He carried away his 
audience, and their momentum carried him swiftly and 
smoothly to the close. At Bradfoi-d his lectures were well 
attended and well receivetl by l)oth cin])loyer8 and workmen. 
He was always anxious to address both classes together and 

38 Arnold Toynbee, 

not separately, for with him it was a prime object to soften 
the antagonism between capital and labor, to show that the 
true, the permanent, interests of both are identical. The 
address ujx)n Wages and Natural Law he subsequently deliv- 
ered again at Firth College, Sheffield, and it has been reprinted 
from the shorthand writer^s reports. Such an address cannot 
be exj^ected to contain much abstruse or recondite speculation. 
It illustrates very happily, however, the constant drift of his 
economic teaching. It enforces Mill's distinction between the 
laws of production, which are laws of nature uncontrollable 
by our will, and the laws of distribution, which are, to a con- 
siderable extent, the result of human contrivance, and may be 
amended with the growth of intelligence and fairness. Thus, 
it points out that the earlier economists arrived at their con- 
ception of a wages fund by leaving out of account many of 
the causes which affect the rate of wages, by forgetting that it 
is not competition alone that determines the rate of wages; 
that trades unions, that custom, that law, that public opinion, 
that the character of employers all influence wages — that their 
rate is not governed by an inexorable law, nor determined 
alone by what a great writer once termed " the brute law of 
supply and demand." This address is also remarkable for a 
candor uncommon in those who profess themselves friends 
and advocates of the working classes. Such persons seldom 
address their clients without slipping into a style of flattery. 
Toynbee, who loved the people with all his heart and was, 
perhaps, prejudiced in their favor, avoided this pernicious 
cant. He reminded his hearers that a rise in wages was 
desirable in the interests of the whole community only in so 
far as it led to a rise in the civilization of the wage-earners. 
" You know only too well," he said, " that too many working- 
men do not know how to use the wages which they have at 
the present time. You know, too, that an increase of wages 
often means an increase of crime. If workingmen are to 
ex])ect their employers to act with larger notions of equity in 
their dealings in the labor market, it is, at least, rational that 

Arnold Toynbee, 39 

employers should expect that workingmen shall set al)out 
reforming their own domestic life. It is, at least, reasonable 
that they should demand that workingmen shall combine to 
put down drunkenness and brutal sports." Coming from a 
speaker whose affection was unquestionable, sentences such as 
the above were taken in good part by the workmen who 
heard them. Toynbee never found that he lessened his popu- 
larity by abstaining from adulation of the people. 

In the course of January and February, 1881, he delivered 
twice, once at Newcastle and once at Bradford, the lecture 
entitled "Industry and Democracy." This lecture was a 
study of one aspect of that great industrial revolution which 
was ever present to his thoughts. Its central idea may be 
roughly stated as follows. A series of extraordinary mechan- 
ical inventions extending over the latter half of the eighteenth 
centur}' shattered the old industrial organization of England 
and in particular broke the bond of protection and dependence 
which formerly united the employer and the employed. But 
some time elaj>sed before the revolution in the industrial was 
followed by the revolution in the political system. Some 
time elapsed before the workman^s economic isolation was fol- 
lowed by his political enfranchisement. He had lost his 
patron and he was slow in learning to help himself This 
interval was for him a period of suffering and for the whole 
body politic a period of danger. But this epoch of dissolu- 
tion has been followed by an epoch of new combinations. 
The workmen have organized themselvas for their economic 
and social advancement; and they have acquired the fullest 
jK)litical status. They are now independent citizens with 
ampler rights and duties than could have been theirs in the 
old-fashioned industrial and political order; and thus in Eng- 
land, at least, the acutest crisis of the double revolution, 
)x)litical and economical, has been surmounted, and an age of 
tranquil development has Ixjcome possible. Such is the bare 
outline of an address abounding in knowledge and in thought, 
which fixed the attention of very large audiences. 

40 Arnold Toynbee, 

A year later he gave at Newcastle, Bradford and Bolton an 
address upon the question — " Are Radicals Socialists ?" This 
was one of the many attempts that have been made to settle 
the true line of 8ej)aration between the functions which must 
be discharged by the state and the functions which may be 
discharged by the individual. It proposed three tests where- 
by to try the wisdom of interference in any particular instance 
by the state : " first, the matter must be one of primary social 
importance ; next, it must be proved to be practicable ; thirdly, 
the state interference must not diminish self-reliance." It 
will probably occur to all who have pursued inquiries of this 
nature that the hardest thing is, not to lay down good rules, 
but to insure their observance. In our age, at least, it is not 
so much want of knowledge as the zeal of narrow enthusiasts 
or the interested ambition of political intriguers which leads 
to an excessive or injudicious interference by the state with 
the individual. 

These were not the only addresses which Toynbee gave in 
pursuance of his favorite plan ; but they have been singled 
out here, because they have been reprinted among his literary 
remains and are characteristic both in thought and expression. 
They are all pervaded by a hopefulness heightened, perhaps, 
by youth, yet innate in the man. Toynbee thought that the 
conditions for solving the question of the relation between 
capital and labor were to be found, if in any country, in Eng- 
land. The old habit of joint action for public ends by men 
of every class ; the ennobling traditions of freedom and order ; 
the strong sense and energetic moderation often displayed by 
the workmen, particularly in the north, their experience 
aajuired in organizing and administering trades unions and 
co-operative societies ; and the large mass of property already 
held by them ; all these circumstances convinced him that, in 
England at least, an even and steady progress was possible, if 
men of culture and public spirit would offer themselves to 
lead the way. He saw that the laboring classes have political 
power sufficient to insure the most serious and respectful con- 

Arnold Toynbee. 41 

sideration of their demands and he trusted that the conscious- 
ness of this power and tlie spread of education would awaken 
in them something of that national feeling, that devotion to 
the interests of the state which has never yet been wanting in 
any age of our history. If in all this he was tooBanguine, 
yet w^as his illusion a noble one which tended to verify itself. 
Could politicians or journalists ever address workingmen with- 
out trying either to bribe or to flatter them, we may be assured 
that workingmen would respond to something else beside 
bribes or flattery. It should be added that for these lec- 
tures he never took any remuneration beyond his travelling 
expenses, and not always this. 

Of all the means employed by the poor to better their 
condition, the co-operative system appeared to him the most 
effectual. This system, we know, has proved more successful 
in distribution than in production ; but it is capable of indefi- 
nite expansion in the hands of intelligent and honest men. 
Toynbee hoped that it might come to include a teaching 
organization. In the winters of 1880 and the following 
years, he used to lecture on political economy to a class of 
workingmen, which met at the Oxford Co-operative Stores. 
Sometimes he would have his hearers at his house on Sunday 
evenings and engage them in genei-al conversation on economic 
subjects. In the course of his work with this class he formed 
many friendships with individual workmen, who regarded him 
with real devotion. They may still be heard to say, " We 
thought he would have done so much for us and for the town." 
" He understood us," they would say, *' he took up things and 
led us in a way there seems no one else to do." Toynbee 
used also to contribute to the Oxford Co-operative Record. 
In a pa|)er written for that periodical, entitled "Cheap Clothes 
and Nasty," he urged the workingmen to remember what hard 
and ill-requited labor, the labor, too, of their own class and 
their own kindred, was required to prcxluce their cheap cloth- 
ing. "The great maxim we have all to follow," he wrote, 
** is that the welfare of the producer is as much a matter of 

42 Aitiold Toynbee, 

interest to the consumer as the price of the product ; '' wise 
and true words, how seldom borne in mind. At the Whit- 
suntide of 1882, when the cx)-operdtive societies held at Oxford 
their annual congress, he read a more elaborate paper upon 
" The Education of Co-operators." He showed how needful 
and how mucli neglected at the present time is the etluca- 
tion of men as citizens, and suggested that the co-operative 
societies might well provide for the civic education of their 
own members. He then sketched a programme of political 
and economical instruction. This programme may be thought 
ambitious ; yet the address as a whole is singularly balanced 
and judicial. He was well aware that there were many 
obstacles in the way of carrying out that which he proposed, 
and that the greatest of these obstacles is not the difficulty 
of finding competent teaciiers, nor the expense of employing 
tliem, but the apathy of those who were to be instructed. 
Such apathy he recognized as natural in men tired out with 
toil; but although natural, not the less baneful. "Languor," 
he truly said, "can only be conquered by enthusiasm, and 
enthusiasm can only be kindled by two things : an ideal 
which takes the imagination by storm, and a definite intelligi- 
ble plan for carrying out that ideal into practice." In this 
sentence he unconsciously summed up his own career. His 
own enthusiasm was not of the heart only, but of the whole 
man ; it was a reflective enthusiasm with definite aims and 
definite means ; and for this reason it did not pass away like 
the sentimental enthusiasms of so many generous young men ; 
on the contrary, as he grew older, it deepened until it became 
a consuming fire. 

The duties of a Balliol College tutor, the study of a com- 
plicated science, the labors of a public lecturer upon political 
and social questions ; these might surely have been enough to 
task the energies of a delicate man who at his best could only 
work a few hours a day and was liable to frequent intervals 
of forced inaction. Yet there was another task from which 
Toynbee could not withhold his hand, a task which for him 

Arnold Toynbee, 43 

comprised all others. Religion, it has been said, was the 
supreme interest of his life. His mode of thinking about 
religion has l>een hinted at above. He had too real a devo- 
tion to find repose in the worship of an abstract noun or an 
abstract sentiment. He felt that the religious emotion, like 
all other emotions, must have a real and an adequate object. 
He saw distinctly the weakness which has so often paralyzed 
the spiritual influence of the Broad Church. " Had liberal 
theologians in England combined more often with their un- 
doubted courage and warmth, definite philosophic views, reli- 
gious liberalism would not now be condemned as offering 
nothing more than a mere sentiment of vague benevolence. 
Earnest and thoughtful people are willing to encounter the 
difficulty of mastering some unfamiliar phrases of technical 
language, when they find they are in possession of a sharply 
defined intellectual position upon which their religious faith 
may rest." 

Thus Toynbee, whilst in full sympathy with the modern 
critical spirit which regards as provisional all dogmas, even 
those which it may itself accept, was equally in sympathy 
with the instinct of devotion which in all ages has tried to 
find for itself a suitable dogmatic expression. The intellec- 
tual conceptions which support our spiritual life must always 
be inadequate and therefore variable ; indeed they vary from 
land to land, from generation to generation, from class to 
class of a nation, from year to year in the life of the indi- 
vidual. But imperfect as these conceptions must be at any 
given time or place, they cannot be summarily remodelled ; 
for they are the outcome of a vast experience, of an almost 
interminable intellectual history. They are improved some- 
times by direct and severe criticism ; oftener by the general 
growth of civilization and increase of knowledge. What is 
true of doctrine is likewise true of discipline and of cere- 
monies. All three have had a long development. The 
various Churches now existing in our own country are full 
of faults ; but they cannot be swept away at a stroke, nor, if 

44 Arnold Toynbee. 

they could, would there be anything better to take their 
place. To Toynboe a Church, like a State, was a mighty 
historical institution, the result of desires, hopes, beliefs which 
only in building it up could have found their satisfaction. 
Like a State, a Church had grown to be what it was and 
might grow to be something much better. How, he asked 
himself, could a devout man, totally without sectarian preju- 
dice, assist even by a little that almost imperceptible growth ? 
Certainly the survey of the state of religion in England at 
the present time does not readily suggest an answer to this 
question. Confusion is everywhere. We see many men of 
strong and cultivated intelligence, no longer obliged to fight 
for spiritual freedom, lapsing into an epicurean indifference, 
the more profound because it is so thoroughly goodnatured. 
This indifference is no longer confined to a few polished scep- 
tics. It is ««hared by possibly the greater part of those who 
live by manual labor. It is not rare among women, always 
slower than men to part from the creed of their forefathers. 
A sincere piety is still common among us, but this piety, too 
often unenlightened, is frequently a principle of discord. 
Many zealous priests and laymen of the Established Church 
seem intent upon developing everything that is least rational 
in her doctrine, least sober and manly in her ritual. The 
Nonconformists, earnest as they are, seem condemned by their 
passionate spirit of division to everlasting pettiness and ster- 
ility. The Church of Rome, now as heretofore, invites, often 
with success, the timid and devout to abjure all the truths and 
all the liberties won in the battle of the last six centuries and 
to immure their souls in her dogmatic cloister. Look where 
we may, we nowhere behold realized the complete ideal of a 
national church. Religion, ceasing to be national, has lost 
half its life and power. Any reformation which is to restore 
its vigor muHt render it national once more. 

For such a reformation the Church of England as by law 
e8tal)lislKHl offers more facilities than any other. National it 
is, not only as the largest religious community in the kingdom. 

Arnold Toynbee, 46 

but also as acknowledging in every Englishman a right to its 
ministrations, in having for its head the head of the state, and 
in admitting of regulation by the Imperial Parliament. Its 
history has always been linked with the history of the nation. 
If in former times it abused its power, it is at the present day 
tolerant and open to ideas to an extent unparalleled in the 
history of religion. It embraces members of the most various, 
not to say, contradictory opinions; and this fact, so often cited 
as its disgrace, is really its glory, since in a free and critical 
age no two thinking men can word for word subscribe the 
same creed. The only church jK)Ssible in modern times is 
a church whose members, whilst several in thought, yet 
remain united in piety. The Catholics are not mistaken 
when they insist upon the power which springs from unity ; 
the Nonconformists are in the right when they insist upon the 
freedom and the responsibility of the individual soul. The 
Church of England has endeavored, weakly indeed and inter- 
mittently, to reconcile unity with freedom. It has been able 
to do so because it has been a state church. The service of 
the state is perfect freedom as compared with the yoke of the 
priest or the yoke of the coterie. All that was best in tiie 
Church of England appeared to Toynbee indissolubly linkeil 
with her alliance with the state. Viewing the state as some- 
thing more than a mechanical contrivance for material ends, 
as a union of men for the highest purposes of human nature, 
he did not regard it as inferior to the church or think the 
church degraded by connection with the state. The church 
and the state were to him but different aspects of the same 
society. Like his friend Thomas Hill Green he felt an 
intense antipathy to the pretensions of the sacerdotal party 
who understand by the freedom of the church the domina- 
tion of the clergy. He felt an equally strong antipathy for 
the tyranny over thought and action exercised by the petty 
majorities in what are known as the free churches. He 
Mieved that real religious freedom was only possible in a 
national church, and that there could be no national church 

46 Arnold Toynbee, 

without the assistance of the state. But he acknowledged that 
the Church of England cannot be truly national until she 
gives self-government to her congregations and releases her 
ministers from subscription. 

To effect these changes had been the object of the Church 
Reform Union, formerly organized by Mr. Thomas Hughes 
and the Reverend Mr. Llewelyn Davies, but then in a rather 
sleepy condition. Toynl)ee tried to give it fresh life and 
induced these gentlemen to reopen the discussion of church 
reform. He persuaded several of his friends to join the 
Union and organized an Oxford branch, besides writing leaf- 
lets to enlist the sympathy of the laboring classes. He went 
so far as to appear at the Church Congress held at Leicester 
in the year 1880, and to deliver an address upon the subject 
of Church Reform. Had his life been prolonged, he might 
have achieved much for the cause. The eloquent enthusiasm 
with which he used to dwell upon the ideal relations of Church 
and State made a deep impression upon men of very different 
religious beliefs. The impression cannot be reproduced in 
words, because it was originally due to something unspoken 
and indefinable in the man. Something of the spirit in which 
he approached the question may be caught from the following 
passage : — 

"To teach the people, the ministers of religion must be 
indejxindent of the people, to lead the people, they must be in 
advance of the people. Individual interests are not always 
public interests. It is the public interest that a country should 
be taught a pure and spiritual religion ; it is the interest of 
religious teachers to teach that which will be acceptable at the 
moment. It is for the public interest that religion should be 
universal, that it should be a bond of union, that it should be 
progressive. The State, and not the individual, is best calcu- 
lated to provide such a religion. We saw before that freedom 
l>eing obtained, it was religion that was to weld free but 
isolated beings into a loving interdependent whole. Which is 
the more likely to do this — a religion wise and rational, com- 

Arnold Tuynbce, 47 

prehensive and universal* recognizing a progressive revelation 
of God, such as the State may provide, or a religion provided 
by individual interests which is liable to become what is |>op- 
ular at the moment, which accentuates and multiplies divisions, 
which perpetuates obsolete forms, and has no assurance of uni- 
versality of teaching? It is scarcely too much to say that as 
an independent producer can only live by satisfying physical 
wants in the best way, the independent sect or independent 
minister can only live by satisfying spiritual wants in the 
worst way. If I thought that disestablishment were best for 
the spiritual interests of the people, I would advocate it, but 
only on such a principle can it be justified, and my argument 
is, that spiritual evil, not good, would attend it. 

" What is really required is a body of independent ministers 
in contact at once with the continuous revelation of God in 
man, and in nature, and with the religious life of the people. 
The State alone can establish such a church organization as 
shall insure the independence of the minister, by securing him 
his livelihood and protecting hira from the spiritual despotism 
of the people. I believe the argument holds good for religion 
as for education, that it is of such importance to the State 
itself, to the whole comnuniity collectively, that it l)ehoves the 
State not to leave it to individual effort, which, as in the case 
of education, either does not satisfy spiritual wants at all, or 
does not satisfy them in the best way. If I chose to particu- 
larize, I might here add that the connection of religion with 
the State is the most effective check to sacerdotalism in all its 
different forms, and sacerdotalism is the form of religion which 
can become fundamentally dangerous to the State. It injures 
the State spiritually by alienating thegresitest number and the 
most intellectual of the memlx?rs (►f the State from religion 
altogether; it injures the State temporally by creating an antag- 
onism between Church and Stilts. — a great national calamity 
from which we are now entirely free." 

It must not be concluded from the above quotation that 
Toynl)ee regarded as just or exjKxiient the present ini{M>tenoe 

48 Arnold Toyiibee. 

of the laity of the Church of England. He would have been 
in favor of investing each congregation with almost any power 
short of the j)ower to dismiss its minister at discretion ; but 
he thought that the ultimate control of the Church was more 
safely vested in a democratic Parliament than in the inhabi- 
tants of each parish. In the same spirit of compromise he 
would have abolished "clerical subscription," the formal 
declaration of assent to the Articles and the teaching of the 
English Book of Common Prayer, which is demanded from 
every minister of the Established Church. It might have 
been objected to him that, by abolishing " subscription," the 
clerical profession is thrown open to men of every religion 
and of no religion. He might have replied that the only 
practical consequence of enforcing "subscription" is to exclude 
from the ministry a few delicately spiritual natures, who 
honor it too much to begin their professional life with 
solemnly assenting to a series of obscure propositions drawn 
up by the statesmen of the sixteenth century. Nevertheless, 
we must allow that Toynbee failed fully to comprehend the 
difficulty of his undertaking. He had found his religion for 
himself, and it was all the more real to him because freed 
from everything which was not spiritual. He could not, 
therefore, realize the extravagant value which most of the 
memlxjrs of every Church attach to the accidents of their 
spiritual life, especially to all modes of doctrine, ritual or 
government which serve to distinguish them from other 
Churches. Men are most partial to that which is distinct- 
ively their own. Let it be trivial, unmeaning, mischievous, 
still it is theirs, and, as such, sacred. The smallest conces- 
sions upon the part of the Established Church would often 
have hindered the rise of new sects. The differences which 
divide most sects from one another and from the Established 
Church are, in many cases, too small for the naked eye, and 
intelligible only when subjected to the historic microscope. 
It does not follow that these concessions would have been 
easy — that those differences can now be healed. 

Arnold Toyr\bee, 40 

'VMiilst brooding over ideals of Church and State, Toynbee 
was always ready to lavish time and thought in furthering 
the welfare of his immediate neighbors. In devotion to the 
welfare of the city of Oxford, he rivalled his friend Professor 
Green. In the year 1881 he was appointed to the board of 
"Guardians of the Poor." The granting of relief, except 
within the walls of the workhouse, he had always condemned 
on the ground that it tended to lower wages and to relax 
industry ; and when he became a guardian he uniformly 
acted upon this opinion. At the same time he felt the cru- 
elty of compelling the deserving poor to take refuge in the 
workhouse, and the necessity of replacing "outdoor" relief by 
organized charity, which should assist them in the most effect- 
ual manner and make between the givers and receivers a bond 
of kindness and of gratitude. He therefore joined the com- 
mittee of the Oxford Branch of the Charity Organization 
Society, thus helping to establish a concert between the public 
and the private relief of distress. He took extraordinary 
trouble in the investigation of cases of poverty and in securing 
uniformity and thoroughness in the operations of the Society. 
Nothing more enhanced the regard felt for him by the working 
men of Oxford than did these labors. They were indeed too 
much for one so weak in body and so heavily burthened with 
other employments. But he felt the necessity of not merely 
conceiving and uttering, but also in some small degree execut- 
ing fine ideas. As a Christian and a citizen he thought him- 
self in conscience bound to take his share of social drudgery, 
and to this austere sense of duty he sacrificed the few hours 
of rest which he so much needed, the scanty remains of 
strength which might have been employed in so many other 
ways more likely to bring fame and jK)wer. It was the rewanl 
of Toynbee's thoroughly sincere and practical spirit that he was 
always learning. His imagination was ever prone to pass be- 
yond the bounds of possibility ; but his habit of action con- 
stantly checked the dis|)osition to reverie. 

In spite of all the public labors which he had imposed upon 

50 Arnold Toynbee, 

liimself he took the utmost pains with his pupils, the selected 
candidates for the Indian Civil Service. He chiefly taught 
them political economy and could not go very deeply into that 
subject, because with them it was one of a multitude in which 
they had to be examined. But feeling how enormous a respon- 
sibility would hereafter rest upon these lads he diligently studied 
the recent history and present condition of our Indian Empire. 
He did what he could to quicken their sense of the great 
interests committed to their charge. Nor did he fail to culti- 
vate those kindly personal relations between tutor and pupil 
which are so precious an element in the life of the University. 
Besides his tutorship he held for some time before his death 
the office of senior bursar to Balliol College. In this charac- 
ter he made the acquaintance of the tenants of the College 
estates, with whom he speedily became popular. The work 
interested him as affording a practtical knowledge of the state 
of agriculture. So highly did the College value his services 
in this and in every other capacity that it was resolved to 
elect him a Fellow, and tlie resolution was defeated only by 
his untimely death. 

With such a variety of occupations Toynbee was not able 
to take many holidays in the years following his marriage. 
In the summer of 1880 he had spent five delightful weeks 
in Switzerland, and on his return journey had stopped at 
Mulhausen to inspect its cotton factories and cite ouvri^re — 
a town of model houses for the operatives, which they 
might acquire in perpetuity by gradual payments. Part of 
the summer of 1882 he spent in Ireland, but this was not 
for him a time of rest. He used his utmost endeavors to 
become acquainted with the true state of the peasantry, would 
stop them by the wayside or sit for hours in their cabins 
listening to endless talk. Eager and excitable as he was, he 
could not use his intelligence without agitating his feelings. 
On his way home he made the acquaintance of Mr. Michael 
Davitt, who seems to have been deeply impressed with Toyn- 
bee's conversation. ^Mr. Davitt subsequently wrote wlien 
sending a contribution to the Memorial Fund : 

Aimold Toynhee, 51 

" I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of the late 
Mr. A. Toynbee during his Irish tour, as well as the advan- 
tage of a subsequent correspondence, and few men have ever 
impressed me so much with being possessed of so passionate a 
desire to mitigate the lot of human misery. In his death this 
unfortunate country has lost one thoroughly sincere English 
friend and able advocate, who, had he lived, would have 
devoted some of his great talents to the task of lessening his 
countrymen's prejudice against Ireland." 

During the three terms from October, 1881, to June, 1882, 
Toynbee gave a course of lectures on the industrial revolution 
to students reading for Honors in the School of Modem History. 
These lectures were extremely well received. In the autumn 
of 1882 he offered himself in the North Ward of Oxford as a 
Liberal candidate for the Town Council, and made three 
sjieeches chiefly upon those aspects of municipal government 
which concern social reform, such as the administration of 
poor relief and the construction of artizans' and laborers' 
dwellings. He also threw out the idea of volunteer sanitary 
committees for the enforcement of the laws relating to public 
health. He himself took some steps towards the organization 
of such a committee, and many have since been established 
elsewhere. In the December of the same year he attended a 
Lil>eral meeting at Newbury, in Berkshire, and made a speech 
upon the Land Question and the Agricultural Laborer. 

He had for some time been familiar with a book then little 
known and since famous — Henry George's " Progress and 
Poverty." In this year he wrote in one of his letters to a 
sister: "I have known Greorge's l)ook for a very long time. 
I always thought it, while full of fallacies and crude concoj> 
tions, very remarkable for its style and vigor, and while no 
economist would be likely for a moment to l)e staggered by its 
theories, it is very likely to seem convincing to the general 
reader. I remember last year at the Master's (/. e. Profi»s8or 
Jowett), Mr. Fawc^ett asking me to toll him al)<)ut it — he had 
not read it even then." So much was he struck by tlie book 

52 Arnold Toynhee, 

that he gave two lectures upon it at Oxford in the Michaelmas 
term of 1882. At the conclusion of the second lecture he 
made an earnest appeal to his younger hearers not to let the 
lawful ambitions of life, nor its domestic joys, make them 
forgetful of the lolly ideals or of the generous resolutions to 
ameliorate the condition of the poor and neglected which they 
might have cherished at the University. Many were deeply 
moved by this appeal, and he afterwards expressed the thought 
that he might have spoken with too much solemnity, but 
added, as if by way of excuse, " I could not help it." These 
lectures were the last which he ever gave in Oxford. 

Indeed the end of all things earthly was now very near. 
For many months past he had been growing pale and haggard. 
He was wasted almost to a skeleton. His old gaiety had 
almost forsaken him. The death of his friend and teacher, 
Professor Green, had deepened his depression. Yet he sought 
rto rest. He faced his growing labors with a stubborn 
resolution which concealed from his friends and possibly from 
himself an approaching failure of strength. In the Jan- 
uary of 1883, he repeated at St. Andrew's Hall, Newman 
Street, London, his lectures on "Progress and Poverty.'' His 
audience was large and representative. At the first lecture 
it listened with attention. At the second, a small but noisy 
minority made a considerable disturbance. His strength had 
declined in the interval, and from the second lecture he went 
back to Wimbledon a dying man. In early childhood he had 
suffered concussion of the brain in consequence of a fall from 
a f)ony ; and ever since then exhaustion with him was apt to 
bring on sleeplessness. So worn and excited was he now, that 
even with the help of the strongest opiates he could get no 
sleep. His mind, wandering and unstrung, turned again and 
again to the one preoccupation of his life ; to the thought of 
all the sin and misery in the world. At times a strange 
unearthly cheerfulness broke through his gloom. He con- 
stantly asked to lie in the sun — to let the light stream in upon 
him; murmuring,'" Light purifies — the sun burns up evil — let 

Arnold Toynbee. 53 

in the light." He did not ex}wrience much bodily suffering ; 
bat sleeplessness brought on inflammation of the brain ; and 
after seven weeks of illness he died on the 9th of March, 1883, 
in the thirty-first year of his age. 

He lies beside his father in the churchyard of Wimbledon. 
It is a beautiful spot, overshadowed with the everlasting ver- 
dure of the ilex and cedar. There many generations have 
found rest from hope and desire; but few or none among them 
all have been mourned so widely and so sincerely as Arnold 
Toynbee. It is easy to make a catalogue of the opinions, 
writings and actions of any man ; to enumerate in order the 
events of his life; to sum up his virtues and his failings: 
and, this done, we have what they call a life. Yet life is the 
only thing wanting to such a performance. In every man of 
fine gifts, there is something, and that the finest element of all, 
which eludes so rough a procedure. There is something which 
those who have known him have felt without being able to 
express ; something which |)ervaded everything he said or did, 
something unique; irreparable, not to be stated, not to be 
forgotten. Most indescribable, most exquisite is this charm 
blending with the freshness of early youth, like the scent of 
innumerable flowers floating upon a gentle breeze from the 
ocean. Length of added years would have brought the 
achievement of tasks hardly begun, the maturity of thoughts 
freshly conceived, and the just rewards of widely extended 
fame and reputation ; but it could not have added anything 
to the personal fascination of Arnold Toynbee, or enhanced 
the sacred regard with which all who had the great happiness 
to know and the great sorrow to lose him will chejrish his 
memory whilst life endures. 



Oxford, January 21, 1880. 

Dear Sir : 1 have read your very clear account of the credit system as 
you have seen it in operation with great interest. The facts you give will 
he of much value as an addition to those usually found in the textbooks on 
Political Economy. If I undersUmd you rightly, you advocate, as a remedy 
for the evils we both discern, the adoption of a cash system of trading. 
But I do not quite see how such a system is to be adopted, as long as it is 
the interest — the immediate interest of firms to give the long credit you 
speak of in order to obtain custom. That is (as you point out), excessive 
competition is at the bottom of a reckless credit system, and the probleu. 
is, how can we restrain this competition, and make it the interest of meu to 
adopt a cash system. Take the analogous case of adulteration. This also 
is the result of excessive competition. The problem is — How cari we make 
it the interest of manufacturers to sell pure goods? It is a well-known fact 
that honest manufacturers have reluctantly given in to the practice of 
adulteration because they found that if they refused to execute the orders 
offered them by merchants, other manufacturers accepted them, and they 
were driven out of the market. Of course, where a great firm with an 
established reputation have possession of a market, it may hf for their 
interest to sell unadulterated goods — they may lose their market if their 
goods deteriorate. But when manufacturers are seeking to make a rapid 
fortune on borrowed capital, it is often for their interest to sell as much as 
they can in as short a time as possible. They do not want to build up a 
trade reputation, but to make money and to leave the trade. 

Now I tried to show in my lecture the various restrictions which have 
made it the interest of men to be honest and humane. You ainnot expect 
the great ma«8 of men to be moral unless it is their interest to be moral. 
That is, if the average man finds that honesty, instead of being the best 
IK)licy, is the high road to ruin, he will certainly l»c dishonest, and the 
whole comnnmity suffers. It is obvious that a man will not sell pure milk 
if he finds that lie h being undersold by coui|)Ctitor8 who sell adulterated 


66 Arnold Toynbee, 

milk to careless and ignorant customers — a man will not sell pure goods of 
any kind if he finds that he is being undersold by those who sell adulter- 
ated goods. But why is it possible for the manufacturer to sell adulterated 
goods? Because of the ignorance, apathy and helplessness of the isolated 
consumer. If he is not apathetic, he is ignorant and helpless. What does 
the ordinary consumer know about the quality of goods? Nothing at all. 

Now I wished to show that owing to recognized causes consumers were 
forming unions to buy goods — the organization of consumption was taking 
place. And further I tried to hint the possible effects of this organization 
of consumption on (1) adulteration, (2) fluctuation of prices due to abuse of 
the credit system and the factory system. I think the cash system you 
advocate might be possible, where consumers are organized in unions, 
because it would there become the interest of both buyers and sellers to 
adopt it. 

I agree with you that it is quite possible that retail distribution in the 
future will take place through enormous stores in the hands of companies 
or private persons — that there is nothing magical in co-operative stores. 
But whatever system prevails, there is no doubt that the excessive compe- 
tition and waste in retail distribution will gradually diminish and that we 
shall have, instead of innumerable shops, groups of large stores with thou- 
sands of permanent customers. That is the first point — the organization of 
consumption. Next it is an admitted fact that the producers and consumers 
are drawing together owing to the telegraph and improved means of com- 
munication. Intermediate agents are being eliminated. One result is 
that long credits are not so necessary as before. 

Now in these two points — the organization of consumption and the 
eKmination of the distance between producers and consumers — I think, 
lies our hope. 

(1) For (throwing aside the idea of contracts for terms of years) it will 
now be possible for the consumer through these stores to buy directly of 
the producer. The intermediate dealers whose interest it was to "dare 
forward," etc., are eliminated — the consumer buys, say, at the ordinary 
trade credit. I need not attempt a more detailed explanation. The only 
difficulty 1 see is that different manufacturers in competing for custom 
might try and outbid each other, offering long credit ; but it is more prob- 
able that the competition would affect price. 

(2) As education and the taste for better goods grows stronger, the con- 
sumer will be able through the stores to employ skilful buyers to select 
unadulterated commodities which he individually could not do. The 
lionest manufacturer would be protected from the competition of dishonest 

(3) Speculation being minimized owing to the elimination of the inter- 
mediate agents, it would be possible for manufacturers to anticipate the 
demand for goods — sud this would be facilitated by the concentration of 

The Work of Toynhee Hall 57 

But I have said enough. I should like to have drawn out this idea in 
greater detail, but I am pressed for time. I hope what I have written is 
intelligible. The question I should like answered is — how would it be 
possible to procure the adoption of a cash system as things are at present. 
I do not wish to draw you into a correspondence, but I should like to have 
an answer on that point. As I said in my last letter, I hope I may some 
day have the pleasure of talking to you on this subject. I am, 

Yours very truly, 

Arnold TorNBEE. 

P. S. — (1) Is it in the least probable that merchants would associate in 
order to put an end to the abuse of the credit system ? Is not competition 
too keen and are not interests too much at variance ? 

(2) L^islation on this point would be impossible — would it not? 

By Philip Lyttelton Gell, Chairman of the Oouneil 

I have been asked to add to this brief account of Arnold Toynbee an 
equally brief description of the somewhat complex undertaking now widely 
known as "Toynbee Hall." Without having been founded by Arnold 
Toynbee, as is often imagined, without even aiming consciously at the em- 
bodiment of his views, nothing could better prove the wide acceptance and 
stability of those principles of social responsibility upon which Arnold 
Toynbee in his short life insisted. 

Those who have read the preceding pages will have gathered how 
emphatic an answer Arnold Toynbee gave to the cynical or hopeless appeal 
of the apostles of laissez-faire^ "Am I my brother's keeper!" In his own 
aspirations, in his conversation, in his theories of politics and economics, 
in the practical activity of his own life, this responsibility was the under- 
lying and undyipg factor. The results of economical laws were to him not 
forces to l>e noted and then accepted, but forces to be wrestled with and 
controlled by the still 8U|>erlor ascendetiry of human character. His sense 
of responsibility made him no Utopian philanthropist, his sense of human 
injustice and human suffering never made him revolutionary, but only inten- 
sified his civic earnestness. He was a good citizen who instinctively seized 
upon each and everjr civic institution, seeking to increase its special effect- 
iveness and to ennoble ita working for the benefit of his fellow citizens. 
His views as regards the National Church system and Education, as regards 
the Poor Law, the Volunteers or the Co-operativo movement, the teaching 
of the Universities or the projects for their Extension in other cities, were 
all referable to one drift of his character — a natural value for an institution 


68 The Work of Toyiibee Hall 

or an organization wherever it had grown up, a far seeing intuition as to 
the ideal wliich it ought to serve in the interests of the common weal, and 
an instinctive tendency to take his own share as a good citizen in its work. 
I doubt whether this was conscious with him, but it was the same turn of 
feeling that took him into his lodging in the East End, into workmen's 
Clubs, or to the Board of Guardians and the Committee of the Charity 
Organization Society, which enlisted him in the Volunteers, which made 
him compete for a seat in his Town Council. 

This appreciation of the influence and the duties of practical citizenship 
was far from being limited to Arnold Toynbee. It was at Oxford a time of 
reaction against the facile theories of the Radicals, of irritation against the 
cheap philanthropy of "advanced"' views ending in no sacrifice of self; of 
scepticism as to the value of political and social programmes which took no 
account of the actual complexities of human life and character. At the 
enggestion of Rev. S. A, Barnett, a liberal London clergyman in an East End 
parish, who had many friends amongst us, a little University Colony had 
already been formed in Whitechapel to do something for the poor, and 
when we came to discuss tlie nature of our memorial to Arnold Toynbee, it 
was natural with many of us to urge that a *' University Settlement in East 
London" would be the most fitting monument to his memory. 

At the time, however, the majority of his friends dwelt rather upon his 
brief career as an economist, and it was decided to apply the fund placed at 
our disposal, "The Toynbee Trust," to the investigation of practical points 
of Political Economy. It was arranged that in each year a young econo- 
mist should be appointed to spend the winter in some selected industrial 
centre, giving lectures to the workmen, and simultaneously investigating 
bome important local feature of the industrial organization.* 

But in that first winter the whole heart of the nation was stirred by the 
revelations of the Pall Mall Gazette as to the lives of the inhabitants of the 
metropolis, the " Bitter Cry of Outcast London." The facts set forth were 
neither new nor unknown. They were just those with which the clergy and 
other workers in East London were most familiar as the daily burden of 
their lives. But for once they were driven home into the hearts of the 
well-to-do, and for a space a great deal of emotion was expressed. The 
newspapers were full of East London. The air was alive with schemes for 
wild legislation. High officials visited the slums in person. The fashion- 
able world followed in their footsteps. "Sanitary Aid Committees" were 
formed in every district to enforce upon landlords and parochial officials a 
stricter oWrvance of the laws which should protect the homes of the poor. 
For the first time the actual condition of the peo|)le flashed upon the gen- 
erous feelings of the Universities. There were stirring debates at Oxford 

1 The subject upon which reports have been thus prepared so far are " Industrial Arbi- 
tration in the Northumberland Mining Industries;" "Economic Eflfects of Mining Roy- 
allien;" "Morements of Population umougst Trades." 

The W(yrk of Toynhee HaH, 59 

and Cambridge. For the first time men were Btartled into a feeling of their 
responsibilit/ towards the toiling millions whose labors make possible the 
academic life. Mr. Darnett t-eized the moment to urge his project of a 
University Colony in East London, where young men who had been touched 
with sympathy for the lives of their poorer fellow citizens might live face 
to face with the actual conditions of crowded city life, study on the spot the 
evils and their remedies, and if possible ennoble the lives and improve the 
material condition of the people. 

The tinder took fire, and in a burst of general enthusiasm the " Univer- 
sities Settlement Association " wjis formed to erect the necessary build- 
ings — Lecture Rooms and Residential Chambers — and to provide funds to 
support the undertakings of the Residents. The motives of the founders 
cannot be better stated than in the words of the Appeal which we then 

" For some years past the momentous spiritual and social questions in- 
volved in the condition of the poor have awakened an increasing interest 
in our Universities; and the conviction has grown deej)er that the prob- 
lems of the future can only be solved through a more practical experience, 
and a closer intinjacy and sympathy with the poor themselves. 

"The main difliculty of poor city neighborhood, where the toilers who 
create our national prosperity are massed apart, is that they have few 
friends and helpers wiio can study and relieve their difficulties, few points 
of contact with the best thoughts and aspirations of their age, few edumted 
public-spirited residents, such as elsewhere in England uphold the tone of 
Ijocal Life and enforce the eflHciency of Local Self -Government. In the 
relays of men coming year by year from the Universities into London to 
study for professions or to pursue their independent interests, there are 
many, free from the ties of later life, who might fitly choose themselves to 
live amongst the poor, to give up to them a portion of their lives, and 
endeavor to fill this social void. The universal testimony of those best 
acquainted with the squalor and degradation to which attention has been 
lately directetl, afiirnis that there is less need of new legislation than of 
citizens who will maintain the existing law and create a public opinion 
amongst the |KK)r themselves. Upon the Vestries, upon the Boards of 
Guardians, U[)on the Coumiittees of Schools and of every public undertak- 
ing, eduaited men may find the opportunity of serving the interests of 
their neighUirs: or even if such direct reH{)onsibilities cannot be assumed, 
they may help to create amongst their fellow-citizens the public opinion 
which insists on gtMid administration. University men have already 
approached the Higiier Education of the working classes in the Univer- 
sity Extension Scheme and institutions with similar aims. The results 
have been most encouraging. The time has come for a far wider develop- 
ment. Art and Industrial Exhibitions have to be organized at the doors 
of the poor, and, what is more im|>ortant, explained sympathetically to the 
throngs ready to vii»il them. Co-opcrutivo Societies have to be formed, 

60 The W<yrk of Toynbee Hall, 

their principles established, and their wider issues developed. Other 
helpers are wanted for the work of the Charity Organization and Sanitary 
Aid Committees, for the organization of Clubs, Excursions, Childrens' 
Country Holidays, Concerts, and for every kind of Entertainment in which 
the culture bom of ease may be shared with the toiling population. 

" It is the object of the ' Universities' Settlement ' to link the Univer- 
Bties with East London, and to direct the human sympathies, the ener- 
gies, and the public spirit of Oxford and Cambridge to the actual conditions 
of town life. During the last few years many University men, following in 
the steps of Denison and Arnold Toynbee, have, on leaving the Univer- 
sities for London, energetically responded to the varied calls for their aid. 
Such isolated efforts are capable of infinite expansion were the way once 
laid open, and it is now proposed to offer to those who are ready a channel 
of immediate and useful activity and a centre of right living. In a coranion 
life united by a common devotion to the welfare of the poor, those fellow- 
workers who are able to give either their whole time or the leisure which 
they can spare from their occupations, will find, it is believed, a support in 
the pursuit of their own highest aims as well as a practicjil guidance which 
isolated and inexperienced philanthropists must lack." 

The residents (who live at their own charges)* have, by this time, under 
the general direction of Mr. Barnett, turned into fact many of the projects 
thus set before them. Upwards of 50 men have made their home for a 
time at Toynbee Hall, many having now gone on to their life work, richer 
in social experience and wider in human sympathy. The places of thase 
who have left have been filled again and again, and the Chambers are 
generally occupied. Around the Residents a body of about 100 "Associ- 
ates" have gathered whose homes lie elsewhere, but who co-operate with 
the residents in their undertakings, while the Guest rooms have afforded 
a temporary hospitality to constant relays of friends. Graduates and Under- 
graduates, who come to help or to learn for a few days at a time. Indeed 
the "Settlement" tends more and more to become a house of call for earnest 
men of all classes, drawn thither by their work, their enquiries, their friend- 
ships, or invited for the particular discussion of some social problem. 

One object at least of the founders of the Association has been thus 
attained in the intercourse established between the life of our Universities 
and the life of our East End citizens. Meanwhile Toynbee Hall has 
already succeeded in making its influence widely felt among the crowded 
population in whose midst it is placed. By the working classes of East 
London it is rapidly being accepted as the visible embodiment of the 
almost legendary life and culture of the old Universities. 

It would take too long to enumerate in detail all the educational and 

• The Bentals paid by them vary accordinfj to accommodation. They average about £1 
weekly. The arranKemenUt for Itoanl and .Service are managed by a Committee of the 
IteaideDta and antouni to about 26 ahiUiagii s week more. 

The Work of Toynbee Hall. 61 

social work in which the residents are engaged. They themselves possihly 
would feel they had won Buccess in the degree to which they had kindled 
local opinion and enlisted in every kind of public undertaking the inde- 
pendent co-operation of their neighbors. The residents would judge them- 
selves not so much by what they do, as by what they establish ; not by the 
results which they could report, as by the spirit they have engendered. It 
is not, we believe, through external interference, but through the develop- 
ment of individual character, through the kindling of local opinion, through 
the education of civic spirit, and the direction of local energies, that ground 
can be permanently gained. In a democratic country nothing can be firmly 
achieved except through the masses of the people. Legislation may strike 
off the shackles of evil custom, and may supply methods of action, but when 
the people is enthroned, it is impossible to establish permanently a higher 
political life, or a more perfect social organization than the people crave 
for. Every social question has thus a moral question behind. Apathy, iso- 
lation, ignorance, selfishness in the masses — these are the powers of resist- 
ance to be vanquished before, by any chance, a self-governed people can 
possibly come to be a well-governed people. 

It is not therefore so much by what they have done that the residents 
would coimt their days, as by what they may have led others to do. Has 
any one, coming to Toynbee Hall whether as boy or man, as a student, as 
a guest, or as a coadjutor in some social undertaking, gained an idea or a 
method, a belief, a sympathy or a principle which will take its own root in 
him and bring forth fruit for others' service? Has any one coming from 
East London or West become inspired with a higher sense of personal and 
civic duty, with a fuller faith of what can be attained by the fellow-service 
of fellow-citizens, and by an insight into the possibilities and the methods 
of social CO operation? Above all, has any one coming to Toynbee Hall, 
whether rich or poor, found there new sympathies, interests, and friend- 
ships, and left it with his old sense of class distinctions, class prejudices, 
and class antagonisms effaced, in a deeper conviction of human brotherhood 
and in the acknowledgment of a common responsibility for the common 

Such at least would be our hope. How far realized we cannot judge. 
We can only indicate a few of the tangible undertakings which have begun 
to take root at Toynbee Hall. 

Not only has the Hall lKH?ome the centre of educational effort and social 
life in Whitechai)el, but its nieml>ers have gone out to take their share in 
the local government of the district and in all the various forms of public 
work, to which the manifold neecis of a poor, populous, and neglected neigh- 
borhood give occasion. 

The public rooms of the Hall have become an arena for the diHCiission of 
every kind of view, and a meeting place for every class. They have also 
been made a social centre for every branch of East End life and work, where 
our hospitalities have been extended to co-operatore, workmen's clubs of all 

62 The Work of Toynhee Hall 

kinds, students of every degree, elementary teachers and the representatives 
of every social movement amongst the people around. It is no exaggeration 
to say that many thous;inds of our poorer fellow-citizens, to whom Toynbee 
Hall was dediraled by the Universities four years ago, have found recreation 
and benefit in the rooms established for their use and entertainment. 

On the educational side Toynbee Hall has been made the most prominent 
centre of " University Extension " in East London. A free students' library 
has been built auvl tilled with books and readers, lectures and reading clubs 
ranging over the most varied subjects of moral, literary and scientific inter- 
est have been instituted. Technical classes have been established, nmsical 
societies have been formed, and above all the elementary schoolmasters and 
pupil teachers of the neighborhood, upon whom depends the future of the 
rising generation of citizens, have been welcomed to the society and the 
educational advantages of the Hall. 

The educational associations which have gathered around us, besides 
promoting knowledge and developing intellectual interest, have created a 
spirit of comradeship among the students, inspiring them with a healthy 
sense of being fellow laborers in a great cause. Some of the most zealous 
local studenta, who are already more or less at home in Toynbee Hall, have 
taken up residence under academic discipline in " Wadham House," an 
adjacent building provided for the purpose by residents and their friends. 
Earning their living during the day, in the evening they pursue their 
studies in connection with our varied educational classes, and also take their 
part in its social work. The home thus offered to men who have to make 
their own fight for each step in self-improvement, introduces into the heart 
of East London the elements of an intellectual society, and it promises to 
form an independent centre of energetic practical citizenship. 

It may afford some insight into the magnitude and variety of the claims 
made upon the time and energy of the inmates of Toynbee Hall, to give a 
summary of the work done by one of their number, though most of them 
have their own employments which limit their energies within bounds 
somewhat more circumscribed. Besides conducting a class of University 
Extension Students in popular Ethics, another of Pupil-teachers in English 
Literature, a class of workingmen in lolilical Economy, and a Sunday Bible 
Class of members of the St. Jude's Juvenile Association, the resident in 
question acted as Secretary to one of the Local Committees of the Charily 
Organization Society, as Secretary to a Ward Sanitary Aid Committee, as 
a School Board Manager, and finally as a member of the Board of Guardi- 
ans. In each of these capacities he foimd new fields of work opening out 
before him. The Political Economy Class served as the nucleus of a body 
of workmen, who, as members of relief committees and as managers of the 
newly-started Recreative Evening Classes in Board Schools, have begun to 
do excellent service in charitable and educational administration, and have 
thus given practical evidence of the possibility of developing among the 
artisans of East London that spirit of citizenship— a very different thing 

The Wo)'k of Toipibee HaU, 63 

from political partizanship— which it should be the object of all true 
reformers to call into existence among the body of the i>eople. In addition 
to these numerous undertakings, in all of which his eflbrts have been 
directed to evoking the co-operation of the people themselves, the resident 
in question has found time to devoJe many evenings to a boys' club, where 
boxing and single-stick have been substituted for mere horse-play with 
excellent effect upon the conduct and l>earing of the lads. He has also 
takt-n a part in organizing foot-ball among the Board Schools of the district. 

Records of similar, though in each case individual and distinctive, activity 
might be given with respect to other residents, but it is only possible to 
notice some of the principal results. The " Whittington," a club and home 
for street boys, was opened in 1885 by Prince Edward of Wales. It has 
<lone much useful work, and a cadet corps of Volunteers has been formed 
there. An effort has been made to unite the boy pupil-teachers of all the 
London Elementary Schools into one community, and by the agencies of 
cricket, rowing, and debating clubs, to kindle amongst them that egprit de 
corps which so strengthens the morale of our higher public schools. Numer- 
ous classes for pupil-teachers are conducted by members of the Hall, in all 
of which the object kept in view is not so much to increase the information 
of the already over-crammed, as to quicken their intellectual interest and 
widen their sympathies. 

The Sanitary Aid Committee, which has its head-quarters at Toynbee 
Hall, has resulted not only in the renioval of a number of specific nuisances, 
but in greater vigilance both on the part of the landlords and of the local 
authorities with regard to the condition of tenement houses. The oppor- 
tunity which the visitors gain of becoming acqnninted with the lives of the 
people and of entering into friendly relations with them is a secondary but 
valuable result. 

Such are some of the undertakings whicli now centre round Toynbee 
Hall. It is an enterprise which if patiently and loyally maintained and 
effectively developed cannot but beget experience v.hich will react most 
practically upon the thought of the educated classes on whom in a demo- 
cratic country falls so deep a responsibility for local and central good gov- 
ernment. The present residents at Toynbee Hall are we hoi)e the pioneen* 
of a permanent movement re-establishing amongst the leisured classes the 
sense of their civic obligations. In the meetings which are held in the 
various Colleges in support of the work, the interest of the undergraduates 
is attracted to the social questions which confront their representatives in 
Wliitcchapel, and seed is sown which will bear fruit in years to come, when 
the undergraduates of to-day become the administrators, the landlords, the 
journalists, the law makers, the public opinion of their time. Later as 
these tmdergraduates leave the university, Toynbee Hall offers to all an 
opportunity of dire<t personal experience of social problems, and a channel 
for the expression of every social sympathy. These are among the advan- 
tages with which the movement has endowed the Uaiversities. Yet on the 

64 The Work of Toynhee HaU. 

other side we are glad to realize how much tangible good our fellow citizens 
have reaped in education, in enlightenment, in social stimulus, in the 
development of local life and the reform of local evils. The principle of 
personal service, personal knowledge and personal sympathy remains the 
key-note of every endeavor. On each side men have learnt to appreciate 
each other better, and many a link of cordial and deep-rooted friendship, 
ba'^ed on common tastes, common associations and common work for others' 
good, now binds together classes which had otherwise been strangers, and 
possibly antagonists. 

Philip Lyttelton Gell, M. A., 
Chairman of the Council. 
Clarendon Press and Balliol College, Oxford. 

By Charles B. Stover, A. B. 

An apology for appending to the foregoing narrative of the splendid 
achievements of Toynbee Hall an account of the small doings of the 
Neighborhood Guild is supplied first, by the fact, that in some measure 
the desc-ent of the Neighborhood Guild is traceable to Toynbee Hall, and 
secondly, by the endeavors of the Guild to become the To3rnbee Hall of 
New York City. 

The Neighborhood Gaild was founded by Mr. Stanton Coit early in 1887, 
at 146 Forsyth St., New York. After a residence of several weeks among 
the tenement-house people, face to face with the great problems presented 
by their lives, Mr. Coit began his work of reform in a tentative manner, by 
inviting to his own cheerful apartments a club of half a dozen boys, who 
had been meeting in the dismal room of a poor old blind woman. These 
boys brought in others, and soon Mr. Coit felt encouraged to rent the base- 
ment of the tenement, in which he lived, for a club-room. Here the boys, 
or young men, their average age being eighteen years, were organized into 
a club. And afterwards, as the necessary volunteer workers were secured, 
three other clubs were formed, one consisting of young women, another of 
little boys, and the last, of little girls. A kindergarten also was established 
at an early date. These various organized bodies of young people together 
form the Neighborhood Guild. Its motto is: " Order is our Basis; Improve- 
ment our A im ; and Friendship our Principle.** 

In the second year of the Guild's history, the formation of a similar set 
of clubs was undertaken in Cherry St., and now is being carried on with 
Buch ease that our caustics in the air become less insubstantial, and our 
hope grows firmer that the Guild may multiply its clubs on all sides, until, 
let us say, they shall be found in every election-district of our city ward. 
Then, when the whole people shall be organized for reform, when all the 
latent love of the beautiful and the right which the coarseness of tenement- 
house life and the cares of poverty blast and make unfruitful, shall be 
stirred up and develoi)ed by extensive cooperation for individual and social 
progress, then shall the workers for righteousness strive to some purpose. 
But now the workers of iniquity flourish. The poor people of our district 
are represented in the State A»^mbly by one of the most notorious scamps 
in the history of New York politics, — a saloon-keeper, a gambler, a friend 
of "crooks" and a tool of lobbyists. Four times in sucoession this law- 
breaker has been elected a law-maker of the Sute of New York. "He 
6 66 

66 The Neighborhood Guild in New York, 

knows every man, woman, and child in the ward." There is the secret of 
his i>ower. So says one of his *' heelers." Verily the children of this world 
are wiser in their methods of work than the children of light. 

Thus to organize the young i)eople into numerous cluhs is to take advan- 
tage of their social instinct which, in our tenement-house district, is already 
finding its gratification in countless " Pleasure Clubs," the height of whose 
ambition is a chowder-party in summer and a ball in winter. These 
Pleasure Clubs encourage lavish expenditure of small earnings, vulgarize 
the tastes, and readily become centres of political jobbery. The Neighbor- 
hood Guild Clubs are designed to encourage thrift and fellow-helpfulness, 
to purify and exalt the tastes, to excite opposition to all forms of injustice, 
and to kindle devotion to the common weal. 

I shall write but briefly of the Guild's forms of entertainment and educa- 
tion, which for the most part are those employed at Toynbee Hall and in 
the "Annexes" of modern churches; and then more fully of the Guild as 
a College or University Settlement. Kach club meets twice a week. In the 
older clubs one-fourth of the income from the weekly fee of ten cents is 
spent for the relief of the sick and the poor. It is our endeavor also to 
have the clubs bear a portion of the expense of practical reforms. They 
bore one-third of the exijcnse of keeping our street clean during the summer 
The Kindergarten, in charge of two well-trained teachers, gleams like a 
fairy-land amid the gloomy and depressing tenements. Of the fifty children 
in attendance at the close of last session, but three are in this year's class. 
This may be largely ascribed to the removal of families, which among the 
poor of the city so often interrupts good influences. The untamed small 
boys, though long su! jected to our strongest subduing forces, are still sadly 
l)rone to remind us, that for them, to be noisy is to be happy. They tire of 
every game but base-ball. The piano and song are great aids to composing 
their wild spirits. The chief instruction given tiie two girls' clubs is in 
housewifely duties. The lari^er girls have been carefully trained in hand- 
sewing, including the art of fine embroidery. Several times they have 
cooperated with the young nien's chib in getting up musical, literary, and 
theatrical entertainments. The young men have received the most varied 
instruction, embracing clay-modelling, wood-carving, debating, public decla- 
mation, parliamentary practice, singing, drawing, gymnastic and military 
drilling. Numerous desidtory lectures have been delivered. At present a 
somewhat systematic efl<)rt is being made to give them a grasp of the lead- 
ing phases of the world's history. Several classes in elementary studies 
have been formed. 

Our *' Dancing Evening," for a while weekly, then, as our more serious 
work increased, semi-monthly, is to be reckoned among the educational, as 
well as among the entertaining, meetings of the Guild. Only an ignorant 
fanatic could say that by permitting the young men and the young women 
to dance together, we are training them for the Bowery dance-halls. People 
of common sense, with no slight disapproval of dancing, have come here 

The Neighborhood Guild in New York. 67 

and for a long while observed its effects upon these yonng people, and now 
unhesitatingly declare that these social meetings, always under the super- 
vision of some of the Guild's workers, have proved a school of graceful, 
modest, and chivalrous manners, all the corrupting influences of dance-hall 
and fashionable ball to the contrary notwithstanding. 

In the summer-time, to a limited extent the clubg leave the city for a 
breath of fresh air. The little girls, in several parties, spent a week at the 
country home of their teacher. Very generous invitations were extended 
to the young women's club to spend a week or more at the sea-shore, and to 
the young men's club to summer in the Cat«kills ; but not one of the young 
men could leave the city, and only three of the young women could go away, 
chiefly because their employers would not grant them leave of absence. 
Several excursions of a day have been made by two or more of the clubs to 
the shores of Staten Island, where bathing, boating, and athletic sports 
afforded grateful recreation. 

The work of the Guild, as thus outlined, is carried on in the main by 
volunteer worker:*, who in this second year of the Guild's history numbered 
twenty-two, one-half ladies and one-half gentlemen. Of these workers the 
great majority are up-town residents, wiio come to the Guild an evening or 
two every week. They bring with them gentleness, kindness, culture, 
knowledge, a rich store of human sympathy, and open eyes to discern the 
signs of the times. These are some of the strands which help to bridge 
over that angry flood of passions which is ever tending to sweep the social 
classes farther apart. The Guild is not tainted with fashionable "slum- 
ming." A little of its work has been done up town. One lady in her own 
liome instructed a young man in piano-playing and singing; another in her 
own home instructed a girl in embroidering; and still another gave lessons 
in wood-carving to three young men. Would there were more such inter- 
course between up-town people ami tenement-house people! The Guild 
aims to be a mediator between the cultured and the uncultured, between 
the gifted and the ungifted. Yc that have talent**, why not impart to 
him that has none? What a university might be established in this city, 
its curriculum perhaps not as varied as that of a regular university, but 
possessing an unrivalled endowment of saving social forces, if a thousand 
young men and women from the tenement-houses were welcomed weekly 
into as many different homes of the up-town people, there to receive some 
acquirement from more gifted fellow-creatures I 

The Guild's most distinctive feature is found in ita College men, resident 
together in a tenement-liouse. Of these there have been five, — Mr. Stanton 
Coit, Ph. D. (Berlin Univ.), Mr. E. 8. Forbes, and Mr. W. B. Thorp, all 
Amherst graduates; Mr. M. I. Swift, Ph. D. (Johns Hopkins University), 
a Williams graduate, and the writer, a I.4ifayette graduate. Three of these 
men have been Htudents at the University of Berlin. Mr. Coit, during his 
student life abroad, became well ncr|uainted with Toynl)ee Hall, where he 
was enriched with new ideas and impulses. HoweTer, his prime endeavor 

6^ The Neighborhood Guild in New York. 

here seems to have been not to model the Guild after Toynbee Hall, viewed 
as a University Settlement, but rather, in accordance with his own ethical 
system, so to organize the people around the family, as the unit, as to origi- 
nate forces of social regeneration. This organization has not extended to 
the parents. In describing his work among the young, Mr. Coit has said 
that he resolved to do for them, what parents of wealth and leisure would 
do for their children. Also another Guild resident came in contact with 
Toynbee Hall while abroad, and, at the first moment of his acquaintance 
with the Guild, became attached to it by the expectation of its becoming 
another Toynbee Hall. I well remember when in May, 1887, I asked 
Mr. Coit whether such might not be the development of the Guild, he 
replied, " Will you help to make it a Toynbee Hall." He made special 
trips to Amherst and Johns Hopkins to enlist men in the movement. Mr. 
Swift, for whom the idea of a People's University had great attractions, 
helped along the Toynbee Hall movement here by his successful manage- 
ment of a Social Science Club, in which, to a limited extent, workingmen 
were brought in contact with University men. 

Let us notice some of the reasons for developing the Neighborhood Guild 
into a Toynbee Hall. First. There is a numerous class of educated young 
men, who are deeply interested in the social problems of to-day, their sympa- 
thies for human suffering the warmest, who yet would be hampered, if put 
in ecclesiastical leading-strings. Such would find a field of labor in a 
Toynbee Hall. Let it not be thought, that I presume to speak to the dis- 
credit of the Church. I am regarding her conservatism in methods of work 
simply as a matter of fact, which exercises a decided influence over the 
career of many a young man. I know that one, inspired by the love of Christ 
and his fellowmen, applied for work to a person in authority in city evan- 
gelization, and was dismissed with the rash words: "The Lord God has no 
work for you to do ; " because, forsooth, his theology seemed "wishy-washy" 
to the rigid dogmatist. Such a young man is welcome here. Not because 
the Guild has a liking for vague theology, but because it believes that this 
world is too badly off to afford to let a single spark of enthusiasm for 
humanity be quenched. 

Further, a Toynbee Hall could easil^j approach the workingman, who is 
now estranged from the Church. Ex-Pres. McCosh has lately said that 
when he first visited our country, he was often asked, " What do you think 
of our congregations?" and he answered, "I think much of them, but 
where are your lal)oring classes?" and he adds, "Where is the laboring 
man in our Churches? is the question I am still putting, seeking an answer." 
It should also be noticed that the Church is much estranged from the tene- 
ment-house districts. As the Churgh is doing very little for the down-town 
people, a University Settlement would here find a large field of labor. These 
people should not be utterly forsaken. According to the New York "City 
Mission Monthly," in our ward, the 10th, the population is 47,554, and the 
number of churches and chapels, five. And according to Dr. Josiah Strong, 

The Neif/hborhood Guild in New YorL 69 

while the increase in the population of New York City, since 1880, was 
300,000, the increase in the number of churches, during the same period, 
was only four. I do not wish to imply that a Toynbee Hall would be a 
complete substitute for the vanislied churches; but would anyone deter 
another from pouring balm upon a cut finger, because there is no surgeon 
at hand to remove some internal cancer? So I believe in this Univei*sity 
movement, because it does benefit men. How far it falls short of blessing 
and regenerating the entire man does not enter into consideration now. 
Tnis is the Guild's relation to the Christian Church. Never, not even when 
Mr. Coit was here, was the Guild antagonistic to the Church. I say, not 
even when Mr. Coit was here; for his late position, as Assistant Lecturer 
to the New York Society for Ethical Culture, seems to have created, in some 
minds, the impression that this Guild is a work of that Society, and that the 
spirit of Ethical Culture, with its pronounced repudiation of all theology, 
rules in the Guild. These notions are utterly false. The personal help of 
Christians in the Clubs was always welcomed by Mr. Coit; and we have 
even been scrupulous enough to hold all our meetings on week-days, that 
on Sunday no member of the Clubs might be withdrawn from attendance 
on Sunday School or Church. 

Further, various educational, sanitary, social, and political reforms could bo 
undertaken by a Toynbee Hall with fewer restraints than they could by the 
Church. Certainly in political action it could engage with a freedom to 
which the Church is a stranger. From a Toynbee Hall might proceed a 
thorough purification of this sink of political corruption. Persons resident 
here would acquire that familiarity with the men and the affairs of the 
district which is so necessary for a successful reform movement. Our local 
"boss" says: "We will not allow the residents of Murray Hill to dictate 
to us." May the time come when a large band of intelligent, fearless, and 
public-spirited young men, residents here, shall labor perseveringly for the 
purity of the ballot and the dethronement of the corrupt " bosses 1 " 

Something may be said also in favor of such a University Settlement 
from a purely intellectual point of view. That the University-bred mind 
would itself be profited by frequent contact with the masses of a great city 
no one doubts. But very generally it is supposed that the University-bred 
mind is altogether unsuited to instruct and inspire the masses. I remember 
that once in a Social Science Club, made up, according to the Club's par- 
lance, of proletaires and professor.^, a University man, having alluded to the 
difficulty, which a person like himself has in reaching the understanding 
of the people, a workingman remarked, — "I once heard Huxley lecture 
and had no difficulty in understanding him." Does the multitude have 
any difficulty in understanding the political addresses of our leading 
lawyers and statesmen? Is the popular mind capable of grasping only 
the platitudes of pettifoggers? Why h it that in New York City the ablest 
ami most attractive preachers are in the pulpits of the rich? If Christ and St. 
Paul were here, would they confine their preaching to wealthy churches, and 

70 The Neighborhood Guild in New York. 

think the poor of the tenements quite incapable of appreciating their ser- 
mons? I dare say that the most powerful and popular of the preachers to 
men of wealth and culture could, with little effort, render themselves both 
powerful and popular in the slums. Let not the University men be misled 
by the foibles of the Church. A great work can be done by them right in 
the heart of the tenements. That the intellectual barriers to their success 
can be overcome, the story of Toynbee Hall amply testifies. 

May this monograph concerning Arnold Toynbee and the accompanying 
sketch of the work of Toynbee Hall incite many an American student to a 
similar work in his own land t 


The EstaWistmieQt of Miinicipal Government 





Historical and Political Science 


Hist 017 is past Politics and Politics present History — ^eewMm 


The EstalilisliDieflt of Municipal Goveromeot 




Pn^f—or <^f Hiatory and PolUiet in ttu UnivertUy qf Cal%^omia 



February And M»roh, 1880 

Copyright, 1888, by N. Murray. 





The events associated with the establishment of a municipal 
government in San Francisco extend over three quarters of a 
century, from the foundation of the Spanish pueblo, in 1776, 
to the adoption of the city charter passed by the first legisla- 
ture of the State of California, in 1851. Within this time it 
is possible to observe three somewhat clearly defined periods. 
The first is the period of Spanish settlement and stagnation ; 
the second is the period of transition, extending from the 
Conquest to the adoption of the charter of 1850; the third 
period ends with the adoption of the charter of 1851. 


The site of San Francisco was first trodden by Europeans 
in the autumn of 1769. At the same time, the bay of San 
Francisco was discovered. About three years later, in the 
spring of 1772, Pedro Fages and his followers looked out 
through the Golden Gate from the foot-hills of Berkeley. 
Towards the end of 1774, Bucareli, the viceroy of Mexico, 
wrote to Rivera and Serra that he intended to establish a 
presidio at San Francisco, and by an order dated November 
12, 1775, he gave directions for the foundation of a fort, 
presidio, and mission on the bay of San Francisco. On the 
12th of June, 1776, an overland expedition left Monterey to 


6 The Establishment of Municipal Government [76 

carry out the order of the viceroy. It was composed of the 
lieutenant commanding, Don Jos6 Moraga, one sergeant, six- 
teen soldiers, seven settlers — all married men with their fam- 
ilies — and a number of other persons, as servants, herdsmen, 
and drovers, who drove the two hundred head of neat cattle 
for the presidio, and the pack train with provisions and neces- 
sary equipage for the road.^ They arrived on the 27th of 
June. The rest of the equipment was sent from Monterey 
by sea in the vessel "San Carlos," which arrived on the 18th 
of August. The site of the presidio having been determined, 
several rude buildings were erected. These were a storehouse, 
a chapel, the commandants dwelling, and dwellings for the 
soldiers and their families. The ceremony of taking formal 
possession followed on the 17th of September. Father Palou, 
one of the two priests who had been sent with the expedition 
to establish a mission at San Francisco, thus records the event 
in which he was a principal actor : " We took formal posses- 
sion of the presidio on the seventeenth day of September, the 
anniversary of the impressions of the wounds of our Father 
San Francisco, the patron of the presidio and mission. I said 
the first mass, and after blessing the site, the elevation and 
adoration of the Holy Cross, and the conclusion of the service 
with the Te Deum, the officers took formal possession in the 
name of our sovereign, with many discharges of cannon, both 
on sea and land, and the musketry of the soldiers." ^ The 
seventeenth of September, 1776, may therefore be set down 
as the date of the foundation of San Francisco. The cere- 
monies attending the foundation of the mission at San Fran- 
cisco were held on the 9th of the following October. 

From this beginning grew the town or pueblo of San Fran- 
cisco, which, like the pueblo of San Diego, Santa Barbara, 
or Monterey, was an off-shoot of a presidio. It is to be dis- 

* Palou, " Vida de Junipero serra," cap. xlv ; also, Palou, " Noticias de 
la Nueva California," Parte Cuarta, cap. xviii. 
' Palou, " Vida de Junipero Serra," cap. xlv. 

77] In San Francisco, 7 

tinguished from two other classes of pueblos, namely, those 
pueblos which were founded as such, and those which grew 
out of mission establishments. Vancouver has given a de- 
scription of the presidio as it appeared in 1792, sixteen years 
after its foundation. " Its wall, which fronted the harbor, was 
visible from the ships ; but instead of the city or town, whose 
lights we had so anxiously looked for on the night of our 
arrival, we were conducted into a spacious verdant plain, sur- 
rounded by hills on every side, excepting that which fronted 
the fort. The only object of human industry which presented 
itself was a square area, whose sides were about two hundred 
yards in length, inclosed by a mud wall, and resembling a 
pound for cattle. Above this wall the thatched roofs of their 
low, small houses just made their appearance. Their houses 
were all along the wall, within the square, and their fronts 
uniformly extended the same distance into the area, which is 
a clear, open space, without building, or other interruptions. 
The only entrance into it is by a large gateway ; facing which, 
and against the center of the opposite wall or side, is the 
church ; which, though small, was neat in comparison to the 
rest of the buildings. This projects further into the square 
than the houses, and is distinguishable from the other edifices 
by being white-washed with lime made from seashells; lime- 
stone or calcareous earth not having yet been discovered in the 
neighborhood. On the left of the church is the command- 
ant's house, consisting, I believe, of two rooms and a closet, 
which are divided by massy walls, similar to that which incloses 
the square, and communicating with each other by very small 
doors. Between these apartments and the outward wall was 
an excellent poultry house and yard, which seemed pretty well 
stocked ; and between the roof and the ceilings of the rooms 
was a kind of lumber garret : these were all the conveniences 
the habitation seemed calculated to afford. The rest of the 
houses, though smaller, were fashioned exactly after the same 
manner, and in the winter or rainy seasons must, at the best, 
be very uncomfortable dwellings. For, though the walls are 

8 The Establishment of Municipal Govemmerd [78 

a sufficient security against the inclemency of the weather, yet 
the windows, which are cut in the front wall, and look into 
the square, are destitute of glass, or any other defense that 
does not at the same time exclude the light. 

" The apartment in the commandant's house into which we 
were ushered was about thirty feet long, fourteen feet broad, 
and twelve feet high ; and the other room or chamber I judged 
to be of the same dimensions, excepting in its length, which 
appeared to be somewhat less. The floor was of the native 
soil, raised about three feet from its original level, without 
being boarded, paved, or even reduced to an even surface ; the 
roof was covered with flags and rushes, the walls on the inside 
had once been white- washed ; the furniture consisted of a very 
sparing assortment of the most indispensable articles, of the 
rudest fashion, and of the meanest kind, and ill accorded with 
the ideas one had conceived of the sumptuous manner in which 
the Spaniards live on this side of the globe." ^ 

The presidio was directly under military rule, and repre- 
sented the military element in Spanish colonization : while 
the pueblo and the mission represented the civil and religious 
elements respectively. In the beginning, the officers of the 
presidio of San Francisco were a lieutenant and a sergeant, 
assisted by a corporal or corporals.^ Lieutenant Jos4 Moraga 
was commandant until his death, in 1785, and Pablo Grijalva 
was sergeant until 1787. In the presidial settlements of 
Spanish America we observe the carrying out of the Roman, 
rather than of the British, system of colonization. The main 

' Vancouver, "A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, and 
Round the World," III, 9-12; Hittell, 1, 551, 583. 

^ De Mofras, writing of California between 1840 and 1842, sets down the 
annual cost of maintaining each presidio as about $55,000. Out of this a 
lieutenant is paid $550, a health officer, $450, an ensign, $400, a sergeant, 
$265, a corporal, $225, and seventy soldiers, $217 each. Each soldier had 
seven horses and a mule, kept on the king's farm. Artillery men were 
furnished from the marine department of San Bias. "Exploration de 
rOregon et dea Californies," I, 287. 

79] In San Francisco, 9 

fanction of the presidio was to furnish military protection to 
the missions, and to such pueblos as were established within 
the limits of its jurisdiction, either as independent settlements, 
or as an outgrowth of the presidio itself. The abolition of the 
presidios as military posts was not thought of, because no time 
was foreseen when the country would no longer need an armed 
force. » 

The missions, on the other hand, were designed as tempo- 
rary establishments. " It was contemplated," says Judge 
Felch, " that in ten years from their first foundation they 
should cease. It was supposed that within that period of time 
the Indians would be sufficiently instructed in Christianity 
and the arts of civilized life, to assume the position and char- 
acter of citizens ; that these mission settlements would then 
become pueblos, and that the mission churches would become 
parish churches, organized like the other establishments of an 
ecclesiastical character, in other portions of the nation where 
no missions had ever existed. The whole missionary estab- 
lishment was widely different from the ordinary ecclesiastical 
organizations of the nation. In it, the superintendence and 
charge was committed to priests, who were devoted to the 
special work of missions, and not to the ordinary clergy. 
The monks of the College of San Fernando and Zacatecas, in 
whose charge they were, were to be succeeded by the secular 
clergy of the National Church ; the missionary field was to 
become a diocese, the president of the missions to give place 
to a bishop, the mission churches to become curacies, and the 
faithful in the vicinity of each parish to become the parish 
worshippers."* "The Spanish government," says Hittell, 
" had from the very l>eginning contemplated secularization by 
finally transforming the missions into pueblos ; but the plan 
was based upon the idea of first educating the neophytes up 
to self-sustaining industry and citizenship."* The essentially 

* Opinion in the California Board of Land Commlnionera, in the 
the Biithop of California's petition for the churches. 
'"Hiatory of California," I, 607. 

10 The Establishment of Municipal Government [80 

temporary character of the missions rendered it impossible 
for them to acquire full ownership in the lands which they 
used. These lands " were occupied by them only by permis- 
sion, but were the property of the nation, and at all times 
subject to grant under the colonization laws."^ 

The towns or pueblos, however, were looked upon as 
permanent institutions. The earliest towns of California 
were organized under the laws of Philip II., which specified 
two forms of settlements that might participate in the rights 
of a pueblo : 1, that made by a person under a contract with 
the government ; 2, that made by a number of private per- 
sons acting under a mutual agreement among themselves. 
The conditions of the contract between the founder of the 
settlement and the government were : " That within the 
period of time which may be assigned to him, he must have 
at least thirty settlers, each one provided with a house, ten 
breeding cows, four oxen, or two oxen and two steers, one 
brood mare, one breeding sow, twenty breeding ewes of the 
Castilian breed, and six hens and one cock.'^ The contractor 
was, moreover, required to appoint a priest to administer the 
holy sacrament, and to provide the church with ornaments, 
and things necessary for divine worship. After the first 
appointment, the church was to be subject to royal patronage. 
Failure on the part of the contractor to comply with his 
obligation, would subject him to a loss of whatever he had 
"constructed, wrought, or governed,^' which would be applied 
to the royal patrimony, and he would, furthermore, incur the 
penalty of one thousand pounds of gold ; but compliance 
with the terms of his obligation, would entitle him to four 
leagues of extent and territory in a square or prolonged form, 
according to the character of the land, in such manner that 
if surveyed there would be four leagues in a square. A final 
condition of this general grant was, that the limits of this 
territory should be distant at least five leagues from any 

» Howard, U. 8. S. C. Rep., p. 640. 

81] In San Francisco, 11 

city, town, or village of Spaniards previously founded, and 
that there should be no prejudice to any Indian town or 
private person.* Regarding the second form of settlement, 
the law provided that when at least ten married men should 
agree to form a new settlement, there would be given them 
the amount of land before specified, and also " power to elect 
among themselves alcaldes, with the usual jurisdiction, and 
annual officers of the council." ^ And " when a pueblo was 
once established, no matter how or by whom composed, and 
officially and legally recognized as such, it came immediately 
within the provisions of the general laws relating to pueblos, 
and was entitled to all the rights and privileges, whether 
political, municipal, or of property, which the laws conferred 
upon such organizations or corporations;"* and "among 
these rights was the right to four square leagues of land, in 
the form of a square, or in such other form as might be per- 
mitted by the nature of the situation." * The possession of 
this land, however, was not dependent on a " formal written 
grant." * The situation of San Francisco made it impossible 
for the town to obtain four square leagues in a square. Its 
territory was " bounded upon three sides by water, and the 
fourth line was drawn for quantity, east and west, straight 
across the peninsula, from the ocean to the bay. The four 
square leagues (exclusive of the military reserve, church 
buildings, etc.) north of this line, constitute the municipal 
lands of the pueblo of San Francisco," • 

After the secularization of the mission at San Francisco, 

' " Recopilacion de Leyes de laa Begnos de las Indias," Libro iv, Titulo 
▼, Ley vi. 

' " Recopilacion de Leyes de las Kegnos de las Indias," Libro iy, Titulo 
T, Ley V. 

•Hart v$. Burnett, Cal. Rep., 16, 641. 

* Stevenson w. Burnett, Cal. Rep., 36, 432. 

^Hart ra. Burnett, Cal. Rep., 15, 542; Stevenson m. Burnett, CaL Rep., 

* Payne A Dewey m. Treedwell, Cal. Rep., 16, 230. 

12 The EstablishTnerd of Municipal Government [82 

it was known sometimes as the "Pueblo de Dolores," but 
it had no separate municipal organization, and occupied the 
same legal position as some of the smaller "pueblos" of 
Mexico at the present time ; it was embraced within a muni- 
cipality of another name, to whose organization it was sub- 

Many of the fundamental provisions regarding the local 
government of California under the old regime are derived 
immediately from the Spanish constitution of 1812, and a 
decree of the Spanish Cortes of the same year. These laws 
provided for town governments, composed of alcaldes, coun- 
cilmen, and syndics, to be elected by a system of indirect 
election. Towns having less than one thousand inhabitants 
were required, on some holiday in the month of December, 
to elect nine electors ; those having more than one thousand 
and less than five thousand, to elect sixteen ; and those hav- 
ing more than five thousand inhabitants, to elect twenty- 
five electors. The constitution specifies with respect to this 
primary election, simply, that the citizens of the city or town 
shall assemble annually in the month of December, and elect 
a certain number of electors. But the Spanish Cortes of 
May 23, 1812, in order to avoid difficulties that might arise 
in a large town, or where the population subject to the gov- 
ernment was scattered over an extensive area, decreed that 
each parish might constitute an electoral district, and elect 
the number of electors to which its proportion of the total 
population would entitle it. Where several small towns 
were united under a single government, no collection of less 
than fifty inhabitants would have the privilege of nominating 
an elector; but if the number of parishes happened to be 
greater than the number of electors to be appointed, still, in 
spite of all other provisions, each parish would be entitled to 
one elector. These provisions were made to apply not only 
to towns whose inhabitants were in the enjoyment of the 

^ " Derecho Politico de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos," II., 108. 

83] In San Francisco, 13 

rights of citizens, but also to those provincial towns whose 
inhabitants, owing to peculiar circumstances, might not pos- 
sess these rights. 

The electors having been elected, either by parishes or by 
the citizens, met in a common assembly ; they were required 
to meet on some other holiday in the month of December, 
" to deliberate on the persons most suitable for the govern- 
ment of the town,'' and they were not allowed to adjourn 
without having completed the election : the number of officers 
to be elected varied with the populations of the towns. There 
were required for each town not exceeding two hundred 
inhabitants, one alcalde, two regidores or councilmen, and 
one sindico procurador or prosecuting attorney ; for each 
town having more than two hundred and less than five 
hundred inhabitants, one alcalde, four regidores, and one 
sindico; for each town having between five hundred and 
one thousand inhabitants, one alcalde, six regidores, and 
one sindico ; for each town having between one thousand 
and four thousand inhabitants, two alcaldes, eight regidores, 
and two sindicos; and twelve regidores for each town of 
more than four thousand inhabitants. In the capitals of the 
provinces twelve regidores at least were required, and, in 
case the town had more than ten thousand inhabitants, sixteen. 

It was provided, moreover, that these officers should super- 
sede all the municipal officers existing at the time of the 
adoption of the Constitution. The term of office for the 
alcaldes was one year ; for the regidores or councilmen, two 
years, one-half going out of office each year ; for the syndicos, 
one year, except in case there were two, when only one would 
be replaced each year. Qualifications for any of these offices 
were, that the person should be a citizen in the enjoyment of 
his rights, twenty-five years old, and a resident of the place 
for which he was elected for at least five years ; also, that he 
should hold no public office by appointment of the king. 

The duties of these officers are indicated in the Constitution, 
Articles 321-323, and are, in general, those which belong to 

14 The Establishment of Municipal GovemmerU [84 

municipal governmenta everywhere. Under this Constitution, 
and the decree of the Spanish Cortes of May 23, 1812, there 
might be an ayuntamiento for a single town or pueblo, for a 
combination of several groups of inhabitants, each too small 
to have an ayuntamiento of its own, or for a pueblo to which 
were joined other such small groups of inhabitants. This 
law decreed by the Cortes survived the political revolution by 
which Mexico was severed from the mother country, and in 
many of its essential features it was continued as a law of 
Mexico till after California had fallen into the hands of the 
United States. 

The Mexican Revolution of 1821 left the laws respecting 
private property within the ancient dominions of Spain in full 
force ; and all titles to land that had been acquired before the 
revolution, whether by individuals, by a pueblo, or by any 
other corporation, remained valid under the Mexican republic. 
By the Mexican Colonization Laws of 1824 and 1828, such 
lands were expressly indicated as no longer within the field 
open to colonization.^ Important changes, however, in the 
provisions for local government, were effected by the constitu- 
tional law of 1836, and the law of March 20, 1837, for the 
regulation of the interior government of the departments.^ 
The Mexican Constitution of 1824 was a close copy of the 
Federal Constitution of the United States, and under it the 
several States enjoyed a large degree of independence. But 
in 1836 the political power of the nation became more 
thoroughly centralized, and the States and territories were 
reduced to departments, and made immediately subject to the 
supreme central government. Under this system Upper and 
Lower California became one department, which was divided 
into districts, and the districts into partidos. Over each dis- 
trict there was a prefect, and over each partido a subprefect ; 
the former nominated by the governor of the department, and 

* Dwindle, " The Colonial History of the City of San Francisco," 41. 
"Dublan y Lozano, "Legislacion Mexicana," III, 230, 258, 323. 

86] In San Francisco. 16 

confirmed by the general government, the latter nominated by 
the prefect and approved by the governor. In so far as the 
Constitution of 1836 varied from the Spanish Constitution 
of 1812, regarding town governments, the change was a res- 
triction of local authority. It provided ayuntamientos only 
for capitals of departments, for places where they had existed 
in the year 1808, for seaports of four thousand and pueblos 
of eight thousand inhabitants : and besides the previously 
existing qualifications for office, there was required an annual 
income of at least five hundred dollars. The number of 
alcaldes, regidores, and syndicos had previously been fixed by 
law with reference to the number of the inhabitants ; it was 
now left to the determination of the departmental councils 
with the concurrence of the governor; with, however, the 
provision that the first should not exceed six, the second, 
twelve, and the last, two. Vacancies, through death or ina- 
bility to serve, were filled by a meeting of the electoral college 
called for that purpose ; but vacancies which occurred within 
three months of the end of the year were filled at the annual 
election. If the ayuntamiento, or any part of it, were sus- 
pended, that of the preceding year, or the corresponding part 
of it, was required to act. Among those excluded from 
membership in the ayuntamiento were officers appointed by 
the congress, by the general government, or by the government 
of the department ; the magistrates of the supreme tribunals 
of the departments; judges of first instance; ecclesiastics; 
persons in charge of hospitals, houses of refuge, or other 
establishments of public charity. These excluded classes, 
however, did not embrace appointees of the general or depart- 
mental government not domiciled in the place of official 
destination, nor retired soldiers resident in the territory of the 
respective ayuntamiento, and not supported exclusively by 
means of pensions. 

Under these laws the ayuntamiento was subordinated to 
the sub-prefect of the partido in which its pueblo lay, and 
through the sub-prefect to the prefect of the district and to 

16 The EstahUshment of Municipal Government [86 

the governor of the department. Its functions were the care 
of the public heahh and accommodation, to watch over 
prisons, hospitals, and benevolent institutions that were not 
of private foundation, primary schools sustained by public 
funds, the construction and repair of bridges, highways, and 
roads, the raising and expenditure of public moneys from 
taxes, licenses, and the rents of municipal property ; to pro- 
mote the advancement of agriculture, industry, and commerce, 
and to assist the alcaldes in the preservation of peace and 
public order among the inhabitants.^ 

The alcaldes were required to maintain good order and 
public tranquillity ; to watch over the execution and fulfil- 
ment of the police regulations, and of the laws, decrees, and 
orders communicated to them by the sub-prefects, or by the 
prefects in want of the sub-prefects ; to ask from the military 
commanders the armed force which they might need, or to 
organize the citizens for their own defense ; to secure the arrest 
and trial of the oifenders; to see that the citizens subsist by 
useful occupations, and to reprehend idlers, vagrants, persons 
without any fixed place of abode, or any known employment; 
to impose executively a fine to the amount of twenty-five 
dollars on all disturbers of the peace, or to condemn them 
for four days to the public works, or to cause them to be 
arrested for double that period ; governing themselves accord- 
ing to the circumstances of the individuals, and giving them 
a hearing summarily and verbally if they demanded it ; but 
with respect to offenses which have a penalty affixed to them 
by law, the legal dispositions remaining in force were to be 
observed. The alcaldes, moreover, assisted and voted at the 
sessions of the ayuntamiento, and presided over them in the 
order of their appointment, when neither the prefect nor sub- 
prefect was present, the presiding alcalde deciding in the case 
of a tie vote. Temporary vacancies in the office of alcalde 
were filled by the regidores in the order of their election.^ 

» Constitution of 1836, Part VT, Art. 25. 
•Law of March 20, 1837, Arts. 166-176. 

87] In San Francisco, 17 

The immediate government of towns deprived of ayunta- 
mientos by the legislation of 1836 and 1837 was to be in the 
hands of justices of the peace, the number for each town 
being fixed by the departmental council, with the concurrence 
of the governor. They were to be appointed by the prefect 
of the district, on the recommendation of the respective sub- 
prefect. It was required that they should be Mexican citi- 
zens over twenty-five years of age, and residents of the towns 
for which they were appointed. In every place of at least a 
thousand inhabitants, the justices of the peace, in subjection 
to the sub-prefect, and through him to the superior authori- 
ties, had essentially the same powers and obligations as the 
ayuntamientos ; and these justices of the peace, as well as 
those of places with less than a thousand inhabitants, had, 
moreover, the powers and obligations conferred by this law 
upon the alcaldes.^ 

Prior to 1834, there had been no ayuntamiento or common 
council at San Francisco. Captain Benjamin Morell, who 
visited the town in 1825, described it as "built in the same 
manner as Monterey, but much smaller, comprising only about 
one hundred and twenty houses and a church, with perhaps 
five hundred inhabitants.'* This estimate was probably largely 
in excess of the real number at that time ;^ for the census made 
in 1842 gives one hundred and ninety-six as the total popula- 
tion of the town at this date, seventeen years after Captain 
MorelPs visit; and in June, 1847, it amounted to only four 
hundred and fifty-nine, three hundred and twenty-one of whom 
were males, and one hundred and thirty-eight females. 

The government of this town or pueblo, before 1834, was 
in the hands of the territorial governor and the military com- 
mandant of the presidio. The former imposed license fees, 
and taxes, and the latter acted as a judge of first instance. 
Finally, in November of this year, the territorial governor, 

»Law of March 20, 1837, ArU. 177-191. 
•Dwinelle's "Colonial History," 41. 

18 The Establishment of Municipal Government [8S 

Jos6 Figueroa, wrote to the military commandant of San 
Francisco, stating that the territorial council had ordered the 
partido of San Francisco, which " embraced all Contra Costa, 
Sonoma, San Rafael, and, on this side of the bay, the whole 
of the present county of San Francisco," ^ to proceed to the 
election of a constitutional ayuntamiento, which should reside 
in the presidio of that name, and be composed of an alcalde, 
two r^idores, and a syndico, in accordance with the existing 
laws. It was ordered, moreover, that an account of the elec-* 
tion should " be given by the proper way to the supreme gov- 
ernment for the due approbation." By the same communica- 
tion the commandant was informed that the ayuntamiento, 
when installed, would exercise the political functions with 
which he had been charged; and the alcalde, the judicial 
functions which the laws, in lieu of a proper judge, had con- 
ferred upon him. The commandant was to be confined 
strictly to the functions of his military command.^ It was 
proposed by this order to separate the military and civil 
power, and to bestow the latter upon a local organization. 
It "\tas a "change of the former military government, which 
the commandant of the presidio had exercised, into a civil 
government for the same district."^ This local government 
was what has been called an ayuntamiento aggregate, and 
was formed " for the purpose of giving a municipal govern- 
ment to those small populations of the partido which would 
not otherwise have an ayuntamiento." * It embraced under 
its jurisdiction, as already suggested, not only the inhabitants 
of the peninsula, but also those of the other side of the bay.* 

* " Documents, Depositions, and Brief of Law Points raised thereon on 
behalf of the United States, before the U. S. Board of Land Commissioners." 
San Francisco, 1854, p. 67. 

'Figueroa to the Military Commandant of San Francisco, Monterey, 
November 4, 1834. See Dwindle, Addenda, No. xxi. 

• " Documents, Depositions, and Brief," p. 67. 

* Dwinelle's " Colonial History," 48. 

'Governor Jos^ Figueroa wrote from Monterey, January 31, 1835, to 
the alcalde of San Francisco, as follows: "The appointment you have 

89] In San Francisco, 19 

As to the significance of this change, the opinion of the 
majority of the United States Land Commission for California 
is unequivocal : "After a careful examination of the whole 
testimony on this point, and the law applicable to the sub- 
ject, we are brought to the conclusion that the effect of the 
proceedings of the territorial authorities in 1834, as shown by 
the official records and documents for the establishment of 
the ayuntamiento at the presidio of San Francisco, and the 
subsequent organization of that body in conformity therewith, 
was to erect the presidio into a pueblo or town, with all the 
civil and territorial rights which attached to such corporations 
under the Mexican laws then in force." ^ 

The meeting for the election of electors, the junta primaria, 
was held on the first Sunday in December, 1834. On the 
third Sunday of the same month the electors chose the mem- 
bers of the ayuntamiento, which was installed January 1, 
1835. The election was held at the house of the commandant 
of the presidio, and the voters came from the several places 
already indicated as embraced within the jurisdiction of the 
partido. Their eagerness to participate in the election is 
explained by their anxiety to get rid of the military authority. 
After the organization of the ayuntamiento, the records or 
archives were kept in a desk in one of the rooms at the 
presidio, where the meetings were held. But the place of 
meeting, whether at the presidio, the mission, or the village 
of Yerba Buena, is not a matter of importance, since all were 
within the limits of a common jurisdiction. 

Not long after this organization of the partido was effected, 
the government concluded, from a census of the town, that, 
under the law of May 23, 1812, which was still considered 
to be in force, San Francisco itself was entitled to an ayunta- 

made in favor of the citizen Gregorio Briones, as auxiliary alcalde in Con- 
tra Coeta, seems to be very well, and consequently has my approval. I say 
thb to you in answer to your official note on the matter, of the 22d ultimo." 
^ City of San Francisco t». The United States. 

20 The Establishment of Municipal Government [90 

miento, and therefore ordered the commandant to cause to be 
elected one alcalde, two regidores, and one syndico ; in other 
words, the officers prescribed by law for towns of more than 
fifty, and less than two hundred inhabitants. The census 
which was the basis of this conclusion probably included not 
only the population at the Presidio^ and the Mission, but also 
that at other points on the northern part of the peninsula. 
San Francisco appears not to have been specifically the Pre- 
sidio, the Mission, or Yerba Buena, but to have comprehended 
them all ; for during seven years after the establishment of 
the government of San Francisco, the offices of this govern- 
ment were at diffisrent times indiffijrently at the Presidio, at 
the Mission, and at Yerba Buena, and still it remained 
throughout the government of San Francisco. 

In accordance with the governor's order, addressed to the 
commandant, a primary election of nine electors was held 
December 13, 1835. This election, like the first, was held 
at the house of the commandant. On the 27th of the same 
month, the electors met for the purpose of electing one alcalde 
and" the other officers ; and thus was constituted the first ayun- 
tamiento of the pueblo of San Francisco, which superseded 
the ayuntamiento of the partido. Of this government, Dwi- 
nelle says : " Instead of being an aggregated ayuntamiento, 
composed of small populations in the partido, it was an ayun- 
tamiento of the pueblo, to which various small populations of 
the partido were aggregated ; "^ or, as he has elsewhere styled 
it, a composite ayuntamiento. The town government thus 
established was endowed with those powers which, under 
the Spanish laws of 1812, belonged to the fully organized 

* According to Francisco Sanchez, who was the commandant at the Pre- 
sidio in 1838, the only persons residing here at this time were Candelario 
Miranda, Joaquin Pina, and Eusebio Soto. Pina was a corporal of artillery, 
and Soto was a private. Antonio Soto and Apolonario Miranda lived on 
lots near the Presidio, at the left of the road going from Yerba Buena to 
the Presidio. 

»"Col. Hi8t.,"51. 

91] In San Francisco, 21 

pueblo, and it was continued in existence by virtue of these 

When, however, the Constitution of 1836 came into opera- 
tion in California, it led to important changes in municipal 
affairs. Exce|)t capitals of departments and places which 
were regarded as pueblos before 1808, no town of less than 
four thousand inhabitants was permitted to have an ayunta- 
miento. Under this law, the government which had been 
set up at San Francisco in 1835 was abolished. The ayunta- 
miento elected January 8, 1838, appears to have been the last 
one constituted in this town before the Constitution of 1836, 
as supplemented by the law of March 20, 1837, came into full 
operation. In his message of February 16, 1840, the gov- 
ernor announced that " there is no ayuntamiento whatever in 
the department; for, there being no competent number of 
inhabitants in any of the towns, as provided by the constitu- 
tion, those then existing had to be dissolved ; and only in the 
capital there ought to be one of such bodies." ^ Having, then, 
documentary evidence of the election of an ayuntamiento, on 
January 8, 1838, and the statement of the governor that no 
ayuntamiento existed here in February, 1840, it is clear that 
it must have ceased to exist at some point between these two 
dates. The government then passed into the hands of justices 
of the peace, who were provided, in towns of less than four 
thousand inhabitants, with the powers and functions of alcaldes 
and ayuntamientos. 

It is not to be supposed that the people of San Francisco, 
in electing an ayuntamiento, in January, 1838, were acting in 
conscious violation of a law which deprive<l them of this 
privilege. Their action is rather to be explained by the fact 
that, although the constitution was promulgated at the end of 
1836, and the supplementary law regarding the internal gov- 
ernment of the departments was passed the following March, 
no information of these events had reached San Francisco 

> DwineUe, " Col. Hiat.," Addenda, No. I, p. 70. • 

22 The Establishment of Municipal Government [92 

prior to the date of this last election. That delay like this 
was not unusual, may be seen from the fact that certain elec- 
tion laws, passed by the supreme government November 30, 
1836, were not received and proclaimed in California till 
January, 1839, and also from the statement of De Mofras, 
that "official despatches were often a year in the passage 
between California and Mexico."^ 

Although San Francisco was, at this time, deprived of its 
council, it did not relinquish its character as a pueblo. 
" Accordingly, we find that when the pueblo of San Fran- 
cisco, after the American conquest of California, attained the 
requisite population, it again elected its ayuntamiento, not 
under any provisions of the laws of the conquerors, but under 
these very provisions of the Mexican constitution of 1836, 
under which the ayuntamiento of the pueblo was suspended 
in 1839.''^ 

In 1839, San Francisco had been founded more than sixty 
years; still it was without a jail, from which it is to be 
inferred that but little progress had been made in civilization. 
Finding the criminal Galindo on their hands, the inhabitants 
of San Francisco, through Justice De Haro, asked of the 
governor that he might be sent to San Jos^, which was 
already provided with a prison. Besides the lack of a jail, 
another reason for the request was that the inhabitants of the 
place were scattered, each having his agricultural and stock 
interests at a great distance from the town, so that there were 
very few remaining to guard the criminal, and these could 
not spare the time from their personal business. 

The law under which the governmental power of San 
Francisco was transferred to justices of the peace, made no 
provision in towns not entitled to have ayuntamientos for a 
syndico, or an officer known as sindico procurador ; yet, on 
July 20, 1839, Francisco Guerrero, justice of the peace at San 

1 Vol. I, p. 222. See Hittell, I, 542. 
» Dwindle, " Col. Hist.," 64. 

93] In San Francisco, 23 

Francisco, proposed to the prefect of the first district to 
appoint Don Juan Fuller as a sindico procurador for this 
place, " for the better management of the municipal rents." 
Fuller appears to have been appointed, for there exists an 
account made out by Don Juan Fuller as sindico of the 
municipality of San Francisco, embracing the period between 
August, 1839, and January, 1842. This office was continued 
to the last year of Mexican dominion. In order to relieve the 
justices of the peace, and to enable them to devote themselves 
to the duties peculiar to their office, Governor Micheltorena, 
on November 14, 1843, ordered the election of two alcaldes 
in San Francisco, and in each of several other towns of the 
department. By this order it was required that the election 
should be indirect; that seven electors should be chosen on 
the second Sunday of December, who should meet on the 
following Friday to elect the alcaldes. The newly elected 
officers were required to go into office on the 1st day of Janu- 
ary, 1844, the first alcaldes to perform the duties of judges of 
first instance, and to take charge of the prefectures of the 
respective districts. The first alcalde appointed by this elec- 
tion was Guillermo Hinckley. The election of the following 
December resulted in the appointment of Juan N. Padilla, 
who took the customary oath, and entered upon the duties of 
his office January 1, 1846. On July 7, 1846, that portion of 
California which embraces San Francisco passed under the 
dominion of the United States. 

Foreseeing the outbreak of hostilities between Mexico and 
the United States, George Bancroft, Secretary of the Navy, 
under date of June 24, 1845, sent a secret and confidential 
communication to Commodore John D. Sloat, then in com- 
mand of the United States naval forces in the Pacific, and 
called his attention particularly to the existing relations 
between this country and Mexico. " It is the earnest desire 
of the President," he wrote, " to pursue the policy of peace ; 
and he is anxious that you, and every part of your squadron, 
should be assiduously careful to avoid any act which could be 

24 The Establishment of Municipal Government [94 

construed as an act of aggression. Should Mexico, however, 
be resolutely bent on hostilities, you will be mindful to pro- 
tect the persons and interests of citizens of the United States 
near your station ; and should you ascertain, beyond a doubt,. 
that the Mexican government has declared war against us, 
you will at once employ the force under your command to 
the best advantage. The Mexican ports on the Pacific are 
said to be open and defenseless. If you ascertain with cer- 
tainty that Mexico has declared war against the United 
States, you will at once possess yourself of the port of San 
Francisco, and blockade or occupy such other ports as your 
force may permit. Yet, even if you should find yourself 
called upon, by the certainty of an express declaration of war 
against the United States, to occupy San Francisco and other 
Mexican ports, you will be careful to preserve, if possible, 
the most friendly relations with the inhabitants, and where 
you can do so, you will encourage them to adopt a course of 
neutrality." In a subsequent order to Commodore Sloat, 
issued after the beginning of hostilities, the Secretary wrote r 
" You will consider the most important object to be, to take 
and to hold possession of San Francisco ; and this you will 
do without fail."^ The occasion for acting under these orders 
came in 1846. Having received at Mazatlan the information 
that the Mexican troops had, by order of the Mexican gov- 
ernment, invaded the territory of the United States, and 
attacked the forces under General Taylor, Commodore Sloat 
sailed on the 8th of June, in the " Savannah," for the coast 
of California, to execute the order of June 24, 1845. They 
arrived at Monterey July 2, 1846, and on the 7th of the same 
month took possession of the town, raised the standard of the 
Union, and issued to the inhabitants of California a procla- 
mation announcing the designs of the government of the 
United States, at the same time pointing out the grounds of 
hope for the people under the new rule. In order that the 

^ Geo. Bancroft to Com. John D. Sloat, May 15, 1846. 

95] In San Francisco, 26 

public tranquillity might not be disturbed, the judges, alcaldes 
and other civil officers were invited to execute their functions 
as heretofore ; at least, until more definite arrangements could 
be made for the government of the territory. Assurance was, 
moreover, given that "all persons holding titles to real estate, 
or in quiet possession of land under color of right," should 
have those titles guaranteed to them ; and that " all churches 
and the property they contain, in possession of the clergy of 
California," should continue in their existing rights and pos- 

In the meantime, the " Portsmouth " was at San Francisco 
awaiting orders, which were received by Commodore Mont- 
gomery on the evening of July 8. At 7 o'clock the following 
morning, he hoisted the American flag at San Francisco, 
issued Commodore Sloat's proclamation, and took possession 
of the region in the name of the United States. 

The result of these events, when confirmed by the peace 
between Mexico and the United States, was to transfer the 
sovereign power over this region from the Mexican gov- 
ernment to the government of the United States; but the 
existing laws and machinery of local government were 
temporarily maintained, and Lieutenant Washington A. 
Bartlett was appointed by Montgomery as the first alcalde 
of San Francisco under the new regime. 


The law of 1836, by which San Francisco was deprived of 
its ayuntamiento in 1889, left the governmental power of the 
municipality in the hands of justices of the peace. But when 
California passed under the dominion of the United States, 
the rooet important officer in the municipal government of 
San Francisco was the alcalde. This change had been effected 
by the order of Governor Micheltorena, in 1843, acting "with 
the extraordinary jwwers conferred on him by the President 

26 The Establishment of Municipal Goveimment [96 

under the Basis of Tacubaya.'* ^ Monterey and Los Angeles 
were required to elect ayuntamientos, each composed of two 
alcaldes, four regidores, and one sindico. The other towns 
were required to elect " two alcaldes of first and second nomi- 
nation." " They were to enter upon their duties the first of 
the following January, and in addition to the judicial powers 
of the ordinary alcaldes and the political powers of the pre- 
fects, they were to exercise the powers and obligations which 
the ayuntamientos have." * 

Under the Mexican regime alcaldes possessed the powers 
and jurisdiction of judges of first instance, and it is believed 
that no other judges of first instance were appointed or held 
office in California at this time.^ The alcaldes, to a great 
extent, both made and enforced the law ; " at least, they paid 
but little regard either to American or Mexican law further 
than suited their own convenience, and conduced to their own 
profit."* The alcalde, as well as the justice of the peace, usu- 
ally exercised judicial, but sometimes political, functions.* 
His judicial functions were relatively prominent when his 
office existed in union with an ayuntamiento. The writers of 
the "Annals of San Francisco," speaking evidently from the 
experience of their own city, assign to the alcalde the entire 

» Cal. Rep., iii, 449. 

»Cal. Rep., 15, 558. 

' " By the articles 26, 27, and 28 of a decree made on the second day of 
March, 1843, alcaldes and justices of the peace in the departments of Cali- 
fornia, New Mexico, and Tabasco, were empowered to perform the func- 
tions of Judges of First Instance in those districts in which there were no 
judges of tirst instance." "There was no Judge of First Instance in the 
district of San Francisco." Cal. Rep., i, 220, 508. 

* Cal. Rep., i, Pref. vii. 

* Dwindle, v. Bondelier, in his " Tour in Mexico," speaks of a military 
function which the alcalde also exercised : " Still there existed, as late as 
1587, a war-captain (capitan de la guerra) of Cholula. That officer was at 
the same time Alcalde (Justice). It is probable that, under the influence 
of two centuries of constant peace, the latter office prevailed, and the war- 
captain completely disappears." p. 154. 

97] In San Francisco, 27 

control of the municipal affairs, and an administration of jus- 
tice " pretty much according to his own ideas of the subject ; 
without being tied down to precedents and formal principles 
of law."^ A contemporary account of the functions of the 
alcalde, published in The California Star, April 17, 1847, 
agrees essentially with the foregoing. " There being no law 
defining the powers and duties of the alcaldes, it is impossible 
for them to know of what subjects they have cognizance, or 
over what extent of country they have jurisdiction. By 
some, who pretend to be well versed in the invisible laws of 
California, it is insisted that the jurisdiction of the alcaldes 
extends to no matters of difference where the amount in con- 
troversy exceeds one hundred dollars, and that each is con- 
fined to his particular district, in his judicial acts. Others 
urge, that as to amount their jurisdiction is unlimited, and 
that the alcaldes who resided at the principal towns, have 
both appellate and original jurisdiction throughout the entire 
department in which they reside." A specific limitation, 
however, was set to the alcalde's power by Mason's circular, 
dated at Monterey, August 23, 1847. By this the alcalde 
was forbidden to perform the marriage ceremony where either 
of the parties was a member of the Catholic Church in Cali- 
fornia, the object of this limitation being "to secure to the 
Californians the full enjoyment of their religion and religious 
privileges." But in spite of such limitations, there remained 
abundant ground of dissatisfaction. The grievances fre- 
quently found expression in The Chlifomia Star, "When 
California was taken possession of," it was said editorially on 
June 19, 1847, " it was the duty of our rulers to have con- 
tinued in existence the laws of Mexico ; this was proclaimed 

*"The Annals of San Francisco." By Frank Soul^, John H. Qihon, 
and James Nisbet. 179. In a conversation between Wilkes and Don 
Pedro, alcalde of San Jos^, Wilkes asked the alcalde " by which law he 
administered justice ; his answer was — by what he thought right." Wilkes, 
"Expedition," v. 208. 

28 The Establishment of Municipal Government [98 

by Commodore Stockton, but never put in operation. For 
example, one of the laws of the Republic is, that there shall 
be an alcalde's court established in each particular neighbor- 
hood, a district court in each of the three districts, to which 
api)eals may be taken from the alcaldes, and a court of appeals 
at Monterey, to which appeals may be taken from the district 
courts. This law has been annulled, and instead of this 
organization, we have alcaldes all over the country, who 
claim original and ultimate jurisdiction over all matters of 
difference between citizens, of whatever amount, and if either 
party feels dissatisfied with their decisions, he goes in person 
to the governor, makes an ex parte statement of the case, and 
obtains a stay of proceedings, or reversal of the judgment, as 
the will of the military commandant may dictate. Or, if a 
culprit be sentenced to hard labor, or imprisonment, and is 
sent to Monterey for punishment, to the Rev. Puissant-Coke, 
alcalde of that renowned burg, he dismisses him to the field 
of his former crimes, with the godly admonition, * Go, and 
sin no more.' The thief pays bis fee and re-enters upon the 
duties of his profession." 

Under Spanish and Mexican laws, it was provided that the 
alcalde, in all cases of a civil nature, which might be termin- 
ated by an agreement of the parties, should " require concilia- 
tory measures to be tried until they should result either in a 
satisfactory arrangement or in the entire failure to accomplish 
a reconciliation."^ One of the alcalde's most important func- 
tions is, therefore, to act as mediator between parties in dis- 
pute. Cases which may come under the jurisdiction of the 
judge of the district shall be presented to the competent 
alcalde, who, with two good men, one nominated by each 
party, shall hear them both, take account of their affirma- 
tions, and, having heard the opinions of the two associates, 
shall within eight days at the most announce the terms of 
conciliation which appear to him proper to terminate the 

» Cal. Rep., i, 60, 61. 

99] In San Francisco, 29 

litigation without further progress. If the parties acquiesce 
in this judgment, the case is thereby ended, and the result is 
noted in a book. 

The four years between the appointment of Lieutenant 
Bartlett to be the first alcalde of San Francisco, under the 
authority of the United States, and the adoption of the first 
charter under the constitution of California, constitute a period 
of transition, a period in which the city was seeking a foun- 
dation for its government. Mr. Bartlett held the office of 
alcalde from July 9, 1846, to February 22, 1847, but during 
about a month of this time, subsequent to the 20th of Decem- 
ber, he was a prisoner in the hands of the Mexican Califor- 
nians ; and during his absence George Hyde, by the appoint- 
ment of Captain J. B. Hull, performed the duties of the office. 
Mr. Bartlett resigned in order to return to his naval duties, 
and after his resignation General Kearney appointed Edwin 
Bryant as his successor. 

A short time before he resigned, Mr. Bartlett was publicly 
charged by C. E. Pickett with misappropriating funds belong- 
ing to the town. In reply to this charge, he demanded of 
Capt. J. B. Hull, then commanding the Northern District of 
California, that a commission of inquiry should examine into 
the state of the accounts of his office.^ In accordance with 
this request. Captain Hull appointed W. D. M. Howard, 
William A. Leidesdorff, and Francisco Guerrero a committee 
to make the investigation, " with a view to ascertain, whether 
any of the funds of the office have been applied to any object, 
other than the proper expenses belonging to it, and if so, 
what amount, and by whose authority, and also, whether 
there is a deficiency in the funds, not properly accounted for."* 
The result of this examination was embodied in the com- 

» Wwhington A. Bartlett to Joseph B. Hall, July 12, 1847. See Th« 
Oadifomia Star, January 23, 1847. 

Joseph B. Hull to Howard, Leidesdorff, and Guerrero, January 16, 1847. 
See The Chlifomia SUw, January 23, 1847. 

30 The Establishment of Municipal Government [100 

mittee's report completely exonerating the alcalde from the 
charge of misapplying the funds of his office. Mr. Bartlett 
was, therefore, directed by Captain Hull to resume the duties 
of alcalde, which in the meantime had been performed by Mr. 
Hyde.^ The report of this commission is also important 
as showing the actual receipts of the municipal funds from 
the 15th of August to the 11th of December, 1846, which 
amounted to five hundred dollars and twenty-five cents 
($500.25), besides a port fund of two hundred and forty-six 
dollars and seventy-five cents ($246.75). The principal 
source of this revenue was the business transacted in the 
alcalde's office. Another source was an annual license fee 
of ten dollars for the sale of liquors, and a small amount was 
also " received on account of lots unoccupied or taken up in 

Mr. Bryant remained in office only till the first of June, 
1847, when he resigned; but he appears to have remained 
long enough to gain the good opinion of his fellow-citizens. 
George Hyde was appointed by General Kearney to succeed 
Mr. Bryant. During his period of office, Mr. Hyde found 
that the business of the local government had increased to 
such an extent that its proper management was beyond his 
unaided ability ; he therefore, on the 28th of July, selected 
six gentlemen to assist him. These were William A. Leides- 
dorff, Robert A. Parker, Jos6 P. Thompson, Pedro T. Sher- 
reback, John Rose, and Benjamin R. Buckalew. They were 
called the ayuntamiento, or town council, although not con- 
stituted in the manner provided by law for establishing that 
body. They were to remain in office until superseded by 
members elected under an order by the governor. An ordi- 
nance providing for such an election was issued by Governor 

' J. B. Hull to W. A. Bartlett, January 18, 1847. See The California Star, 
January 23, 1847. 

* The report was dated January 16, 1847, and was printed in The Cali- 
fornia Star, January 30, 1847. 

101] In San Francisco, 31 

Mason on the 15th of August. It cites the need of a more 
efficient government, and indicates the principal features of 
that about to be established. "There is wanted/' he says, 
"in San Francisco^ an efficient town government, more so 
than is in the power of an alcalde to put in force. There 
may be soon expected a large number of whalers in your bay, 
and a large increase of your population by the arrival of 
immigrants. It is therefore highly necessary that you should 
at an early day have an efficient town police, proper town 
laws, town officers, etc., for enforcement of the laws, for the 
preservation of order, and for the proper protection of persons 
and property. 

" I therefore desire that you call a town meeting for the 
election of six persons, who, when elected, shall constitute the 
town council, and who, in conjunction with the alcalde, shall 
constitute the town authorities until the end of the year 1848. 

" All the municipal laws and regulations will be framed by 
the council, but executed by the alcalde in his judicial capacity 
as at present. 

" The first alcalde will preside at all meetings of the council, 
but shall have no vote, except in cases where the votes are 
equally divided. 

" The town council (not less than four of whom shall con- 
stitute a quorum for the transaction of business) shall appoint 
all the town officers, such as treasurer, constables, watchmen, 
etc., and determine their pay, fees, etc. 

" The treasurer shall enter into ample and sufficient bonds, 
conditioned for the faithful j>erformance of his duties; the 
bonds to be fully executed to the satisfaction of the council 
before the treasurer enters upon his duties. 

" The second alcalde shall, in case of the absence of the first 
alcalde, take his place and preside at the council, and tliere 
perform all the proper functions of the first alcalde. 

' This name Bupereedes that of Yerba Buena in accordance with Bart- 

32 The Establishment of Municipal Govemmefrd [102 

" No soldier, sailor or marine, nor any person who is not a 
hmd fide resident of the town shall be allowed to vote for a 
member of the town council/' 

Under this order, the alcalde, Mr. Hyde gave notice on the 
30th of August, 1847, that there would be an election for six 
members of a town council for San Francisco, and that this 
election would be held at the alcalde's office on Monday, the 
13th of September. In this notice it was ordered that the 
polls should be open from 12 to 2 o'clock, but later the time 
was extended so that the polls might remain open from 10 
A. M. to 4 P. M. According to the governor's order, voting 
was to be confined to ^^ bond fide residents of the town" ; but 
it was found to be somewhat difficult to determine the exact 
limits of this definition. Of the population of the town at 
the time there exists no accurate account. In June, however, 
it was set down at four hundred and fifty-nine, of whom three 
hundred and twenty-one were males, and one hundred and 
thirty-eight females. But more than one hundred of the 
males were under twenty-one years of age, leaving somewhat 
over two hundred persons entitled by age and sex to vote. 
When the vote had been taken, it was found that precisely 
two hundred ballots had been cast for more than thirty dif- 
ferent candidates. There appears to have been no efficient 
system of nomination, and in counting the vote the six per- 
sons who had received the highest numbers were declared 
elected. These were: William Glover, with 126 votes; W. 
D. M. Howard, with 114 votes; W. A. Leidesdorff, with 109 
votes ; E. P. Jones, with 88 votes ; Robt. A. Parker, with 
74 votes ; and W. S. Clark, with 72 votes. 

At the first meeting of this council, held September 16, 
1847, W. A. Leidesdorff was elected town treasurer, and it 
was agreed that the clerk of the alcalde's office should act as 
secretary of the council, and for his services receive a suitable 
compensation. Messrs. Howard, Jones, and Clark were con- 
stituted a committee "to form a code of laws for the regulation 
of the affairs of the town." The result of their work was 

103] In San Francisco, 38 

presented at the next meeting, held September 21, in the form 
of a body of rules for the government of the council. These 
rules being adopted, provided that the regular meetings of the 
council should be held on Monday evening, at seven o'clock, 
of each week until a different time should be agreed upon 
by a majority of all the members. Every motion, resolution, 
or other proposition was required to be put in writing and 
distinctly read, before any discussion on it would be allowed. 
After sufficient deliberation, the vote should be taken by the 
alcalde viva voce. The alcalde should decide all questions of 
order, from whose decision an appeal might be taken to the 
members present, in which case a majority deciding against 
the alcalde, his decision should be reversed. The alcalde's 
connection with the council was merely that of a presiding 
officer empowered to give "a casting vote in case of a tie." 
He could " not participate in the discussion of any subject, or 
give an opinion thereon." Any two members might call a 
meeting of the council at any time, provided that at least 
twelve hours previous notice were given by the secretary in 

At this meeting there was also adopted an ordinance making 
each member of the council a " conservator of the peace within 
the limits of the town." He might issue any process necessary 
to preserve the peace and morals of the place, upon application 
or when he might deem it proper to do so. Such process was 
made returnable to the alcalde, and was to " be charged and 
regarded by the alcalde as if it had been issued by himself." 

Not long after its organization, the council resolved itself 
into a "committee of the whole to wait upon the governor to 
learn his views upon the duties of the council." * In reply to 
this request. Governor Mason wrote " that the jurisdiction of 
the present town council of San Francisco is confined to the 
limits of the town survey, the boundaries of which I have 
instructed the alcalde to have marked as soon as convenient." 

1 The Califomianf September 29, 1847. 


34 The Establishment of Municipal Government [104 

On a second point, he informs them that the duties of the 
council were prospective, not retrospective, that they could 
" not impair the obligation of contracts entered into by the 
previous town authorities, nor take jurisdiction of the actions 
or conduct of such authorities, further than to modify or repeal 
any law or ordinance created by the previous government and 
now in force which they might deem inconsistent with the 
interest of the community."^ In this communication the 
governor strongly recommended that whatever expenses might 
be contemplated, " the town be kept perfectly free of debt." 

Mr. Hyde had never been a popular magistrate. Frequent 
charges against him found their way to the public, and the 
governor had been several times petitioned to remove him. 
Finally, in this letter to the council, he authorizes that body 
to make a thorough investigation of these charges, and report 
to him the facts, together with their opinion. This action of 
the governor gave general satisfaction, but of the nine charges 
made against the alcalde, the investigation resulted in estab- 
lishing only two, and these were not deemed by the governor 
adequate ground for removal from office. But the indignant 
populace demanded their victim, and Mr. Hyde saw fit to 
resign April 3, 1848. During the administration of Mr. Hyde 
Governor Mason had appointed T. M. Leavenworth to the 
otece of second alcalde of San Francisco, and now on the res- 
ignation of the first alcalde, Mr. John Townsend was appointed 
to fill the vacancy. 

By an ordinance passed September 28, 1847, the chief police 
force of the town was made to consist of two elected constables, 
who should " perform all duties required of other ministerial 
officers within the town, who should faithfully execute all 
processes directed to them in accordance with law, and make 
due returns thereof," and who should " strictly enforce and 
obey every law, ordinance and resolution passed by the coun- 

* R. B. Mason to the Town Council, Elect, of San Francisco, October 1, 
1847. See The Cali/omian, October 6, 1847. 

105] In San Francisco, 35 

oil." The constables were to " receive for the service of any 
writ or other process, one dollar, to be paid out of the fines 
imposed upon cases, one dollar for the service of any writ or 
other process, to be paid by the defeated party, also ten cents 
per mile for every mile which they might travel to serve any 
writ or other process beyond the limits of the town." * 

While San Francisco was thus making progress towards a 
well-ordered local government, it was suddenly stricken as 
with a plague.* On the 19th of January, 1848, gold was dis- 
covered on the north fork of the American river. It required 
several weeks to spread the news of the discovery, and still 
longer to convince the unsuspecting inhabitants that a vast 
treasure had been revealed. But when the real significance of 
the revelation dawned on the public mind, it produced a wild 
frenzy of desire to participate in the harvest of gold. San 
Francisco, which had already become the leading town of the 
territory, was a scene of sudden desolation. Its houses were 
left unoccupied and unprotected ; its former trade ceased ; its 
lots fell to a small part of their earlier value ; its two news- 
papers, The Californian and The California Star,^ were sus- 
pended in May and June ; and the town, deserted by the bulk 
of its inhabitants, was at one time without a single oflficer 
clothed with civil authority. It is asserted, moreover, that at 
one time only five men were left in the town. But when the 
news had spread to the other side of the country, and to other 
lands, and the Argonauts began to find their way through the 
Golden Gate, the opportunities of trade at San Francisco 
brought the town once more into active existence. 

In the beginning of October, 1848, the town had so far 
revived as to be able to hold an election. Dr. T. M. Leaven- 

* See The Oadifomian, October 6, 1847. 

' " Master and man alike hurried to the plaeeret, leaving San Francisoo, 
like a place where the plague reigns, forsaken bj its old inhabitants, a 
melancholy solitude." Annals, 204. 

• The CkUi/omian was suspended May 29, 1848, and The Oalifomia Star 
June 14, 1848. The Chiifomian was revived on the 15th of July. 

36 The Establishynent of Municipal Government [10& 

worth was a second time chosen first alcalde, and B. R. 
Buckalew and Barton Mowrey were elected town councillors^ 
At this election one hundred and fifty-eight votes were polled. 
On the 9th of October, the town council met for the first time 
since May, and adjourned to the 11th, when the limits of the 
town for the administration of justice were defined. The 
boundary as given in the resolution was: "That the line 
shall commence at the mouth of Creek Guadalupe, where it 
empties into the Bay of San Francisco, following the course 
of said stream to its head waters ; from thence a due west 
line to the Pacific Ocean ; thence northwards along the coast 
to the inlet to the harbor of the bay; thence eastwardly,. 
through the middle of the said inlet into the Bay of San 
Francisco, and embracing the entire anchorage ground from 
the inlet to the mouth of the Creek Guadalupe."^ 

In accordance with Mason^s order the first elected town 
council was to remain in power until the end of the year 
1848. On the 27th of December, the town council for 184^ 
was elected, the number of votes cast being three hundred 
and forty-seven. The members elected were Stephen C. 
Harris, W. D. M. Howard, George C. Hubbard, Robert 
A. Parker, Thomas J. Roach, John Sirrine, and John Town- 
send. The old town council of 1848 was opposed to the 
continuance of the new one, because a certain number of 
unqualified persons had voted at the election, and therefore 
ordered a new election. On the 15th of January, 1849, 
another town council was consequently elected, composed of 
Stephen C. Harris, Lazarus Everhart, Stephen A. Wright, 
Daniel Storks, Isaac Montgomery, John Sirrine, and C. E. 
Wetmore, two of the members being common to this and the 
council elected in December. There were thus three town 
councils claiming an authoritative existence. That elected in 
December denied entirely the right of the old council to 
further power, while that in turn acknowledged the town 


107] In San Francisco, 37 

council elected in January, and proposed to transfer to it 
the municipal records. 

The confusion which was here manifest in the local affairs 
of San Francisco, was only an index of the attitude into which 
the inhabitants of California had everywhere fallen. They 
appeared to be without any recognized political status. They 
believed that they could not safely wait for Congress to give 
them a government, and therefore determined to form one for 
themselves. "Accordingly, attempts were soon severally made 
by the people of San Francisco, Sonoma, and Sacramento, to 
form legislatures for themselves, which they invested with 
supreme authority. Other portions of the country prepared 
to follow the example of the places named." ^ At San Fran- 
cisco, in answer to a previous call, the citizens of the town and 
district held a meeting in the public square, February 12, 
1849.* Myron Norton presided, and T. W. Perkins acted as 
secretary. The object of the meeting having been stated by 
the chairman, Mr. Hyde introduced a plan of organization or 
government for the district of San Francisco, which grew out 
of the "necessity of having some better defined and more per- 
manent civil regulations for our general security than the 
vague, unlimited, and irresponsible authority" which then 
existed. It provided for a legislative assembly for the district 
of San Francisco, consisting of fifteen members, citizens of the 
district, eight of whom should constitute a quorum for the 
transaction of business. The assembly was empowered to 
make such laws as it might deem essential to promote the 
happiness of the people, provided they should not conflict with 

* Annals, 135. 

'The confusion was greatly increased by the incoming tide of population. 
Between January 1 and June 30, 1849, 15,000 persons are said to have been 
added to the population of the country, 10,000 of whom came by sea and 
landed at San Francisco. There were among these only 200 females. The 
second half of the year the arrivals averaged 4,000 a month, and only 500 
females in the whole 24,000. At the close of 1849 the population of San 
Frandsoo was between 20,000 and 25,000. 

38 The Establishment of Municipal Government [108 

the Constitution of the United States, nor be repugnant to the 
common law. To become a law a bill had to be passed by the 
legislative assembly and to be signed by the speaker and the 
recording clerk. It was required, moreover, that the legisla- 
tive assembly should determine its own rules, and keep a 
journal of its proceedings, and that the members should enter 
upon the duties of their office on the first Monday of March. 

In addition to the legislative assembly, the plan proposed 
by Mr. Hyde provided that for the purpose of securing to 
the people a more efficient administration of law and justice, 
there should be elected by ballot three justices of the peace, of 
equal though separate jurisdiction, who should be empowered 
by their commission of office to hear and adjudicate all civil 
and criminal issues in the district, according to the common 
law ; that an election of members of the legislative assembly 
and of justices of the peace should be held on Wednesday^ 
February 21, 1849; and that all should hold office "for the 
term of one year from the date of their commissions, unless 
sooner superseded by the competent authorities from the 
United States government, or by the action of a provisional 
government now invoked by the people of this territory, or 
by the action of the people of this district.'^ In the several 
articles as well as in the oath to be required of officers, the 
supremacy of the Federal government was fully recognized. ^ 

Considering the importance of the matters in hand, the 
action of the meeting appears startlingly sudden. It is diffi- 
cult to find a briefer history of the establishment of a govern- 
ment than that contained in the records of this meeting. 
" Mr. Harris moved the adoption of the plan entire," so runs 
the record, " which was seconded ; when Mr. Buckalew moved 
to supersede the plan of government presented, by submitting 
the subject to a committee to be appointed by the meetings 
and whose duty it should be to report to an adjourned meet- 

^ Executive Document No. 17, House of Rep., Ist Session, Slst Congress,, 
p. 728. 

109] In San Francisco, 39 

ing. Thereupon an animated discussion ensued. Mr. Bucka- 
lew's motion having been seconded, was lost by vote ; when 
the question recurred on the original motion of Mr. Harris, 
which was carried almost unanimously." * By further action 
of the meeting, it was determined that every male resident of 
the age of twenty-one years or upwards, should be entitled to 
vote, and that the members of the town councils claiming 
authority should be requested to resign, and a committee was 
appointed to receive their resignations. 

In accordance with the provisions of this fundamental law, 
an election was held on the 21st of February, when Myron 
Norton, Heron R. Per Lee, and William M. Stewart were 
elected justices of the peace. The members of the legislative 
assembly elected at the same time were Stephen A. Wright, 
Alfred J. Ellis, Henry A. Harrison, Greorge C. Hubbard, 
Greorge Hyde, Isaac Montgomery, William M. Smith, Andrew 
J. Grayson, James Creighton, Robert A. Parker, Thomas J. 
Roach, William F. Swasey, Talbot H. Green, Francis J. 
Lippitt, and George Hawk Lemon. They took the prescribed 
oath, which was administered by Justice Per Lee, and held 
their first meeting on the evening of March 5. At this meet- 
ing the legislative assembly elected Francis J. Lippitt speaker 
and J. Howard Ackerman clerk. In the second and third 
meetings, it completed its organization by adopting rules for 
conducting business, and by appointing a list of standing 

These rules embodied the ordinary provisions for conduct- 
ing business in a parliamentary assembly. The speaker had 
no vote, except in cases of tie, and in cases of ballot. Special 
meetings might be called at any time by the speaker on the 
written application of three members. Every petition or other 
paj)er presented to the assembly was referred to its appro- 
priate standing committ^ as a matter of course, without a 
vote, unless such reference was objected to by some member. 

» Dwindle, " Colonial History." 

40 The Establishment of Municipal Govenvmeni [110 

All resolutions and reports of committees were required to lie 
on the table for consideration till the next meeting. Bills 
were introduced either on the report of a committee or by 
motion for leave, and in the latter case a day's notice of the 
motion was required. Before becoming a law a bill was 
required to be read three times, and after the second read- 
ing it could not be amended by the assembly, except on 
the recommendation of a committee to which at any stage of 
its progress it might be committed. The enacting clause was 
in these words : " The people of the district of San Francisco, 
California, represented in Assembly, do enact as follows : " 
Having passed the assembly a bill required the signatures of 
the speaker and of the recording clerk before it could obtain 
the validity of a law. 

There were five standing committees provided for : a com- 
mittee on ways and means; a committee on the judiciary ; a 
committee on expenditure ; a committee on public health and 
police; a committee on public buildings and improvements. 
These committees were appointed by ballot, one vote being 
taken for the chairman of each committee, and one vote for 
the other members in a body. All other committees were 
appointed by acclamation and a plurality of votes was neces- 
sary for a choice, whereas in the election of a chairman of a 
standing committee, a majority of the whole number of votes 
given was required. 

The meetings of the assembly were held in the school- 
house, generally known at this time as the "Public Insti- 
tute," which appears to have been devoted to various public 
uses. On the 17th of March, the assembly resolved by vote 
" that the Public Institute, by order of this House, be appro- 
priated as a court room temporarily, until suitable accommo- 
dations can be had, unless the same should be wanted for a 
public school ; " and on the 19th a committee of the assembly 
was appointed to inform the Rev. Mr. Hunt that it was at 
his disposal for religious services on Wednesday and Satur- 
day evenings. Prior to the first of November, 1848, there 

Ill] In San Francisco, 41 

had been no regularly established Protestant church at San 
Francisco. Only occasional Protestant services had been held 
there. At this time, however, " the Rev. T. D. Hunt who 
had been invited from Honolulu was chosen Protestant chap- 
lain to the citizens." ^ He was given a salary of twenty-five 
hundred dollars a year to be paid out of subscriptions by the 
people of the town. 

On this evening, moreover, March 19, 1849, Mr. Hubbard 
introduced a bill into the legislative assembly to abolish the 
office of alcalde, which, as amended, came up for a third read- 
ing March 22, and was passed unanimously. It enacted that 
all powers vested in the office of alcalde should cease to be in 
force in the town and district of San Francisco, and the office 
be abolished; and "that Myron Norton, Esq., having received 
the highest number of votes at the election of justices, held on 
the twenty-first of February of the present year, shall be and 
he is hereby appointed, authorized and empowered to act as, 
exercise and execute the power, duty and office of, police mag- 
istrate of the town and district of San Francisco, for the time 
being, and to receive from the alcalde all books, records, papers 
and documents whatsoever relating to his office and belonging 
to the said town and district, in his possession, who shall safely 
keep the same until otherwise directed by this legislative 
assembly." The police magistrate was required by the terms 
of the act to begin the exercise of his duties on the 25th of 
March, 1849, and he was empowered to appoint two or more 
policemen, who might arrest any person upon a warrant issued 
by the magistrate. The police department thus created sup- 
planted the constables, sheriffs, and other officers established 
under the alcalde who, by this act, were declared dismissed. 
Any person "assuming to serve any writ or process" within 
the district, except by order and under the authority of the 
police magistrate and justices, became liable to a fine of one 
hundred dollars ; and any one except the police magistrate and 


42 The Establishment of Municipal Government [112 

the justice of the district assuming to issue any writ or process 
within the district, after the 25th of March, would become 
liable to a fine of not less than one hundred nor more than five 
hundred dollars — one-half of the fine going to the informer, 
and the remainder to the use of the district. To make the 
transfer of power from the alcalde's government to that of the 
legislative assembly complete, it was voted, March 26, that 
the committee of expenditures should " be constituted a select 
committee to audit the accounts of T. M. Leavenworth, the 
late alcalde of this district, and the said district and town of 
San Francisco.'' At the same meeting a bill was passed estab- 
lishing the office of district attorney, and C. T. Botts was 
elected by ballot to fill the office thus created. Mr. Botts, 
however, declined the office, and at the meeting of the legisla- 
tive assembly, held March 29, George Hyde was unanimously 
elected. Mr. Hyde was willing to accept the office, but 
thought he should first resign his seat in the assembly. This 
body, however, resolved that there would " be no impropriety 
in the district attorney continuing to be a member of the legis- 
lative assembly." 

Although during the three months of its existence, the leg- 
islative assembly met no less than thirty-five times, yet on 
many of these occasions it was not possible to transact busi- 
ness because of the lack of a quorum. This was the case on 
the evening of March 23, and on the evening of April 2. 
On April 3, a quorum was finally secured, and a bill was 
then passed establishing the office of Harbor Master, which 
was filled on the same evening by the election of Capt. E. A. 
King. The absence of members finally became so serious an 
evil that, on the 9th of April, Mr. Swasey offered a resolu- 
tion to the effect " that in the opinion of this Assembly, the 
continued absence of some of its members shows a lack of 
duty towards the people and a disrespect to this body." This 
resolution, although adopted unanimously at the meeting on 
the 10th of April, did not remove the evil, and near the end 
of April it was determined to increase the number of repre- 

113] In San Francisco. 43 

sentatives in the legislative assembly to twenty-five, with 
the expectation "that if ten new members were added, a 
quorum might be obtained for the transaction of business/' 
The ten additional members, having been duly elected, ap- 
peared May 14, and took the oath of office.^ 

Almost from the beginning of its history the legislative 
assembly had agitated the project of forming a general code 
of laws for the town and district of San Francisco. Such a 
code was finally passed on the 10th of April, 1849. Among 
other effects, it established a Justice's Court for the trial of 
causes; it regulated the practice in the Courts of law; it consti- 
tuted a Criminal Court for the district of San Francisco; it also 
established a Court of Appeals for the same district ; it estab- 
lished the office of Register in the district of San Francisco, 
fixed the rates of salaries, and determined certain regulations 
touching the descent and distribution of intestate estates. 

Besides the Police Court, there existed, therefore, under the 
authority of the legislative assembly, after the adoption of 

^ The manner in which the number of members was increased may be 
seen from the following resolutions taken from the minutes of the meeting 
of May 3 : 

" Whereas, The necessary business of this Legislative Assembly has been 
frequently delayed, to the detriment of the good people of this District, by 
reason of the absence and non-attendance of its members; and whereas, it 
is believed that if ten new members be added, a quorum may be obtained 
for the transaction of business, therefore, 

" Resolved, That the people of the District of San Francisco be requested, 
at the next election to be held in this district, to vote for ten new members 
to said body, who shall be qualified to their office at the next meeting of 
the Assembly succeeding the close of the election. 

"Resolved, That the people be requested to signify on their respective 
votes at the said election, by the words 'Aye' or * No,' their consent or 
dissent that the ten new members be added, and if it be found that a 
majority has expressed in favor thereof, the members elect to be qualified 
and take their seats, and not otherwise." This last provinion ap[>enr8 to 
have been somewhat modified by a later resolution of the Assembly, "that 
the words in favor of an addition of ten to the nu7n6«r of the Aaaembly, or 
against the addition of ten to the number of the Assembly, be the form to be 
printed on the votes at the next election." 

44 The Establishment of Municipal GovemmeTii [114 

the Code, a Court of Appeals, the Orphans' Court, and the 
Criminal Court. The judges of these three Courts were 
William M. Stewart, of the first, Theron R. Perley, of the 
second, and Myron Norton, of the third. But in spite of the 
great legislative activity of the Assembly, the affairs of the 
revenue and the expenditure remained throughout the three 
months of its existence in an unsettled and unsatisfactory 

About six weeks after the organization of the legislative 
assembly, April 13, 1849, General Bennet Riley became mili- 
tary governor of California. On the fourth of the following 
June, he issued a proclamation to the people of the district of 
San Francisco, stating that proof had been laid before him 
that a body of men styling themselves "the Legislative 
Assembly of the District of San Francisco," had " usurped 
powers which are vested only in the Congress of the United 
States by making laws, creating and filling offices, imposing 
and collecting taxes without the authority of law, and in 
violation of the Constitution of the United States, and of the 
late treaty with Mexico ; " and warning all persons " not to 
countenance said illegal and unauthorized body, either by 
paying taxes or by supporting or abetting their officers." He 
had, moreover, received due proof " that a person assuming 
the title of sheriff, under the authority of one claiming to be 
a justice of the peace in the town of San Francisco, did, on 
the 31st of May last, with an armed party, violently enter 
the office of the 1st Alcalde of the District of San Francisco, 
and there forcibly take and carry away the public records of 

* For a record of the organization and acts of the Legislative Assembly, 
Bee " Executive Documents," No. 17, House of Representatives, 1st Session, 
3l8t Congress, p. 728; Dwinelle, "Colonial History of San Francisco," 
Addenda, No. LXXIII; "Minutes of the Proceedings of the Legislative 
Assembly of the District of San Francisco, from March 12, 1849, to June 
4, 1849, and a Record of the Proceedings of the Ayuntamiento or Town 
Council of San Francisco, from August 6, 1849, until May 3, 1850," San 
Francisco, 1860, pp. 5-46. 

115] In San Francisco. 45 

said district from the l^al custody and keeping of said 1st 
Alcalde." In view of this unlawful act, he called upon all 
good citizens to assist in restoring the records to their lawful 
keeper, and in sustaining the legally-constituted authorities of 
the land. 

" The office of justice of the peace in California," the proc- 
lamation continues, "even where regularly constituted and 
legally filled, is subordinate to that of alcalde; and for one 
holding such office to assume the control of, and authority 
over, a superior tribunal, argues an utter ignorance of the 
laws, or a wilful desire to violate them, and to disturb the 
public tranquillity. It is believed, however, that such per- 
sons have been led into the commission of this rash act 
through the impulse of the moment, rather than any wilful 
and settled design to transgress the law ; and it is hoped that 
on due reflection they will be convinced of their error, and 
unite with all good citizens in repairing the violence they 
have done to the laws. It can hardly be possible that intel- 
ligent and thinking men should be so blinded by passion, 
and so unmindful of their own interests and the security of 
their property, after the salutary and disinterested advice 
and warnings which have been given them by the Pres- 
ident of the United States, by the Secretaries of State and 
of War, and by men of high integrity and disinterested 
motives, as to countenance and support any illegally consti- 
tuted body in their open violation of the laws, and assump- 
tion of authority which in no possible event could ever belong 
to them. 

" The office of alcalde is one established by law, and all 
officers of the United States have been ordered by the Presi- 
dent to recognize and support the legal authority of the per- 
son holding such office; and whatever feelings of prejudice or 
personal dislike may exist against the individual holding 
such office, the office itself should be sacred. For any incom- 
petency or mal-administration, the law affi^rds abundant 
means of remedy and punishment — means which the Exeou- 

46 The Establishment of Municipal Government [116 

live will always be found ready and willing to employ, to the 
full extent of the powers vested in him."^ 

This proclamation denouncing as an illegal body the legis- 
lative assembly which for three months had performed all the 
functions of a town government, was followed the next day, 
June 5, by an order from Governor Riley, restoring the ayun- 
taraiento to power. This order was based on the well grounded 
opinion that all the laws of California existing at the time the 
country was annexed to the United States, which were not in 
conflict with the constitution, laws, and treaties of the United 
States, were still in force and must continue in force till 
changed by competent authority. The powers and duties of 
all civil officers remained as they had been before the conquest, 
except so far as they might have been modified by the act 
of annexation. This order by which the legislative assem- 
bly was set aside and power was restored to the council or 
ayuntamiento, affirmed the traditional power of the council 
over the lands of the pueblo. 

The last meeting of the legislative assembly was held on 
the 4th of June, and the election ordered by Governor Riley 
took place on the 1st of August. At this election there were 
1,516 votes cast, of which John W. Geary, candidate for the 
office of first alcalde, received the whole number. Frank 
Turk, who was elected second alcalde, received 1,055 votes. 
The ayuntamiento or town council elected at this time con- 
sisted of twelve members, namely: Talbot H. Green, Henry 
A. Harrison, Alfred J. Ellis, Stephen C. Harris, Thomas B. 
Winton, John Townsend, Rodman M. Price, William H. 
Davis, Bezer Simmons, Samuel Brannan, William M. Stewart 
and Gabriel B. Post. Horace Hawes was elected prefect, and 
Francis Guerrero and Joseph R. Curtis were elected sub-pre- 
fects. Peter H. Burrett was elected judge of the Supreme 

* Executive Document No. 17, House of Rep., First Session, Slst Con- 
gress, p. 773. 

117] In San Francisco, 47 

At the second meeting of the newly elected council, Mr. 
Greary, the first alcalde, spoke at length on the affairs of the 
town, and asked the co-operation of the council *' in making 
it, in point of order and security, what it must shortly be in 
wealth and imj)ortance, the first city, and great commercial 
and moneyed emporium of the Pacific." ^ 

" Economy in the expenditure of public money," he said, 
" is at all times desirable and necessary ; but situated as we 
are here, without any superior body to legislate for us, the 
people of the city will, of necessity, be called upon to assume 
a responsibility in the enactment of laws, and in the expendi- 
ture of money for public purposes, not usual under ordinary 
circumstances." The city was, at this time, without a dollar 
in the public treasury ; there was neither an office for the 
magistrate, nor any other public edifice. " You are," continued 
the alcalde, " without a single police officer or watchman, and 
have not the means of confining a prisoner for an hour; neither 
have you a place to shelter, while living, sick and unfortunate 
strangers who may be cast upon our shores, or to bury them 
when dead. Public improvements are unknown in San Fran- 
cisco. In short, you are without a single requisite necessary 
for the promotion of prosperity, for the protection of property, 
or for the maintenance of order." 

In view of this condition of things, it was clear that the 
most important question to be considered by the new govern- 
ment was the question of taxation, and to this the alcalde 
directed a large part of his address. " There is perhaps no 
city upon the earth," he said, " where a tax for the support 
of its municipal government can be more justly im|)osed than 
here. Real estate, both improved and unimproved, within a 
short space of time, has increased in value in many instances 
a thousand-fold, and even at its present high rates, will pro- 
dace in the shape of rents the largest average income upon 

^ Minutes of the Ayuntamiento, August 8, 1849. The address is printed 
in the ''Annals," but it is there set down as delivered at the first meeting. 

48 The Establishment of Municipal Government [118 

record. Yet notwithstanding this unprecedented increased 
value of real estate, the burdens of government should not be 
borne by a tax upon that species of property alone ; each and 
every kind of business carried on within the limits of the 
district should bear its just and proper share of taxation. 

" The charters of most cities in the United States, granted 
by the l^islature, give the corporation the right to levy and 
collect a tax, as well to defray the expenses of its municipal 
government as for public improvements; and it is usual to 
submit a tax bill to the legislature for its confirmation. This 
is done to prevent abuses. Yet I do not know of an instance 
where the tax imposed has been reduced by the legislature. 
In towns not incorporated there is no resort to be had to the 
l^islature for a confirmation of the tax laws. The town offi- 
cers, chosen by the people, impose the taxes, and collect a 
sufficient revenue by common consent ; and their right to do 
so is never questioned. That you have a right to levy and 
collect a reasonable and proper tax, for the support of your 
municipal government, cannot, in my judgment, for a moment 
be questioned. In the absence of State legislative authority 
you, as the representatives of the people, are supreme in this 
district, and your acts, so long as you confine them strictly to 
the legitimate sphere of your duty, will not only be sanctioned 
and approved by the present worthy executive of our govern- 
ment in California, but will be most promptly confirmed by 
the legislature, whenever one shall be assembled either for the 
Territory or State. 

" I would, therefore, recommend that with all convenient 
despatch, you ascertain, as near as possible, the amount of 
funds deemed necessary for the support of a proper and efficient 
municipal government for one year ; that when you shall have 
determined this, you shall proceed to collect a just, equitable 
tax upon real estate and upon sales at auction ; and that you 
require all merchants, traders, storekeepers, etc., to take out a 
license for the transaction of their business, paying therefor an 
amount proportionate to the quantity of merchandise vended 

119] In San Francisco, 49 

by them. Also, that all drays, lighters, and boats, used in 
the transportation of merchandise, and of passengers, to or 
from vessels in the harbor, be licensed. 

" There is also another class of business proper to be taxed, 
which although sometimes prohibited by law, yet in many 
countries is regulate^l by law. I recommend you to adopt the 
latter course. The passion for gambling is universal, even 
where the severest penalties are imposed to prevent its indul- 
gence. And it is a fact well known and understood, whenever 
gaming tables are licensed and subject to proper police regula- 
tions, they are less injurious to the interests and morals of the 
community than when conducted in defiance of law. In the 
one case the proprietors are amenable to the law which author- 
izes them, and are subject to proper control, while on the other 
hand, if prohibited, the evasion of the law by such means as 
are usually resorted to, does but increase the evil, and the 
community is in no way benefited. I would, therefore, recom- 
mend, under present circumstances, and until State legislation 
can be had on the subject, that you license gaming and billiard 

In this address, the alcalde, moreover, urged the council to 
adopt measures for the promotion of popular education, in 
order that California, when erected into a State, might show 
the older States of the Union " that she fully appreciates edu- 
cation as the only safeguard of our republican institutions." 
He also called attention to the fact that ** the public documents 
containing all the muniments of title, etc., for real estate," 
were not to be found in official but in private hands, and 
asked for " authority to appoint a committee of three resi)ect- 
able and intelligent citizens, who, under oath, shall make an 
inventory of the said documents, and a schedule of any muti- 
lation, erasures, or interlineations which may be found on 
their pages." 

But the council had already anticipated this suggestion of 
the alcalde's address, for at the first meeting on the 6th of 
August, two days before the address was read, the president 

50 The Establishment of Municipal Government [120 

of the council had been authorized to appoint three commis- 
sioners to take an inventory of all public documents which 
might be turned over to them by the late alcalde, or any 
other persons. The resolution conveying this authority pro- 
vided further that the commissioners should not be members 
of the council.^ These commissioners were subsequently ap- 
pointed, and by a resolution of the council, passed August 20, 
the pay of one of them, Mr. Toler, was fixed at sixteen dol- 
lars a day, and that of the other at ten dollars a day. 

At an adjourned meeting, the third held by the newly 
elected town council, the oath of office was administered to 
Mr. Horace Hawes as prefect, who took the occasion to 
address the council on the powers and duties of the govern- 
ment which had just been organized. 

"Under the peculiar circumstances of this district," he said, 
"with a population composed of recent immigrants, who, 
owing to that fact, must necessarily be unacquainted, to a 
great extent, with the existing laws, it may not be inappro- 
priate for me to allude briefly to those provisions which define 
our respective functions; and I would remark in passing, 
that the laws now in force in this country, when well under- 
stood, may not be found so inadequate to the purposes of 
good government as has generally been supposed. It is, per- 
haps, the abuses and mal-administration which may have 
existed under the former government, rather than any defect 
in the laws themselves, which have brought them into dis- 

"The duties of prefects, though enumerated in twenty- 
nine separate articles of the code, which will shortly be placed 
in your hands, may be briefly expressed. They are ^ to take 
care of public order and tranquillity ; to publish and circulate, 
without delay, observe, enforce, and cause to be observed and 
enforced, the laws throughout their respective districts ; and 
for the execution of these duties, they are clothed with certain 

* Minutes of the Ayuntamiento from August 6, 1849, to May 3, 1860. 

121] In San Francisco. 61 

powers which are clearly specified and defined. They are 
particularly enjoined to attend to the subject of public instruc- 
tion, and see that common schools be not wanting in any of 
the towns of their respective districts ; they are also required 
to propose measures for the encouragement of agriculture and 
all branches of industry, instruction, and public l)eneficence, 
and for the execution of new works of public utility and the 
repair of old ones ; they constitute the ordinary channel of 
communication between the governor and the authorities of 
the district, and are to communicate all representations com- 
ing from the latter, accompanied with the necessary infor- 

*' The general subjects of your charge, gentlemen, are the 
police, health, comfort, ornament, order and security of your 
jurisdiction, and you will perceive from an examination of 
the laws on the subject, that you are invested with extensive 
powers as respects the various matters upon which you are to 
act ; and when we consider the probable destiny of the infant 
city, for which you have accepteil the office of guardians, in 
respect to population, wealth and commercial greatness, the 
prudent exercise of those powers becomes a subject of incal- 
culable importance. In all arrangements and improvements 
that are to be permanent, it will be well to take into view 
the interests, not only of the present, but of future ages ; to 
regard San Francisco, not merely in its present condition, but 
in its progress and the maturity of its greatness. By a pros- 
pective view, behold it not only the commercial metropolis of 
the west, but for beauty and ornament, and the beneficence of 
its arrangements and institutions, the model city. 

"Although the lapse of time and the posseasion of public 
resources, not now at your disposal, will be indispensable to 
fulfil these expectations, and it will be for posterity to enjoy 
and to realize what you have contemplated, you will have it 
ID your power, at least, to prevent any ol)stacles being inter- 
posed that might retard or effectually hinder your city from 
attaining a destiny so happy and so glorious. From this single 

62 The Establishment of Municipal Government [122 

view you will perceive the importance of the functions which 
you have to fulfil. You act as Town Council only, it is true^ 
but the subject of your charge is to be regarded in its important 
relations to the State, to the republic, and to the commercial 
world. Every American citizen will feel that he has an inter- 
est in it, and will look to the results of your prudent councils 
with pride and satisfaction. Your being the first Town Coun- 
cil regularly organized under the American Government, your 
proceedings will be reviewed by succeeding ones in all future 
time, and regarded with satisfaction, or with regret, as they 
may have facilitated or retarded the prosperity of the place." ^ 

At the same meeting in which Mr. Hawes addressed the 
council, a number of standing committees were named by the 
chair : on judiciary, on finance, on streets and public improve- 
ments, on police and health, and on expenditures. On the 
13th the council appointed a number of municipal officers, 
Frank Turk was made secretary; William M. Eddy, city 
surveyor ; P. C. Landers, collector of taxes ; Jonathan Code^ 
sergeant-at-arms ; Malachi Fallon, captain of police ; A. C, 
Peachy, city attorney. Subsequently, on the 20th, Benjamin 
Burgoyne was elected city treasurer ; Dr. J. R. Palmer, city 
physician ; and at the same time the alcalde announced that, 
in compliance with the instructions of the council, he had 
appointed John E. Townes sheriff, who had given the required 
bond in the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars. 

The report made by the committee on finance as to the most 
expedient means for raising a revenue, was adopted on the 
27th of August, and, after various modifications, became the 
basis of a financial policy for the city. It established "a per- 
centage duty on the sales of merchandise and real estate, and 
imposed heavy license duties on those engaged in different 
kinds of business." ^ This ordinance having been brought to 

* " Minutes of the Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly and of the 
Ayuntamiento or Town Council," pp. 221-^223. 
=* Annals, 234. 

123] In San Francisco. 63 

the notice of the prefect, Mr. Hawes, he returned it to the 
council with his objections fully stated. In the prefect's view 
it was in conflict with the laws ; it imposed taxes which were 
unequal and disproportioned to the circumstances and abilities 
of those having to pay them ; it was calculated to weigh most 
heavily and injuriously upon those of limited capital and re- 
sources, who ought to receive encouragement and protection ; 
the amount of revenue it would produce was far beyond the 
needs of the town. In the ordinance imposing the tax there 
was no specification of the objects to which the revenue was to 
be applied, and the tax-payers should know for what purpose 
their money is required. Two main objections are thus raised 
against the proposed taxes. In the first place, they were 
excessive. In the second place, they would fall unequally on 
the tax-payers, and disproportionately to their ability to pay, 
** Revenue laws," says the prefect, " should be so adjusted as 
to foster industry and encourage labor, by freeing it from all 
unnecessary burdens. But this ordinance does precisely the 
reverse. It makes the drayman pay a tax of eighty dollars a 
year — probably as much as his cart and mule will be worth at 
the end of that period — that is, it taxes him to the full amount 
of his capital. The boatman is taxed upon precisely the same 
scale. The ordinance takes the whole capital of both, and 
gives them only the use of it for one year, worth, according to 
the customary rate of interest here, twelve per cent. The tax 
upon auction sales, being proportioned to the amount, is more 
just and equal, but much too high for the wants of the treasury. 
That imposed upon merchants and traders, however, is glar- 
ingly unequal and disproportioned. The wholesale dealer, with 
a capital of $150,000, will have to pay $400 a year, or about 
two and two-thirds mills on a dollar, while the small trader, 
who occupies a tent or shed, with a capital of no more than 
one thousand dollars, will pay three hundred dollars a year, 
or thirty-three and one-third dollars on a hundred — that is, 
the latter will pay a little over one hundred and twenty times 
as much in proportion to his ability as the former. The ped- 

64' The Establishinent of Municipal Government [124 

lar, who is not able to invest above one hundred dollars at 
once, perhaps, will pay six hundred dollars, or about twenty- 
four hundred times as much as the first mentioned. Supposing 
a monte bank, which pays a tax of six hundred dollars a year, 
by this ordinance, to have ten thousand dollars employed; 
then, as between the itinerant trader and the gambler, the pat- 
ronage of the council is in favor of the gambler by one hun- 
dred to one — that is, the former has to pay, relatively, one 
hundred times as much as the latter/' Besides these funda- 
mental objections, the prefect finds still others, the most note- 
worthy of which is the severity of the punishment inflicted on 
hawkers and pedlars who ply their trade without a license. 
The ordinance, he observes, " makes the act of peddling with- 
out a license, whether from ignorance of the ordinance or a 
design to violate it, a misdemeanor, but subjects the offender 
to a total forfeiture of all his goods and chattels ; ' for all the 
goods, wares, merchandise, provisions, or clothing found in his 
possession at the time of his arrest,' will, in most cases, include 
all the property he has in the world." 

The message containing these objections was received and 
read before the council at the meeting on the 10th of Sep- 
tember, 1849, and at an adjourned meeting two days later, 
the ordinance for revenue was taken up and amended. A 
committee was then appointed to wait on Governor Riley and 
ask for his approval of the bill. The amended articles from 
1 to 8 inclusive were, in the governor's opinion, " in strict 
accordance with the laws and customs of the country." In 
the same communication the governor also expressed the 
opinion that the prefect had no power to veto ordinances 
passed by the town council, it being the duty of the prefect, 
to use the governor's words, " to exercise, in the administra- 
tion and expenditure of municipal funds, such supervision as 
may be granted to him by the ordinances of the ayunta- 
miento; and in case they exceed their authority, he must 
report the fact to the governor." 

Much of the confusion which appeared in the local affairs 

125] In San Francisco. • 55 

of San Francisco, and of the uncertainty as to the powers 
and functions of the officers was due to the fact that Cali- 
fornia remained without a strictly and clearly defined legal 
status under the dominion of the United States. At the 
time of the election of the town council which succeeded the 
legislative assembly, there were also elected at San Francisco 
five delegates to the convention called to frame a constitution 
for California. These were Edward Gilbert, Myron Norton, 
Wm. M. Gwin, Joseph Hobson, and Wm. M. Stewart. The 
convention met in Monterey on the 1st of Septeml)er, com- 
pleted its work on the 13th of October, and the constitution 
was adopted by popular vote on the 13th of November. It 
was not until late in the following year, however, the 9th of 
September, 1 850, that California was admitted to the Union 
as a State. But at the time of the adoption of the constitu- 
tion a full list of State officers had been elected, and a poli- 
tical organization was formed long before the Congress had 
finished wrangling over the question of admission. It was the 
l^islative department of this unauthorized organization that, 
on April 15, 1850, passed the first city charter of San Francisco. 
The last ayuutamiento under the old order of things was 
elected on the 8th of January, in which John W. Geary was 
re-elected first alcalde, and Frank Turk second alcalde. A 
number of the members of the previous council were also 
re-elected. The new council met on the 11th of January. 
The prefect administered the oath of office to Mr. Geary as 
first alcalde, who in turn administered it to the members of 
the council. The former secretary, Henry L. Dodge, was 
unanimously elected to the same position, and after he had 
taken the oath of office, the council was declared organized. 
The business devolving on the council was executed through 
a number of standing committees: on the judiciary, on hcaltli 
and ix)lioe, on finance, on expenditures, and on streets, and 
public buildings, and public improvements. There was also 
appointed a committee on education, to whom were referred 
all matters relating to common schools and public education. 

56 The Estahllshment of Municipal Government [126 

Aside from the details of the current business of a rapidly 
increasing community, two questions of special importance 
occupied the attention of the municipal officers, between the 
time of the organization of the council and the 3d of May, 
the time of its last meeting. These were the question of the 
land grants and the question relative to the formation of a 
charter for the city. 

On the 21st of December, 1849, the ayuntamiento having 
learned "that J. Q. Col ton, a justice of the peace for the town 
of San Francisco, had assumed the authority and pretended to 
exercise the right of selling, granting and disposing of lots 
within the limits of the town/' resolved, therefore, to institute 
l^al proceedings against him in order "to restrain him in 
such illegal and unwarrantable practices, and to make him 
amenable, by due process of law, for a misdemeanor and 
malfeasance in office." A similar charge was also brought 
against Mr. Leavenworth, sometime alcalde of San Francisco. 
In the meeting of the council, held December 24, it was 
resolved to declare " all grants of town lots made and signed 
by J. Q. Colton, void and of no effect." On the 19th of 
February, 1850, Horace Hawes, the prefect of San Fran- 
cisco, addressed a note to the ayuntamiento enclosing a com- 
munication from Peter H. Burnett, who had been elected 
governor of California at the time of the adoption of the 
constitution, and who had then assumed the authority hitherto 
held by Governor Riley. This communication ordered that 
no further sales of the municipal lands be made until the 
further order of the executive, or until the Legislature should 
have passed some Act in reference to them. In this order 
Burnett defines himself as "Governor of the State of Cali- 
fornia," and yet California was not within six months of 
admission to the Union. In opposition to this view of the 
prefect and the governor stands the conclusion reached by the 
city attorney, A. C. Peachy, in a report made to the ayunta- 
miento on the 25th of February. After a somewhat minute 
examination of Mexican law on the point in question, he 

127] In San Francisco, 57 

reached the conclusion " that all lands in the vicinity of the 
old mission of San Francisco de Asia, and the landing of 
Yerba Buena, not included in the legal grants to private 
individuals, or in reserves made by the government, belong 
to the municipality of San Francisco, and are subject to be 
sold at public aution, or granted in solares or building lots, 
in the manner directed by law." 

The town council regarded with great disfavor the inter- 
ference of the governor in the sale of town lots, and on the 
25th of February, 1850, resolved "that in our opinion the 
governor of California has no right to interfere in the sale 
of town lots." The sale which had been fixed for the 4th of 
March was postponed until the 4th of April. The council, 
however, wished to have it understood that in postponing the 
sale they were not actuated by any fear of the governor of 
the State interfering in the sale, but that they did it because 
they wished that those who were anxious to purchase lots 
might have time to enquire into the powers of the council in 
the matter. They wished, moreover, to have it understood that 
they considered the interference of the governor "to be a high- 
handed act of usuqmtion on his part, and one in which neither 
the law nor the opinion of the public sustains him." The 
original resolutions from which this quotation is derived were 
finally set aside by the following substitutes, which were passed : 

^^ Resolved J That the Constitution of the Stat€ of California 
prescribes the duties, and limits the powers, of the governor ; 
and therefore this council recognize no power in the executive 
to interfere in their municipal affairs. 

** Resolvedj That any attempt so to interfere, under the 
pretense that such right is the prerogative of the governor, 
ex qfficiOy or belongs to him as the executive of Mexican law, 
is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution, and is 
an assumption of power dangerous to the rights and liberties 
of the people." * 

* Proceedings of the Ayuntamiento or town coandl, March 2, 1850. 

58 The Lstahlishment of Municipal Government [128 

Through a oommunication read before the ayuntamiento at 
the meeting of February 25, the prefect demanded information 
on certain points : 

" Firsty How many, and what water and town lots have been 
sold by the ayuntamiento since the 1st of August last, the 
date of the sale, price paid for each lot, and the name of the 
purchaser, with the terms of payment. 

*^ Second, How many of the said town lots, if any, have been 
originally purchased by members of the ayuntamiento, at sales, 
public or private, ordered by that body. 

" Third, Whether, by the resolutions ordering the public 
sale made on the 3d of January, or any other public sale of 
said lots, it was provided that a credit should be given for the 
purchase-money, and if so, whether notice that such credit 
would be allowed was given to the public in the printed 
advertisements of such sale. 

" Fourth, Whether on the night of the 7th January last, the 
night preceding the election for members of the ayuntamiento, 
several of the old members met and resolved to appropriate 
$200,000 for building a wharf at the foot of California street, 
and if so, who of such members were present at such meeting, 
and who presided thereat. 

^^ Fifth, Whether the water lots adjoining the line of the 
proposed wharf were purchased by the same members who 
made the appropriation, and when." 

The prefect had informed the ayuntamiento that on the 1st 
of March a full and complete account, as required by law 
must be rendered by them, of their administration of the 
municipal funds, in order that it might be forwarded to the 
governor and published for the information of the people. 
It does not, however, appear that the account was rendered 
in accordance with this request or that satisfactory reply was 
made to the prefect's list of questions. The communication 
containing them was read before the council and laid on the 

The required account not having been received, and the 

129] In San Francisco. 59 

advertised sales of municipal lands not having been postponed, 
the prefect appeared in a somewhat excited state of mind: 
" Your Excellency," he wrote, " will therefore perceive that 
an issue is clearly presented between the ayuntamiento of San 
Francisco and the constituted executive authorities of the 
State. The question to be decided before this community, 
and before the people of the State is, whether the arbitrary 
will of the members of the town council or the laws of the 
land, supported by the executive authorities, shall be the rule 
in the administration of public afiPairs." At the same time 
he demanded definite instructions for his " governance in this 
crisis," and stated, moreover, that in his view the general 
sentiment of the citizens of San Francisco was opposed to a 
further sale of town lots, and that in the "depressed state 
of monetary affairs, a forced sale would be attended with 
immense sacrifice of present and future values to the town." 

Two days after this writing. Governor Burnett directed the 
attorney-general of California to aid the prefect and sub-pre- 
fect in an examination of the law", with the view : " first, 
to file a bill in chancery against the ayuntamiento for such 
accounts as the law requires them to make out and transmit 
to the sub-prefect; second, to file a bill in chancery to restrain 
the town council from completing the sales of lots made after 
the issuing of my order suspending the sales, and from col- 
lecting any of the money due upon obligations given for the 
purchase of such lots; third, to file a bill in chancery to set 
aside all the purchases of town lots made by any member of 
the town council before or since the issuing of my orders." 
In this communication, the governor left the prefect, after 
consultation with the attorney-general, to take what steps he 
might deem requisite, and confessed that he had no |K)wer 
to 8U8[)end the ayuntamiento except by the consent of the 

The conflict of authorities which threatened to be serious 
was finally averted by the retirement of the ayuntamiento. 
On the 16th of March, 1860, E. J. C. Kewen, the attorney- 

60 The EstahlUhment of Municipal Government [130 

general, wrote to Governor Burnett in a somewhat exultant 
tone of victory : " The enemy have fled, and we are the sole 
occupants of the field. The sale is indefinitely postponed. 
I advised Hawes to exert the authority of his office to the 
utmost extent that law would justify, and in the event of 
foiling to accomplish the desired end, I should have proceeded 
without further delay upon a writ of quo warranto. They are 
evidently fearful of any action that will cause an investigation 
into the extent of their authority, and catching some hint of 
ulterior proceedings in contemplation, in case of disobedience 
to executive behests, they have exposed the character of the 
beast that paraded so ostentatiously in the lion's skin."^ 

The prefect, by this victory, did not achieve lasting glory. 
On the 29th of March, 1850, he was suspended by Governor 
Burnett on charges preferred by the ayuntamiento of San 
Francisco. The Alta California of April 1, commenting on 
the governor's action, stated it as a matter of notoriety that 
Prefect Hawes had " been continually annulling the acts of 
the ayuntamiento, and sending forth complaints and pro- 
nunciamentos against them," and "that he had it in con- 
templation to assume the entire control of the town affairs." 

Further investigation of the supposed frauds in connection 
with the sale of land within the limits of the town were 
deferred to a later time. 

At a meeting of the ayuntamiento, December 1, 1849, 
Samuel Brannan moved to authorize the alcalde to appoint 
a day for the election of eleven delegates to draft a city 
charter to be presented to the State Legislature for adoption. 
This motion was lost; but on the 12th of the same month 
he offered a resolution of a somewhat similar purport, which 
was adopted. This second resolution, however, provided that 
the committee of five to draft the charter should be appointed 
by the chair. Messrs. Brannan, Davis, Turk, Harrison and 
Price were appointed, and by a subsequent resolution they 

» " Minutes of the Ayuntamiento, 1849-1850," p. 237. 

131] In San Francisco. 61 

were authorized to examine and define the extent of territory 
to be embraced within the limits of the city. This committee 
failed to perform the work required of it, and at a meeting 
of the ayuntamiento, January 16, 1850, the committee on 
judiciary was instructed to submit a charter to the council 
on the 28th of the month, which, if approved, would be 
presented to the citizens on the first Monday of February. 
This committee was authorized to procure such legal advice 
and assistance as they might deem advisable, to aid them in 
drafting the charter in accordance with their instructions. 
The charter as formed by the judiciary committee was sub- 
mitted to the council on the 30th of January, 1860. It was 
read by sections, amended and adopted. It was then referred 
back to the committee to be engrossed, and the committee was 
instructeil to have five hundred copies of it printed and dis- 
tributed among the citizens of San Francisco. On the 13th 
of February a special meeting of the ayuntamiento or council 
was called for the reconsideration of the charter. As amended 
at this meetiug, in a committee of the whole, it was finally 
adopted by a vote of four to three. Messrs. Hagan and 
(ireen were then requested to present it to the San Francisco 
representatives in the Legislature that it might be adopted by 
that body. 

A few weeks later, March 11, the Legislature passed a 
general Act providing for the incorporation of cities. Under 
this Act any city in the State, of at least two thousand inhabi- 
tants, might be incorporated, either by the Legislature or by 
the County Court, upon application. The outline of a charter 
embrace<l in this Act provided for a government by a mayor, 
recorder and common council, who should possess the power 
usually belonging to a municipal government. Before the 
passage of this general law, an Act had been passed, February 
27, to incorporate Sacramento City. Benicia, San Diego and 
San Jo66 were incorporated on March 27. Three days later, 
March 30, an Act was passed incorporating Monterey, and on 
the 4th of April Sonoma and Los Angeles were added to the 

62 The Establishment of Municipal Government [132 

list. The incorporation of Santa Barbara followed, April 9, 
and that of San Francisco on April 15. San Francisco was 
thus the ninth city of California incorporated after the adoption 
of the Constitution. 


The territory embraced within the boundaries fixed by the 
charter of 1850, was only a small part of that to which the 
city was entitled, according to later judicial decisions. The 
southern boundary of this territory was a line parallel to Clay 
street and two miles distant, in a southerly direction, from 
the centre of Portsmouth Square. The western boundary was 
a line one mile and a half distant, in a westerly direction, 
from the centre of Portsmouth Square, running parallel to 
Kearney street. The northern and eastern boundaries were 
the same as those of the county of San Francisco. This was 
a limitation for the purposes of municipal administration, but 
it was provided that it should not be " construed to divest or 
in any manner prejudice any right or privilege to which the 
city of San Francisco may be entitled beyond the limits above 
described." Provision was made for dividing the city into 
eight wards, which could not be altered, increased, or dimin- 
ished in number except by the action of the Legislature. The 
division was to be made by the first council elected under the 
charter, and was to be so made that there should be in each 
ward, as near as might be, the same number of white male 
inhabitants. The government of the city was vested in a 
mayor, recorder, and common council, the council consisting 
of a board of aldermen and a board of assistant aldermen. 
Each board was composed of one member from each ward, 
had the right to* elect its president, and was in the enjoyment 
of all those privileges and prerogatives which usually pertain 
to a legislative assembly. Under the charter, moreover, 
provision was made for a treasurer, comptroller, street com- 
missioner, collector of city taxes, city marshal, city attorney, 

133] In San Francisco. 63 

and from each ward two assessors. These offices were all 
elective, and the time fixed for the election was the fourth 
Monday of April in each year. The elections were ordered 
by the common council, whose duty it was to designate the 
place of holding them ; to give at least ten days' notice of the 
same ; and to appoint inspectors of election at each place of 
voting. Returns of all elections were made to the common 
council, who issued certificates of election to the persons 
chosen. A plurality of votes was required for election. The 
elections were not to be held in a " grog-shop or other place 
where intoxicating liquors were vended," and the polls were 
to be open one day " from sunrise till sunset.'' 

The duties of the mayor were " to communicate to the com- 
mon council at least once in each year" a general statement 
of the condition of the city with reference to its governmental 
affairs ; to recommend to the common council the adoption of 
such measures as he should deem expedient ; " to be vigilant 
and active in causing the laws and ordinances of the city 
government to be duly executed and enforced ; to exercise a 
constant supervision and control over the conduct and acts 
of all subordinate officers; to receive and examine into all 
such complaints as may be preferred against any of them for 
violation or neglect of duty, and certify the same to the 
common council " for their action. The common council 
had power to declare the office of any person so complained 
against vacant if the complaint were found to be true. 

The recorder was a judicial officer having, within the limits 
of the city, essentially the same power as a justice of the peace. 
He had, moreover, jurisdiction over all violations of the city 
ordinances. The city marshal was a regular attendant upon 
the Recorder's Court, and under obligation " to execute and 
return all processes issued by the recorder, or divested to him 
by any legal authority." The marshal might appoint one or 
more deputies who should have equal |X)wer with himself; he 
should arrest all persons guilty of a breach of the j)eaoe and 
of violation of the city ordinances, and bring them before the 

64 The Establishment of Municipal Government [134 

recorder for trial. He should possess, finally, superintending 
control of the city police. 

The treasurer was required to make out and present to the 
mayor quarterly "a full and complete statement of the receipts 
and expenditures of the preceding three months," to be pub- 
lished in a manner to be prescribed by ordinance. The usual 
oath and bond were required of all city officers before entering 
upon the duties of their offices, and the mayor, recorder, alder- 
men and assistant aldermen were required to qualify within 
three days of their election. The duties of the comptroller, 
street commissioner, collectors and all other officers whose 
functions were not laid down in the charter, were to be 
defined by the common council. 

The legislative power was vested in the mayor and the two 
bodies of the common council. Conspicuous limitations on 
this power were: 1. That the taxes levied and collected 
should not exceed one per cent, per annum, upon all property 
made taxable by law for State purposes; 2. That money 
borrowed on the faith of the city should " never exceed three 
times its annual estimated revenues." With respect to all 
ordinances passed by the common council, the mayor pos- 
sessed a limited veto which was defined in terms similar to 
those employed in describing the veto power of the President 
of the United States. In case of a vacancy in the office of 
mayor, or in case of the absence or the inability of the mayor, 
the president of the board of aldermen should exercise the 
mayor's duties and receive his salary. The mayor might 
call special sessions of the common council at any time by 
prolamation, and should state to the members when assem- 
bled the purpose for which they had been convened. 

In the case of bills appropriating money, imposing taxes, 
increasing, lessening, or abolishing licenses, or for borrowing 
money, it was required that the "yeas" and "nays" should 
be entered on the journals. For the passage of any appro- 
priation bill involving the sum of five hundred dollars or 
more, and of any bill increasing or diminishing the city 

135] In San Francisco, 66 

revenue, the vote of a majority of all the members elected 
was required. All resolutions and ordinances, moreover, 
calli^^ for the appropriation of any sum of money exceeding 
fifteen thousand dollars, were required to lie over for ten days 
and be published for one week in at least one public daily paper. 
It was unlawful for any member of the common council to be 
interested in any contract, the expenses of which were to be paid 
out of the city treasury ; and the city itself was not permitted 
to become the subscriber for stock in any corporation. 

In case it should become necessary for the city to use 
private property for laying out, changing, or improving 
streets, and no agreement between the owners and the cor- 
poration should be possible, the property might be taken 
on the payment by the city of a sum fixed by a board of 
^ve commissioners appointed by the County Court. In any 
proposition to pave, grade, light, water, or otherwise improve 
a street, one-third of the owners of the land opposite the 
proposed improvements making objection, the improvements 
should not be made. But if the number of the objectors 
was less than one-third of the owners, the improvements 
should be made. The initiative in improvements might also 
be taken by the owners of property opposite which they were 
desired. They should be made if three-fourths of the owners 
required them and applied therefor to the common council, 
provided there were funds in the treasury not otherwise appro- 
priated that might be used for this purpose. 

That there might be no conflict of powers, it was provided 
by a final section of the charter, that all the powers and 
functions of all officers whatsoever who had hitherto exer- 
cised authority in the municipal government of San Francisco 
should cease and be determined from and after the day on 
which the officers prescribed by the charter should be duly 
elected and qualified. 

The first election under this charter was held May 1, 1850, 
at the time the vote was taken for its adoption by the citizens 
of San Francisco. The following officers were elected : 


The Establishment of Municipal Government [136 

Mayor. — John W. Geary. 
iJ€cord<T.— Frank Til ford. 
Marshal. — Malachi Fallon. 
City Attorney.— Thos. H. Holt. 

Treasurer. — Charles G. Scott. 
Coviptroller. — Benj. L. Berry. 
Tax Collector. — Wm. M. Irvin. 
Street Commissioner. — Dennis McGJpirthy. 

Charles Minturn, 
F. W. Macondray, 
D. Gillespie, 

A. Bartol, 
C. T. Botts, 
Wm. Sharron, 

Kobert B. Hampton, 
Holsey Brower, 
John Garvey, 

A. A. Selover, 
Wm. Greene, 

Assistant Aldermen. 
John Maynard, 
John P. Van Ness, 

John H. Gibson, 
Francis C. Bennett, 

C. W. Stuart, 
Wm. M. Burgoyne, 
M. L. Mott. 

L. T. Wilson, 
A. Morris, 
Wm. Corbett. 

John P. Haff, 
Beverly Miller, 
Lewis B. Coffin. 

Before the end of the following January several changes 
occurred in the common council. Mr. Burgoyne was never 
qualified and Mr. Macondray resigned. Their places were 
filled on the 27th of June by the election of Moses G. Leonard 
and John Middleton. Of the assistant aldermen, Mr. May- 
nard and Mr. Botts resigned, and their places were filled by 
George W. Green and James Grant. Later changes were 
effected in the board of aldermen by the retirement of Mr. 
Gillespie and Mr. Leonard, whose places were filled on the 
20th of January, 1851, by the election of W. H. V. Cronise 
and D. G. Robinson. At the time of this last election, George 
W. Gibbs was chosen to fill a vacancy in the board of assistant 
aldermen caused by the resignation of Mr. Morris. 

The two boards met to organize and appoint committees on 
the 9th of May, in the City Hall, at the corner of Kearney 
and Pacific streets. At these meetings a message from the 
mayor was received and read. The reports of the treasurer 
and comptroller submitted at this time show the liabilities 
of the city to have been $199,174.19, while the assets were 
$238,253.00, being an excess of $39,078.81 over the liabilities. 

The new government having been put into operation shortly 
after the conflagration of May 4, its attention was directed to 

137] In San Francisco. 67 

the necessity of providing more efficient means for extinguish- 
ing fires. To this end an ordinance was passed declaring "that 
if any person, during a conflagration, should refuse to assist in 
extinguishing the flames, or in removing goods endangered by 
fire to a place of safety, he should be fined in a sum not less 
than five, and not exceeding one hundred dollars." The mayor 
was authorized "to enter into contracts for digging artesian 
wells and for the immediate construction of water reservoirs 
in various parts of the city.'* Another ordinance passed at 
an early meeting of the council ordained that every house- 
holder should " furnish six water buckets, to be kept always 
in readiness for use during the occurrence of future fires.'' 

At its first meeting held May 9, 1850, the common council 
entered upon a scheme for plundering the city treasury in be- 
half of the members of the government. A bill to fix the 
salaries of the several city officers was brought forward, dis- 
cussed, and laid over for subsequent consideration. It was 
proposed that the mayor, the recorder, the marshal, and the 
city attorney should receive ten thousand dollars each per 
annum. The comptroller, the aldermen, and the assistant 
aldermen were to have six thousand dollars each, while the 
treasurer was to receive one per cent, of all receipts, and the 
tax collector three per cent, of all sums collected. This propo- 
sition, coupled with an extravagant and unwise license law, 
awakened a spirit of indignation in the citizens, and "came 
very near overthrowing the entire city government."^ Num- 
erous public meetings were held to devise means for putting 
an end to the disgraceful conduct of the legally constituted 
authorities. Such a meeting was held in Portsmouth Square, 
on the evening of June 6, and was attended by several thou- 
sand persons. At a previous meeting a committee had been 
appointed to take into consideration " the acts of the common 
oouncil upon the subject of taxation and salaries." The 
committee having canvassed the subject, submitted to the 

' Daily AUa Calif omia, August 14, 1850. 

68 The Establishment of Municipal Government [13S 

meeting of June 6, the following resolutions which were 
adopted : 

" Whereas, It is customary and proper for the people at all times 
to assemble and deliberate together upon the acts of their public 
servants, — and to instruct them when they shall have exceeded 
their just powers, or imposed unnecessary burdens on the com- 
munity, — and whereas, the system of oppressive taxation, of high 
salaries and other impolitic measures, proposed by our present 
city council, have a sure and certain tendency to retard the 
growth, to obstruct the commerce, to cripple the industry, and to 
overload the people of our city, — we, the citizens of San Fran- 
cisco, in public meeting assembled, do hereby resolve and declare — 

" Resolved, That Avhile we duly respect the lawfully constituted 
authorities of our city, and are willing to pay all proper taxes, to 
meet the necessary public expenses and improvements, we most 
earnestly protest against the great and unequal pressure of the 
present scheme of taxation, — against the high salaries proposed^ 
especially for offices considered in other cities offices of trust and 
honor, and not of profit, — and against the expenditure of the 
public funds for purposes never contemplated by the votes of 
this city. 

" Resolved, That in view of the grievance of which we com- 
plain, should the scheme of high salaries be carried out by the 
common council, we shall view their position as antagonistical ; 
and we believe that such an act will call forth a popular dissatis- 
faction, which will render all taxation difficult, depriving our 
city of necessary revenue, and still further embarrass our already 
bankrupt treasury. 

" Resolved, That in the opinion of this meeting, the salaries of 
all the officers of the city should be limited to the least remu- 
nerating rates, and that the common council should receive no 
salary, except, perhaps, a reasonable joer dieni allowance for extra 
labors in committees, so long as the corporation is unable to supply 
its pressing wants and pay its honest debts. 

*' Resolved, That we consider the scale of taxation as proposed 
and in part established by our city council, not only unjust to all 
classes, but especially oppressive to the interests of the laboring 
and poorer classes, and that as hundreds of good citizens are daily 

139] In San Francisco. 69 

arriving in embarrassed circumstances, a heavy tax upon their 
limited means of honest livelihood is unjust and wrong. 

" Resolved J That we instruct our mayor and common council to 
abandon the scheme of high salaries, and to remodel the schedule 
of oppressive taxation as shadowed forth by their recent actions ; 
and unless they are willing to do so, to resign and give place to 
more patriotic and efficient men. 

"Resolved, That a committee of twenty-five be appointed by 
this meeting to wait upon the common council, with a copy of 
these resolutions, and request an answer thereto." 

These resolutions were presented to the common council 
at a meeting of that body, held June 7, by J. L. Fulsom, 
chairman of the committee of twenty-five. They were read, 
and, by a vote of the council, laid on the table. Alderman 
Selover, the mover of this action, contended " that they were 
insulting and not couched in terms which should entitle them 
to respect and consideration." The vote that the resolutions 
lie indefinitely on the table was not considered such an answer 
as was due to the great popular assembly represented by the 
committee of twenty-five. When, therefore, this committee 
reported to a subsequent meeting in the public square, on the 
evening of June 12, they were empowered to increase their 
number to five hundred, and authorized to present the same 
resolutions to the council in such form as they might think 
proper. They were instructed, moreover, to report to a meet- 
ing of the people to be held on the 17th of June, and at that 
time to recommend such course of action as they might deem 
necessary. "The committee thus fortified, afterwards chose 
the additional members, and fixed the evening of the 14th, 
when they should all march in procession to the place of 
meeting of the common council, and there again submit the 
* sovereign will' of the people to the aldermen, and require 
their prompt obedience to the same. On that day the great 
conflagration took place ; and further action on the subject 
of the high salaries and obnoxious taxation ordinances was 
indefinitely postponed. Popular excitement took a new direc- 

70 The Establishment of Municipal Government [140 

tion in consequence of the fire ; and, excepting in the columns 
of the Hei'ald newspaper, and among a few testy individuals, 
little more was said on the matter till some months afterwards, 
when the question was revived. The previous meetings, how- 
ever, had the effect of causing the obnoxious license ordinance 
to be withdrawn for a time. In the end, the salaries of both 
the municipal officers and the common council were reduced, 
the latter being ultimately fixed at four thousand dollars."^ 
The salaries of the other municipal officers ranged from eight 
thousand to ten thousand dollars. 

A charter having been adopted, the city proceeded to take 

^The action of the mayor, John W. Geary, in vetoing the ordinance which 
fixed the salaries of the members of the council at four thousand dollars, 
"was universally and heartily applauded by the people." In returning the 
ordinance to the council, unapproved, he called the attention of members 
to the inexpediency of their action. " With great unanimity," he said, 
among other things, "a financial measure has been adopted to provide for 
the immediate payment of the city's indebtedness by means of a loan of 
half a million of dollars. It is of the greatest importance to the interests 
of the city that that measure should be made to succeed at the earliest pos- 
sible moment. In my deliberate judgment its success would be injuriously 
impeded, if not entirely defeated, by associating with the proposition for 
a loan, an ordinance to appropriate so large a proportion of the amount 
demanded as sixty-four thousand dollars, to the payment of a class of 
officers whose services are usually rendered without any other remunera- 
tion than the honor conferred by their fellow-citizens, and their partici- 
pation in the general good which it is their province and duty to promote. 
It could not fail to weaken our public credit to show a purpose to use it for 
the payment of salaries never contemplated by the people, especially in 
view of the admitted necessity for the practice of the most rigid economy, 
in order to complete by means of all the resources and credit Ave possess 
the public works in progress or in contemplation. With scarcely a dollar 
in the public treasury — without the means of discharging even the interest 
falling due for the script already issued — the city credit impaired, and 
general bankruptcy staring us in the face, retrenchment should be the 
order of the day, rather than the opening up of new modes of making 
enormous and heretofore unknown expenditures." "Annals," 280-281. 
The efforts of the citizens to compel economy in the government did not 
cease with their opposition to the proposed salaries. On the 24th of June 
D. R. Smith and others petitioned the council " to investigate the conduct 
of the street commissioner in hiring a mule at twenty-five dollars per day." 

141] In San Francisco, 71 

an inventory of its goods. A commission was, therefore, 
appointed by the common council, consisting of one alderman, 
one assistant alderman, and one citizen of San Francisco, to 
ascertain and report to the common council, the extent, de- 
scription, and condition of all the property belonging to this 
city, or to the municipality, or pueblo of Yerba Buena, or 
San Francisco, on the 29th day of April last ; and all claims, 
rights, titles, and interests of said city or pueblo to or in any 
lands, funds, or property within the corporate limits ; and also 
to ascertain and report upon any right or privilege to which 
the citizens of San Francisco, or the citizens or inhabitants 
thereof in common, may be entitled beyond the limits de- 
scribed by the act to incorporate the city of San Francisco.^ 

During its brief and inglorious career, the common council 
was so completely absorbed in the question of the members' 
salaries, that the work of organizing the government made 
only slow progress. It was provided, however, by a joint 
resolution of the two bodies of the council, that at the begin- 
ning of every municipal year certain joint standing committees 
should be appointed by the council, each board appointing 
three members of each committee. The committees specified 
were: 1. on finance; 2. on fire and water; 3. on police, 
prisons, and health; 4. on streets, wharves, and public build- 
ings ; 5. on ordinances ; 6. on education ; 7. on engrossing ; 
8. on the judiciary. Each committee was empowered to 
choose its own chairman by ballot. By another j6int reso- 
lution of the same date, June 19, 1850, the following method 
of legislative procedure was established for the council : 

" Every ordinance shall have as many readings in each 
board as the rules of each board may require ; after which 
the question shall be on passing the same to be engrossed, 
and when the same shall have been passed to be engrossed, it 
shall be sent to the other board for concurrence ; and when 
such ordinance shall have so passed to be engrossed in each 

1 Ordinance dated May 30, 1850. 

72 The Establishment of Municipal Government [142 

board, the same shall be engrossed by the clerk of that body- 
in which it originated, and examined by the joint engrossing 
committee, and upon their report the question shall be in each 
board, upon its final passage ; upon its final passage in the 
concurring board it shall be signed by the president thereof 
and returned to the board in which it originated. Upon its 
final passage in the originating board, it shall be signed by 
the president thereof and transmitted to the mayor, by whom 
it shall be returned with his signature or objections to the 
board from whence it came/' 

During the last half of the year several departments were 
organized, particularly those for whose efforts there was the 
most imperative need. The fire department was established 
by an ordinance passed on the first of July. Companies of at 
least twenty members having adopted and signed a constitu- 
tion, might petition the common council for apparatus, house 
and other articles required. The rules of the department were 
made by an association composed of two delegates from each 
company, elected on the first Monday of August each year. 
The rules thus made were regarded as binding by all com- 
panies in the department. It was provided there should be a 
chief engineer and two assistant engineers. They were elected 
by the members of the several companies. The chief engineer 
was president of the board of delegates. It was the duty of 
the chief engineer, moreover, " to superintend the organization 
of all fire companies in San Francisco ; to examine all engines, 
hose and apparatus belonging thereto, which the city may wish 
to purchase ; to superintend the erection of engine houses and 
cisterns ; to exercise a general supervision and control over all 
branches of the fire department of this city ; to act in con- 
junction with the fire committee, on all subjects which may 
be referred to them ; and to protect the engines and apparatus 
of the city which shall be placed in the houses of private 

The chief engineer was required also " to superintend and 
direct the operations of all companies at fires or conflagra- 

143] In San Francisco. 73 

tioDS ; he was given authority, with the consent of the mayor 
and two members of the common council, to blow up any 
building or buildings with gunpowder," which he might 
deem necessary for the suppression of the fire, or to perform 
such other acts as might be demanded by the emergency. 
He was required to report the condition of his department 
at least once in three months, or oflener if demanded. A bond 
in the sum of ten thousand dollars was required of him, and 
his salary was to be six thousand dollars per year, payable 

The police department, as organized under the charter of 
1850, consisted of a night and a day police "not to exceed 
seventy-five men, including captains, assistant captains, ser- 
geants of police, and policemen." They were nominated by 
the city marshal and confirmed by the mayor. Of this 
department, the marshal was the chief executive officer, and 
he was held responsible to the common council "for the 
efficiency, general conduct and good order of the officers and 

The city was divided into three police districts, in each of 
which provision was made for one deputy marshal, or police 
captain, and one assistant captain, and two police sergeants. 
Each district was divided into as many beats or stations as 
were deemed necessary and might be approved by the city 
marshal. The salaries fixed were ten dollars a day for each 
captain of police ; eight dollars a day for each assistant cap- 
tain, each sergeant, and each policeman. The salaries were 
paid semi-monthly by the comptroller through warrants. 

The ordinance organizing the street department was approved 
September 20, 1850, and the department when organized was 
charged with "o|)ening, regulating, and improving streets, 
constructing and repairing wharves and piers, digging and 
building wells and sewers, and the making of public roads, 
when done by assessment, and all other matters relating to 
public lands and places, and the assessing and collecting of 
the amounts required for such expenditures." The work of 

74 The Establishment of Municipal Government [144 

the department was distributed among three bureaux: 1. The 
bureau of assessment and collection; 2. The bureau of sur- 
veying and engineering ; 3. The bureau of wharves and piers. 
The chief officer of the department was the street commis- 
sioner, who by virtue of his office was one of the surveyors 
of the city. He was required to execute a bond to the cor- 
poration in the sum of ten thousand dollars for the faithful 
performance of his official duties. He made all contracts for 
work, and all pecuniary obligations of the city under these 
contracts were met by warrants of the comptroller, drawn 
upon the requisition of the commissioner. He was required 
to indicate to the common council, from time to time, the 
improvements needed, and present plans for making them ; 
in a word, he was to be the manager of the department. The 
second general officer was called the clerk to the street com- 
missioner, by whom he was appointed and whom he assisted 
in all matters pertaining to the street department. He kept 
accounts in relation to all contracts made, prepared the requi- 
sitions upon the comptroller for the amounts due the several 
contract£>rs, examined all claims against the corporation, and 
kept a record of assessments. In case of vacancy in the office 
of street commissioner, the clerk was empowered to act in that 
capacity until the appointment of a new commissioner. 

The officers of the bureau of assessment and .collection 
received their appointment "by nomination of the street 
commissioner, and election by the common council." They 
w^ere " charged with the duties of making the estimates and 
assessments required for all public alterations and improve- 
ments ordered by the common council," and of collecting all 
assessments that had been confirmed by the same body. The 
collector of assessments, in order to insure the faithful per- 
formance of his official duties, was required to "execute a 
bond to the corporation, with at least two sureties, to be 
approved by the comptroller, in the final sum of twenty-five 
thousand dollars." 

It was provided that the city and county surveyor should 

145] In San Francisco, 75 

be the chief officer of the bureau of surveying and engineer- 
ing. The main functions of this bureau were to assist the 
street commissioner " in laying out and regulating the streets, 
roads, wharves and slips of the city.'' It was, moreover, 
required to lay out and survey ground for the purpose of 
building, and to advise and direct all relative matters. No 
person, in fact, was permitted to build on his own land unless 
the land had previously been " viewed and laid out by the city 
or county surveyor, with the advice and consent of the street 
commissioner," and for these services the city surveyor might 
demand and receive the fees allowed by the legislature to 
county surveyors, but whenever he was employed by the 
street commissioner to make a survey, he was to receive com- 
pensation at the rate of sixteen dollars a day. For making a 
survey for the purpose of regulating and improving a street, 
he was to " receive at the rate of twenty-five dollars for each 
hundred feet running measure to be thus improved." For 
other special surveys, as for building a sewer, specific charges 
were fixed by the ordinance through which the department 
was organized. 

At the head of the bureau of wharves and piers was the 
superintendent of wharves, whose duty it was to inspect the 
condition of the public wharves and piers, to repair those 
existing,. and to superintend the erection of new ones. He 
was nominated by the street commissioner and appointed by 
the common council, and his bond to the corporation was in 
the sum of five thousand dollars. Besides sui>erintending the 
wharves and piers, he was required to advise with the street 
commissioner in relation to such improvements as might 
appear necessary, which, being approved, should be reported 
to the common council with the commissioner's recommenda- 
tion. In case, however, the proposed improvements should 
not involve an expense exceeding four hundred dollars, they 
might be undertaken by the authority of the street commis- 
sioner, by whom alone, as in other cases, all requisitions upon 
the comptroller for payments should be made. 

76 The Establishment of Municipal Government [146 

The office of wharfinger was created December 20, 1850. 
The incumbent was " to have a general superintendence and 
control of the wharves belonging to the city." He was sub- 
ordinated to the street commissioner by whom he was nomi- 
natetl. It was his duty to collect all tolls and money accruing 
from the use of the wharves ; and his compensation was to be 
twenty per cent, of the gross receipts. He was required to 
give a bond in the amount of three thousand dollars. 

According to the provisions of the charter the city was 
to be divided by the common council into eight wards. This 
was done by an ordinance dated November 5, 1850. The 
first ward embraced that portion of the city east of Stockton 
and north of Jackson street ; the second, that portion west of 
Stockton and north of Jackson ; the third, that portion east 
of Kearney, between Jackson and Sacramento; the fourth, 
that portion west of Kearney, between Sacramento and Jack- 
son ; the fifth, that portion bounded by Sacramento, Market 
and Kearney streets; the sixth, all that portion west of 
Kearney, between Sacramento and Market ; the seventh, all 
that portion south and east of Market, and east of Fourth 
street ; and the eighth, all that portion west of Fourth street 
and south and east of Market. 

The municipal government thus created and organized 
under the charter of 1850, and the whole political organiza- 
tion to which it belonged, occupied a peculiar and anomalous 
position. California at that time was simply a conquered 
region which had not been organized by Congress into either 
a territory or a State. In this position the people, impelled 
by the necessities of their circumstances, had adopted a con- 
stitution and set up a government which had much likeness 
to the government of a State in the Union. This goverment, 
however, had not been adopted or recognized by the power 
which alone held the sovereign authority over this region, and 
whose cooperation with the inhabitants was necessary to the 
organization of legitimate political institutions. The city 
charter was, therefore, an act of an unauthorized body, and it 

147] In San Francisco. 77 

was within the power of the government at Washington to 
set aside both the charter and the legislative body from which 
it had proceeded. 

The uncertainties of their position led the people of San 
Francisco to look with eagerness for favorable news from 
Congress during the months in which the proposition to make 
California a State was before that body. When the expected 
tidings finally arrived, on the 18th of October, the inhabitants, 
to use the language of a contemporary writer, were "half wild 
with excitement." " Business of almost every description was 
instantly suspended, the Courts adjourned in the midst of their 
work, and men rushed from every house into the streets and 
towards the wharves, to hail the harbinger of the welcome 
news. When the steamer rounded Clark's Point and came 
in front of the city, her masts literally covered with flags and 
signals, a universal shout arose from ten thousand voices on 
the wharves, in the streets, upon the hills, house-tops, and the 
world of shipping in the bay. Again and again were huzzas 
repeated, adding more and more every moment to the intense 
excitement and unprecedented enthusiasm. Every public place 
was soon crowded with eager seekers after the particulars of the 
news, and the first papers issued an hour after the appearance 
of the Oregon were sold by the newsboys at from one to five 
dollars each. The enthusiasm increased as the day advanced. 
Flags of every nation were run up on a thousand masts and 
peaks and staffs, and a couple of large guns placed upon the 
plaza were constantly discharged. At night every public thor- 
oughfare was crowded with the rejoicing populace. Almost 
every large building, all the public saloons and places of 
amusement were brilliantly illuminated — music from a hun- 
dred bands assisted the excitement — numerous balls and parties 
were hastily got up — bonfires blazed upon the hills, and rockets 
were incessantly thrown into the air, until the dawn of the 
following day."* 


Annals," 293. 

78 The Establishment of Municipal Government [148 

In what manner the common council had contributed to 
the cause of this public rejoicing does not appear; measures 
were taken, however, through which each member was to 
receive, nominally as a present from the city, a gold medal, 
of the value of one hundred and fifty dollars, commemorative 
of the admission of California to the Union. This scheme, 
the responsibility for which it was difficult to fix, following 
as it did on the heels of other manifestations of inordinate 
greed displayed by the city government, aroused public in- 
quiries as to what services had been rendered by the council 
that were not adequately covered by their enormous salaries. 
The outcry that was raised against the project prevented its 
execution, and the councilmen who received the medals be- 
came willing to pay for them, in order that they might hide 
them as quickly as possible in the melting pot. But even 
this action did not free them from the imputation of having 
planned to award themselves costly decorations to be pro- 
vided from the funds of the city treasury. 

That the municipal government was in disreputable hands 
become apparent very early, and every succeeding month 
brought forth new evidence of the lamentable fact. During 
the year 1850, San Francisco had unquestionably improved 
in appearance. It had grown from a " mass of low wooden 
huts and tents '^ to be a city " in great part built of brick 
houses, with pretty stores ; and the streets — formerly covered 
with mud and water — floored throughout with thick and dry 
planks."^ But honesty and efficiency were wanting in the 
administration of its affairs. The courts were corrupt, and 
already there were manifestations of that sentiment which 
found expression in the vigilance committee of the following 
year. The government appeared to have brought the muni- 
cipality a long way on the road to financial ruin. On the 
25th of March, the editor of the Daily Alta California wrote : 

" If any other city has had the singular fortune to run in 

* Gerstaecker, " Journey," 243. 

149] In San Francisco, 79 

debt so deeply in so short a period as San Francisco, we have 
never heard of it. If any other city has incurred debt so 
wantonly, without ever considering the means of payment, or 
making any provision for sustaining its credit, it has not been 
in our day. Here is a city not three years old, with a popu- 
lation of perhaps 25,000 people owing already one million of 
dollars, and looking forward with the intensest satisfaction to 
an accumulating interest of 36 per cent, per annum.'* 

A remedy for the serious ills that had fallen upon the city 
appeared to lie in the adoption of a new charter, and in the 
election of a new list of municipal officers. A new charter 
was clearly needed, not merely because the existing one was a 
carelessly constructed instrument, but also because it lacked 
the requisite authority. In order, therefore, to supply the 
evident deficiencies, the first legislature convened after the 
admission of California to the Union re-incorporated the city 
of San Francisco by an act passed on the 15th of April, 1851. 

The charter of 1851 retainetl all the essential forms of the 
pre-existing government; it differed from that of the pre- 
vious year in its more careful definition of the functions of 
the several departments, particularly in its specifications as to 
financial management. The southern and western boundaries 
of the city alone were changed. The former was kept parallel 
to Clay street, but was placed two miles and a half instead of, 
as formerly, two miles from the centre of Portsmouth square. 
The western line was placed at a distance of two miles, instead 
of a mile and a half from the same point, and remained, as 
formerly, parallel to Kearney street. The existing division 
of the city into eight wards was adopted, but it was provided 
that the common council should, " at least three months be- 
fore the general election of 1852, and also during the second 
year thereafter redistrict the city, so that each ward " should 
contain approximately the same number of inhabitants. In- 
stead of the two assessors from each ward provided for by the 
previous charter, it was here determined that there should be 
elected annually three for the whole city by a general ticket. 

80 The Estahlishment of Municipal Government [150 

In the charter of 1850, it was provided that of the whole 
number of sixteen assessors only eight should be elected for 
the first year, while in that of 1851, it was specified that for 
the first year only two should be elected. 

On the transaction of business by the council, the second 
charter imposed restrictions unknown to the first. Under the 
first charter a majority of the members elected constituted a 
quorum, and an ordinance might be passed by a majority of 
the members present, which might mean by a majority of a 
simple quorum. The ayes and nays were taken and entered 
on the journal only as they might be called for by one or 
more members; whereas under the second charter no ordi- 
nance or resolution could " be passed unless by a majority of 
all the members elected to each board. On the final passage 
of every ordinance or resolution ayes and nays shall be taken 
and entered upon the journal." But in its financial dealings, 
the council was most completely hedged about, as may be 
seen from several sections of the third article : 

" Every ordinance providing for any specific improvement, 
the creation of any office, or the granting of any privilege, or 
involving the sale, lease, or other appropriation of public 
property, or the expenditure of public moneys (except for 
sums less than five hundred dollars), or laying any tax or 
assessment, and every ordinance imposing a new duty or 
penalty shall, after its passage by either board, and before 
being sent to the other, be published with the ayes and nays 
in some city newspaper, and no ordinance or resolution, 
which shall have passed one board shall be acted upon by the 
other on the same day, unless by unanimous consent" (Art. 
Ill, sec. 4). 

With reference to municipal debts, the first charter authorized 
the common council "to borrow money and pledge the faith of 
the city therefor, provided the aggregate amount of the debts 
of the city shall never exceed three times its annual estimated 
revenues." Notwithstanding the unequivocal limitations of 
this provision, it was not observed. The debts created by the 

161] In San Fi'ancUco, 81 

council of 1850 were more than three times the amount of the 
annual revenues. In the second charter the line of restriction 
was more closely drawn. The council could not " create, nor 
permit to accrue, any debts or liabilities which, in the aggregate 
with all former debts or liabilities, shall exceed the sum of fifty 
thousand dollars over and above the annual revenue of the 
city, unless the same shall be authorized by ordinance for 
some specific object, which ordinance shall provide ways and 
means, exclusive of loans, for the payment of the interest 
thereon as it falls due, and also to pay and discharge the 
principal within twelve years." To make the security still 
greater, the principle of referendum was here applied, it being 
determined that this ordinance should not take effect until it 
had been submitted to the people and received a majority of 
all the votes cast; and the money thus raised could be used 
only for the object mentioned in the ordinance, or for the 
payment of the debt thereby created. It was, however, pro- 
vided that the existing city debt, with the interest accruing 
thereon, should make no part of the fifly thousand dollars 
specified. The council, furthermore, had no power to borrow 
money unless it should "by ordinance direct the same in 
anticipation of the revenue for the current year, and should 
provide in the ordinance for repaying the same out of such 
revenue ; " nor in such case could the sum borrowed exceed 
fifty thousand dollars. A larger sum might, however, be 
raised by loan for the purpose of extinguishing the existing 
liabilities of the city, whenever the ordinance providing for 
the same should have first been approved by the electors of 
the city at a general election. On such a loan the yearly rate 
of interest should not exceed ten per cent., and the whole 
should be payable within twenty years. 

The financial activity of the council was further circum- 
scribed by the prohibition " to emit bills of cretlit or to issue 
or put in circulation any pajMir or device as a representative 
of value or evidence of indebtedness, to award damage for the 
non-performance or failure on their part of any contract, to 

82 The Establishment of Municipal Government [152 

loan the credit of the city, to subscribe to the stock of any 
association or corporation, or to increase the funded debt of 
the city unless the ordinance for that purpose were first 
approved by the people at a general election." With respect 
to tiixation, both charters contained the same provision, limit- 
ing the amount Ihat might be imposed by the council to one 
per cent, a year of the assessed value of the property. This 
was not an absolute limitation, for the council had power 
to raise, by tax, any amount of money that it might deem 
exj)edient, whenever the ordinance for that purpose had been 
approved by the people. That there would be occasion for 
exercising this extraordinary power appeared probable in view 
of the enormous debt that had been thrust upon the city, and 
of the rapidly increasing need of public improvements. Yet 
in spite of the pressing demand for money for current uses, 
the second charter definitely set aside certain revenues to con- 
stitute a sinking fund for the payment of the city debt. As 
long as the debt remained uncancelled, the funds accruing 
from these revenues could be used for no other purpose. 
These revenues were: 1. The net proceeds of all sales of real 
estate belonging, or that may hereafter belong, to the city ; 
2. The net proceeds of all bonds and mortgages payable to 
the city; 3. Receipts "for occupation of private wharves, 
basins, and piers ; " 4. Receipts for wharfage, rents, and tolls. 
To prevent the common council from voting such extravagant 
salaries as had been paid to the city officers under the first 
charter, it was provided that the several officers under this 
charter should "receive for their services out of the city 
treasury, a compensation to be fixed by ordinance, not to 
exceed four thousand dollars a year." The treasurer, how- 
ever, might " receive in lieu of salary not to exceed one half 
of one per cent, on all moneys received, paid out, and accounted 
for by him, and the collector not to exceed one per cent, on all 
moneys collected and paid over." The mayor's and recorder's 
clerks should receive not over two thousand dollars a year, the 
clerk of the board of aldermen not over twelve hundred dollars, 

153] In San Francisco. 83 

and the assessor not over fifteen hundred dollars. The mem- 
bers of the common council were prohibited from receiving 
any comjiensation for their services. 

These provisions regarding the management of the muni- 
cipal finances are here set forth prominently, because, as 
already suggested, they constitute the main points of differ- 
ence between the two charters. The adoption of the second 
charter and the election of the officers provided for in it, were 
the last steps in the establishment, under the authority of the 
United States, of a legitimate municipal government in San 
F'rancisco. The election occurred on Monday, the 28th of 
April, 1851. On the evening of May 3, the two boards of 
the common council met in joint convention to examine the 
returns, and report to the mayor the result of the election. 
The examination having been made, the mayor was instructed 
by vote to notify the gentlemen named of their election, and 
they were requested to meet in the City Hall and take the 
oath of office. On the same evening the common council 
adjourned sine die, and thus ended its disgraceful career. 






I N 

Historical and Political Science 


History is past Politics and Politics present History— /VioetnAn 








APRIL, 18S9 




For nearly two centuries after the discovery of America, the 
Mississippi River remained almost unknown ; and it was not 
until the year 1682 that LaSalle picked his perilous path from 
Canada by the way of Lake Michigan and the Illinois, and 
descended the great stream to its mouth. He was exploring 
under the patronage of Louis Fourteenth, and gave the name 
of Louisiana to the vast valley. 

The first permanent settlement made by the French in this 
new domain was established at Biloxi, now in the State of 
Mississippi, which was founded by Iberville in 1699, and was 
the chief town of the colony until 1702, when Bienville moved 
headquarters to the Mobile River. The soil in the neighbor- 
hood of Biloxi is sandy and sterile and the settlers depended 
mainly on supplies from France and St. Domingo. The French 
Government, distant and necessarily ignorant of the details of 
pioneer life, sent instructions to search for gold and pearls. 
The wool of buffaloes was also pointed out to the colonial 
officials as the future staple commodity of the country, and 
they were directed to have a number of these animals penned 
and tamed. ^ It is hardly necessary to say that but little profit 
was ever realized from the search for gold and pearls, or from 
the shearing of buffiiloes. 

* Martin's History of Ixmislana, chap. 7. 

6 Municipal History of New Orleans, [160 

In 1712 the entire commerce of Louisiana, with a consider- 
able control in its government, was granted by charter to 
Anthony Crozat, an eminent French merchant. The terri- 
tory is described in this charter as that posessed by the Crown 
between Old and New Mexico, and Carolina, and all the 
settlements, ports, roads and rivers therein, principally the 
port and road of Dauphine Island, formerly called Massacre 
Island, the river St. Louis, previously called the Mississippi, 
from the Sea to the Illinois, the river St. Philip, previously 
called the Missouri, the river St. Jerome, previously called the 
Wabash, with all the lands, lakes and rivers mediately or 
immediately draining into any part of the river St. Louis or 
Mississippi. The territory thus described was to be and re- 
main included under the style of the government of Louisiana, 
and to be a dependency of the government of New France to 
which it was subordinated. By another provision of this 
charter, the laws, edicts and ordinances of the realm and the 
Custom of Paris were extended to Louisiana. 

The grant to Crozat, which seemed so magnificent on paper, 
extending as it did from the Alleghenies to the Rocky Moun- 
tains, and from the Rio Grande and the Gulf to the far North- 
west, proved of little use or value to him, and of little benefit 
to the colony; and in 1718 he surrendered the privilege. In 
the same year the charter of the Western or Mississippi Com- 
pany was registered in the Parliament of Paris. The history 
of this scheme, with which John Law was connected, is well 
known. The exclusive commerce of Louisiana was granted 
to the Company for twenty-five years, and a monopoly of the 
beaver trade of Canada, together with other extraordinary 
privileges ; and it entered at once on its new domain. Bien- 
ville was again appointed Governor. He had become satis- 
fied that the chief city of the colony ought to be established 
on the Mississippi, and so in 1718 the site of New Orleans 
was selected. Its location was plainly determined by the fact 
that it lies between the River and Lake Ponchartrain, with 
the Bayou St. John and the Bayou Sauvage or Gentilly 

161] Municipal History of New Orleans, 7 

affording navigation for a large part of the distance from the 
lake towards the river. And even at this early day there was 
a plan of constructing jetties at the mouth of the Mississippi 
and so making New Orleans the deep water port of the Gulf. 
Pauger, the engineer, reported a plan for removing the bar at 
the entrance of one of the passes, by the same system in prin- 
ciple as the one recently and successfully adopted by Mr. 
James B. Eads under the Act of Congress of 1875.^ 

Le Page du Pratz visited the place during the same year, 
and took up a plantation on the Bayou St. John, " a short 
half league from the site of the Capital," which he says was 
" then marked only by a shed covered with leaves of latanier," 
the building, such as it was, being occupied by the Commandant 
of the Post.2 

The seat of government was finally removed to New Orleans 
in August, 1722, and when Charlevoix visited the place, in 
December, 1723, it contained about one hundred houses, mostly 
cabins. The well-known map of 1728 shows the town pro- 
tected by a levee and laid off in rectangular form, having 
eleven squares front on the river by a depth of six squares. 

In 1732 the Western Company surrendered its grant. In 
1763 a secret treaty was signed at Paris by which France 
ceded to Spain all that portion of Louisiana which lay west 
of the Mississippi together with the City of New Orleans, 
"and the Island on which it stands." The war between 
England, France and Spain was terminated by the treaty of 
Paris in February, 1764. By the terms of this treaty the 
boundary between the French and British possessions in 
North America was fixed by a line drawn along the middle 
of the River Mississippi from its source to the River Iberville 
and thence by a line in the middle of that stream and of lakes 
Maurepas and Ponchartrain to the Sea. France ceded to 
Great Britain the River and Port of Mobile and everytliing 

^SUtutefl at large, Vol. 18, p. 463. 
' Hitt. de la Louis., torn. 1, p. 83. 

8 Municipal History of New Orleans. [162 

she had possessed on the left bank of the Mississippi except 
the town of New Orleans and the Island on which it stood. 
As all that part of Louisiana not thus ceded to Great Britain 
had been already transferred to Spain, it followed that France 
had now parted with the last inch of soil she had owned on 
the Continent of North America. 

From its foundation up to this date New Orleans was 
governed by the Superior Council, a body which had general 
control of the colony, but at the same time took special charge 
of the administration and police of the Capital. This council 
had been first established under Crozat, in 1712, by royal edict 
with powers equivalent to those of similar bodies in St. Domingo 
and Martinique, and consisted of the governor and commissary 
ordonnateur ; its existence being limited to three years from the 
day of its first meeting. In September, 1 71 6, it was reorganized 
by a perpetual edict and composed of the governor general and 
intendant of New France, the governor of Louisiana, a senior 
counsellor, the King's lieutenant, two puisn§ counsellors, an 
attorney general and a clerk. The edict gave to the council 
all the powers exercised by similar bodies in the other colonies. 
Its sessions were directed to be held monthly. One of its 
most important functions was judicial, for it determined all 
cases, civil and criminal, in the last resort. In civil cases 
three members constituted a quorum, in criminal cases five. 
There was a possibility of popular representation in the pro- 
vision that, in the absence and lawful excuse of members, a 
quorum might be completed by calling in notables. 

The transfer of the colony to the Western Company called 
for another change in the organization of the Council ; and by 
an edict of September 1719 it was made to consist of such 
directors of that Company as might be in the provinces, 
together with the commandant general, a senior counsellor, 
the two King's lieutenants, three other counsellors, an attorney 
general and a clerk. 

On the surrender of the charter of the Western Company 
in 1732, the Council was again remodeled by royal letters 

163] Municipal History of New Orleans. 9 

patent of May 7th. The members were declared to be the 
governor general of New France, the governor and commis- 
sary of Louisiana, the King's lieutenant, the town mayor of 
New Orleans, six counsellors, an attorney general and a clerk. 
In August, 1742, the increase of trade had caused such an 
increase of litigation that it was deemed necessary to add to 
the judicial force ; and accordingly by royal letters patent the 
commissary ordonnateur was directed to appoint four assessors 
to serve for a period of four years, — their duties being to report 
in cases referred to them, or to sit when they were required to 
complete a quorum or to break the dead-lock of a tie vote. 

Under such a regime New Orleans was hardly a municipal 
corporation in any English or American sense. It certainly 
had at that time no municipal charter. It resembled in some 
respects a commune, and has been alluded to by the Supreme 
Court of Louisiana as having been at that time a city.^ 


The French inhabitants of the colony were astonished and 
shocked when they found themselves suddenly transferred to 
Spanish domination, and a majority of the Superior Council 
undertook in their official capacity to organize an opposition 
to the Cession and to order away the Spanish Governor, 
Antonio de Ulloa. But the power of Spain, though moving 
with proverbial slowness, was roused at last; and in 1769 
Alexander O'Reilly, the commandant of a large Spanish force, 
arrived and reduced the province to actual possession. The 
leaders in the movement against Ulloa, to the number of five, 
were tried, convicted and shot. Another was killed in a 
struggle with his guards. Six others were sentenced to 
imprisonment, and the seditious documents of the Su[)erior 
Council were burned on the Place d'Arraes. 

*3 Annual Rep., 305. 

10 Municipal History of New Orleans, [164 

On the 21st of November, 1769, a proclamation from 
O'Reilly announced that, inasmuch as the Superior Council 
had encouraged this insurrection, it had become necessary to 
abolish the body, and to establish in Louisiana that form of 
government and mode of administering justice prescribed hy 
those laws which had so long maintained peace and content- 
ment in the American colonies of the Catholic King. In the 
place, therefore, of the Council, a Cabildo was established, 
over which the governor himself would preside in person, 
and which was composed of six perpetual regidors, two ordi- 
nary alcaldes, an attorney general syndic and a clerk. 

The offices of Perpetual Regidor and Clerk were acquired 
by purchase and were in the first instance offered at auction. 
The purchaser had the right to transfer his office by resigna- 
tion in favor of a known and capable person. One half of 
the price of the first transfer and one third of each successive 
one went to the royal treasury. Of these regidors or rulers, 
the first was Alfarez Real, or royal standard bearer; the second 
was Alcalde Mayor Provincial, a magistrate with jurisdiction 
over offences in the rural districts; the third was Alguazil 
Mayor, a civil and criminal sheriff; the fourth was Depositario 
General, or government store-keeper ; the fifth was Recibedor 
de Penas de Camara, or receiver of fines, while the sixth merely 
held his seat in the Cabildo without special official duties. 

The ordinary Alcaldes and Attorney General Syndic were 
chosen by the Cabildo itself on the first day of every year, 
and were required to be residents and householders of the 
town. In^the absence of the unanimous vote they could not 
be re-elected until they had been out of office for the space of 
two years respectively. 

The ordinary Alcaldes were individually judges within the 
city in civil and criminal cases where the defendant did not 
possess and plead the right to be tried by a military judge, 
Juero militar, or by an ecclesiastical court, fuero ecdesiastico. 
In cases^where the matter in dispute did not exceed twenty 
dollars, they proceeded summarily at chambers, and without 

165] Municipal History of New Orleans. 11 

written record. In other cases a record was made up by a 
notary, the case was heard in open court, and where the matter 
in dispute exceeded ninety thousand maravedis ($330.88), an 
appeal lay to the Cabildo itself. That body did not undertake 
as such, to examine the case but selected two regidors, who, 
with the Alcaldes who had heard the cause below, reviewed 
the proceedings. 

The Attorney General Syndic was not, as his title might seem 
to indicate, the public prosecutor. He appears to have been, 
in his way, a tribune of the people, though not chosen by 
them. It was his duty to propose to the Cabildo such meas- 
ures as the popular interest required and to defend the popular 

O'Reilly presided over the first session of the Cabildo in 
December, 1 769, and then yielded the chair to Unzaga, who 
had been commissioned as governor, with the understanding 
that he should not assume the duties of the position until the 
captain-general should request him to do so. 

Beyond the limits of the town, in each rural parish, an 
officer of the army or of the militia was stationed, and acted 
both as military commandant and chief civil officer. But the 
city was governed by the Cabildo, and such continued to be 
its municipal administration during the Spanish rule. 

By a proclamation of February 22, 1770, the captain- 
general created and assigned to the City of New Orleans a 
special revenue. It consisted of an annual tax of forty dollars 
on every tavern, billiard table and coffee house, and of twenty 
dollars on every boarding house; an impost of one dollar on 
every barrel of brandy brought to the city, and a tax of three 
hundred and seventy dollars on the butchers of the place. To 
enable the city to keep up the levee, an anchorage duty was 
also established in its favor, of six dollars ujMm every vessel 
of two hundred tons and upwards, and three dollars on smaller 
craft. These exactions were not exorbitant, but they were the 
seed of a system which has since become extensive and vicious. 
New Orleans to-day is exacting large suras in tlie way of 

12 Municipal Histoiy of New Orleans. [166 

license taxes on pursuits which require no police regulation, 
and in the guise of wharf dues which are really a tax on 
commerce. The germs thus sown in Spanish times have 
grown like the mustard tree of Scripture, and require vigorous 
uprooting. In connection with the subject of revenue it may 
be noted that New Orleans suffered greatly during the Spanish 
domination from restrictions on the freedom of trade. The 
colonial theories of Spain with respect to commerce were of 
the most benighted character, and it may be stated as a general 
rule that it was only by evasions of law that the trade of New 
Orleans was permitted to grow. 

In 1779 war was declared by Spain against Great Britain 
and New Orleans was thus called upon to assist the American 
colonies in their struggle for independence. The youthful and 
brilliant Galvez received a commission of governor and inten- 
dant, and took the field at once with an army of about fourteen 
hundred men, made up of his regular troops, the militia, a 
number of Americans of the city who volunteered their 
services, and " many of the people of color." ^ By the last of 
September he had captured Fort Bute on Manchac, and Baton 
Rouge, Fort Panmure at Natchez, and small posts on the 
Amite and Thompson's Creek. The campaign seems to have 
had a literary as well as a military result. Julien Poydras, 
afterwards a member of the Congress of the United States, 
celebrated its successes in a small French poem which was 
printed at the royal charge. In May, 1781, Galvez captured 
Pensacola and the province of West Florida was surrendered 
to Spain. 

On October 1, 1800, a treaty was concluded between 
France and Spain by which the latter promised to restore 
the province of Louisiana. France, however, did not receive 
formal possession until November 30th, 1803, when, in the 
presence of the officers of both nations the Spanish flag was 
lowered, the tri-color hoisted and delivery made to France. 

» Martin : Vol. 2, p. 48. 

167] Municipal History of New Orleans. 13 

The French commissioner, Laussat, had come as colonial 
prefect, and issued a very rhetorical proclamation congratula- 
ting the people upon their return to the bosom of France, and 
had received in reply an address from the prominent citizens 
declaring that no spectacle could be more affecting than such 
return. The joy, however, was of brief duration. The cession 
to France had been procured by Napoleon, and he did not 
deem it politic to retain such a distant and exposed domain ; 
and already in April 1803, Louisiana had been ceded to the 
United States. On the 20th of December 1803, Governor 
Claiborne took formal posession for the United States, and 
"the tri-color made room for the striped banner under repeated 
peals of artillery and musketry." ^ 

In the meantime, however, Laussat had by proclamation 
established a municipal government for New Orleans, in place 
of the Cabildo.* It was composed of a Mayor, and two 
Adjuncts, and ten members of the Council. The names are 
familiar in our earlier history. Bor6 was mayor; his asso- 
ciates were Destrehan and Sauv6 ; the members were Livaudais, 
Cavelier, Viller^, Jones, Fortier, Donaldson, Fauri6, Allard, 
Tureaud, and Watkins. Derbigny was secretary and Labatut 


As stated by the Supreme Court of Louisiana,' New Orleans, 
which had been "a city under the royal governments of 
France and Spain was created a municipality under the ephem- 
eral dominion of the Consulate." Under the American domi- 
nation the new territorial Legislature deemed it proper to 
establish its political organization by a charter of the American 
type, and this was done in February, 1805. The Court finds 
in the decision above referred to, that " the act to incorporate 

» Martin: Vol. 2, p. 199. 

•Id., p. 197. 

'Loimiana Stole Bank m. Orleani Nay. Co., 8rd Annual Bep., 305. 

14 Municipal History of New Orleans, [168 

the City of New Orleans of the 17th of February of that 
year, like all the statutes passed at the commencement of the 
American government of Louisiana — to the honor of their 
authors be it said — is a model of legislative style and exhibits 
its intendment with a clearness and precision which renders it 
impossible to be misunderstood. It provides for the civil 
government of the city and in general terms confers powers 
of administration ; and in the various special delegations of 
authority it contains thereby excludes the idea of any other 
powers being granted than such as the police and the pres- 
ervation of good order of the population require. * * *= It 
prescribes the duties of the principal officers and designates 
specially the objects for which money may be raised by taxa- 
tion, as well as the objects of taxation. The whole tenor of 
the act is a delegation of power for purposes of municipal 
administration, guarded by limitations, and accompanied by 
such checks as experience had shown to be wise, expedient and 
even necessary for the interest of those who were to be affected 
by it." 

The officers under this charter were a Mayor, a Recorder, 
a Treasurer, and a number of subordinate officers, and the 
Council was composed of fourteen Aldermen. Two from each 
of the seven wards into which the city was divided. The 
Mayor and Recorder were at first appointed by the Governor 
of the territory but the officers were afterward made elective. 
The Aldermen were required to be " discreet '^ inhabitants of 
and free holders in their respective wards, and were elected in 
each ward by voters who, to be qualified, were required to be 
free white male inhabitants who should have resided in the 
city for at least one year, and should have been for at least 
six months free-holders possessing and owning a real estate 
worth at least five hundred dollars, or renting a household 
tenement of the yearly value of one hundred dollars. By an 
amendment of 1812, the Aldermen were required to be "of 
good fame and possessed of property in their respective wards,'' 
and the Mayor, thenceforth to be elected, to have had a resi- 

169] Municipal History of New Orleans, 15 

dence in the city for the four years preceding his election, and 
to possess in his own name for the last year in the city a real 
estate of three thousand dollars, agreeably to the tax list. The 
voters under this amendment were required to have paid a 
State, parish or corporation tax, or to have possessed for six 
months a real estate of the value of five hundred dollars con- 
formably to the tax list. By an amendment of 1818, the right 
to vote for municipal officers was extended to all free white 
male citizens of the United States of the age of twenty-one 
years who had resided in the city and in the ward for six 
months next preceding the election and who had paid a State 
tax within the year preceding the election. 

By this charter of 1805 all rights and property which had 
belonged to the City of New Orleans, or had been held for its 
use by the Cabildo under the Spanish government, or by the 
municipality after the transfer of the province in the year 
1803 to France, or to the municipality at the moment, and 
which had not been legally alienated, lost or barred, were 
vested in the Mayor, Aldermen and inhabitants.^ 

In 1836 another charter was imposed by the State Legis- 
lature. It was undoubtedly procured as a result of differences 
of opinion as to municipal methods between the Creoles of the 
old regime and the rapidly increasing American population of 
Anglo-Saxon origin. It was a curious experiment in city 
affairs. The territory of New Orleans was divided into three 
separate municipalities, each having a distinct government 
with many independent powers ; yet with a Mayor and Gen- 
eral Council with a certain superior authority.^ It was the 
idea of local self-government pushed to an extreme. It 
existed for sixteen years, and during its existence many 
important public ihaprovements were made. At the same 
time the system afforded many opportunities for corruption 
and extravagance. Large floating debts were contracted and 

>Actoofl806, p.64. 
'Acts of 1886, p. 28. 

16 Municipal History of New Orleans, [170 

it appeared to all that some reform must be effected. In 
1852, by legislation of that session, the three municipalities, 
together with the City of Lafayette, lying next above New 
Orleans, were consolidated by a new charter ; and stringent 
provisions made for the funding of the debt. An interesting 
discussion of this charter, with respect to the bonded debt, is 
found in a decision of the Supreme Court of the United 
States rendered in 1881.^ By this charter, and its supple- 
mental act,^ the legislative power of the new corporation was 
vested in two bodies, a Board of Aldermen and a Board of 
Assistant Aldermen, and its executive power in a Mayor, four 
Recorders, a Treasurer, a Comptroller, a Surveyor, a Street 
Commissioner, and such subordinate officers as the Council 
might deem necessary. The debt was funded, and in 1855 it 
was reported that obligations of $7,700,000 had been reduced 
to but little more than $3,000,000. 

In 1856 the charter was amended and re-enacted, and 
elaborate provisions made in regard to assessment and taxa- 
tion, and under this legislation the corporation continued 
until the year 1870. 


In the meantime the Civil War came on; and upon the 
capture of New Orleans by the forces of the United States, in 
May, 1862, the administration of the affairs of the city became 
the subject of military action. No change could be made at 
the time in existing legislation. A military Mayor was de- 
tailed to perform the duties of that office ; and such affairs of 
the city as required attention during a complete military 
occupation were entrusted to the Finance Committee and the 
Committee of Streets and Landings of the Council. As a 
matter of course the administration of a large city under such 
circumstances and by such means, under military control, gave 

* Louisiana vs. Pilsbury, 105 U. S. Eeports, 278. 
'Act8ofl852, pp. 42-57. 

171] Municipal History of New Orleans. 17 

rise to many singular questions. For an investigation of some 
of them the reader is referred to the decisions of the Supreme 
Court of the United States which are cited in the subjoined 

The discussion, however, of such controversies cannot throw 
much light on the problem of municipal government in times 
of peace. But it may be suggested that the promptness and 
efficiency of military action in matters of police and sanitation 
in New Orleans, during the late war, were a valuable object 
lesson, and furnish some of those compensations which, Mr. 
Emerson declared, always accompany calamity. 

The year 1870 witnessed an experiment in municipal govern- 
ment in New Orleans which deserves special mention. The 
charter enacted in that year by the Legislature,^ adopted what 
was generally known as the Administration system. The 
limits of the city were considerably enlarged by including what 
is now known as the sixth district, and was formerly Jefferson 
City, and the government of the municipality thus established 
was vested in a Mayor and seven Administrators; namely, 
one of Finance, one of Commerce, one of Improvements, one 
of Assessments, one of Police, who was ex-officio a member of 
the Police Board ; one of Public Accounts, and one of Water- 
works and Public Buildings. These officials in the first place 
possessed administrative and executive functions corresponding 
to their names ; and each of the seven was accordingly at the 
head of a bureau or department created for him by the statute 
as follows: a Department of Finance, which was the city 
treasury; a Department of Commerce which had general 
superintendence of all matters relating to markets, railroads, 
canals, weights and measures, the fire department and manu- 
factories ; a Department of Assessment, with general 8ui)erin- 
tendence of all matters of taxation and license ; a Department 

' New Orleans w. The Steamship Co., 20 Wallace, 387 ; The Venice, 2 
Id., 269; Grapeshot, 9 Id., 129; Mechanics, etc. t». Union Bank, 22 Id., 276. 
* Acts of 1870, extra session. No. 7. 


18 Municipal History of New Orleans, [172 

of Improvements charged with the construction, cleansing and 
repair of streets, sidewalks, wharves, bridges and drains ; a 
Department of Police having charge of public order, houses of 
refuge and correction, and the lighting of the city ; a Depart- 
ment of Public Accounts which comprised all the duties of 
an Auditor and Comptroller; and, finally, a Department of 
Water-works and Public Buildings, with supervision of water- 
works, school-houses, hospitals and asylums. 

But in the second place it was provided that the same Mayor 
and Administrators should form the Council and in a collective 
capacity should have extensive legislative power for local 
purposes. In this capacity it resembles the Spanish Cabildo. 
Such a Council possessed naturally many valuable qualities. 
Its members were elected on a general ticket and were not 
supposed to represent any local clique. In the exercise of their 
administrative duties they became familiar with the need of 
their respective departments and could advocate, explain or 
defend on the floor of the City Legislature what was desired 
or had been done in the bureau. A small and compact body, 
its meetings were as business-like as those of a bank directory. 
Its custom was to assemble in the Mayor^s parlor, generally 
on the day before the regular weekly meeting ; and sitting in 
committee of the whole, to discuss with any citizens who chose 
to attend, such subjects of public interest as might be brought 
up. Reporters from the daily press were present, and the 
journals of the next morning gave full particulars of the 
interchange of ideas. If the subject seemed very important 
and difficult, leading citizens were invited by letter or adver- 
tisement to attend and give their views. As an example of 
thorough discussion it may be mentioned that an ordinance in 
relation to sewerage and drainage which was proposed in 
1881, was debated for upwards of one year, and a hearing 
given to every friend or opponent who desired to express his 

No system of government can pretend to be perfect ; and 
the charter of 1870 could not satisfy every one. It was 

173] Municipal History of New Orleans, 19 

claimed that the Council under the charter was too small and 
could be too easily controlled in the interests of private or 
corporate gain. No preponderant evidence, however, of this 
assertion ever appeared. The administrators as a rule, were 
citizens prominent either in business or politics, and as such 
were far more amenable to public opinion than the ordinary 
councilman of the average American city. Their methods 
were essentially business-like and their l^islation as a whole 
was characterized by public spirit and progress. 

It is a matter of regret that the administration system 
could not have been continued longer than it was, but after 
the adoption of a new State constitution in 1879 a powerful 
pressure for a complete change was established by local 
politicians. The Legislature accordingly, in June, 1882, 
adopted the present charter of New Orleans.* The City of 
Carrollton had already, in 1874, been annexed,^ and the limits 
of the existing municipality are therefore very extensive. 

By this charter the legislative power of the corporation 
is vested in one Council composed of thirty membei-s elected 
by the qualified voters of their respective districts. They 
must be citizens of the State not less than twenty-five years 
of age ; must be residents of the districts they represent ; and 
must have been residents of the city for five years next pre- 
ceding their election. 

The executive power is vested in a Mayor, a Treasurer, a 
Comptroller, a Commissioner of Public Works, and a Com- 
missioner of Police and Public Buildings, who are elected on 
a general ticket. These officers must be at least twenty-five 
years of age, except the Mayor, who must be at least thirty, 
citizens of the State and residents of New Orleans for five 
years next preceding their election. The Mayor presides at 
the meeting of the Council ; and the other executive officers 
of the city mentioned above have a right to seats on the floor 

*Actaofl882, No. 20. 
«Act8ofl874,No. 71. 

20 Municipal History of New Orleans. [174 

of the Council during its sessions, witli a right to debate and 
discuss all matters having reference to their respective depart- 
ments, but without a vot€. This is a valuable provision^ 
and if executed in good faith cannot but produce a beneficial 

The executive officers above named may be impeached and 
removed by the Council for malfeasance or gross neglect of 
duty, or disability affecting fitness to hold office. Articles of 
impeachment may be preferred by the Committee of Public 
Order (who in this case on the trial will be recused), or by 
six members of the Council, or by twenty citizens. 

Some check on hasty legislation is imposed, firstly, by the 
usual veto pow^er in the Mayor, and secondly, by the provision 
that '^ no ordinance or resolution shall pass the Council at the 
same session at which it is first offered, but any ordinance or 
resolution shall at its first offering be read in full and shall 
lie over one week before being finally considered by the 

The Fire Department of New Orleans is still of a volunteer 
character. It is organized as a charitable association, and 
naturally retains many of the sentiments and traditions which 
have become obsolete in other American cities, where the paid 
system has been introduced as a part of municipal government. 
It has an existing contract with the city for the extinguish- 
ment of fires which has yet some two years to run. It is 
not likely that this contract will be renewed. The city has 
become so large that while the Firemen's Charitable Associa- 
tion is theoretically composed of volunteers, it is obliged to 
pay a large number of regular employes in the care of the 
engine houses and horses, and the use of the steam engines and 
other apparatus which have superseded the simple appliances 
of earlier years. The press is agitating for a paid, govern- 
mental system. It is alleged that the voluntary system has 
been used as a political machine in local and even in State 
politics, that it is cumbrous and costly, and that the time for 
its usefulness has past. The paid members of the association 

175] Municipal History of New Orleans. 21 

will make no objection to being transferred to municipal con- 
trol, and such transfer will probably be made as soon as it 
can be done without impairing contract rights. 

The topography of New Orleans gives constant and pressing 
importance to questions of levees, drainage and paving. Large 
expenditures have been made in this direction during the last 
half century. The trouble in these matters, as in most of our 
American cities, has been to secure some system that should 
be continuous, consistent, and rightly administered. The soil 
of the entire city is alluvial, and the fall, such as it is, is from 
the Mississippi towards Lakes Ponchartrain and Borgne. To 
pave such a soil in such a way as to form a surface that will 
sustain heavy traffic, during winter rains, is a problem of 
difficulty. For business streets, square blocks of granite are 
found to last longer than any other material. Some of the 
principal avenues have been asphalted on a foundation of con- 
crete. Others have been laid with from nine to twelve inches 
of gravel which is claimed to possess concreting qualities, and 
is in some instances laid on a foundation of cypress planks 
which are expected to resist decay until the needful arch is 
formed above them. 

What is specially needed now is a system by which the 
work on the levees, the drainage and the paving of the city 
shall be harmonized, and continued without interruption until 
it shall be completed in a manner worthy of the place. The 
legislative committee of the Council has within the last week* 
prepared an act on this subject which the Council has ap- 
proved and requested the State Legislature to adopt. It 
establishes a Commission of Public Works in the City of 
New Orleans, composed of the Mayor and Commissioner of 
Public Works, of the chairmen of five standing committees 
of the Council on such subjects, and of six citizens to be 
selected from different districts of the city. The matter of 
levees, paving and drainage is to be entrusted to this Commis- 

> Jane, 1888. 

22 Municipal History of New Orleans, [176 

sion, certain funds of the city are to be turned over to it, and 
it is empowered to submit to a vote of property taxpayers the 
question of a special tax for its further revenue under a con- 
stitutional provision which will be presently referred to. If 
this let^islation be adopted it may lay a foundation of perma- 
nent and consistent improvements. 

The water supply of New Orleans is drawn from the Mis- 
sissippi River and is in the hands of a Company, in which^ 
however, the city has some stock and a representation on the 
board of direction. The first company was incorporated in 
1833, as the Commercial Bank, at a time when it was the 
fashion to charter banks with a power to do something quite 
irrelevant to the operations of finance. By a provision of the 
charter the city had the right to purchase the works at any 
time after the lapse of thirty-five years. This right was 
exercised in 1869, and bonds issued for the amount of the 
appraisement. The city operated the system until 1 877, when, 
being in default in the interest on the bonds as well as on the 
rest of her funded debt, it was deemed wise to put the concern 
in the hands of a business corporation. This change was 
effected under the Act of March 31, 1877, the bonds given in 
1869 being mostly exchanged for stock in the new company. 
Under this Act, as interpreted by the Courts, the Water-works 
Company has a monopoly of the supply of water for sale, 
which is to last for fifty years from the date of the act of 
1877.^ Some improvements have been made of late in the 
service by the introduction of a stand-pipe, with a head of 
sixty feet, and by some extension of the mains. The problem 
of filtering the water, however, remains unsolved. It is, as a 
rule, very muddy and unattractive for any purpose. The use 
of cistern water, stored in cypress tanks, above ground, is 
almost universal in New Orleans. Such water, exposed to 
light and air and renewed by frequent showers, is clear and 
white, makes a charming bath and when filtered through 

» 116 U. S., 674; 120 Id., 64; 125 Id., 18. 

177] Municipal History of New Orleans, 23 

porous stone as it may easily be, is agreeable and wholesome 
for drinking. 

The gas supply of the city on the left bank, except in the 
Sixth and Seventh Districts, is furnished by a business corpora- 
tion, which, after a considerable amount of contest in the 
Courts has by consolidation acquired an exclusive right for 
fifty years from 1875. The details of the legislation and of 
the discussions in regard to it will be found, like many other 
fects of the history of New Orleans, in the decisions of the 
Supreme Court of the United States.^ The contest, however, 
with the new methods of electrical lighting has taken the 
place of litigation in the Courts. Already the arc light has 
driven gas entirely from the streets, and the incandescent 
lights are beginning to be numerous in shops and even in 
dwellings. One of the newest and largest churches is thus 
illuminated. With wire doors and windows, electric lights 
and electric fans, a library in New Orleans may be made as 
comfortable in August as in January. What may be the out- 
come of the struggle between cheap water-gas and electricity, 
it is not the province of this paper to predict. At the moment, 
electricity dominates in public places, and a system of iron 
towers for carrying the wires has already been begun. 


The City of New Orleans has been at different times the 
recipient of donations for charitable purposes, which may be 
briefly referred to as part of her municipal history, and as 
throwing perhaps some light upon the question whether such 
gifts should be made to municipal corporations or placed in 
the hands of private trustees. 

In 1838 by the will of Alexander Milne, a native of Soot- 
land, property of apparently large value was left to four 

> N. O. Oas Co. M. Lft. Light Co., 116 U. S., 650 and cases there cited. 

24 Municipal History of New Orleans, [178 

asylums. The trust, so far as the Asylum for Destitute Boys 
is concerned, is now managed by the Mayor and the assets 
comprise a large amount of real estate of little present value, 
and some city bonds worth about $3,000. 

The will of Joseph Claude Mary, in 1840, left $5,000 to 
the orphans of the First Municipality of New Orleans. After 
some litigation this bequest was declared by the Court ^ to 
vest in the Municipality, and should therefore be administered 
by the present City. At last accounts it had been turned over 
to a Boys' Asylum which is a private corporation. The reasons 
for this diversion of funds are not apparent, and, until some 
excuse be forthcoming, may be treated as inexcusable. 

About the same time Stephen Henderson, a native of Scot- 
land, bequeathed the sum of $2,000 per annum for the poor of 
the Parish of Orleans, a territory now co-terminus with and 
controlled by the City of New Orleans. By an act of com- 
promise with the heirs, the parish then, and the city now, has 
acquired sundry cotton-press lots, the rents of which are dis- 
pensed in small sums in charity to the poor. The bequest in 
this form can hardly be considered of much practical value. 
At least, from the hard-hearted view of modern political 
economy, such gratuities can produce little eifect except to 
destroy the self-respect and will-power of the recipients. 

The Girod Fund was left by the will of Nicholas Girod, 
who died in 1840. Its administration has not been felicitous. 
The principal, which in 1866, had reached a sum of about 
$80,000, was expended in the erection of an asylum for the 
charitable purposes contemplated by the will. The building 
for some reason, never made public, was erected on the margin 
of a swamp in the rear of the city, in the most unwhole- 
some locality that could have been selected, and is entirely 

The Touro Alms House bequest was made by the will of 
Judah Touro, a well known philanthropist, who died in 1854. 

* 2 Robinson, 438. 

179] Municipal History of New Orleans. 25 

The sum of §80,000 was left " to prevent mendicity in New 
Orleans." The trust was administered by the city. The Alms 
House was completed in 1860 at great expense on a site donated 
by Mr. R. D. Shepherd. In 1864 while occupied by United 
States troops it was destroyed by fire, and nothing tangible 
now remains of the charity except the land and a fund of 
about §5,000. It is believed thai the United States ought in 
equity to restore the value of the building. 

The Fink Asylum Fund results from dispositions in the 
will of John B. Fink, of November, 1855, and has assets 
reported at about $290,000. The bequest was for an asylum 
" for Protestant Widows and Orphans '' ; and the Court after 
some litigation decided ^ that it should be administered by the 
city. The income is used for the support of an asylum for the 
object named. 

The Sickles Legacy was left, in 1864, by S. V. Sickles, an 
apothecary, for the purpose of establishing a ** dispensary for 
indigent sick persons." It is administered by the Mayor and 
the financial oflScers of the city, by arrangement with drug- 
gists, who agree to dispense medicines to the poor at certain 
localities. Its fund now amounts to about S 36,000. 

The McDonogh donation was the most important of those 
under consideration ; was the one most peculiar in its char- 
acter; and was a matter which concerned also the City of 
Baltimore. John McDonogh, a native of Baltimore, came to 
the City of New Orleans about the year 1800, lived the life 
of a somewhat eccentric bachelor, and died in 1850. The 
principal feature of his will was an attempt to establish an 
estate which was to be perpetual in its existence and was to 
grow into something prodigious in its proportions. As stated 
by the learned Mr. Hennen, in his summary of the litigation 
in the Supreme Court of Louisiana,* the decision in which was 
concurred in, substantially, by the Supreme Court of the 

* 12 Annual Rep., 301. 

*Hennen'8 Dig., p. 443; 8 Annual Rep., p. 171. 

26 Municipal Histm^y of New Orleans. [180 

United States/ McDonogh, after certain special legacies in apt 
terms, bequciithed all the rest of his estate to the cities of 
Baltimore and New Orleans, for certain purposes afterward 
mentioned, and especially the establishment and support of 
free schools for the poor only, of all colors in both cities. He 
directed his executors to invest his personal property in real 
estate to constitute a fund, never to be alienated, but to exist 
for all time, a perpetual entity, christened "My General 
Estate." Commissioners annually appointed by the cities, 
and subject to their visitation, were to have forever the seizin 
and exclusive management of this estate, the annual revenues 
of which were to be applied as follows : one-fourth to two 
designated institutions of pious character, to the former for a 
certain number of years, to the latter until a certain sum had 
been received, when both annuities were to cease; another 
fourth to the cities, to be handed over to their appointed 
directors to found certain charities, and when each city had 
received a certain sum these annuities in like manner were to 
cease; while the remaining two-fourths were to be divided 
between commissioners appointed by the cities, to whom, on 
termination of the other annuities, the whole revenues were to 
be paid to support the free schools in both cities. 

No part of the estate or its revenues was ever to go into the 
hands of the corporate authorities, the testator declaring his 
great object to be "the gradual augmentation of the real 
estate to belong to and be owned by the General Estate for 
centuries to come." And this estate, and the several funds 
and institutions created, he recommended, should be incorpo- 
rated. No partition was ever to be made by the cities, nor 
any change by agreement or compromise in their relations to 
each other or the estate ; and if they violated any of the con- 
ditions, their rights were to be forfeited, and the estate, still 
inalienable, was limited over equally to the States of Louisiana 
and Maryland, to educate their poor as they might direct. If 

* 15 Howard, p. 367. 

181] Municipal History of New Orleans, 27 

the legacies lapsed from any cause whatever, they were to 
enure to the States, to carry out the testator's intentions as far 
as they thought proper. The ultimate design was to educate 
the poor of the two cities, and disinherit the legal heirs. It 
was held by the Court, after great discussion, that the cities 
iiad the capacity to take the legacies, which were not void for 
uncertainty in the recipients of the charities; that there were 
no prohibit^ substitutions or Jidei commissa in the bequests, of 
the conditions of which, so far as impossible or against public 
policy, the will was to be eviscerated ; that the States could 
not take instead of the cities, which, as residuary legatees 
under a universal title, were entitled to the legacies ; and that 
in any contingency the heirs at law could claim nothing. 

The net result of the McDonogh will cases was to give the 
property to Baltimore and New Orleans, subject to sundry 
legacies and charges which were paid or compromised. The 
extraordinary plan which the imagination of the testator had 
formed in his lonely hours of celibacy was never realized; but 
the object was to some practical extent attained. The net 
proceeds of the estate were divided between the cities, to be 
applied to educational purposes. The popular belief has been 
that the trust has not been well administered by New Orleans. 
This belief, however, is not well founded. The amount of 
the estate was much exaggerated ; portions of it were depre- 
ciated in the lapse of time, and the expenses of defending it 
were heavy. The city received in round numbers about 
$750,000. With the proceeds she has erected and furnished 
eighteen school houses. At an early period of the late war 
some of the assets were diverted for the purpose of fortifying 
the city, but were afterwards restored. The present value of 
the property, including the school houses, is estimated at about 

These various trust funds have gone through so many perils, 
and especially in times of civil war, that it is not believed such 
bequests will ever be again made in the future as in the past. 
From one point of view the city, by the contiimity of its life 

28 Municipal History of New Orleans. [182 

and the publicity of its methods, offers assurances of safety and 
care. The general verdict, however, would be that it is better 
for a testator to vest his benefactions in a private corporation, 
or, better yet, if possible, to establish them in full operation 
before his death. 


It may be proper to refer to the history of the elective 
franchise under the successive constitutions of Louisiana, in 
connection with the history of the city government of New 
Orleans. By the Constitution of 1812, the qualified elector 
is declared to be the " free white male citizen of the United 
States who at the time being hath attained the age of twenty- 
one years, and resided in the country in which he offers to 
vote one year next preceding the election, and who in the last 
six months prior to said election shall have paid a state tax ; 
provided, that every free white male citizen of the United 
States who shall have purchased land from the United States 
shall have the right of voting whenever he shall have the 
other qualifications of age and residence above described." 

By the Constitution of 1845 it was provided that "in all 
elections by the people every free white male, who has been 
two years a citizen of the United States, who had attained the 
age of twenty-one years, and resided in the State two consecu- 
tive years next preceding the election, and the last year thereof 
in the parish in which he offers to vote, shall have the right 
to vote." 

By the Constitution of 1852 the qualified elector is declared 
to be the " free white male who has attained the age of twenty- 
one years and who has been a resident of the State twelve 
months next preceding the election, and the last six months 
thereof in the parish in which he offers to vote, and who shall 
be a citizen of the United States." 

The Constitution of 1864 declared that every white male 
who had attained the age of twenty-one years, and who had 

183] Municipal History of New Orleans, 29 

been a resident of the State twelve months next preceding the 
election and the last three months thereof in the parish in 
which he offers to vote, and who was a citizen of the United 
States should have the right of voting. 

By the Constitution of 1868 the right of suffrage, except in 
certain cases of disfranchisement, was further extended to 
include every male person of the age of twenty-one years or 
upwards, born or naturalized in the United States, and subject 
to the jurisdiction thereof, and a resident of the State one year 
next preceding an election and the last ten days within the 
parish in which he should offer to vote. 

Finally, by the Constitution of 1879, a further step was 
taken, and the right of suffrage, whether in State or municipal 
elections, now belongs to every male citizen of the United 
States, and every male person of foreign birth who has been 
naturalized or who may have legally declared his intention to 
become a citizen of the United States before he offers to vote, 
who is twenty-one years of age, and who has resided in the 
State one year, in the parish six months and in the ward or 
precinct thirty days, next preceding the election. 

It will thus appear that the personal right of suffrage in 
New Orleans has been gradually extended until its latitude is 
extreme. Another provision, however, of the present Consti- 
tution alluded to above, establishes a safe-guard against the 
extravagance which might result from a misuse of the elective 
franchise as it affects the use of the taxing power. The City 
Council is prohibited from levying an annual ad valorem tax 
for general purposes exceeding one per centum on the assessed 
value of pro|>erty, real and personal. Of course there are 
other taxes for the interest on city bonds, which must continue 
until the bonds are paid, but the tax for general purposes, or 
alimony of the city, is limited to the ten mills. At the same 
time, for the purpose of constructing " works of public improve- 
ment," the rate of taxation " may be increased when the rate 
of such increase and the purpose for which it is intended shall 
have been submitted to a vote of the property tax-payers'* of 

30 Municipal History of New Orleans. [184 

the " Municipality entitled to vote under the election laws of 
the State and a majority of same voting at such election shall 
have voted therefor." ^ By this plan a certain control is vested 
in the property tax-payers, in a manner which promises to be 

Referring again to the successive constitutions of the State, 
attention may be directed to the protection they have sought 
to afford to the right of the citizens of New Orleans to deal 
directly as voters with the question of its police. The pro- 
vision in the fundamental law of 1812 was as follows : 

" The citizens of the town of New Orleans shall have the 
right of appointing the several public officers necessary for the 
administration and the police of said city, pursuant to the 
mode of election which shall be prescribed by the legislature; 
provided that the Mayor and Recorder be ineligible to a seat 
in the general assembly." 

By the constitutions of 1845 and 1852 the right was limited 
to the appointment, by the same methods, of the "officers 
necessary for the administration of the police of the city," and 
it was held by the Supreme Court that these provisions, 
whether in 1812, 1845, or 1852, did not impair the power of 
the legislature to deal with the drainage of the city, either 
directly or through the agency of a company.^ 

In the constitution of 1864 the provision was repeated as 
to the administration of the police, while the Governor, how- 
ever, was empowered to appoint five commissioners, who, with 
the Mayor, should constitute a board to try and remove delin- 
quent policemen. 

The entire provision was omitted from the constitution of 
1868, and under this the legislature introduced a metropolitan 
police system, imitated from that then existing in New York, 
and including a considerable territory outside the city limits ; 
and it was held to be lawful because the provision in question 

1 Constitution of 1879, art. 209. 

^In re Draining Co., 11 La., Art. 338. 

185] Municipal History of New Orleans, 31 

had been so omitted.^ The commissioners were appointed by 
the Governor. 

In the constitution of 1879 the right was restored by the 
following language : 

" The citizens of the City of New Orleans, or of any politi- 
cal corporation which may be created within its limits, shall 
have the right of appointing the several public officers neces- 
sary for the administration of the police of said city, pursuant 
to the mode of election which shall be provided by the general 
assembly." ^ 

Under the present charter of the city — of 1882 — the Mayor 
appoints police officers, policemen, and watchmen, by and with 
the consent of a majority of the Council, under the ordinances 
of the Council organizing the force, and may suspend such 
officers, reporting the fact and the cause to the Council for its 
action. He is empowered to control and make regulations for 
the force, the Council, however, having the right by a two- 
thirds vote to repeal such regulations.* 


The full history of a city government is not to be found in 
the statute books or the ordinances of its Common Council ; 
and this sketch would be incomplete without some notice of 
those voluntary associations on the part of citizens of New 
Orleans which during the last decade have attempted to assist 
or influence the city government in corporate matters. 

The Auxiliary Sanitary Association was organized after the 
epidemic of 1878 for the purpose of promoting public health. 
It was felt that, in the condition of the finances of the City, it 
was necessary to invoke private subscription. The appeals of 
the Association met with a liberal response ; and the Associa- 
tion has continued to carry on its work, not only by a constant 

. . 309. 
"Art. 253. 
* Acts of 1882, p. 23. 

32 Municipal History of New Orleans. [186 

criticism of imperfect methods, but by some positive works of 
public improvement. The most important of these is the 
system of appliances for flushing the gutters during the summer 
months with water from the Mississippi River. New Orleans 
is so situated that it is considered impracticable to construct 
the large subterranean sewers which are necessary to carry 
off storm waters. Such storm waters are therefore conveyed 
by gutters and draining canals to low points in the rear of the 
city and thence lifted by draining wheels into the lake. To 
flush these gutters and canals in hot weather, the Association 
has erected on the levee two steam pumps with a daily capacity 
of about 8,000,000 gallons each, and arranged a system of 
pipes by which the principal streets at right angles to the 
river are supplied with flushing water. It is said that such 
appliances if constructed by the city would have cost $200,000. 
The Association, by its closer and more skilful business 
methods procured them for about $75,000. 

Without assuming any partisan attitude, mention may be 
made in this connection of two other associated efforts which 
have recently exercised much influence in the municipal history 
of New Orleans. One is called the Committee of One Hun- 
dred, the other the Young Men's Democratic Association. 

The Committee of One Hundred was organized in the spring 
of 1885. It has taken no part in partisan politics, and none 
of its members can be a candidate for office. Its chief object 
is municipal reform. Its labors during its first year were 
chiefly performed in a scrutiny of official malfeasance or neg- 
lect, and in appeal to the Courts to enjoin and annul such acts 
of the Council as were considered illegal and injurious. Its 
first success in this direction was an injunction of an appro- 
priation of $5,000 for a purpose decided to be beyond the 
power of the Council to make. The amount was not great, 
but the example was impressive.^ In the latter part of 1887 
and the early days of 1888 its most important work has been 
in purifying the registration of voters. This registration, 

1 The Liberty Bell, 23 Federal Keporter, 843. 

187] Municipal History of New Orlearis, 33 

intended to be a protection against illegal voting, was being 
used, as such devices often are, to facilitate fraud. The com- 
mittee availed itself of serious disputes between the local polit- 
ical factions to intervene between them in this matter, and 
succeeded in making an examination of the books and a quite 
thorough house-to-house canvass of the city. The result was 
that not less than twelve thousand names were erased from the 
registration and the poll books. Many of these were fraudu- 
lent ; many, however, were names of persons who were dead, 
or who had lefl the city, or moved their residences. In any 
event, such lists and papers might be used for purposes of 
fraud, and it was felt that this feat alone justified the existence 
of the committee. 

The Young Men's Democratic Association was organized in 
October, 1887. It was said that the Holy Roman Empire 
was so called because it was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an 
Empire. The association in question is not composed entirely 
of young men, nor of members of what is called the Demo- 
cratic party. It takes no part in State politics. It has 
declined to participate in the primaries. Its object is declared 
to be " to promote the election of men of integrity and ability, 
irrespective of creed or calling, to fill the municipal offices of 
the City of New Orleans." It is provided by its constitution 
that "no member of this organization shall hold or be a can- 
didate for any office, nor shall the organization enter into any 
combination or trade with any political faction." It freely 
assisted the Committee of One Hundred in the tedious work 
of purging the registration, and then waited to see what nomi- 
nations would be made by the regular party organizations for 
the election of April 17, 1888. Dissatisfied with such nom- 
inations as were made, it put forth a ticket of its own, and 
then stood guard at the polls for nearly four days while the 
vote was being cast and counted. The unexj>ected happened, 
and the Young Men's ticket was elected amid much enthu- 
siasm ; and the hope is now freely indulged that the present 
executive officers and Council of the city will introduce many 
important reforms. 


English Culture in Virginia 

" Alaa ! how little from the grave we claim ! 
Thou but preservest a face, aud I a name." 

— ^POPE, BpisUe to Jervas. 



Historical and Political Science 


History is past Politics and Politicii present History— firemaH 


English Culture in Virginia 

A Study of the Gii.mek J.kitkrs and an Account of the 

English Professors obtained by Jefferson 

FOR THE University of Virginia 


PrqfwoT q/" Bittory in the Univcr$iti/ of the SoiUh 


W. MuBRAT, PusLiCATioK AoKirr, JoBKi HoncTin UKITKMmr 

Mmj mad Jane, 1889 





Introduction 7 

Chapter I. The Development op the University Idea 9 

II. Francis Walker Gilmer 27 

III. The Law Professorship 48 

IV. The Mission 56 

V. Conclusion 115 


About a year ago the Editor of these Studies honored me by 
desiriug my cooperation in the work he had undertaken with 
regard to the history of education in Virginia. I accordingly 
furnished two chapters for his monograph on " Thomas Jefferson 
and the University of Virginia," published by the United States 
Bureau of Education, Circular of Information, No. 1, 1888. But 
one seldom begins a line of investigation without being led to 
deeper research than he had at first intended ; and so it was in 
the present case. 

This new and independent study has been mainly developed 
from the correspondence of Francis Walker Gilmer. Who Mr. 
Gilmer was and what he did — things worth knowing but known 
to very few — will appear fully hereafter, for even the author of a 
" study " may occasionally borrow a device from the novelist and 
keep his readers in suspense ; but it will be necessary to explain 
at the outset how the aforesaid correspondence came into my 
hands. The facts of the case are briefly these. Dr. Adams was 
informed by a gentlemen whom he had consulted about the work 
previously mentioned, that a vplume of letters relating to the 
early history of the University of Virginia was in the hands of 
John Gilmer, Esquire, of Chatham, Virginia. A letter to that 
gentleman brought a courteous reply and the desired volume. 
Being much pressed by his professional and other duties, Dr. 
Adams handed me this voluminous correspondence with the re- 
quest that I would examine it and express an opinion as to its 
value with regard to that period of the University's history on 
which he was specially engaged. I did examine it with great 
care, and found that, although it did not bear directly on the 
field of investigation Dr. Adams had chosen, it nevertheless 


8 Introdicdion. [196 

opened up a new field of hardly inferior interest. Upon this 
report Dr. Adams and Mr. Gilmer were kind enough to intrust 
the letters to me that I might complete a study, the outlines of 
which were already developing themselves in my own mind. In 
a letter to my mother I alluded to the fact that this task had 
been confided to me. She at once wrote me that she was certain 
another volume of a similar character was in existence, and that 
she would endeavor to obtain it for me. 

Her statement proved true and the companion volume is now 
in my hands through the kindness of Mrs. Emma Breckinridge, 
of " Grove Hill," Botetourt County, Virginia. Mrs. Breckin- 
ridge is a sister of Mr. John Gilmer and a daughter of Peachy 
Gilmer, the eldest brother of the subject of this sketch. This 
second volume is even more invaluable than the first as it con- 
tains all of Gilmer's own letters to Mr. Jefferson, &c., and also 
throws many valuable side lights upon the internal history of 
Virginia for the period from 1815 to 1825. How and why these 
letters, nearly 700 in number, were bound and preserved will 
appear in the sequel. It will be suflficient here to ask indulgence 
for the mistakes which have doubtless crept into my work, and 
to return my hearty thanks to the friends who have assisted me 
in an investigation not wanting in complexity and minute details. 

William P. Trent. 

The University of the South, 
December 1, 1888. 





At the beginning of this century what culture Virginia had 
was not Virginian. This is not a Virginia bull, but a deplor- 
able fact. There was no lack of great men or of highly culti- 
vated men. A Virginian occupied the Presidential chair, and 
three others had it in reversion. Patrick Henry was dead, 
but John Randolph, by his eloquence and wit and sarcasm, 
was making Congress doubt whether it loved him or hated 
him. At the Richmond bar were Marshall and Wickham 
and Wirt, while at Norfolk men were beginning to prophesy 
great things of an eloquent young lawyer, — Littleton Waller 
Tazewell. There were hundreds of well educated men riding 
over their plantations or congregating on court day either to 
hear or to make speeches — and even the bar of as small a place 
as Winchester could boast of speakers whom these educated 
men would willingly hear. Although there was a servile, 
ignorant mass beneath them, this could not then be helped, 
nor had the habits of inaction, thereby necessarily engendered, 
extended as fully as they afterwards did, to the affairs of mind. 
Travel was not uncommon. One old gentleman was " gigo- 
maniac'' enough to drive to Boston in his gig every other 
summer, the return visit of his New England friends being 
2 9 

10 English Culture in Virginia. [198 

made, it is supposed, during the summers his gig was mend- 
ing. Although Mr. Jefferson and his colleagues had swept 
away every vestige they could of the feudal system, primo- 
geniture in education was an every day fact — unjust as primo- 
geniture generally is, but still a bright spot in the history of 
education in Virginia. Not a few families managed to send 
one representative at least to Europe for study and travel, and 
that representative was usually the eldest son. If England 
seemed too far, one or more of the sons went to Princeton or 
to William and Mary — many shutting their eyes to the fact 
that the latter historic place was even then slowly dying. 
Edinburgh, of course, was the goal of a young medical stu- 
dent's desires; but if he could not "compass this golden 
hope," Philadelphia was willing to receive him hospitably 
and to give him the benefit of her lectures and museums for a 
good round price. Books and libraries were not abundant ; 
but the books were at least good, however exorbitant their 
cost — a serious item in the culture of a state fast ruining itself 
financially by an extravagant hospitality. 

In some families it had been a custom to direct the factor 
in London to send back with the proceeds of the tobacco, a 
pipe of Madeira and a fixed amount of current literature — 
and hence it is that one occasionally comes across a rare first 
edition when rummaging the library of an old country house. 
Now if a boy had a taste for reading, he needed not to grow 
up an ignoramus even if he were not sent to college ; but if 
he preferred his gun and horse, there were few to thwart him, 
his father having to look after the estate, tutors and school- 
masters being rarae aves, and the mother having enough on 
her hands in the housekeeping and the bringing up of her 
daughters, who, though they knew nothing of moral philos- 
sophy and aesthetics, had, nevertheless read Pope and the 
Spectator, and kept in their memories household receipts of 
considerable claim to genealogical pride. 

But I said that the culture in Virginia was not Virginian, 
and I have not sufficiently explained my meaning. I do not 

199] English Culture in Virginia. 11 

mean to imply the same reproach as is implied in the hack- 
neyed invocation for " the great American novel." The cul- 
ture in Virginia was naturally English modified by circum- 
stances peculiar to a slaveholding, sparsely settled society. It 
was modified, too, by the birth of the feeling of independence 
and by the desire to try wings not fully fledged. All this 
was natural and is certainly not reprehensible. But there is 
another sense in which culture in Virginia was not Virginian, 
which if it does not imply reproach, must certainly cause a 
feeling of regret even to us of this late day. I refer to the 
almost universal lack of any primary and secondary instruc- 
tion worthy of the name, and to the comparative lack of 
university instruction. William and Mary College had for 
many years done a great work in Virginia, but though buoyed 
up for a time by the wisdom of Mr. Jefferson as a visitor, and 
of Bishop Madison as president, its influence was fast waning 
and, before the first quarter of the century had gone by, was 
practically null. Hampden Sidney seems to have been little 
more than a high-school, and it has at all times been sectarian. 
Washington College (since Washington and Lee University) 
did not exert a large influence,* and hence it was that Princeton 
drew away sons from nearly every Virginia family of import- 
ance. When the foundation of a state university was being 
urged upon the legislature, a prominent Presbyterian clergy- 
man of Richmond, Dr. Rice, made a calculation and found 
that over $250,000 were annually sent out of Virginia to sup- 
port youths at the various foreign schools and colleges. This 
does not look as if many Virginians patronized the three insti- 
tutions above mentioned ; but at any rate, it shows that a 
university of high grade was one of the needs of the people.' 

Un one of the early volumes of Dr. Rice's "Virginia Evangelical and 
Literary Magazine" (I think the sixth) a short account of the studies pur- 
sued at this college and a list of the instructors will be found. From this 
the truth of the above statement will be apparent. 

* See Dr. Adams' "Jefferson and the Univ. of Va./' p. 98. 

12 English Culture in Virginia, [200 

With r^ard to secondary and primary instruction the out- 
look was decidedly worse. Towns like Richmond had, of 
course, fair schools; but the country districts were almost 
entirely unprovided with even the rudest village schools. 
From a letter of John Taylor of Caroline, found among the 
Gilmer papers, I learned that there was a fairly prosperous 
boarding school in that county in 1817 — but this was the 
exception, not the rule. It is true that just before the begin- 
ning of the century the legislature had passed a law with 
•regard to the establishment of primary schools; but this law 
had been a dead letter because it was left to the county judges 
to decide whether such schools were necessary or not, and 
because the judges were, as might have been expected, either 
too conservative or too lazy to attend to such an innovation 
or such a small matter as a primary school. Education in 
Virginia, then, may be said to have been at a stand still, or 
rather on the decline, when Mr. Jefferson gave up his federal 
honors and betook himself to Monticello.^ 

The short annals of our country, however little they are 
attended to, are even in times of peace by no means destitute 
of " moving incidents ; '' and, though for the reader's sake 
I forbear the usual quotation from Milton, I cannot refrain 
from dwelling upon one of them. Although one may doubt 
whether Jefferson's mind was of the highest order, it can 
hardly be denied that he has impressed his personality and 
his doctrines more strongly upon posterity than has any 
other American. Although his brilliant rival's influence is 
still to be felt in our federal finances, and although Andrew 
Jackson is the representative of many distinctively American 
political ideas, it would still seem that a larger number of 
our countrymen look to Jefferson as the leader of their Nov- 
ember choral song than to any other of our statesmen, living 

*The laudable efforts of the Scotch Irish settlers to provide education for 
their families ought not to be overlooked ; but these men were poor and 
unable to accomplish great things. 

201] English Culture in Virginia. 13 

or dead — and I know not of a better test of creative genius 
in politics. It was this man who left the sphere of national 
affairs to impress himself upon Virginia education ; and I 
cannot but contradict myself and say that his victory should 
be " no less renowned." 

It is a glorious picture — to see a man who has tasted 
the sweetness of power, a man who could reasonably look 
forward to the ease and comfort of a dignified retirement, a 
man who, if he must work, might at least turn his talents 
to account in building up a fortune already shattered by an 
extravagant generosity, becoming the foremost in a move- 
ment, properly devolving on younger men, an arduous task 
well nigh impossible of success — the task of raising Virginia 
from the slough of ignorance and inaction. This he accom- 
plished, and although it seems necessary for the authorities of 
the University of Virginia to state in their annual announce- 
ments that their institution was founded by Thomas Jef- 
ferson, there are a few men living who know the last work 
of the old patriot was as great and glorious as any of the 
successes of his vigorous manhood.^ A short sketch of this 
work seems necessary as an introduction to the task I have 
undertaken of giving to the world some account of the labors 

' This cannot be said of his latest biographer, Mr. John T. Morse, Jr., who 
devotes only thirteen very general lines to what Mr. Jefferson deemed worthy 
to form one of the three services to his country for which posterity were 
to thank him when looking upon his tomb. Even a professedly poli- 
tical biography should have said more than this, for assuredly a statesman's 
attitude toward popular education must count for much when we come 
to estimate his statesmanship. Mr. James Parton devoted over eight 
pages to the subject and was thoughtful and painstaking enough to write 
to the chairman of the faculty (Col. C. S. Venable) for information about 
the University. In this connection it may not be amiss to quote Mr. 
Madison. "The University of Virginia, as a temple dedicated to science 
and liberty, was, after his retirement from the political sphere, the object 
nearest his heart and so continued to the close of his life. His devotion 
to it was intease and his exertions untiring. It bean the stamp of his 
genius and will be a noble monument of his fame." Madison's Writings, 
Cong. £d. 1865, III, 533. 

14 English OuMure in Virginia. [202 

of one who was not the least of Mr. Jefferson's coadjutors in 
this work of Virginia's redemption. 

About the year 1814 certain monies found themselves in 
the hands of the trustees of an institution still in embryo — 
the Albemarle Academy. These trustees were the leading 
men of the county and among them Mr. Jefferson towered — 
physically as well as intellectually. How to spend the money 
most profitably was, of course, the paramount question. In 
a letter to his nephew, Peter Carr, one of the trustees, Jeffer- 
son sketched a plan of what Virginia education ought to be — 
a plan legitimately evolved from his bill of 1779 for the 
more general diffusion of knowledge. This letter was pub- 
lished in the Richmond Enquirer of September 7, 1814, 
and of course attracted great attention not only on account 
of the fame of its writer, but also on account of the wisdom 
and boldness of the scheme which it proposed. So compre- 
hensive was this scheme that many a conservative head was 
shaken, some going so far as to say that the old philosopher 
was in his dotage. But no chemist has ever been more 
familiar with the properties of common substances, than was 
Mr. Jefferson with the characteristics of his fellow citizens. 
He knew the pulse of Virginia public opinion to a beat, and 
he felt that he would succeed through the very boldness of 
his plans. It was easy enough to persuade the trustees of 
Albemarle Academy to petition the legislature that a col- 
lege might be substituted for a school — Central College also 
destined to remain in the embryo state. It was not difficult 
to obtain the consent of the legislature that Albermarle 
Academy should cease to be and Central College begin to 
be — for as yet that very sensitive nerve of the body politic, 
the financial nerve, had not been bunglingly touched. And 
so during the session of 1815-16 Central College in the 
County of Albermarle was duly established and given a 
board of trustees. Three members of this board have some 
claim to remembrance on the part of posterity — they were 
Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. There 

203] English Culture in Virginia, 15 

were others, too, who shall not go unnoticed. Possibly many 
thought that the establishment of this new college near his 
favorite town of Charlottesville, which he would fain have 
had the capital of the state, would satisfy Mr. Jefferson and 
enable him to die in peace. But the shrewd old gentleman 
was by no means satisfied ; he bided his time, however, for 
now he saw light ahead, having a fellow workman whom his 
heart loved. 

If Mr. Jefferson was the father of the University of Vir- 
ginia Joseph Carrington Cabell certainly took infinite pains 
in teaching the child to walk. Born in 1778 of a distin- 
guished and patriotic father, Colonel Nicholas Cabell, he was 
now (1817) in the prime of manhood. After graduating at 
William and Mary he had gone to Europe for his health, 
and, having recruite^l that, had studied in more than one 
of the leading universities. While in Switzerland, he had 
visited and conversed with Pestalozzi, and thus began that 
subtle connection of the University of Virginia with great 
men, which I hope to bring out strongly in the following 
pages. Meeting with President Jefferson on his return to 
this country, he began an intimacy which only ceased twenty 
years afterward at the death of the venerable statesman — an 
intimacy by which Mr. Jefferson was finally enabled to see 
his glorious idea realized in very fact. 

Declining all offers of diplomatic position under the gen- 
eral government, Mr. Cabell plunged into the politics of his 
state, actuated by the idea so prevalent at the time that more 
distinction awaited the statesman in this circumscribed sphere 
than could possibly be obtained in the larger one of federal 
affairs. He was now an influential member of the state senate 
when Mr. Jefferson enlisted his aid in behalf of his pet 
schemes. That aid was willingly and efficiently vouchsafed, 
and has been commemorated by the publication of the Jef- 
ferson-Cabell Correspondence, a work containing valuable 
information but not so sided and arranged as to be of much 

16 English OaUure in Virginia, [204 

use to the general reader.^ The rest of this chapter will, 
however, be mainly derived from it. 

On July 28, 1817, a called meeting of the trustees of the 
Central College was held at Mr. Madison's seat, Montpelier, 
in Orange County. There were present Thomas Jefferson, 
James Madison, Joseph C. Cabell, and John H. Cocke. The 
latter gentleman (1780-1866) was, from the beginning, a great 
friend to the university. He had attained some distinction in 
the war of 1812 as an efficient general,. though inclining to the 
martinet. He was also known far and wide for his temper- 
ance proclivities. But we have more especially to notice the 
first steps taken toward importing culture into Virginia in the 
shape of efficient teachers. We find the following record spread 
upon the minutes of this meeting : 

"It is agreed that application be made to Dr. Knox, of 
Baltimore, to accept the Professorship of Languages, Belles- 
Lettres, Rhetoric, History and Geography ; and that an inde- 
pendent salary of five hundred dollars, with a perquisite of 
twenty-five dollars for each pupil, together with chambers for 
his accommodation, be allowed him as a compensation for his 
services, he finding the necessary assistant ushers." 

If the reader be curious to know what kind of a Doctor this 
gentleman was, I take pleasure in informing him that he was 
a clergyman, and that, although the second man called to a 
chair in Mr. Jefferson's college was an undoubted liberal, the 
first was highly orthodox. I leave this fact to those who, 
after sixty years, have not ceased from the hue and cry raised 
when Dr. Cooper was elected a professor in Central College. 

But although two deists voted for the Rev. Dr. Knox as 
the first professor in their new college, I would not have it 
supposed that Mr. Jefferson was not disappointed. The fol- 
lowing extract from a letter to Mr. Cabell, of January 6, 

*" Early History of the University of Virginia as contained in the 
letters of Thomas Jefferson and Joseph C. Cabell, &c." Richmond, J. W. 
Randolph, 1856. 

205] English Culture in Virginia. 17 

1815, will give the reader some idea of what that disappoint- 
ment must have been : 

" I think I have it now in my power to obtain three of the 
ablest characters in the world to fill the higher professorships 
of what in the plan is called the second, or general grade of 
education ; [he refers here to his letter to Petes Carr, which 
the reader can find in the Jefferson-Cabell correspondence, 
page 384] three such characters as are not in a single univer- 
sity of Europe ; and for those of languages and mathematics, 
a part of the same grade, able professors doubtless could also 
be readily obtained. With these characters, I should not be 
afraid to say that the circle of the sciences composing that 
second, or general grade, would be more profoundly taught 
here than in any institution in the United States, and I might 
go farther." * The three characters alluded to were Say, the 
great economist, who had recently written to Mr. Jefferson, 
proposing to come and settle near Monticello, a design which 
he never carried out; Dr. Thomas Cooper, of whom more 
anon ; and possibly, nay probably, the Abb6 Corrda, a pro- 
found natural historian then lecturing in Philadelphia, and 
likely to be often introduced into these pages. ^ What wonder 
that Mr. Jefferson felt disappointed in having no one to vote 
for but Dr. Knox, of Baltimore ! 

The next meeting of the trustees was held at Charlottesville 
on the 7th of October, 1817, and we find the following entry, 
which is of importance to us : 

* Jefferson -Cabell Correspondence, p. 37. 

' Dr. AdaniH suggests, p. 65, that Destutt Tracy was the third character, 
because of his attainments as an " ideologist." This is by no means improb- 
able ; but Corr^ was omniscient and the dale of the above letter tallies so 
well with his visit to Monticello that I still hold to the above opinion. 
Besides the whole subject of moral philosophy would thus have been in- 
trcwted to a man not identified with our people — a thing which Jefferson 
was always opposed to. Thb objection would not have applied to Cooper, 
who could have taught Ideology, Law, and almost everything else — 
while Corrda could have taught the rest I Betides Say and Tracy would 
have clashed, both being economists. 

18 English Culture in Virginia, [206 

" On information that the Rev. Mr. Knox, formerly thought 
of for a professor of languages, is withdrawn from business, 
the order of July the 28th is rescinded, and it is resolved 
to offer, in the first place, the professorship of Chemistry, &c., 
to Doct. Thomas Cooper of Pennsylvania, adding to it that of 
law, with a fixed salary of $1,000, and tuition fees of $20 from 
each of his students, to be paid by them, &cJ^ ^ 

Here it seems proper to say a word or two with regard to 
this remarkable man. Doctor Thomas Cooper was born in 
London in 1759 and died in Columbia, S. C, in 1840. He 
practiced law in England, and was one of the representatives 
sent by the English democratic clubs to France during the 
Revolution. I find his different vocations summed up in an 
amusing way by a half mad philosopher and schoolmaster, 
James Ogilvie, of whom I shall have more to say hereafter. 
In a letter to Francis Walker Gilmer, Ogilvie says of Cooper : 
" He has undergone as many metamorphoses as Proteus. Ovid 
would certainly have immortalized him. In the course of the 
last twenty years he has been Farmer, Lawyer, Patriot, Judge, 
Belles-lettres cognoscenti and Professor of Chemistry, to 
which will shortly be added Doctor in Medicine and Professor 
of Law. As farmer he spent all his money, as lawyer he 
made some — as patriot the Federalists imprisoned him — as 
Judge the Democrats became enraged at him. Then the Fed- 
eralists made him professor of Chemistry, at which he remains 
— .... He became weary of living single and married 
about twenty months ago, the consequence is he has a young 
daughter." The best part of this amusing catalogue is that it 
is every word true. To this list of callings I can add that of 
calico printing in Manchester, at which he failed, and of 
statute-revising in South Carolina — at which he died. He 
came to this country in 1795 and settled with Priestley at Lan- 
caster, Pennsylvania, in which state most of the exploits cele- 
brated by Ogilvie were performed. After being compelled by 

* Jefferson and Cabell Correspondence, p. 397. 

207] English Culture in Virginia. 19 

the clamor raised about his reh'gious opinions to give up all 
idea of entering Mr. Jefferson's new institution, he went to 
South Carolina and became connected with the college at 
Columbia. He was a truly remarkable man, and published 
treatises on almost every known subject, beginning with Jus- 
tinian's Institutes. 

But returning from this digression, we find Mr. Jefferson 
more hopeful, now that it looks as if he were going to get 
at least one of his three " characters." Why not take advan- 
tage of the annual report that must be made by the trustees 
to the legislature and suggest that instead of Central College 
(good in itself, but still a mere college) the state herself found 
an University to be the top stone of a noble edifice to be 
known to posterity, as the Virginia system of education? No 
sooner had this thought attained to fair proportions in his 
brain than the thing was done. To influence the other trus- 
tees was easy, and, with Cabell and his friends in the legis- 
lature, even that august body was brought to look upon the 
plan with favor, little foreseeing how soon the financial nerve 
was to be shocked. Accordingly on the sixth day of Janu- 
ary in the year 1818, it was proposed that the property of 
Central College should become a nucleus for funds to be 
applied to the establishment of a true state university upon 
a respectable scale. 

It would be useless to describe the wagging of conserva- 
tive beards, more than useless to describe the tortures gone 
through by timid legislators speculating how their constituents 
would construe their votes. There was then in existence a 
Literary Fund, how formed matters not, which Mr. Jeffer- 
son's eyes had fastened upon. The financial nerve must be 
shocked, but delicately, and here was a way to do it. Accord- 
ingly an act appropriating part of the revenue of the Literary 
Fund, &c., passed on the 21st of February, 1818. So far, 
so good — but an all important question arises. Where shall 
the new University be? Now the lobbying and wireworking 
begin. There are several parts of the state which would not 

20 English Culture in Virginia. [208 

object to becoming the seat of the Muses. Staunton, for 
instance, does not see at all why Charlottesville should carry 
off the prize. Wherefore a Commission is appointed to sit at 
Rockfish Gap, in the Blue Ridge, to determine a site for Vir- 
ginia's University which all parties are now agreed must be 
something good of its kind. 

This Commission sat on the first day of August, 1818, and 
was largely attended ; the two ex-presidents heading the list 
of names.^ Here Mr. Jefferson produced a map of the state 
and showed that Charlottesville was the centre of every- 
thing — certainly of his own desires. Who could refuse to 
gratify such a man as he stood there crowned with age and 
honors, and flushed w^ith enthusiasm for an object both need- 
ful and glorious ? Sectional jealousies were stifled, and Char- 
lottesville was chosen as the site of the future University.'^ 
But the Commission did not dissolve before it had presented 
a report as to what ought to be taught in the new institu- 
tion — a report in which Mr. Jefferson's hand is, of course, to 
be seen.^ They recommended that ten professorships should 
be established as follows : (1) Ancient Languages, (2) Modern 
Languages, (3) Mathematics, pure, (4) Physico-Mathematics, 
(5) Physics or Natural Philosophy, (6) Botany and Zoology, 
(7) Anatomy and Medicine, (8) Government, Political Econ- 
omy, &c., (9) Law Municipal, (10) Ideology, Ethics, &c. 
This was as comprehensive a scheme as even Mr. Jefferson 
could have wished, for did it not include his favorite Anglo- 
Saxon under the head of Modern Languages ? But further 
the Commission advised that buildings be furnished wherein 
gymnastics might be taught, but did not advance to the modern 

^It is generally stated that President Monroe attended this meeting. 
This I am inclined to doubt, if the list of the signers of the Report be 
correct, and I afterwards discovered that Mr. Randall had noted the same 
error (Life of Jefferson, III, 463), if error it be. 

* Jefferson-Cabell Correspondence, page 432. 

• Jeflerson had consulted John Adams as to a scheme of professorships 
two years before. Adams' Works, X, 213. 

209] English Culture in Virginia, 21 

idea (or is it modern ?) of having a special professor to teach 
them.* Thus the Rockfish Gap Commission set in glory. 

The legislature receiving its report passed an act on the 
25th of January, 1819, establishing the University of Virginia 
upon pretty much the same plan as that recommended by the 
Commission, leaving the visitors of Central College to fulfil 
their functions until relieved by the first Board of Visitors 
for the University of Virginia. 

The first meeting of these latter took place on the 29th of 
March, 1819. There were present Thomas Jefferson, who was 
elected Rector, James Madison, Joseph C. Cabell, Chapman 
Johnson, James Breckinridge, Robert Taylor and John H, 
Cocke. After having elected a proctor and a bursar, and 
having chosen a common seal, they enacted sundry provisions 
as to the salaries of the professors which need not occupy 
us here ; but one entry on the minutes is important enough 
to quote : 

" That Dr. Thomas Cooper, of Philadelphia, heretofore 
appointed professor of chemistry and of law for the Central 
College, be confirmed and appointed for the University as 
professor of chemistry, mineralogy and natural philosophy, 
and as professor of law also until the advance of the insti- 
tution and the increase of the number of students shall 
render necessary a separate appointment to the professor- 
ship of law. . . ." 

Then follows a statement that it is both important and 
difficult to get American citizens as professors, and Thomas 
Jefferson and John H. Cocke are appointed a Committee 
of Superintendence to secure such provisionally — all actual 
engagements being deferred until the Board shall meet. 

The report of Cooper's election being now noised abroad 
through the state, the sectional feeling before alluded to not 

*For a labfleqaent scheme of establishing a chair of agriculture, the 
duties of which were finally assigned to the professor of chemistry, see 
Madison's Writings, III, 284-7. 

22 English Culture in Virginia. [210 

having been allayed, and the politicians fearing that Jefferson 
had entrapped them into a new way to spend money for which 
they would be held responsible, a terrific outcry arose that 
Atheism was to be publicly taught, that the state would become 
bankrupt, that the good old times were gone forever, and that 
war was being waged against the manhood and virtue of Vir- 
ginia by the arch-scoifer of Monticello, seconded by his deisti- 
cal follower of Montpellier. The hue and cry was as loud as 
it was silly. As is often the case, " base political tricksters " 
joined with really honest and well-minded clergymen in this 
war of words and pamphlets. The result will be seen in the 
record of the meeting of the Visitors on October 4, 1819, 
where the duties of Dr. Cooper's professorship are deferred and 
the Committee of Superintendence directed to arrange with 
him the terms on which such postponement may be made 
conformable to honor and without inconveniencing him. The 
non-completion of the buildings and Cooper's own offer to 
resign furnished a plausible plea for this treatment ; and we 
see from the Rector'^ report for November 29th, 1821, that 
Cooper, who in the meantime had been made president of the 
Columbia, S. C, College, compromised for |1, 500. So ended 
the Cooper episode, not very pleasantly for any of the parties 
concerned.^ I have paid attention to it because it is of con- 
siderable importance to ray main theme, which might be called 
not inaptly " The evolution of the University of Virginia's 
professorships.'^ ^ 

^But even as late as January, 1824, Jeflferson had not wholly given up 
the idea of getting Cooper, nor had that gentleman himself lost hope. See 
Madison's Writings, III, 360. 

* It may be remarked here once for all that no questions were asked as 
to the religious opinions of any of those who first filled chairs in the 
University. The agent who was sent to England did not mention the sub- 
ject until it was broached to him. All of the first faculty seem to have 
been Episcopalians except Dr. Blaetterman, who was a Lutheran. See 
Randall, III, 467-8. It is curious that John Adams opposed the selection 
of foreign professors because they would teach Christianity. See his works, 
X, 415. 

211] English Culture in Virginia. 23 

I have not the space, even if I had the inclination, to 
describe the woes and tribulations which the friends of the 
university underwent for the next four years. Every fresh 
demand for money was received with a groan by the legisla- 
ture. Men forgot that not one private house in a hundred is 
built for anything like the first estimate, and they accused Mr. 
Jefferson of everything a scurrilous politician knows himself 
to be guilty of. But the philosopher stood it all, though 
sorely tried at times. He was out of the thick of the fight, 
as a general should be, but his lieutenant, Cabell, was doing 
manful work in Richmond, a city opposed to Mr. Jefferson on 
principle, and hence inveterately hostile to the new university. 
Even those who were not hostile despaired of its success, and 
the majority Cabell could count on in the legislature showed 
signs of becoming a minority. Finally one great move was 
made by the foe — this was no less than to remove William 
and Mary to Richmond and give the old college another 
chanoe in connection with a medical school which would have 
clinical advantages Charlottesville could not give. This was 
a side blow to the University, and an almost deadly one. 
" What ! '' its advocates would say, " Here you have had 
oceans of money given you by the state, and you begrudge 
setting this historic college on its feet again ! " And so the 
columns of the Enquirer for 1824 were filled with contribu- 
tions signed by "Friends of the State," "Friends of learning," 
"Constant Readers," and other representatives of a class 
that unfortunately still survives. But Cabell and his 
stout phalanx, among whom was Dr. Rice, reconciled now 
that Cooper was put out of the way, won the day in spite 
of the opposing odds. The president of William and Mary 
had to wend his sad way homeward, and the college which 
had partially revived under his management drooped finally 

*Thi8 was written before the scheme for the rehabilitation of the noble 
old college appeared to have any ch&uce of success. Under its present 

24 English OuUure in Virginia, [212 

But in the meantime something was doing which concerns 
us more nearly, something as important as anything which 
Jefferson had planned or Cabell executed. 

Reference has been made to the fact that the Board had 
seen the wisdom of conciliating public opinion by securing 
native professors. But they were determined to have none 
but good ones. All their outlay would have been to little 
purpose if the professors chosen were but ordinary men ; and 
so the selection of professors was by far the most difficult task 
that lay before them. They were prompt in their action. On 
the 3d of October, 1820, they resolved that negotiations should 
be entered into with "the following persons with the view 
of engaging them as professors of the University, viz., Mr. 
Bowditch, of Salem,^ and Mr. Ticknor, of Boston.'' ^ rpj^g 
compensation to be given them was ample, considering the 
data of the offer; it consisted of apartments, of a regular 
salary of $2,000 per annum, of a fee of $10 from each student 
in their classes, and an engagement on the part of the Uni- 
versity to see that the sum total of $2,500 should be secured 
to them for the first three years.^ For reasons best known 
to themselves these gentlemen declined and, as Mr. Jefferson 

efficient management there seems to be no reason why William and Mary 
should not live forever to connect modern generations with those old times 
of which we are so proud. Certainly the friends of the University of Vir- 
ginia can afford not to be jealous and to lend all their help to the meri- 
torious enterprise, and certainly the thanks of all Virginians are due to the 
Bureau of Education for the monograph which turned the light of modern 
educational science upon the time-honored institution. 

^Nathaniel Bowditch (1773-1838), the well-known mathematician and 
navigator, and translator of Laplace's " M^chanique Celeste," refused pro- 
fessorships in Harvard and West Point as well. 

•Ticknor's visit to Monticello in 1815 had made a deep impression on 
Mr. Jefferson, and is more than once mentioned in the Gilmer letters. See 
Ticknor's Life and Letters, I, 34, 300, 302. Both these nominations seem 
to have excited the displeasure of the religious opponents of Cooper. See 
Adams' Thomas Jefferson on p. 71. 

'Jefferson-Cabell Correspondence, page 460. 

213] English Culture in Virginia. 25 

had probably foreseen from the start, the University was 
forced to look abroad for a majority of its first professors. 
This naturally brought up two questions, how many profes- 
sors were to be gotten, and who was to choose them. The 
Board some time before had determined that only eight pro- 
fessors could be employed at first, for the fund at their 
disposal had not proved too ample for the buildings, and 
economy was necessary on all sides. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. 
Madison, with him, thought that two of these professorships 
could not well be intrusted to foreign hands — those of ethics 
and law — but that the other six had better be filled from 
England. This was proposed to the members of the Board 
by letter and elicited the following response from Mr. Cabell. 

Bremo,^ April 16, 1824. 

♦ * ♦ 

I was very much pleased at the limitation of the foreign 
professors to a moiety of the whole number. I thought I 
could see advantages in this limitation, which I attempted to 
explain to the Board of Visitors. I need not repeat what I 
said upon this subject. The Professor of Anatomy is not 
like the Professor of Law and Politics, and the Professor of 
Ethics, connected with a science calculated to give tone and 
direction to the public mind, on the most important subjects 
that can occupy the human understanding. It is of the class 
rff Professorships which may be prudently filled by foreigners. 
For this reason, and because the difference between five and 
six is but one ; and above all, because you are an infinitely 
better judge of the subject than I am, and it is my greatest 
happiness to give you pleasure upon any and upon all occa- 
sions, you may consider me as yielding my assent to your 

* Bremo was Gen. Cocke's county seat in Fluvanna. For this letter 
the Jeflerson-Cabell Correspondence, page 303. 


26 English Oidture in Virginia, [214 

proposition to instruct the agent to engage the Anatomical 
Professor in Europe. . . . Yours, 

Joseph C. Cabell. 

I concur with Mr. Cabell in the above. 

John H. C(k;ke. 

The first question having been satisfactorily answered, the 
second pressed for solution. Mr. Jefferson's first choice of a 
commissioner who should proceed to England to procure the 
necessary professors, naturally fell upon the man who had 
stood by him so nobly and so faithfully — Joseph C. Cabell. 
But Mr. CabelPs affairs were embarrassed, for he had pur- 
chased a large portion of his brother's property which would 
be a dead loss unless it received his immediate personal atten- 
tion ; besides he needed rest, aud moreover had another 
scheme on his hands — a canal to connect the eastern and 
western waters. So he was forced to decline this commission, 
honorable and confidential as it was. Then Mr. Jefferson 
rode over to Mr. Madison's and they consulted long aud 
earnestly about the matter. This was in November, 1823. 
Finally Mr. Cabell was consulted and doubtless others of the 
Board, and then Mr. Jeffierson wrote to a young lawyer in 
Richmond requesting his presence at Monticello on urgent 
business. The antecedents of that young lawyer must now 
engage our attention. ^ 

* Much of the preceding chapter is necessarily a recapitulation of what 
Dr. Adams has so well and so fully presented in his recent monograph. I 
must add, however, in justice to myself, that the chapter was written sev- 
eral months before I was enabled to consult Dr. Adams' work. I have, 
therefore, travelled over the same ground independently, and can testify, 
were testimony needed, to the thoroughness and accuracy of his researches 
and conclusions. 


Francis Walker Gilmer was the youngest child of Dr. 
George Gilmer, of Pen Park, Albemarle County, Virginia. 
He was born on the ninth day of October in the year seven- 
teen hundred and ninety, or rather Francis Thornton Gilmer 
was born on that day, for so the young child was christened. 
He did not assume the name Francis Walker until after the 
death of an uncle of that name — an event which happened 
somewhere about the year 1808.^ The Gilmers are of Scotch 
extraction, and settled in this country in 1731.^ They have 
always held a high and honorable position, and many mem- 
bers of the family have been distinguished for more than 
usual intellect. They have given Virginia a Governor and 
the United States a Cabinet Minister in the person of Thomas 
Walker Gilmer, Governor of Virginia (1840-41) and member 
of Congress, who was killed just after his appointment as 
Secretary of the Navy, by the bursting of a gun on board the 
" Princeton " in February, 1844. The victim of this tragedy, 
which deprived Virginia of two of her most eminent men, 
was the nephew of the subject of my sketch. 

* This may have been the Francis Walker who was a repreeentatiye in 
Congress 1793-1796; but the point is uncertain. 

* For a good account of the Gilmers see "Sketches of some of the First 
Settlers of Upper Georgia," by Gov. George R Qilmer (New York, Apple- 
ton, 1855). The Gilmers settled in Georgia after the Revolution, and the 
author of the above-mentioned book was one of the most noted members 
of the family. 


28 English Culture in Virginia. [216 

I do not think that the genealogy of the family with a 
long string of names and dates is essential to my purpose, but 
a few words descriptive of Mr. Gilmer's father will not be 
out of place — for the son was said to have inherited, in no 
small degree, his father's temperament and talents. Now, for 
such a description, I can go to no better person than William 
Wirt, Dr. Gilmer's son-in-law. In a letter to Francis, written 
from Richmond on the 9th of October, 1806, Mr. Wirt speaks 
as follows : — " You, I understand, propose to follow your 
father's profession. The science of medicine is, I believe, 
said to be progressive and to be daily receiving new improve- 
ments — ^you will, therefore, have a wider field to cultivate, 
and will take the profession on a grander scale — it will be 
your own fault, therefore, if you do not, as a physician, ^ fill a 
larger space in the public eye.' But the space which your 
father occupied was not filled merely by his eminence as a 
physician (although he was certainly among the most emi- 
nent), he was moreover a very good linguist — a master of 
botany and the chemistry of his day — had a store of very 
correct general science — was a man of superior taste in the 
fine arts — and to crown the whole, had an elevated and a 
noble spirit, and was in his manners and conversation a most 
accomplished gentleman — easy and graceful in his movements, 
eloquent in speech, a temper gay and animated, and inspiring 
every company with its own tone — wit pure, sparkling and 
perennial — and when the occasion called for it, sentiments of 
the highest dignity and utmost force. Such was your father 
before disease had sapped his mind and constitution — and such 
the model which, as your brother, I would wish you to adopt. 
It will be a model much more easy for you to form yourself 
on than any other, because it will be natural to you — for I 
well remember to have remarked, when you were scarcely four 
years old, how strongly nature had given you the cast of your 
father's character." ^ 

* This letter is one of the many from Wirt to Gilmer, given in Kennedy's 
Life of Wirt. I had intended to append a special dissertation, showing 

217] English Culture in Virginia. ' 29 

Mr. Wirt spoke warmly, and he had reason so to do. He 
had come poor and friendless into a strange state, and the 
Gilmers had taken him by the hand. His humble birth was 
forgotten and, in 1795, he married Mildred, the eldest daugh- 
ter of the house. Pen Park, the Doctor's country seat, was 
near Monticello, and the master of the house, having himself 
served the Revolution well, was the intimate friend of Thomas 
Jefferson.* Living at this hospitable home with his young 
bride, Wirt was thrown with Jefferson and Madison and 
Monroe, with the Barbours and the Carrs. The youngest 
Carr, Dabney, son of Dabney, was ever after his dearest friend. 
Of him we shall have to speak many times. 

But troubles came upon the house. Dr. Gilmer died shortly 
after the marriage of his daughter, and the latter did not long 
survive him. Wirt, cast adrift upon the world after many 
wanderings, settled down in Richmond to achieve a well- 
earned fame. Pen Park passed out of the family, and the 
brothers were scattered. Peachy, the eldest of the surviving 

how Kennedy wilfully altered these letters; but I find that I can only 
allude to the fact briefly. Allowing for mistakes that might have been 
made in copying, I find abundant proof that Kennedy took it upon himself 
to improve the style of Wirt's letters, although he did not tamper much with 
the matter. He did not succeed in this gratuitous task. The original letters 
are far less tame than the epistles which have been substituted for them. 
Frequently whole sentences are omitted, with no asterisks to mark that the 
text is not continuous. Two of the letters are misdated, phrases are often 
transposed or dropped, and in one letter, of which only half the original is 
given, I count upwards of twenty-three variations. It is needless to say 
that Wirt was not the man to use strong terms unless he meant them. Mr. 
Kennedy has not thought fit to leave any of the few expressions which show 
that Wirt was after all a man like ourselves. He does, however, leave the 
letter in which Wirt made the curious mistake of attributing to Beattie or 
Dryden the majestic passage from Gray's " Progress of Poesy," beginning 
" Now the rich stream of music winds along." This mistake is rendered 
all the more curious by the fact that Wirt was fond of repeating " The 

' Dr. Gilmer left certain manuscripts relating to the Revolution. These 
have been edited by R. A. Brock, and published in one of the late yolumes 
of the Virginia Historical Society Papers. 

30 English Culture in Virginia. [218 

children, settled far away in Henry County to the great dis- 
gust of his friends who thought that his many talents deserved 
a wider field. James, another promising son, died just as 
he was about to build up a law practice at Charlottesville. 
Harraer and Francis, the two younger, were left to get what 
education they could in a county where good schools flourished 
not. The guardian of Francis (and I presume Harmer's also) 
acted an ignoble part by them and, if I chose to present the 
pitiful letters of the former, written in his sixteenth year, I 
could give this chapter a very mournful cast. The boy's 
training was almost entirely neglected, and though he had 
property of his own, he got little good from it during his 
minority. But he had a few warm friends. The family at 
Monticello offered all the help a proud nature was willing to 
accept. Mrs. Randolph taught him French and he grew up 
and played with her children, and even then Mr. Jefferson 
noted the brilliancy of his mind and prophesied great things 
of him. 

His letters of this period (1806) are interesting, for they 
give us glimpses of a fine character gradually moulding itself 
under circumstances as adverse as possible. Now he describes 
his forlorn position ; now he gives us his opinion of the books 
he has been reading ; now he tells how kind the Monticello 
people are. He does not like Pope's Homer for the time- 
honored reason that Pope is not Homer ; but he nearly cried 
over the episode of Nisus and Euryalus. Anacreon is not 
much to his fancy, but he delights in Csesar's Commentaries 
and thinks they are " very easy." 

But in 1807 a brighter tone appears. A Mr. Ogilvie is 
going to have a fine classical school at Milton (a small hamlet 
near Charlottesville), and he will at last have a chance to 
make a man of himself. Alas ! this hope fails him, for the 
aspiring Ogilvie cannot content himself with two scholars. 

I fear my readers will accuse me of being a man of many 
digressions, but I cannot refrain from a passing notice of 
this eccentric character who became a correspondent of Gil- 

219] English Culture in Virginia. 31 

mer^s. He was a Scotchman of good family and was born 
about 1775.^ Emigrating to this country he taught a school 
in Richmond where he was very successful in stimulating his 
pupils with a love for study, although his own mind was too 
unbalanced to have imparted much solid information. Some 
of his pupils were afterwards distinguished — a writer in the 
Southern Literary Messenger (Vol. XIV, p. 534), enumerat- 
ing Gen. Winfield Scott, Hon. W. S. Archer, Gov. Duvall, 
of Florida Territory, and possibly Thomas Ritchie, the editor 
of the Richmond Enquirer, Whether this Richmond success 
came before or after the Milton failure, I am unable to say, 
as the dates are rather mixed. But Ogilvie was not destined 
to be a " drudge of a schoolmaster ; " he conceived the laud- 
able and lofty design of enlightening the American people 
ujx)n the principles of "true oratoiy'' and of "philosophical 
criiicism.^^ But such a task required arduous preparation, 
and he accordingly retired from South Carolina where he had 
been on some wild goose chase, to the backwoods of Kentucky, 
there to meditate and woo the Muse of Eloquence. Whether 
it was for this latter end that he joined a volunteer expedition 
against the Indians, I know not ; but the account he gives of 
that expedition, in a letter to Gilmer, is worthy of preserva- 
tion. It must, however, be condemned to lie among its com- 
panion MSS. until I can find a fitter opportunity to give it to 
the world. Having encountered no Indians, the philan- 
thropist retired to a lonely log house, stipulating with his 
landlady that he was to see no company — a rather unneces- 
sary precaution it would seem. Here in the winter of 1812-13 
was composed a series of orations which were shortly after- 
wards delivered in Philadelphia, New York and Boston. In 
spite of his erratic religious opinions his success was remark- 
able. The American people were evidently willing to be 

* The biogpraphical dictionaries give the date of his birth variously. I 
ascertained from one of his letters that the date I have given is the 
right one. 

32 English Culture in Virginia, [220 

instructed in the principles of oratory and of philosophical 
criticism, whether the instruction profited much or little. 
The letter in which he describes his success is worthy of this 
peripatetic from the Athens of Scotland to the Athens of 
America. Among his auditors in New York was Francis 
Jeffrey. In Boston young George Ticknor thought him a 
wonderful elocutionist.^ But the use of narcotics was gradu- 
ally destroying his mind. A volume of his essays was received 
with derision ; and having heard of the death of his relative, 
the Earl of Finlater and Airy, without near heirs, he deter- 
mined to go to Scotland and put in his own claim for the title. 
He failed and died at Aberdeen in 1820, presumably by his 
own hand. He is said to have done much harm to the cause 
of religion and morality in Virginia ; of this I have no evi- 
dence. His pupils spoke of him with affection, and his influ- 
ence on young Gilmer was probably confined to stimulating 
him in the study of the classics and to giving him a bent 
toward public life ; for, as we have seen above, the latter had 
at one time proposed to become a physician. 

But although Francis was thus disappointed in his expecta- 
tion of becoming a pupil of this curious man, something bet- 
ter was in store for him. Through the efforts and advice of 
Mr. William A. Burwell, long a member of Congress from 
the Bedford district, and a firm friend of the Gilmers, the boy, 
now in his eighteenth year and the possessor of a vast amount 
of ill-sorted information, was placed at a school in Georgetown 
where he would be under Mr. BurwelFs eye. This was in the 
winter of 1808-9. In the fall of 1809 he entered William 
and Mary College and remained there for a session. Mr. Wirt 
says that he met him there for the first time since his child- 
hood, and that " in point of learning he was already a prodigy." 
He adds : ^ '* His learning, indeed, was of a curious cast : for 

^ Ticknor's Life, &c., T, 8. 

•This is taken from Wirt's preface to the Baltimore edition of Gilmer's 
Sketcjies, to be mentioned hereafter. 

221] English Oulture in Virginia, 33 

haviug had no one to direct his studies, he seems to have 
devoured indiscriminately everything that came in his way. 
He had been removed from school to school, in different parts 
of the country — had met at all these places with different col- 
lections of old books, of which he was always fond, and seemed 
also to have had command of his father's medical library, 
which he had read in the original Latin. It was curious to 
hear a boy of seventeen years of age [he was over nineteen] 
speaking with fluency and even with manly eloquence, and 
quoting such names as Boerhaave, Van Hclmont, Van Swei- 
ten, together with Descartes, Gassendi, Newton, Locke, and 
descanting on the system of Linnaeus with the familiarity of 
a veteran professor. He lived, however, to reduce this chaos 
to order, and was, before he died, as remarkable for the digested 
method as the extent and accuracy of his attainments.'* 

Such was the impression made by this remarkable youth 
that Bishop Madison, then president of the college, offered him 
the ushership of the grammar school connected with the insti- 
tution, but the offer was declined ; for the young man was 
bent upon public life. Among Gilmer's classmates was George 
Croghan, of Kentucky (1791-1849), destined to become a hero 
in the war of 1812 ; they seem to have had some correspond- 
ence after the termination of hostilities, but only one letter of 
Croghan's has been preserved. 

In 1811 we find that Mr. Wirt had invited Gilmer to read 
law with him in Richmond ; and now follow some of the 
pleasantest years of his life. Wirt was at that time at the 
head of the Richmond bar, and his " Letters of a British Spy " 
had given him a national renown. He had married into a 
distinguished family (the Gambles), and was able to introduce 
his proteg6 to a large and cultivated circle of friends — to 
Wickham and Hay and Call * and Dr. McClurg,' to Tazewell 

* All leading lawyers, the latter was reporter for the Court of Appeals. 

* A finely educated physician, and a member of the Philadelphia Conren- 
Uonof 1787. 

34 English OuUure in Virginia, [222 

whenever he came to practice in the Court of Appeals, to 
ex-Grov. now Judge Wm. H. Cabell, who entertained most of 
the strangers of distinction that visited Richmond, to Dr. Rice, 
of whom we have heard before ; to Dr. Brokenborough, the 
life-long friend of John Randolph, and last but not least, to 
William Pope, the prince of good fellows, who lived about 
twenty miles from Richmond, but whose jokes were known 
from one end of the state to the other. Pope was the man 
who, whenever he came to Richmond, went to Wirt's office to 
hear select passages read from the " Life of Patrick Henry," 
and did nothing but weep during the performance. 

Here, then, was some compensation for the dreariness of his 
early life. We catch glimpses of his progress through Black- 
stone, on to Mansfield and Erskine, and finally, O dreary task ! 
to the Virginia Reporters. We hear his opinions of different 
reigning belles and of the last doings of Napoleon; we find 
him rejoicing at his providential escape from the burning of 
the Richmond Theatre ; and finally we come full upon vivid 
descriptions of the horror felt in Richmond at the reports of 
Cockburn's raid. 

In the militia movements of the state during this trouble- 
some time Gilmer took his share. In the camp below Rich- 
mond^ near Warrenigh Church, he drilled daily with his 
friends the Carrs and young Jefferson Randolph. His fellow 
student in the law, Abel P. Upshur, was also there, not des- 
tined to be shot by the British, but to rise to be Secretary of 
the Navy and of State, and to perish in the accident on board 
the Princeton. But the British would not come in spite of 
the fact that brave and irascible Colonel Thomas Mann Ran- 
dolph (Jefferson's son-in-law) was waiting for them ; and the 
passage from Tyrtaeus, which he had copied out in the Greek 
and given to Gilmer, did no good at all. What wonder then 
that the warlike Colonel, afterwards Governor, knocked a 
gentleman down for alluding to this abortive campaign ! 

Flesh and blood could not stand a camp before which no 
enemy was to be seen, and so we find Gilmer and Upshur 

223] English Qdture in Virginia. 35 

tossing away their guns and sallying homeward, leaving Cap- 
tain Wirt, with his flying company of artillery, to write 
soothing letters to Mrs. W. and to curse his own position. 

In the meantime young Harmer Gilmer, who had taken 
his medical degree at Philadelphia, and was looking forward 
to following in his father^s footsteps, was taken ill at Char- 
lottesville and died. Francis was with him and nursed him 
faithfully, although his own health was far from good. He 
had always been slight and frail, and the air of Richmond did 
not agree with him. And now that his companion brother 
had been taken away from him, the clouds that lowered over 
the whole country seemed to be blackest over his own devoted 

But with him, as with all of us, time and change of scene 
wrought a cure. We pass over his snubbing Wirt's attempts 
at Comedy (Kennedy, I, 351), and the gay days spent at 
Montevideo, Judge Cabell's residence in Buckingham, and 
find him at last fully determined to begin the practice of the 
law in Winchester. He had previously thought of settling 
in Lexington, Kentucky; but, as with subsequent schemes, 
the thought of leaving his mother state, now that she seemed 
in a precarious condition, unnerved him and he resolved to 
stay. Not the least interesting part of these letters is the 
constant reference to the financial afiairs of Virginia* from 
1815 to 1830. They show an utter despair of improvement, 
from the complete relapse, suffered after the war of 1812, and 
from the load of debt then sorely pressing upon the older 
families. The troubles that came upon Mr. Jefferson have 
become historic, but I could mention other cases to show that 
the current opinion that Virginia was ruined by the late war 
is utterly erroneous. Virginia was ruined long before, ruined 
by an extravagant system of labor, by a lavish hospitality, by 
inattention to onlinary business principles. The war only has- 
tened the crisis a few years. 

Gilmer's plan of settlement was made in April, 1814 ; but 
in September of that year his schemes had not been matured. 

36 English Culture in Virginia, [224 

owing to the unsettled state of the country. In the meantime 
he had been exercising his pen in the production of certain 
essays — having now locked up among his treasures a manu- 
script volume of " Physical and Moral Essays," some of 
which afterwards saw the light. As a few of his literary 
productions are of consequence in themselves, and as all are 
of consequence in enabling us to inform ourselves of his 
character, I shall in this chapter simply note the date and 
title of such as were published, and shall defer all discussion 
of their merits until a subsequent chapter in which I hope to 
examine the character of the man and his work in some detail. 
It was during this summer that he became acquainted, 
or at least developed an intimacy with that wonderful old 
philosopher, the Abb6 Corr^a. With the exception of Mr. 
Jefferson this man did more to form Gilmer's character than 
did any other of his distinguished friends. Joseph Francisco 
Corr^ de Serra was born in Portugal in 1750. He studied 
at Rome and Naples, was admitted to holy orders, and returned 
to Portugal in 1777. Here he took great interest in the foun- 
dation of the Lisbon Academy, and in 1779 was made its 
perpetual secretary. He did an excellent work while con- 
nected with this institution in collecting cabinets of speci- 
mens — chiefly botanical, and in editing numerous unpub- 
lished documents relative to early Portuguese history. But 
he did not escape the suspicions of the Inquisition, and in 
1786 it became necessary for him to seek refuge in Paris. 
There he continued his studies and contracted an intimacy 
with the naturalist Broussonnet. After the death of Pedro 
III, Corr^a returned to his native country, and to him Brous- 
sonnet fled on the outbreak of the Reign of Terror. Rendered 
an object of suspicion by his hospitality to the exile, Corr^ 
found it necessary to go into hiding himself; for the authori- 
ties, under the direction of a tyrannical intendant-general of 
police, were busily engaged in crushing out all democratic 
tendencies. After a retreat to London, about 1796, Corr5a 
was employed in a diplomatic relation at Paris, where he 

225] English Culture in Virginia, 37 

remained from 1802 to 1813. In the latter year he embarked 
for the United States and, coming to Philadelphia, was engaged 
to deliver lectures on botany in the University of that city. 
He was subsequently appointed Portuguese minister to this 
country. Like all foreigners he was attracted to Mr. Jefferson 
and became a frequent inmate at Monticello where, in all prob- 
ability, Francis Gilmer first met him. The Abb4 was drawn 
toward the young Virginian by the latter's enthusiasm for 
all science — especially for botany. We have heard how Mr. 
Wirt found him discoursing on Linnaeus at Williamsburg, 
and it appears from his letters that he had since gone deeper 
into the subject. He was familiar with the flora of most of 
the sections of his native state, and he was now destined under 
the guidance of Mr. Corr^ to make vast acquisitions to his 
knowledge. But I shall let him describe his new friend in 
his own words, which are taken from a letter written by him 
to his brother Peachy Gilmer on the 3d of November, 1814 : 
" I am so far [Richmond] on my way to Philadelphia with 
Mr. Corr^, of whom, I dare say, you heard me speak of last 
summer. He is the most extraordinary man now living, or 
who, perhaps, ever lived. None of the ancient or modem 
languages ; none of the sciences, physical or moral ; none of 
the appearances of earth, air, or ocean, stand him any more 
chance than the Pojie of Rome, as old Jonett^ used to say. I 
have never heard him asked a question which he could not 
answer ; never seen him in company with a man who did not 
appear to be a fool to him ; never heard him make a remark 
which ought not to be remembered. He has read, seen, under- 
stands and remembers everything contained in books, or to be 
learned by travel, observation, and the conversation of learned 
men. He is a meml)er of every philosophical society in the 
world, and knows every distinguished man living, &c." Mak- 
ing all due allowances, we must, nevertheless, admit that the 

* I do not know who is referred to. 

38 Eagliah Culture in Virginia, [226 

man who could so impress a young man rather given to cyni- 
cism than otherwise, was no ordinary personage. 

The journey to Philadelphia was taken, and Gilmer pro- 
nounced the months spent there the happiest of his life. 
He contracted intimacies with John Vaughan, Secretary of 
the Philosophical Society, with Dr. Caspar Wistar, afterwards 
president of that society, and connected with the abolition 
movement, with Robert Walsh, the litterateur, and with young 
George Tick nor, then opening his eyes at the magnificence of 
Philadelphia dinner parties. He was probably present at the 
very dinner where John Randolph, in defending the gentle- 
men of Virginia from an imaginary insult from Mr. Corr^a, 
forgot, as he so often did, to be a gentleman himself.* But he 
had to tear himself away at last, even from the fascinations of 
a certain belle who is not infrequently mentioned in the letters 
written about this time. The visit not only left pleasant 
memories but led to various correspondences which will be 
mentioned in due course, but which cannot be enlarged upon. 
It also led to a great scheme, mysterious and all engrossing, 
the particulars of which I have not been able to make out, 
but which shows that the young man of twenty-four was still 
enthusiastic. It is a scheme of travel in Europe with Mr. 
Corr^a, from which large revenues are in some way to flow — 
but the aforesaid revenues would not begin flowing out until 
a thousand dollars were poured in, which thousand dollars 
Peachy Gilmer was conjured to bring with him to Albemarle. 
But luckily or unluckily for our schemers. Napoleon came 
back from Elba and set Europe in a blaze, which the philo- 
sophic Corr^a, now aged 65, did not care to pass through, and 
so this mysterious quest of El Dorado in the old world was 
abandoned, and Mr. Gilmer settled down in Winchester about 
the first of August, 1815. But he had not begun to practice 
before the old Abb6 was on him again, this time come to per- 

*Ticknor'8 Life and Letters, I, 16. 

227] English Culture in Virginia. 39 

suade him to take an expedition through the Carolinas for 
botanizing purposes. The temptation was too strong ; the 
young lawyer was so highly flattered by the evident fondness 
of the great man for him, and his scientific ardor was so 
kindled, that the shingle freshly hung out was taken down 
and the two enthusiasts started off. I leave the reader to 
imagine the pleasure Gilmer found in seeing new places and 
new faces, and in learning a favorite science under such a 
teacher ; I must myself hurry on in my narrative. 

Winchester now became Gilmer's abode for the next two 
years. There he found a respectable bar, and what was better, 
three staunch friends — Dabney Carr, Henry St. George Tucker, 
and Judge Holmes. Dabney Carr was, as we have already 
seen, the great friend of William Wirt, and the favorite 
nephew of Thomas Jefferson. He was now in his forty-fourth 
year, and was Chancellor for the Winchester district. He 
was an amiable and intelligent man, and did much to direct 
the young practitioner in his studies. Tucker was then mem- 
ber of Congress for his district, and his letters written to 
Gilmer from Washington are not the least interesting in this 
correspondence. These two, together with Judge Holmes and 
Mr. Wirt, helped to make Gilmer the most learned lawyer 
for his age in Virginia. 

It is interesting to read of his successful defence of a horse- 
thief who was notoriously guilty ; of the six cases which this 
one success brought him ; of his schemes for future glory, and 
of his endeavors to overcome certain natural impediments to 
fluent speaking ; but I am reminded of the more important 
work to be done, and regretfully pass over much of more than 
usual interest. It must, however, be mentioned that just 
about this time (1816) a Baltimore printer gave to the world 
a pamphlet containing sketches of certain American orators, 
which was much talked about in Washington, and was attrib- 
uted to Mr. Wirt. But a few weeks later the rumor spread 
abroad, greatly to Gilmer's disgust, that Mr. Wirt's favorite 
pupil, and not Mr. Wirt himself, was the author. The guilty 

40 English (Mture in llrginia. [228 

young critic could not deny the charge, and gained an enviable 
reputation in Virginia as a coming man of letters. 

In the meantime Gilmer was corresponding with Ticknor, 
who was now in Gottingen writing warm letters about the 
progress of German science, and sage letters as to his friend's 
keeping up his health ; with Hugh S. Legar6, whom he had 
met on his southern trip, and who gives us glimpses of the 
methods of study which were to lead to his future distinction — 
with Corr^a, the omniscient, whose careful handwriting it is a 
pleasure to read ; with Mr. Wirt, in answer to that gentle- 
man's elegant epistles of advice ; with Tucker in Congress ; 
and with Mr. Jefferson, on subjects of political economy, also 
on the subject of the boundaries of Lousiana, on which he was 
writing an article. Jefferson replied that although soon after 
the acquisition of that country, he had minutely investigated 
its history and ^* formed a memoir establishing its boundaries 
from Perdido to the Rio Bravo " (which papers were sent to 
the American Commissioner at Madrid, copies remaining, 
however, in the Secretary of State's office), he had now no 
documents by him that could help Gilmer. He, however, 
referred him to an article in the " Virginia Argus," of some 
time in January, 1816, which was so free from errors that he 
suspected that some one in the Secretary of State's office must 
have written it. Gilmer corresponded also with the celebrated 
Du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817), who, after a varied and 
brilliant life at the French court, had come to New Jersey in 
1802 and, disdaining all Napoleon's offers, had resolved to 
turn his talents to account among a fresh young people — 
neglecting, however, to learn their language, though he lived 
among them for fifteen years. Respecting this last corres- 
pondence, we will quote a few words from a letter to Mr. Wirt : 

" Mr. Corr^a has put me to corresponding with the celebrated 
Du Pont (de Nemours), who writes the longest letters in 
French and in the worst hand I ever saw ; he writes often, and 
the correspondence occupies a good deal of my leisure. I shall 
transcribe his letters in a book, and when we live to quit the 

229] English Culture in Virginia. 41 

bars and courts and study the history of the strange things 
whicli have passed before us, we will read them together." 

It will always be one of the regrets of my life that Gilmer 
did not transcribe the aforesaid letters, for many a weary hour 
did I spend deciphering them — to find nothing after all very 
worthy of my pains. They are filled with reflections upon 
our government not particularly profound — unless the fact 
that ray eyes were nearly blinded by the strain to which they 
were subjected, l)linded my critical powei*s — with panegyrics 
on Quesnay and Turgot, whom by the way he induced Gilmer 
to read, and thus deserves our thanks,^ with compliments to 
Gilmer and invitations to him to undertake a translation of a 
certain treatise on Education, which he had written for the 
benefit of this uneducated country ; with lamentations over the 
state of France, where the clerical party were beginning that 
reaction which cost the Bourbons their throne; and with enco- 
miums upon Mr. Jeiferson in spite of the fact that that philos- 
opher had allowed the distinguished Frenchman to visit him 
for a week without once seeing him ; ^ from all of which I 
excerpt one passage and hasten on : 

* In this connection 1 must quote the following from a letter to Wirt: 
" In economy the French have opened one window and the English another 
on the opposite side (as the Chevalier Corr6a says), but nobody haa seen 
more than an apartment of the great edifice." 

•Extract from a letter written by Gilmer to Wirt dated Winchester, 
January, 1816. 

•' By the way, this puts me in mind to ask you if the worthy St. Thomas 
of Canterbury has ever written to you concerning the clari orcUorea. 1 have 
always forgotten to mention to you in my letters that I made the applica- 
tion to him, and he treated it as Pope [William Pope, before mentioned] 
says, in a ' particular manner.' That I might leave a kind of lasting me- 
mento to jog his memory, I wrote him a yery polite note, mentioning the 
subject in the best way I could, to which he did me the honor to return no 
answer, and the matter ended, as I did not think it proper considering the 
anti-duelling laws to challenge him, as J. Randolph would probably haye 
done. If he has not written to you on the subject, you need take it as no 
particular n^ligenoe towards yourself, as he lately suffered the celebrated 

42 English Culture in Virginia. [230 

" Such is the system of your elections, imitated from those 
of England, whose central point is the tavern where Madame 
Intrigue solicits, pays for and obtains the protection of My 
Lord Whiskey. You haven't yet got to giving one another 
blows over the head with great sticks, or to detaching the 

shoulders from the body with (?) as is done at London and 

Westminster; but already blows of the fist are not spared, 
and the chiefs of opinion have themselves accompanied by 
two body-guards — vigorous Boxers. This evil may be less 
great in your Virginia, and it is less i^reat because you have 
there another evil graver still — all manual labor is done by 
slaves who have not and who ought not to have a voice in 
elections. It is to this same evil that you owe, with some 
justice, what is called ' the Virginian Dynasty.'" 

These letters from Du Pont occasioned considerable cor- 
respondence between Gilmer and Mr. Jefferson, for the old 
courtier's French was beyond the dictionaries at Winchester. 
The treatise on Education was translated, but, for various 
reasons, was not given to the world.^ 

But the young lawyer was longing for a wider field. He 
was doing well at Winchester, had in fact made his expenses 
the first year; but this by no means satisfied him. So Attor- 
ney-General Wirt and Chancellor Carr were consulted as to 

Du Pont de Nemours, a grave senator of France, near 80 years of age to 
visit him at Monticello, stay a week and not see him." 

Gilmer refers above to the fact that Wirt found some difficulty in getting 
Jefferson's opinion as to his life of Patrick Henry. There is another char- 
acteristic sentence of Gilmer's on this subject which I take from a letter to 
Wirt, written on the 16th of December, 1816: "The old citizen of Monti- 
cello is such a diplomatist that he has quite baffled our schemes to obtain 
his opinion ; and when we ask him one thing he tells us he ' has reason to 
believe' something about another. A plague upon all diplomacy, I say." 

^ The French version was published in Paris and had gone through a 
second edition by 1812. It is to be hoped that Gilmer had the printed 
book to translate from. For a synopsis of this treatise which is said to 
have influenced Jefferson's ideas on higher education, see Adams' Thomas 
Jefferson, &c., pp. 49, 50, 51. 

231] English Oulture in Virginia. 43 

his future location. Wirt decidedly favored Baltimore, but it 
was found that a rule of court required a three years residence 
in Maryland, and this unfair protection of native intellect 
forced the aspirant for legal fame to make a Napoleonic dash, 
as Wirt called it, to Richmond. This was in the winter of 

His first impressions of Richmond were not favorable, and 
he, therefore, made a flying trip to Baltimore to see whether 
the rule could not be broken down. Some of his friends there 
were convinced that an exception would be made in his case ; 
and as Pinckney was likely to be out of the way, either in 
Russia or in Washington, under the government, there seemed 
to be a fine opening. But these things were uncertain, and 
Gilmer returnetl to Richmond, where, after an abortive attempt 
to induce some of his friends to go with him to Florida, he 
finally settled with something like content. It may be noted 
that he made some endeavors, through Mr. Wirt, to obtain the 
secretaryship of state for the new territory of Florida ; but 
Mr. Monroe decidedly discouraged the application on the 
ground that Gilmer ought not to think of thus burying him- 
self — a fact which served to increase the young man's dislike 
to the " most popular president." 

Not long after his return to Richmond, he was appointed 
by the court to defend one Gibson, who had committed a most 
atrocious and open murder. The man was convicted, but 
Gilmer got him a new trial on two nice legal points, and so, 
in the opinion of his friends, obtained a great victory. We 
also hear incidentally of a thousand dollar fee for recovering 
some land in Orange County, of a trip to Georgia for a similar 
purpose, and of sundry claims given him by Robert Walsh — 
all of which tends to show that he was by no means idle. Nor 
was there any lack of appreciation of his work on the part of 
his friends and a^iuaintances. There were rumore that Presi- 
dent Smith of William and Mary was to be called to Phila- 
delphia in Dr. Wistar^s place, and a lettxT to Jefferson, of 
March 18th, 1818, hints that Gilmer might be asked to 

44 English Culture in J^rginia, [232 

become the liead of his alma mater. Jefferson replied on 
April 10th: "I trust you did not for a moment seriously 
think of shutting yourself behind the door of William and 
Mary College. A more complete cul de sae could not be pro- 
posed to you."^ We also see from a letter to his brother 
Peachy, written about a year later, that he stood some chance 
of being made Attorney General of Virginia. 

During this time also (1819-20) he had a correspondence 
with Benjamin Vaughan (brother to John, of Philadelphia), 
the antiquarian of Hallowell, Maine, who after many years of 
good works in England, continued the same in this country 
until his death in 1835. Vaughan lent him a copy of Smith's 
General History of Virginia (London Edition, 1 629), and the 
result was that Gilmer induced Dr. Rice to publish the first 
American edition of this valuable work in 1819. Nor was 
he idle in the law. He was appointed by the Court of Appeals 
to report their decisions, and published a thin volume of 
reports in 1821 ; but the legislature did not make the office 
of Reporter profitable enough, and he only served one year. 

In the meantime George Hay, a distinguished Richmond 
lawyer, Monroe's son-in-law, and the prosecutor of Aaron 
Burr, had published a work against usury laws. Gilmer had 
read Bentham and the Edinburgh Reviewers on the subject, 
and disagreeing, published a reply to them, disdaining to notice 
Mr. Hay's performance. This production of his thirtieth year 
gained many high commendations from such men as Mr. Jeffer- 
son, John Randolph of Roanoke. Mr. Wirt, and Rufus King. 

From a letter of June 26th, 1820, we find that he was not 
unknown abroad. A young friend, Dabney Carr Terrell, who 
had been studying in Geneva, brought him a letter from De 
Caudolle, the celebrated professor of botany at that Univer- 
sity, in which the savan solicited specimens from America, and 
promised that any observations Gilmer might make should be 

^This letter is given entire in Dr. Adams' Monograph on Thomas 
Jefferson, page 110. 

233] English OiUture in Virginia, 45 

inserted and acknowledged in the great work to which he was 
devoting his life. The postscript to this letter is as follows : 

" It is worth while to mention, too, as an honor done me 
abroad for what was hardly understood at home — that Pictet, 
the head of the University at Geneva, translated my theory 
of the Natural Bridge into French, maintaining it to be the 
only scientific solution. Terrell said all the learned there 
spoke in recommendation of it. . . ." 

. From the above we see that the man was being recognized 
as successful. His library on general jurisprudence was the 
best in the state, if not in the whole country, for Ticknor 
and Terrell had purchased many rare books for him abroad. 
Strangers as they passed through Baltimore and Washington 
saw Mr. Wirt and brought letters of introduction from him 
to Gilmer. Even in Winchester we catch sight of distin- 
guished visitors, such as General Bernard,^ Napoleon's aide, 
who gave them vivid descriptions of Waterloo, Dr. Wistar 
of Philadelphia, and the Abb6. From this last companion 
Gilmer had now to part, and from the letter I am about to 
give we see how dear his Virginia friends had been to the i*are 
old man. 

Frank W. Gilmer, Esq. 
New York, 9th November, 1820. 
Dear Sir and Friend, 

Tomorrow in the Albion packet i sail for England, and 
from thence in January i will sail for Brazil, where i will be 
in the beginning of March. It is impoSvsible to me to leave 
this continent without once more turning my eyes to Virginia, 
to you and Montioello. I leave you my representative in that 
State, and near the persons who attach me to it, and i doubt 
not of your acceptance of this charge. Mr. Jefferson, Col. 
Randolph and his excellent Lady and family, the family i am 

'General Simon Bernard (1779-1839) — he seems to hare revisited 
America with Lafayette in 1824. 

46 English Culture in Virginia. [234 

the most attached to in all America, will receive my adieus 
from you. Do not forget also that pure and virtuous soul at 
Monti)ellier and his Lady. You will i hope live long, my 
dear friend, and you will every day more and more see with 
your eyes what difference exists between the two philosophical 
Presidents, and the whole future contingent series of chiefs of 
your notion} You know the rest of my acquaintances in your 
noble State, and the degrees of consideration i have for each, 

and you will distribute my souvenirs in proportion 

[He next mentions his election to the Albemarle Agricultural 
Society and requests Gilmer to return his thanks.] 

Glory yourself in being a Virginian, and remember all my 
discourses about them. It is the lot i would have wished for 
me if i was a North American, being a South American i am 
glad to be a Brazilian and you shall hear of w^hat i do for my 
country if i live. 

Cras ingens iterahimus aquor — but every where, you will 
find me constantly and steadily 

Your faithful and sincere friend 

Joseph CorrI:a de Serra. 

Corr^a did not go to Brazil. The altered condition of 
Portugal, due to the uprising of 1820, drew him back to his 
native country, and he became minister of finance under the 
constitutional government. He died in 1823, after as useful 
and as varied a life as it is given a man to lead. 

But this chapter has already exceeded the limits intended 
for it, so I shall only mention one other incident and then 
bring it to a close. On the 25th of October, 1823, Gilmer 
sent Mr. Jefferson, with his compliments, the six books of 
Cicero's De Re Publica, which had been discovered by the 
celebrated Italian philologist, Angelo Mai, and published by 
him in 1822. I had known from his letters that Gilmer was 

* It is proper to say that the italics are my own. 

235] English Culture in Virginia. 47 

fond of the classics and especially of Cicero ; but I was some- 
what surprised to find that he kept up with European learning 
as assiduously as this fact would indicate. 

In answer to this very letter, it would seem, came the im- 
portant communication from Mr. Jefferson referred to at the 
close of the first chapter. 



The letter of November 23d, 1823, in which Mr. Jefferson 
asked his young friend to act as commissioner for procuring 
professors from England has not been preserved ; but we have 
Gilmer's answer of December 3d, which lets us see that some-* 
thing beside the new commission had been offered him. It 
has already been shown how important the professorship of 
law was in Mr. Jefferson's eyes ; and we can form some idea 
of his estimate of Mr. Gilmer's abilities, when we learn that 
it was now proposed to entrust the chair to him. It would be 
useless to attempt to describe the young man's gratification : 
he knew full well what store the philosopher set by this par- 
ticular chair, and to be so honored at the early age of thirty- 
three proved even to his naturally despondent nature that his 
life had not been in vain. But soon the flush of pride passed 
off, and serious questions began to propose themselves. He 
had an aptitude for speaking and for public life. He might 
reasonably look forward to Congress, and Virginians had 
been known to mount higher. Then the University was as 
yet in posse merely. The men who were to be his colleagues 
had not been secured ; and, though he himself was to choose 
them, he did not know whether good men were available at 
the salaries offered. He had succeeded well at the bar and 
had long formed plans of retirement with moderate wealth and 
of devotion to some single theme that should give him an 
acknowledged position among men of letters. At a new 
university he would have a constant round of lectures to give, 

237] English Ouiture in Virginia, 49 

which would leave little time for outside literary work ; and 
the prospect of retirement with a fortune would be forever 
banished from his view. Then, too, he would be bound to 
continuous duty, with a constitution far from strong and liable 
to give way at any time. All these considerations weighed 
well with him, and we accordingly find him requesting time 
for his decision. But the commission was quite another thing, 
which he could take in place of his usual trip to the Springs. 
He had long desired to visit England and now he could go 
under the best auspices. And so we find him gladly accept- 
ing the charge and making some practical suggestions which 
seem to have been acted on. One of these was that the powers 
of the agent should not be limited to Great Britain and Ire- 
land, but should be extended to the continent where English 
letters were beginning to be studied.^ Mr. Jefferson seems to 
have removed all absolute restrictions on his agent's move- 
ments; but his preference remained decidedly for England, 
on account of the difficulties a European would have in 
thoroughly mastering our language and in appreciating our 

The proposal that Gilmer should accept the office of agent 
to England seems to have been made him by three of the 
board of visitors without Mr. Jefferson's knowledge. Per- 
haps the law chair was held up before his eyes by his great 
friend. Chapman Johnson, although it was well known that 
Mr. Jefferson would have the deciding voice in that matter. 
Even as late as January, 1824, Cabell and Cocke seemed to 
have had no notion that Gilmer was in Mr. Jefferson's mind, 
as may be seen from the following extract taken from a lotter 
of Cabell's, bearing date the 29th of January, 1824 : 

" Gen. Cocke and myself have long l)een thinking of C'lian- 
cellor Carr as the Law Professor ; and we would be happy if 
there could be no commitment on that question. Mr. Carres 
happy temper and manners, and dignified character, to say 

* Madison's Writings, III, 353. 

60 English Culture in Virginia. [238 

nothing of his talents and acquirements, induced us to think 
of him as the head of the institution." ^ 

Although the request that no commitment should be made, 
might at first blush indicate a suspicion that Mr. Jefferson 
had some one else in his mind, I do not think that such a 
suspicion existed, for all of the board regarded Mr. Jefferson 
as the father of the University, and their own votes as merely 
marlcs of honorable confidence in him. I can discover no 
trace of any self-seeking spirit, certainly not in Cabell or 

To this letter of Mr. CabelPs, Jefferson made the following 
answer : 

MoNTiCELLO, February 23, 1824. 

* * ♦ 

I remark what you say on the subject of committing our- 
selves to any one for the Law appointment. Your caution is 
perfectly just. I hope, and am certain, that this will be the 
standing law of discretion and duty with every member of 
our Board in this and all cases. You know that we have all, 
from the beginning, considered the high qualifications of our 
professors as the only means by which we could give to our 
institution splendor and pre-eminence over all its sister semi- 
naries. The only question, therefore, we can ever ask our- 
selves, as to any candidate, will be, is he the most highly 

qualified? The College of has lost its character of 

primacy by indulging motives of favoritism and nepotism, 
and by conferring appointments as if the professorships were 
intrtisted to them as provisions for their friends. And even 
that of Edinburgh, you know, is also much lowered from the 
same cause. We are next to observe, that a man is not quali- 

^ Jefferson -Cabell Correspondence, page 289. 

* But Mr. Madison was acquainted with Mr. Jefferson's purpose, and had 
from the beginning preferred Gilmer to any of the learned lawyers pro- 
posed for the chair, as appears from a letter of his to Jefferson, Nov. 11, 
1823. See Madison's Writings, III, 343. 

239] English Culture in Virginia. 51 

fied for a professor, knowing nothing but merely his own 
profession. He should be otherwise well educated as to the 
sciences generally ; able to converse understandingly with the 
scientific raen with whom he is associated, and to assist in the 
councils of the Faculty on any subject of science on which 
they may have occasion to deliberate. Without this, he will 
incur their contempt and bring disreputation on the institu- 
tion. With respect to the professorship you mention, I scarcely 
know any of our judges personally ; but I will name, for 

example, the late Judge who, I believe, was generally 

admitted to be among the ablest of them. His knowledge 
was confined to the common law merely, which does not con- 
stitute one-half the qualification of a really learned lawyer, 
much less that of a Professor of Law for an University. And 
as to any other branches of science, he must have stood mute 
in the presence of his literary associates, or of any learned 
strangers or others visiting the University. Would this con- 
stitute the splendid stand we propose to take ? ^ 

The individual named in your letter is one of the best, and 
to me the dearest of living men. From the death of his 
father, my most cherished friend, leaving him an infant in 
the arms of my sister, I have ever looked on him as a son. 
Yet these are considerations which can never enter into the 
question of his qualifications as a Professor of the University. 
Suppose all the chairs filled in similar degree, would that 
present the object which we have proposed to ourselves, and 
promised to the liberalities and expectations of our country ? 
In the course of the trusts which I have exercised through 
life, with powers of appointment, I can say with truth, and 
unspeakable comfort, that I never did appoint a relation to 
office, and that merely because I never saw the case in which 
some one did not offer or occur, letter qualified ; and I have 
the most unlimited confidence that in the appointment of 

* What woald JeflTenon any to the specialists now forming our modern 
faculties ? 

62 English Ouliure in Virginia, [240 

Professors to our nui-sling institution, every individual of my 
associates will look with a single eye to the sublimation of 
its character, and adopt as our sacred motto, 'detur digniori.' 
In this way it will honor us, and bless our country. . . ." ^ 

It is evident, I think, from the stress laid upon general 
scientific and literary attainments, that the old diplomat 
was trying to suggest Gilmer's appointment without being 
obliged to mention his name or the fact that he had long ago 
made up his own mind and consulted Gilmer about it. 

Be this as it may, Carr's name was taken out of the list of 
possible appointees by his being elected a judge of the Court 
of Appeals — a position which his friends had long desired for 
him, and which he had, doubtless, dreamed about himself. 
There is a good deal of correspondence about this matter con- 
tained in the two volumes before me, and I subjoin a letter 
from Francis Gilmer to Carr announcing the latter's election. 
This letter will give a fair sample of the familiar intercourse 
between Wirt and Carr, and the two Gilmers — Peachy and 
Francis. 1 may remark that the office had long been depend- 
ing upon the death of a once respectable but now super- 
annuated judge, and that some of the letters on the subject 
remind one strikingly of the magnificent chapter with which 
" Barchester Towers " begins. 

Conference room Ct. Appeals 
24th Fehy. 1824 

To the honorable Dabney Carr Puisne Judge of the Court 
of Appeals. It grieveth my heart most noble judge, that in 
the five years I have lived here, I have been able to do no 
more for thee, than sound thy praises, for this office, which 
long due has come at last — Thy merit hath won it, & not 
the feeble efforts of thy friends. The ballot was thus to-day 
J pas[t] 2 o'clock. 

^Jefferson-Cabell Correspondence, page 391. Quoted also by Randall, 
III, 497. 

241] English Culture in Virginia. 53 

1st Ballot Carr . 90. Barl)our^ 66. Brock°=^ 39. 

2nd Carr 1 14. Barbour 87 

Come down as soon as you can. 

Your friend, 

F. W. Gilmer. 

It was equally a matter of gratification to Gilmer that 
Henry St. G. Tucker was chosen to succeed Carr as chancellor 
of the Winchester district. Thus was fulfilled that remark- 
able prophecy mentioned by Kennedy in his life of Wirt. 
Wirt had long ago been made Attorney General, James Bar- 
bour had been sent to the Senate and was soon to be Secretary 
of War, and Dabney Carr was judge of the Court of Appeals.' 

It had been resolved to keep Gilmer's mission a secret, for 
fear that American patriotism would howl down the newly- 
built walls of the University as soon as it was known that 
British voices would be heard therein. Few letters were written 
about it, but they show incidentally that the young agent went 
up to Albemarle early in the spring of 1824 and there held 
many consultations with his chief, in which Mr. Madison of 
course shared. But even then the newspapers got some ink- 
ling of what was going on, and we find in tlie Richmond 
Enquirer for May 18th, 1824, the following item in very 
small type : " Mr. F. W. Gilmer of this city has sailed for 
England, it is said, to make arrangements (for library, appa- 
ratus, <fec.) to put the University of Virginia into immediate 
operation." It was then deemed best to put a bold face on 

* P. P. Barbour of Orange County, previously Speaker of the House of 
Representatives, afterwards Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the 
United States. 

* VVni. Brockenl)orough, then a judge of the General Court. In ten yearg 
he took his seat beside Carr as a judge of the Court of Appeals. 

' In one of their trips to the Fluvanna court, James liarbour began taking 
off the peculiarities of his companions and wound up by predicting that 
they would rise to the offices mentioned in the text. See Kennedy's Life 
of Wirt, I, 71. 

54 English Culture in Virginia. [242 

the matter and to enter into explanations. Accordingly in 
the same newspaper for May 25th, Gen. Cocke gave a notice 
of the progress of the University, in which he stated that an 
agent had gone to England for professors, but laid great stress 
on the fact that the chairs of government and morals had been 
reserved for native Americans. 

In the meantime, however, Mr. Gilmer had hurried through 
Washington " incog," as he expressed it to Mr. Wirt, and, 
arriving in New York, had sailed early on the morning of 
May the 8th on the packet Cortes, bound for Liverpool. 

I shall end this chapter by requesting the reader to imagine 
him pacing the deck and laughing at sea-sickness, longing to 
catch sight of the English shore and wondering whether the 
reality would equal his dreams — also perhaps glancing over 
his papers, among which lay letters of introduction from both 
Madison and Jefferson^ to Richard Rush, our Minister at 

* These letters are to be found in Madison's Writings, III, 437, and Ran- 
dall's Life of Jefferson, III, 497. 

In Jefferson's letter Gilmer is mentioned as "the best educated subject 
we have raised since the Revolution ; highly qualified in all the important 
branches of science, professing particularly that of the Law, which he has 
practised some years at our Supreme Court with good success and flattering 
prospects." Jefferson goes on to say that he does not expect to get such 
men as Cullen and Robertson and Porson, but he hopes to get the men who 
are treading on their heels, and who may prefer certain success in America 
to uncertain success in England. 

*This gentleman (1780-1859) was a son of the well known Dr. Benja- 
min Rush and filled the oflices of Attorney General of the United States, 
of temporary Secretary of State, of Minister to England (1817-25), of Sec- 
retary of the Treasury under John Quincy Adams, and Minister to France. 
He was also the author of " Memoranda of a Resident at the Court of St. 
James," &c. The edition of 1845 does not mention Gilmer's visit. 


On Sunday, the 6th of June, 1824, Mr. Gilmer found him- 
self in Liverpool. His first task was to write to Mr. Jefferson 
of his safe arrival. We may imagine the pleasure it gave the 
old gentleman to receive this short epistle on the 29th of July, 
and to sit in his library with the precious missive in his hands 
indulging pleasant day-dreams about the child of his old age. 
Professors and a library were now all he wanted and for these 
he depended on Gilmer alone ; for his own life was evidently 
drawing to a close, and if anything happened to this agent, 
he might not live to see his University opened and to say his 
" nunc dimittisJ^ The letter was, as I have said, a short one. 
The ship had been twenty-six days making from New York 
to Holyhead. For six days they had been driven about by 
adverse gales in St. George's channel, and Gilmer had in 
despair disembarked at Holyhead and gone through Wales to 
Liverpool. He went to Liver[x>pl instead of London for 
business purposes which the letter does not explain. 

The next communication with Mr. Jefferson is from London 
and bears the date of 'June 21st. I shall now let Mr. Gilmer 
tell his own story, only adding such facta and explanations as 
seem to be important.* 

* In the letters which follow I have not consciouitly made any alterations 
except occasionally in punctuation and in mibstituting full for abbreviated 


56 English Culture in Virginia. [244 

London, 2\8t June, 1824. 
Dear Sir, 

I wrote to you at Liverpool informing you of my arrival 
on the sixth. Hatton lying immediately in my way to 
London, I determined to call on Dr. Parr ; unluckily for 
me, he had gone to Shrewsbury, and I shall be obliged to 
visit Hatton again, before I go to Oxford. 

Since my arrival in London eight days ago, Mr. Rush (who 
is soon to return to the U. S.) has been so constantly engaged, 
that he could do nothing for me till yesterday. Indeed, the 
persons with whom he was to act, have been equally occupied 
in Parliament, the session being near its close, and as with us, 
the business of weeks is crowded into the few last days. Yes- 
terday (Sunday) I received the necessary letters to Cambridge, 
Oxford, and Edinburgh, from Lord Teignmouth ^ and Mr. 
Brougham, Sir James Mackintosh being so occupied with the 
London and Manchester petitions for the recognition of the 
Independence of S. America that he has done nothing for us. 
I have conversed both with Lord T. and Mr. Brougham, who 
have both taken a lively interest in the object of my mission ; 
the latter especially is very ardent for our success. 

Finding no specific objection, nor indeed any objection, to 
Dr. Blaetterman[n], I have closed the engagement with him, 
as I considered myself instructed to do. He will sustain a 
considerable loss by his removal, having recently taken and 
furnished a large house. I did not therefore hesitate to offer 
him in the outset $1500 for the first year, with an intimation 
that he would probably be reduced to $1000 in the second, 
but leaving that entirely to the Visitor^, preferring to make 
positive stipulations for the shortest possible time. Nor did 
I hint even anything of the guarantee of $2500. 

Having thus concluded my arrangements in London, I shall 
set out to-morrow for Cambridge, where my real difficulties 

^ John Shore — Lord Teignmouth (1751-1834) — was an Indian official of 
some distinction, but is best known as the Editor of Sir Wm. Jones' works. 

245] English Culture in Virginia. 57 

will begin, and where they will be greatest. I have antici- 
pated all along that it would be most difficult to procure a fit 
mathematician and experimental philosopher ; for both are in 
great demand in Europe. Mr. Brougham intimated that it 
was by no means improbable, that Ivory ^ (the first mathema- 
tician without rival in G. B.) might be induced to engage for 
us : and I should certainly have gone at once to Woolwich to 
see him; but he accompanied the statement by remarking that 
he had recently been a good deal disordered in his mind and 
unable to attend to his studies. He had recovered, but there 
is always danger of a recurrence of these maladies. Say noth- 
ing of this, however ; for I may find this account exaggerated, 
or wholly untrue, and may hereafter confer with Ivory, and 
possibly contract with him. 

I can do nothing about the books and apparatus till I have 
engaged professors ; all that part of my undertaking is there- 
fore deferred until my return to London. I have seen Lack- 
ington^s* successors, and endeavoured to impress upon them 
the importance of attention and moderate charges in their 
dealings with us. 

You will hear from me again from Cambridge; accept 
therefore I pray you my best wishes. 

P. S. Blaetterman[n] is in the prime of life — has a wife 
and two small children, and they appear amiable and domes- 
tic :* he speaks English well, tho' not without a foreign accent; 

^ James Ivory (1765-1842) was educated at the University of St. 
Andrews, and, after studying theology and drifting from teaciiing to super- 
intending a flax spinning factory, was, in consequence of his remarkable 
memoirs on mathematicaf subjects, appointed professor of that study in 
the Royal Military Academy at Marlow. This Gilmer mistook for Wool- 
wich, and consequently he never found Ivory, who had resigned his pro- 
feworahip in 1819. Brougham continued to be Ivory's friend, for in 1831 
he got him a pension of £300. See Gentleman's Mag., May, 1843, p. 537. 

* Ik>oksellerH recommended by Mr. Jefferson. 

' I could not help smiling on reading this ingenuous remark, for I 
remembered to have heard that Dr. B. was afterwards dismissed from the 
University for beating his wife. I do not know whether this reiwrt waa 


58 English Ouliure in Virginia, [246 

that we are obliged to encounter every way, as there are no 
profound English professors of modern language[s]. 

It appears from this letter, and from the letter of intro- 
duction to Rush, that Mr. Jefferson already knew of Dr. 
George Blaettermann, and that Gilmer went prepared to 
engage him, if possible, as professor of modern languages. 
Of Dr. Blaettermann's antecedents I have been unable to pro- 
cure any information. Recommendations of the man appear 
to have been sent to Jefferson by George Ticknor as early as 

Although Mr. Rush was very busy, he managed to find time 
to write Gilmer a long letter on the 16th of June in which he 
states that he had written to the three distinguished men men- 
tioned in the letter just given, and that although Mr. Jefferson 
had overrated his ability to be of use to Mr. Gilmer, his dis- 
position to be so used could not be overrated. Lord Teign- 
mouth in replying to Mr. Rush on the date last mentioned 
enclosed four letters of recommendation, to two representative 
men at Oxford and Cambridge respectively. Three of these 
letters were written by his son in their joint names, the fourth 
was addressed by Lord Teignmouth himself to Dr. Coplestone 
(whose name he misspells) at Oxford. His lordship's courte- 
ous note hardly needs to be inserted. Dr. Edward Coplestone 
(1776-1849), afterwards Bishop of Llandaff and one of the 
first English clergymen to learn Welsh that his congregation 
might understand him, was at this time Provost of Oriel. 
Gilmer could not have been referred to a better man ; but as 
the letter in which he describes his visit to Oxford, does not 
mention Dr. Coplestone, it is possible that the two did not 
meet. Coplestone could have given him excellent advice as 
to his selection of a classical professor ; for he had himself 

true, but it bears a curious relation to the story told about his successor, 
another foreigner, who was forced to leave because his wife beat him. 

247] English Culture in Virginia. 59 

defended elegant classical scholarship against the Edinburgh 

Brougham's note to Mr. Rush I give in full. 

Hill St., Saturday. 
My dear Sir — 

I ana extremely sorry that I have not been able sooner to 
answer your very interesting letter — inclosing one from your 
truly venerable friend — I feel the liveliest interest in the suc- 
cess of Mr. G's mission — which is of great importance to both 
countries — but the difficulty is not small which Mr. Jefferson 
most sagaciously points out. I have inclosed three letters to 
the fittest persons at Cambridge & Edinburgh. At the latter 
place I am quite sure, he ought to say nothing to any one — but 
quietly go to Mr. Murray^ — who intimately knows all the 
learned men there — & in whose judgement and honour he may 
safely trust. As for Cambridge, Dr. Davy^ — the master of 
Caius College to whom I give him a letter, is now in London 
& will be here for two days longer — I shall see him to-morrow 
& consult him generally upon the subject — & if Mr. G. could 
be kind enough to call here to-morrow morning soon after 
eleven, I could take him to the Dr. — and I should beside, be 

* I must once for all acknowledge my indebtedness to Mr. Leslie Stephen's 
wonderful Dictionary of National Biography. I have drawn from it when- 
ever I could. Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography and Drake's 
American Biography have also been of service to me. I have indicated 
other sources of information where they seemed important. 

• Undoubtedly Mr. John A. Murray, the eminent Whig lawyer, co-editor 
at one time of the Edinburgh Review, Clerk of the Pipe (a sinecure which 
got him a slap from Christopher North in the Noetea) and afterwards a 
Scotch Justice. Lord Murray's hospitality is amply testified to. It will be 
seen that he was very kind to Gilmer. (See Mrs. Qordon's " Christopher 
North," New York, 1875, page 387.) 

' Dr. Martin Davy (1763-1839) was a saooessful physician who was made 
Master of Caius in 1803. In spite of some questionable proceedings, he is 
considered to have been a good master upon the whole. He was a strong 
Whig and a great friend of Dr. Parr's* 

60 English OvUture in Virginia, [248 

desirous of seeing liira & putting him on his guard against 
the various deceptions or rather exaggerations which will be 
practised upon him — if he lets the object of his mission be 
known to any but a very few. 

Believe me to be, 

Wt. great respect 
and esteem 

Your faithful Serv't 

H. Brougham. 

From the execrable hand and the constant abbreviations to 
be seen in this note one might infer, even if one did not know 
it already, that Mr. Brougham was then the busiest man in 

In the meantime Mr. Jefferson had written Gilmer a letter, 
which though not received until later, may as well be inserted 

MoNTiCELLO, June 5, '24. 
Dear Sir, 

The printer having disappointed me in getting ready, in 
time to send to you before your departure, the original report 
of the plan of the University, I now inclose you half a dozen 
copies, one for Dr. Stuart [he meant Dugald Stewart], the 
others to be disposed of as you please. I am sorry to inform 
you that we fail in getting the contingent donation of 50 M. D. 
[$50,000] made to us by our last legislature, so we have 
nothing more to buy books or apparatus. I cannot help 
hoping however that the next session will feel an incumbency 
on themselves to make it good otherwise, an easy mode may 
occur. W" and Mary college, reduced to 11 students, and to 
the determination to shut their doors on the opening of ours, 
are disposed to petition the next legislature to remove them to 
Richmond, it is more reasonable to expect they will consoli- 
date them with the University, this would add about 6 M. D. 
a year to our revenue. 

249] English Culiure in Virginia, 61 

Soon after you left us, I received from Maj' Cartwright, a 
well-known character in England, a letter, and a volume on 
the English constitution, having to answer his letter, I put 
it under your cover, with a wish you could deliver it in person, 
it will probably be acceptable to yourself to have some per- 
sonal acquaintance with this veteran and virtuous patriot; and 
it is possible he may be useful to you, as the favorable senti- 
ments he expresses towards our University assure me he would 
willingly be. perhaps he would accept a copy of the Report, 
which I would ask you to present him in my name, ever & 
affectionately yours 

Th: Jefferson. 

On the back of this is endorsed, " Received Cambridge, 
14th July, 1824 — without the pamphlets, so could not take 
one to D. Stewart." But the reports seem to have come later. 

Gilmer now left London for Cambridge from which place 
he wrote the following letter to Mr. Jefferson : 

Cambridge, 7th July, 1824. 
Dear Sir, 

I left London for this place on the 22d of June, immedi- 
ately I had procured from Mr. Rush the necessary letters. I 
found on my arrival here the same evening that the long 
vacation at the University had virtually commenced three 
weeks before, that is while I was at sea. Of the three persons 
to whom I had letters, he, on whom Mr. Brougham princi- 
pally relied, was absent on a visit of a week.' I employed 
the time as well as I could, in enquiring into the state of 
learning here, and what in this dilemma would be my best 
method of proceeding. I found natural history very little 
attended to, and should therefore be content to procure a 
Mathematician and Natural Philosopher from this University, 
indeed from what I can learn, there arc no particular reasons 
for preferring the Professor of experimental philosophy from 

» Dr. Davy. 

62 English Culture in Virginia, [250 

Cambridge. But they from whom I should have had some 
chance of selecting fit persons, had, in all the departments of 
learning, gone to their various homes in different parts of the 
kingdom. This puts me in some respects to great disadvan- 
tage, for I shall have to travel a vast deal to see them. As 
yet I have learned but of one, whom I should probably 
choose, that is a Mr. Atkinson,^ formerly "Wrangler" in 
Trinity College, Cambridge, now teaching a school in Scotland. 
He is spoken of as a first rate mathematician, and I shall 
endeavor to see him in my visit to Scotland. 

For the teacher of ancient languages two have been sug- 
gested, both residing in London. I defer acting on that 
branch, until I visit Oxford and see Dr. Parr. Sir James 
Eilw. Smith is at the head of natural history in England, and 
he was in Norfolk when I was in London — as he is now. 
Being nearer him than I shall be again in my regular route, 
I shall spend part of a day with him, proceed to Oxford, and 
then to Edinburgh. It seemed to be thought most probable 
that our Professor of natural history will be best found in 
Scotland, or at London, tho' we shall any where find it diffi- 
cult to procure one learned both in botany and zoology. From 
what I hear our Professor of medicine shall probably come 
also from London, but I shall form no opinion of this, until 
I see Edinburgh. After remaining sometime at Oxford and 
Edinburgh, I shall return to London, as a central point, and 
make short excursions as I may find necessary, in order to 
complete the important object of my mission. I shall forbear 
to give any general opinion until I have seen Oxford and 

The manner of ray reception at Cambridge has softened 
my profound respect and veneration for the most renowned 

^ Henry Atkinson (1781-1829) of Newcastle on Tyne is the only Atkinson 
of mathematical celebrity that I can discover. He did teach in Scotland ; 
but he does not appear ever to have been at Cambridge ; for at the age of 
thirteen he was principal of a school ! 

251] English Culture in Virginia. 63 

University in the world into a warm esteem for all connected 
with it. From the Bishop of Bristol ^ and Dr. Davy down 
to the undergjraduates, all have vied with each other in the 
profusion and delicacy of their civilities. I have dined more 
than half the days in the Hall of Trinity College, the most 
famous of all, and was delighted with the urbanity and good 
breeding of the fellows, students and of every one who 
appeared. The tone of feeling in England is undoubtedly 
favorable to us of the U. S. I have heard every where the 
warmest expressions of friendship for us, and have certainly 
received every civility possible. At the great festival at the 
College yesterday, every one with whom I conversed enquired 
with the utmost earnestness into the different departments of 
our affairs ; the Lawyers are beginning to read our reports, 
the courts and even the Parliament have in seveml things fol- 
lowed, and somewhat boastfully, I may say, our example. I 
am very glad of all this ; for now we have grown beyond the 
reach of this enormous creature, at once a Leviathan and a 
Lion, there is no good in keeping alive angry feelings. 

Mr. Brougham enquired about you with the greatest inter- 
est. I shall write you again from Oxford, &c. 

I do not know whether the proposed visit was made to Sir 
James Edward Smith. If Gilmer did not see the latter gen- 
tleman, then within four years of his death, we may be sure 
that he relinquished the visit with disappointment, for Sir 
James was the most distinguished botanist in England, having 
been the founder of the Linnaean Society, and botany had 
always been Gilmer\s favorite study. We shall see hereafter 
that this trip to Cambridge was successful in more than a 
social sense, for by it Gilmer was enabled to secure two of the 
best of the first professors. 

* Dr. J. Kaye (1783-1853) had become Bishop of Bristol on the death of 
Dr. Matisel in 1820. He had been Master of Christ's College and Regius 
ProfesBor of Divinity. I inny remark that Dr. Christopher Wordsworth 
WM at this time Master uf Trinity. 

64 English Oulture in Virginia. [252 

The promised letter from Oxford does not seem to have 
been written, but in the meantime we have two letters of a 
more- personal nature which seem worthy of presentation and 
require no comments. 

The first is to his brother, Peachy Gilmer, and I deem it 
proper to say that I have not had time to verify any of Gil- 
mer's statements, except such as are germane to the subject of 
this essay. 

Boston, 2 July, 1824. 
My dear brother, (Lincolnshire.) 

This is the place our Boston of Massachusetts was called 
after. The daughter has outgrown the mother. This is a 
very small town, on a very small stream, what we would call 
a creek, here dignified with the name of river, with very small 
trade, and in short with nothing large about it, except a most 
enormous tower to the church, which I came here principally 
to see. For when I got to Cambridge, I found one of the 
principal persons I was to consult with, absent for some days, 
and not to lose the time, I took a small circuit to Peterbor- 
ough, Lincoln, and Boston, passing in my way thro' Stilton, 
famous for chesees, a village not as large as Liberty.^ 

Lincoln is of great antiquity, and has one of the finest 
Cathedrals in England. The site of it (the Cathedral) too is 
beautiful — it stands on an eminence higher and more abrupt 
than the capitol hill of Richmond — all around is one vast 
plain, till lately a fen, reclaimed and now a lovely meadow. 
The town of Lincoln is no great matter; here, too, is a tower 
of W™. the Conqueror, — a palace of John of Gaunt, a Roman 
court, with chequered pavement, &c. From Lincoln I de- 
scended the Witham to this place. The Witham is about as 
large as the canal near the basin ; it flows thro' an unbroken 
meadow, not of great fertility, nor at all beautiful, or pictur- 

' Peachy Gilmer lived for some years at Liberty, a small town in Bedford 
county, Va. 

263] English Culture in Virginia, 65 

esque, tho' you see steeples and towers on all sides. The 
country of Lincoln is richer in old buildings than any part 
of England, but the country was by nature, I think, not 
generally fertile, something like those cold, iron-ore bogs we 
sometimes have, black and of rich appearance, but of no life 
or strength. 

My reception at Cambridge was what has given me most 

pleasure I have been really domesticated (<fe was 

invited to take rooms) in Trinity College, the most renowned 
without doubt in the world. It is the favorite College of the 
nobility and gentry of England — here were educated Bacon, 
Coke, Harvey, Newton, Cotes, Cowley, Dryden, Ac. &q. 
They shewed MS. letters of Newton, and several of the inter- 
lined originals of Milton's smaller Poems, part of his original 
Paradise Lost, <^'c. &c., and at Christ's College (which was 
Milton's) the Bishop of Bristol shewed me the mulberry tree 
Milton planted ; a fine bust of him, and many curious things 
else. I walked moreover to Granchester, (2 miles from Cam- 
bridge) supposed to be the country church yard. Gray had in 
mind, in his immortal elegy. It was ever a favorite walk 
with Gray, lying thro' hedges, covered with wild roses and 
briars, a meadow on the margin of the Cam — I heard " the 
Curfew toll the knell of parting day " at 9 o'clock. But all 
this did not give one-half the pleasure I have derived a 
thousand times from re{)eating the elegy, in hours of " lonely 
contemplation," which heaven has given me in kindness or in 
wrath, God knows which. I go to-morrow to Cambridge, 
thence to Oxford, thence to Edinburgh. 

The eastern side of England is not beautiful, and with all 
those noble steeples and towers, but for Cambridge, I should 
have found small pleasure since I left London. The country 
west of London was every where (except StalTbrdshire) most 
enchanting ; tho' by nature rather less fertile, I think, than I 
have heard it represented. I was at the House of Commons, 
the Courts, Westminster Abbey, (which has nothing but Henry 
VII's Chapel and its awful history to interest me) and every 

66 English Culture in Virginia. [254 

where, but I hate descriptive writing and descriptive reading, 
but not descriptive talking, so I will give you the whole when 
we meet. 

I saw J. Randolph in London — looking badly. You will 
think it strange, fondly treated as I was at Cambridge, that 
I should think of returning. I assure you I already begin to 
languish for Virginia. I never liked being jostled from plao^ 
to place — crowds or strangers — here are all. Since I left 
London, I have not seen a single person. I have found John 
Bull far more civil every where than he is represented to be. 
The tone of manners in the higher walks, is exactly what I 
have seen in Virginia. McClurg, John Walker, old Mr. 
Fleming^ <fec. were fully as elegant as Lord Teignmouth or 
Lord Bishop of Bristol &c. but not more so, for the manners 
of all were unexceptionable. There is less dashing than you 
suppose, less pretension than with the new-bom gentility of the 
Eastern States. 

I do not know when I may have leisure to write again. I 
am detained a day here for a coach, and calling you all to 
mind & heart, I could not resist the temptation of addressing 
a few words to you 

The next is to Mr. Wirt and has been taken from Ken- 
nedy's Life (Vol. II, 187.) 

July 16, 1824. 
My dear Mr. Wirt, 

I write you my first letter from England, not from War- 
wick Castle or Guy's Cliff, — which are both near at hand — 
nor from Stratford generally, but from the identical room in 
which the immortal bard first came "into this breathing 

* Fleming was, possibly, the judge whom Dabnej Carr succeeded. Walker 
I do not know of — unless he was the John Walker who was appointed to 
succeed Grayson in the Senate in 1790. As I cannot ascertain the date of 
this Walker's death, the point must remain in doubt, but from an expres- 
sion used in another letter I am inclined to think that he was the man. 

265] English OuJture in Virginia. 67 

world." Here day first dawned upon his infant eyes — a mis- 
erable hovel. Imagine in that hovel a small room, with a low 
roof; but one window, — that looking to the setting sun; a 
fire-place advanced into the room, by the naked chimney 
coming through the floor. The house is neither wood nor 
brick, but a wooden frame with the intervals filled up with 
brick. The wooden beams are shrunk and warped by weather 
and time. On the lower floor is a butcher's stall. Nowhere 
is there a single vestige of Shakespeare. His chair is gone. 
His mulberry tree, which was in the garden, is attached to 
another house; it is reduced to the last fibre. Except his 
will, and the walls and beams of this lowly mansion, I know 
of no object in existence which he touched. Here the wise 
and the great repair to worship him. In the register before 
me is the name of Sir Walter Scott among other less illus- 
trious. The walls were once scribbled ov^er by men of genius 
and fame — Fox, Pitt, and othei*s, — but a mischievous tenant 
lately whitewashed them, and you see only what have been 
recently written. 

His body lies near the altar in the church, and neither name, 
nor date, nor arms appear upon the stone ; conclusive circum- 
stances, I think, to show that he wrote the epitaph which is 
sculptured upon the stone. This has been doubted. What 
but the modesty of his own great mind could limit the epitaph 
of Shakespeare to the expression of the simple wish that his 
bones might rest undisturl>ed in their last repository? We 
have seen the lines in Johnson's life of him, but here is a fac 

I inquired of half a dozen persons in Stratford for the tomb 
of Shakespeare l)efore I could find it. I should not have 
been surprised if this had occurred in a search for the tomb 
of Newton or Milton. But I wa.s amazed at its happening in 
the case of the poet of all ages and conditions. 

Here follow the well-known linet. 

68 English Culture in Virginia. [266 

I begin to be impatient to see Virginia once more. It is 
more like England than any other part of the United States — 
slavery non obstante. Remove that stain, blacker than the 
Ethiopian's skin, and annihilate our political schemers, and 
it would be the fairest realm on which the sun ever shone. 
I like the elbow room we have, where the wild deer cross the 
untrodden grass, and the original forest never heard the echo 
of the woodman's axe. There is nothing in England so 
beautiful as the scenery of Albemarle, or the view from 
Montevideo — the window from which you used to gaze on 
the deep blue depth of these [those?] silent and boundless 

Peace to them ! — and a blessing warm, though from afar, 
on you and all your house ! 

Yours affectionately, 

F. W. Gilmer. 

Having tarried some days in Oxford, Gilmer went to pay 
his respects to Dr. Parr, to whom Mr. Jefferson had given 
him a letter and from whom he expected much assistance in 
his choice of a classical professor. Nearly everyone has 
heard of Dr. Parr, scarcely anyone has read a line of what 
he wrote. He was now in his seventy-seventh year, and, we 
may not doubt, wore his wig as of old, smoked shag tobacco, 
and talked about how narrowly he escaped being made a 
bishop. But to the reader of De Quincey and of the Nodes 
Amhrosianae any description I can give of this quaint old 
scholar, who certainly knew more Latin than any man living, 
will seem lame and borrowed ; so, presuming that my readers 
have read the Nodes, I shall merely remark that Gilmer 
called upon him on the 17th of July, but found him setting 
out " on his travels," which proved not extensive as he sent 
Gilmer a note inviting him to come back the next morning. 
The handwriting in this note is only equalled by that of the 
celebrated Du Pont. Our next letter is to Mr. Jefferson, 
written from Dr. Parr's : 

257] * English Culture in Vtrginia. 69 

Hatton, July 20th. 1824. 
Dear Sir, 

Doctor Parr (Samuel) was delighted with your letter, and 
received me with the greatest kindness: I have now been two 
days with him. Tho' not above 76 years of age, I soon 
discovered that he was too infirm, to be of much service to 
us in the selection of professors. Tho' he is our decided and 
warm friend, my interview with him has been the mast discour- 
aging. He has however been of great service, by assisting me 
in forming a catalogue of classical Books for the university. 

I found at Oxford as at Cambridge, that Professors and 
students, had all gone to their summer residence, and I could 
consequently make no inquiries at all there. I have now 
however, seen enough of England, and learned enough of the 
two universities, to see, that the difficulties we have to 
encounter, are greater even than we supposed ; not so much 
from the variety of applications, as from the difficulty of 
inducing men of real abilities to accept our offer. By far the 
greater portion of any assembly so numerous as that which 
fills the walls of Oxford and Cambridge, must of course be 
composed of j^ei-sons of very moderate capacity. Education 
at the Universities has become so expensive, that it is almost 
exclusively confined to the nobility and the opulent gentry, 
no one of whom could we expect to engage. Of the few 
persons at Oxford, or Cambridge, who have any extraordi- 
nary talent, I believe 99 out of 100, are designed for the 
profession of law, the gown, or aspire to political distinction ; 
and it would be difficult to persuade one of these, even if 
poor, to repress so far the impulse of youthful ambition as to 
accept a professorship in a college in an unknown country. 
They who are less aspirinjr, who have learning, are caught 
up at an early jjeriod in their several colleges ; soon become 
fellows, & hope to be masters, which with the apartments, 
ganlcn, and 4. 6. or 600 £ sterling a year, comprises all they 
can imagine of comfort or happiness. Just at this time too, 
there are building at Cambridge, two very large collies 

70 English Culture in Virginia^ * [258 

attached to Trinity, and King's, which will be the most 
splendid of all. This creates a new demand for professors, 
and raises new hopes in the graduates. 

All these difficulties are multiplied by the system we have 
been compelled to adopt in accumulation [accumulating] so 
many burthens on one professor. To all the branches of 
natural pliilosophy, to add chemistry and astronomy, each 
of very great compass, strikes them here with amazement. 

The unprece(^lented length of the session you propose, is 
also a dismaying circumstance. As this will probably be 
altered in time, it is, I think, to be regretted that we had not 
begun with longer vacations. At Cambridge and Oxford 
there are three vacations. The longest is from about the 1st 
July to the 10th October, altogether there is a holiday of near 
5 months. I inquired at Cambridge if there was any good 
reason for this long recess. They answered, " It is indispen- 
sable : no one could study in such hot weather." .... "It 
is necessary to refresh the constitution, oppressed by the con- 
tinued application of many months,'' &c. If the heat be 
insufferable in England, what must it be in our July, August, 
&G when there is to be no vacation ? 

I see distinctly that it will be wholly impossible to procure 
professors from either University , by the time you wished. 
Whether I can find them elsewhere in England, is most doubt- 
ful ; in time I fear not. I shall not return without engaging 
them, if they are to be had, in G. B. or Germany. I have 
serious thoughts of trying Gottingen, where the late political 
persecutions of men of letters will naturally incline them to 
us and where classical literature, at least, is highly cultivated. 
Dr. Parr seems to prefer this course, but I shall not be hasty 
in adopting it, as I fear the want of our language will prove 
a great obstacle. [Here he makes some remarks about his 
personal expenses being greater than he had supposed and 
requests that the Board of Visitors forward another bill.] 

I set out for Edinburgh to-morrow, shall remain there as 
long as I find any advantage to our object, in doing so, and 

259] English Culture in Virginia. 71 

shall return to London. There I shall be able to learn whether 
I had best go to Germany, seek English scholars in the 
country, or quietly wait till the Universities open in October 
which would delay any final contract till December or January. 
I am not disheartened — at least we must keep things well, to 
present a good front to the next legislature. That I shall do, 
if possible. 

I received your letter to Maj! Cartwright while at Cam- 
bridge. I have not been to London since. <fec. 

Leaving Hatton on the 21st of July, Gilmer was in Edin- 
burgh by the 25th, on which day he received a letter, in answer 
to one of his own, from a young man he had met and taken a 
fancy to in Cambridge. This was no other than Thomas 
Hewett Key, first professor of mathematics in the University 
of Virginia. Mr. Key was at this time in his 26th year and 
a master of arts of Trinity College, Cambridge. For two 
years past he had been applying himself to the study of 
medicine, but Gilmer, having met him at the rooms of Mr. 
Praed at Cambridge [evidently the exquisite society poet — 
Winthrop Mackworth Praed] perceived his fine scientific 
gifts and invited him by letter to become a member of the 
faculty. Key's answer (written from London on the 23rd 
of July) is now before me and runs as follows : 

Friday, July 23, 1824, 

39 Lombard St., London.^ 
Dear 6'ir, 

Ijet me first apologize to you for any delay I may appear 
to have been guilty of in not sending a more early answer to 

* The two letters from Key and Ix)nK which I have inserted may vary 
slightly from the originals because they were intruKted to a stupid copyist 
whoHe Htupidity was not ditoovered until the MS8. volumes had passed out 
of my possession. The variations are, I am certain, unim|)ortant. All the 
other letters were either copied directly by myself or bad my personal 

72 English Culture in Virginia. [260 

the letter I had the pleasure of receiving from you. Not 
finding me at Cambridge which I had left the same morning 
with yourself, it was forwarded to my residence in town; and 
as I took rather a circuitous route homewards, it was not till 
two days after its arrival that it first came to my hands. 

The first opportunity I had after the receipt of it, I com- 
municated the contents to my Father under whose roof I am 
living; and lost no time in consulting with him on the pro- 
priety of accepting your proposal. And before I say a word 
more, you must allow me to thank you for the very handsome 
and indeed too flattering manner in which that proposal has 
been made to me. And, while 1 express myself proud of the 
favourable light in which you are pleased to view me, I assure 
vou that the feeling is at least reciprocal. I had always the 
utmost respect for your country ; and, believe me, that it has 
been highly gratifying to me to find that opinion more than 
justified by the first of her sons whom I have ever had the 
pleasure to meet. I have been now for two years applying 
the greater part of my time to the study of medicine ; and 
had, reluctantly indeed, made the determination to Avithdraw 
myself almost wholly from the pursuit of pure science and 
literature. Indeed nothing but your liberal proposition would 
have induced me once more to turn my thoughts to that 
quarter. You will allow then that it is natural, for one, who 
has devoted so much of his time and no inconsiderable expense 
to the study of an arduous profession, to pause ; and weigh 
well every part of a proposal, which calls on him at once to 
sacrifice all the progress he has made, and to embark again in 
a perfectly new course. And this caution is the more requisite 
on the present occasion, since the mere distance would render 
it difficult for me, in the case of disappointment, to retrace my 
steps. Of course in the short limits of a letter it is impossible 
for either of us to say much ; and consequently in my present 
imperfect acquaintance with the detail of your offer it must be 
out of my power to come to any final arrangement till the 
time when we meet in town, I will in the mean while state 

261] English Culture in Vtrginia, 73 

generally what my feelings on the question are and leave you 
to judge how far we are likely ultimately to coincide. I own 
I have ray share of ambition ; and every one who is not to be 
numbered in the class of fools or rogues will confess as much ; 
at the same time that ambition is of a character which is far 
from inconsistent with promoting the happiness of others. I 
have already said that I am fondly attached to the sciences ; 
and the strength of that attachment is proportional to each, as 
it appears to me calculated to advance the interests of man- 
kind. In the university of Cambridge I have often thought 
that this object is too much lost sight of; and that the great 
body of talent in that seat of knowledge is frequently directed 
to points of comparatively minor importance, and thus in a 
great measure thrown away whilst it might be employed in a 
manner so highly beneficial both for England and the whole 
world. It was a strong feeling of this kind, which, on the 
last night I had the pleasure of meeting you, led me perhaps 
to be too warm in the observations I made; but I know not 
whether such warmth was not justifiable. At any rate I had 
the pleasure of knowing that what I then said had the effect 
of directing the thoughts of one gentleman who was present 
to my favorite subject of Political Economy ; and that gen- 
tlemen (I mean Mr. Drinkwater^) one whose talents I have 
the highest respect for. Having these views of the real 
objects of science, and actuated by an ambition which seeks, 
as far as my poor means are able, to add to the sum total 
of human happiness not merely in my own country but 
generally, I shall be most happy, should I find it in my 
power finally to agree to your offer. The manners, habits, 
and sentiments of the country will of course be congenial 
with my own ; and there can l)e little fear of my finding 

* Mr. John Eliot Drinkwater-Bethune (1801-1851), son of the historian 
of the Siege of Gibraltar, was afterwards counsel to the Home Office and 
an Indian official of high standing. He ia chiefly remembered in connec> 
tion with his labors for the education of native girls of the higher castes. 


74 English CuUure in Virginia. [262 

myself unhappy in the society I am likely to meet with, con- 
sidering the favourable specimen I have already seen. Nor 
would it at all grieve me in a Political point of view to 
become, if I may be allowed that honour, a Citizen of the 
United States. With all these prepossessions in favour of 
your proposal, it remains for me only to enquire into the 
particular nature of the appointment you have so kindly 
offered me. I would wait till you return to town for the 
explanations you have there promised ; but of course it must 
be unpleasant to both of us to remain in suspense, and you 
will look on it as not impertinent, but rather as a proof 
how eager I am to arrive at a final determination, if I put 
the following queries. 1^*- What branch or branches of sci- 
ence you would wish me to devote my services to. 2'^'^- What 
duties I should have to perform; How far I should be at 
liberty to form my own plan of promoting that science ; How 
far I should be under the direction of others and of whom ; 
How far I should have the control of my own time. And 
if to this you could add an account of the existing state of 
the University, of its government, the average number, age, 
and pursuits of the students &c., you would do much to 
enable me to come to a decisive conclusion. It will of course 
be impossible to reply fully to these questions ; and perhaps 
you can refer me to some person in town, to whom I may 
apply for immediate information ; which would be far prefer- 
able to the slow and necessarily confined channel of the Post 
Office. I trust too you will not think me guilty of any 
indelicacy if I ask how far the University has given you 
authority to make any private arrangement and whether any 
agreement between us will not require some form of ratifica- 
tion in Virginia. On reference to the maps I find that Char- 
lottesville is the Capital of Albemarle county and that it is 
situated a considerable distance up the country. This of 
course must add much to the expense of my removal from 
this place to the University of Virginia and as this expense 
at the outset is a consideration of some importance to my 

263] English Culture in Virginia. 75 

empty purse I should be obliged to you if you could fur- 
nish me with an idea of it; and whether the University 
would be willing to diminish the weight of it. There are 
of course many other questions which on a little more reflec- 
tion would suggest themselves to me; but I fear I have 
already drawn too largely on your time and patience. I will 
therefore conclude with assuring you that 

I am, with the greatest consideration, your obliged ser- 

Thomas Hewett Key. 

On the evening we met at Mr. Praed's, I remember to have 
offered you a letter to Mr. McCulloh,* who lately lectured in 
town on Political Economy. It did not then occur to me that 
Mr. M. is at this moment repeating his course at Liverpool, 
and that consequently you are not likely to meet with him at 
Edinburgh. I shall, of course, obey your wish that the com- 
munications between us should be held secret ; and in consult- 
ing with my Father, you will perceive tliat I have violated 
only the letter of your request. 

Gilmer answered this letter on the 26th, as follows : 

Edinburgh, 2Qth July, 1824. 
Dear Sir, 

I have this morning received your letter of the 23d. and am 
gratified to find the tem[>er of it just what I expected from 
yoa. I was aware that my proposition would require both 
time and examination into detail, and I therefore limited it to 
the general question in my former letter. I now take great 
pleasure in answering the enquiries you make, so far as the 
compass of a letter allows me ; I shall with equal satisfaction 
enter into fuller explanations when I see you in London, 
which I hope will be about the middle of August. 

>Mr. MacCulloch published his "Principles of Political Economy'' 
about a year a/ter this was written. 

76 English Culture in Virginia, [264 

The Professorshij) which I supposed you would most 
willingly accept, as that for which your studies and predelec- 
tions most eminently fitted you, is the chair of mathematics. 
We should require in the professor a competent knowledge of 
this science to teach it in all its branches to the full extent to 
which they have been explored and demonstrated in Europe — 
the differential calculus — its application to physics, the prob- 
lem of the three bodies, &c., &g. 

As to piiblic utility. How can one be so useful in Europe, 
where the theatre in every department of science is more 
crowded with actors than with spectators, (if I may use the 
expression) as in the United States, where the mind of a great 
and rising nation is to be formed and enlightened in the 
more difficult departments of learning ? But to answer your 
interrogatories seriatim^ I will first observe that I am armed 
with complete and full powers to make the contract final and 
obligatory at once, by a power of attorney, which you shall see. 

Duties. Your office would be to teach the mathematical 
sciences by lessons, or lectures, whichever way you thought 
best, by a lecture on alternate days of an hour or hour and a 
half. And you will have nearly an absolute power as to the 
method of instruction. The only interference being by way 
of public examination, and the only thing required will be to 
find that the students make good progress. 

Direction. The University of Virginia, by the statute of 
incorporation, (which I will show you) is under the man- 
agement of seven visitors chosen by the Governor and 
Council of the State. The professors can be removed only 
by the concurring vote of f of the whole number, i. e., 
of 5 out of 7. These visitors are the most distinguished 
men, not of Virginia only, but of America, Mr. Jeffer- 
son, Mr. Madison, &c. 

Time. Your time would be entirely at your own dis- 
posal, except that it would be expected you should derive 
no emolument from any other office, the duties of which 
were to be discharged by yourself personally. 

265] English Qulture in Virginia, 77 

Existing state of the University. The whole is now com- 
plete, ready for the reception of professors and of students. 
The houses for the professors are most beautiful ; the great 
building for lectures, &c., is magnificent — being on the plan 
of the Pantheon in Rome. 

Laws. The code of laws was not finished when I left 
Virginia; indeed, I believe it was purposely deferred, that 
my observations and those of the several professors might 
assist in the compilation. You may he assured they will 
be most liberal toward the professors. 

Probable number of students. Mr. Jeiferson told me he 
had inquiries almost every post from various parts of the 
United States, to know when they would open their doors. 
He thought the first year there would certainly be 500 
pupils. Say that of these only 200 enter your course, and 
I should think nearly the whole would, and setting them 
down at 30 dolls, each, as the medium price, you would then 
receive from the students $6,000, from the university, 
$1,500 = to $7,500, or to £1,689 sterling. But if you 
received only £1,200 or £1,000, you would soon amass 
wealth enough to do as you pleased, for your expenses 
will not exceed £300 a year after the first year. You pay 
no rent for your house. 

The University visitors are very desirous to open in Feb- 
ruary next. To assist you out, I shall be quite at liberty 
to pay you in advance enough to bear your expenses to 
Charlottesville, and your salary will do the business after 
your arrival. The passage is 30 guineas to Richmond, and 
it will not cost you 5 to reach Charlottesville, with all your 

1. Now to another point. I wish to engage a first-rate 
scholar to teach the Latin and Greek languages profoundly — 
if he understand Hebrew, all the better. 

2. A person capable of teaching anatomy and physiology 
thoroughly, with the history of the various theories of medi- 
cine, from Hippocrates down. 

78 English Culture in Virginia. [266 

3. A person capable of demonstrating the modern system of 
physics, including astronomy. 

4. A person capable of teaching natural history, including 
botany, zoology, mineralogy, chemistry, and geology. 

You may probably be able to assist me in procuring 
fit persons for some of these departments, and you would do 
me a great favor. Could men of real learning and congenial 
habits be selected, it would make it one of the most pleasant 
situations that exist. 

I should not omit to mention that Charlottesville is 80 
miles above Richmond, the metropolis of the State, on navi- 
gable water, and already connected by the James River with 

Yours with great respect and consideration, &c., 

F. W. Gilmer. 

Five years will make you a citizen of the tl. S., with 
a compliance with certain forms, about which I will direct 
you. Birth will make your posterity so — I wish them in 
anticipation, as I wish you most sincerely, a career of utility 
and of glory in our flourishing country.^ 

The next letter we have is one of August 1st, from Profes- 

^ This letter is taken from a first copy made by Mr. Gilmer. Through 
the kindness of Mr. Key's eldest daughter I was enabled to compare it with 
the final letter that was sent. The formal variations were considerable ; 
but as the matter was practically the same, the differences are not noted. 
I wrote to George Long, Esquire, of Lincoln's Inn, to discover whether 
his father had left any papers or memoranda that bore upon the present 
study ; but that gentleman was unable to furnish me with any data. In his 
courtesy, however, he communicated with Mr. Key's daughter, who was 
considerate enough to make the copy alluded to, for which I desire publicly 
to return my thanks. She recollects having heard her father speak of Gil- 
mer in very pleasant terms. It will interest American readers to know that 
the two friends. Key and Long, whose intimacy began at Cambridge and 
continued through university life of fully fifty years, left families which, 
through intermarriage and friendship, seem likely to perpetuate the same 
pleasant relationship. 

267] English Oulture in Virginia, 79 

sor (afterwards Sir John) Leslie to Gilmer, at the Gibbs 
Hotel. Mr. Jefferson had thought that the great scientist, 
now Playfair's successor in the chair of natural philosophy, 
would be inimical to his pet institution. I suppose this was 
due to some misunderstanding that must have arisen when 
Leslie was in Virginia (1788-9) teaching in the Randolph 
family. It will be seen later that Mr. Jefferson labored under 
a misapprehension. 

Queen Street, Sunday Evening, 
Dear Sir, 

I stated to you that it appeared to me that even the tempo- 
rary superintendence of a person of name from Europe might 
contribute to give eclat and consistency to your infant univer- 
sity. On reflecting since on this matter, I feel not averse, 
under certain circumstances, to offer my own services. I am 
prompted to engage in such a scheme partly from a wish to 
revisit some old friends, and partly from an ardent desire to 
promote the interests of learning and liberality. I could con- 
sent to leave Edinburgh for half a year. I could sail from 
Liverpool by the middle of April, visit the colleges in the 
New England States, New York and Philadelphia, spend 
a month or six weeks at Charlottesville. I should then 
bestow my whole thoughts in digesting the best plans of edu- 
cation, &c., give all the preliminary lectures in Mathematics, 
Natural Philosophy, and Chemistry, and besides, go through 
a course comprising all my original views and discoveries in 
Meteorology, Heat, and Electricity. Having put the great 
machine in motion, I should then take my leave to visit other 
parts of the Continent. But I should continue to exercise a 
parental care over the fortunes of our University, and urge 
forward the business by my correspondence, &c. To make 
such a sacrifice as this, however, I should expect a donation of 
at least one thousand pounds, whicli would include all my 
expenses on the voyage, &c. If you should think well of 
this proposition, you may consult your constituents. Were it 

80 English Ouliure in Virginia, [268 

acceded to, I should probably in the autumn visit both France 
and Germany, with the view of procuring aid and instruments 
to further our plans. But at all events, I trust you will 
not ment[ion] this c[onfi]dential communication w[hich] I 
send you on the spur of the moment. Whatever may be 
the decision, I shall at all times be ready to give you my 
sincere and impartial advice. 

I ever am, Dear Sir, 

Most truly yours, 

John Leslie. 

On the 7th of August, Gilmer wrote a letter to his friend, 
Chapman Johnson, a well-known lawyer in Richmond, and 
one of the Board of Visitors ; but for some reason the letter 
was not sent. It touches on several interesting matters, and is 
therefore given here : 

Edinbukgh, 7 August J 1825. 
Dear Johnson, 

I satisfied myself at the English Universities that it was 
idle to seek at either a professor in natural philosophy. They 
have no general lecturer on this important branch ; but each 
college (where it is taught at all) has its own professor : none of 
them, I believe, equal to our old master, the bishop [Bishop 
Madison]. This department T found far more successfully cul- 
tivated in Scotland, and I looked to it or London as our only 
chance. Here I could learn of but one individual eminently 
qualified, and he being already engaged in a good business, 
I had no great hope of seducing him from Edinburgh. 
I have been a fortnight making inquiries and besetting him ; 
he is to give a final answer this evening, [He did not for 
nearly a week] but I am impatient to be off to London, where 
as from a central point I can carry on two or three nego- 
tiations at once. If Buchanan (that is his name) accept my 
offer, I shall be well pleased. He is both practical and 
theoretical. He has written some learned articles in the 

269] English Culture in Virginia. 81 

supplement to the Encyclopedia Britannica, and is a matter- 
of-fact man, and equally qualified both for natural philos- 
ophy, properly [speaking], and for chemistry. And I now 
know by the fullest inquiry that what I told you is true — 
chemistry must be attached to natural philosophy, and 
astronomy to mathematics. You will hardly in all Europe 
find a good naturalist deep in chemistry, while every nat- 
ural philosopher is pretty well acquainted with chemistry ; 
and few natural philosophers are deep in astronomy, while 
almost every mathematician is. So whether Buchanan and 
I agree or not, I have nearly given up the hope of uniting 
natural history and chemistry. [He then alludes to Leslie 
and Mr. Jefferson's fear that he would be hostile — accident 
had thrown them together, and they had become friends — 
Leslie having done more for him than anyone except Dr. 
Parr. He then cites Leslie's offer, and adds — ] It seems to 
me, that as Leslie's name would give us immense renown, we 
should do a good deal to procure it. We might agree to give 
him so much and take the fees to ourselves, so as to get him 
there probably for less money than we will give another. The 
trustees should think of this, and if you come to any conclu- 
sion as to his offer, or as to getting him with us permanently, 
Mr. Jefferson may write to him, as if in a highly confidential 
manner. I know his letter will, at any rate, be well received, 
which Mr. J. does not believe.^ 

I think it a great pity your agent is so fettered by instruc- 
tions. Your short vacation (6 weeks) has done immense mis- 
chief, and it cannot last a year. Think of 200 l)oys festering 
in one of those little rooms in August or July : the very idea 
is suffocating. You should have begun with three months, 
and gradually shortened it to two. If Buchanan and I disa- 
gree, it will be on this point only. 

' Whether Leslie's offer was considered, or whether he withdrew it, I do 
not know. Gilmer's subsequent success would hayc ended the negotiation 
al any rate, had it been started ; but the fact that Leslie made such an offer 
if surprising. 

82 English Culture in Virginia, [270 

It is time I should say something of the honor you designed 
me. Long as I have delayed it, I yet want the materials for 
a final judgment, but think it proper to say that considering 
the immense labors thrown on me, the very short vacation and 
my prospects at the bar, a salary of $2,000 is the least I could 
accept. With that beginning in October to enable me to pre- 
pare my course in the winter, I believe I should accept it. 
But not knowing that you will grant it on these terms, I think 
it best to give you notice, that you may look elsewhere in 
time. If you would make me President or something, with 
the privilege of residing anywhere within 3 miles of the Ro- 
tunda, it would be a great inducement. But to put me down 
in one of those pavilions is to serve me as an apothecary 
would a lizard or beetle in a phial of whiskey, set in a window 
and corked tight. I could not for $1,500 endure this, even if 
I had no labor. 

I have one of the finest men I saw at Cambridge in my eye 
for mathematics. I find him well disposed to us. We are to 
go into details when I return to London. 

We shall find that the difficulties of combination here 
alluded to were finally overcome, at least in the main. Of the 
correspondence between Gilmer and George Buchanan, only 
two short notes from the latter have been preserved, one of 
August 12th, the other of prior but uncertain date. From 
the second we learn that Buchanan wished a long vacation, 
that he might revisit Great Britain at least every other year; 
from that of August 12th we learn that he called upon Gil- 
mer in Glasgow, but found him gone on an excursion.* In 
this note the situation of professor of natural philosophy was 
politely declined. Buchanan (1790?-1852), we cannot doubt, 
had been recommended by Leslie, whose favorite pupil he 
was. He had already, at the time Gilmer's offer was made, 
won a considerable local reputation as a civil engineer, and 
had also delivered lectures (1822) in Edinburgh on mechanical 
philosophy. His scientific reports on various government 

271] English Oidture in Virginia, 83 

enterprises and his success as an engineer, gave him sub- 
sequently a wide reputation — which was increased, among 
special students, by several well executed scientific treatises. 

I must now go backwards, to give a letter written to Peachy 
Gilmer on the 31st of July, which, though mainly personal, 
seems worthy of presentation : 

Edinburgh, 31«^ July, 1824. 
My dear Brothery 

I have now been five days in the Metropolis of Scotland, 
one of the most beautiful cities of Europe, both in its natural 

scenery and admirable buildings, As I entered the 

town, and often since, I have had strange and melancholy 
reveries ; here fifty years ago, our father was at College, sport- 
ing with more than the usual gaiety of youth, here thirty-four 
years ago, our poor brother Walker caught his death like my 
ever beloved Harmer, by an assiduity, which there was no 
kind friend to temper — both their lives might have been saved, 
had those about them in their studies, possessed a spark of 
feeling or judgment — two lines in the poem which took the 
prize at Cambridge (which I heard recited) were equally 
applicable to H. 

" In learning's pure embrace he sank to rest 
Like a tired child, upon its mother's breast." ^ 

But these reflections draw tears to my eyes for the millionth 
time, and each I resolve shall be the last, for they are vain. — 

» Winthrop Mackworth Praed (1802-1839) of Trinity gained the Chan- 
cellor's medal in 1823 by his "Australasia," and in 1824 by his "Athens." 
In the latter poem the lines quoted occur. They commemorate the death 
of John Tweddel, a brilliant young Cantab, who died at Athens in 1799. 
It is sad to think that an early death cut off both the poet and his first 
American admirer from brilliant careers both in literature and in politics; 
and it is interesting to reflect that this is the first quotation from Praed that 
found its way to America — the country wliich had the honor of putting 
forth the first collection of his poems. 

84 English OuUure in Virginia, [272 

they no more than " honor's voice '' can " provoke the silent 
dust," or than " flattery soothe the dull, cold ear of death " 
— when a few more heart strings are cut, I shall seem, to belong 
rather to the next world than to this, and without the saint like 
purity of either of our brothers I shall be glad to lay my head 
beside theirs — I write all this in no bitterness of heart nor in 
any desponding mood, the place, the occasion and addressing 
you from Edinburgh all conspire to elicit fruitless sighs. 

My visit has so far been very pleasant, I told you what a 
delightful time I had at Cambridge. I have since spent two 
days with the celebrated Dr. Parr, the greatest scholar, now 
in existence. He is old, decrepid, and with the manners of a 
pedagogue, but withal, exceedingly agreeable. He is a decided 
and warm champion of our country, took great interest in my 
mission, and has already been of service in furnishing me a 
catalogue of books. He spoke right out and said several very 
flattering things to me, which it is not worth while to repeat 
even to you. He went with me to Guy's Cliff (one of the 
most romantic establishments in G. B.) and to Kenil worth, 
where we dined with a friend of his. 

The people of Edinburgh are very hospitable and kind, 
but less like ourselves, than the Cambridge lads. Here every 
man seems engaged in letters or science. I breakfasted with 
the famous professor Leslie, and he was surrounded by his 
meteorological machines. 

Mr. Jefferson imagined he would be hostile to us. I have 
turned him to good account, by having heard something (it 

was very little) of his discoveries Jeffrey is out of 

town, but I shall see him. Mr. Murray a distinguished advo- 
cate, connected with the great Lord Mansfield, has shown me 
many civilities and I this morning received a written invita- 
tion to visit Lord Forbes,^ which I shall not have time to do. 

*Lord Forbes (1765-1843)— the seventeenth of the title and Premier 
Baron of Scotland — had been somewhat distinguished as a soldier in his early 
life. See a notice of him in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1843 (Part I). 

273] English Culture in Virginia. 86 

He dined with us at Murray's yesterday, and is genteel and 
well disposed towards our country. I go from this place to 
London, and shall endeavour as soon as I can to draw matters 
to a close & return. I shall be able to turn the acquaintances 
I have made here to good account to our country. Even to 
procure a good library and apparatus is a great matter, for we 
then have at least the materials for working which we now 
want. They seem astonished to find I have been in G. B. 
only 6 or 7 weeks, and speak English quite as well as they, 
to say the least. I believe many of them on both sides the 
Tweed would give a good deal for my accent and articulation, 
which, I assure you, are nothing improved by this raw climate, 
which makes every one hoarse ; they are generally less easy 
and fluent in conversation than we 

Gilmer did see Jeffrey — for we have a note from the latter 
making proposals for a trip to Inverary and telling Gilmer 
to meet him in Glasgow. Putting this fact with the state- 
ment made in Buchanan's note, we are warranted in believing 
that the pleasant excursion was made. Besides we have a 
statement in one of the numerous letters before us that Mrs. 
Jeffrey wrote to her father in New York that Gilmer was 
the most popular and attractive American that had ever been 
seen in Edinburgh. I mentioned many pages back that 
Jeffrey was one of Ogilvie's auditors in New York; he was 
there in pursuit of this very Mrs. Jeffrey — then a Miss 
Wilkes — related, as De Quinoey somewhere shows, to the 
celebrated Wilkes. 

Although Gilmer does not seem to have visited Lord 
Forbes that gentleman was kind enough to send him three 
letters of introduction to literary friends in Dublin — whither 
Gilmer proposed to go if he did not succeed in Great Britain. 
His lordship's hand is not the best and I shall not risk pro> 
Douncing who his distinguished friends were. 

Among the many invitations received by Gilmer while in 
Edinburgh was one from a Mr. Horner whom I take to hafe 

86 English Culture in Virginia. [274 

been Leonard Horner the brother and biographer of Francis 
Horner — the political economist and joint founder of the 
Edinburgh Review. If one only knew a few more facts 
quite a pretty picture might be drawn of a pleasant evening * 
spent by this clever young stranger in the presence of one 
of the beauties of Great Britain. But I do not know whether 
Gilmer accepted the invitation or whether Leonard Horner 
gave it or whether Mr. Horner was then married. All that I 
do know is that whenever he got Miss Lloyd ^ to marry him, 
he got a beautiful woman. 

I now give the next letter written to Mr. Jefferson, in 
which the professorship of law is finally declined. 

Edinburgh, Aug. ISth, 1884. 
Dear Sir. 

It is now more than a fortnight since I arrived at the 
Ancient Capitol of Scotland. The first four or five days were 
spent in making inquiries for persons fit for any of our pur- 
poses, but especially for anatomy, natural history, and natural 
Philosophy ; for I had well satisfied myself in England that 
we could not except by chance, procure either of the latter there. 
In all Scotland, from all the men of letters or science at 
Edinburgh, I could hear of but two, fit for any department, at 
all likely to accept our proposals. These were Mr. Buchanan 
for natural philosophy, & Dr. Craigie^ for anatomy &c. I 

^See Mrs. Gordon's "Christopher North," page 25. Leonard Horner 
(1785-1864) was a F. K. S. and a geologist of some note. He was promi- 
nent in promoting the scheme for a university in London, and in 1827 was 
made Warden of the new institution. 

2 David Craigie, M. D. (1793-1866) was a graduate of the University of 
Edinburgh and (1832) fellow of the Edinburgh College of Physicians. He 
had not a large practice, nor was he famous as a teacher, but his "Elements 
of General and Pathological Anatomy" (1828) is said to have shown great 
reading and to be still valuable. He was owner and editor of the Edin- 
burgh Medical and Surgical Journal. His health was continuously failing 
for many years. 

275] English Culture in Virginia. 87 

made to them both, and every where that I went, the most 
favourable representations I could with truth, of our Uni- 
versity. They required time to consider of our offer. — and 
to day I have received the answers of both. They decline to 
accept it. You would be less astonished at this, if you knew 
what a change had taken place since you were in Europe. 
The professorships have become lucrative, beyond everything. 
Even the Greek professor at Glasgow, Leslie tells me, receives 
1500 guineas a year. Some of the lecturers here, receive 
above £4000 sterling. Besides this we have united branches 
which seem never to be combined in the same person in 

Europe I have moreover well satisfied myself, 

that taking all the departments of natural history, we shall 
at Philadelphia, New York <fec procure persons more fit for 
our purpose than any where in G. B. The same may be said 
of Anatomy &c. I shall however set out for Loudon to mor- 
row, and try what can be done there by corresponding with 
the places I have visited. A mathematician and professor 
of ancient Languages we should, if possible, find in Europe, 
for they I am sure will be better than our own. Even here 
the difficulty is greater than you can conceive. Proficiency 
in Latin & Greek are still the sure passports to preferment 
both in Church & State ; nor is the supply of men of the first 
eminence, or such as we must have, at all in proportion to the 
demand. When I came I thought it the easiest place to fill ; 
I assure you it is far the most difficult. This Dr. Parr told 
me, but I thought he exaggerated the obstacles. I now 
believe he has not. You apprehended Leslie would be at 
best indifferent to us. He has however taken more interest 
in our success, than any one I have seen and been of more 
service to me. [Here he mentions Leslie's offer.] 

• . • . . • ••• . . 

I think it well to mention this, for the visitors may make 
something of it, and I Ijelieve if you were once to get him 
there, it would not be difficult to keep him. 

It is time I should say something of the honor the visitors 

88 English Culture in Virginia. [276 

have done me, though I have no more materials for deciding 
now, than when I left you. I make my decision, only to pre- 
vent delay in your looking elsewhere. I find it so doubtful, 
whether we can procure such persons as I should choose to be 
associated with ; and thinking myself bound to make my 
election as early as possible, that I must say as the case now 
stands, T cannot accept the honor which has been conferred 
upon me, in a manner the most flattering, accompanied by a 
great mark of confidence in appointing me this most im- 
portant mission. I shall discharge my undertaking to you 
and my duty to my country, perilous as it is, to satisfy my 
own conscience. I will, if it be possible in Europe, procure 
fit men ; but I will rather return home, mortifying as it 
would be, without a single professor, than with mere impost- 
ors. As at present advised, I cannot say positively, that 
I may not be condemned to the humiliation of going back 
with Dr. Blaetterman only. All this is very discouraging to 
you, but I present to you the exact case, without any 
diplomacy to recommend myself or deceive you and my em- 
ployers. Should they find fault with the address of their 
agent, they shall at least never condemn his honesty, or doubt 
his fidelity. My address (such as I possess) I shall reserve 
for my negotiations here. 

This condition of affairs, requires all and much more than 
my fortitude — it mars all the pleasures of visiting Great Bri- 
tain, tho' in my letters generally I preserve the appearance 
of good spirits and success, because I always look to the 
Legislature — I shall be happy if we can succeed and miser- 
able to return without fulfilling all that you desired. 

P. S. I assure you, Leslie will receive any communication 
from you as an honor, he is by no means hostile to Virginia. 
He speaks often of Col. R[andolph] with the utmost interest. 

Having thus spent three pleasant weeks in Edinburgh, 
where he received attention from the distinguished men 
already named, as well as from Professor Jameson, the great 

277] English Culture in Virginia, 89 

geologist, Gilmer seems to have gone straight to London, 
where we find him on the 21st of August beginning a cor- 
respondence destined to be of great service to the University, 
Mr. Key, with whom Gilmer seems to have been staying, had 
recommended as classical professor a young college mate 
of his own — Mr. George Long. This gentleman was a year 
younger than Key, having been born in 1800. He was a fel- 
low of Trinity, and already favorably known. I present 
a synopsis of Gilmer's letter to him as a specimen of the 
offer which the agent was authorized to make. He states 
that his powers are absolute, and that any engagement made 
with him would be binding without further ratification. 
Long is to have (1) a commodious house, garden, &c., en- 
tirely to himself, free of rent, (2) a salary of $1,500 and 
" tuition fees of from $50 to $25 from each pupil, accord- 
ing to the number of professors he attends." He can be 
removed only by the concurrent votes of five out of seven 
of the board of visitors. He is to be allowed to return to 
Cambridge in July, 1825, a concession necessary to his 
holding his fellowship. He is not to teach a grammar 
school, but advanced classes — Hebrew being included in his 
professorship, but with little chance of being required. The 
professors must be ready to sail by November. The letter 
oonclndes by explaining the site of the University, and is, as 
a whole, courteous and businesslike.^ On the same day an 
almost exact counterpart of this letter was sent to the Rev. 
Henry Drury, assistant master of Harrow, who had been 
recommended by Dr. Parr, himself long connected with Har- 
row, as a fit person to advise in the matter of the classical 

On the 24th of August, Gilmer wrote to Leslie an important 
letter of which I give the substance. Professor Jameson had 
advised that the object of the mission should be published in 
the leading newspapers. Gilmer thought that might do in 

* It is given in Dr. Adanw' monograph on Thomas Jefierson, page 114. 


90 Ernglish Culture in Virginia. [278 

Scotland, but, remembering Brougham's admonitions, did not 
feel certain that it would work well in England, and so he 
felt compelled to decline Professor Jameson's offer to write up 
the matter. Jameson had also recommended Dr. Knox of 
Edinburgh for the anatomical chair ; and as Gilmer did not 
know the latter's address, he requests Jameson to sound him 
on the subject. Leslie seems to have seconded Brougham's 
recommendation of Ivory, but Gilmer has not been able to 
find him and thinks he will secure Key's services instead. 
The letter closes by making a suggestion to Leslie about a 
physical experiment the latter had shown him in Edinburgh. 
On the same day this letter was written, Mr. Long in 
Liverpool was writing a reply to Gilmer's offer of the 21st 
instant. His manly letter is given at length : — 

Liverpool, August 24. 

The subject of your letter renders an apology for writing 
to me quite unnecessary ; I am pleased with the plain & open 
manner in which you express yourself and encouraged by this 
I shall freely state to you all my thoughts on the subject, and 
make such enquiries as the case seems to me to admit. The 
nature of the powers with which you are vested gives me full 
confidence in your proposals, and from Mr. Key's letter I am 
led to expect that all information you give me will bear the 
same marks as the communication I have already received. 
The peculiar circumstances of my situation induce me to throw 
off all reserve, and to trouble you with more words than 
otherwise would be necessary. About two years since I lost 
my remaining parent, a mother whose care and attention 
amply compensated for the loss of a father & no inconsider- 
able property in the West India Islands. By this unfortunate 
occurrence I have the guardianship of a younger brother, and 
two younger sisters thrown upon me — with numerous diffi- 
culties, which it is useless to mention because no body but my- 
self can properly judge of them, — and with an income for their 

279] English Culture in Virginia, 91 

support which is rapidly diminishing in value. I have for 
some time past been directing my attention to the study of the 
law with the hopes of improving my fortune, and the ambition, 
which I hope is a laudable one, of rising in my profession. 
In truth the latter is almost my only motive for entering into 
the profession, as I am well acquainted with the insupportable 
tedium & vexation of the practical part. But the obstacles in 
my way, tho I should consider them trifling if I were solely 
concerned for myself, become formidable when I reflect on the 
situation of my family. I wish then to know if that part of 
America would afford an asylum for a family that has been 
accustomed to live in a respectable manner, and an opportunity 
for laying out a little property to advantage. 

From your account of that part of Virginia, and from what 
I have learned from books and other sources of information, 
I conclude that new comers are not liable to be carried off by 
any dangerous epidemic disorder. 

The salary attached to the professorship seems adequate .... 
but I wish to know what proportion it bears to the expense of 
living — many of the common articles of food I can imagine 
to be as cheap as in England — but other articles such as 
wearing apparel, furniture & I should conceive to be dearer 
than they are here. Your information on this subject will 
supply the defects in mine. 

Is the University placed on such a footing as to ensure a 
permanent and durable existence, or is the sclieme so far an 
exj)eriment that there is a possibility of its failing? 

Is there any probability of the first Professor being enabled 
to double the 1500 dollars, when the University is fairly set at 
work, by his tuition fees? You will perhaps be surprise*! at 
this question ; I am not at all mercenary or addicted to the 
love of money — I have reasons for asking which I could 
better explain in a personal interview. 

Is there in the county of Albemarle, or town of Charlottes- 
ville, tolerably agreeable society, such as would in some degree 
oom{)ensate for almost the only comfort an Englishman would 
hesitate [to] leave behind him ? 

92 Efiiglish OuUure in Virginia, [280 

What vacations would the Professor have — and at what 
seasons of the year — of what nature, with respect to the time 
to be left for literary pursuits, and the studies connected with 
his profession, by which as much might be effected as by the 
employment more immediately attached to the situation ? 

With respect to my coming to England in 1825, that would 
be absolutely necessary. Unless I take the degree of Master 
of Arts next July, I forfeit my Fellowship which is at present 
the only means of subsistence I have, except the occupation in 
which I am at present engaged of taking private pupils. 
Should the expectation that I am induced to form be realized, 
my Fellowship of course would be a small consideration : but 
as I just observed the settlement of my affairs here would 
render my presence necessary in 1825. 

The Professors, you tell me, can only be removed by the 
concurring voice of 5 out of the 7 directors : I presume that 
inability to perform the duties of the office, or misconduct 
would be the only points on which such a removal would be 

I have no attachment to England as a country : it is a 
delightful place for a man of rank and property to live in, 
but I was not born in that enviable station . , . ' If com- 
fortably settled therefore in America I should never wish to 
leave it. 

I wish to know what may be the expenses of the voyage & 
if they are to be defrayed by the persons engaged — also what 
kind of an outfit would be necessary, I mean merely for a 
person's own convenience. 

Mr. Key knows nothing of me but from college acquain- 
tance : he therefore could not know that he was directing you 
to a person who would raise so many difficulties, and make so 
many enquiries some of which you may judge impertinent. 
For the last 6 years I have struggled with pecuniary diffi- 
culties, & I am not yet quite free from them : I have thus 
learned at an early age to calculate expenses, <fe consider 
probabilities : when I know the whole of a case, I can come 
to a determination & abide by it. 

281] English Ouiture in Virginia, 93 

If you will favor me with an answer as soon as you find it 
convenient, I shall consider it a great favor — I must again 
apologize for the freedom with which I have expressed myself: 
when I have received your letter, I will inform you of my 

I will thank you to inform Mr. Key that he will receive a 
letter from me by the next post after that which brings yours. 

I remain with the greatest respect 

Yours G. Long. 

Please to direct " George Long, No. 1 King St., Soho, 

In the meantime Gilmer, on the advice of Dr. Parr, had 
written on the subject of the classical professorship to Samuel 
Butler (1774-1839), the well-known head master of Shrews- 
bury school. Dr. Butler was one of the leading English edu- 
cators, and a great friend of Dr. Parr's, whose funeral sermon 
he preached. After a brilliant career at Cambridge, where he 
was elected Craven scholar over Coleridge, he had taken 
charge of the Shrewsbury school in 1798, and made it one of 
the best in the country. He was a noted classical scholar, and 
was at this very time finishing his edition of Aeschylus. He 
was subsequently made Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry. 

Dr. Butler answered Gilmer on the 26th of August, and 
recommended in high terms a clergyman whose name he did 
not give. He also assured Gilmer that he would be glad to 
show him the school* and give him further information, adding 
that although he could not offer him a bed, he should be 
happy to see him at breakfast, dinner, and supper. 

* A gUnoe through the Kev. J. Pycrofi't " Oxford Memories " will show 
how high the Shrewsbury boys stood in the daauos. In athletics they were 
backward ; for it was to them that Eton sent the famous message when 
challenged for a cricket (or football) match: "Harrow we know, and 
Winchester we know, but who are ye?" 

94 English OuUure in Virginia, [282 

On the next day (the 27th) Gilmer wrote two letters, one to 
Mr. Long, the other to Mr. Jefferson. That to Long 
answered his queries seriatim^ and, as its writer observed, dealt 
with him not as a merchant, but rather as a scholar. He was 
to teach Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Rhetoric, and Belles-Lettres ; 
but little stress was to be laid on the three last. 

The letter to Jefferson runs as follows : 

London, 21th Aug., 1824. 
Dear Sir, 

My last letter from Edinburgh gave so gloomy an account 
of our prospects, that I hasten to relieve the picture. When 
I saw needy young men living miserably up 10 or 12 stories 
in the wretched climate of Edinburgh, reluctant to join us, I 
did not know where we could expect to raise recruits. While 
at Cambridge I became acquainted in Trinity College with an 
intelligent and fine young man, distinguished even at Cam- 
bridge for his mathamatical genius and attainments, and M. 
A. of that University. He is the son of an eminent phy- 
sician of London, and I hardly hoped we should induce him 
to go with us. I have, however, done so, and am delighted 
to find him a great enthusiast for the United States, and 
exactly fitted to our purposes in every respect. Securing him 
is a great matter, for he has a high character with the young 
men who were with him at Cambridge, and he will assist in 
procuring others. Already he has suggested the most fit 
person for the classics, and I am enquiring of others about 
him. The departments of anatomy, natural history and nat- 
ural philosophy will then only remain. I have had more 
persons recommended for anatomy than for any other place, 
but immediately they find they will not be allowed to practice 
medicine, &c., abroad, they decline proceeding further. That 
I fear will prove an insurmountable obstacle to us in this 
department. In the other two, I shall have great diffi- 
culties, and far from being harassed by applications, I 
cannot hear of any one at all likely to answer our purpose. 

283] English Culture in Virginia, 95 

With a good classic, an able master of experimental science, 
and Key for our mathematician, we shall be strong whatever 
the rest may be. 

The books and apparatus now occupy me very much — at 
the same time, I am corresponding with all parts of the 
kingdom, about professors. On returning to London, I re- 
ceived two letters from my venerable friend Dr. Parr, and 
another from his grand-son (who will be his executor) propos- 
ing to sell us the Doctor's Library entire at his death. It is 
a rich and rare and most valuable collection of the classics. 
But I wrote to them that the amount would be greater 
than I could apply to this single department. I promised 
however to suggest it to the Visitors, and if they please 

they can enter into correspondence on the subject 

It would give some eclat perhaps to our Institution to have 
the Doctor's Library. I am not without hope of opening 
the campaign in February with some splendors. I know the 
importance of complete success with the next legislature 
and shall consider that in every thing I do. 

I have been seeking Ivor}'^ all over London, but such 
is the state of science among alderman and " freemen," that 
no one can tell me where he is or ever even heard of him, and 
in Edinburgh, I found a splendid monument to Lord 
Melville and none to Napier or Burns. In Westminster 
Abbey, there is none to Bacon or Blake, but a great many 
to state and ecclesiastical impostors. 

I shall write more at length as soon as I have done 
more. I wrote this only to allay your apprehensions ex- 
cited by my last. 

I have seen Major Cartwright, who is old and infirm. 
Dugald Stewart has lost the musick of his eloquent tongue 
by paralysis; he lives near Linlithgow about 20 miles from 
Edinburgh, is averse to company, and I therefore enclosed 
your letter with a card, expressing my regret that the state 
of his health should deprive rae of the honor of his ac- 

96 English Culture in Virginia, [284 

Dr. Parr was delighted with your letter and will no 
doubt give me one for you, &c. 

The visit to Major Cartwright brought Gilmer an invita- 
tion to dinner which bears the date of August 30th. Some 
description of this remarkable character might not be out of 
place, as the name of his brother, the inventor, is much more 
familiar to the majority of readers than his own. But space 
is wanting, and after all he intended far more good than he 
accomplished. Nevertheless as naval officer, losing the chance 
of promotion by his sympathy with America, as an agitator 
for the reform of parliament, as a colleague of Clarkson's, as 
a distinguished agriculturist, and as a sympathizer with the 
Spanish patriots, he deserves to be remembered, and was, as 
Mr. Jefferson said, a most worthy character for. Gilmer 
to meet. Although the veteran (1740-1824) was within 
a month of his death, he busied himself greatly in behalf of 
Gilmer's mission. He got Mr. Harris, the former secretary to 
the Royal Institution, to make out a list of such editions as 
should be chosen for the University library, and he wrote to 
Bentham for a catalogue of the latter's works and bespoke his 
interest in Gilmer. Whether the philosopher knew that the 
young American had four years ago confuted him, is a matter 
of uncertainty — certain it is, however, that the desired cata- 
logue was forthcoming. The Major also sent Gilmer a copy 
of his "English Constitution Produced and Illustrated,^' 
which, if it be as dry, as it is represented to be, I hope 
the young man did not feel bound to read. 

In the meantime Gilmer had been introduced to a person 
destined to be of the greatest assistance to him. This was 
no other than Dr. George Birkbeck (1776-1841), the cel- 
ebrated founder of the Glasgow Mechanics' Institute, said 
to have been the first of its kind in the world. Dr. Birk- 
beck's interest in popular education began in 1800, when 
he delivered a course of lectures to workingmen in Glas- 
gow. He had left Glasgow for London in 1804, and had 

285] English OuUure in Virginia. 97 

practised medicine for many years ; but he had taken up the 
cause of education again, and was in this very year (1824) 
elected the first president of the London Mechanics' Institute, 
afterwards called in his honor the Birkbeck Institute. He 
was one of the founders of the University of London, — a 
fact which we shall have occasion to remember. 

Dr. Birkbeck's first letter to Gilmer was dated the 29th of 
August, and addressed to him at 3, Warwick St., Charing 
Cross. In it attention was drawn to a gentleman destined to 
form the third member of the new faculty — Dr. Robley Dun- 
glison, a prominent physician of Scotch extraction, residing 
in London. Dr. Dunglison, then about 26 years of age, was 
already favorably known as a medical writer, a reputation 
which, it is almost needless to say, was widely extended 
after he settled in this country. Gilmer was not long in fol- 
lowing up Dr. Birkbeck's suggestion ; for on September 5th 
Dr. Dunglison finally accepted the anatomical professorship. 

The first of September brought a note from Major Cart- 
wright, together with four of his political tracts which, the 
writer declared, were with no small satisfaction put into the 
hands of a gentleman then occupied in collecting materials for 
perpetuating and adorning Republican Freedom. From the 
same note we see that Gilmer was to dine with him on the 
morrow. I may remark that Mr. Jefferson's letter to Cart- 
wright was delivered by Gilmer, and is to be found in the 
second volume of Francis Dorothy Cartwright's life of her 
uncle (London, 1826, page 265). This letter is very interest- 
ing, and contains a complimentary notice of Gilmer. 

On the 2iid of September the assistant master of Harrow 
(Rev. Henry Drury) answered Gilmer's letter of August 21st 
in a very formal note. He stated that he had been in the 
south of France, hence his delay, and that he had no one as 
yet to propose. He promised, however, to write to Dr. Parr, 
and hoped to answer more 8ati8fact^)rily in a few days. He 
also mentioned that a similar application had been mjidc to 
him some years ago oonoemiDg Boston — by Mr. Rufus King, 

98 English Culture in Virginia, [286 

whose sons were his pupils. At that time he had had no one 
in view. 

On the same day Mr. Long wrote from Liverpool, grate- 
fully accepting Gilmer's offer. He had conversed with Adam 
Hodgson, a Liverpool merchant, who had written some let- 
ters on America, and his report of Charlottesville had settled 
the matter. Like all of Long's letters, this one was straight- 
forward and manly. 

Leslie also wrote on the 2nd of September regretting that 
no public announcement of the mission had been made and 
throwing a slight damper upon the whole scheme. He prom- 
ised to speak to Dr. Knox^ and seemed to favor him. Gilmer's 
suggestion as to the experiment was received with some little 
contempt, but the philosopher promised to do his best in help- 
ing him to get good instruments. He cited the case of the 
University of Christiania which, in so poor a country as Nor- 
way, "had £1000 at first furnished for instruments and £200 
per annum since." 

It has already been mentioned that on September 5th Dr. 
Dunglison definitely accepted. He desired to add chemistry 
to his chair of anatomy, but this request was afterwards 
refused. On the 6th Gilmer answered Long's letter of accept- 

^ Dr. Robert Knox, then about 35 years old, was one of the best known 
of the Edinburgh physicians and owned one of the finest private anatomi- 
cal collections in Europe. He did not come to America; but it would have 
been better for him if he had. Readers of the Nodes Ambrosiance will 
surely remember the account of the famous Burke and Hare murder trial 
given in the number for March, 1829. Burke and Hare had committed 
several shocking murders in 1828, for the sole purpose of furnishing this 
Dr. Knox with subjects. It was claimed that the bodies were brought to 
Knox in such a fresh condition that he must have had suspicions of foul 
play. Burke was hanged, Hare having turned state's evidence. The 
excitement was immense, Knox's house was sacked by the mob and at 
Burke's execution thousands were heard crying : " Where are Knox and 
Hare?" Knox betook himself to London where he became an itinerant 
lecturer on ethnology. See Dr. McKenzie's edition of the Noctea, III, 239, 
Ac. (New York, 1875). 

287] English Oulture in Virginia. 99 

ance and assured him that the University would not be sectarian 
— a thing which Long had feared. On the day before (the 
6th) which was Sunday, Gilmer had been to Woolwich to see 
Peter Barlow, the celebrated professor at the Royal Military 
Academy ; but not finding him returned at once to London. 

On the 7th Barlow wrote regretting that he had missed his. 
visit and answering a letter which Gilmer had left. This 
letter concerned one of the professorships which had been very 
difficult to fill — that of natural philosophy. Mr. Barlow was 
certainly the person to apply to. Born in 1776 of obscure 
parents, he had worked his way through many difficulties and 
was now among the foremost scientists of his day. His valu- 
able tables, his essay on the strength of materials, and his 
magnetical discoveries had gained him great applause and con- 
siderable emoluments. He had just (1823) been elected a 
fellow of the Royal Society and was about to get the Copley 
medal (1825) for his magnetic discoveries. From 1827 he 
was destined to do valuable work as an optician and the Bar- 
low lens has perpetuated his name. He died in 1862 having 
long since resigned his professorship. In the present letter 
Barlow proposed to write to a gentleman, whose name he 
withheld, and sound him on the subject of the required pro- 
fessorship. His nominee was stated to be the son of a late 
distinguished mathematical professor known both in England 
and America. This seems to point to Charles Bonnycastle, 
son of John Bonnycastle, the great mathematical professor at 
Woolwich, whose books were certainly used at that time in 
America, and who had been dead about three years. But 
Barlow's note of September 22nd shows that he had been 
corresponding with Mr. George Harvey, of Plymouth, about 
the same place. The only explanation is that Professor Bar- 
low found that Mr. Bonnycastle was abroad on some business 
for the government, and as Gilmer was in a hurry, suggested 
Mr. Harvey as the next best choice. It will be seen Uiat sub- 
sequently Mr. Bonnycastle obtained the place. 

On the 9tR, Dr. Butler wrote from Shrewsbury asking 

100 English Chdture in Virginia. [288 

many questions in behalf of his clerical friend. Some of these 
questions show considerable acquaintance with matters purely 
secular, but I have not time to dilate upon them. The letter, 
of course, did no good, as Long liad already accepted. 

Mr. Drury, of Harrow, also wrote on the same day about 
the same professorship — this time he did recommend some- 
body, viz., his brother^ — in highly eulogistic terms. To the 
credit of the gentleman it must, however, be said that he did 
not attempt to conceal the fact that his brother was in pecuni- 
ary embarrassments and hence anxious to get away. This 
letter, too, must be added to the futile correspondence of which 
the volumes before me are full. 

In the meantime Dr. Birkbeck had recommended for the 
chair of natural history, the hardest of all to fill, Dr. John 
Harwood, who was a lecturer before the Royal Institution 
and who was then giving a course of lectures before a scientific 
society in Manchester. This recommendation led to a long 
correspondence, the discussion of which I shall put off for a 
time, as it was mixed enough to involve Gilmer in some per- 
plexity and his biographer in more. 

On September 11th Mr. Barlow wrote that he was quite at 
a loss to know why he had not heard from his friend Mr. 
Bonnycastle (?). He proposed to wait on Gilmer in London, 
on the following Monday (13th), unless that gentleman could 
take a family dinner with him on the next day — Sunday — 
when they would have an opportunity of discussing matters 

^ The Rev. Benjamin Heath Drury (namesake of a former distinguished 
head master), then at Eton, subsequently Vicar of Tugby, Lincolnshire. 
He died Feb. 20, 1835, and was a son of the Rev. Joseph Drury, long head 
master of Harrow and the friend of Lord Byron. 

The Rev. Henry Joseph Thomas Drury (M.A., F.R.S., F.S.A.) had 
been a fellow of King's, Cambridge, was greatly interested in the Roxburghe 
Club, and possessed one of the finest libraries of the Greek classics in Eng- 
land. This library he was compelled to sell by auction at different times. 
He died March 5th, 1841, in his 63rd year. See Gentleman's Magazine 
for that year, also the chapter on Harrow in T. A. Trpllope's " What I 

289] English, CuUure in Virginia. 101 

more freely than by letter. Whether this invitation was 
accepted does not appear ; but it would seem that some com- 
munication was had which led to the Harvey correspondence. 
Between the eleventh and the eighteenth of September we 
find only one letter received by Gilmer. This was a pleasant 
one from Dugald Stewart, written from his retreat at Kinneil 
House, Linlithgowshire. It is such a perfect specimen of its 
kind that I must make room for it. Stewart, the reader will 
remember, had been paralyzed in 1822. His retreat in Lin- 
lithgowshire had been due to the generosity of a friend, and 
he was enjoying an ample pension, which John Wilson, who 
in 1820 had taken Dr. Brown's place in the Edinburgh Uni- 
versity, and hence was Stewart's co-joint professor, was mean 
enough to criticize. The death of his son in 1809 had greatly 
prostrated him, and left him with an only daughter, in whose 
handwriting the following letter is : 

Kinneil House by Bo-ness, N. B., Sept 14<A, 1824. 


It was with much regret I learnt from your note, that you 
had left Scotland without giving me an opportunity of meet- 
ing with you ; and altho' I feel very grateful for the kind 
motive which deprived me of that pleasure, I cannot help ex- 
pressing to yourself how very seriously I felt the disappoint- 
ment. My indisposition would indeed have made my share 
of the conversation next to nothing, but I would have 
listened with great eagerness and interest to your information 
about America and in particular about Mr. Jefferson, who I 
am happy to find from his letter has not forgotten me after so 
long and so eventful an interval. I need not add that I 
should have enjoyed a real satisfaction in being |)ersonally 
known to a Gentleman of whom Mr. Jefferson speaks in 
sucli Battering terms, and to whose sole discernment has been 
committed the im{>ortant trust of selecting tlie Professors for 
the new University. 

102 English Culture in Virginia, [290 

I was truly sorry to learn that you had not succeeded in 
finding any recruits at Edinburgh for your new College. The 
field I should have thought, a very ample one, more espec- 
ially in the medical department. I hope you have been more 
fortunate in the English Universities and should be extremely 
happy to hear from you on the subject. It is impossible for 
Mr. Jefferson himself to take a more anxious concern than I 
do, in everything connected with the prosperity of the United 
States, and particularly in every scheme which aims at im- 
proving the System of Education in that part of the world. 
May I beg to be informed about your own plans and when 
you propose to recross the Atlantic. Is there no chance 
of your taking your departure from a Scotch Port ? If you 
should, I might still indulge the hope of seeing you here. At 
all events I shall write to Mr. Jefferson. I am sorry to think 
that my good wishes are all I have to offer for his infant es- 

With much regard I am, dear sir. 

Your most obedient servant, 

DuGALD Stewart. 

Frances Walker Gilmer, Esq. 

The interval before mentioned was probably employed by 
Gilmer in visiting distinguished men, among whom was 
Campbell, whom he greatly admired, and certainly in writing 
the following letters — the first to Mr. Jefferson, the second to 
Dabney Carr : 

London, 15th Sept.^ 1824. 
My Dear Sir 

I have given you so much bad news, that I determined to 
delay writing a few days that I might communicate something 
more agreeable. 

When I returned from Edinburgh, where my ill success is 
in part to be ascribed (I am well assured) to the ill will of 
some of our eastern Brethren, who had just before me been 

291] English Culture in Virginia. 103 

in Scotland, I determined to remain at London as the most 
convenient point for correspondence. Here assisted by Key 
our mathematician (with whom I am more pleaseil the more 
I see of him) and several men of character and learning, I 
have been busily engaged since I last wrote. I have had the 
good fortune to enlist with us for the ancient languages a 
learned and highly respectable Cantab., but there have been 
two obstacles that have made me pause long before I conclude 
with him. He has no knowledge of Hebrew, which is to be 
taught at the University. This I easily reconciled to my duty, 
from the absolute necessity of the case. Oriental literature is 
very little esteemed in England, and we might seek a whole 
year and perhaps, not at last find a real Scholar in Latin and 
Greek who understands Hebrew. The other difficulty is more 
serious. Mr. Long, the person I mean, is an alumnus of 
Trinity College, Cambridge, he is entitled to his fellowship 
only on condition of his presenting himself at the meeting in 
the first week in July next. Failure to do this, no matter 
under what circumstances, will deprive him of about £300 
per annum. That would be a great sacrifice. Still he seemed 
to me so decidedly superior to his competitors, who do not lie 
under the incapacity of being of clerical character, that I believe 
I shall not be faithful to my trust if I do not engage him 
with a reservation of the privilege of being at Cambridge for 
a week only in July; that is my present impression and very 
strongly fixed, tho' there was another most competent professor 
I could have, but for his being a clergyman. The Professor 
of Anatomy &c is a very intelligent and laborious gentleman, 
a Dr. Dunglison, now of London, and a writer of considerable 
eminence on various medical and anatomical subjects. 

The Professors of natural philosophy and of natural history, 
still remain to be procured Another week will in- 
form me what can be done about the two vacant chairs. 

The library and apparatus have given me great difficulty 
and trouble. I delayed as long as possible speaking for them, 
to have the assistance of the professors. But the time for 

104 English QuUure in Virginia. [292 

shipping them now presses so close, I have made out a cata- 
logue of such as we must have, and have ordered the books 
and instruments to be shipped as soon as possible. The present 
aspect of affairs assures me, we shall be able to open the Uni- 
versity on the 1st of February as you desired. The professors 
vary in age from about 26 to 43 or 4. Blaettermann is already 
married and by a very singular coincidence wholly unknown 
to me at the time, each of the others tho' now unmarried, will 
take out a young English wife,^ tho* if they would take my 
advice they would prefer Virginians notwithstanding. 

Dr. Parr has engaged to marry me in England without his 
fee which here is often considerable. 

Having already declined the honor so flatteringly conferred 
upon me, I no longer feel at liberty to express any wish upon 
the subject. But really every thing promises to make a Pro- 
fessorship at the University one of the most pleasant things 

I have had no assistance (I wish I could say that were all) 
from a single American, now in England. Leslie in Scotland 
and Dr. Birkbeck (cousin to the Illinois Birkbeck) of London 
have taken most interest in the matter. 

Mackintosh is too lazy for anything and Brougham's letters 
introduced me to eminent men, but they never took the right 
way, or to the right means for us, they talk of plate, furniture 
&c for the pavilions, while we want men for work. 

I have had but a single letter from America — that gave me 
the very agreeable news, that you were all well in Alber- 
marle, &c. 

London, Wth Sept., 1824. 
My dear friend, 

Many accidents have conspired to delay my embarcation 
for Virginia longer than I wished ; at this season of the year 
no man in England is where he ought to be, except perhaps 

* It does not appear that either Long or Bonnycastle carried out wives. 

293] English Culture in J^rginia, 105 

those of the Fleet & of Newgate. Every little country school 
master, who never saw a town, is gone, as they say, to the 
country, that is to Scotland to shoot grouse, to Doncaster to 
see a race, or to Cheltenham to dose himself with that vile 
water. With all these difficulties and not only without assist- 
ance but with numerous enemies to one's success (as every 
Yankee in England is) I have done wonders. I have em- 
ployed four Professors of the most respectable families, of real 
talent, learning &c <fec a fellow of Trinity Col. Camb. and 
a M. A. of the same University. Then they are Gentlemen, 
and what should not be overlooked they all go to Virginia 
with the most favourable prepossessions towards our Country. 
If learning does not raise its drooping head it shall not be my 
fault. For myself I shall return to the bar with recruited 
health and redoubled vigour. I shall study and work & 
speak & do something at last that shall reilound to the honor 
of my country. My intercourse with professional and Liter- 
ary men here has fired again all my boyish enthusiasm, and I 
pant to be back and at work. The library of the University 
and my intimacy with the professors, will now make even my 
summer holidays a period of study. Virginia must still be 
the great nation; she has genious enough, she wants only 
method in her application. I have seen several of the most 
eminent Scotch & English lawyers, and you may rely upon 
it, our first men have nothing to fear from a comparison with 
the best of them. The only decided advantage any of them 
hav^ over us, is in Brougham. He has more science <fe accu- 
rate information (not letters mark you) than any one who 
ever figured at the English bar or in Parliament. In the 
mathematics, physical sciences, and political economy, few 
even of their exclusive profeasors are so learned ; his lal)or is 
endless, his memory retentive, his faculties quick. I have 
not seen him at full stretch, but I think his mind is more 
like that of Calhoun, than any of our men. Mackintosh 
passes for very little here; he is lazy to excess, always vacil- 
lating and undecided, is allowed to have a great memory, 

106 English OuUurc in Virginia, [294 

much curious learning &c but is without the promptness and 
tact necessary to business ; then no one can rely on his opin- 
ions, principles or exertions. He is either not present or 
takes exactly the opposite course from what every one sup- 
poses he will. His declamatory way of talking about the 
" extraordinary eccentricities of the human mind ^' &c seems 
after such endless repetitions, monotonous & cold, while his 
manner is nearly as bad as any manner can be — swaggering 
vociferations and ear-splitting violence from beginning to end.^ 
The University will open in February and I shall be with 
you in time to give you a greeting at the Court of Appeals. 

Another way in which Gilmer employed his time was in 
examining the library at Lambeth. Having wished to have 
a MS. relating to the life of John Smith copied, he entered 
into correspondence with one of the librarians and was suc- 
cessful in his object. This copy ought to be in the library of 
the University of Virginia, but I can learn nothing of it.^ 

On the 1 9th a sad little note was received from Miss Frances 
Dorothy Cartwright whom Gilmer had met at her uncle's 
house. Major Cartwright, who had now only four days to 
live, had directed that a package of his writings should be 
made up, and carried to Mr. Jeiferson by Gilmer. In send- 
ing this his niece took occasion to write a loving and pathetic 
note about her uncle's condition and to express herself as glad 
that Gilmer would be able to speak of him as he deserved, 
in a country he had always loved. The note is touching and 
bespoke the true feminine heart which had burst forth into 
song over the woes of the Spaniards. For the lady was not 
only a devoted niece and faithful biographer but a poetess, 

*C!ompare with his friend Ticknor's impression (Ticknor's Life, Ac, 
1, 289). 

' At the end of George Long's biographical sketch of Marcus Aurelius 
there is an eloquent tribute to Smith. It is highly probable that Gilmer 
introduced the great Captain to Long's notice. 

295] English Culture in Virginia, 107 

albeit her works have not given her fame. She was the 
daughter of the distinguished inventor and lived to a ripe old 
age — dying in 1863. 

On the 20th of September Mr. George Harvey wrote 
from Plymouth, asking many questions about the Univer- 
sity. On the 22nd Peter Barlow wrote a short and unim- 
portant note about Mr. Harvey, and on the 25th that 
gentleman himself wrote from Plymouth declining, on fam- 
ily considerations, gratefully, but positively, the chair of 
natural philosophy.^ In the meantime the correspondence 
with Harwood about the professorship of natural history 
had been going on vigorously. 

On the 27th Mr. Rush wrote proposing a visit to the dock- 
yard at Portsmouth during the first week in October ; and as 
Gilmer >vrote to his brother Peachy from that port on October 
4th, the visit was probably made. 

Dr. Parr also wrote, on the same day, a characteristic letter, 
which is here inserted : 

Hatton, 3rd Oct,, 1824. 

Dear & much respected Mr, Gillmar, 

I have been very ill, but I hope to be better. I will give 
myself the sweet satisfaction of writing to you a few lines 
before you leave England. I rejoice to hear that you have 
fixed upon proper teachers and I beg at your leisure that you 
will inform me of your names, the schools where they have 
been educated & the persons who have recommended them. 
When I get more strength & have the aid of a scribe I sliall 

' Among the obituary notices in the Oentleman's Magazine I came across 
one which seems to point to this gentleman. It was to the effect that od 
October 29th, 1834, George Harvey, Esq., one of the mathematical mas- 
ters at Woolwich, committed suicide in Plymouth by hanging himself by 
a silk handkerchief from a hook in his cellar — " verdict, mental derange- 
ment." Mr. Harvey contributed studies to rarious philosophical maga- 
nnee, and two of his contributions may be found in the 10th volume of the 
Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 

108 English Culiure in Virginia, [296 

write to you and to Mr. Jefferson, and I shall correspond with 
both of yoii unreservedly. Through an active life and [of] 
nearly seventy eight [years] I have experienced the precious 
advantages of steadiness & sincerity. This you would have 
seen clearly if you had known me raore closely. Mr. Gilmar, 
there is now a safe & open path for mutual communication 
thro' the American Ambassador & you will prepare occasion- 
ally for forwarding our letters. To Mr. Jefferson present not 
only my good wishes but the tribute of ray respect & my con- 
fidence. I shall write of him [what] Dr. Young said of 
Johnson's Rasselas — ^^ It was a globe of sense.'' I use the 
same words with the same approbation of Mr. Jefferson's let- 
ter to me. I have corresponded with many scholars, many 
philosophers, & many eminent politicians upon many subjects, 
but never, and I repeat the word, never did I see a more 
wise letter than that with which I was honored by Mr. 
Jefferson. I shall preserve it as [here the letter is torn] 
I heartily wish you a good voyage and have the honour to 
subscribe myself. 

Dear Sir, your faithful friend & 

Respectful obedient servant, 

Samuel Parr. 

By a letter from Key received on September 27th, we learn 
that the contracts with the four professors already engaged 
were being signed. There were, of course, some hitches with 
all, but both sides were anxious to be fair, and the difficulties 
were soon removed. A copy of the covenant with Dr. Dun- 
glison is before me, but I am not certain that it was not 
altered, for it was made before any signatures had been 
affixed. The first year's salary was fixed at $1,500; for the 
next four years it might vary from $1,000 to $1,500, accord- 
ing to the amount realized by tuition fees ; the other provis- 
ions need not be cited. From Key's letter we find that both 
Dr. Dunglison and himself had engaged passage from Liver- 
pool on the 16th of October. 

297] English Culture in Virginia. 109 

On the same day, September 27th, a short note from 
Dugald Stewart was received, with a letter for Mr. Jefferson, 
and wishes for Gilmer's pleasant voyage. 

In the meantime Dr. John Harwood, although his own 
plans with regard to the University were undecided, had sug- 
gested Mr. Frederick Norton, of Bristol, as a proper person 
for the chair of natural philosophy ; and Gilmer had written 
to him accordingly. On October 3rd, Mr. Norton wrote 
to Gilmer asking for further information. I have been unable 
to get any information a.s to Mr. Norton's antecedents. 

About this time Mr. Gilmer received the following letter, 
which requires some comment : 

10 Seymour Street West. 
My dear Sir 

I thought I could let you go back to America without 
troubling you with a letter for my brother. I could not well 
dwell at length on the painful subject of my boy's state but I 
have alluded to it. In case it should give pain to his affec- 
tionate heart too much on my account, you may tell him that 
habit & fortitude are beginning to reconcile me even to this 
most terrible blow that ever befell my existence. You can 
tell him how cheerful you saw me & I am habitually so — for 
I think it folly to grieve at fate. 

He is to be removed [to] an asylum very soon. At 
present he is in so strange a state that it is painful to see 
company in my own House. This circumstance has de- 
barred me from the pleasure of shewing you many atten- 
tions that were due to you as a mark of my sense of your 
kindness. I have been much gratified however by making 
your acquaintance & with best wishes for your safety & 
happiness remain, 

Dear Sir, 

Yours very truly, 

T. Campbell. 

110 English Oulture in Virginia. [298 

The son whose misfortune is alluded to was Thomas 
Telford, named after Campbell's friend, the distinguished 
engineer. The poet's grief was great, and besides his work 
upon " Theodoric,'* which was published in November of 
this year, he threw himself heart and soul into another 
piece of work, to drive away his cares. This was the agi- 
tation of a scheme for establishing a university in London. 
Some such project had been in his mind since his visit to 
Germany in 1820; but it was not brought prominently 
forward until January 31st, 1825, at a dinner given by 
Brougham.^ The matter was then pressed warmly by 
Brougham, Joseph Hume, Dr. Birkbeck, and others, and 
was brought to a successful issue in 1827. Now, as Camp- 
bell had allowed the idea to rest for five years, I do not think 
it at all improbable that Gilmer's visit, connected as it was 
with a similar movement in a kindred country, had a great 
deal to do with giving a fresh impetus to the scheme. Then, 
too, Gilmer had been thrown into intimate relations with 
Brougham and Dr. Birkbeck, and probably with Leonard 
Horner, and had doubtless by his enthusiasm kindled afresh 
their own natural impulses toward educational work — and 
these three were prominent among the founders of the London 
University. Besides there is a striking parallel in the un- 
theological basis of both colleges. It is well known that this 
latter institution drew back two of the professors whom Eng- 
land had lent to America ; but it is more than probable that 
the connection between the two universities began with Gil- 
mer's visit. 

But to return to our main theme. Only four professors 
have so far been secured — those of natural philosophy and of 
natural history remain. The latter professorship was not 
filled at all in England, and the correspondence about it will 
occupy us soon. The former was filled before Gilmer left 

^ See the article on Campbell in the Dictionary of National Biography, 
and also Beattie's Life of Campbell. 

299] English Culture in Virginia. Ill 

England, by the selection of Mr. Charles Bonnycastle, who 
has been mentioned before. Mr. Bonnycastle was then in his 
33rd year, and was engaged abroad on some government busi- 
ness, the nature of which I have not learned. No letters to 
or from him are preserved, although some were written ; the 
whole matter seems to have been arranged between Gilmer 
and Peter Barlow, after the 25th of September, when Mr. 
Harvey definitely declined. Gilmer, however, seems to have 
had a conversation with Bonnycastle just before he left Lon- 
don. This hasty arrangement by proxy led to a slight mis- 
understanding, as will be seen in the next chapter. A short 
account of the Harwood correspondence will close our sketch 
of Mr. Gilmer's important mission. 

On the 20th of September, Dr. John Harwood, then 
lecturing in Manchester, answered a letter which Gilmer had 
been advised to write by Dr. Birkbeck. In this answer he 
expatiates on the advantages such a new field as America 
would offer a natural historian, but regrets that an engagement 
to lecture before the Royal Institution will leave him un- 
decided as to his plans until the following May. But he 
offers a suggestion that may obviate the difficulty. He has a 
brother now studying medicine in Edinburgh, who has been 
a fellow lecturer with him in natural history, and who is 
zealous in the cause. Why not let him keep the place warm? 
He can have copies of any lectures the Doctor himself would 
deliver; and if the latter decide to remain in England, 
no fitter person than the brother can be found to keep the 
chair, and in two countries two Harwoods can work their 
way to fame. Gilmer's answer to this really well-worded 
letter, has not been preserved ; but from a letter written by 
Harwood on September 20th, I judge that it was not unfavor- 
able. The Doctor talks of forming a nucleus for a museum 
at once, and promises to look out for a professor of natural 
philosophy. Then oomes a long and manly letter from Wil- 
liam Harwood, the brother, offering his services. He owns to 
no very extensive knowledge of mineralogy, but has a good 

112 English Culture in Virginia. [300 

training in chemistry, and is especially fond of zoology. He 
asks sensible questions, and writes throughout in a modest 

In the meantime (September 26th) John Harwood wrote, 
mentioning Norton by residence but not by name, and giving 
valuable information with regard to the purchase of a 
museum. He also recommends his brother in warm terms. 
Gilmer wrote, complaining that Harwood was not explicit 
enough, although to my mind he very explicitly wished his 
brother to get the place, either permanently or temporarily. 
Then Dr. Harwood wrote a letter on September 30th, " re- 
spectfully observing " that he could not enter into any foreign 
engagement for the present, but that his brother was at liberty 
to made arrangements either permanent or temporary. On 
October 1st, Dr. Harwood wrote another letter, this time 
concerning Norton, who would like the place, and whom he 
recommended highly, observing, however, that he was by no 
means a man of the world. Then on October 24th the Doc- 
tor wrote to his friend, Birkbeck, and stated that William 
Harwood had undertaken, at Gilmer's request, a visit to 
the Isle of Wight, to see that gentleman on his way out. On 
his arrival there, Gilmer informed him that so much time had 
elapsed that he should prefer to leave the matter to the 
Board of Visitors, unless Harwood would go out at his own 
risk. Dr. Harwood himself went over to Liverpool, in 
hopes of seeing Gilmer, but saw only Mr. Long. We learn 
also that Mr. Norton went to the Isle of Wight to see Gilmer, 
but arrived four hours too late — a sad commentary on un- 
worldliness. This letter was forwarded by Dr. Birkbeck to 
Gilmer, in Virginia. Next in series comes a letter dated and 
endorsed November 16th, which can only mean September 16, 
but which is unimportant. It may here be remarked, inci- 
dentally, that in forwarding Harwood's letter. Dr. Birkbeck 
spoke highly of Bonny castle, and stated that had he had any 
idea that the young man was within Gilmer's reach, he would 
have been his first recommendation. 

301] English CuUure in Virginia. 113 

Now it is not well to offer opinions when one has read only 
one side of the case, and I know Mr. Gilmer to have been a 
fair, honorable man who succeeded admirably in his other 
negotiations, but I cannot help thinking that he did not act 
in this affair of the Harwoods with his accustomed caution. 
He should not have made the young man come to the Isle of 
Wight and then put him off with an excuse that could not 
hold. He had engaged Bonnycastle within a week and that 
too without seeing him but once ; he had absolute powers, 
and if he did not like young Harwood on personal acquain- 
tance he should, I think, have found some other way of dis- 
missing him than such an excuse. Besides if he had not 
liked the young man he should not have even hinted at his 
going to the United States at his own risk. But, I repeat, it 
is not well to judge too hastily in such matters. Gilmer was 
probably in a hurry to get back and had possibly been wearied 
by the elder Har wood's importunities. If one can judge by a 
letter, however, William Harwood was not the man to be 
treated so summarily. The Harwood letters it should be 
observed do not breathe a suspicion of any questionable treat- 
ment. I alone am responsible for these criticisms and they 
are the only ones I have to make on Mr. Gilmer's manage- 
ment of a tedious and difficult commission.* 

I have 80 far said nothing about his purchases for the 
library ; and now I can only mention that he bought most of 
the books from Bohn, and was much assisted by his banker, 
Mr. Marx.' 

* John Harwood, Esq., M. D., F. R. S., &c., died at St. Leonards on the 
Sea, September 7th, 1854. I can find no obituary notice of him either in 
the Gentleman's Magazine or the Athenaeum for this year. 

A Wm. Harwood, M. D., was the author of a book on the "Curative 
influence of the Southern Coast of England," which was both praised and 
abused (O.'s M., 1828, Part 2, Supplement). I do not know whether this 
was our friend or not. 

' Mr. Madison will hardly seem to some a fit person to apply to for a 
catalogue of theological books ; but he did make out such a list for the 
University. See his writings, III, 460. 

114 English OuMure in Virginia, [302 

On the 5th day of October he sailed from Cowes in the 
packet Crisis, bound for New York. 

Thus three quarters of a century after Bishop Berkeley 
had discouraged Dr. Johnson from trying to obtain English 
teachers for the new King's College in New York, Mr. Jef- 
ferson and Mr. Gilmer succeeded admirably in their trying 
and important task.^ , 

1 Berkeley's Works (Fraser), IV, 322. Letter from Berkeley to Johnson, 
Aug. 23d, 1749. 



Thirty-five days after sailing from Cowes the packet Crisis 
arrived in New York. How Gilmer fared on the voyage 
will be seen from an almost too realistic letter written to 
Judge Carr on the 14th of November. This letter will be 
given presently. In the meantime on the 12th and 13th of 
the same month two letters were sent to Mr. Jefferson. In 
the first of these a list of the five professors was given and it 
was stated that they would arrive in ten days from the date 
of the letter. As will be seen later the hopes thus ratised in 
Mr. Jefferson's breast were to be cruelly deferred. Gilmer 
also states that he could not hear of a single man in England 
fit for the chair of Natural History. In the second letter 
Campbell is said to have been the best friend Virginia had 
among all the writers of Great Britain. The letter also 
suggests John Torrey of West Point as the best person in 
America for the chair of Natural History. It may be men- 
tioned here that President Monroe had some months since 
suggested Torrey and Percival, the poet and geologist, for 
chairs in the new University. We also find that Gilmer had 
been a)mpelled to promise all the professors a fixed salary of 
$1,500 except Dr. Blaetterraann, who, he thinks, should be 
placed on the same footing with the rest. I now give por- 
tions of the letter to Dabney Carr. 


116 English Culture in Virginia. [304 

New York, Nov' 14, 1824. 
Most dear Friend, 

Having concluded all my arrangements in England much 
to my satisfaction, I thought to return with triumph to the 
light & bosom of my friends. Fatal reverse of all my hopes ! 
here am I chained like Prometheus, after 35 days of anguish 
at sea, such as man never endured. I hold sea sickness 
nothing, I laughed at it, as I went over — but to have added 
to it a raging & devouring fever aggravated by want of 
medicine, of food, of rest, of attendance, & the continued tossing 
of the " rude imperious surge," form a combination of miseries 
not easily imagined, & never before, I believe, exhibited. I 
am reduced to a shadow, and disordered throughout my whole 
system. My liver chiefly it is thought. Among other symp- 
toms, while I was in mid ocean, a horrible impostumation, 
such as I supposed only accompanied the plague, in the form 
of anthrax or carbuncle, appeared on my left side, low as I 
was. I neglected it till it was frightful — it required lancing 
— but not a man could I get to do it — some were sea sick — 
others indifferent, I called one who said he was a Doctor, & 
desired him to cut it open — we had no lancet, no scalpel, no 
knife that was fit, & finding him a timid booby, whose hand 
shook, I took with my own hand a pair of scissors I happened 

to have, and laid open my own flesh We had no 

caustic, & I had to apply blue stone, which was nearly the 
same sort of dressing, as the burning pitch to the bare nerves 
of Ravaillac — yet I am no assassin — all the way I repeated, 

" Sweet are the uses of adversity, &c." 

I must turn this to some account — in this world I cannot, 
but I " lay the flattering unction to my soul " that he who 
suffers well never suffers in vain. Such is the martyrdom I 
have endured for the Old Dominion — she will never thank 
me for it — but I will love & cherish her as if she did 

305] English Culture in Virginia. 117 

For over a month the poor fellow was confined at New 
York, but he was not idle. Mr. Jefferson answered his letters 
on Nov. 21st, giving an account of the University buildings 
and of his endeavors to get the books and baggage of the pro- 
fessors through without duty. In a note of November 22nd 
he implores Gilmer not to desert them by refusing the profes- 
sorship of law — this being the only thing he has to complain 
of in all his agent's conduct. 

On the 29th of November John Torrey ^ wrote from West 
Point declining the professorship of natural history on the 
ground that he was well satisfied with his present position, 
but recommending Dr. John Patton Emmet, of New York, 
in these words : "His talents as chemist and scholar, and 
standing as a gentleman are of the first rank. I know him 
well and know none before him." This recommendation 
brought about an interview between Dr. Emmet and jNIr. 
Gilmer, the result of which was the election of the former to 
the chair which had given so much trouble. Dr. Emmet was 
a son of the Irish patriot and distinguished lawyer, Thomas 
Addis Emmet. Both father and son contributed to Gilmer's 
comfort during his confinement, as did also John Randolph 
of Roanoke, whom Gilmer had seen in England and who 
passed through New York during the latter's sickness. Gil- 
mer's relations with this eccentric man were always of the 
pleasantest kind — a circumstance somewhat remarkable.^ 

At this time the young man had fully determined not to 
accept the law professorship as there seemed too much likeli- 
hood that, if he did accept, his health would render the position 
a practical sinecure ; for he would have to have an assistant 

* Torrey left We«t Point shortly after (1827) and became profeasor of 
botany and chemistry in the College of Physicians and Surgeons. He 
wrc3te many valuable works on lH)tany and deserves to be remembered M 
haying been the instructor of Asa Gray. 

' Wni. Pope, the eccentric character Injfore alluded to, once wrote Gilmer 
that John Randolph had decUred him "the most intelligent and best in- 
formed man of his age in Virginia '' (letter of Nov. 2nd, 1826). 

118 English Culture in Virginia, [306 

and he knew that the Visitors would neyer give him up after 
his valuable services and the consequent injury to his consti- 
tution. He therefore endeavored to sound as to the situation 
that distinguished jurist, Chancellor Kent, who had accepted 
a position in Columbia College, where he was to deliver the 
lectures which subsequently formed the basis of his Com- 
mentaries. The politics of the Chancellor were an objection, 
but his reputation as a jurist would make him a desirable 
acquisition. The negotiation did not go far, however, and 
Gilmer had to content himself with proposing the name of 
Dr. Emmet to the Visitors, cordially endorsing all that Torrey 
had said about him. 

In the meantime Messrs. Long and Blaettermann arrived 
at New York, and after calling upon Gilmer, hastened to 
Richmond, proceeding from the latter place to the University, 
where they found their pavilions in readiness. It was also 
ascertained that Key, Dunglison, and Bonnycastle would sail 
in the Competitor direct to Norfolk. 

By the 22nd of December we find Gilmer in Norfolk, stay- 
ing with his friend Tazewell. On the same day Mr. Jefferson 
wrote two letters to Cabell in Richmond, from the first of 
which I take this extract : 

" Mr. Long, professor of ancient languages, is located in his 
apartments at the University. He drew, by lot, Pavilion No. 
V. He appears to be a most amiable man, of fine under- 
standing, well qualified for his department, and acquiring 
esteem as fast as he becomes known. Indeed I have great 
hopes that the whole selection will fulfill our wishes." 

The second letter was of a more private nature and is given 
almost entire : 

MoNTiCELLO, Dec, 22, 1824. 

Dear Sir, — Let the contents of this letter be known to you 
and myself only. We want a professor of Ethics. Mr. Madi- 
son and myself think with predilection, of George Tucker, 
our member of Congress. You know him, however, better 

307] English Culture in Virginia. 119 

than we do. Can we get abetter? Will he serve? You 
know the emoluments, and that the tenure is in fact for life, 
the lodgings comfortable, the society select, <fec. If you ap- 
prove of him, you may venture to propose it to him, and ask 
him if he will accept. I say "you may venture,'' because 
three of us could then be counted on, and we should surely 
get one, if not more, or all, of the other four gentlemen.^ . . . 

Mr. Cabell did sound Mr. Tucker, and after some delibera- 
tions that gentleman consented to be a candidate for the chair 
of ethics, to which position he was elected by the Visitors in 
March, 1825. At the same time Dr. Emmet was elected to 
the chair of natural history, and only the chair of law 
remained unfilled. Of Mr. Tucker's acquirements much 
might be said were not my space nearly exhausted. He had 
already acquired a reputation as a good lawyer and a faithful 
congressman, and had published some essays of value and 
a novel. He subsequently did twenty years of excellent 
work in his professorship, and greatly increased his reputation 
as an author by his Life of Jefferson and his History of the 
United States. 

But my reader must not imagine that the Evil Grenius 
of Protection did not croak and flap its bat-like wings when 
five British subjects were imported to ruin the mind of the 
American youth ; or, as the Boston Gazette put it, to disgust 
them with anecdotes of "My Ijord This" and "His Grace 
That." No — the following choice specimens of the journal- 
ism of the day will dis|>el any such comfortable idea — they 
are taken from the Richmond Enquirer of December 11th, 

"Importation op Professors. 

" [From the Boeton Cburier.] 

" * The Richmond Enquirer informs the public, that Mr. Gil- 
mer of that city who went to England in May to procure profew" 

* JeffenoD-Oabell CorreqwDdenoe, piig«t 323, 324. 

120 English Culture in Virginia. [308 

ors for the University of Virginia has returned and that he has 
been very successful in obtaining Professors, who were to sail from 
London in the Trident, about the 16th of October. On this the 
editor of the Connecticut Journal very properly remarks : 

" ' What American can read the above notice without indigna- 
tion. ^Ir. Jeflerson might as well have said that his taverns and 
dormitories should not be built with American bricks and have 
sent to Europe for them, as to import a group of Professors. We 
wish well to his College, but must think it a pity, that an agent 
should be dispatched to Europe for a suite of Professors. Mr. 
Gilmer could have fully discharged his mission, with half the 
trouble and expense, by a short trip to New England.' 

" [From the Philadelphia Oazette.'] 

" ' Or, we may be permitted to add, by a still shorter trip 
to Philadelphia. But because Pennsylvania does not produce 
Stump-Orators and Presidents, the Virginians conclude that it 
produces nothing else of value, forgetful that the first physicians, 
philosophers, historians, astronomers, and printers, known in 
American Annals have been citizens of our State. This sending 
of a Commission to Europe, to engage professors for a new Uni- 
versity, is we think one of the greatest insults the American peo- 
ple have received.' 

" We excuse the wit of our Boston and Philadelphia Editors, 
wishing them next time a better subject on which to employ it. 
It is by no means our desire to disparage the wise men of the 
East or the philosophers of Philadelphia, past, present or to come. 
We have had the misfortune, it is true, of producing two or three 
Presidents, and some fair stump orators (not to speak of Patrick 
Henry, R. H. Lee, John Randolph, or Littleton Waller Tazewell), 
but we do not see the mighty sin we commit either against good 
morals or good manners in looking out for the best Professors we 
can obtain for our rising University — nay of sending to G. Britain 
for Professors of the languages, mathematics and physics, if from 
any cause whatever it was not easy to obtain them in N. England 
or Pennsylvania. S. Carolina employs Dr. Cooper, has she been 
censured for her judicious selection ? But no man can as well ex- 
plain the motives of this visit as Mr. Jefferson himself, who in the 

309] English Culture in Virginia. 121 

late report to the Legislature of Virginia has anticipated and 
answered, in the most appropriate manner, every exception that 
has been taken to the North "» 

I may remark that the case of Dr. Cooper does not at all 
apply, for he had been in this country nearly 30 years, and 
was not specially imported. In the same paper, however, I 
find an extract from the New York American^ which repre- 
sents a more liberal class of our population. 

•* We have heard with pleasure of the arrival of Messrs. Long 
and Blaettermann, the professors of ancient and modem lan- 
guages in the University of Virginia. They are well known and 
highly esteemed in England. Their talents and acquirements 
will doubtless be highly advantageous to the cause of Public In- 
struction in the country. The other Professors of this Institution, 
Messrs. Key, Bonnycastle and Dunglison are daily expected." 

In the meantime the Competitor had not put in an appear- 
ance, and great was the consternation on all sides. The news- 
pa|)ers gave accounts of terrific gales on the coast of England 
at the very time Key and his friends were to sail. Gilmer 
and Cabell were busy writing to Mr. Jefferson trying to allay 
the old gentleman's fear, but greatly alarmed themselves. 
Day after day passed and the date fixed upon for opening the 
University (February 1st) drew near. Lying stories were set 
in circulation and many predicted that the University would 
never succeed after all the delay. But on January 30th a 
gleam of hope came. Cabell had seen in a Norfolk paper that 
the Competitor was still in Plymouth on the 6th of December, 
and so had escaped the October gale. To his letter announcing 
this fact Jefferson made the following reply which is interest- 
ing enough to quote. 

* If the New England editors had known that two of the first professor- 
ships had been offered to Bowditch and Ticknor, their language would 
probably have been milder ; and what are we to think of the application of 
Rufus King to Mr. Drury ? 

122 English Culture in Virginia. [310 

MoNTiCELLO, February 3, 1825. 

Dear Sir, — Although our professors were on the 5th of 
December still in an English port, that they were safe raises 
me from the dead ; for I was almost ready to give up the ship. 
That was eight weeks ago, and they may therefore be daily 

In most public seminaries, text books are prescribed to e^ch 
of the several schools, as the norma docendi in that school ; 
and this is generally done by authority of the trustees. I 
should not propose this generally in our University, because, 
I believe none of us are so much at the heights of science in 
the several branches as to undertake this, and therefore that it 
will be better left to the professors, until occasion of inter- 
ference shall be given. But there is one branch in which we 
are the best judges, in which heresies may be taught, of so 
interesting a character to our own State, and to the United 
States, as to make it a duty in us to lay down the principles 
which shall be taught. It is that of government. Mr. Gilmer 
being withdrawn, we know not who his successor may be. 
He may be a Richmond lawyer, or one of that school of 
quondam federalism, now consolidation. It is our duty to 
guard against the dissemination of such principles among our 
youth, and the diffusion of that poison, by a previous prescrip- 
tion of the texts to be followed in their discourses ^ 

These books were actually chosen by Jefferson and Madison 
as we learn from a letter of the latter's dated February 8th, 
1825 (Writings, III, 481); but, although it would seem that 
the progressive statesman had receded from his own excellent 
doctrine that the present generation should not hamper pos- 
terity, and although a greater than the Andover Controversy 
would seem to be here in germ, when we read the list of texts 
prescribed our apprehensions are abated. They consisted of 

^ Jefferson-Cabell Correspondence, page 339. 

311] English Culture in Virginia, 123 

(1) The Declaration of Independence, (2) The Federalist, (3) 
The Virginia Resolutions of '98 against the Alien and Sedi- 
tion Laws " which appeared to accord with the predominating 
sense of the people of the United States " ; and (4) The In- 
augural Speech and Farewell Address of President Washing- 
ton " as conveying political lessons of peculiar value." 

On the same day that this letter was written Cabell wrote 
that as Gilmer had three times declined the law chair, it might 
be offered advantageously to Chancellor Tucker of Winchester. 
He also proposed a very impracticable scheme which I was 
surprised at so sensible a man's making, viz., to attach to the 
professorship a small chancery district consisting of Albemarle 
and four contiguous counties.^ N^otiations were accordingly 
opened with Tucker but in vain. He was destined, however, 
to fill the chair from 1840 to 1844. 

In the meantime the long wished for " Competitor " arrived 
at Norfolk and on Thursday evening, February 10th, Key 
wrote the welcome intelligence to Gilmer, who lost no time in 
informing Mr. Jefferson. Key and his companions passed 
through Richmond and attracted the most favorable notice. 
The battle had been won, even the capital city of the enemy 
had been completely disarmed. 

On the seventh day of March, 1825, the University of 
Virginia was formally opened with the five foreign professors 
and forty students. Professors Tucker and Emmet arrived 
shortly after, and students kept coming in until on September 
30th they numbered 116. The first term closed on December 
15th, 1825. The professorship of law had in the meantime, 
after having been refused by Mr. P. P. Barl)our and Judge 
Carr, been offered to Judge Wm. A. C. Dade, of the general 
court. Judge Dade seems to have been a fine lawyer and a 
man of some classical attainments; but the situation did not 
charm him. Accordingly Mr. Jefferson fell back upon his first 
choice and wrote him an urgent letter. Gilmer's health now 

> Same, page 888. 

124 English Culture in Virginia. [312 

seemed sufficiently restored to enable him to undertake the 
work, and as he felt that the strain of public life would 
not suit him in the future, he answered Mr. Jefferson's 
more than flattering appeal by accepting the position. The 
visitors, therefore, unanimously elected him and he looked 
forward to delivering his first lecture at the beginning of the 
second term. But fate decided it otherwise, his health again 
broke down and he realized that this time he was disabled 

Then the visitors turned to Wirt, who had been thought 
of long before, but whose high position under the government 
had seemed to preclude all chance of his acceptance. To 
make the offer more attractive, it was resolved to create a 
new office of "President of the University of Virginia'' which 
should be held by Mr. Wirt, but, if he declined, should not 
go into effect. This was in April, 1826. Wirt preferred to 
settle in Baltimore and so the ill-fated chair was offered to 
John Taylor Lomax — a lawyer of some distinction, residing 
near Fredericksburg. Mr. Lomax accepted and Mr. Jeffer- 
son's agony was at last over. On the 21st of April he wrote 
to Cabell that Lomax had paid them a visit and charmed 
them all.^ 

It would seem at first thought that my work is now accom- 
plished and that that agreeable word "finis" is all that 
remains to be written. But we have not yet taken leave of 
the man whose labor this study was written to commemorate ; 
and a few words as to the fortunes of those whom he brought 
over, would not appear amiss. 

And now briefly of the latter point.^ 

Mr. Key finding that the climate of Virginia did not agree 

* Jefferson-Cabell Correspondence, page 377. 

'My chapters in Dr. Adams' work, before referred to, are a proper sup- 
plement to this study, and to them the reader is referred. Volumes III 
and IV of Madison's Writings are the best original source I know of f(wr 
the period from 1826-36. 

313] English Culture in Virginia. 125 

with him was compelled to resign in 1827 and to return to 
England. There his high abilities were recognized by a 
position in the newly established University of London, and 
we marvel at the versatility of the man when we find that 
the remainder of his long and useful life was devoted to 
philology. He died in 1875, and his recently published Latin 
dictionary is the latest monument to his labor. 

On Mr. Key's resignation, Mr. Bonnycastle was transferred 
to the chair of mathematics. This gentleman at first had 
some trouble as to a bond which he was under to the British 
government, and which was forfeited by his coming to Amer- 
ica. A slight misunderstanding arose between Gilmer and 
himself owing to this fact and to the hasty drawing up of the 
contract between them. But mutual explanations happily 
settled the matter. Mr. Bonnycastle held the chair of mathe- 
matics until his death in 1840, and was, I believe, the first in 
this country to introduce the use of the ratio method of the 
trigonometrical functions. 

Mr. Long received a call to the London University in 1828, 
but he left a worthy representative behind him. In my chap- 
ter in Dr. Adams' work, I give a sketch of the work of Dr. 
Gressner Harrison, whom Long nominated as his successor. 
That sketch, taken mainly from an address by the Rev. John 
A. Broadus, cannot be repeated here. It is sufficient to say 
that Long kept Dr. Harrison posted on all the latest German 
discoveries in philology, and that the students of the Univer- 
sity of Virginia were familiar with the labors of Bopp before 
that great man was fully recognized in Germany itself. Of 
Mr. I^)ng'8 subsequent labors for English education, I surely 
need not speak. 

With respect to Dr. Blaettermann, I have been singularly 
unfortunate in collecting information. The few notices I have 
Been of him, speak highly of his attainments, but are not so 
pleasant in other respects. Gilmer seems to have seen what 
he calls a "puff" about him in one of tlie English pa|)crs, 

126 English Culture in Virginia. [314 

and Dr. Gessner Harrison wrote in a kindly way of him in 
Duyckinck's Cyclopaedia.^ 

Dri Robley Dunglison's name is so well known in this 
country that J need only say that he remained eight years at 
the University, and laid the foundation of what has proved to 
be a remarkably successful medical school. Mr. Jefferson, in 
his last illness, trusted entirely to his skill. His work in 
medical literature is known even to general readers. The 
subsequent careers of the native professors are foreign to my 
purpose, and it only remains for us to take our leave of the 
man we have learnt to know so well, Francis Walker Gilmer. 

The tale is soon told ; and being sad, this is surely best. 
After returning from New York, he was thrown back by the 
carelessness of a servant, who left a window open by his bed 
all night. As he was naturally delicate, his health was 
rapidly undermined. He could attend to little business, and 
left Richmond for Albemarle, from whence he went to one of 
the Virginia Springs. The little business he could attend to 
was of a painful nature, being connected with the ruined 
fortunes of his old friend, ex-governor Thomas Mann Ran- 
dolph. The trip to the Springs buoyed him up, and he 
accepted the law professorship, as we have seen. But his 
disorders becoming worse, he was compelled to resign, and 
after a lingering illness of many weeks, he died at the resi- 
dence of one of his relatives in Albemarle, on the 25th 
of February, 1826. One of his last acts was to leave a sum 
of money for the purchase of a communion service for the 
Episcopal Church in Charlottesville. He passed away in the 
arms of his brother Peachy, who has recorded in the volume 
before me that ** he died in the faith of Jesus Christ." Upon 
the last letter which he received from his dear friend, Wm. 
Wirt, Gilmer wrote these few lines in pencil — the last writing 
he ever did : " Dear & beloved Mr. W. — Nothing but a last 

^ Dr. Adams cites an article in the Southern Literary Messenger for Janu- 
ary, 1842, which throws light on the characters of the early professors. 

316] English Culture in Virginia. 127 

hope could have induced me to take such a liberty with you.* 
I have scarcely any hope of recovering & was but a day or 
two ago leaving you my last souvenir. I have not written to 
you because I love & admire you & am too low to use 
my own hand with convenience. Farewell to you & to all a 
family I have esteemed so well." 

I promised to give a detailed account of Mr. Gilmer's lite- 
rary work, but I now find that from want of space I cannot 
keep that promise. Perhaps it is as well that I should not; 
the world has forgotten what he wrote — I would fain hope 
that it will not forget what he did. There are MS. essays 
extant on "The causes of the ascent of vapour" and "Certain 
phenomena of vision," which it will be best to leave undis- 
turbed, although they certainly show an original and inquir- 
ing mind. In the Atialedic Magazine for July, 1818, will be 
found an interesting account of a visit paid to the Cherokees 
in Tennessee, probably in company with Mr. Corr^, but the 
modern reader would be apt to think that the article dealt 
more with the Greeks and Romans than was necessary. The 
essay on the Natural Bridge, which was translated by Pic- 
tet, appeared, I believe, in the XVth volume of the same 
magazine. This I have not seen. In January, 1828, Field- 
ing Lucas, Jun., of Baltimore, issued a small volume of 
"Sketches, Essays and Translations, by the late Francis 
Walker Gilmer, of Virginia," Mr. Wirt contributing a 
preface. This contained the revised " Sketches of American 
Orators," by far, it seems to me, his best performance, and 
containing some good criticism, " A vindication of the laws 
limiting the rate of interest on loans," an answer to Bentliam, 
which, though it shows a great deal of legal learning, inclines 
too much to reasoning by analogy, and hardly settles the mat- 
ter ; and certain translations from the French economists lent 
him by Du Pont de Nemours. These, with the volume of 

'That is — using Wirt's own letter for his reply. 

128 JEnglish Culture in Virginia. [316 

reports previously mentioned, constitute all of Gilmer's 
writings with which I am acquainted.^ 

His learning was certainly curious and enormous. He 
seems to have been a fine lawyer, perhaps the most learned 
of his day in Virginia ; it can hardly be said that he was a 
philosophic jurist. He was also a good classical scholar and 
botanist — something of a philologian and physical experi- 
menter — and personally one of the most agreeable of com- 
panions. There are many things in these letters which show 
a delicate wit and some of the turns of his mind are as 
original as they are entertaining. This may serve as a sam- 
ple. Speaking of Wirt's success he says that he has heard 
that Wirt created as much astonishment in Washington as 
the Duke of Buckingham did in Madrid, "there having been 
no such comet in that hemisphere." ^ 

How Mr. Gilmer was regarded by his contemporaries may 
be seen from the following letter : 

Washington, Dec. 27, 1827. 
My dear Sir, 

I am extremely sensible to your kind attention & highly 
obliged by it. Everything connected with my late friend, 
your dear brother, is dear to me. I am now probably as near 
my journey's end as he was on his return from that ill fated 
voyage to England, from which I date the disease that so 

^I have seen it stated that he wrote some of the numbers of the "Old 
Bachelor," and several articles in the Virginia Evangelical and Literary 
Magazine, of which his friend. Dr. Rice, was editor. Both of these statements 
are probably true ; but no mention is made of the matter in the Gilmer 
letters ; nor is he stated to have been a contributor in the obituary notice 
of him in the ninth volume of the aforesaid magazine. 

^ I also find a characteristic sentence d propos of the strained relations 
between Wirt and Pinckney (relations more strained than Mr. Kennedy's 
tender heart would allow him to tell us). " You may never again have a 
chance of shivering his spear, which is not of mountain ash like that of 
Achilles, but, as Randolph said of his own, rather of the tobacco stick order, 
though pointed up like a small sword." 

317] English Ouliure in Virginia. 129 

cruelly robbed us of him. Whether we shall be permitted 
to recognize our friends in a future world is beyond our ken 
— but the belief is so consonant with the goodness of our 
Creator & so consolatory to the heart of man that I would 
fain indulge in it. 

Accept, my dear Sir, my best wishes and respects — 
Your obliged 
To J. R. of Roanoke. 

Peachy R. Gilmer Esq. 

Both Mr. Randolph and Mr. Wirt were applied to for an 
epitaph ; but neither felt equal to the task. The letters from 
which the foregoing was taken and which have been the basis 
of this study were collected by Mr. Peachy Gilmer in 1833 
and bound in two large volumes for the use of his descend- 
ants. Mr. Wirt was very loth to part with Gilmer^s letter 
to him, reserving at the last the letter written from Shake- 
speare's house and the leaf of Kenil worth ivy which accom- 
panied it. 

Francis Walker Gilmer, Virginia's benefactor, lies buried 
at his old family seat. Pen Park, in Albemarle County. Over 
his remains is a plain stone recording the dates of his birth 
and death and preserving the following epitaph, written by 
himself, and almost as sad as Swift's — 

" Pray, stranger, allow one who never had peaee while he lived, 

The sad Immunities of the (irave, 

Silence and Repose." 


For ** gigomaniae" on page 9 reatl gig-maniae. The quotation marks are 
dropped because the writer is doubtful whether Carlyle ever used the 
word — ** gigmaniiiff" which oocars in the eesay on fioewell's Life, probably 
occasioned the misapprehension. Hut reviewing bis work, after the lapse 
of nearly a year, the writer finds himself wondering how Carlyle and so 
many extraneous subjects got mixed up with what he intended to make the 
simple record of a good man's life. 


It seems well to preserve here three of the letters which 
Gilmer received from Greorge Ticknor. In a few respects 
they appear to supplement those, relating to the same period, 
which have already delighted the world in that charming 
book — "The Life and Letters of George Ticknor." Good 
letters are too rare to be carelessly put aside, and I feel 
convinced that my readers will thank me for acting upon 
this conviction and presenting these. 

GoTTiNGEN King" of Hanover. 
May 31 8<, 1816. 

I am rejoiced to find my Dear Gilmer by the letter you 
sent by Mr. TerrelP that you have not forgotten me, though 
you have not heard from me. That this has been the case, 
however is no fault of mine. Immediately after receiving 
your letter of last May, I wrote to America to know where I 
should address to you, and since then I have made the same 
inquiry of Mr. Jefferson and in Paris but could learn nothing 
of you, until day before yesterday, when your very welcome 
letter came to tell me all I hoped to hear except that you had 
renounced your intention of coming to Europe. In this 
respect you have changed your plans ; and as you intend to 
be a lawyer, I rather think you have done wisely. I too 

The joong Virginian preriouBly referred ta 


132 Appendix. [320 

have changed my plans, I have renounced the law altogether, 
and determined to prolong my stay in Europe, that I may 
do something towards making myself a scholar, and perhaps 
you will smile, when I add that my determining motive to 
this decision, of which I have long thought, was the admirable 
means and facilities and inducements to study offered by a 
German University. But however you may smile on the 
other side of the Atlantic, you would if you were on this, do 
just as I have done. My inclination is entirely & exclusively 
to literature — the only question with me, therefore, was, where 
I could best fit myself to pursue haud passibus acquis its 
future progress & improvement. In England I found that 
the vigorous spirit of youth was already fled though to be 
sure in its place I found a green and honourable old age — in 
France — where literature, its progress & success was always 
much more intimately connected with the court than it ever 
was in any other age or country if Rome under Augustus be 
excepted, — in France it has long been the sport of political 
revolutions & seems at last to be buried amidst the ruins of 
national independence — and in the S{outh) of Europe, in 
Portugal, Spain, and Italy centuries have passed over its 
grave. — In Germany, however, where the spirit of letters first 
began to be felt a little more than half a century ago, all is 
still new & young, and the workings of this untried spirit 
starting forth in fresh strength, & with all the advantages 
which the labour and experience of other nations can give it 
are truly astonishing. In America, indeed, we have but little 
of these things, for our knowledge of all Europe is either 
derived from the French, whose totally different manners, & 
language & character prevents them from even conceiving 
those of Germany, or from England, whose ancient prejudices 
against every thing continental as yet prevent them from 
receiving as it deserves a kindred literature. Still, however, 
the English scholars have found out that the Germans are far 
before them in the knowledge of antiquity, so that if you 
look into an English Treatise on Bibliography you will find 

321] Appendix, 133 

nine tenths of the best editions of the classics to be Grerman ; 
— and Mad. de Stael has told the world, tho' to be sure, very 
imperfectly and unworthily, what a genial & original litera- 
ture has sprung up in Germany within the last 50 years like 
a volcano from the wastes & depths of the ocean. — But it is 
not what they have already done, oY* what they are at this 
moment doing, astonishing as both are, which makes me hope 
so much from these Germans. It is the free, & philosphical 
spirit with which they do it — the contempt of all ancient 
forms considered as such, and the exemption from all preju- 
dice — above all, the unwearied activity with which they push 
forward, and the high objects they propose to themselves — it 
is this, that makes me feel sure, Germany is soon to leave all 
the rest of the world very far behind in the course of improve- 
ment — and it was this that determined me to remain here 
rather than to pursue my studies in countries where this high 
spirit has faded away. — 

You may perhaps smile at all this, my dear Gilmer, and 
think that my reasons for spending above a year and a half 
in Gottingen are as bad as the revolution itself. If we live 
twenty years, however, <fe then meet one another, you will be 
prepared to tell me I have done right, for though the political 
machine may at last grind Germany to powder, yet I am 
satisfied that the spirit which was not extinguished or even 
repressed by the French Usurpation will not be stopj>ed in its 
career by any revolution that is likely to happen before that 
time, and in twenty years German literature, & science, and 
learning will stand higher than those of any other modern 
nation. Mr. Terrel, of course, I have not yet seen, but in a 
little more than a year I shall, I suppose, find him in Ger- 
many ; <fe if I can there do him any service, you may be 
certain, that I shall not be found unfaitliful to the remem- 
brance of the many pleasant hours passed with you <fe owed 
to you in Philadelphia and Washington. Farewell. I will 
write to you soon again <& you must write soon to me. Send 
your letters to Bodon care of E. Ticknor & they will certainly 

134 Appendix, [322 

reach me. Where is Winchester? Tell me all about it & about 
your situation. If it is near Monticello, remember me when 
you are there, & tell Mr. Jefferson that my only regret in 
determining to stay here is that I cannot have the pleasure of 
purchasing his books in Paris. I hope, however, as I have 
told him, still to find some way of being useful to him in 

Yrs truly, Geoege Ticknor. 

Francis W. Gilmer, Esq., 

Winchester^ Virg, 
Care of John Vaughan, Esq., 



GoTTiNGEN Jan. 30. 1817. 

Your very welcome letter of Oct. 11. 1816. my dear 
Gilmer reached me a few days since and I thank you for it 
a thousand times. — It afforded me pleasure in every part 
except that in which you speak of your feeble health. My 
dear Gilmer, take care of yourself. I say this from an 
experience, which makes my warning solemn, and which 
should make it efficient. — One of the very first things that 
struck me on coming to Europe was, that their men of letters 
& professions here live much longer and enjoy lively & active 
faculties much later than in America.^ And what is the 
reason? Not because our students labour harder — not because 
they exercise less — not because they smoke more or for any 
other of the twenty frivolous reasons that are given by anxious 
friends among us, for these are all disproved by the /ac< here, 
that a man of letters works from 12 to 16 hours a day — 

'Here he adds on the side of the page — I have reduced this to an 
arithmetical fact by calculating the length of the lives of men of letters in 
Eng.(land) France, Spain, Italy, <& Germany. 

323] Appendix, 135 

exercises not at all — smokes three fourths of his time <fec &c. 
— The reason is, that every man must have habits suited to 
his occupations, whereas our men of letters are so few that 
they are obliged to adopt the habits of persons about them 
whose occupations are utterly different. Thus we get up late 
in the moraing because breakfast is not to be had early with 
convenience to the family — we dine late because our dinner 
hour must conform to that of men of business — we give the 
evening to the world because it is the fashion — and thus 
having passed the whole day under the constraint of others, 
we steal half the solitude & silence of the night to repair our 
loss. Under the influence of such habits our men of letters 
in America seldom attain their fortieth year & often fall vic- 
tims in the very threshold of active life. The great faults 
lie in the distribution of time and of meals. — A student should 
certainly rise early, not only because Sir John Sinclair's Tables 
show that early risers are always (caderis paribus) the longest 
livers but because anyone who has made the experiment will 
tell you that the morning is the best time for labour. It has 
the advantages of silence & solitude for which we use the 
evening and the great additional ones that mind & body are 
then refreshed & quickened for exertion. In the nature of 
things therefore, the heaviest studies, whatever they may be, 
shoukl be the first in the day, & as far as it is possible, I 
would have their weight diminished in each portion of time 
until they cease, because by the fatigue of exercise, the faculties 
become continually less capable of easy <fe dexterous exertion 
without being compelled to it by excitement which afterwards 
produces languor. Then as to meals — I would not eat a 
hearty American breakfast on first rising, for that is the very 
time, when as the body is already strengthened & restored by 
sleep, it needs least of all the excitement of hearty food. 
Still less is the intrusion of craving hunger to be desired. — 
For the first seven or eight hours, after rising therefore, I 
have observed it best to keep the appetite merely still by 
eating perhaps twioe some very light food — bread & butter & 

136 Appendix. [324 

a cup of coffee &c — By that time the strength needs assistance 
& the principal meal in the day should be made, which with 
light food once or at most twice afterwards is sufficient until 
'' Nature's grand restorer " comes to fit mind & body for new 
exertions. Observe, I pray you, that the two last hours in 
the day should not as with us, be the hours chosen for the 
severest labour, but should as much as possible, be hours of 
very light reading, or absolute amusement & idleness for two 
reasons, because the mind & body are then weary whether we 
permit ourselves to feel it or not and because the excitement 
of hard study just before going to bed prevents us from 
enjoying " the sweet, the innocent sleep '' which is so indis- 
pensable to refresh the faculties. — Now, my dear Gilmer, do 
not say all this is theory & whim, foi I know it — I feel it to 
be fact. In America my health faded under eight, nine & 
ten hours study in a day and I have lived in Gottingen a 
year & an half and grown stronger on studying more than 
twelve hours a day. I rise at five o'clock in the morning 
and my servant brings me immediately a cup of coffee & a 
piece of bread — at IX I eat some bread and butter — at I I 
dine — between VII & VIII in the evening I take some light 
supper & at X go faithfully to bed & sleep the sleep that 
knows no waking. — I do not beg you to do the same, for I 
know not how much your health is reduced ; but when you 
have applied the needful means and restored yourself to your 
usual strength — then I do beseech you to adopt this or some 
other system equally simple, strict and rational and do not 
fear the result. — I speak on this subject with an earnestness 
uncommon to me, for I have more than common reasons. — 
I have lost many friends though I am still young — some 
whose talents and acquirements would, in riper years, have 
given a new character to letters among us, and now that I live 
in the midst of men who have grown old under labour which 
always seemed to me without the limits of human strength 
and have compared the annals of literature in other countries 
with its condition here, I can look back and see how gradually 

325] Ajypefndix. 137 

and surely the health and lives of nearly every one of these 
friends were destroyed by their conformity to the habits of 
the society in which they lived — by the inversion of their day 
in study and in meals — & in short, by attempting to live at 
once like students & like men whose occupations are anytliing 
but intellectual — Beware, then, of this, my dear Gilmer — The 
world expects a great deal from your talents and you can 
easily fulfill these expectations, if you will but preserve your 
health by accomodating your habits to the nature of your 

When I began, I am sure, I intended to have said but a 
word on this subject. — You will not, however, mistake my 
reason. If I valued your health less, I should be less anxious 
to have you preserve it & if I had not placed a portion of my 
happiness on the continuance of your life & did not know that 
you are one who can fill so much of the chasm in our intel- 
lectual state, I should not have been betrayed beyond a letter's 
limit on a subject which after all hardly comes within the 
rubricks of correspondence. 

You inquire after works on Jurisprudence and on Political 
Economy. — On the last there is very little in German Authors 
& what there is of good, is founded on Adam Smith & Burke. 
This is the consequence of their miserable political situation, 
divided into little independent Principalities, which makes all 
their political interests little & insignificant & thus prevents 
liberal general discussions on great interests & questions. — 
On Jurisprudence they have books to confusion & satiety; 
but few, I apprehend, that would much interest an American 
Lawyer, however extensive he makes his horizon, unless it be 
good histories & commentaries on the Roman Law, in which, 
however, the present state of its practice in Germany is, again, 
the chief point kept in view. — If you would like any of these 
(the best are in German not Latin) I can procure them for 
you through a friend who will pass the next summer here, 
though I shall not myself — while at the same time, if you 
should like anything from France or Italy I will gladly serve 

138 Appendix, [326 

you in person as I shall divide the year that begins in May 
between them. Command me I pray you without reserve, 
for besides the pleasure I should feel in serving you, I feel a 
gratification always in sending home good books, for I know 
I can in no way so directly & efficiently serve the interests of 
letters in my native country. 

When you write to Monticello or visit there, I pray you 
that I may be remembered, for out of my own home I know 
not where I have passed a few days so pleasantly. — Remem- 
ber me, too, yourself — write to me often directing your letters 
as before care of E. Tinckor Boston — & in your next tell me 
your health is better, if you would tell me what will most 
please me. — Yrs truly Geo. Ticknor. 

Francis W. Gilmer, Esq., 

Winchester ( Virg.) 
Care of 

John Vaughan Esq. 

Endorsed — Forwarded by J. 
V. who having no letter 
himself wishes to learn some- 
thing of the traveller. 

Philadelphia, Phil. April 26'^ 1817 


Rome Nov. 25. 1817. 

Your letter of May 2d., my dear Gilmer, reached me in 
Paris three months ago, since which I have, until lately, been 
in such constant movement that I have been able to write to 
nobody except to my own family. I thank you for it, how- 
ever, with a gratitude as warm as if I had been able to 
answer it the same week I received it, and pray you no less 
earnestly to continue me the favor of your correspondence 
than if T had been able to do more to merit it. What grieves 
me the most, however, is the affair of your Books. You 
desire me to procure for you several works on law, literature 
&c but desire me first to consult with Mr. Terrel to know 
whether he had not already purchased them. This letter I 

327] Appendix. 139 

received only six clays before I was obliged to leave Paris, 
and, of course, all consultation with him was impossible. I, 
however, did the next best thing, it seemed to me, I could, — 
I took the letter to Geneva — added to Mr. Terrel's list the 
books I did not find on it, for, on inquiry, I learned he, too, 
had been able to do nothing, — and gave him the address of 
the De Bures Booksellers, who, as they have twice sent Books 
to Mr. Jefferson & often to other Persons in America, will no 
doubt be able to send yours safely. Indeed, I trust, they 
have by this time reached you ; and this is ray only consola- 
tion when I think of them ; for nothing gives me so much 
pleasure as to do precisely this sort of service to my friends ; 
because I know how delightful and difficult it is for them to 
receive good books from Europe and how much more useful 
a service I render to my country by sending such than I 
can ever render in any other way. You will have your books 
I doubt not, but I should rather you would have had them 
through me. — 

In Geneva, I saw a good deal of Mr. Terrel. I wish, we 
had a great many more young men like him in Europe, — for 
he is improving his time, I am persuaded, remarkably well, 
instead of losing it and worse than losing it, as ninety nine 
out of the hundred who come here, do. He is destined, I 
presume, by the course of studies he talked to me about, to be 
a Politician and though that is a kind of trade for which I 
have little respect in any country, I am ghul he seems to be 
learning its elements with such enlarged & philosophical 
views; and especially that he mingles with it no small por- 
tions of physical science & literature. The old adage may be 
true in Euroj^e respecting learning, — that it is better to culti- 
vate a Province than to conquer an Empire — but really for an 
American politician and for any one engaged in the liberal 
administration of a free government, a little of that equivocal 
information that we call General Knowledge is absolutely 
indispensable and will prevent him from doing and saying 
a thousand of the foolish things our Politicians do <& say 

140 Appendix. [328 

so often. Terrel, however, pursues his studies, as the pro- 
fessors told me[,] in such a manner, that all his important 
knowledge will really be thorough and, what it gave me no 
less pleasure to remark, he has so lived among the persons, 
with whom he has been intimately connected at Geneva, as to 
gain not only their respect but their affection, and confidence. 
Since leaving Geneva two months ago, my whole journey 
has been mere Poetry ; and I have truly enjoyed myself more 
in this short space than in all the time that preceded it, since 
I lefl home. The Plains of Lombardy are the Garden of 
Europe and the world. When this phrase is applied elsewhere, 
I know very well how to interpret it and what qualifications 
are to be made ; but when I recollect the waste of fertility 
formed by the bed of the Po & its tributary waters — the 
bright verdue of the fields — the luxuriant abundance of the 
harvests — the several parcels of land marked by fanciful 
copses of trees — & the whole united by the graceful festoons 
of the vines, hanging with purple & heavy with the wealth 
of autumn — while everywhere about me were the frolicks and 
gaiety of the vintage, it seems to me as if I had been in fairy 
land or amidst the unmingled beauties of the primitive cre- 

"for nature here 
"Wantoned as in her prime, and played at will 
Her virgin fancies, pouring forth more sweet 
Wild above rule or art, enormous bliss.^ 

And then, too, as soon as as you have passed the Apennines, 
you come upon the very classical soil of Roman literature and 
history and every step you take is marked by some monument 
that bears witness to their glories. This continues until you 
arrive, twenty five miles before you reach Rome, at the last 
village and enter upon the unalleviated desolation of the Cam- 
pagna. I cannot express to you the secret horror I felt while 
passing over this mysterious waste, which tells such a long 

^ Here a strange hand has inserted P. Le. B. V. v. 294. 

329] Appendix. 141 

tale to the feelings and the imagination or how glad I felt, as 
if I had awaked from a dreadful dream, when turning sud- 
denly round a projecting height of Monte Mario, at whose 
feet the Tiber winds in sullen majesty along, Rome with its 
seven hills and all its towers & turrets & Pinnacles — with the 
castle of St. Angelo and the Dome of St. Peters — Rome in all 
the solemnity & splendor of the Eternal City burst at once 

upon my view — But, my dear G , if I begin thus to tell 

you of all my (?) in my travel's history, I shall never stop. 

Farewell, then ; and remember me always and write to me 
often. — Remember me to Mr. JefiPerson with great respect, 
when you see him or write to him and believe me yours very 

Geo. Ticknor. 

My address remains always the same — E. Ticknor, Boston. — 







Historical and Political Science 


History is past Politics and Politics present History.— Prwrnan 






A Study of Wethersfield, Hartford, and Windsor 


FelUm in JTiitory, 1888-9, Jolmt Hopkint University 




July, August, September, 1M9 





Dutch and English 5 

The FoRKRUNNBRs. Oldham AND OTHER Traders 9 

Uneasiness at the Bay 12 

Settlement of Wethbrsfield, 1634 18 

Plymouth AND Dorchester. The Lord's Waste 17 

Hartford. A Hard Winter 19 

Connecticut Plantation 28 

The Outpouring 24 

Lessening of Emigration 25 

Massachusetts and Connecticut 27 

The Sovereign People 29 

The Historic Town (Note) 30 


Original Purchase 32 

Grants by General Court 36 

Early Town Allotments 42 

Individual Grants 48 

Later General Divisions 55 

Proprietors' Commons 63 

Common Meadow 68 

Alienation of Land 71 

Evolution of New Towns 75 


Freemen, Inhabitants, Householders, Proprietors 82 

Growth of the Official System 92 

Townsmen 104 

Constables 110 

Town Meetings 112 

Rates and Pines lit 

TowH AND Colony. . 




The Dutch and English. 

The spirit of trade inherent in the Teutonic life, and given 
broader and newer fields by contact with an unopened 
country, led to the first and more isolated settlements in 
the Connecticut valley. The English sense and mother-wit, 
sharpened on the Dutch grindstone, laid the foundation for 
the future Yankee shrewdness, so proverbial in all New Eng- 
land, and peculiarly so in the land of steady habits. This 
land, " excellently watered and liberal to the husbandman," 
was, up to 1632, chiefly conspicuous for its hemp, beaver, and 
petty Indian tribes. It lay, almost unknown, fairly between 
the settlements of the Dutch at New Amsterdam and Fort 
Orange, and of the English at Plymouth and Massachusetts 
Bay, and offered a tempting field for the first quarrel between 
the kindred nations. The same causes, the occupying of the 
vantage-ground, and the natural jealousy aroused by mutual 
successes, were at work here, as a hundred years later with 
the French in the larger territory of the Ohio ; and here, as 

The writer wishes to express his indebtedness, in the preparation of this 
monograph, to Judge S. W. Adams, of Hartford, whose previous labors in 
the same field have been of the greatest service ; to Miss Mary K. Talcott, 
of Hartford, who has pUced many valuable notes at his dis{x>sal and has 
read a considerable portion of the MS., and to the town clerks of the 
several towns, Mpecially Mr. Albert Qalpin, of Wethersfleld. 

6 ITie River Towns of Connecticut. 

there, the English displayed the greater diplomacy and covert 
determination. As elsewhere, the first discoveries were made 
by another nation ; but the same prowess which brought about 
the greater final result in the settlement of America, led to 
the final occupation of this disputed territory by English 
communities and the reaping of its fruits by English hands. 
It was a bloodless victory, and the issue, though long debated, 
was finally decided by the weight of numbers and the 
tenacity of the English nature. The Dutch were merely 
traders with the Indians, while the English were wanderers 
seeking a permanent home.^ 

Until the meeting of the forerunners of each nation upon 
the banks of the Connecticut river, the relations had been 
eminently peaceful, and the Dutch had congratulated by let- 
ters and messengers the colonists of Plymouth on their pros- 
perous and praiseworthy undertaking, and had offered to trade 
with them as honored good friends and neighbors. On the 
departure of De Brasieres from Plymouth, after his visit in 
1627, Governor Bradford addressed a letter to Minuit, the 
Dutch governor, cautioning him against allowing his people 
either to settle where they had no title or to extend their trade 
too near the English plantation. In the early days of their 
peaceful relations the Dutch had often recommended the Fresh 
Kiver, " which is known by the name of Conightecute River," 
as offering peculiar advantages for plantation and trade, 
which information was treasured up for future use. 

About this time the condition of Indian affairs in the valley 
was bringing the question of settlement more definitely to a 
head. The invading Pequots, who, after their retreat before 
the Mohawks from the Hudson river, had passed along the 
Connecticut coast and conquered the shore tribes, now made 
war on the weakly united Indians living to the north on both 
sides of the Connecticut river. A body of these conquered 

'Dexter's New Netherland and New England, New Haven Hist. Coll. 
Ill, pp. 443-469. Hazard, State Papers, II, containing the correspond- 
ence, 1644-1654, particularly pp. 212-218 and pp. 262-267. 

Early Selilements, 7 

Indians, banished from their own hunting grounds, made their 
way to the Plymouth colony, and endeavored to rouse the 
interests of the English in their behalf by extolling the advan- 
tages of the river for trade. This tale, containing two points 
for themselves and one for the English, was often repeated, and 
as the time was opportune for the latter — as they had on hand 
a surplus of commodities and a need for greater profits to 
meet their engagements — the settlers determined to explore 
for themselves the region recommended by the Indians. The 
expectations were not fully realized, however, for, though they 
found it, as Bradford says, " a fine place," yet trade was dull. 
But it might be stimulated, and the Pilgrims, with always a 
keen eye, recognized the latent truth of the Indians' report, 
and planned to build a trading house and to invite their 
fellow-colonists at the Bay to share in the advantages. In 
the meantime, the Indians, not satisfied with the conservative 
policy of the Plymouth people, had appealed to the other 
colonists. In 1631 a sagamore at Boston with two com- 
panions had proposed to the English there to come and plant 
the country, with the unexpressed but evident desire that they 
should assist them to recover their lost possessions. " The 
governor entertained them at dinner, but would send none 
with them," and nothing was done in compliance with their 
request. During this episode, the men at Plymouth had 
taken action and had sent a number of men to spy out the 
land. Among these was Mr. Winslow, the governor, " whoe 
descouvered the fresh river when the Duch had neither trading 
house nor any pretence to a foot of land there."^ In 1633, 
partly in consequence of the knowledge already gained and 
partly because of his standing in the colony, he, with !Mr. 
Bradford, formed the commission which went to the Bay to 
confer regarding a partnership in the hemp and beaver trade. 
This conference was without result, for the independent men 
of Boston, wanting all or nothing, refused any couperation, 

> Hazard, State Papers, II, p. 219. 

8 The River Towns of Connecticut 

e\'idently thinking to thus discourage an enterprise the advan- 
tages of which they must have foreseen. The reasons given 
for this attitude are not in harmony with their spirit and 
courage tlius far shown, viz. fear of warlike Indians, ice and 
swift currents, shallowness of the river, and lack of trading 
goods. Plymouth, however, was in earnest and prepared to 
carry out what was already determined upon, and thus its 
colonists were destined to be the "first English that both 
discovered the place and built in the same." 

By this time the Dutch had waked up. On the 8th of 
June, 1633, a month before the above negotiations, they had 
purchased from the Pequots, lands on the river where Hart- 
ford now stands. On hearing of the plans of the Plymouth 
colonists, they set about the completion on these lands of a 
" slight forte,'' said to have been begun ten years before,^ and 
equipped it with two small cannon and a force of men, prob- 
ably few in numbers. This fort they called the " Good 
Hope," and with this military foundation they threatened to 
stop in their progress the stout gentry and yeomanry of 
England. But the fatal day for the Dutch had arrived, and 
their control in the Connecticut valley was nearing its end. 
Much as we may decry the high-handed manner with which 
the English treated their claims, based on a perfectly legal 
grant (as grants were then made) to the West India Conipany 
by the States General of Holland, we must confess it to our 
liking that matters were never allowed, through a firmer 
establishment of the Dutch in Connecticut, to approach a 
condition such as to require a resort to arms for their settle- 

The bark dispatched by the colony of Plymouth had a 
double danger to contend with. Having espoused the cause 
of the original Indians against the Pequots, they had gained 
the enmity of that powerful tribe, which was not likely to be 

'Mr. Savage doubts this (Winthrop's Journal, p. 113, note 1), and 
the Dutch give the date as 1633 in their complaint. 

Early Settlements, 9 

appeased by the fact that, according to the understood bargain, 
they bore with them in their craft Attawanott and other 
banished sachems, for reinstatement. Holmes, the Pilgrim 
captain, sailed up the river and passed safely the Dutch fort. 
The threats of its builders were as smoke without ball, though 
from behind its slender earthwork the garrison threatened 
and blustered. The resolute Holmes declared he had a com- 
mission from the Governor of Plymouth, and where that 
commission bade him go he was going, and go he did. He 
bought land of the sachems he carried with him, landed with 
a picked garrison, put up the ready-made frame-house pre- 
pared at Plymouth, sent the vessel home, and had his house 
well surrounded with a palisade before the Dutch could take 
any definite action. This was Saxon pluck ; but if herein 
the Plymouth men showed themselves as wise as serpents, 
they afterwards displayed the ability of being as harmless as 

But there was still to follow another exhibition of Dutch 
bluster. Seventy men, girt about with all the panoply of war 
and with colors flying, appeared before the sturdy little trading 
house at the mouth of the Farmington. They marched up, 
but, fearing to shed blood, consented to a parley and withdrew. 
For the second time they learned that the English were not 
to be frightened away, and they apparently cared too much 
for their precious lives to try the ordeal of battle. 

The Forerunners, Oldham and Other Traders. 

Hartford and Windsor had each now its military strong- 
hold, of which we have still a survival in the names " Dutch 
Point " and " Plymouth Meadow." But as yet without other 
than Indian inhabitants were the wide-stretching lowlands 
of Wethersfield. Here the great river flanking the plain on 
the east, and bending its course at the northern extremity of 
the great meadow, formed a double curve, whose upper arc 
cutting deeply into the gently sloping ridge which formed the 
site for the future town, again turned abruptly northward 

10 The River Tonms of Connecticut. 

toward the forts of the Dutch and English. Up to 1633 no 
white man had set foot on these tempting fields. Adrian 
Blok, when in 1614 he explored the river as far as Hartford, 
saw there only Indian villages belonging to the Sequins; the 
later Dutch adventurers were traders, not agriculturists, and 
they sailed past the fruitful soil for a spot better capable of 
defense ; Holmes had too definite a plan in his mind and too 
many other things to think of to be allured from the express 
commands of the Governor of Plymouth to go and settle 
above the Dutch, so that it was left for a restless English 
trader to first appreciate the possibilities of this quiet Indian 
valley. John Oldham, for many years a thorn in the flesh 
for the strait-laced colonists, came from England in the Anne 
in 1623 ; he was expelled from Plymouth as an intelligencer 
and creator of faction in 1624; was at Nantasket until the 
following year, when he returned to Plymouth without per- 
mission ; again misbehaving himself, he was deliberately 
thumped on the breech out again, and went to Virginia, where 
through the agency of a serious sickness he reformed, acknowl- 
edged the hand of God to be upon him, and came back to 
Massachusetts Bay to live a respectable life. In 1631 he 
became a freeman of the colony, the privilege only of church 
members, and in 1632 owned a house in Watertown. This was 
the man who, early in September, 1633, started out from the 
Bay with John Hall and two other companions to trade in 
Connecticut. Plunging boldly into the wilderness, so soon 
to be made historic by a more famous emigration, they pur- 
sued a winding itinerary, in order to take advantage of Indian 
villages where they might lodge at night. On reaching the 
valley they were hospitably received by the sachem, possibly 
the one who had already visited Boston, and on returning, 
carried back to that colony beaver, hemp, and black lead. 
Regarding the southernmost point reached by Oldham we 
have no information. The distance to Connecticut was 
reckoned by him as one hundred and sixty miles. Allowing 
for the necessary windings incident to a journey through a 

Early Settlements, 11 

primeval wilderness, and supposing him to have reached for 
greater security the river at a point due west from the Bay, 
perhaps near Springfield, and then to have followed its course 
southward, the above impression which he received of the 
distance is easily explainable. That Oldham and his com- 
panions penetrated as far south as the then unoccupied sites 
of Hartford and Windsor is undoubted, and that he was the 
first white explorer of the lands still farther south in the 
present Wethersfield township, further evidence gives good 
reason to believe. 

This overland journey of Oldham was with little doubt 
instigated by the desire of the colony to learn more of that 
promising land which, in the presence of the Plymouth 
representatives, they had so disingenuously decided not to 
meddle with. It looks a little like duplicity on the part of our 
Puritan fathers that, at the time of the bold, single-handed 
expedition of the Pilgrims in which they had refused to take 
part, they either dispatched or encouraged two private and 
almost covert expeditions into the same territory. For a 
month after Oldham's return, the bark Blessing, built at 
Mystic in 1631, explored the coast of Connecticut and Long 
Island, examined the mouth of the river, and appeared at the 
Dutch settlements on the Hudson. The Massachusetts men 
did nothing by halves. But if the reports of Oldham and the 
sailors of the Blessing were favorable to their purpose, those 
of Hall, who with a few others made a second exploration of 
the valley shortly after, must have proved somewhat discour- 
aging. The latter encountered all the miseries of intense cold, 
loss of their way, and small-pox among the Indians, in conse- 
quence of which they had no trade. The only grain of com- 
fort to be derived therefrom was that the small-iK>x had 
carried off most of the Indians, whose numbers had been up 
to this time a serious obstacle. 

12 The River Tovms of Connecticut 

Uneasiness at the Bay. 

No further attempts at settlement were made this year, but 
in the meantime affairs at the Bay were approaching a crisis 
unique as it was remarkable and momentous in its conse- 
quences. The antecedent events are most important as 
adding their weight in bringing about a movement whose 
causes lie deep-hidden in the history of Massachusetts Bay 
colony. Newtown, one of the neatest and best compacted 
towns in New England, lay fairly between Watertown on the 
west and Charlestown on the east, being in form, as Johnson 
says in his Wonder-Working Providence, " like a list cut off 
from the broadcloth of the two forenamed towns." In con- 
sequence, its people were somewhat crowded. In 1633 its 
population increased rapidly, and the question of removal or 
enlargement began to occupy their thoughts. There were 
twelve towns or churches in the colony, and the steady though 
not rapid accessions from England, while certainly not suffi- 
cient in quantity to cause the settlement to be overstocked, 
were such in quality as to create a strong-charactered minority. 
As will be seen, the mere extension of their narrow quarters 
was not enough to satisfy the men of Newtown, and this fact 
points to some deeper reasons for removal than those openly 
given. Whatever the causes, signs of discontent are evident 
from the time of the arrival of Thomas Hooker in 1633. By 
1634 these discontents had gained such prominence that a 
complaint was made to the first general court of delegates by 
the people of Newtown, and leave was asked to remove or 
to enlarge their boundaries. This was granted provided they 
did not interfere with any plantation already established. 
Having gained her point, Newtown at once sent certain of her 
number to make explorations and select suitable places for 
removal. They at first seem to have had in mind a northerly 
emigration, and visited Agawam (Ipswich) and the Mer- 
rimac river ; but evidently the reports of Oldham and others 
had been sufficiently favorable to turn their thoughts to the 
Connecticut valley, for in July, 1634, six Newtowners went 

Early Settlements, 13 

in the Blessing to explore the river, " intending to remove 
their town thither." Whether Oldham was one of these six is 
doubtful, as he lived inWatertown, though not at all improb- 
able, as he was the chief authority among the neighboring 
towns on all Connecticut matters. This open intention to 
remove beyond the jurisdiction of Massachusetts caused a 
revulsion of feeling — certainly natural enough — and in Sep- 
tember the subject came up again for discussion. Newtown 
wished to remove to Connecticut and prayed for leave to 
carry out her purpose. The application met with strong 
opposition from the deputy governor and a majority of the 
assistants, but of the representatives, fifteen were in favor of 
the motion to ten against, a fact which showed that the sym- 
pathy of the representatives of the people lay with the people 
themselves. Rather than make trouble in the present heated 
state of the controversy, Mr. Hooker postponed the intended 
migration until the bitter feeling should have passed away 
and a more favorable opportunity should offer. A day of 
humiliation was appointed and the derelicts indirectly reproved 
in a sermon by Mr. Cotton. But whether it was the hum- 
bleness engendered by the day of prayer or the penitence 
develoi>ed by Mr. Cotton's discourse, or a politic restraint of 
their feelings in view of the adage that "all things come to 
him that waits," the people of Newtown accepted the grants 
of meadow and river bank offered by Watertown and Boston 
for an extension of their territory. 

Settlement of Wethersfield, 1634. 

During the interim before the next meeting of the General 
Court there is some evidence of an exodus from Watertown 
to Connecticut. It is based on indirect rather than on direct 
evidence. There has long been a tradition that a few Water- 
town people came in 1634 to Connecticut and passed a hard 
winter in hastily erected log huts at Pyquag, the Indian 
name of Wethersfield. Tradition is aj)t to contain a kernel 
of truth, and in this case further evidence seems to substan- 

14 The River Toions of Connecticut, 

tiate it. In case such a movement took place from Water- 
town, whether because of the decision of the Newtown people 
to remain, or independent of it, it is unlikely that Oldham 
would have failed of cooperation with the movers, if he was 
not actually the instigator of the plan itself. Does the evi- 
dence allow his absence from Massachusetts at this time ? In 
1634 he was elected first representative from Watertown, and 
was present at the meeting of deputies in May of that year. 
His continued presence at the Bay can be traced to September 
25, when he was appointed a member of two important com- 
mittees. His name is not again mentioned until the next 
year, when, according to the records, he was, in May, 1635, 
appointed to act again as member of an investigating com- 
mittee.^ After his service the previous year he was not again 
elected deputy, and this may have been, as Dr. Bond sug- 
gests, because of his open intention to remove to Connecticut,^ 
as that intention, if carried out at any time before the next 
meeting, in May, 1635, would incapacitate him from serving 
as deputy at that court. Thus it is quite possible for him to 
have been away from Massachusetts at this time. Is there 
any trace of his presence in Connecticut between September, 
1634, and May, 1635? If so, which is the more probable 
date? His presence in Massachusetts in 1635 can be readily 
accounted for by supposing a return from Connecticut after 
the traditional winter of suifering at Wethersfield. For light 
on this point we must turn to the records of the Connecticut 
colony. There we find the entry of the settlement of the 
estate of Mr. John Oldham (he was killed by the Indians 
in July, 1636) in the records of a court held at Watertown 
(Wethersfield) in September, 1636. Among them is the fol- 
lowing : '^ It is ordered that Thurston Rayner, as he hath 
hithertoo done, shall continue to look to and preserve the 
corn of Mr. Oldham, and shall inn the same in a seasonable 

'Mass. Col. Rec. I, pp. 116, 125, 145. 
5 Bond, Hist, of Watertown, p. 864. 

Early Settlements. 16 

time." ^ Two facts are noticeable in this entry : first, that 
Rayner, who arrived in 1635, was given charge of Oldham's 
unhar vested grain because he had performed a similar office 
before ; and, secondly, that Oldham could not have been con- 
tinuously present at the plantation, but seems to have been 
accustomed to take occasional journeys away. The first fact 
points to a harvested crop of grain the year previous, which, 
if winter-sown, would argue in favor of his presence there 
during the winter of 1634-5, or, if summer-sown, a later 
appearance in the spring of 1635. We are then assured of 
his presence there at one or the other of these two dates. 
The second fact would allow his absence in 1635 in case the 
settlement was made the fall previous. This is not at all 
unreasonable. He left a family at Watertown ; retained 
property there, an inventory of which is found in the Massa- 
chusetts records after his death. These double interests 
would have been more than likely to have required his pres- 
ence at times in each plantation, and he was sufficiently 
acquainted with either route — overland or by sea — to have 
taken the journey without great inconvenience.^ The lands 
held by him in Wethersfield were most favorably situated and 
of a nature to warrant the presumption that he, as leader of 
a party, had the first selection, while the eight adventurers 
accompan^-ing him took adjoining lands farther south in a less 
convenient situation. We know that in England at this time 
the winter-sowing of wheat between Michaelmas and the last 
of November was the rule rather than the exception, the 
former date marking the beginning of the farming year. 
Mr. Bradford seems to imply the same when he speaks of 
those coming over in May as being obliged to wait " upward 

'Conn. Col. Rm. I, p. 8. 

*It is likely that Mr. Oldham mnde frequent trips back and forth 
between the two colonies. See the letter of Mrs. Winthrop to her son, at 
that time Governor of Connecticut, dated April 26, 1636, in which she 
speaks of sending (from Massachusetts Bay) a letter by Mr. Oldham to 
Connecticut. Winthrop's History, vol. I, p. 466. 

16 The River Tottms of Connecticut 

of 16. or 18. months before they had any harvest of their 
own,"^ evidently referring to a winter-sowing of wheat, which 
with barley formed the chief staple. All this we think leads 
to the confirmation of an autumn settlement in 1634, but 
another bit of evidence is at hand. A town vote, under date 
August 30, 1711, relating to a suit brought against the town 
for possession of the stated commons and sequestered lands, 
has the following explanatory clause : " The town having pos- 
sessed and enjoyed said lands for seventy and seven years last 
past or more, viz., themselves and their predecessors of the 
town of Wethersfield, and having measured and laid out the 
said commons or sequestered land more than twenty-seven 
years last past, and some of the land more than thirty years 
last past."^ By deducting these years from the date of the 
vote we find that the town in 1711 considered the date of her 
own settlement to be 1634, and as in the case of the other 
years mentioned the statement is absolutely correct, there is 
no reason for doubting the truth of the first ; if this be tradi- 
tion, it is of a very fresh and trustworthy sort, and assists 
materially in forming our conclusions. 

With this then as our evidence, we venture the following 
historical sequence. Shortly after the September meeting 
of the Massachusetts General Court in 1634, Mr. Oldham 
led a party of eight adventurous men to the point reached 
by him on his overland journey in 1633, where he was 
impressed by the fertility and beauty of the river meadows 
and the fact of a non-occupation by white men. Here 
huts were erected, the ground prepared and grain sown 
along the lowest eastern slope of the ridge, half a mile from 
the river, out of reach of the spring freshets. In the following 
spring Mr. Oldham returned to Watertown, and very likely 
his presence once more among the uneasy people instigated 
the petition which was presented by them to the court held in 
Newtown, May 6, 1635, asking leave to remove. A favor- 

. ' Bradlord's History, p. 248. ^ ^eth. Records, I, p. 292-3. 

Early Settlements. 17 

able answer was given to this, and Mr. Oldham accompanied 
a second band of settlers, some fifteen or twenty in number, 
who settled in Wethersfield, neai* the others, to the westward. 
We are without doubt warranted in the statement that of the 
three towns composing the Connecticut colony, Wethersfield 
was the first occupie<l by settlers and planters who became an 
integral part of the later community. It is interesting to 
note that this fact is acknowledged in the general code of 
1650^ and in the manuscripts of Mr. Mix (1693-1737).2 The 
existing state of things is, then, a Dutch fort of doubtful per- 
manency at Hartford; a strong, well-established palisaded 
block-house at Windsor ; both of these engaged in trade with 
the Indians ; and a small handful of planters — some twenty- 
five or thirty — in the meadows of Wethersfield — all in the 
midst of half friendly and hostile Indians. 

Plymouth and Dorchester. The Lord's Waste. 

But a rifl once made for the outpouring of the tide of emi- 
gration and the efflux became rapid. A month after permission 
was granted to the Watertown people a like leave was given 
to those at Dorchester, with the same proviso regarding 
jurisdiction. Within two months — by August 16, 1635 — a 
settlement was made by them on the Connecticut. Their 

' la the section " Bounds of Towns and Perticular Lands'' is the fol- 
lowing : " It is ordered .... That every Towne shall set out their bounds 
.... and that once in the year three or more persons in the Towne 
appointed by the Selectmen shall appoint with the adjacent Townes and 
renew their markes .... the most ancient Towne (which for the River is 
determined by the courte to be Weathersfield) to give notice of the time 
and place of meeting for this perambulation." Col. Ilec. 1, p. 513. 

From the point of view of a habitation by white men, Hartford was flrst 
occupied by the Dutch ; from the view of occupation by Englishmen, 
Windsor can claim to be the earliest settled ; but from the point of view 
of settlement by Massaohasetts Bay people, by agriculturists and |)orma- 
nent colonists, Wethersfield has undoubted right to the title. On Wind- 
sor's claim see article by J. H. Hayden in Hartford Courant for September 
26, 1883. 

* Trumbull, Hist, of Conn. I, p. 49, note. 

18 The River Towns of Connecticut. 

unfortunate selection of the lands adjoining the Plymouth 
block-house led to a lengthy dispute and considerable ill 
feeling between the two colonies. The one claimed priority 
of possession and rights acquired by purchase, and warned 
the new-comers against trespassing. The latter, disregarding 
these stable claims, plead the providence of God as having 
tendered the place to them "as a meete place to receive our 
body, now upon removal.'^ But the Pilgrims were not 
inclined to accept this somewhat illogical reasoning, thinking 
the " providence of God " to be a convenient pretext, not 
altogether reliable as argument. In their rejoinder they say 
what was not far from the truth, though edged with a Pil- 
grim bitterness : " We tell you still that our mind is otherwise, 
and that you cast rather a partiall, if not a covetous eye, 
upon that which is your neighbours and not yours ; and in so 
doing, your w^ay could not be faire unto it. Looke that you 
abuse not Gods providence in such allegations." The con- 
troversy continued, with the passage of many letters back 
and forth between them ; but the Pilgrims, rather than make 
resistance, though they had been bold enough to have done 
so, came to an agreement with the others, first compelling a 
recognition of their right to the "Lord's Waste," as the 
Dorchester men called the land in dispute. This recognition 
proved something of a stickler to the authorities at home, 
and Mr. Winslow the following year went to Dorchester to 
settle the controversy. Winthrop here gives another exhi- 
bition of Puritan disingenuousness. As the claim of juris- 
diction was too doubtful to maintain, he falls back on the 
assertion that the Plymouth traders had made their settle- 
ment through leave granted by Massachusetts, after the 
latter had refused to join in the undertaking. The leave 
granted is certainly gratuitous on the part of the Puritans, 
for Plymouth, settled ten years before the colony of Massa- 
chusetts Bay, did not come into her jurisdiction until 1692. 
Perhaps we may ascribe this rather peculiar sense of equity 
to the workings of a manifest destiny, to which it is con- 

Early Settlements, 19 

venient to ascribe so much ; but if we do so, then there is 
reason to believe that such destiny does not always follow 
along the lines of greatest justice. The means for creating 
an illustrious future are not always in accord with present 
happiness and harmony. The controversy was finally ended 
two years after by a compromise, in which Plymouth, to 
have peace, yielded all save the trading house and a sixteenth 
of the purchased land to the Dorchester people (inhabitants 
of Windsor), with a reservation, however, to the southward 
for the Hartford adventurers, who were Newtown people, and 
about twelve in number. This disputed " Lord's Waste" is 
now the town of Windsor. Of coui-se the lands surrendered 
were duly paid for (price £37 10s.), but the " unkindness " 
of those who brought on the controversy " was not so soon 
forgotten." While this dispute was in progress — for the above 
compromise advances our narrative two years — a third claim- 
ant appeared. This was the Stiles party, which, sent from 
England by Sir Richard Saltonstall, one of the Connecticut 
patentees, had arrived in Boston, June 16, for the express 
purpose of settling in Connecticut. They were sent out from 
the Bay ten days later, and probably arrived some time after 
the 6th of July. This party of servants numbered sixteen, 
and included three women, the first of their sex in the Con- 
necticut valley. They at once laid claim to a share in the 
" Lord's Waste," but the claim was evidently not pushed 
with vigor in the face of such opposing odds, and, with wise 
discretion, they retired a little farther up the river. Their 
little plantation was afterwards included in the Windsor town- 
ship, and its members shared in the distribution of lands in 
1640, in September of which year Francis Stiles was admitted 
a freeman. 

Hartford. A Hard Winter. 

But our list of those who were to endure the seasoning of 
a most rigorous winter is not quite complete. We have 
already mentioned the reservation of a moiety of land, as one 

20 The River Towns of Connecticut. 

condition of ihe settlement of the controversy regarding the 
" Lord's Waste," for certain emigrants from Newtown, who 
had settled on what was later called the " Venturer's Field " 
in Hartford. These settlers did not arrive all at once, but 
evidently formed a part of the Massachusetts men whom 
Brewster states, under date July 6, 1635, as coming almost 
daily. Few in numbers, they took no part in the unfortu- 
nate controversy between Dorchester and Plymouth. Either 
because of their weakness, or because of the patient, uncon tro- 
ver sial spirit which they displayed, they were kindly and gener- 
ously treated by Holmes and his party, who reserved for them 
in the condition of sale in 1636 — the sale took place the next 
year — a portion equal to that retained by themselves. This 
land the men of Newtown took gladly, desiring no more than 
could be conveniently spared them, thus gaining for them- 
selves the approbation of their neighbors, and making the 
way easier for the later exodus of the Newtown Hookerites. 
Even the first comers hallowed the ground, " the birthplace 
of American democracy," with a godly spirit. 

As to the question of jurisdiction the problem is simple. 
All were legally trespassers.^ In the absence of a grant by 
the council of Plymouth of this territory to the Earl of War- 
wick, which grant is now shown to be a figment of the brain,^ 

^Johnston, Conn., p. 10 ; Bronson, Early Government, New Haven Hist. 
Soc. Papers, III, p. 295. 

2 In the record of sale of the Fort of Saybrook by Mr. Fen wick to the 
colony, which has been claimed as the basis of the jurisdiction right of 
Connecticut to the territory, occurs the following section : " The said 
George Fenwick doth also promise that all the lands from Narragansett 
River to the Fort of Sea-Brooke mentioned in a patent graunted by the 
earl of Warwicke to certain Nobles and Gentlemen, shall fall in under the 
Jurisdiction of Connecticut if it come into his power." This section, which 
seems to promise much, is in fact a much-broken link in the chain of 
so-called evidence, as it fails of connection at each end. As no patent 
granted to Warwick can be found, it is evident that he could not give a 
legal title to Lords Say and Sele and others, the nobles and gentlemen 
named above, of whom Fenwick was the agent. Again, notwithstanding 
Mr. Fenwick's agreement, no such conveyance was ever made, as Mr. 
Trumbull has clearly proved on documentary evidence. — Conn. Col. 
B^cords, I, Appendices III and XI. 

Early Settlements. 21 

no one of these various claimants could assert any legal title, 
other than that obtained by the enforcement of Indian con- 
tracts by force of arms. The smaller rights thus based on 
occupation or purchase were all that seriously concerned the 
practical colonists, and they pursued their way, generally all 
unconscious of an occasionally dark cloud which threatened 
to drive them from their hard-earned homes. 

The story of settlement has thus far been concerned with 
individual enterprise, carried out either in the personal 
interest of trade, or in the interests of a larger body who 
assisted and encouraged it. All such movements are legiti- 
mate factors in the final issue, and the forerunners differ in 
no respect as settlers from those larger bodies with which 
they soon became fused, and in union with which they built 
up the future towns. Nearly all became proprietors and 
later inhabitants, and so are to be looked upon equally with 
the others as sharers in the honor of founding a common- 
wealth. Before the differences already mentioned had been 
permanently settled, and while the Dorchester emigrants were 
subduing the fields and forests of Windsor for habitation, in 
spite of the Plymouth land claims, word was returned to their 
townspeople left behind that the way was prepared. On the 
fifteenth of October there started from the Bay colony a 
body of sixty men, women and children, by land, with their 
cows, horses, and swine. Their household furniture and 
winter provisions had been sent by water, together with prob- 
ably a few emigrants to whom the overland journey would 
have proved too tedious. The majority of these people were 
from Dorchester, but accompanying them were others from 
Newtown and Watertown, who joined their townspeople on 
the ground they were cultivating.^ But they had chosen a 

'There is considerable difference of opinion as to when Mr. Warham, 
the pastor of the church in Dorchester, of which most of these people were 
members, came to Connecticut. Dr. Stiles says in 1085 at the time of 
the above migration (Hist, of Windsor, p. 25). Rev. Mr. Tuttlo says in 
the spring of 1686 (Mem. Uist. of ilart. County, II, p. 490), while Dr. B. 

22 The River Towns of Connecticut. 

most unfortunate season. Hardly had they settled when all the 
ills of winter began to come upon them. The brave Puritan 
heart quaked before these ominous signs of approaching dis- 
tress. Frosts, snow, insufficient shelter, scarcity of food, 
difficulty of caring for and preserving their cattle, and a con- 
sequent heavy mortality, were but few of the horrors of that 
winter of 1635-36. Many attempted a return. Six in an 
open pinnace suffered shipwreck, and after days of wandering 
reached Plymouth. Thirteen attempted the overland route. 
After ten days, twelve reached Dorchester, having lost one of 
their number through the ice, and the remainder only saved 
themselves from starving by the happy discovery of an Indian 
wigwam. The river was frozen over by November fifteenth, 
and snow was knee-deep in Boston. At length even sturdy 
Saxon blood could stand no more; death from cold and 
starvation was at hand, and the new-found homes were for the 
most part abandoned. Seventy men and women pushed their 
way southward to the river's mouth, to meet the Rebecca 
with their household goods and provisions on board; she was 
found frozen into the ice, unable to proceed farther upward. 
Fortunately a warm rain set her free, and all embarking 

Trumbull places it as late as September, 1636 (Hist, of Conn. p. 55). The 
evidence is so slight as to allow the holding of any one of these views. 
Under date of April 11, 1636, Winthrop says, " Mr. Mather and others of 
Dorchester, intending to begin a new church there (a great part of the 
old one being gone to Connecticut), desired the approbation of the other 
churches and the magistrates," but on a question of orthodoxy, "the 
magistrates thought them not meet to be the foundation of a church, and 
thereupon they were contenttoforbearto join until further consideration." 
In the next paragraph, Wiathrop says, evidently referring to those men- 
tioned above in parenthesis, '* Those of Dorchester who had removed their 
cattle to Connecticut before winter, lost the greater part of them this 
winter." And again Winthrop says, under date August 23, 1636, "A 
new church was gathered at Dorchester, with approbation of magistrates 
and elders, ' ' etc. , referring without doubt to the deferred meeting mentioned 
above. In view of this it seems unlikely that the Dorchester church would 
have remained all winter without a pastor, and that the gathering of a 
new church took shape at once on the departure of the pastor in the spring 
of 1636, some time before April 11. 

Early Settlements. 23 

returned to Massachusetts, arriving there on the tenth of 
December. Those who remained suffered the chastening which 
was to make them a great people. All were soon cut off from 
retreat by land or sea. Some perished by famine ; the Windsor 
people lost nearly all their cattle, £2000 worth ; and acorns, 
malt, and grains formed their chief sustenance. Yet this 
settling and jarring of a hard winter prepared a firm founda- 
tion for the structure that was soon to follow thereon. If the 
year 1633 marks the laying of the corner-stone, the year 1636 
saw the completing of the foundation and the perfecting of the 
ground-plan for a stately commonwealth. 

Connecticut Plantation. 

The plantation had already, in the autumn of 1635, attained 
sufficient size to be the object of legal recognition, and a con- 
stable was temporarily appointed by the Massachusetts court. 
This local representative of the central authority seems to 
have been the only outward and visible sign employed in the 
admission to an equality in the sisterhood of towns of a 
sufficiently developed candidate. If Massachusetts, with her 
more artificial system of government, used any other method 
of recognition in addition to the act of the Greneral Court, it 
is certain that the precedent set in the case of the first Con- 
necticut plantations was ever after followed. But Massachu- 
setts believed in preserving the law of continuity by reserving 
the power to her own magistrates of swearing in any constable 
chosen by Connecticut under the decree giving that plantation 
permission to make the choice for herself. It was the principle 
of constabular succession. But slowly there was evolving 
out of what had been, in the eyes of the Massachusetts court, 
one plantation of her jKJople on Connecticut soil, three centers 
of settlement, and one constable was too small a quantity 
to suffer a tri-section of his powers. In March, 1636, the 
as yet uncentralized spirit of law and order began to take 
definite shape, in a provisional government provided by the 
General Court of Massachusetts. This government was com- 

24 The River Towns of Connecticvi, 

posed of eight prominent men, dwellers along the river, who 
were authorized to act as a court for investigation and decision, 
as a council for the issuance of necessary decrees, and as an 
administrative body for the carrying out of such decrees, 
either directly or indirectly, through the medium of the sepa- 
rate settlements. This court met eight times between the 
26th of April, 1636, and the 1st of May, 1637. One of its 
earliest acts was to officially declare the tri-partite plantation, 
made so by the exigencies of its settlement and the triple 
origin of its people, to be composed of three towns, by the 
creation of three constables, one for each group of inhabitants. 
While we may say that this began the official system, it prac- 
tically only declared the three settlements to be independent 
military centers, each with its cannon, its watch and indi- 
vidual train-band; and this is a very different thing from 
calling them towns fully equipped with all the paraphernalia 
of town government. The further duties of the court related 
to those matters which concerned the whole, with special 
reference to increasing the power for self-support and per- 
fecting the bounds of the half-formed towns. By the terms 
of its commission, this government was to last but a year, 
and in the court which succeeded it the people found repre- 
sentation through committees, undoubtedly chosen at the 
request or order of the provisional government, or summoned 
because of the special emergency which demanded some action 
to be taken against the Pequots. The proceedings of the 
next four Greneral Courts relate solely to that war. 

The Outpouring. 

The period of unicameral government was the time of 
greatest emigration, " the special going out of the children of 
Israel." Those whom the rigors of winter had terrified re- 
turned. With them were many others who had until this 
time been unable to arrange satisfactorily the disposal of 
their property and a settlement of other affiiirs before leaving. 
It is worthy of note that many of the Connecticut settlers 

Early Settlements. 26 

continued to hold lands in the Bay colony for some time 
after their withdrawal to Connecticut. At their head was 
Mr. Warham, the surviving pastor/ and this accession, per- 
haps occurring a few weeks before the formation of the pro- 
visional government, brought about its more speedy erection. 
In June of this year a majority of the Newtown Church, 
under the leadership of Mr. Hooker and Mr. Stone, traveled 
under summer skies through the forests over highland and 
lowland for a fortnight before reaching their river home. 
They drove their flocks and herds, subsisted on the milk of 
their cows, bore their burdens on their backs, and thus their 
journey was an after-type of those earlier and greater south- 
ward and westward wanderings of their national grandparents 
in the older times. It was the bodily transportation of a 
living church. No reorganization took place. The unbroken 
life of the transplanted churches of Hartford and Windsor 
drew its nourishment from roots once set in Massachusetts 
soil. New churches took the place of the old, but an ancestry 
of five and six noble years belongs not to their history, but 
to the history of the Connecticut churches. With Wethers- 
field the case is different. The settlement was the work of 
individuals; a reorganization took place on Connecticut terri- 
tory, and is recorded in the proceedings of the first court held 
under the provisional government. Thus, of the three river 
towns, Wethersfield was the most independent of all links 
connecting her with Massachusetts. 

Lessening of Emigration. 

Every effort was made by the home government at the 
Bay to check this flow of emigration, or, at least, to turn its 
current into more adjacent channels ; but the bent of the emi- 
grant's spirit was toward Connecticut, and for the time being 
the colonial government was helpless to prevent it. That 
their efforts were not oon fined to the large grants of land 
made to the Dorchester plantation and other legitimate means 

' See note» p. 21. 

26 Tlie River Towns of Connecticut 

of quieting the uneasiness, Hooker's letter to Governor Win- 
throj) incisively shows.^ He calls a series of misrepresenta- 
tions by the Puritans at the Bay " the common trade that is 
driven amongst multitudes with you." The emigration 
grew less and less until 1638, and though large numbers 
came to Massachusetts that year, very few seem to have come 
to Connecticut. For this fact Mr. Hooker's remarkable 
statements are certainly a partial explanation. The Pequot 
war was not without its effect, but the Massachusetts men 
without doubt abused Connecticut. They raised pretexts 
for the effectual frightening of all who projected settlements 
there. Such settlers might — if they must go from the Bay — 
go any whither, anywhere, choose any place or patent, provided 
they go not to Connecticut. The report was spread that all 
the cows were dead, that Hooker was weary of his station, 
that the upland would bear no corn, the meadows nothing 
but weeds ; that the people were almost starved in conse- 
quence. Such reports, spread abroad in the streets, at the 
inns, on the ships before landing, and even in England before 
embarkation, are a little astounding. Even the Indians, 
wherever they got their notion, called them water-carriers, 
tankard-bearers, runagates whipped out of the Bay. As 
Hooker says, " Do these things argue brotherly love ?" It 
would hardly appear so, and we must confess that in all their 
relations with their brethren and neighbors in the Connecti- 
cut valley, the Puritans showed little of that austere honor- 
ableness for which they are famed. Harsh necessity may 
have seemed to them an all-embracing excuse, but however 
that may have been, we must plead that even within the dark 
shadow of necessity, principles of fairness and equity should 
find a place. 

As before intimated, by 1637 the tide of emigration had 
almost ceased. After-comers were not few, indeed, but the 
movements which gave birth to a new colony had practically 
reached an end. The coming of later settlers added no new 

' Cona. Hist. Soc. Collections, vol. I, pp. 1-18. 

Early Settlements, 27 

features to the principles according to which the colony was 

Massachusetts and Connecticut. 

From nearly every point of view, the civil, ecclesiastical 
and military life of the colony was far simpler and more nat- 
ural than elsewhere on the American continent. It was the 
outcome of a second sifting from the complications of govern- 
ment in England. Its founders were twice purged, and in 
their revolt from the already purified government in Massa- 
chusetts, they evidenced how thoroughly democratic their prin- 
ciples must have been to have found themselves out of harmony 
with the latter's policy, that is, the policy of the central gov- 
ernment; for the Massachusetts Puritans could not rid 
themselves of many of the associations in which they had 
been reared. Among them were' men who looked longingly 
at the institutions of Old England and desired their reproduc- 
tion. The equality of all was not to their taste, and they 
sought to establish a privileged class, to nullify the repre- 
sentation of the freemen by throwing all power into the hands 
of the assistants ; they endeavored to create a life tenure for 
the governor, and to make the influence of the towns always 
subordinate to that of the colony, at whose head was a con- 
servative aristocracy; state was linked to church, and the 
influence and direct interference of the clergy was great. It 
was an aristocracy, oligarchy, theocracy, but only in part a 

Thus it was that the English settlements in Massachusetts 
failed to reproduce in many respects the conditions of a rational 
democracy. It was a compromise between the spirit of the 
past and the associations of the present. As a consequence, 
the dominant class and the oommons, the central government 
and the towns, were continually at variant. This led inevi- 
tably to a split and the withdrawal of portions of their 
number into freer fields for an exercise of their Saxon heri- 
tage, the general power of all over general interests, and the 

28 The River Tomna of Connecticut, 

local power of each over local interests. This is self-govern- 
ment, severed from the influence of special class privilege, 
civil or ecclesiastical. It was the spirit of democracy given 
free development on a free soil. 

The Connecticut central authority began, it is true, before 
the towns had fairly come into being, but it was a super- 
imposed power, and when the colony erected its own General 
Court and established its own Constitution, it was found that 
the people held the check-reins. 

To these people belonged the choice of magistrates, and the 
divine right of kings found no place, except as those in 
authority were chosen and upheld in office "according to the 
blessed will and law of God." In the people lay the founda- 
tion of authority, and therein a liberty which, as God-given, 
was to be seized and made use of. As those who have power 
can give and also justly take away, so the people could set 
bounds and limitations to the power of their magistrates, 
and of the places to which they had called them. No tenure 
for life, no papal infallibility there. Those in authority were 
weak creatures and liable to err, and as the burdens were 
heavy, so should censure and criticism give way before honor 
and respect. Popular election began at once on the assump- 
tion of its own government by the colony, and the committees 
to whom the people delegated their authority were no mere 
figureheads. They did not toy with government, electing the 
Assistants and then leaving to them all legislation, as in 
Massachusetts, but they formed a powerful lower house, which 
cooperated in the functions performed by the General Court. 
We may be sure this to have been so of a people who, in the 
Fundamental Articles, avowed their right, in case the Gov- 
ernor and Assistants refused or neglected to call the two 
General Courts established therein, of taking the control into 
their own hands: a House of Commons without King or 
House of Lords.^ 

' This privilege seems to have been but once exercised, and then under 
very different circumstances from those mentioned in the sixth funda- 

Early Settlements, 29 

The Sovereign People. 

Yet these same people, in whom lay the sovereign power, 
gave up that power at the proper time into the hands of 
the General Court, without reservation. If between 1636 
and 1639 the towns were independent republics, each suf- 
ficient unto itself, it was only so by virtue of a vivid imagi- 
nation. It is dignifying with too sounding a title these 
collections of proprietors, who, busied about the division and 
cultivation of their lands, and with an as yet unformed system 
of self-government, looked to their magistrates and elected 
deputies in these three years for the ordering of those matters 
which concerned a sovereign state. But, from the date of 
the adoption of the Fundamental Articles, these towns lost 
what elements of legal independence they may have had before, 
and,- by the free will of the people inhabiting them, became 
merely machines for the administration of local affairs, for the 
apportionment of representation and taxation, and for the 
carrying out of such powers as the Greneral Court committed 
to them. They had no inherent or reserved rights. As far 
as the wording of the tenth section is concerned, complete 
power was given for the control of all that concerned the 
good of the commonwealth, with but one reservation to the 
whole body of freemen — the election of magistrates. The 
towns never had been sovereign ; in fact, they did not become 
fairly organized towns much before the adoption of the Con- 
stitution, and it is not improbable that such adoption was 
delayed until the colony had become well established, in work- 
ing order, and its j>eople accommodated to their new environ- 
ment. A sure foundation for the Constitution must have 
been laid before that document could be drafted and adopted 
with reason of success. 

mental. In 1054» on the death of Oofrernor Hajnei and the absence of 

Deputy Oovenior Hopkins in Enpland, an assembly of freemen met in 
Hartford, to choose a Moderator of the General Court, who had power to 
call the next General Court for the election of a Governor and to preside 
over its meetings. — Col. Rec. I, p. 252. 

30 The River Tovms of Connecticut, 

Another most important evidence of Connecticut democracy 
must be noted and briefly dismissed. The suffrage of the Con- 
necticut colony was unrestricted by ecclesiastical obligation. 
In Massachusetts and New Haven no one had a right to vote 
unless he was a freeman, no one could be admitted a freeman 
unless he was a church member ; the church was congregational, 
wherein its affairs were managed by the votes of its members. 
Town and church were one. But in Connecticut, for the first 
twenty years, it was only necessary that each freeman have 
been admitted an inhabitant in the town where he lived, by vote 
of the majority of the inhabitants in town-meeting. Church 
and town were theoretically dissociated, though not practi- 
cally for many years, and the government of Connecticut was, 
as near as possible in those days, by the people and for the 

Note.— The Historic Town.— In nearly all the New England settle- 
ments the lay-out and organization of the towns were similar. Historically, 
this institution is purely English. Among the other Germanic nations 
the unit of constitutional machinery is the Hundred, corresponding to our 
county. The Celts and Slavs never developed local government by them- 
selves, and the Romance peoples were governed, so to speak, from above, 
not from within. Yet, whatever may have been the constitutional devel- 
opment of the village community as acted upon by feudalism and the 
growth of centralized monarchy, there are certainly curious analogies to 
be found between certain phases of early New England town life and 
some of the oldest recorded customs, as seen in the extant laws of early 
German tribes. Many of these can be shown to have been retained in the 
English parish, and their presence can be explained by acknowledging a 
previous acquaintance on the part of the Puritan settlers. But, though 
other analogies, such as the laws against alienation of land, the spirit 
of town exclusiveness in the fullest sense, and the peculiarly indi- 
vidual and democratic nature of the town meeting, cannot be thus 
accounted for, they may be shown by the unbelievers in the Germanic origin 
to have arisen from reasons of economic necessity, and to be nothing more 
than interesting parallels. This would be the case with those who declare 
that the " town meeting is an outgrowth of New England life," and that 
♦Mt had its origin with the first settlers." (S. A. Green, Records of 
Groton, Introd.) However, if the views of v. Maurer and Sir H. Maine 
are to be retained, who have pictured for us a system of Arcadian sim- 
plicity, a kind of Eden for the historical student, and we are to talk about 

Early Settlements. 31 

identities and survivals, then the purity of such a condition has been 
destroyed by the political development of those countries, which can trace 
back, with plenty of imagination when historical data are wanting, to this 
simple germ the thread of their history. For these germs, these peaceful 
congregations of our Aryan forefathers, were certainly destined never to 
be reproduced in the form given us by the scholarly exponents of the 
village community theory. There is more that is unidentical than there 
is that is identical. If we have been given correctly the original form, 
then it has suffered rough usage in its intercourse with the events of 
known history. The superstructure has had to undergo the changes 
which centuries of political modeling have brought about, so that wherever 
we And traces of the early village community life, they have to be dragged 
as it were from beneath a mass of irrelevant material necessary to the 
existence of a modern political unit. It is not strange that this political 
cell should never have been reconstructed in its entirety on the migration 
of peoples to England and later to America, for it is a much mooted point 
whether it had not largely lost its identity before Tacitus wrote about the 
Germans. It was fitted for only a primitive, half-civilized kind of life, 
where political craftiness was unknown, and the inter-relation of man with 
man and state with state still in very early infancy. But whatever form 
of local life, the village community, or the manor, or both, the Angles and 
Saxons carried to England, there is no doubt that within that form were 
embraced many of the foundation principles according to which the 
German tun is supposed to have been built ; and that many of these cus- 
toms, political, legal, social, agrarian and philological, were brought by 
the settlers to America, no reasonable scholar will pretend to deny. 

32 The River Towns of Connecticut, 


Original Purchase. 

The tribes of Indians which dwelt along the Connecticut 
river had little unity among themselves. They were scat- 
tered bands, and on the coming of the Pequots the slender 
ties which joined them were easily broken. So it was a nat- 
ural result that the coming of the English, much encouraged 
by the Indians themselves, was made easy and their settle- 
ment on the Connecticut lands greatly assisted. We have 
seen that the adventurous forerunners were kindly received, 
and on one or two occasions owed their lives to the friendly 
shelter of an Indian wigwam ; and during the destructive 
winter of 1635-6, the snow-bound settlers were kept alive by 
Indian gifts of " malt, acorns and grains." It was not an 
unusual thing in the colonial settlements for colonists and 
Indians to live peacefully side by side, pursuing agriculture 
or trade, or both. Of the early Connecticut adventurers. 
Holmes is the only one mentioned as purchasing land, and 
w^ith him, as already shown, the circumstances were excep- 
tional. Oldham and his companions undoubtedly made some 
bargain, probably of the nature of a joint occupation, and it 
is very lilvcly that the same was true of the other early 
settlers before 1636, though one Phelps of Windsor appears 
to have obtained a deed of Indian land some time in 1635.^ 
The indefinite nature of the transaction, and the later con- 
firmation or repurchase of lands, would show that the Indians 
failed to comprehend the nature of what they were doing ; 
and it may be that what the colonists understood as sale 
without any reserved rights, the Indian considered as a grant 
to the whites of the privilege of joint occupancy of the terri- 

» Stiles, Hist, of Windsor, p. 105. 

The Land System, 33 

toiy. For many years certain rights in wood and river were 
conceded to the Indians, and a kind of common law of this 
nature grew up in some quarters which would point to the 
recognition of the Indians as possessing some rights in their 
old possessions, which were sometimes expressly mentioned 
in their deeds, though they very soon faded away. The land 
was to the Indians worthless so long as they were in danger 
of losing it altogether, and the presence of the English meant 
protection. It was not sharp treatment, but a rough friend- 
liness which led to the ready sale of the valley lands ;^ pos- 
sibly a legitimate pressure was brought to bear in case of 
unwillingness, but more probably the unsettled state of affairs 
and the domination of the Pequots softened any savage obsti- 
nacy. As to moral title the colonists could have no better, 
and the question of original grant has hete hardly a place ; 
they purchased of the ancient and original natives, and not 
of the Pequots, as did the Dutch. It made no difference to 
the men who watched the Indian make his rude mark of 
transfer that the historian two hundred years later was to 
pick flaws in his right to purchase at all, though in English 
law there was no title until the confirmation of the lands by 
the charter. Every acre of Wethersfield, Hartford and 
M'indsor territory was honestly obtained. There was no 
excess of generosity, and for colonists who struggled through 
hard winters and saw their cattle die by the hundred-pounds 
worth, there was no opportunity to be generous. But the 
faded old deeds in the land records, with their strange signa- 
ture marks, testify at least to a hardy honesty of purpose. 

The first to bargain for land had been the Dutch, who, in 
the name of the West India Company, purchaseil of the 
Pequot sachem land whereon they constructed their fort. 

' This note in the Windsor Land Records is sujrgestive : *' Coggtrj' 
nasset testifies that the land on the east side of the Great Ri\<^r, between 
Scantic and Namareck, was Nassacowen's, and Nassacowen was so taken 
in love with the coming of the English that he gave it to them for some 
small matter." Stiles, Windsor, p. 111-112. 

34 The River Towns of Connecticut. 

The extent of the first purchase is doubtful. Later it con- 
sisted of about twenty-six acres, and was, in 1653, seized by 
the English, and the Dutch driven out forever.^ After the 
Dutch bargain came that of Captain Holmes, who, for a val- 
uable consideration, obtained possession of a large tract a few 
miles up the river, a large part of which was transferred to 
the Dorchester settlers in 1637. This tract was confirmed to 
the town of Windsor sixty-seven years later, for a parcel of 
trucking cloth. The first formal purchase of Hartford terri- 
tory was made after the arrival of the Hookerites, when a 
deed was obtained for the whole of the old Hartford town- 
ship, on the west side of the river. This was paid for by 
subscriptions to a common fund, and each received his pro- 
portion in the later division according to the amount put in. 
The same year the Wethersfield tract was purchased, per- 
haps by an oral agreement, and the immediate territory of 
the three towns became thus firmly established in the hands 
of the whites. Extensions were, however, obtained on both 
sides of the river until 1680. Private purchases were made 
with the consent of the court and town, and gifts from the 
Indian sachems always required the sanction of the town, in 
town meeting, where a vote was passed declaring that the 
grantees and their heirs could enjoy such lands forever. In 
1663, however, the court forbade any negotiation with the 
Indians for land, except it be for the use of the colony or for 
the benefit of some town. 

The law of supply and demand regulated the nature of the 
exchange. The Indians had at their disposal meadows and 
hillsides, trees, woods, brooks and rivers, while the colonists 
had money and goods. The purchase money took the form 
of so many pounds sterling, so many fathoms of wampum, so 
many yards of trucking or trading cloth, so many pairs of 
shoes. There does not appear in Connecticut that variety 
found in New Haven and elsewhere. Clothing was in great 

' Hart. Book of Distrib., pp. 183, 550 ; Stuart, Hartford in the Olden 
Time, ch. 24. 

The Land System, 35 

demand, and twenty cloth coats are recorded for payment of 
lands across the river, together with fifteen fathoms of 
wampum.^ Small parcels of land were obtained in AVindsor 
in return for fines paid in rescuing unfortunate aborigines 
from the Hartford lock-up'^ and for other services rendered. 
It is likely that wampum, which was legal tender in New Eng- 
land from 1627 to 1661, was often the medium of exchange; 
money or wampum was more available than coats, for it was 
divisible. Twenty coats could cover twenty men, but not 
women and children ; but so many fathoms of shell -cylinders, 
deftly pierced and strung on animal tendons, could be 
diNided among the family group or a number of grantors. 
The boundaries of thesfe purchases were generally undeter- 
mined and their extent loosely expressed. Oftentimes natu- 
ral boundaries were such that the location of the purchase can 
be approximately fixed. These were stated as lying north 
and south between fixed points on the river, and as running 
80 many miles inland. Such a description would allow of 
accurate measurement, but when the distance inland was 
" one day's walk," there might be a difference of opinion as 
to who should be the surveyor. Often in c4ise of small sales 
the tract is described as of so many acres adjoining certain 
bounds or swamps, or other well-known and fixed localities. 
It was the hazy outlines of the Indian purchases which gave 
80 much trouble to town and colony in the after-settlement 
of township bounds. In both Hartford and Windsor there 
were Indian reservations^ and villages within which the 
natives were obliged to live, but they proved rather trouble- 
some neighbors, and there was a constant friction between 

' Stiles, Windsor, pp. 110-111. 

' lb. p. 108. This was not an uncommon occurrence ; the circum- 
stances attending the purchase of Massaco (Sirasbury) were siniilar 
(Mem. Hist. II, pp. 841-2), and the red brethren were bought out of the 
New Ilaren jail in like fashion (Levermore, Republiit of New Haven, 
p. 173). 

* Wind. Reo., Dec. 10, 1654 ; Hart. Rec, Ifar. 16, 1664 ; Jnne 16, 1658. 

36 The River Towns of Connecticut, 

the court and the Indians until their final disappearance. 
The lands of the reservations came, before 16G0, into the 
possession in Hartford of the town, and in Windsor of a pri- 
vate individual. This reservation of land was a prototype 
of our national Indian policy, and was employed in many of 
the colonies. 

Grants by the General Court. 

Before 1639, each set of proprietors by itself purchased 
land of the Indians, and agreed on the boundaries between 
the plantations through their representatives. But after 
1639, all unoccupied territory became public domain and 
was subject to the control of the colony. This power was 
granted in the Fundamental Articles, where the people gave 
to the General Court the right " to dispose of lands undis- 
posed of to several towns or persons." After this, the grow- 
ing towns had to apply to the central authority for power 
to extend their boundaries. Thus it happened in 1640 that the 
towns petitioned the General Court for an increase of terri- 
tory, and a committee was appointed for examining certain 
lands suitable for this purpose.^ The court had already taken 
measures toward the maintenance of their rights by recent 
conquest of the Pequot territory, which, by the treaty of 1638, 
came into their possession.^ 

The central authority was by no means prodigal with its 
lands, nor yet were they given grudgingly. It was recog- 
nized as a far better condition that the lands be in the hands 
of enterprising men or communities undergoing improve- 
ment than that they remain untilled. But though grants 
were not made at hap-hazard, yet the colony managed to dis- 
pose of about thirteen thousand acres within the first thirty 
years, in amounts varying from forty to fifteen hundred 
acres. Careful discrimination was made as to the nature of 
the lands given, and many a grant was specially stated to 

' Col. Rec. I, p. 42. « Col. Rec. I, p. 82. 

TJie Land System. 37 

contain only a certain proportion of meadow, usually one- 
sixth or one-eighth, and at times no upland was allowed to be 
taken. The islands at the disposal of the court were first 
given out, and divisions of the Pequot country followed. It 
was expected that the grantees would at once or within an 
allotted time undertake the im])rovement of their grant, either 
by cultivation or by the establishment of some industry. 
Neglect to do so generally called forth a reprimand. 

Grants made gratuitously were to the leading men of the 
colony, although they did not at times hesitate to send in 
petitions. The latter was in general the more common method, 
and the petition was based on service rendered to the colony, 
either in a civil or military capacity. It is not always easy 
to assign causes for grants, but it is safe to say that where no 
cause is assigned the grantee will be found to be of some 
prominence in the colony. The pensioning of soldiers who 
fought in the Pequot war was by means of land grants. After 
giving out to these soldiers about fifteen hundred acres, 
an order was passed in 1671 to the effect that, "being often 
moved for grants of land by those who were Pequitt soldiers, 
[the court] doe now see cause to resolve that the next court 
they will finish the matter and afterwards give no further 
audience to such motions,"^ after which summary disposal 
of pension claims, about a thousand acres more were granted 
and the matter finished.- Land grants were required to be so 
taken up as not to injure any plantation or previous grant; as 

•Col. Rec. IT, p. 160. 

' This prototype of our modem pension claims is full of interest Not 
only did the colony reward its soldiers for honest service, but the towns did 
also. The Soldier's Field mentioned in the Hartford liecords was so called 
because therein the Hartford soldiers who fought in the Pequot wnr re- 
ceived grants. (See paper by F. H. Parker on "The Soldier's Field, ** in 
Supplement to Hartford Weekly Coitrant, June 18, 1887.) Windsor also 
gave a large plot of land to each of her soldiers serving in this war. (Stiles, 
Windsor, p. 41; see also p. 201 for petition for land after King Philip's war.) 
Norwalk rewarded her soldiers who fought against King Philip after this 
manner ; to those who served in the '* direful swamp fight " of 1670 were 

38 The River Towns of Connecticut. 

one entry puts it, " provided it doe not damnify the Indian 
nor the plantation of New London nor any farm now laid 
out." ^ Sites which appeared suitable for new settlements were 
reserved for that special purpose. 

In Connecticut it was more frequently the rule that no 
definite location was assigned. The grantee might take his 
land wherever he could find it, or, in case of equally favored 
localities, he could choose that which he preferred, always under 
the conditions already named. In this particular there was 
far greater freedom than in Massachusetts. As the colony 
was not always sure of the extent of its territory — for its 
boundaries at this time were very unsettled — there was occa- 
sionally added in a grant, " so far as it is within their power 
to make the aforesaid grant," ^ and in another, " where he can 
find it within Connecticut liberties."^ A committee was 
generally appointed to lay out the grant, which, when made to 
a particular person, must be taken up in one piece, "in a 
comely fornl,"^ unless it was otherwise provided by special 

given twelve acres within the town bounds ; to those who served " in the 
next considerable service," eight acres, and to those ** in the next consider- 
able service," four acres ( Hall's Norwalk, p. 63). Saybrook also voted that 
" The soldiers that went out of town in the Indian war shall have five acres 
apiece of land." (Saybrook Records, 1678.) Following the system inaugu- 
rated by town and colony, the Continental Congress in 1776 passed the 
following resolution : '* That Congress make provision for granting lands, 
in the following proportions : to the officers and soldiers who shall engage 
in the service and continue therein to the close of the war or until dis- 
charged by Congress, and to the representatives of such olTicers and 
soldiers as shall be slain by the enemy." The proportions were as follows : 
Colonel, 500 acres ; lieutenant-colonel, 450 acres ; major, 400 acres ; cap- 
tain, 300 acres ; lieutenant, 200 acres ; ensign, 150 acres ; each non-com- 
missioned officer and soldier, 100 acres. In 1787, for the satisfying of 
claims based on this resolution. Congress set apart a million acres of land 
in Ohio and another large tract covering the southern portion of Illinois, 
bounded by the Ohio, Mississippi, Kankaskia, Little Wabash and Wabash 
rivers. (Journals of Congress, I, p. 476 ; IV, p. 801.) 

'Col. Red, p. 340. 

2Col. Rec. I, p. 282. 

»Col. Rec. I, p. 372. 

*Col.Rec. II, p. 200. 

The Land System. 39 

permission of the court. The committee was usually paid by 
the grantee. In case a grant conflicted with the lands of a 
township, the right of the township was always maintained and 
the granted land was laid out in some other quarter. ^ In 
two cases lands within town boundaries were granted by the 
General Court, though these are evidently irregular and 
isolated instances.^ Industries were fostered and land was 
granted by the colony, as was also done by the towns, for 
their encouragement. John Winthrop was subsidized for 
his saw-mill and his fishery at Fisher's Island, and John 
Griffen for making tar and pitch.^ 

The General Court took care to see that not only the indi- 
vidual grants were accurately bounded, but that each township 
should be distinctly separated from its neighboring town- 
ships. Of course in the early days there were a number of 
isolated plantations, yet in these cases the length of the 
boundary line was fixed in miles. The extension of the 
boundary lines of a plantation was equivalent to a grant of 
land to that community, and was very frequently, in fact one 
may safely say invariably, made for the first fifty years. In 
1673 the boundaries of Wethersfield, Hartford and Windsor 
were extended five miles eastward on the east side of the river, 
" for the encouragement of the people to plant there," * and in 
1671 the bounds of Windsor were extended two miles north- 
ward.' A few years after, eight inhabitants of Wethersfield 
petitioned the court for a town grant of ten square miles, with 
the usual privileges and encouragements, for the purpose of 
erecting a plantation.^ This method was not so common in 

'Col. Rec. I, pp. 208, 221, 230. 

*Col. Rec. I, pp. 63, 303. la the Utter case the grantee paid for the 
land to the court. 

»Col. Rec. I, pp. 64-5, 410. There is a collection of legislative acts for 
the encouragement of Connecticut industries in the Report of the Borsau 
of Labor Statistics for 1887, pp. 47 ff. 

*Col. liec. II, pp. 185, 187. 

»Col. Rec. II, p. 155. 

• Col. Rec. Ill, 99. 

40 The Rivet' Towns of Connecticut. 

Connecticut as in Massachusetts, where by far the greater 
part of the land disposed of was granted to communities of 
settlers.^ The rule was early made** in Connecticut, as also in 
the other colonies, that neither town nor individual should 
purchase from the Indians without the sanction of the court ; 
this was enforced^ both for the protection of the Indians and 
for the maintenance of the dignity of the court. 

In 1666, counties were established, and four years after- 
wards the General Court gave to each six hundred acres for 
the support of a grammar school,"* although the school-teacher 
himself does not appear to have been assisted as was the case 
in Massachusetts.^ By 1 674 the colony probably felt that she 
had rewarded her servants, provided for her towns and schools, 
and might, herself, reap some benefits from her lands, for we 
find in that year a committee appointed to examine and dis- 
pose of certain public tracts at the best price ; *^ this did not 
mean, however, a cessation of private grants from the public 

A word must be said regarding the patent which was given 
to each town in 1686 for the better securing of its lands. 
This was at the time of the Andros government. Not only 
were the lands actually occupied by the towns included in the 
patent, but also large tracts of public lands within the juris- 
diction of Connecticut, to prevent their falling into the hands 
of Andros. These were granted in free and common socage.' 
To Wethersfield, Middletown, and Farmington a large tract 
in their immediate vicinity was given, and they were enjoined 
to erect thereon plantations.^ To Hartford and Windsor was 

' Egleston, Land System of N. E. Colonies, J. H. U. Studies. IV, p. 571. 

2 Before 1650, Col. Rec. I, pp. 214, 403. 

3 Col. Rec. I, pp. 418,420. 
*Col. Rec. II, p. 176. 

6 Mass. Col. Rec. I, p. 262. 
«Col. Rec. II, p. 231. 

■' "Not in capite nor by knight service." This is a curious retention of 
a formula, for feudal tenures were abolished in England in 1661. 
8 Col. Rec. Ill, p. 235. 

The Land System. 41 

given nearly the whole of the present Litchfield County. In 
the latter case, after the downfall of the Andros rule, the 
colony tried to recover the tract of patented land, but the 
towns clung firmly to what they claimed as their rights, and 
in 1715 took measures for the proper disposal of the land and 
the laying out of one or two towns therein. These towns 
claimed the right contained in the grant of the Greneral Court 
to give full and ample title to any purchaser,^ and had two years 
before taken possession of this tract in good old Teutonic 
fashion by turf and twig.* They now appointed a committee 
to act as real estate agents for the town. A compromise was 
afterwards effected. The tract in which they hoped in 1715 
to lay out two or three towns now contains nearly twenty-five. 

'Col. Rec. Ill, p. 177-8; Hart. Town Rec, March 3, 1714-15. 

'Wind. Rec, Dec. 23, 1713. This method of taking possession was 
formally required by English law. Its origin antedates the use of written 
documents ; a twig broken or a sod cut symbolized the transfer. The 
later written deed simply took the place of the living witnesses required 
by the old form ; the ceremony continued until a late date. Two quota- 
tions will suffice. " Voted that two of said committee shall go and enter 
upon said propriety and take possession thereof by Turf and Twigg, fence 
and enclose a piece of the same, break up and sow grain thereon within the 
enclosure, and that they do said service in right of all the proprietors, and 
take witness of their doings in writing, under the witness hands." (East 
Hart. Rec, Goodwin's East Hartford, p. 150.) The second quotation 
illustrates the transfer of land. Two inhabitants on deposition testify, 
**a8 we were going from Hartford to Wethersfield, Jeremy Adams over- 
took us and desired that we would step aside and take notice of his giving 
possession of a parcell of land to Zachary Sandford, which we did, and it 
was a parcell of land ... on the road that goeth to Wethersfield, and we 
did see Jeremy Adams deliver by Turf and Twigg all the right, title and 
interest that he hath or ever hath of the whole parcell of land to Zachary 
Sandford.'* (Hart. Book of Distrib., p. 899.) See also Col. Rec. Ill, 805. 
The same custom was in use in other colonies. H. B. Adams, Village 
Communities of Cape Ann and Salem, J. H. U. Studies, I, p. 308., 
Maryland, II, p. 872, note. *'QIeaner'8" Articles, Boston, Reo. Comm., 
Tol. V. p. 117. 

42 The River Towns of Connecticut, 

Early Town Allotments. 

The system of land allotments was not essentially different 
from that which was in vogue in the Massachusetts towns. 
The nature of the settlement was different, and in consequence 
there was probably less order and symmetry in the apportion- 
ments. One can almost trace out the story of the settlement 
from the nomenclature of the Town Votes and Land Records. 
Wethersfield has her "adventure lands" and her town origin- 
ally of two distinct parts, with the meeting house square 
between, betokening an earlier and latter infusion of settlers. 
Hartford has recorded the " Indian's land," " Dutch Point," 
and "Venturer's Field" as existing before the coming of 
Hooker, and Windsor has references to " Plymouth Meadow," 
and to the " Servants " (Stiles party) who preceded the Dor- 
chester emigrants. The lands seized by these early comers 
were in advantageous positions, and their occupation was 
recognized as entailing a legal right to the lands. 

The adventure lands of Wethersfield ^ form one of the most 
fruitful plateaus in the present township ; a triangular-shaped 
plain of splendid arable, out of reach of freshets and capable 
of high cultivation. This plain was closed in on each side 
by the Wet Swamp and Beaver Brook, which water-drugged 
courses gradually drawing closer together met at what was 
called the " Damms," a division of land half spur and half 
swampy meadow caused by the artificial damming of the 
stream by the beavers. Parcels of ten, twenty and seventy 
acres are found in the Records, adjoining each other on this 
plateau, and forming the largest open tract in the immediate 
eastern vicinity of the lower part of the town. As other 
settlers appeared, they occupied lands taken up somewhat in 
the order of their arrival. The home-lots were divided origi- 
nally into two communities, the earlier of whom settled on 

* The writer has made a detailed study of the system of early allotments 
of one town, Wethersfield, as can only be learned from her book of Land 

The Land System, 43 

lands adjoining those of the Adventurers, the other farther to 
the north took advantage of the neighboring water facilities 
and the convenience of the harbor. The home-lots were of 
nearly the same size in the majority of cases, about three acres, 
nowhere less than two, and only exceptionally six, ten, thir- 
teen, and eighteen.^ It is likely that in the larger homesteads 
a sale had taken place, not recorded, and the accumulation of 
property thus early begun. Uniformity is the rule, and shows 
that whether in a general meeting of the proprietors or other- 
wise, a certain system was agreed upon. The lay of the village 
streets marks the double settlement, although the two parties 
at once united in the division of lands. The system of the New 
England colonics shows unmistakable traces of the influence 
of the mother country, yet only in its general bearings and 
principle of commonage does it have any direct resemblance 
to the early English or early Grerraan tenure. In its direct 
apportionment of small shares of all kinds of land to each 
inhabitant, to his heirs and assigns forever, the system is sui 
generiny though in its more general aspect of arable, common 
and waste land it is similar to the older form. Every New 
England village divided the lands adjacent to the town, the 
arable and meadow, into large fields, according to their loca- 
tion and value, and then slowly as there was need subdivided 
these fields in severalty to the proprietors, according to some 
basis of allotment. Means of access, or "ways," were cut into 
or through the fields, answering to the headlands in the Saxon 
arable, and these, with the more dignified but not necessarily 
more passable " highways," formed sufficient boundaries to 
and division lines between the different parts of the meadow. 
Apparently every new-comer who became an inhabitant either 

' In Watertown, whence so many of the settlers came, the recorded home- 
lots varied in size from one acre to sixteen, with an averaf^e of five or six 
acres. (Bond, Watertown, p. 1021.) Yet one is not sure that this represents 
the original allotment, for in Hadlej, settled partly from Wethersfield in 
1659, the size of every home-lot was eight acres, and church members and 
freemen had no advantage over others in the distribution of lands, a fact 
which was almost universally true. ( Judd's Hadley, p. 83. ) 

44 The River Towns of Oonnedicvi, 

purchased or was given a share in the lands of the town ; not, 
indeed, a lot in every field, for the old fields would soon be 
filled up, but in the new fields, which, opened or " wayed" off 
in advance, were a ready source of supply. Certain sets of 
men held their lands almost exclusively in certain fields, 
having no part in the division of other inferior fields, which 
apj)ear to have been assigned to late comers, who evidently 
came to the settlement in parties of three or four or a dozen 
at a time. Human nature is much the same the world over, 
and there are clear traces of an ancient and honorable class, 
even in the infant community. They held the best lands and 
had the largest shares undoubtedly because they contributed 
the largest part of the purchase money. So far as practi- 
cable, lands were held in the neighborhood of the home-lot, 
from obvious reasons. This is chiefly true of early comers, 
though by no means a fixed rule. Besides the artificial 
bounding of the large fields by " ways," natural boundaries, 
as river and mountain, were largely employed, and the names 
given to these fields at once disclose their location or some 
superficial or other characteristic.^ The individual plats are 
simply described as bounded by highway or river, meadow, 
fence or water-course, and by the adjoining lot of a neighbor. 
The shape of the lots was generally that of a parallelogram, 
though here again no certain rule obtained. We find the 
" Triangle," " Jacob's Ladder," and a variety of other geo- 
metric forms, but the rectangle is the custom. In a number 
of the fields laid out^ we notice a certain regularity which 
betokens design. The field was divided into two parts 

'The following are some of the Wethersfield names: Great Meadow.. 
Wet Swamp, Dry Swamp, Long Row in Dry Swamp, Great Plain, Little 
Plain, East Field, Middle Field, West Field, Little West Field, Great 
West Field, Furtherest West Field, South Fields, Beaver Meadow, The 
Dams, Back Lots, Pennywise, Mile Meadow, The Island, Hog Meadow, 
Huckleberry Plill, Feme Hill, Fearful Swamp, Hang Dog Swamp, Sleepy 
Meadow, Cow Plain. 

'^ South Fields, Fields in Mile Meadow, The Island, and Middle Row in 
Dry Swamp. 

The Land System. 46 

lengthwise, and the order of holders in one tier would be 
reversed in the other, thus making the distribution more 
equal. Often clusters of the same holders are found, two or 
three together, holding the same relative position to each other 
in different fields, which seems to show that these must have 
received their allotments at about the same time, each taking 
holdings in several adjacent fields. In two^ of the large divi- 
sions a curious arrangement prevailed. Each field was a paral- 
lelogram divided crosswise into sections. The holder of the 
first section next the highway on the east also held the last sec- 
tion, of exactly the same size, next the wilderness on the west. 
Section-holder number two from the highway owned also the 
second section from the wilderness, and so on, each holder 
having two lots in this tier, symmetrically placed and of 
equal size, the holder of the middle section of course owning 
one large lot, because his two sections would lie adjoining 
each other. The system of tiers or ranges in formal 
divisions was universally employed in Massachusetts and 
Connecticut, but finds no analogy on the other side of the 
water, although the method of assigning these lots by chance, 
in the drawing of numbers or some similar procedure, is as 
old as the cultivation of the arable itself. In these early 
allotments the Church comes in for its share. In fact, it was 
a fixed principle in the working out of the land system to 
consider the Church as a very important personage, and 
assign to it lands accordingly. Its portions were consider- 
ably larger than the average, and were scattered about in 
nearly every one of the large fields. These allotments are 
generally titled "Church lands,*' "Church lotts,'* or at the 
"Churches dispose." Such lands were not taxable, and 
many of them were held until a late day, not being alienable. 
The terms of the grant of church or parsonage lautl are iron- 
clad : " to remain an<l continue to the use of the ministry, by 
way of a parsonage, forever,"' or other conditions similarly 

* Little and Furtherest West Field. 
« Weth. Town lice, March 28, 1066. 

46 The River Toivns of Connecticut 

binding. But Yankee ingenuity has eiFected a lease of many 
of these lands for 999 years, thus obviating a difficulty, 
though any improvements made upon them changing their 
condition as church property were, by decision of the court, 

As might have been expected, a great deal of the land was 
"ungiven" in the year 1640, even within the fields already 
described. Amongst the hgmesteads also we find plots 
reserved by the town as house lots, and the lands ungiven 
within the more distant fields must have been of considerable 
amount. Some of the older fields do not appear to have been 
entirely divided up for forty years.^ The divided fields were 
bounded by the ungiven lands, lands not laid out, and the 

In the mind of the court, the land rights of the three towns 
must have become by 1639 somewhat confused, for in that 
year it ordered each town to provide for the recording of 
every man's house and land, already granted and measured 
out to him, with the bounds and quantity of the same.^ As 
a result of this order, there exist those valuable books of dis- 
tribution, upon whose records all maps of the river towns are 
based. In consequence of the fact that four years elapsed 
before record was made, the standard of apportionment can 
only be approximately determined. The business activity of 
the little colony in real estate must have been great during 
this period. There were numerous withdrawals from and 
occasional .accessions to the number of inhabitants, which 
would occasion a considerable distortion of any original 
system. It is safe to say that to each homestead there 
belonged proportional rights in the upland,^ and in some cases 

' Allotments were assigned in Mile Meadow as late as 1680 ; in Great 
Meadow, 1G80 ; in Dry Swamp, 1654 ; Wet Swamp, 1673. 

'■^Col. Rec. T, p. 37. Massachusetts in 1637 had the same trouble, 
" That some course be taken to cause men to record their lands, or to fine 
them for their neglect." Mass. Col. Rec. I, 301. 

3 Col. Rec. I, p. 63. 

The Land System. 47 

the possession of a home-lot carried with it rights in every 

By 1640 many of these rights had been sold to men within 
the colony, and because many of the divisions were already 
full we find different sets of owners in the different fields. 
There are certain traces remaining of a proportion between 
certain of the house lots and the meadow lots. Ratios of two 
to one, three to one, are visible. In the apportioning of the 
large fields there is more evidence of design, because consum- 
mated at a later period, and thus subject to fewer transfers 
or sales. Between the lots in the Meadow, Great "West Field, 
and Naiibuc Farms we note such proportions as 14-42-84, 
13-39-78,17-51-102, 19-57-195, 16-48-144, 45-135; but 
we also find as many exceptions to the rule which the 
above evidence might seem to offer, as there are conformities 
to it. In which cases we can say that there has been a devi- 
ation from an original rule through property accumulation. 
The fact that in all later apportionments some basis of divi- 
sion was regularly employed, points to a similar custom 
before 1640. It is possible to draw the conclusion based on 
slender, yet suggestive facts, that allotments in the homesteads 
were made as nearly equal as possible, only varying in size 
because of adventitious causes, such as size of family, wealth, 
position, influence, etc. ; that allotments in the Great Meadow 
were based on the right of each in the purchase land according 
to his contribution ; that in the Great West Field there was 
employed a three-fold allotment based on the former division ; 
and in the Naubuc Farms division, there was used a two- 
fold allotment based on the Great West Field.' 

> Col Keo. I, p. 445. ** Rachel Brundish hath 14 acres of meadow, her 
house lott 3 acres, and what upland bolonf^rs thereunto in every divysion, 
saveing what her husband and she hath sold, vizt. her shaire beyond the 
River and 6 acres in Pennywise." 

*See below, p. 55, n. 2. 

48 The River Towns of Connecticut, 

Individual Grants. 

Many of the grants already described were individual, but 
of a somewhat different nature from those of which we have 
mention in the Town Votes. Before 1640 the town was 
supplying itself with land, after 1640 it began to supply new- 
comers. In order to properly understand the situation we 
must know something about that town oligarchy, the pro- 
prietors. They were the body of men who owned the land, 
who had a dual character as proprietors and as mhabitants ; 
this is recognized in the phrase frequent in the records, pro- 
prietors-inhabitants. Herein the three towns present decided 
differences. In Hartford, while many grants were made by 
the town in town meeting, yet much was done in proprietors' 
meeting, and general divisions in but one or two cases were 
made there also. In Windsor, on the other hand, no grants 
were made in town meeting except for encouragement of 
trade, and then such lands were given from the distinctly 
town lands, as town commons, town farm, town orchard ; 
all was apparently done by the proprietors. But in Wethers- 
field the town and proprietors were practically one, and all 
grants, as well as all general divisions, were made in town 
meeting. The latter case is then specially worthy of exam- 
ination. The earliest division of lands was between thirty- 
four men, who claimed, as the number of inhabitants increased, 
their original right. In 1640, after the order of the General 
Court giving towns power to dispose of their own lands, and 
before the recording of lands was completed, an agreement 
was made between these thirty-four men and the Town and 
Church, by which they were given an equal share in the lands 
to be divided, whether to be held as common land or in 
severalty.^ This may have given to the Wethersfield system 
of grants its peculiarly town character. The proprietors' 
right to the ungiven lands was generally held in abeyance, 
and practically the town held the privilege of granting lands 

'Col. Red, p. 63. 

The Land System, 49 

at her pleasure. Two facts are, however, to be noticed ; first, 
that the proprietors or their descendants held — when they 
cared to exercise it — the balance of power in town meeting; 
and second, that in case of mismanagement, the proprietors 
exercised their right and it was recognized by the town. Yet 
in the granting of single lots to new-comers, the proprietors 
allowed them to be given by the town in the name of the 
town in town meeting. 

For many years after the early allotments no general 
apportionment of lands was made except in the shape of 
single grants by the to^^^l to private individuals, according 
to phrases in the records, " which was given by the Church 
and Town," " which was given him by the Church," " which 
was given him by the Town."^ The grant was either gratui- 
tous or by request, more frequently the former. Often the 
amount is not stated in the vote, and when given, rarely 
exceeded twenty acres. House lots were given as well,^ and 
in the case of gratuitous grants, the desire of the receiver 
must have been in some way expressed, personally or through 
his neighbors. The town as well as the State encouraged 
industries and looked out carefully for all undertakings 
which promised benefit or advancement. To any one of 
good character and acceptable to the town, land was granted 
in very liberal quantities and with considerable liberty in 
the selection. The grant was almost invariably accom- 
panied by conditions, as in the case of a grant to Governor 
Winthrop for a mill ; " if the said hon'" Gov"" Winthrop doe 
build mill or mills according to his proposition made to the 
town, that then this grant to be confirmed and settled upon 
the said Winthrop and his heirs forever, or else to be void 
and of none effect."* Governor Winthrop failed to comply 

' Wetb. Rec., Dec. 28, 1649 ; Jan. 25, 1652, and Land Records, rol. I, 
passim, under date 1640-41. 

* House lots were often taken directly out of the highway when the width 

* Weth. Rec., Jane 8, 1661. 

50 The River Towns of Connecticvi. 

with the condition, forfeited the land, and it was regranted 
six years hxter.^ But grants for the support of industries 
(and these and grants for recompense are the only ones found 
in the Windsor Town Records) were not alone subjt^ct to con- 
ditions. The principle that granted lands must be improved 
or built upon was adopted by Hartford as early as 1635, 
when twelve months was made the limit, the town at the 
same time reserving the right of necessary highway through 
any man's land.* This rule was relaxed in favor of promi- 
nent individuals, sometimes by an extension of the time limit, 
and sometimes by an entire freedom from the condition.^ In 
case of forfeit, the grantee was generally paid the full value 
of expended labor. As it was a bad policy to observe too 
tenaciously conditions which would discourage inhabitancy, 
the town seems to have enforced the forfeiture and then to 
have avoided bad results by a technical subterfuge ; the same 
piece of land was regranted, or a new lot was given in another 

Another condition provided for in the case of freed servants 
or repentant sinners was the voiding of the grant in case of 
sale or alienation. This was to prevent imposition in case of 
doubtful characters, whose efforts toward uprightness the town 
wished to encourage. A kind of police regulation is embraced 
in one condition, best explained by quotation. Thirty acres 
were given to John Stedman on the town frontier next the com- 
mon, " on the considerations following, viz. that the said Sjt. 
John Stedman shall secure, preserve, and defend the timber, 
fire-wood, and stone belonging to this town from all intruders 
thereon, especially from the inhabitants of Hartford, . . . 
and on his failing of the considerations mentioned, he is to 

^Weth. Rec.,Nov. 4, 1667. 

2 Hart. Rec. 1635, 1, p. 11. 

3Hait. Rec, Jan. 14,1639. 

* " Mr. Alcott's house lot being forfeited is taken into the town's hands 
until the next general meeting, who will either let him have that again 
or give him answer in some other kind." Hart. Rec, Jan. 10, 1639, 
I, p. 115. 

The Land System, 61 

forfeit his said grant." ^ Indeed, conditions were by 1650 
such a matter of course, that one vote, covering some half a 
dozen grants, made them all conditionary in one breath. 
" All these men had their lands given them by the town upon 
the same conditions, which men had and was formerly tied to 
and bound to."^ Failure to carry out these conditions, as 
already said, rendered the grant void, and the land reverted 
to the town. Often, instead of a distinct allotment of new land, 
the grant took the shape of an enlargement or extension of 
land already owned. Here no condition was required, as the 
grantee was already well known and his reputation estab- 
lished. Two other varieties of land allowance need to be 
mentioned, which would not increase the number of holdings 
in severalty, as would be the case with those already dis- 
cussed — the grant of an equivalent elsewhere when land of 
an inhabitant was taken for street or highway,^ or uninten- 
tional injury had been made by a later grant ; and the giving 
of a portion to some needy person, generally of only an acre 
or two, to improve for a short time rent free, on condition 
that the fence be maintained.* Rent, when charged, was 
small — ten shillings per acre.* The laying out of all the 
above grants was done by the townsmen or a committee selected 
for the purpose, and it was not infrequent that questions of 
amount and location were left entirely to the discretion of the 

• Weth. Rec, January 3, 1686. There is something curiously similar in 
this instance to the position of the lands of the Saxon hau-ard, who was 
given his lands along the border of the manor, so that, in case of damage 
by loose animals, his own lands would first suiler. The town fathers evi- 
dently appreciateil the fact that Sjt. Stedman, holding land where he did, 
would keep a more careful lookout. 

' Weth. Rec, Dec. 28, 1649. 

Mlart. Ilec. .Tan. 6. 1651. 

Mlart. Rec., Feb. 8, 1668. 

•Wind. Rec, Feb. 4, 1684. 

*The granting of a lot w&s, of course, confined to inhabitants who were 
newcomers, and who are to be distinguished from the proprietors. Hart- 
ford has a list of " the names of inhabitanoe as were granted lotts to 

52 The River Toivns of Connecticut 

Although from the absence of record we have said that the 
later ^^'indso^ grants were made by the proj^rietors, yet we know 
that the earliest allotments were made by the " Plantation.''^ 
The Hartford proprietors were an important body, but were 
satisfied to let the town shoulder the burden of making indi- 
vidual grants, while they kept in their own hands general divi- 
sions. The Wether sfield proprietors were dormant, not dead.^ 
Their meetings were fused with those of the town, and troubles 
arose frequently between the established few who paid the 
greater part of the taxes, and the new-comers or less important 
inhabitants.^ The former asserted their previous rights in the 

have only at the Townes Courtesie, with liberty to fetch wood and keep 
swine or cows by proportion on the common." (Book of Distr., p. 550.) 
The privileges of granted lands were generally confined to the owner. 
Hartford early passed a vote denying the privilege of felling trees on 
granted land to any except the owner. (Hart. Rec, Dec. 23, 1639.) 
In Windsor all granted lands were considered free for the inhabitants to 
use for the obtaining of wood, timber and stones until they were enclosed. 
(Wind. Rec, Feb. 4, 1684.) An act like this was intended to offset the 
monopoly of the proprietors, and to hasten occupation and cultivation. 
Two years after Windsor extended the privilege of every inhabitant for 
the obtaining of timber, stone, wood, and grass to all unenclosed and 
undivided lands. (Wind. Rec, Jan. 5, 1686.) On this point, however, 
see the section Proprietor's Commons. 

'Wind. Land Rec, vol. 1, passim. 

- That the proprietors still lived is evidenced from this vote : *' That no 
land shall be given away to any person by the Town, unless there be legall 
notice given to all the proprietors before the meeting that is intended by 
the Selectmen to give away land aforesaid." (Weth. Rec, March 18, 
1678-79. ) The same factors existed in each of the towns, only differing in 
the ratio of influence in town affairs. In Wethersfield the town over- 
shadowed the proprietors ; in Windsor the proprietors overshadowed the 
town, while in Hartford the balance was about equally preserved. 

3 Much the same state of things existed among the proprietors of Windsor. 
There were the historic proprietors who had primordial and inherited 
rights, and the new class who had purchased rights and held their posi- 
tion by virtue of their money. This led to constant disagreements and 
factional disputes. The cause of this lack of harmony was the question 
whether a majority vote was to be decided by counting the number of 
hands held up, or by reckoning the sum total value of rights thereby 

The Land System, 63 

iiiidi\4ded lands, and protested against the indiscriminate 
giving away of common land, particularly that which lay in 
the stated commons, streets, and highways, by these less con- 
spicuous taxpayers. The latter, apparently taking advantage 
of an apathy toward the town meeting, and consequent 
absence of many of the proprietors, gave away to persons 
undeserving of the same, the lands belonging, as the protest- 
ants claimed, to the proprietors and inhabitants in general. 
Not only was this very caustic protest entered in the records, 
but a special vote was passed providing for the proper 
stirring up of sleepy farmers when town meeting was to be 
held.^ The fact of this protest shows that among the towns- 
people themselves, all undivided lands were considered as 
belonging to the town, not in its corporate capacity, but as 
composed of the proprietors and inhabitants of that town, and 
that indiscriminate alienation of any portions of these lands 
was a direct infringement on the rights of such inhabitants 
and proprietors. 

The liberal policy pursued by town and proprietor was 
not sufficient to exhaust all the land in the immediate vicinity. 
None of the smaller parcels granted were far from the towns, 
except a few, which formed the partial basis of new villages^ 
three or four miles away, often across the river. Therefore a 
more rajnd process was in a few cases effected, and a system 
of dividing up vacant tracts established. Such tracts were 
not large, and the number of men interested therein was 
limited. The principle contained in the gift of such lands 
was akin to that of the individual grants, while the method of 
division bore a resemblance to that most prominently employed 
in the larger divisions. The grantees were always inhabitants 
already holding land in the township, and the existence of an 
amount of ungiven land, upland or meadow, favorably situ- 
ated, would lead to a petition by divers inhabitants for the 

• Weth. R«c., Jan. 28, 1697-08. 

•In this sense were the words town and village used in the Connecticut 
colonj. The town wm a political unit, the village was not 

54 The River Towns of Connecticut, 

parcelling of it out to them. This petition would be acted 
upon in town meeting, and a committee appointed to inter- 
view the petitioners and fix the basis of allotment. The pro- 
portion was usually that which existed already in some divided 
field or former grant. In one of the earliest instances, seven 
petitioners were given three acres, and an eighth was made 
residuary legatee.^ In another, six inhabitants received all 
the undivided land in Wet Swamp, and with it the care of 
what remained unassigned of the common fence.^ Two years 
later a large tract of upland was divided in fourfold amounts 
to those holding allotments in Mile Meadow. The records 
fail to state the number of partakers, or whether it was done 
by request or otherwise.^ In Hartford such a division took 
place when the land lying in the rear of five home-lots and 
extending to the river was divided to the owners of these 
lots, according to the number of acres each had therein.* 

One interesting case of division is found where the land is 
allotted according to proportion of meadow fence. This 
fence was, by order of the town, removed from the lowlands, 
extended along the top of the hill, and again turned at right 
angles toward the river. A large grant was made to those 
removing their fence, and it was proportioned in the following 
manner : the land was divided by a path into two fields, one 
126 rods wide and the other 31 rods wide. To every man 
there was given in the larger tract one rod's width of land 
for every three rods which he owned of fence, and in the 
smaller tract for every eight rods of fence was allotted half a 
rod's width of land. The allotments therefore ran in narrow 
strips east and west.^ This division took place in one of 
the outlying settlements which afterwards developed into a 
separate town. Toward the close of the century we begin to 
find steady encroachment on the generous widths allowed for 

1 Weth. Rec, March 31, 1660. 

2Weth. Rec, Feb. 16, 1673. 

3 Weth. Rec, Jan. 1, 1674. 

4 Hart. Rec, Jan. 14, 1683. 

5 Weth. Rec, Nov. 4, 1672 ; Dec 25, 1707 ; April 24, 1713. 

The Land System, 55 

highways. This betokens a scarcity in the adjoining fields. 
It had been previously done in all the towns, for convenience 
in establishing certain industries near at hand ; but later we 
find private grants taken directly out of the highways and 
town commons. 

Later General Divisions. 

For many years after the settlement, grants of a nature 
already described, together with the accretions and trans- 
ferences through alienation or purchase, were sufficient to 
satisfy the needs of the townspeople. The boundaries 
between the towns became approximately though not finally 
determined on, and a steady growth in all directions was 
taking place; in consequence of which, general divisions 
began to be called for. We know that many of the earliest 
allotments had been of the nature of general divisions, and 
Hartford passed a rule in 1639 voiding any such division 
made by a part of the inhabitants (proprietors) without the 
knowledge and consent of the whole,^ and there is afterwards 
a reference made to a rule adopted for division of lands of a 
still earlier date.^ The earliest division of which we have 

'Hart. Rec, Jan. 7, 1039. 

' Hart. Book of Distr., p. 582, referring to rule of Jan. 3, 1639. What 
this rule was we cannot say. It may have been the restatement of the 
rule adopted when the lands were first allotted. We have extant the list 
of subscriptions to the general fund according to which the settlers were 
taxed for further purchases and according to which they received land in 
the early divisions. In this Mr. Ilaynes is credited with 200 and Richard 
Risly with 8 shares or pounds, and others with intermediate amounts. As 
these amounts are not proportionate to the wealth of the persons men- 
tioned, it is likely that the principle of limitation wns applied in Hartford, 
by which no one was allowed to put in more than a certain amount ; thus 
all would be given a fair share in the divided lands and would bear a 
proportionate share in the burden of future purchases. This principle was 
probably applied in New Harea (Atwater's New Haven, p. 1C9; New 
Haven Col. Rec., vol. I, p. 43), and we know that it was so in Guilford, 
where the limitation was £500. (Hist, of Guilford from the AISS of 
Hon. Ralph D. Smith, p. 54.) That such rule of division with possible 
limitation was in force in each of the river towns we think could be 

56 The River Towns of Connecticut 

record was in 1641, when the vote was passed,^ though its 
j)rovisions were not fulfilled until 1666. The tier to be 
divided was on the east side of the river, and was made up 
of two parts, in the allotting of which the differences in the 
quality of land were recognized. In the lower of these parts 
land was given, we might say, at its par value; that is, 
every one to whom land was given in the southern tier 
received one acre of land for each pound of right in the 
undivided lands, or, as the record says, "one hundred for 
one hundred "; while in the northern half a premium of five 
per cent was allowed, that is, for every hundred pounds right 
the proprietor was to have one hundred and five acres. The 
first allotment w^as made in a tier of a mile in width, and as 
the vote provided for a tier of three miles width, the allot- 
ments were all trebled.^ This was properly an extension of 
the original allotments, for certainly Wethersfield, and pro- 
bably Windsor, divided the three mile tract in 1640. 

Practically the first general division was that of Wethers- 
field in 1670. Up to this time the whole territory stretching 
from the West Fields westwards into the unbroken country was 
known as the Wilderness, and served as a convenient pasture 
for the masting of swine. Highways had been cut through 
it by energetic woodsmen and cutters of pipe-staves, by means 
of which access was had to the lands soon to be laid out. 
This land lying along the western boundary the inhabitants 
proceeded in town meeting to lay off in the shape of a tier a 
mile in breadth, and to divide it up among the "inhabitants, 
that is to say, to householders, that live on the west side of 
Conectecot river."^ The land was divided into seventy-six 
shares, one share to each householder. The amount of the 
share was fifty-two acres, and each received an equal amount, 
" one man as much as another." They were lots in the good 
old Saxon sense of the word, for the inhabitants cast lots for 

J Hart. Rec. I, p. 52. 

2 Hart. Rec, Feb. 18, 1640; Feb. 16, 1665. 

3Weth. Rec, Feb. 23, 1670. 

The Land System. 67 

them; the method is not told us, but he or she (for there 
were five women among them) who drew lot number one 
took the first share on the north, number two the next, and 
so on. One important distinction is at once to be noticed 
between this grant by the proprietors-inhabitants of land to 
themselves, and grants of single parcels "by the Towne" to 
new-comers. In the latter case grants were not necessarily 
made in fee, many were revoked, but in this case it was 
expressly stated that the land was to be held by the inhabi- 
tant as a proprietor, to be his and his heirs' forever. This 
emphasizes the view held by the inhabitants regarding the 
ownership of the undivided lands. 

But the growth of the little community soon demanded 
further division of lands, and a new principle was adopted, 
much less communistic than the last, which seems to have 
been based on a "social compact" theory that all men are 
free and equal and all are to share alike in the distribution 
of benefits. In 1695 one hundred and sixty-five inhabitants, 
or their proxy, met for the drawing of lots. Five great tiers 
were laid out on three sides of the wilderness, and the 
sharers drew for their position therein, receiving an amount 
of land proportionate to the tax assessment for 1693, at the 
rate of half an acre of land for every pound in the list of 

In the meantime Hartford had been making a new division, 
and that, too, along its western boundary. This was done by 
the proprietors in their own meeting in 1672. The same 
rule was adopted as had been employed in the earliest 
divisions. By this time many of the rights had changed 
hands, but the proportion still remained the same. The 
basis of division of this tier, which was a mile and a half in 
breadth, differed so materially from that of about the same 
date in Wethersfield as to be somewhat striking. Instead of 
equality we have shares varying from a width of three rods 
to a width of ninety-one rods, and instead of grants to house- 
holders we have a division to original proprietors or their 

58 The River Towns of Connecticut, 

representatives.^ The Wethersfield method had a certain 
advantage, in that a nearly exact division of all the tier could 
be obtained. In Hartford, however, there was an overplus, 
and five years later the proprietors took this in hand, and the 
scheme adopted shows the proprietors in a new role which 
does them credit. This overplus of nearly six hundred acres 
was laid out in five tiers, running north and south, of which 
the middle tier was to be divided into twenty-acre lots and 
the others into ten and fifteen-acre lots, and when this was 
done, the committee was authorized to " grant these lotts to 
such of the town of Hartford as they shall see in need of the 
same, and as they judge it maybe advantageous."^ In point 
of fact, however, the tiers were divided into much larger 
lots, and to only thirty-one "needy" persons. Probably the 
committee put their own construction on the order. 

The general division of the Windsor common and undi- 
vided lands was long delayed. The first definite proposal to 
that end was not made until 1720, when a scheme was dis- 
cussed and voted by the town for laying out and dividing a 
strip of land running entirely around the township, of a mile 
in width on the east side of the river and half a mile on 
the west. But this proposal was met by the protest of the 
proprietors, and, though the plan continued to be discussed, 
it was not until 1726 that the two bodies came to an agree- 
ment. The town seems to have taken the matter into its own 
hands, perhaps on account of the wranglings of the proprietors 
among themselves and the complications which had arisen in 
their claims. The same trouble resulted from an attempt to 
divide the Equivalent, a tract of land granted to the Windsor 
proprietors in 1722 by the colony, to compensate for several 
thousand acres of their territory which, by the arrangement of 
the boundary line, had been taken from that town and added to 
the lands of the Massachusetts colony. As early as 1725 the 
proprietors voted to divide these 8000 acres to each "pro- 

^ Hart. Book of Distr., pp. 581-583. 
«Hart. Book of Distr., p. 584. 

The Land System. 69 

prietor Inhabitant, according to the list of Real Estate in the 
year 1723, viz., such Real Estate as the proprietors hold in 
their own right." ^ It was not until 1743 that a sufficient 
agreement was reached by the conflicting parties to allow the 
actual division to be consummated. At that time the mile 
and half-mile tiers were divided into 219 lots, and the 
Equivalent into 367 lots, the basis of allotment remaining as 
before, viz. the list of freehold estate. Windsor made up for 
her lateness of division by her activity when once started, 
and from this time on her surveyor was kept well employed. 
The enactment passed by the Greneral Court establishing 
the privileges of the proprietors and creating them a quasi- 
corporation, brought about in the three towns a final division 
of the common lands about the middle of the eighteenth 
century. Windsor led oiF in 1751, giving to each proprietor 
a lot according to his list, and then finding some land left 

'Wind. Propr. Rec, p. 2. The directions given to the committee for 
division may be of interest : 

"1. You are to inspect the list of freehold estate given into the listers 
in the year 1723, and all lands belonging to orphans set in said List to 
other persons you are to allow divisions for such lands to the orphans only. 

*'2dly. Where you have it made evident to you that any person hath 
put land in that List which he hath purchased and the seller reserved in 
the time of the purchase his Rights of Division for said Land, in that 
case you are to allow Divisions for that land to the seller only. 

" 8dly. You are to lay out the land equally as you can according to the 
Rule of proportion set by the proprietors in their voat, having Respect to 
Quantity and Quality. 

** 4thly. You are to lay out convenient Highways in said Lands accord- 
ing to your best judgment. 

•*6thly. Where any person in the list of 1728 hath set to him any 
Lands that he had in Improvement upon the Commons, in that case you 
are to allow no division for the same. 

•* 6thly. When you have found out the number of the persons that are 
to receive in the Division, you are to numl)er the Lotts to them, and 
then cast a lott to determine where each proprietor shall have his lot 
in the Teare of Lotts in the Division." — Wind. Propr. Rec., pp. 2-3. Sim- 
ilar rules were adopted in most of the divisions made in each of the towns 
at this time. Regarding the history of the Equivalent, see Stiles. Hist. 
of Windsor, pp. 280-268. 

60 The River Tovms of Connecticut. 

over, the committee proceeded to " lay to each Proprietor a 
small lot " in addition.^ These small lots were from half an 
acre to six acres in size. Wethersfield followed in 1752, and 
there we find an unexpected show of legal formula and red- 
tapeism. The proprietors sat in solemn council and decided 
to divide. Strengthened by the decree of the General Court, 
they passed the customary restrictions and limitations in 
connection with orphans and landlords. Nine months after- 
wards did the town, quite in submissive contrast to its former 
votes, establish, ratify and confirm the action of the pro- 
prietors.^ Hartford proprietors two years afterwards did the 
same, with the same ratification from the town, with, however, 
an explanatory clause which is worth quoting. " To divide 
a certain large tract . . . which tract the Inhabitants have 
quietly held as their own, enjoyed and improved from Time 
beyond the memory of man, and whereas the Inhabitants 
being now sensible of great difficulty and contention that is 
likely to arise with regard to the claims and pretensions of 
sundry persons claiming in opposition to the method of 
division agreed upon, and the inhabitants being now very 
sensible that no division can be made more for the peace and 
good will of all concerned than that agreed upon, vote that 
they grant and confirm unto the afores'^ Proprietors, all the 
afores^ Common Lands in proportion as is stated in said list 
for them and their heirs forever.^'^ The method agreed upon 

^ Wind. Propr. Rec, p. 314. 

^Weth. Rec, Dec. 25, 1752. Proprietors' meeting, in the same volume, 
Feb. 20, 1752. 

^ Hart. Rec, March 25, 1754. The Hartford division of 1754 was after 
this manner. The commons hiy to the west of the town, and beginning 
at the southern boundary, thirty tiers of land were laid out, separated 
laterally by four principal highways and longitudinally by some twenty 
smaller and shorter highways ; the length of this large tract was the 
width of Hartford township from Wethersfield to Windsor bounds, and its 
width about one mile. The size of the tiers was very unequal, some being 
divided into as many as forty lots, while others into as few as five, four, 
and two. This was partly owing to the position of the already established 
highways and the coursings of a small but meandering stream. Four 

The Land System, 


was an apportionment according to the grand list of the 
inhabitants, made in 1753, with the restrictions as in the 
other towns. 

The following diagram will help to explain what has 
already been said. It represents the Hartford and Wethers- 
field townships, and pictures the scheme of tiers or ranges 
and the land basis of new towns. 

1 i« the three-mile ti-act division of 1640 and 1606 ; 2, the equal division 
of 1670 ; 3, the west division of 1672 ; 4, the overplus; 5, the division of 
1695 ; 6, a division not mentioned before l)ecause consummated after East 
liartford became a separate township ; it was a part of the Five Mile Pur- 
chase, and shows the land basis of the town of Manchester. 

With these divisions and with the carrying out of a few 
matters of recompense and equivalents, that all might be 

hundred and serentj-seven proprietors shared in this division, which 
adjoined the west division lots, now West Hartford, on the west. (Prom 
copy of a MS in possession of Mr. Iloadly, found among the Seymour 

62 The River Towns of Connecticut 

content, the mission of the proprietors practically ended. 
But the association still lingered and meetings were sporad- 
ically held. In fact, the common and undivided lands existed 
in Windsor as late as 1787, and traces of such are found in 
Hartford in 1785. The last meetings of the proprietors were 
chiefly for the purpose of appointing committees to search 
for undivided land, if there should be any remaining, which 
when found was to be divided to whomsoever had any claims. 
In case all claims could be met and land still remained, the 
committees were ordered to sell the residue, whether of lands 
undivided or of lands left for highways which were not 
needed, and after deducting from the amount arising from 
such sales a sum sufficient to pay themselves for all their 
trouble and expense, to give over the remainder to the eccle- 
siastical society of the town, the interest of which was to be 
appropriated to the support of the ministry or school, accord- 
ing to the discretion of the society. Thus with the object 
for its existence withdrawn, and with the resolution of the 
common lands into holdings in severalty, the association of 
proprietors became no longer necessary and died for lack of 
a raison d^etre. 

It will have been noticed that the system of general land 
division which obtained in Connecticut only differed in the 
different towns as regards the basis of allotment. The form 
was invariably that of ranges or tiers, often one but some- 
times many lying adjacent to each other and separated by 
highways. These tiers were shared into sections or strips 
generally designated as of so many rods width, for the length 
would be uniformly the same. It is difficult to see the 
economic value of the extreme length of many of the sections 
thus laid out. When the length of a lot is three miles and 
its width a few rods, successful agriculture must be at a dis- 
advantage. In many cases these were wood lots, but by no 
means in all. It is evident that many of those who received 
shares in the division sometimes sold them before they took 
possession, and it was to prevent such action that the Hart- 

The Land System, 63 

ford proprietors voted at the time of the division of the 
overplus that no one should sell his lot before he had fenced 
it in and improved it.^ Grenerally, however, farmers soon 
removed to their sections and began improvement and culti- 
vation, and it happened, as might have been expected from 
the sha|)e, that great inconvenience resulted in preserving the 
bounds and cultivating the narrow strips. 

As yet nothing has been said of the division of the Five 
Mile Purchase, the tract granted by the General Court to the 
towns in 1673. For our purpose it is only interesting as 
showing the origin of a proprietorship. The towns on 
receiving the grant at once provided for its purchase from 
the Indians, by a rating distinct from the other town rating, 
"that so the just sum of every man's payment to this pur- 
chase might be known for an equal division of this land 
according to their payments."^ The rate was a halfpenny 
upon the pound in Wethersfield, and one hundred and four- 
teen inhabitants became the proprietors of this tract. The 
highest amount subscribed was seventeen shillings eight 
pence, and the smallest nine pence f this to pay for a tract 
containing thirty square miles! For drawing up a special 
rate a special committee was appointed. Stringent rules 
were made regarding such as neglected to giv^e in a new list 
at such a time, and in case any person falsified his statement 
and put in lands not owned he was denied a share in the 
common division. Special summons w^ere given to the 
inhabitants at the time of drawing, as well as information 
as to where it was to be done, and the town clerk was the 
secretary of the meeting. 

Proprietors' Commons. 

For a long time the common lands above described were 
in the hands of the proprietors or inhabitants-proprietors of 

< Hart. Book of Dittr., p. 584. 
»Weth. Ilcc.Oct. 10. 1078. 
*Weth. LawdReo. Ill, p. 08. 

64 The River Towns of Connecticut. 

the town, but it must not be supposed that the exclusive 
])rivilege of these large tracts of unimproved land was con- 
fined to the limited number who claimed ownership. In 
])ractice all the inhabitants made use of these commons, as 
the above quoted vote of the Hartford inhabitants shows, 
restricted only by self-imposed limitations, passed in town 
meeting. The value of the commons before division lay in 
their furnishing pasturage for horses, cattle and sheep, and 
providing the town with timber, stones, earth and grass. It 
is uncertain just where the earliest of these lay; there is little 
doubt, however, that many of the fields mentioned in the 
books of distribution were at first used as commons and 
soon after divided. Traces of them are found in Hartford 
in the old ox pasture, the ox pasture and the cow pasture. 
But the greatest commons were set off some years later when 
the cultivation of sheep assumed prominence. All the towns 
had these large strips of commonage, from half to three quar- 
ters of a mile wide. Wethersfield in 1674 laid off a large 
tract containing a thousand, and afterward twelve hundred 
acres, " to remain for the use of the Town in general for the 
feeding of sheep and cattle forever."^ The Hartford tract, 
divided iu 1754, retained its old name, the "Town Com- 
mons," for some years after it had ceased to be such. There 
was also the half-mile common next the Wethersfield west 
division, and the half-mile common on the east side of the 
river in Windsor township, and the larger tract in the same 
township adjoining the lands divided in severalty on the 
west side. All the New England towns had these fields of 
common land, for the settlers had been accustomed to the 
tenure in England, where it had existed from earliest times. 
In fact, the principle of commonage is as old as the settled 
occupation of land itself, and is not confined to any one class 
of people, but can be found among nearly all in some form 
or other. The large stated commons of New England were 
used by the majority for pasturage for their animals, yet all 

^Weth. Rec, Jan. 1,1674. 

The Land System. 65 

cattle were not so kept, and we find in Connecticut enclosed 
pastures as well.^ The expense of pasturing cattle on the 
commons was borne by the owners in proportion to the num- 
bers and age of the animals. Town herders were paid in 
this way. Grants had often been made out of the common 
lands, which are to be distinguished from the stated commons, 
and such were reckoned to the owners as so much deducted 
from their share in the final division ; but as soon as 
commons were established, granting from that quarter was 
stopi)ed.'' The boundaries of such commons were, after the 
fiishion of the time, somewhat loosely laid out, and even in 
1712, seventy-two years after the allotments in the "west 
field " of Wethersfield, it was found necessary to determine 
the line which separated that field from the adjoining com- 
mon. If this were the case with the line adjoining the lands 
in severalty, much more must it have been true of the other 
boundary lines.^ 

Communal holding of land does not seem to have been 
known- Land held in common was subject to the use of a 
stated number, and when the inhabitants voted that so many 
acres of land were to be a settled common and " to remain for 
the use of the town in general for the feeding of sheep or 
cattle forever," the town was conceived of as composed of the 
inhabitants, an always increasing quantity, and town land 
was the property of the proprietors-inhabitants, and is so 
definitely stated.* 

' Weth. Rec., Dec. 81, 1083. 

• Weth. Rec., Dec. 28, 1685. Encroachment on the commons as well as 
on the highwajrs was a not infrequent offense. Sometimes the encroach- 
ment was sustained if found " no prejudice " by the town, though quite 
as often removal was ordered, and force employed if compliance did not 
ensne. Hart. Rec, Sept. 2, 1601 ; April 22, 1701 ; Weth. liec, Deo. 25, 

* Weth. Reo., Deo. 24, 1712. "At the same meeting ye town roated to 
have these lands which are refered for sheep commons or sequestered land 
layed out and bounded." Wind. Rec., Dec. 29, 1701. 

*'*Forthe use of the Town, viz. the inhabitants-proprietors.** Weth. 
Rec., Mar. 16, 1707-8. 

QQ The River Towns of Connecticut, 

The proprietors-inhabitants held the land in common, and 
as they voted in new inhabitants not through their repre- 
sentatives, the townsmen, but in person in town meeting, it 
consequently lay in their power to admit new members to 
the privilege of having rights in the common field, and thus 
in theory, if they had any theory about it, neither stated 
conmions nor undivided lands were town lands, though the 
records often call them so, but tracts for the use of a definite 
number of individuals, who called themselves the inhabitants- 
proprietors, and whose share, while not stated in so many 
words,^ was generally recognized as proportionate to their pur- 
chased rights in the common and undivided lands. By later acts 
of the General Court, the corporate nature of the proprietors 
was recognized. In 1717 it was declared that all fields which 
at that time were considered common and so used should be so 
legally until the major part of the proprietors should vote 
for their division.^ This was merely legalizing custom; 
such had been the common law for many years. A legal pro- 
prietors' meeting required the application of at least five 
persons to the justice of the peace for a warrant for a proper 
meeting, requiring proper warning six days before and a 
notice on the sign-post twenty days before.^ Thus the pro- 
prietors became a regularly organized body, holding meetings, 
levying taxes on themselves for defraying the expenses of 
fences, gates, etc., and appointing rate-makers and col- 
lectors.* They also chose a clerk, who entered acts and votes, 
was duly sworn,^ and held his office until another was sworn.^ 

One of the most troublesome matters which arose in con- 

' One vote, in recording a project for division, in which the major part 
of the proprietors decided the method to be employed, says " the voices to 
be accounted according to the interests that said persons have. " Weth. 
RecDec. 24, 1705. 

2Col. Rec. VI, p. 25. 

3 Col. Rec. VI, p. 424. 

* Col. Rec. VII, pp. 379-380. 

5 Col. Rec. VI, p. 25. 

« Col. Rec. VI, p. 276. 

The Land System, 67 

nection with the commons was the prevention of trespass and 
damage. We have already noticed a sort of frontier lot- 
holder, who was granted lands on condition of his serving as 
ward of the commons. This protection was mainly against 
inhabitants from other towns, and intruders who had in some 
way come into the town itself. Temporary votes, however, 
were constantly passed, regulating even the proprietors' rights. 
Timber was carefully guarded. It w^as forbidden to all to cut 
down young trees, and any tree felled and left three months 
became public property. Carrying wood out of the town 
was almost criminal, no matter for what purpose. Yet, not- 
withstanding these constant decrees, damage continued to be 
done. Finally Wethersfield complained that the inhabitants- 
proprietors could hardly find timber for the building of 
houses and making of fences, and the lines of prohibition were 
drawn still tighter. The evil, however, was not entirely done 
away with until the final division of the remaining lands.^ 

One other matter in reference to the common fields is of 
interest. Every person in the towns above fourteen years of 
age, except public officers,^ was obliged to employ one day in 
the year clearing brush on the commons. The townsmen 
appointed the day and all had to turn out. If any neglected 
to appear on that day he was fined five shillings.^ On one 
occasion the undergrowth evidently got ahead of the inhabit- 
ants, for they voted to work that year one more day than the 

* The Qeneral Court as well passed acts forbidding the cutting, felling, 
destroying and carrying away of any tree or trees, timber or underwood. 
The act of 1720 recognizes the distinction between town commons, in 
which case trespass was accounted as against the inhabitants of the 
respective towns ; common or undivided land, in which trespass was 
against the proprietors; and private lands, in which the person trespassed 
against was the individual owner. Conn. Col. liec. VII, 80-81. On the 
subject of trespass see Weth. Rec, May 11, 1G8G ; Dec. 25, 1(508 ; Deo. 
24, 1705 ; Deo. 28, 1706 ; Wind. Ilec, Dec. 27, 1655 ; June 1, 1659 ; Nov. 
11, 1661, and the volume of Wind. Prop. Ilec. 

*The minister of the gospel was a public officer in 1670, as he is to-day 
in Germany. 

»Col. Uec. II, p. 189. 

68 The River Towns of Connecticut. 

law required.^ The fine of five shillings undoubtedly in 
many cases became a regular money payment in lieu of per- 
sonal labor. This equal responsibility of all for the well- 
being of the town is one of the best evidences of its peculiarly 
democratic character, an extension of the same principles 
which were at work in the founding of the State. It may be 
a descensus ad ridiculum to pass from the establishment of 
the fundamental articles to shooting blackbirds, but it is just 
as much a government by the people, a controlling of their 
own affairs, when every rateable person was required to kill 
a dozen blackbirds in March, April, May, and June, or else 
pay one shilling to the town's use.^ And it was the same 
obligation which called out the inhabitants to work on the 

Common Meadow. 

We have already spoken of the common or undivided land 
and the stated commons, but it is necessary to distinguish 
another class of common holding. This was the common 
meadow, early divided in severalty, which belonged to those 
proprietors who owned land therein. At first all the proprie- 
tors had a share in the common meadow, and for a long time 
after there remained land undivided, so that practically most 
of the inhabitants had a share. But with the sale of lands, 
and the consequent accumulation of many lots in single hands, 
the number of proprietors decreased, and an increasing number 
of the town inhabitants had no part in their meetings. These 
meetings, at which all who had a lot in the meadow were 
entitled to be present, are technically to be distinguished 
from the proprietors' meetings already spoken of. Practically 
they were composed of the same men who, as proprietors of 
the common meadow, came together to discuss questions of 
fencing, trespass, and rights. 

These are the meadows, the regulation of which has been 

1 Weth. Rec, May 11, 1686. 

2 Windsor Rec. Dec. 16. 1707. 

The Land System. 69 

found to bear such a striking resemblance to certain forms of 
old English and German land-holding. There is nothing 
specially remarkable in this identity. It was the influence of 
English custom which can be traced back to that interesting law 
of the Anglo-Saxons, " when oeorls have an allotted meadow 
to fence," which is the earliest English evidence of a common 
meadow.^ These meadows became the Lammas fields of later 
England, which were cultivated for six months in the year, 
and were then thrown open for common use for six months. 
This state of things existed until the Enclosure Acts struck 
the death-blow to common tenure. But the settlers left 
England before these acts were passed, and the common 
meadow system has been found to have been applied by them 
from Salem to Nantucket. 

This common meadow was enclosed by the common fence. 
In the river towns nature provided half the fence — the 
Great River — and the proprietors half. It would have 
been impossible to have surrounded each small plot of 
meadow land with a fence, and it would have been need- 
lessly expensive and wasteful, as the spring freshets would 
have carried them off yearly. Even the common fence 
was not always exempt, and early had to be moved to higher 
ground. The lands which had been allotted within the 
meadow were divided by meer-stoncs at each comer, and 
hunting for meer-stones must have been a very lively pursuit 
then, as it occasionally is now. These meadows were owned 
by a definite number of inhabitants, who had fixed allotments 
of a definite number of acres, and who cultivated these lands 
for half the year. This gave to each proprietor a certain 
right in the meadow, according to which his share in the 
maintenanoe of the fence was determined, and the number of 

* Laws of Ine, §42. Schmid, Qesetze der Angelsachsen, p. 40. By 
this is not raeant the gemaene loMe or common pasture, but the gedAl landt 
that which is held by a few in common. The former bears a certain 
resemblance, which is the result of its own influence, to the commons, in 
their capacity as the common pasture. 

70 The River Towns of Connecticut. 

animals he was entitled to admit on the opening of the meadow 
was established. This opening took place at a given date, 
quite as often fixed in town meeting as in proprietors', and 
cattle and horses were allowed to enter the fields and pasture 
on the stubble. Sheep and swine were not admitted ; each 
had its own pasture ; sheep w^ere fed on the stated commons 
and swine were turned wholesale into the wilderness. No herder 
was required during this period, which lasted from November 
11 to the 15th of April, through practically the cattle were 
withdrawn with the opening of winter.^ Later this period 
became a moveable one and sometimes began as early as 
October 13. Evidently, at first, by tacit consent, it was 
allowable for certain proprietors to bait their animals in the 
common meadow upon their own holdings, if they so wished, 
during the summer. This was afterward restricted to week 
days, and finally abolished, as possibly too great a waste of 
time. The breaking loose of such baited animals and the 
breaking in of loose cattle to the meadow was a constant 
source of trouble, for great damage was done thereby to the 
corn and grass of others, and fines were frequent. Such 
animals were accounted damage feasant, a legal phrase which 

^ There are curious and unexpected outcroppings throughout the old 
records of bits of English custom, as shown bynames, dates, and common 
usage. Not only are these New England common meadows almost iden- 
tical with the Lammas Fields and with the earlier Saxon meadow and arable, 
but this date, November 11 (Martinmas day), was the day of opening the 
Lammas Fields iu Old England, and the time when the tenant paid a 
part of his rent. In other entries we find a period of time stated as 
** from Michaelmass to the last of November," *' a week before Micheltid," 
and again, "fourteen night after Micheltid." The renting of the town 
lands of Hartford was from Michaelmas to Michaelmas. This was a direct 
following of the English custom of rents. How did the Puritans happen 
to retain and actually make use of these when they knew them to be 
** popish" ? In the description of Hartford lands the term messuage is 
very often used, and continued to be used for many years. It sounds as 
if it might have been taken out of the Hundred Rolls or Liber Niger or 
Domesday Book, as signifying a cottage holding, so familiar is it to the 
student of early English tenures. In this country it was used in the sense 
of a homestead. The use of turf and twig has already been noted. 

The Land System, 71 

the old town clerks spelled in extraordinary ways. The 
sowing of winter grain was continued, and this, of course, 
would, if sown in the common meadow, suffer from the loose 
animals, so that, for a long time, a regular keeper was em- 
ployed by the proprietors to guard the sown land, and after- 
wards it was required that all who wished to sow winter grain 
must fence it in. The customs regarding the common meadow 
are, some of them, still in existence. Permanent fencing has 
in many quarters encroached on its decreasing area, which, 
owing to the washings of an erratic river in the alluvial soil, 
has been in some quarters reduced nearly one-half, while in 
others there has been an increase. The cattle and cow rights, 
which were formerly so important, and were bought and sold, 
thus giving outsiders an entrance into the meadow, have been 
given up within twenty years. But the practice of throwing 
open the meadow about the middle of November — a date 
decided by the selectmen — is still continued. 

Alienation of Land. 

For the first seventy years of colonial history in the Con- 
necticut Valley one notices a spirit of self-sufBciency in all 
matters which concern individual town interests. The com- 
munities felt that a careful husbanding of their own resources 
was necessary to swell their own subsistence fund. Apart 
from the fact of legal subordination tq the General Court, the 
valley towns were within their own boundaries as exclusive 
as a feudal knight within his castle. No magic circle could 
have been more impassable than the imaginary lines which 
marked the extent of the town lands. This principle of town 
separation; the maintenance of its privileges as against all 
intruders; the jealousy with which it watched over all grants 
to the individual inhabitants, taking the greatest care that not 
one jot or tittle of town rights or town possessions should 
be lost or given up, characterizes everywhere the New Eng- 
land towns, and though a narrow, it was yet a necessary view. 
It made them compact, solid foundations, and bred men who, 

72 The Rive}' Towns of Connecticut, 

while ever jealous for their native heath, never failed in loy- 
alty to the State. 

In no particular was this spirit more clearly evidenced 
than in the town's attitude toward the alienation of land. It 
is a subject worth elaborating. Apart from commonage, no 
link connecting the present with the past stands out in bolder 
relief, as if proud of its antiquity. The principle is found 
everywhere, and runs back to the beginnings of community 
life, that in case of sale of an allotted tract of land, the seller 
must first offer it to the inhabitants of the town itself before 
looking elsewhere for a purchaser. In Connecticut the need 
of securing the town lands from falling into the hands of 
outsiders was so strong that the General Court even went so 
far as to pass a law to this effect, forbidding any inhabitant 
to sell his " accomodation of house and lands until he have 
first propounded the sale thereof to the town where it is 
situate and they refuse to accept of the sale tendered."^ 

'Col. Rec. I, p. 351. This is a widely recognized principle of community 
life. M. de Laveleye has shown by concrete examples that it exists in 
Russia, Switzerland, France, and in Mussulman countries, as Algeria, 
India and Java (Prim. Prop., pp. 11, 151-3). In those countries where 
community of holding was the rule, of course a law against sale can refer 
only to the house lot. It is a necessary part of primitive community life, 
where it was almost a religious tenet that the lands remain in the posses- 
sion of the community. It has its origin in the patriarchal family which 
developed into the patriarchal community, wherein every member of the 
association was considered as owning a share in the lands of the commune, 
and therefore had a lawful right in the land which each cultivated. This 
may look back to the time when the community was but a large family 
under the patriarch, and when the principle of heirship gave to each a 
share in the common property. If this be its origin, it is curious to see 
that the New England towns applied this principle from economic reasons, 
for the safety and development of the town seemed to depend on some such 
rule. Such principles must have been known to the settlers, though only 
partially in practice in the English parish (see note 3, p. 84). It cropped 
out in its completeness on New England soil, though even there in some 
towns there was no more elaborate application than had been known in 
the mother country. To explain it it is not necessary to suppose a return 
to a primitive system ; there is no missing link in the chain of direct 
descent from Germany to America. 

The Land System. 73 

This law was passed in 1660, and is the only instance in 
New England history in which the towns were unable to 
settle such matters for themselves.^ The will of the court 
was binding, for the towns did not consider themselves suffi- 
ciently independent to interpret this law as they pleased. In 
1685 they asked through their representatives whether the 
court intended that all lands within the township should " be 
tendered to sale to the town before any other sale be made of 
them to any other than the inhabitants of the town " where 
they were situated. To this the court answered in the 
affirmative.^ One of the towns had already construed the 
law very strictly, though the above appeal to the court seems 
to show a growing uneasiness under the strictures of a 
prohibitive law. 

Wethersfield declared in special town meeting regarding 
the division of 1670, that "no man or person whatsoever, 
who either at present is or hereafter be a proprietor in the 
lands mentioned shall at any time, either directly or indi- 
rectly, make any alienation, gift, sale or other disposition of 
his property in the said lands to any person who shall not be 
for the time being an inhabitant of this town.'^^ In case 
such alienation took place the proprietor's right was forfeited, 
the sale void, and the land returned to the town for reallot- 
ment by the proprietors. This injunction, however, had to 
be twice repeated. Notwithstanding which there were sold, 
some time within the next fifteen years, six of these lots, and 
the attention of the town having been called to it, in order 
that the former vote should not be a mere dead letter, it was 
ordered that the lots be recovered aud returned to the town. 
The committee of one appointed to recover was given two of 

' The question was brought up in the Massaohusotts Court as to whether 
the towns had the right of pre-emption or forbidding of sale. No action 
was taken, and possiblj the court thought the matter a subject for town 
management. Mass. Col. Reo. I, 201. 

«Col. Roc. Ill, 18e-7. 

» Weth. Rec, Mar. 8, 1670-71. 

74 The River Towns of Connecticut. 

the lots as payment, and the remainder reverted to the town. 
It would be interesting to know whether this restriction upon 
freedom of sale was actually carried out.^ 

The town passed a similarly binding law at the time of the 
second division, but nothing further is heard of the matter. 
Hartford having voted in 1635 that the offer of house-lots must 
first be made to the town, or to some one of whom the town 
approved, said nothing more about alienation, and the General 
Court order was passed before it made another division. 
Windsor began to divide after such laws had ceased to be 
necessary, and made no restrictions on sale; but in many 
other towns in the colony the principle was applied. The 
object of such a law was evidently twofold : to prevent town 
lands from falling into the hands of persons dwelling in other 
towns or colonies, with the consequent loss to the town of all 
the fruits of its own territory, and to prevent the admission 
of persons likely to be obnoxious or injurious to the town's 
interest ; for Hartford and Windsor each required — at least 
in a few instances — that the owners of land should secure the 
town against damage resulting from sale to an outsider. 

There is little doubt that rules of this nature in practical 
application were often relaxed. Hartford allowed in 1640 
to all her original settlers the privilege of selling all the lands 
that they were possessed of, and there is plenty of evidence 
that sales had taken place from the earlier divisions, though 
not to persons dwelling out of the colony. The increase of 
inhabitants would make the enforcement of such a rule a matter 
of constantly greater difficulty. In comparing the Wethersfield 
order with those of other towns, we find none so strict in the 
declaration of the alienation principle.^ Others allowed, as 
did Hartford in one instance at least, in case no purchaser 

* In 1696 an inhabitant applied to the town for liberty to sell an indi- 
vidual grant, on account of necessity. The liberty was granted. Evidently 
the principle against sale without permission was still enforced. Weth. 
Rec, Aug. 7, 16%. 

*Egleston, Land System, J. H. U. Studies IV, pp. 592-594. 

The Land System, 76 

was found in the town itself, the effecting of a sale elsewhere, 
generally with the approval of the community. But the fact 
that the inhabitants of the town practically controlled the 
land divisions, while in Hartford and Windsor they were 
managed by the proprietors, together with the i)re8ence of a 
Greneral Court order, may account for the absence from the 
records of the latter towns of as elaborate an order against 
alienation as is found in Wethersfield. 

Evolution of New Towns. 

The river towns were prolific mothers. Ten daughters 
now look to them for their origin, and the total number of 
communities contained within the historic boundaries of the 
early settlements now equals the number of the original 
colonies. Windsor has been the mother-stock from which 
four towns have been severed ; Wethersfield three, and Hart- 
ford three.^ In the various allotments of lands do we see the 
beginnings of new towns. The isolated settler (at first probably 
with temporary summer residence which afterward became 
permanent) would be joined by others to whom the town 
made single grants in that quarter. The lands on the east 
side of the river were early used for farming, and the site of 
future towns became a source for hay and a corral for keeping 
cattle. The development of such a centre was by gradual 
accretion. In the event of a general division of land, many 
of those who received shares withdrew to these lots, and, 
erecting houses, began the nucleus of a town. The original 
outlying districts were called Farms, and this nomenclature 

'Windsor: Bast Windsor, South Windsor, Ellington, Windsor Locks. 
Wethersfield: Glaftonbury, Rocky Hill, Newington. Hartford: East 
Hartford, West Hartford, Manchester. No account is here taken of 
Farmington and Simsbury, as these sections were not included within the 
limits of the river towns, although by general consent they were con- 
sidered as l)elonging, the former to Hartford and the latter to Windsor. 
Nor are there included those portions of territory which were cut off to 
form but a part of Another town, as Berlin, Bloomfleld, and Marlborough. 

76 The River Towjis of Connecticut. 

is generally found in the Connecticut colony.^ The dwellers 
in the farms still continued to be present at the only meeting- 
house in the township, and to cross the river or the belt of 
dense woods for attendance at the monthly town meeting. 
But it was not long before that oldest of institutions, the 
village pound, which is said to be older than the kingdom, 
was established and formed the first centralizing factor. 
Before the community was recognized as either a religious or 
a civil unit, before a thought of separation had entered the 
mind of its founders, it received permission to "make and 
maintain a pound "^ for the common use of the settlers, some- 
times without condition, sometimes subject to the approval 
of the town. The pound began the process of separation ; in 
this one particular a settlement became economically inde- 
pendent, and the greater privileges only awaited an increase 
in the number of the inhabitants. The next step in the 
separating process was generally an ecclesiastical one. Some- 
times the religious and civil steps were taken at the same 
time, as was the case in Glastonbury, where the difficulties 
of crossing a large river hastened the process. In other cases 

' In a catalogue of ministers in Massachusetts and Connecticut, by 
Cotton Mather, is the following: Windsor, Mr. Samuel Mather; and 
Farme, Mr. Timothy Edwards. Tlie term side, though used in Connec- 
ticut, does not seem to have had so distinctive a meaning as in Massachu- 
setts. Yet it is found to designate the halves of a town divided by a 
rivulet, as in Windsor and Hartford. Each side had its own meetings 
and its own officers in Hartford. ** To secure the said Town and Side 
from damage." (Hart. Rec, p. 153.) Yet in no case did a side grow into 
a separate town, though at times certain officers, as haward, were chosen 
by the side, 

^Weth. Rec, Feb. 24, 1673; Oct. 15, 1694; Hart. Rec, June 9, 1645. 
Glastonbury claims the first recognition of that part of Wethersfield as an 
independent community to be the act of the General Court in 1653, giving 
the Eastsiders liberty of training by themselves. (Chapin's Glastonbury, 
p. 37.) This was twenty years before that part of the town was granted a 
pound. The date of the beginnings of recognition can even be put back 
two years farther, when in 1651 liberty was granted to the Farms anywhere 
in the colony, of reserving for their protection one able-bodied and fully 
armed soldier on training days. (Col. Rec. I, p. 222.) In the case, how- 
ever, of original settlements, setting up a pound was one of the first acts. 

I Wothcri*nel(l. 
a HariforcJ. 
8 Windsor. 

4 Glastonbury, IMO. 

5 Bast Windsor, 17t8. 

6 East Hartford. 178«. 

Evolution of New Towns. 

7 Elllugt<^in. 17B6, lying partly 

In the Equivalent. 

8 Marlborough, 1803. 

9 Manohestar, 18». 

10 Bloomfleld. 1886. 

11 Booky Hill. 1848. 

U South Windsor. 1845. 

13 Berlin (1785), 1850. 

14 West Hartford. 1854. 

15 Windsor Looks. 1864. 

16 Mewlngton, 1871. 

The smallest circles represent villaffes legally a part of the towns to which thej are 
attached. The arrows on the severeu towns point to the original town of which thej 
were formerly a part. Towns with three arrows were forincKi from land taken from 
three original townships. The above are the original boundaries of the River Towns, 
but the nver course is as at present. 

The Land System, 77 

the difficulties of winter attendance led to the granting of 
winter privileges, that is the privilege of having service 
among themselves during the winter. Even the stiff-necked 
Puritans did not relish the idea of travelling five, six and 
seven miles to church, and foot-stoves and hot stones were 
not so comfortable as the neighboring room where they would 
meet to worship together. Often, however, winter privileges 
were not sufficient, and " liberty of a minister " was asked 
for from the first. In this case a meeting-house was generally 
built and minister's rates established, and a grant of land 
made. Here we notice the paternal character of the Greneral 
Court, for though the petition was generally sent to the 
authorities of the town of which they formed a part, yet it 
invariably had to be confirmed by the central power. Some- 
times the Assembly paid deference to the wishes of the town, 
as in the case of South Windsor, where, finding Windsor 
unwilling to consent to the separation, it requested the 
petitioners to wait.^ In East Windsor the report of the 
committee appointed to consider the petition was adopted, 
notwithstanding some remonstrance from the Southsiders.^ 
Again, in the case of Ellington, the town of Windsor granted 
the petition temporarily, retaining the privilege of again 
demanding ministerial taxes when she pleased. But the 
Assembly a little later freed them from this, and granted 
them a permanent ecclesiastical separation.'* With the grant- 
ing of winter preaching went the remission of a third of the 
ministerial taxes, and with the granting of full j)rivi leges an 
entire remission of these taxes and a grant of land to the new 
ecclesiastical centre for a parsonage. Then followed the incor- 
poration of the society, for the church did not become legally 
established with the corporate powers of a parish until it had 
received a cliarter from the Assembly.* When this act was 
completed, town and parish were no longer coterminous. The 
inhabitant of the township attended town meeting in the central 

• Stiles, Windsor, pp. 293 ff. • lb. pp. 296 fl. • lb. pp. 267 fl. 
*Col. Rec. V, p. 874. 

78 The River Totma of Connecticut. 

settlement when he wished, and worshiped God at the neigh- 
borhood meeting. Town and parish records were now kept 
distinct from each other, the society had its own committee 
and collected its own rates ;^ as far as practical separation was 
concerned the two settlements were already independent. The 
obligation to perform religious duties was felt to be greater 
than that of attendance on civil assemblies. Absence from 
town meeting was not uncommon, from worship rare. 

While this process was going on, a gradual political inde- 
pendence was taking place. This began with the election for 
the growing community of sundry officei's, such as haward, 
fence-viewer, and surveyor, who were generally inhabitants of 
the settlement, and served only within its borders. The 
embryo town was gradually assuming shape. It had its 
pound, its meeting-house, its ecclesiastical committee, its 
school and special officers, and many a village in Connecticut 
is in the same condition to-day, often thinking little of the 
next step, which only an active desire for civil independence 
brings about. In the case of Glastonbury, winter privileges, 
full ecclesiastical privileges, and political independence were 
consummated at one stroke; but with many of the other 
towns the process was slow. Sometimes incorporation was 
granted at the first petition, more often frequent petitions 
were necessary. 

It is difficult to defend Professor Johnston's idea of incor- 
poration.^ All the towns of the Connecticut colony were either 
offshoots from the original town in the way already pointed 
out, or they owed their settlement either to the movements 
of dissatisfied members of the older communities, or (because 
of a favorable situation for a plantation) to the efforts of the 
court, or of some private individual to whom land had been 
granted. In the first of the latter cases, as soon as the idea of 
settlement took practical shape, a petition was sent to the Gen- 
eral Court praying for permission to inhabit the selected spot. 

^Col. Rec, Oct. 12, 1609. « Johnston, Connecticut, pp. 76, 136. 

The Land System, 79 

This was generally granted with readiness, often with advice 
and encouragement, if done in an orderly way, and a committee 
was appointed by the court to report on its feasibility, and to 
superintend the settlement and have charge of the division of 
lands. In the second case a committee was directly appointed, 
which was instructed to dispose of the lands " to such inhabit- 
ants ... as by them shall be judged meet to make improve- 
ments thereof, in such kind as may be for the good of the 
commonwealth."^ Sometimes the colony purchased the land, 
and the amount was to be repaid by those who took allotments 

Then the process of settling in the new quarter began, 
under the watchful eye of the court, and under the direct 
charge of the Grand Committee, as the town records call it. 
This committee governed the plantation until it was incor- 
porated ; it made rules for the planters, prescribed the condi- 
tions of settlement, as that the lands should be dwelt upon for 
at least two years, and that improvements should begin at 
once by ploughing, mowing, building and fencing; it selected 
the site, laid out the home-lots, disposed of them by sale or 
grant, looked after highways and fences, made suitable pro- 
vision for the church, minister and schools, and in fact did 
all that the town authorities of an incorporated town were 
accustomed to do. "They were to found a town, to organize 
it, and to supply it with locomotive force until it got legs of 
its own."^ After this process of nursing, the infant settle- 
ment became weaned from the direct control of the court, to 
which it owed its existence, and u})on which it was entirely 
dej)endent through the Grand Committee, until the court 
itself at length severed those ties which bound it, by tlje 
decree of incorporation. This often took place within a year, 
as in the case of Mattabeseck (Middletown), or within four or 
five years, as in the case of Massacoe (Simsbury). The town 
was now entitled to the privileges and subject to the burdens 

> Col. Rec. I, p. 161. • Bronson's Waterbury, p. 8. 

80 The River Towns of Connecticut. 

of the other towns ; it now elected its constable, and pre- 
sented him to the court for approbation and oath ; it chose 
its deputies, its town officers ; began its town records, admitted 
its own inhabitants ; in a word, did all that the committee had 
before done. For the first time it became independent, for 
the first time attained to that degree of self-government which 
the river towns possessed, limited though they were by the 
overshadowing of the General Court. Incorporation meant 
a great deal ; besides self-organization, it meant payment of 
rates, " in proportion according to the rule of rating for their 
cattle and other visible estate";^ it meant a constable, 
deputies and freemen ; in brief, it meant manhood. In case of 
towns incorporated within the first sixty years, no objections 
were made to granting them this privilege. The colony 
needed new towns, and encouraged their settlement and 
growth by every possible means. But after that time, when 
the majority of incorporated towns were severed sections of 
an old town, incorporation became a different matter. Had 
it been granted to every petition, it might have been construed 
as a mere form ; but it was by no means so granted. The 
General Court was the power above the town, and was always 
so recognized. The town was less a republic than she is now. 
East Hartford petitioned for sixty years for the privileges 
which incorporation carried with it. The term meant some- 
thing, it was the admission into the body politic of an organ- 
ized community, but the right of deciding when it was properly 
qualified lay with the Assembly, and it had no rights except 
what that body allowed it. It is worthy of notice that it 
was as a rule the lower house which negatived the petition. 
Too often the records of the colony chronicle only the birth ; 
the travail attending it can only be fully understood by 
searching the minutes of town and church. The word of the 
court was final, and without exception was desired, waited for 
and accepted. 

'Col. Bed, p. 338. 

The Land System, 81 

The same was true of ecclesiastical incorporation. Ques- 
tions regarding religious differences, the settlement of minis- 
ters and the organization of churches, were interfered with or 
settled either with or without the request of the town. But 
with the later divisions of churches and the establishment of 
separate parishes, the position of the State church gradually- 
ceased for the Congregationalists. New denominations came 
into the field, which received recognition, thus estopping in 
such cases the Assembly from any interference in matters 
of church organization or separation. The town lost even its 
distinctive position as a parish, and became merely a local 
administrative body. 

82 The River Tovma of Connecticut. 



We have now examined the nature of the causes and 
circumstances which led a remarkable people into this quiet 
Indian valley. We have investigated their relations to the 
soil which they cultivated, and the manner in which they 
endeavored to so apportion it that the greatest good might 
come to the greatest number. It now remains to discuss the 
conditions existing among the people themselves, in their 
civil and administrative capacity, to discover the real strength 
of their town life, that we may perhaps the better understand 
what was the home environment of those men, whose com- 
bined actions as a body politic have called forth deserved 
admiration for the history of a vigorous State. 

Freemen, Inhabitants, Householders, Proprietors. 

No one of the characteristic differences between Massachu- 
setts and Connecticut is so well known and so far-reaching 
as the extension of the privilege of freemanship. The errors 
which must accompany a restriction of the suffrage to church 
members find no place in the Connecticut fundamentals. 
The platform was broad, and based on the opinion of the 
majority of the people composing the commonwealth. The 
theocratic limitation takes for granted a falsity : that every 
church member must of necessity be the most worthy partici- 
pator in civil affairs. Thus there would be admitted to the 
franchise men of inferior and unworthy qualifications, while 
many of sagacity and wisdom, and often greater conscientious- 
ness, would find themselves debarred.^ No greater privilege 
could be accorded to a town and its inhabitants than that 
inserted in the first section of the constitution of 1639, that 

' Ellis, Puritan Age, p. 209. 

The Totem and the People, 83 

choice of the governor and magistrates "shall be made by 
all that are admitted freemen and have taken the oath of 
Fidelity and do cohabitte within this jurisdiction (having 
beene admitted Inhabitants by the major part of the Towne 
wherein they live) or the major parte of such as shall be then 
present."^ This, then, threw the burden on the inhabitants 
of the diiferent towns, who, so far as the constitution went, 
might reguhite the admission of additional inhabitants as 
they pleased. That the same general rules for such admission 
were operative in each of the towns is undoubted, otherwise 
the equity of the law would have been destroyed. 

Before going further, then, it is necessary to examine the 
conditions which influenced the inhabitants of a town in 
adding to their number. For the first sixty years the town- 
ship and the parish were identical. There was one meeting- 
house, and here met inhabitants to perform both civil and 
religious duties. The aifairs of town and church were alike 
passed upon at the civil meeting, and it is not surprising 
that the religious atmosphere lingered in the historic edifice 
to influence the words and acts of a purely civil body. The 
conformity to the laws of the church would compel a recogni- 
tion of its precepts in matters of government. Theoretically, 
church and state were separated; practically, they were so 
interwoven that separation would have meant the severance 
of soul and body. Consequently, whosoever failed to meet 
an approval based on the general principles of doctrine and 
ethics which the church believed in, would be rejected as an 
unfit inhabitant. But such unfitness must not be construed 
as in any way comparable with the narrow lines laid down 
in Massachusetts. For the town's own protection it was 
necessary that all who would be burdensome to it, or would, 
from factious or drunken conversation, be damaging to its 
interests or its reputation, should be forbidden admission. 

>Col. Rec. I, p. 31. The passage in parenthesis was probably ituierted 
in 1G13, when an amendment to that effect was passed by the (General 
Court. (Col. Rec. I, p. 90.) For the Oath of Fidelity see Col. Reo. I, p. 02. 

84 The River Totvns of Connecticut 

The opinion of the majority was* likely to be averse to all 
positively out of harmony with their Congregational tenets/ 
such as " loathsome Heretickes, whether Quakers, Ranters, 
Adamites or some others like them." It was not, however, 
until 1656 that the General Court, following the recommenda- 
tion of the Commissioners for the United Colonies, passed an 
order forbidding the towns to entertain such troublesome 
people.^ But no one became a permanent resident of the 
town until he was admitted an inhabitant. The floating body 
of transients were a political nonentity, and though from the 
nature of things they formed a necessary element, one can 
hardly call them, as does Dr. Bronson, a rightful element.^ 
Their rights were meagre in the extreme, and the towns, 
paying them a scant hospitality, got rid of them as rapidly as 
possible. As early as 1640 Hartford passed a vote ordering 
that whosoever entertained any person or family in the town 
above one month, without leave from the town, should be 
liable for all costs or troubles arising therefrom, and at the 
same time might be called in question for such action.^ 

^ Col. Rec. I, pp. 283, 303. Compare Bronson, Early Government in 
Connecticut, p. 312. 

•Bronson, Early Government, p. 311. 

2 Hart. Rec, Jan. 14, 1639. Probably "Wethersfield and Windsor passed 
similar orders, though the records are missing for the first fifteen years. 
It is evident that the same economic reasons against alienation or rent of 
land to strangers without giving security were at work in the English 
parish, so that in this particular the colonists simply enlarged, on account 
of the greater dangers of their situation, a condition with which they 
were familiar. Notice this by-law of Steeple Ashton parish: "Item: 
whereas there hath much poverty happened unto this parish by receiving 
of strangers to inhabit there, and not first securing them against such 
contingences ... It is ordered, by this Vestry, that every person or 
persons whatsoever, who shall let or set any housing or dwelling to any 
stranger, and who shall not first give good security for defending and 
saving harmless the said Inhabitants from the future charge as may 
happen by such stranger coming to inhabit within the said parish, — and 
if any person shall do to the contrary, — It is agreed that such person, so 
receiving such stranger shall be rated to the poor 20 sh. monthly over and 
besides his monthly tax." (Toulmin Smith, The Parish, pp. 514-15; 
see also p. 528 for a similar by-law in Ardley parish, Hertfordshire. ) 

The Towns and the People. 85 

Can we not fairly say that before 1657 there was universal 
sufirage in Connecticut, and approximately complete repre- 
sentation? It was more universal than it is now, for free- 
manship was conferred upon all above sixteen who brought 
a certificate of good behavior from the town.^ This ideal 
democracy is the more striking when we realize that in 
Massachusetts none but freemen (chosen by the General Court) 
could " have any vote in any town in any action of authority 
or necessity or that which belongs to them by virtue of their 
freedom, as receiving inhabitants or laying out of lotts, etc.""^ 
This meant that only about one-sixth of the inhabitants of a 
town were allowed any voice in matters for the carrying out 
of which all the inhabitants were taxed. The building of the 
church, the maintenance of the same, the election and institu- 
tion of the minister, were in the hands of the few, yet for all 
these the many paid their proportion. No matter how many 
inhabitants a town contained, unless there were ten freemen 
among them, they were allowed no representation at the 
General Court.^ It is by such a contrast that we appreciate 
the full meaning of the liberal attitude of Connecticut for the 
first twenty years of her history. 

To what, then, are we to ascribe the narrowing of the 
political boundaries which took place in 1657? It has been 
said that there was an infusion of an inharmonious element at 
this time into the colony, evidently referring to the Quakers. 
These people appeared in Boston first in 1652. Their num- 
bers were very small, and strenuous efforts were made to keep 
them out. Their books were bunied, themselves committed 
to prison, and shipmasters enjoined, on penalty of fine and 
imprisonment, not to bring any into the colonies. In Con- 
necticut an unfortunate controversy in the church in Hartford 
caused the appearance of the Quakers to be viewe<l with 
alarm. The General Court eagerly followed the recommenda- 

»Col. Rec. I, p. 189. 

« Maw. Col. Uec. I, p. 161. 

*Ma88. Col. Keo. I, p. 178. 

86 Tlie River Totons of Connecticni. 

tion of the United Commissioners and passed a law against 
them two weeks before the Massachusetts court convened.^ 
But there is not the slightest evidence that there had yet 
come a Quaker into Connecticut ; the dread of them was 
enough. The colonial magistrates scented Quakerism from 
afar and passed laws as stringent as if this " cursed set of 
haeriticks'' were already as thick as tramps in the colony. 
Even in New Haven, more easily reached by Quakers 
escaping from Massachusetts, there was a minimum of cases 
tried under the law.^ If any Quakers reached Connecticut 
they passed unnoticed by the towns, though the records 
notice the presence of Jews. It does not seem possible, then, to 
ascribe to this cause the passage of the law in 1657 limiting the 
suffrage. This law defined admitted inhabitants, mentioned 
in the seventh Fundamental, that is the freemen, as " house- 
holders that are one and twenty years old or have bore office 
or have 30 1. estate." This meant, interpreted, that no 
unmarried man in the colony could vote for governor, mag- 
istrates or deputies unless he had himself held office or was 
possessed of real estate of thirty pounds value — a large sum 
in those days when rateable estate averaged * about sixty 
pounds to each inhabitant.^ But this law has nothing to do 
with the persons to be admitted into the various towns as 
inhabitants; it only declared that hereafter admission into 
the various towns as inhabitants was not a sufficient qualifi- 
cation for a freeman. The colony was losing faith in its 
towns. As before said, in connection with the proprietors,^ 
the meetings were in the control of those who were admitting 
such as were not of honest conversation and, in the eyes of 
the court, acceptable as freemen. The cause of this is not far 
to seek. The first generation were passing away ; the fathers 
were giving way to the children. The narrow circle within 

1 Col. Rec. I, pp. 283, 303, 308. Mass. Col. Rec. IV, Part I, pp. 277, 278. 

'^Levermore, New ITaven, pp. 135-6. 

'Col. Rec. I, p. 293. Broiison, Early Government, p. 315. 

* Supra, pp. 52-3. 

The Towns and tJie People, 87 

which the former were willing to grant the exercise of pure 
democratic principles was broadening under the more catholic 
views of the new generation, and men of many sorts seem 
to have been admitted, or to have established themselves 
without the knowledge of the town authorities. If the dying 
out of the old spirit ushered in an era of religious change, 
as seen in the Hartford controversy, it also marks an era 
of political change, as seen in the law limiting the suffrage. 
It makes a small show on the statute book, but it is a 
sure index to the looseness of system which had grown 
up in the various towns. But if the children and those 
whom they admitted controlled in the towns, the fathers 
were in ascendency at the court, and the limitation law was 
the result. Yet not even this law was stringent enough. In 
the lists of 135 inhabitants made freemen within the ensuing 
two years, are to be seen, mingled with the names familiar 
to the student of the earlier period, many entirely new to the 
colony. This number was too great — considerably more than 
half of all admitted in twenty-three years under the constitu- 
tion,^ — and the court changed the thirty pounds real estate 
to thirty pounds personal estate.^ On this account but three 
new freemen were created during the next three years and a 
half before the receipt of the charter. This action of the court 
apparently aroused the towns to a realization of their position, 
and Windsor passed an order regulating the admission of 
inhabitants in June, 1659, and Hartford followed with a 
forcible protest against intruding strangers the February 
following, in which it is declared that no one was to be 
admitted an inhabitant " without it be first consented to by 
the orderly vote of the inhabitants." ^ The word which we 

' Bronson, Early Goveniment, p. 815. 

•Col. Rea I, p. 831. 

* No abstract of theae votes could be so graphic as the votes theroselvM, 
" The townsmen took into consideration how to prevent inconvenience and 
damage that may come to the town if some order be not established alx)ut 
entertainment and admitting of persons to be inhabitant in the town. 

88 The River Towns of Connecticut 

have italicized is the key to an explanation of what had been 
the condition of the meetings before, and helps to substan- 
tiate the position already taken regarding a growing looseness 
in the town system. The machinery for admission had not 
been successful under the constitution; it had caused much 
trouble, and the cause seems to have been organic. With 
church and state practically interwoven, the theory of the one 
was too narrow, and of the other too broad. The throes 
of the controversial period had this result. By the Half 
Way Covenant the lines of church theory were extended; by 
the restrictions upon the right to vote, the lines of the theory 
of state were contracted ; and these two great factors, democ- 
racy and church membership, no longer so unequally yoked, 
and made more harmonious by that liberal guide for action, 
the charter, ceased to struggle for the supremacy; neither 
was destined to swallow the other. 

With the narrowing of the elective franchise,^ the right was 

We therefore order that no person or persons whatsoever shall be admitted 
inhabitant in this town of Windsor without the approbation of the town or 
townsmen that are or shall be from year to year in being. Nor shall any 
man sett or sell any house or land so as to bring in any to be inhabitant into 
the town without the approbation of the townsmen, or giving in such 
security as may be accepted to save the town from damage. " ( Wind . Rec. , 
June 27, 1659, vol. I, p. 40.) Stiles gives the year wrongly, 1058 (p. 54). 
The Hartford record is as follows: "for the preventing future evils and 
inconveniences that many times are ready to break in upon us, by many 
persons ushering in themselves among us who are strangers to us, through 
whose poverty, evil manners or opinions, the town is subject to be much 
prejudiced or endangered. It is therefore ordered at the same town meet- 
ing that no person or persons in Hartford, shall give any part of his or 
their house to him or them whereby he or they become an inmate, with- 
out it be first consented to by the orderly vote of the inhabitants at the 
same town meeting, under the forfeiture of five pounds for every month, 
to be recovered by the townsmen in being by a course of law." (Hart. 
Rec, Feb. 14, 1659 (1660 N. S.). 

* It is not our purpose to trace further the history of popular suffrage. 
With the coming of the charter a law was passed which, as it practically 
remained the law till 1818, is worth quoting : ** This Assembly doth order 
that for the future such as desire to be admitted freemen of this corpora- 

The Toums and the People. 89 

taken away from a number of inhabitants of voting for colonial 
officers. Every freeman was an inhabitant, but not every 
inhabitant a freeman. For the former the only qualification 
was that he be of honest and peaceable conversation and 
accepted by the major part of the town. In 1682 the court 
passed a law forbidding persons of " ungovernable conversa- 
tion," who pretended to be hired servants, or who pretended 
to hire houses and lands, and who would be likely to prove 
vicious, burdensome and chargeable to the town, from 
remaining there. Wethersfield, acting upon this, at once 
warned four men out of town. The towns frequently declared 
certain persons " no inhabitants," and in general carried out 
the provisions of the law with celerity. 

Within the circle of inhabitants were the householders, who, 
as the name implies, were probably heads of families, or 
owners of a sufficient amount of real estate. A study of the 
list of those who received in the division of 1670^ shows 
that eight were probably not freemen, and five were women.^ 
Of course this gives us no positive clue to the position of a 
householder, but it shows that in the Connecticut colony one 
need not be a freeman and might be a woman. The simplest 

tion shall present themselves with a certificate under the hands of the 
major part of the Townsmen where they live, that they are persons of 
civil, peaceable and honest conversation and that they have attained the 
age of twenty-one years and have 20 1. estate, besides their person in the 
list of estate ; and that such persons so qualified to the court's approba- 
tion shall be pre^nted at October court yearly or some adjourned court 
and admitted after the election at the Assembly in May. And in case any 
freemnn shall walk scandalously or commit any scandalous oflfenco and be 
legally convicted thereof, he shall be disfranchised by any of our civil 
courts." Col. Rec. I, p. 889. 

> See p. 56. 

• The seventy-six names in the Wethersfield Records, compared with the 
list of freemen of 1609 (Col. Rec. II, p. 518), leaves twenty names unac- 
counted for. Two of these are found in the Hartford lists. Right more 
were propounded in May, 1669, and accepted in October, 1669. Two others, 
proiwunded in May, 1670, were accepted in October, 1670. The division 
did not take place until the February following. This leaves only eight 
unaccounted for, of which the recorded admission of two with similar 
names makes further reduction to six possible. 

90 The River Toivns of Connecticut 

defiuition of a householder is the head — male or female — of a 

The position of the proprietors has already been practically 
discussed. They probably formed a small circle of men 
within the larger circle of householders and inhabitants, com- 
posing, as has been well said, a land community as distinct 
from the political community.^ A proprietor was not of 
necessity, however, resident, though in the majority of cases 
he was so. In origin they were a body of men who collec- 
tively purchased lands of the natives, through grant of 
the General Court or otherwise. The right of each in the 
purchased land could be sold, exchanged, or left by will. 
Generally on removal such rights were sold to new-comers, 
who thus became proprietors, or some one of the inhabit- 
ants by such purchase added to his own rights. Often 
they were retained and looked upon as stock in a corpo- 
ration.'^ This naturally led to the existence of proprie- 

^ Egleston's Land System, p. 581. 

2 We find records of the conveyances of title in the common lands of a 
town from one person to anotlier. Such right and title was valued 
according to the number of pounds annexed to the name of the proprietor in 
a certain list at the time of division. This number of pounds right was 
proportioned to the amount which the person had given in original pay- 
ment for the lands. To show how such rights passed from hand to hand we 
have record as follows : " Edward Ball and James Post of Saybrook convey 
all their right, title and interest in the common and undivided land of Hart- 
ford to Samuel Talcott, Samuel Flagg and Daniel Edwards, being the 
right of Stephen Post, formerly of Hartford, deC^, whose name appears 
in the list of Proprietors in 1671 with a £24 right" (Hart. Book of Distr., 
p. 149). Such a right was divisible and could be sold in parts to different 
persons, and when laid out, was not so done all at once. The above 
list is found in Book of Distr. p. 581, with each proportion in pounds, 
highest £160, lowest £6. The division was genernlly acre for pound. 
The rights are spoken of as £24 right, £10 right, etc., and half and quarter 
rights are mentioned where a man purchased part of the right of another. 
This quotation shows the workings of the system : " Laid out to Thomas 
Sandford, one of the legal heirs of Jeremy Adams, one of the ancient pro- 
prietors of the sum of £15, which is what remains of said Adams' right to 
be laid out, and also £5. 6. 10. in the right of Robert Sandford under 
Hale, which is all that remains to be laid out in said right." (Hart. 
Land Records, 18, p. 477. ) 

The Tovms and the People, 91 

tors holding rights in one town and living in another, or 
even out of the colony, and troubles frequently arose. It 
was a claim of this kind which gave rise to a vexatious suit, 
lasting three years, of an inhabitant of Hartford, for one 
hundred acres of land in Wether sfield, he basing his claim 
on his right in the division of 1693, as received from his 
father-in-law. The neglected proprietor won his case.^ The 
proprietors, as such, had no political rights. It was only in 
their capacity as admitted inhabitants that they voted in 
town meeting. 

Thus we have seen that the people composing a town in 
the Connecticut colony were made up of inliabitants, house- 
holders, proprietors, and freemen, no one class entirely 
excluding another, while the majority of adult males could 
undoubtedly lay claim to all four titles. The right to vote 
in town meeting and to hold town office at first was the 
privilege of any one admitted by the town. But as time 
went on it is evident that the same looseness of system which 
led to the limitation of the general suffirage was to have its 
effect on the towns themselves. The "honest conversation " 
clause had to be repeated by the court, and the votes already 
recorded explain the action of two of the towns in 1659. 
Wethersfield has a very caustic protest of a later date from 
twenty-eight inhabitants, and possibly proprietors, which 
speaks of the " cunning contrivances and insinuations which 
men are studious to doe . . . voating in town meetings when 
the inhabitants have many of them been withdrawn, and 
because there is not enuff present to countermand their pro- 
ceedings," etc.' So we may be sure that there was some 
ground for the passage by the court of a law restricting the 

' Mr. Hooker's suit was a matter of great concern to the town. Fearing 
to lose the land, the town even empowered the selectmen, in case the suit 
went against them, to ''address her Majestie by petition, praying her 
Majestie take notice in this case, and do as in her wisdom her Majestie 
shall see meet, whereby justice may bo done." Weth. Kec., Oct. 4, 1708 ; 
July 8. 1710 ; Dec. 18, 1710 : April 34, 1711 ; August 80, 1711. 

* Weth. Bee., Jan. 28, 1697. 

92 The Rivei' Tovms of Connedicid. 

right of voting in town meetings. In 1679 the court decreed 
that because there were a "number of sourjourners or inmates 
that do take it upon themselves to deal, vote or intermeddle 
with public occasions of the town or place where they live," 
therefore no one except an admitted inhabitant, a householder 
and a man of sober conversation, who has at least fifty shil- 
lings freehold estate, could vote for town or country officers 
or for grants of rates or lands. ^ The towns take no notice 
of this order, and if it was carried out, as was probably the 
case, it was practically the first limitation on the right of 
voting in regular town meeting. The towns clung to their 
democratic principles longer than did the colony. 

Growth of the Official System. 

There seems to be a good deal of misapprehension, par- 
ticularly among those to whom the early history of the colony 
in its detail is not familiar, regarding the exact nature of the 
settlement. It has been conceived of as the bodily transpor- 
tation of three organized towns, as if the emigrants migrated 
like an army completely officered. It is true that nearly alP 
the settlers came from three Massachusetts towns, but they 
by no means came all at once. Two of the bodies came as 
organized churches, but this was after the three centres of 
settlement had been occupied by previous planters, and after 
they had become towns in the eyes of the law by the act of 
the provisional government, based on the decree of the Massa- 
chusetts court the year before.^ Mr. Hooker did not arrive 
until the June following. Mr. Warham had probably but 
just arrived with the greater part of the Dorchester people, 

^Col. Rec. Ill, p. 34. Although this is practically the first limitation 
of town suffrage, there was, however, an early order passed to this effect, 
** if any person . . . have been or shall be fined or whippen for any scan- 
dalous offense he shall not be admitted after such tyme to have any voate 
in Towiie or Commonwealth . . . until the court manifest their satisfac- 
tion." (Col. Rec. I, p. 138.) 

2** Members of Newe Towne, DorchestS Waterton and other places." 
(Mass. Col. Rec. I, pp. 170, 171.) 

8 Mass. Col. Rec. I, p. 160. 

The Towns and the People, 93 

and the Wethersfield church was organized at the same 
meeting of the court. Massachusetts eWdently looked upon 
the settlement as one plantation, for she appointed for it but 
one constable. It was one plantation, but the conditions of 
settlement allowed its ready separation into three distinct 
towns, through the powers vested in the commissioners. But 
it is almost misleading to call them towns even now, for 
practically they were three plantations organized on a mili- 
tary basis. The constable at first was a military officer. The 
equipment was the drakes — one for each town — granted by 
the Massachusetts court the year before.^ This step was the 
beginning of recognition of the triple nature of the settlement. 
First the towns had a military organization, then a religious 
organization, and last of all, an act that was not completed 
until the passage of the orders of 1639, an independent civil 
organization. For two years and a half it is extremely pro- 
bable that the only civil officers were the constable, whose 
position was semi-military, the collectors, appointed by the 
court to gather the rates, the commissioners, afterwards the 
assistants, and the committees of the General Court who 
resided in the separate towns. The inhabitants must have 
met "in some Publike Assembly,"^ for their consent was 
necessary in certain orders, and they elected committees to 
the court of 1637. The use of this term inclines us to the 
opinion that all strictly town matters were at first conducted by 
committees appointed in a meeting of the whole, and that by 
1638^39 one such committee, the townsmen, had become 
official in its character and was annually elected. The fact that 
the Hartford records for the first three years were merely notes 
regarding land, precautions to prevent the s])read of fire, pro- 
vision for guard at every public meeting, and the appointment 
of a man to keep the bridge in repair and to do work on the 
highways, would seem to show that there was hardly a settled 
organLzation. These notes were undoubtedly either entered 

' Mass. Col. Reo. I, p. 184. * Ck>aD. Col. Reo. I, p. 28. 

94 The Rivet* Towns of Connecticut, 

in the book at a later day when a recorder was appomted, or 
transferred from jottings made at the time of the adoption of 
these rules. 

AVith the beginning of the year 1639 (January 1, 1638, 
O. S.) we find the first mention of town officers. Hartford 
elected at that time four townsmen, and accompanying the 
record of election is an elaboration of their duties. The 
careful manner in which the latter is drawn up seems to 
point to a first election and to the fact that the towns were 
just beginning to get into form. This properly begins the 
official system, and for the present we must depend on the 
Hartford records, as those of the other towns are not extant. 
The principle of official limitation is present, so honestly 
maintained by Hooker in his well known sermon, and every 
act of these officials was watched by the people whose will 
they were chosen to execute.^ The widening of this system 
consisted in the extension of these duties by town or court, the 
development of new powers, and the differentiation of these 
powers by the creation of new officers. The duties of the 
townsmen were soon extended. They were constituted into 
a court for petty cases of debt and trespass (for which, how- 
ever, a separate body might be chosen if the town wished) ; 
they supervised estates of deceased persons ; they took inven- 
tories and copies of wills, and performed additional super- 
visory duties. The first probable distribution of their powers 
was when a recorder was appointed. All orders previous to 

' The orders of Oct. 10, 1639, first put into shape the powers that the 
towns were to enjoy. That they already possessed the privileges therein 
contained, as Prof. Johnston maintains (Connecticut, p. 76), is without 
warrant and as a statement is indefensible. We prefer to consider the 
incorporation of the town to have taken place at the time of the appointing 
of a constable, and the orders to be the completion of the act by the General 
Court. It is hardly probable that Prof. Johnston has examined the town 
records, or he would not have been misled into making an entirely wrong 
interpretation of the magisterial board, "the really new point in the 
'orders,'" which, though truly a new point, was not the origin of the 
"executive board of the towns, known as ' selectmen.' " 

The Tovms and the People, 95 

this were jotted down either by the townsmen or by the com- 
mittee chosen to order the affairs of the town. This officer 
was elected in Hartford shortly after the passage of the above 
orders of the court, and at the same time the town voted that 
a chosen committee should " also inquire what orders stand 
in force which are [of] general concernment which are not 
recorded.'" Undoubtedly such orders had been made without 
system, were not minutes of meetings, but partook of the 
nature of memoranda of matters decided upon in some public 
gathering or in a sort of committee of the whole. About the 
same time Hartford, following out the court order allowing 
the towns to choose their own officers, elected two constables 
for presentation to the court. At this meeting one finds a 
very interesting differentiation of the townsmen's duties and 
gradual beginning of a more extensive official system. In 
December, 1639, the town gave the townsmen liberty of 
appointing two men (one for each side), who were to " attend 
them in such things as they appoint about the town affairs 
and be paid at a publicque charge."" The townsmen do not 
appear to have chosen these men, for they were elected by the 
whole town at its next meeting. At that time their duties 
were elaborated. These two men as assistants to the towns- 
men were to perform many of those duties which afterwards, 
little by little, were to fall to the lot of specially elected 
officers. The record says that these men were chosen to 
assist the townsmen, but their principal duties were as 
follows: to view the fence about the common fields when 
requested by the townsmen ; for this they were to have three 
pence an hour, and four pence an hour if they were obliged 
to spend time in repairing. This was to be paid by the 
owners of the broken palings. They were to survey the 
common fields, when appointed, with recompense of three 
pence an hour. If any stray cattle or swine were taken, then 
they were ^* to do their best to bring them to the pound, either 

> Hart. Reo., Dec. 26, 1680. « Hart. Reo., Deo. 23, 1630. 

96 The River Towns of Connecticut. 

by themselves or any helj) they shall need," for which work 
they were to receive pay, with so much additional for every 
animal pounded. This was made a general duty to be per- 
formed without command from the townsmen, whenever there 
was need. In addition they were to do any other special public 
service, such as " to warn men to publick employment or to 
gather some particular rates or the like," for which they were 
to receive the usual recompense of thi'ee pence per hour.^ 
Here we have in embryo the fence-viewer, pinder or haward, 
the public warner, and the rate collector. Just before this 
outlining of duties there had been surveyors appointed, Avho 
as their first duty had supervision of the highways. Thus in 
1640 the governing body of the town consisted of two con- 
stables, four townsmen, two surveyors, and a committee of 
two, whose duties, partially defined, embraced such as were 
not performed by the others. Of these functionaries the con- 
stable and townsmen were permanent and received annual 
election, the surveyors were yet little more than a committee 
appointed for an indefinite period, with specific duties, and the 
body of two was but a temporary expedient, the resolution of 
which into fixed officers was only a matter of time. 

Three stages of growth were yet to take place : a greater dis- 
tribution of labor, a definite period of service, and a gradual 
adding of new duties such as the growth of the town demanded. 
Up to 1640 the simple concerns of the town of Hartford 
required no further oversight than that which could be given 
by these few officers, by an occasionally appointed committee 
to perform duties of a sporadic nature, and by the town as a 
whole. At this time the question of highways and fences 
comes into more or less prominence, and special committees 
were appointed to lay out new highways and to order the 
proportions of fencing. This seems to crystallize the surveyor 
of highways into a regular officer, and he was from this time 
annually elected. No additions were made to this list until 

^ Hart. Rec, pp. 1, 7. 

The Towns and the People. 97 

in 1643 chimney-viewers were elected. The town had estab- 
lished in 1635 the requirement that every house have its 
ladder or tree for use in case of fire, and probably the watch 
under the control of the constable saw that this was carried 
out. The chimney-viewers were at first scarcely more than a 
committee elected to serve till others superseded them, for 
new chimney-viewers were not chosen for two years. After 
1645, however, they became annual officers. In the year 
1643 the court ordered the towns to choose seven men (after- 
wards reduced to five) to give the common lands their " serious 
and saddc consideration."^ Hartford in response elected five 
men "to survey the Commons and fences and to appoint 
according to order [i, e, of the court] in that case." The 
next yejir this body was apparently elected under the title of 
fence-viewers; at least five are elected who are so called, 
with no mention of any other court committee. Then, again 
following the order of the court, the town the next yeur, 1651, 
handed over these duties to the townsmen, with the addition 
of one outside member.^ This step very naturally led to the 
next, which consisted in relieving the townsmen altogether of 
these duties and constituting this extra member of the board 
official fence-viewer. Two were hereafter elected (as required 
by the two Mcsjf who served often two or three years in suc- 
cession, and were paid out of the fines they gathered. After 
1666 they were annually chosen and became established officials. 
Ko other officers were chosen before 1651. When the records 
of Wethersfield and Windsor usher the condition of those 
towns into view in 1646 and 1650, respectively, we find only 

'Col. Rec. I, p. 101. 

' It is a little curious that the town order for the above is dated Feb. 4, 
1650, while that o( the court is Feb. 5, 1050. We suspect that in a great 
many cases, of which this is not the first evidence, the relation between the 
town and court in Hartford was much closer than in the other towns. 
Hartford sceros to have been made a kind of experimental station before 
the issuance of coart orders regarding towns. This would account for the 
backwardness of the official systems of Windsor and Wethersfield. 

98 The River Towns of Connecticut 

townsmen performing the will of the people. Though a great 
deal is said about fences, highways, animals, and rates, yet no 
mention is made of specially appointed officers to take charge 
of these matters. All was apparently done by the townsmen, 
with the committees which were occasionally appointed to 
assist them. We know that early in Hartford the townsmen 
were given control of all matters except land grants, the 
admission of new inhabitants, and the levying of taxes, the 
control of which matters was retained by the town. It is 
probable that in Wethersiield and Windsor this system obtained 
to 1651. But with the adoption of the code of 1650, and the 
promulgation of a definite law ordering the appointment by 
the towns of certain officers, the latter began to elaborate 
their system. Hereafter each town elected regularly towns- 
men, constables, and surveyors. Windsor added chimney- 
viewers, fence-viewers, and way-wardens in 1654. These 
Hartford had already elected, but Wethersfield did not elect 
chimney- viewers till the next century (1708), nor fence- 
viewers until 1665, and then not annually until 1669. The 
Wethersfield townsmen were a very important body; they 
at first chose even the surveyors, and when in 1656 the town 
took the election of these officers into its own hands, they 
continued to choose, when needed, the pinders — w hose duties 
were later merged in those of haward — perambulators,^ and 

' Permnbulaiion. — The ancient right of perambulation, or going the 
bounds, was in full operation in the Connecticut colony. The custom 
dates back very far in history, and was, in early Saxon times, attended 
with considerable ceremonial. The bounds of manors, and later of 
parishes, were fixed by trees, heaps of stones and natural marks, and the 
perambulation of half the parishioners from mark to mark was made yearly 
for the purpose of resetting the bounds if destroyed, or of reaffirming them 
and seeing that no encroachments had taken place. The Connecticut 
settlers were familiar with the old custom and early applied it, but in a 
less pretentious fashion than that which existed in the mother country. 
"When their bounds are once set out, once in the year three or more 
persons in the town appointed by the selectmen shall appoint with the 
adjacent towns to goe the bounds betwixt their said towns and renew their 
marks." (Col. Rec. I, p. 513.) 

The Tovma and the People. 99 

wamers to town meeting, though these were not elected every 
year, and they appointed many important committees. In 
Windsor the town elected these men as was the case in Hart- 

The boundaries of each town were very early settled at the time the 
towns were named. They are rudely described, and it is no wonder that 
town jealousies found opportunity to dispute them. The landmarks were 
at first the mouths of three brooks, a tree and a pale, with east, west and 
south measurements by miles. (Col. Rec. I, pp. 7, 8.) This gave to each 
of the townships the form of a parallelogram. It is doubtful whether 
anything was done in addition to establishing these bounds before the 
passage of the code of 1650. In that document it was ordered that each 
town was to set out its bounds within a year, in order to avoid '* jealousies 
of persons, trouble in towns and incumbrances in courts"; the town records 
show that this was carefully complied with. The proper maintenance of 
town boundaries has been called the symbol of free institutions, as it is the 
assertion on the part of the town of independence and self-respect, and 
the frequency of the disputes is evidence that the river towns were no 
shiftless upholders of their rights. Wethersfield at one time even threat- 
ened to sue the whole town of Ilartford if the latter refused to send her 
committee to settle a disputed point (Weth. Rec, Sept. 30, 1095), and 
two years later actually entered on a suit ; while with her neighbor on the 
west she was in dispute for forty years. It does not appear that in Eng- 
land it was the custom for parishes to join in the perambulation, but each 
beat its own bounds. Yet the theory of the English perambulation was 
carried out in Windsor, of as many as possible joining in the bound-beating. 
•* Also men desired and appointed to run the lyne between Windsor and 
Hartford on the east side of the Great River from the mouth of Podang 
according as it was anciently run betwixt us on the west side. !Mr. New- 
bery, Matthew Grant, John Fitch to carry an axe and a spade, and others 
as many as can and will" (Wind. Rec, Mar. 26, 1660), "and as many 
as will besides." (Mar. 11, 1668.) Each town appointed a committee, 
one of whopi was ordered to give the other towns warning. This com- 
mittee, of from two to six men, to which was occasionally added the 
townsmen, would meet the committee from the neighboring town on the 
dividing line. The joint body then advanced from mark to mark, digging 
ditches, heaping stones, or marking trees if necessary. This repeated 
every year ought to have kept the matter from dispute, and in general we 
may say that it did. (Weth. Rec, Mar. 8, 1658-4 ; Apr. 2, 1655 ; Mar. 
24, 1658-0, etc.) Without making too much of a survival, it is interesting 
to note a shadow of the old English ceremonial. In the records of Windsor, 
liquors for bound-goers occurs year after year as a regular town expense 
(compare this with an entry in the account book of Cheshire, England, 
1670, "spent at perambalation dinner, 8.10," Toulmin Smith, p. 522). 

100 The Rivet* Towns of Connecticut, 

ford, and as they were not restrained by any general order, 
the nature of the officers differed somewhat both as to duties 
and date of first election. 

Yet the perarabulaters received pay in addition. (Wind. Rec, Feb. 14, 
1654 ; Feb. 16, 1665 ; Stiles, Windsor, pp. 61, 161.) From the value of 
the liquor used, from two to six shillings, and from its character and the 
amount needed — a quart of rum, two gallons of cider — it is likely that 
another survival is to be chronicled ; the Saxon stopped at each bound 
mark and performed a little ceremony, probably the Windsor fathers did 
the same in a somewhat different manner. But Wethersfield was not so 
lavish as her sister town, she allowed no such heathenish survival. Not 
one mention is anywhere made in her records of liquor for bound-goers ; 
she ordered that her bounds "be Rund" according to court order, but 
that which under some circumstances would make them run more smoothly 
was wanting. 

There must be noticed a difference in the custom as applied here from 
that known in England. There the idea was that careful perambulation 
must be made by the parish, that no sharp practice on the part of a 
neighbor parish should deprive it of any rightful territory. To this end 
a large number of the inhabitants, old and young, passed over the bounds 
until the entire parish had been circumperambulated. This was done 
independently of any adjoining town. But in Connecticut a distinct 
perambulation was made with each committee from the adjacent towns, 
covering each time only the extent of line bounding the two towns con- 
cerned. In Virginia, where the custom, under the title ** processioning " 
or ** going round," was early in vogue, the method was more like the 
English perambulation. Each Virginia parish was divided into precincts, 
around which processioning was performed once in four years. On a 
stated day between September and March, two freeholders were appointed 
to lead the procession and to make return to the vestry by means of 
registry books. They were accompanied by the '* neighbors" or all free- 
holders in the precinct, who were obliged to be present and follow. When 
the boundaries had been three times processioned they became unalterably 
fixed. It was generally the custom for neighboring precincts to perform 
their perambulation at the same time. (Hening's Statutes, II, p. 102; 
III, pp. 32, 325-8, 529-31.) The custom did not appear in New Haven 
until 1683. (Levermore, p. 170.) In Massachusetts it was established 
by court order in 1647, and of that order the Connecticut law is an almost 
verbatim copy. (Mass. Col. Rec. II, p. 210.) The custom as enforced 
in the Plymouth colony contained the same general provisions about time, 
place and manner. (Plymouth Laws, p. 259.) Rhode Island, Pennsyl- 
vania, and Maryland went no further than to pass laws against the removal 
or alteration of boundary marks. 

The Towns and the People. 101 

In nearly every case save that of townsmen, town officers 
were the result of an order of the court to that effect. Hart- 
ford was generally the first to respond — for it was the seat of 
government — to the decree of the higher power, and the other 
towns followed sometimes at once, often within reasonable 
time, though again apparently they neglected it altogether. 
The court had already ordered the establishment of the con- 
stable, the watch, surveyors, recorder, and fence-viewer ; yet 
as late as 1668 it declared that adequate provision had not 
been made for the establishment of town officers, and passed 
a general law enacting a penalty in case of refusal to accept 
office.^ This referred only to townsmen, constables, and sur- 
veyors, and had the effect of making the town service more 

With the increase in the number of inhabitants and in the 
wealth of the communities, special officers to regulate the 
finances were necessary, and collectors of rates were early 
appointed by the court.^ There were at first three rates and 
afterwards a fourth. When a plantation became a town it 
first bore its share of the country rate, which was the amount 
paid by each town to the colony, which was collected and 
transmitted by the constable ; then there was the town rate, 
established by the town at each meeting, and paid for accord- 
ing to the list of estate by each inhabitant ; there was also 
the minister's rate, levied and collected as was the town rate, 
and aftenvard there became established a school rate. The 
officers for the management of these rates were the lister, who 
made up the list of estate, and his associate, who made 
out the rate ; the collector or bailiff, to whom the inhabi- 
tants brought their wheat, pease and '^marchantable" Indian 
com; and the inspector, a short-lived officer, who was 
to see that no estate was left out of the country list. Often 
the minister's and the town rate were collected by the same 
person, sometimes by different persons, and the townsmen 
had full power to call the collectors to account every year. 

' Col. Rec. II, p. 87. 'CJol. Rec. I, pp. 13, 118. 

102 The Bivei' Towns of Connecticut, 

In addition to these officers there were a series of others 
ordered to be appointed by the court and called into being 
by the commercial activity of the settlement. We find inter- 
mittently elected such officers as the packer of meat, brander 
of horses, with his brand book and iron, sealer of leather, 
with his stamp, and examiner of yarn, each of whom took 
his oath before the magistrate — the assistant or commissioner 
— and received as pay the fees of his office. Then there was 
also the sealer of weights and measures, the standard of which 
was originally procured from England ; sometimes the court 
appointed these latter officers, but more often the town elected 
them. By way of special functionaries there were the public 
whippers, the cattle herders, sheep masters, tithingmen, 
ordinary-keepers, and, of the military organization, the ensign 
of the train band. In the year 1708 the following was the 
list of officers chosen in Wethersfield : town clerk, selectmen, 
constables, collectors for the minister's and town rate, sur- 
veyors (two for the center, one for Rocky Hill, and one for 
West Farms), fence-viewers (two for the center, two for 
Rocky Hill), listers, sealer of measures, leather sealer, chim- 
ney-viewers, hawards, and committee for the school. The 
office of town-warner and town-crier had for some time been 
obsolete, for the court ordered the erection of a sign-post in 

For the satisfaction of justice there was ample provision. 
As early as 1639 the townsmen had been authorized to sit as 
a court for the trial of cases involving less than forty 
shillings. Cases of debt, of trespass, little matters of dispute 
between inhabitants, with damages paid in Indian corn or 
rye, are to be found in the Windsor records. It is probable 
that the other towns had the same court, though there is no 
record of it, for the Particular Court of the colony had no 
trials for less than forty shillings. This was superseded in 
1665 by the commissioner, to whom was given "magis- 
tratical " power. To aid him and to preserve the number of 
the former town court, Wethersfield twice, in 1666 and 1667, 

The Toicns and the People. 103 

elected a body which she called " selectmen," but after that 
evidently the commissioner acted alone. In 1669 a court 
was ordered to be erected in the towns, consisting of the 
commissioner, assisted by two of the tONvnsmen ; these three 
acting with the assistant formed a court of dignity, more 
worthy to inspire respect and moderation on the part of 
offenders. It was, however, short-lived, and though Wind- 
sor has record of it in 1669, we hear nothing more of it. 
The judicial duties now devolved entirely on the commis- 
sioner, until he was superseded in January, 1698, by the 
Justice of the Peace. Appeal to the Particular Court, and 
later to the County Court, was allowed, but not encouraged. 
Lawyers as we understand them were not in existence. 
But many a man in the colony had the requisite qualifica- 
tions, with perhaps a smattering (or more, as in the case of 
Roger Ludlow) of law, and he only required to be clothed 
with legal power to bring or resist a suit. This authority 
was conveyed by letter of attorney, which was a document 
signed by the plaintiff or defendant and duly witnessed. 
Such a letter would be given to one person or more, and 
when a town wished to bring suit it empowered the towns- 
men to plead and manage the case themselves, or instructed 
them to constitute others as attorneys acting under them, to 
whom they were to give letters of attorney.^ Debts were 
collected in the same way.^ Sometimes in more personal 
cases arbitration was resorted to, in which case two (and if 
they could not agree, three) would be chosen, and a bond of 
80 many pounds put up, which was forfeited by him who 
failed to abide by the judgment of the arbitrators.^ Com- 
mittees were appointed for the same purpose for a limited 
time to hear cases of complaint, to be reported to the town, 
who reserved the right to pass judgment.* 

» Hart. Rec. May 18. 1678 ; Weth. Reo., Deo. 17, 17W. 

' Hart. Book of Distrib., p. 544. 

» Weth. Land Rec. Ill, p. 8 ; Stiles, Windsor, p. 65. 

* For a very interesting case of this kind see Woth. Reo., Mar. 4, 1701-2. 

104 The River Tovms of Connecticid. 


After this bird^s-eye view of the town official system, an 
examination into the constitution and growth of the most 
important body of all, the executive board of townsmen, 
will give us an idea of the practical working of the town 
machinery. The first appearance of this body in the Hart- 
ford records of January 1, 1638 (1639), shows it to us in 
no process of development, as was the case elsewhere,^ but 
full grown, with qualified powers, undoubtedly the result of 
previous experimentation. At a meeting held January 1, 
1638-39, two weeks before the "11 orders" were voted, it 
was ordered that the townsmen for the time being should 
have the power of the whole to order the common occasions 
of the town, with, however, considerable limitation. They 
were to receive no new inhabitant without the approbation of 
the whole; could make no levies on the town except in 
matters concerning the herding of cattle; could grant no 
lands save in small parcels of an acre or two to a necessitous 
inhabitant ; could not alter any highway already settled and 
laid out; in the calling out of persons and cattle for labor 
they must guarantee in the name of the whole the safe return 
of the cattle and a reasonable wage to the men, and should not 
raise wages above six pence per day. They were required to 
meet at least once a fortnight, for the consideration of affairs, 
and for arranging the proper time for the calling of a general 
meeting, and for absence from such meeting they were to be 
fined two shillings six pence for every offense.^ The next 
year it was voted that once a month the townsmen should 
hold an open meeting, to which any inhabitant might come, 
if he had any business, at 9 o'clock in the morning of the 
first Thursday in the month ; and that no order as passed in 

' The townsmen of Dorchester, Mass., furnish a good example of such a 
development. Dorchester Rec. pp. 3, 7 ; in 4th Report of Boston Record 

^Hart. Rec, Jan. 1, 1638. 

The Tovma and the People. 105 

the townsmen's meeting was to be valid until it had either 
been published at some general meeting or reported to the 
inhabitants house by house, or read after the lecture. If any- 
one, on being warned, failed to stay to listen to the order, he 
could not plead ignorance of the law, but was liable for its 
breach.^ The type of townsmen in 1638-39 was little different 
from that found in later years.^ 

The value of such a system would seem to be patent to 
every one, but it is specially interesting to find the colonists' 
own reasons, expressed a few years later, as to the principles 
on which the functions of townsmen were based. In 1645 
the town (Hartford) voted that persons refusing to respond 
when called out by the townsmen to work on the highways 
should be fined. Evidently an unrecorded protest was made 
against giving the townsmen so much power, for on the next 
page appears a study of principles which is worthy, in its 
relation to the town, to stand beside Hooker's sermon in its 
relation to the commonwealth. The " Explication " reads 
thus : 

" Whereas in all comunities & bodyes of people some pub- 
lique workes will ocurr for the orderinge & manageing 
whereof yt hath ever beene found necessary & agreeable to 
the rules of prudence to make choice of p'ticular p'sons to 
whome the same hath been comitted whoe both with most 
advantage to the occations & least trouble & inconvenience 
to the whole may oversee & transact such afiayres : And 

• Hart. Rec, Jan. 7, 1639. 

• The error often made regarding the origin of the Connecticut towns- 
men, ascribing the beginning of the townsmen sjstem to the magisterial 
board or town court instituted by the General Court in October, 1039, 
seems to be due to the indexing of this board in the printed records of the 
colony under the heading ♦* Townsmen." Dr. Levermore, in his Republic 
of New Haven, p. 72, note, as well as Prof. Johnston {anpia, p. 94. note), 
falb into the error. As we have seen, the decree of the court had nothing 
to do with the establishment of even prospective townsmen, for they already 
existed, with functions almost identical with those performed by the 
townsmen of the later period. 

106 The River Toicns of Connecticut. 

accordingly yt is w^^ us iisuall (the beginnings in w*^^ we are 
p''senting many things of that natuer) to make choise of some 
men yearly whome we call Townesmen to attend such occa- 
tions. But yt is easily obvious to evry apprehension that 
unles w*^ the choise of y™ to the place power be given for 
the manageing & earring on of the same their indeav'"® wilbee 
fruitless & the publique nessesarily suffer ; It is therefore by 
general consent ordered that in all occations that doe con- 
cerne the whole and is comitted to the care & oversight of 
the townesmen yt shal bee lawfull for them or anie twoe of 
them to call out the teames or p^sons of anie of the inhab- 
itants, the magistratts & officers of the church in their owne 
persons only excepted for the mannaging & carringe on of 
such occations wherin yet they are to use the best of their 
descretion not to lay such burthens on anie as to destroy the 
p'ticular but soe farr as the natuer of the occation under hand 
will in their judgments w^'^out disadvantage p'mitt to attend 
as neare as may be a p'portion according to the interest ech 
hath in the whole.'' ^ In this declaration is contained the 
fundamental idea of town government : the election by the 
body of those who are to order its aiFairs, the investing 
these when elected with power for the proper performance of 
their duties, and the implied responsibility in the use of this 
power. There lies in the latter factors all the difference 
between good representative government and bad representa- 
tive government, between the Constitutioh and the Articles 
of Confederation. It is an outcropping of the spirit which 
framed the Fundamental Articles. A clause which follows 
the above vote declares that if any partiality be shown by 
the townsmen, the aggrieved person might appeal to the 
whole town, or if not then receiving satisfaction, might carry 
his case to the "publique justice in the place," thus making 
the law a court of higher appeal than the people. 

The number of men for this purpose chosen has differed 

> Hart. Rec. I, p. 37. 

The Toxom and the People, 107 

greatly in different colonies and towns. In Massachusetts, 
bodies of twenty were elected to order affairs, of whom seven 
could bind the people.^ In some towns twelve townsmen are 
recorded,^ but as years went on a reduction took place, and 
we find the number gradually lessening to nine, seven, five, 
and three. In New Haven the number was ten, afterwards 
reduced to seven. In the Connecticut colony it varied. 
Hartford regularly had four ; Wethersfield in seventy years 
elected twenty-six bodies of five, twenty-nine bodies of four, 
and fifteen bodies of three ; the Windsor number was at first 
seven, afterwards five. The object for which they were elected 
has been already dwelt upon. The records generally phrase 
it " to order the town^s occations for the year," " to agetat 
and order the townse occasions for the present year." These 
occasions were far more extensive than is now the case. Town 
affairs included church affairs, and in those three little com- 
munities great were the religious agitations. The more impor- 
tant matters, such as building the meeting-house, settling a 
minister or a controversy, were put into the hands of a special 
committee, but the townsmen cared for and repaired the 
meeting-house, and had charge of those chosen by town vote 
for sweeping, dressing, underdaubing and clapboarding the 
building, and generally saw to the construction of porch, 
seats, and pulpit. At that time much was passed upon by 
people in town-meeting which would now be decided by the 
selectmen at their own meeting, on the strength of the power 
vested in them by law. But there was then no law deter- 
mining the exact nature of their office. Each town measured 
the proper limitations of its own townsmen, and one may say 
that the townsmen did everything for the performance of 
which no one else was appointed. Often these powers varied 
year by year. In carrying out their functions the townsmen 
often, though by no means always, wrote out the orders 

'Blake, Annals of Dorchester, pp. 18, 14. 
* Watertowo and Bostoa. 

108 . The River Towns of Connecticut, 

already arranged in their own meeting, drawing them up in 
the proj>er form. These were presented at the general meet- 
ing, when they would be accepted or not as the inhabitants 
pleased, for the latter had always the power of vetoing the 
projects of their agents if they did not approve of them. 

The modern town treasurer is an important diiferentiation 
of the townsmen's powers. This is not the place to speak of 
the nature of the rates or the method of raising them. Suf- 
fice it to say that the control of all expenditures, whether for 
church, town, or school matters, was in the hands of the 
townsmen. They never collected the rates. For this pur- 
pose a committee or special officer was chosen, but it was 
through the townsmen that the regular expenses of the town 
were met. Under such heading there seems to have been in- 
cluded such items as paying the herders, watch, drum-beaters, 
building and repairing bridges, setting the town mill, survey- 
ing lands, repairing the minister's house, payment of minis- 
ter's salary, occasionally supporting indigent persons, repair 
of town property, as guns, ferry (in Windsor), town stocks, 
etc., payment of bounties for wolves and blackbirds, pay- 
ment of town officers, and such extra expenses as " Towns- 
men dining with magistrates" and "liquor for boundgoers." 
Of course this is an imperfect list, yet it gives an idea of 
town expenditure in the last half of the seventeenth century. 
Every year the town voted a certain amount for the past 
year's expenses, and it is worthy of notice that difficulties 
over financial matters were not so frequent as we might have 
expected. Yet, though the townsmen were hard-headed econ- 
omists, they do not always appear to have been systematic 
and prompt in squaring their accounts and handing over the 
surplus to the newly elected officers. There was no law, as 
now, requiring that an annual statement of receipts and 
expenditures be made and laid before the town at their annual 
meeting. It was customary to do so, but there was at times 
a curt independence about the old townsmen-treasurers which 
would not brook too close supervision. Their honesty placed 

The Toyms and the People, 109 

them abov'e giving bonds, or obeying laws which seemed to 
question their honor.^ 

The townsmen gradually changed into the selectmen. This 
name does not appear in Hartford and Windsor before 1691, 
and from that time for a period of twenty-five years there is a 
curious commingling of the two terms. The title " selectmen " 
was often used in recording the election, but the town clerk 
still clung to the good old name, and we find "townsmen" in 
the minutes of further proceedings. But there is plenty of 
evidence to show that the terms were used synonymously. 
Wethersfield employed the term in a very confusing fashion. 
It first styled two town courts established in 1666 and 1667 
"selectmen," and in 1679 and 1681 again used the term for a 
distinct body; it is evident, from the nature of the latter's 
duties, that they were connected with the granting and receiv- 
ing of certificates of freemanship. The establishment of this 
body seems to have been the following out of an order of the 
court in 1678, in which selectmen giving false certificates 
were fined £5.^ Wethersfield immediately elected for this 
purpose an extra body — first of four members, then of three — 
who performed this service, and because, from their position, 
they needed to have a familiarity with the list of estate, 
they were, in 1679, given the duties of listers and rate- 
makers. But in a few years the term had become confused 
with that of townsmen, and the fact that the name selectmen 
was already in use and further established by the laws of 
Andres in 1688, to which Wethersfield, at least, very duti- 

' In seventy years in Wethersfield seyenty-four men held the oflBce of 
townsmen, with an average of four elections to each. Of these seventy-four, 
thirty held office over four times, with an average of six elections to each ; 
fourteen held office over six times, with an average of eight elections to 
each ; four held office over eight times, with an average of ten elections 
to each ; and the most befunctionaried individual served as townsman 
eleven times, while only fifteen held office but onoe. (Weth. Reo. 1646- 

«Col. Rec. Ill, p. 24. 

110 The River Towns of Connecticut 

fully responded/ brought it into common use, and after 1725 
it was the commonly accepted term. 


The appointment of a constable in Connecticut was the 
affixing of the official seal to a town, and was done without 
exception, though in at least two instances (Simsbury and 
Derby) the court appointed the constable before the settle- 
ments petitioned for town privileges. He was the right arm 
of the law, and the channel through which the court com- 
municated with the towns, and frequent were the orders to 
constables by the court. 

The first constables appointed for the river towns were of 
a decidedly military character. They rather resembled their 
English prototype than the officer of later colonial days.^ 
The first independent organization of the towns was for 
defense. The earliest act of the provisional government was 
directed against a laxity of military discipline, and the next 
forbade sale of arms, powder or shot to the Indians; following 
which is the appointment of constables, practically as military 
officers. A further extension of the armed organization is 
seen in the watch, undoubtedly a kind of constabulary patrol 
to guard against Indian attacks. The constable was next 
required to view the ammunition, which every inhabitant 
was ordered to have in readiness, and finally, before half a 
year had passed, each town was put into working military 
form by the institution of monthly trainings under the con- 
stable, with more frequent meetings for the "unskillful." 
At this time the constable was required to perform his time- 
honored duty of viewing the arms to see " whether they be 
serviceable or noe," which duty was later given to the clerk 
of the train band. One is not surprised that the colonists 

'Weth. Rec, May 21, 1688. 

' For the military character of the constable see Adams, Norman Con- 
stables in America. J. H. U. Studies, vol. I, pp. 8 ff. 

The Towns and the People. Ill 

were in readiness the next year to declare an offensive war 
against the Pequots.^ After the war was over the inhabitants 
were ordered to bring to the constable " any Ajmor, gones, 
swords, belts, Bandilers, kittles, pottes, tooles or any thing 
else that belongs to the commonwealth," and this officer was 
to return them to the next court.^ 

But after this need of special military jurisdiction was 
passed and Captain Mason was appointed general training 
officer, the constable^s duties became of a purely civil char- 
acter. Such were first outlined in the code of 1650. But 
without reference to that code, his duties, as the records 
declare them, were as follows : He was obliged to take oath 
after his election by the town before a magistrate or assistant. 
He collected the country rate and transmitted it to the colonial 
collector, afterwards the treasurer (1708). He warned the 
freemen to attend their meeting when deputies were chosen, 
and, in Windsor at least, warned for one town meeting yearly. 
At this meeting he read to the inhabitants the " cuntry laws" 
or orders of the General Court passed during the preceding 
year, and declared to them the amount of the country rate. 
At this meeting his successors were chosen as well as other 
town officers. He controlled the watch and executed all 
commands of the court or warrants from a magistrate. 
He broke up tipplers, raised the hue and cry (of ancient 
lineage), and could summon other inhabitants to join in the 
pursuit. He also passed on objectionable personages to the 
constable of the next town, who continueil the process until 
Sir Vagabond reached the town that owned him. This was 
one way of disponing of intruders. He was an officer that 
inspired awe. Yet notwithstanding this, the office was not 
one greatly sought after ; its duties were arduous, and many 
a man preferred to pay his forty shilling fine than to serve.' 

1 Col. Reo. I, pp. 1, 2, 8, 4, 9. 
«Col. Rec. I, p. 13. 

*Dr. Stiles, quoting a Windsor record of 1661, where "after much con- 
tending " constables were chosen, concludes that the office was in great 

112 The River Towns of Connecticut 

Besides this functionary, some of the towns had a kind of 
petty constable, who guarded the commons to prevent neigh- 
boring townspeople from carrying off timber, fire-wood, 
stone, etc. He was, however, a town officer, and his election 
does not appear to have been ordered by the court. 

Town Meetings. 

In comparing the records of the different towns and colo- 
nies, one is struck by the bareness, the brevity and narrowness 
in scope of the minutes of meetings of the Connecticut set- 
tlers. There is little doubt that what we have represents 
the gist of the proceedings, and not only does the subject- 
matter show us that questions of necessity alone were dis- 
cussed, such as related to the existence of the town and 
church as a corporate body, but the record of such discussion 
is embraced in the simple statement of its result as embodied 
in a tow^n order. There is little flesh on the bare skeleton of 
facts, little color to lighten up the sombre monotony. Here 
and there an unconscious bit of phraseology or an exception- 
ally lively subject naively treated by the recorder, gives a hint 
of the activity which lay behind the formal phrases, and a 
realistic peep into the life of the people. But any attempt 
to portray the daily social and business life of the people of 
the early colony would be a difficult task. 

The town meeting was held at first monthly, but, with the 
growth of the town, the meetings during the summer months 
were held less frequently, and at times were apparently 
dropped altogether, except in case of special call. The 
autumn and winter meetings were of the greatest importance, 
for at these officers were elected, rates proclaimed and laws 
read. During the seventeenth century the different officers 
were not always elected at the same meeting, though such 

demand. It may have been at that time, but after 1675 it was not. Hart- 
ford and Wethersfield had plenty of cases of refusal and payment of fine. 
In 1691 seven men were elected one after the other, and each refused to 
take the office. ( Weth. Rec, Dec. 28, 1691.) 

The Tovms and the People. 113 

was the case with the more important. The town-meeting 
was generally called together by the beating of the drum or 
blowing of the trumpet from the top of the meeting-house, in 
a manner made clear by the following : " determined that 
provision should be made upon the top of the meeting- 
house, from the Lanthorn to the ridge of the house, to walk 
conveniently to sound a trumpet or drum to give warning to 
meetings."^ This was employed for all meetings, on Sundays 
and lecture days as well. There were also warners, who went 
from house to house in Wethersfield, giving notice to the 
inhabitants. These inhabitants generally came together at 9 
in the morning, and at first fines were imposed for absence, 
but this seems to have fallen into disuse. When the inhab- 
itants were assembled, a moderator was appointed and busi- 
ness begun. The nature of the orders passed upon will have 
been gathered from what has already been said, and it is 
unnecessary to enlarge upon it here. There was no interfer- 
ence with private concerns, no sumptuary legislation, no 
votes touching on the morals or religious opinions of the 
people. What little of this sort was to be done in the colony 
was reserved for the Greneral Court. Town officers were gen- 
erally elected by ballot, though at times, for " dispatch of 
business," it would be voted to elect them by hand. General 
orders were passed by majority of hands held up, and in case 
of a vote for minister where a majority was certain to be in 
favor, a raising of hands was all that was necessary. Such 
meetings were after 1700 held quarterly, and later semi- 
annually, and now annually,'^ always, however, subject to a 
special call. In addition, tliere are scattered here and there 
among the minutes of town-meetings, records of constable's 
(freemen's) meetings and meetings of the townsmen. 

» Wind. R«c.,Dec. 18, 160^ 

'The present law is th&t town-moeti; '1 ' '' inmiallj some 

time in October, Norember, or Decern! • tinps maybe 

convened when the selectmen deem it necessary, or on the applicution of 
twenty inhabitants. Town-meetings may, however, be adjourned from 
time to time, as the interest of the town may require. 

114 The Rivei' Toicns of Connecticut, 

Eates and Fines. 

The financial system of the towns was of a simple order, 
and few difficulties arose of a specially troublesome nature. 
In the beginning there was but one rate or tax levied on all 
the inhabitants by the town, which covered all the debts con- 
tracted of any nature. The creditors presented their accounts 
generally at the February meeting, and a rate was voted to 
cover them. Before 1688 the amount of the rate was stated 
as so many pounds, which was apportioned among the inhab- 
itants for payment, but after that time the town voted a tax 
of so much on a pound, as " one half penny and one farthing 
on ye pound," " one penny farthing upon the pound." This 
covered the ordinary expenses. Those of an extraordinary 
nature, such as building a bridge or a meeting-house, 
seem to have been met by a special rate laid by the town, 
though all repairs were included among the regular town 
debts. But very soon there was separated from this general 
rate — and it was the first step in the separation process — the 
minister's salary, which was voted in the lump — so much for 
the minister and so much for his assistant, if he had one. 
For the collection of this a special officer was chosen, and all 
the people were taxed in proportion to their list of estate. 
This list was carefully made out and published from house 
to house. In addition to the rate, the minister was given on 
his settlement a grant of land, a certain share of the mill 
tolls, and his land was voted free from taxation. It is prob- 
able that he was paid semi-annually, once in September and 
again in March. Windsor tried for many years the system 
of voluntary subscriptions, appointing a committee to go 
from house to house to find out what each would give. This 
scheme was continued many years .^ In 1680 the general 
statement was made regarding the whole colony — including, 
of course, New Haven — that nowhere was the minister's rate 

> Wind. Rec, Nov. 11, 1663 ; Stiles, Windsor, p. 153. 

The Toicna and the People, 115 

less than X50, and in some towns it was as high as £90 and 
£100 a year.^ 

As early as 1642, Hartford voted X30 to be settled upon 
the school for ever,^ though we cannot say that Wethersfield 
or A\'indsor made provision so early. In the latter town, in 
1658, there was allowed out of the town rate <£5 for the 
schoolmaster. Wethersfield the same year makes her first 
recorded provision somewhat more liberally. The first 
schoolmaster was to receive £25 for his teaching. A house 
and land was allowed him, but of the X25 the children were 
to give him eight shillings apiece and the town to make up 
the rest. Three years after the town appropriation was £S 
and that of Windsor reduced to X4 10s. The payment by 
the scholars was at first by such as went to school, later all 
boys between five and ten years were taxed, " whether they 
go to school or not," and we find that all who sent children 
to school in winter between September and April were each 
to send a load of wood to keep them warm. Thus the pro- 
^^sion for the school was at first twofold — appropriation by 
the town and payment by the scholars. Later, as the teacher 
received a definite amount, the town stated exactly how much 
it would give, and the remainder was made up by the scholars. 
This became the school rate, and every child between six and 
twelve was taxed according to the length of attendance. 
Servants taught were paid for by their masters. In 1 701 a 
third source of supply was provided in what the records call 
the " cuntry pay," that is a tax of forty shillings laid on 
ever}' thousand pounds of estate, collected by the constable, 
and handed over to those towns which maintainc<l their 
schools according to law. This was the beginning of state 
support. The townsmen controlled all school matters either 
in i^erson or by appointed committees, which became a 
regular official board about 1700. This system of town con- 
trol lasted till the first quarter of the eighteenth century, 

> Ool. Reo. in, 800. 'Hartford Reo., Deo. 6, 1649. 

116 The JRiver Towns of Connecticut 

when, with the separation of town and parish, the control of 
school matters fell into the hands of the ecclesiastical societies. 
Again a change was made with the system of dividing the 
town into districts, and the control is now in the hands of 
regular district committees, though there is a tendency to 
centralize the management by the institution again of town 
committees with general supervisory power. 

In addition to these regular rates there were others of a 
minor and intermittent character ; the seat rate, which corres- 
ponded to the present custom of sale of pews, with this differ- 
ence, that as each was assigned his seat by a committee, he 
paid what he was told, and many worked off this rate by 
laboring for the town; the meadow rate for building the 
common fence; the watch rate, and other lesser ratings for 
unusual appropriations. 

Many of the town and state expenses were met by fines. 
If the towns used whipping or the stocks, as did the court, 
their use is not recorded.^ But fines were of regular order- 
ing. There were fines for everything that the town forbade : 
for elders, briars or weeds in the highway, for leaving the 
meadow gates open, for neglecting fences, for having unruly 
cattle or runaway swine, for carrying off timber, from out- 
siders for felling trees, and from inhabitants for not working 
on common or highways ; in fact for all neglects of town 
orders. Officers were fined for neglect of duty and for 
refusing to serve when elected. 

Payment of all debts, of rates and of fines, was at first 
entirely in kind. Wheat, pease and Indian corn, sound, dry 
and well dressed, were employed, and rye came into use a 
little later. By 1695 the inhabitants were allowed to pay 
half in current money of New England, and soon this was 
extended to the privilege of paying all the rates in current 
money. But the depreciation of the currency was such that 

* The towns certainly had stocks. The court ordered each town to have 
a public whipper. But there is no record that the towns used these for 
themselves. Perhaps they carried out the court orders. 

The Toums and the People. 117 

by 1698 money would be taken at only two thirds of its face 
value. All money accounts were kept in pounds, shillings, 
pence and farthings, and a regular schedule of prices was 
made every few years, determining the value of the different 
qualities of grain. Smaller amounts, such as mill and ferry 
tolls, were probably paid in wampum at three, four and, 
later, six for a penny. The nature of the commodities was 
such that they were brought to the collector's house, which 
served as a sort of town treasury, and the town paid its 
debts from this fund.^ The accounts of these collectors were 
offcen loosely kept, and the townsmen had difficulties in 
squaring accounts with them, for rates were difficult to 
collect, particularly in hard times, and the inhabitants were 
often in arrears. It was not until the end of the century 
that the collectors made annual reports and town finances 
were put on a systematic basis. Even the townsmen them- 
selves did not always keep accounts in good order, and their 
successors in office often found afiairs very mixed, though 
the towns differed in this according to the financial ability of 
their officers. Windsor apparently had the most conscien- 
tious officials. This town had a somewhat thorough way of 
dealing with her debtors. If the rate-payer did not hand in 
his due within reasonable time after the rate was published, 
a committee was appointed by the townsmen and given a 
note of the amount due. This committee was ordered to go 
to the houses of the delinquents, and, as the record says, " if 
they can find com they shall take that in the first place, but 
if not, then what of any goods that come to hand (and give 
the owners three days liberty after to carry in the debts and 
withal 2d. in a shilling over and above the true debt or rate 
which belongs to them that distrayne towards their labors 
according to the order of the Court) and if they neglect to 
redeem the goods distrayned, that then they shall get it 

> Windsor had ft **Towil Bftm " built for this special purpose. Stiles, 
Windsor, p. 135. 

118 The River Towns of Conneciicid. 

prized by indifferent men and sell it and pay the debt and 
themselves and return what remains to the owners."^ This 
is interesting as showing the way in which the towns applied 
the court orders, and how faithfully they worked in harmony 
with the policy laid down by the General Court in regard to 
all town matters. 

Town and Colony. 

We have now considered in some detail the characteristic 
features of the agrarian and civil life of this sturdy people. 
It was not essentially different from that existent among the 
other New England towns; such life was in its general 
features everywhere the same. On close examination, how- 
ever, we find that the machinery of town and court adminis- 
tration can be classified as to whether it is pure or mixed, 
simple or complicated, natural or artificial. To Connecticut 
belongs the best of these conditions. Her town life was 
pure, simple and natural ; the law which guided her political 
relations was nearer to the law which governs to-day than 
anywhere else on the American continent. We are apt to 
think of her settlement as an artificial importation, as one 
ready-made through the influence of pre-existent conditions. 
On the contrary, it was a natural growth ; it passed through 
all the stages of gestation, birth, and youth to manhood. 
Beginning with the commercial stage, when trade was the 
motive power, it soon entered the agricultural stage, when 
the adventure lands were occupied by planters. With the 
development of this phase of its growth the military stage 
begins, when it became necessary to systematically arm against 
the Indians, and to turn the agricultural settlements into 
armed camps, with the people a body of trained soldiers. At 
this stage the organized religious life begins, when systematic 
church life arises with the infusion of new settlers; and last 

^ Wind. Rec, Dec. 10, 1659. For " the order of the Court," see Code 
of 1650, Col. Rec. I, 550. 

The Towns and the People. 119 

of all is reached the civil or political stage, when for the first 
time the settlements may be fairly called organized towns. 
Now with these five factors — commercial, agricultural, mili- 
tary, religious, political — all active elements in the structural 
unity of the towns, we can understand why the need of some 
more exact and authoritative scheme of government was felt, 
and why the constitution of 1639 was adopted. We can also 
understand why such a document had not been drafted before; 
it was not a constitution struck off at one blow, but was in 
every article the result of experience. Two years previous 
the Greneral Court had met, and without other right than that 
of all men to govern themselves, began to legislate in matters 
of general concern ; the state dates its birth from this date. 
But not until the inhabitants composing that state had 
become accommodated to the new situation, and the separate 
settlements had become sufficiently developed to be used as 
units for popular representation, was a general system of 
government framed. We have said that every article in that 
constitution was based on experience, either in Massachusetts 
or Connecticut; the document as finally drafted was the 
result of the trial by democracy of itself. The people were 
experimenting, and as they experimented, the towns were 
growing and the state was taking shape. The very title 
" committees " of the first representatives is a clue to the yet 
unformed condition of the towns. This committee bore no 
dintinctly official character, but was probably chosen by the 
people of the town — for as yet the principle of freemanship 
had not been established — to represent themselves, not the 
town, in the body which was to try the experiment of legisla- 
ting for a self-governed community. Can we doubt that 
each town was managing its own affiiirs by committees of a 
not essentially different character from those sent to the 
Greneral Court ? It is at least a significant fact, that within an 
interval of two weeks preceding the crystallization of the 
state ex))eriment in a written constitution, Hartford, the only 
town of which we have record, formulated the plan for its 

120 The River Towns of ConnecticxU. 

permanent government, by the election of townsmen, and, 
what is more significant, by setting bounds and limitations 
to their power in seven prohibitive orders. Had not the 
people been experimenting in town government as well as 
state, and is it surprising that the permanent organization of 
the one almost exactly coincided with the permanent organiza- 
tion of the other? Far be it from us to take without warrant 
an attitude antagonistic to an historian who has done so 
much for Connecticut history, and whose political discern- 
ment is so superior to our own, but the whole bearing of this 
study has been to convince us that Prof. Johnston's theory 
that in Connecticut it was the towns that created the common- 
wealth ; that in Connecticut the towns have always been to 
the commonwealth as the commonwealth to the Union, is 
entirely untenable. If Hartford, in every way the most pre- 
cocious in rounding out her town system, did not begin that 
system till 1639 (N. S.), there is no doubt that the other 
towns, which in 1650 had but the beginnings of an official 
town system, were even later in development. How then 
can towns with an as yet hardly formed government, receiv- 
ing and obeying orders from a central authority, their 
only permanent officers the appointees of that authority, be 
said to have sovereignty and independence ? There were not 
three sovereignties, but one sovereignty, and that lay with 
the people. These people in their position as settlers in 
separate localities, and through those acting for them in the 
General Court, effected the erectionof these localities into legal 
towns; and though these towns were used as convenient 
channels of representation and taxation, they never, either 
before or after the constitution, had complete local inde- 
pendence. As there were no sovereign towns, there could 
be no pre-existent town rights; such rights lay with the 
people, and they gave them up with but one reservation, as 
has been already stated in the first chapter. This constitu- 
tion was not the articles of a confederation, although the 
people entered into " combination and confederation," in 

The Towns and the People. 121 

which the peculiar nature of the settlements was recognized; 
but it was a government to order the "affairs of the people/' 
" gathered together," " cohabitting and dwelling in and upon 
the River of Conectecotte and the Lands thereunto adjoyne- 
ing," to which government was granted " the supreme power 
of the commonwealth." Compare this expression with that 
in the first article of the Constitution of the United States, 
where the very phrase, "All legislative power herein granted," 
shows at once that the framers never considered the supreme 
power as belonging to the central government they were 

In turning from the historical to the legal aspect of the 
question, the discussion may be brief. This act of the people 
of Connecticut has been the basis of all judicial decisions. 
Two quotations will show the drift of such interpretation. 
In 1830 Chief Justice Daggett decided that the towns "act 
not by any inherent right of legislation, like the legislation 
of a State, but their authority is delegated."^ Still more 
pertinent is the decision of Chief Justice Butler in 1864, who, 
referring to the surrender of power, says, " That entire and 
exclusive grant would not have lefl a scintilla of corporate 
power remaining in themselves as inhabitants of the towns, if 
any such had then existed"; and again, "And thus their 
powers, instead of being inherent, have been delegated and 
controlled by the supreme legislative power of the State from 
its earliest organization." ^ 

'Williarcl vs. Killingworth, 8 Conn. Reports, p. 247. 

» Webster vs. Harwington, 32 CJonn. Reports, pp. 186-139. Both of these 
were quoted by Roger Welles, Esq., in the Hartford Courant^ Aug. 
37, 1888, and will suflloe for the argument in the text, but enlarge- 
ment in a note may not be without profit. More fully. Chief Justice 
Daggett's opinion is as follows : " The borough and town are confessedly 
inferior corporations. They act not by any inherent right of legislation, 
like the legislature of the State, but their authority is delegated, and their 
powers therefore must be strictly pursued. Within the limits of their 
charter their acts are valid, m/Ao«/ it they are void." July, 1880. The 
Webster vs. Harwington case was argued by Governor (now Judge) 
Andrews in 1864, who took the ground *' that in a democratic govern- 

122 The River Towns of Comiecticut. 

So much, then, for the historical and legal side of the case. 
How was it in practice? Were the towns in Connecticut 
" almost as free as independency itself until near the period 
of the charter," as Prof. Johnston says, or were they con- 
trolled by the supreme legislative body of the state from 

ment, ultimate sovereignty resides with the people ; the simplest municipal 
organization, viz. the towns, being the most purely democratic and volun- 
tary, possess all power with which they have not expressly parted." This 
is the claim that Prof. Johnston makes of reserved rights in the towns. 
Chief Justice Butler in answer says, speaking of the Constitution of 1639, 
** That extraordinary instrument purports on its face to be the work of 
the people — the residents and inhabitants — the free planters themselves 
of the three towns. It recognizes the towns as existing municipalities, 
but not as corporate or independent, and makes no reservation, expressly 
or impliedly, of property or legislative power in their favor." (p. 137.) 
Again, in referring to the historical authorities quoted by the plaintiffs he 
says: ** These views" (that the towns gave up a part of their corporate 
powers and retained the rest in absolute right) " have been expressed by 
[the historians] without sufficient reflection or examination, and are not 
correct in principle or sustained by our colonial records or by any adjudi- 
cation of our courts " (p. 136). He also says, in speaking of the orders of 
October, 1639, which Prof. Johnston refuses to accept as anything more 
than a defining of privileges already possessed, and not as an incor- 
poration or chartering of the towns (p. 76): '* Now that provision enacted 
by the General Court in 1639 was both a grant and a limitation of vital 
power, and was intended to embrace towns thereafter created (as they 
were in fact) by law, and is utterly inconsisteiit with the idea of a reserved 
sovereignty, or of any absolute right in the towns and constituted the 
towns corporations, and the continuance of it has continued them so ; and 
that provision, with the numerous special provisions then and since made, 
prescribing their officers and regulating their meetings and other proceed- 
ings, and imposing and prescribing their duties as subordinate municipal 
corporations, constitute their charters." Then follows the second quota- 
tion in the text (p. 139). For further similar judicial opinions see Higley 
vs. Bunce, Conn. Rep. 10, 442 ; New London vs. Brainard, Conn. Rep. 22, 
555. In these cases there was no dissenting voice against the opinion of 
the Chief Justice by the associate judges of the Supreme Court. The suit 
of Webster vs. Harwington had already been decided by Judge Sandford 
in the Superior Court, against the theory of reserved rights. The attitude 
of Massachusetts and New York toward their towns is exactly the same. 
Bangs vs. Snow, Mass. Rep. I, p. 188; Stetson vs. Kempton et al., Mass. 
Rep. 13, p. 278 ; Statutes of 1785, ch. 75. For New York see Hodges vs. 
City of Buffalo, 2 Denio, p. 110 ; Revised Statutes I, p. 599, sees. 1, 3. 

The Towns and the People. 123 

their earliest organization, as has just been quoted? The 
court almost at once, in the August or September following 
the adoption of the constitution, took measures to complete 
the organization of the towns, through the agency of a court 
committee appointed for that purpose, and on the presenta- 
tion of their report, in the October following, passed the 
orders which they had drawn up. In these orders and those 
frequently passed aftenvard — we are speaking of the period 
preceding the charter — can be found all the rights that the 
towns were possessed of. Every officer chosen except the 
townsmen can be traced to these orders, as well as every 
privilege exercised of which the town records give us 
knowledge. The allowance was liberal, and the towns never 
exceeded, and in some cases did not wholly exhaust, the 
powers granted them. Even within these orders the court 
occasionally interfered. It ordered regarding highways, 
fences, and unruly animals ; decided the boundaries of the 
towns, refused the right of town suffrage to such as had 
been whipped or fined for scandalous oifenses ; even made 
grants of town lands ; settled the ferry rates of Windsor, 
gave orders to her deacons ; interposed in the ecclesiastical 
alfairs of Wethersfield ; ordered the establishment of town 
inns ; commanded the payment of bounties, and showed its 
authority in many other similar ways. It also controlled all 
the military and commercial affairs of the towns. In other 
words, the Greneral Court directly controlled all matters not 
expressly delegated to the towns, and even in those matters 
it interfered, though rarely. That this was as true in practice 
as in theory, a careful study of the town records enables us 
to affirm. 

What an actual reservation of rights was may be seen in 
the case of Southhampton, which, settled in 1640, came under 
the jurisdiction of Connecticut in 1644. As for these four 
years it had been an independent church-state, it had some 
right, made more drnded by its peculiar situation on Long 
Island, to introduce into the agreement a distinct reservation 

124 The River Tonms of Connecticut. 

of power. Its inhabitants were given *' liberty to regulate 
themselves according as may be most suitable to their own 
comforts and conveniences in their own judgment," and power 
was reserved for all time " for making of such orders as may 
concerne their Towne occations."^ This, by force of con- 
trast, makes clear how different the position of the river 
towns actually was in the eyes of the court. 

Nor did the towns themselves fail to recognize this posi- 
tion of complete subordination to the General Court. It 
might be sufficient to say, as substantiating this, that they 
never overstepped their boundaries, but a concrete expression 
of their opinion is more conclusive. Windsor was much 
troubled because the people neglected their fences, from which 
many complaints had resulted, and says "that we cannot but 
see it the cause of many trespasses and discord among neigh- 
bors, and therefore, as we should desire and endeavor the peace 
and comfort of one another," it proceeds to regulate the 
matter, adding almost parenthetically : " The court having 
left the care and ordering of things of this nature to the care 
of the townsmen in the several towns." ^ If this was the 
situation up to the time of the charter, much more was it so 
in the period following, when, with the growth of towns and 
commonwealth, colonial organization became more compli- 
cated and new conditions were constantly arising. That 

' Col. Reo. I, p. 567, Appendix II. Compare the historic beginnings 
of the Connecticut towns with those of Rhode Island, of which it can be 
truly said, as does the historian of that State, ** In Rhode Island each 
town was itself sovereign, and enjoyed a full measure of civil and religious 
freedom."— Arnold's Hist, of Rhode Island, I, p. 487. 

2 Wind. Rec, March 21, 1659. The only instance that the writer can 
find of an unwillingness to obey a court order was when the court, appar- 
ently unjustly, refused to ratify the election of Mr. Mitchell, a weighty 
landholder of Wethersfield, who had been elected to the oflBce of Recorder. 
The court declared the office vacant and ordered a new balloting. The 
town refused compliance, and Mr. Mitchell entered upon his office. In 
answer to this the court promptly fined him twenty nobles, and that part 
of the town which voted for him five pounds.— Col. Rec. I, pp. 40, 51-52. 

The Tovms and the People. 126 

town and court relations had not changed it is almost unneces- 
sary to state.^ To attempt to prove it by example would be 
tedious and add little that was new. It may all be summed up 
in two quotations, which bring into sharp contrast the relation 
of the town to the colony, as compared with that of the State 
to the American Congress. When East Hartford wished the 
liberty of a minister in 1694, Hartford, though loath to part 
with " their good company," yielded gracefully and said, that 
" if the Greneral Court see cause to overrule in this case, we 
must submit."^ But when it was rumored in 1783 that the 
Congress of the Confederation was overstepping its privileges, 
the town passed, among others, the following article. Address- 
ing the State delegates, it said, "And first (Gentlemen) we 
desire and expressly instruct you to oppose all Encroachments 
of the American Congress upon the Sovereignty and Juris- 
diction of the separate States, and every Assumption of Power 
not expressly vested in them by the Articles of Confederation."* 
Far more worthy of admiration, and nobler in its accom- 
plishment, was the relation which actually did exist between the 
town and the court in the colony of Connecticut. Its boasted 
democracy becomes almost greater in the practice than in the 
conception. This we realize when we see a body endowed 
with supreme power, unrestrained by any authority on earth, 
exercising that power with such moderation and remarkable 
political sagacity that the town appears as almost an inde- 
pendent unit. If an institution is the lengthened shadow of 
one man, then here we see Thomas Hooker with the king in 

1 ** The royal charter was a precious gift and came to be the object of 
almost saperstitious regard. But it did not in any way affect the relations 
previously established between the people and their chosen rulers. The 
frame of government continued U) rest on the same broad foundation on 
which the Ck)n8titution of 1689 had placed it, and ' the supreme power of 
the Commonwealth ' was made to consist, as before, in the general court.'* 
Trumbull's Hist. Notes on the Constitution of Connecticut, pp. 10-11. 

'Hart. Rec. I, p. 178. 

' Hart Rec. II, p. 801 . F*or the nature of this encroachment see Cartis. 
Hist, of the Constitution, I, p. 100 ; Trumbull's Hist. Notes, p. 18. 

126 The River Towns of Oonnecticut. 

his pocket, and his exceeding fervor of spirit well under 

If the General Court of Massachusetts interfered in half 
the affiiirs of its towns, as says Dr. Ellis, it is safe to say 
that the Greneral Court of Connecticut interfered practically in 
a proportion very much less, the exact fraction of which it 
would be difficult to formulate. Once established, the towns 
were left to run themselves. It was not often that the court 
directly interfered; it interposed its authority in case of 
disputes, instructed the towns in their duty when they seemed 
to be wandering from it, and offered its advice gratuitously if 
it seemed necessary. The towns were often unable to manage 
their own afikirs, and then the peculiarly paternal position of 
the court most prominently appears. The town petitions were 
always carefully considered. In this way they came to the 
court for advice and counsel, to it they presented their diffi- 
culties ; Windsor with her boundaries, Wethersfield with her 
minister, Simsbury in a pathetic appeal regarding her fences. 
The court in all such cases, full of almost a tender interest in 
its towns, appointed a committee to help them out of trouble. 
In matters of grievance it was the court of last resort, and its 
decision was final. Only when the towns seemed to be misus- 
ing their privileges was its manner firm, and against evildoers 
its tone was severe. Yet its laws were always temperate, and 
never arbitrary in their nature. For this reason town and 
colony grew without display, but with a political strength 
unequaled ; and its people, made strong by adversity, and 
unhampered by a false political friction, have developed a 
state which has proved in the crises of history a bulwark to 
the nation. 

Addendum. — For the sake of clearness regarding a statement made in 
note 2, page 15, it should be explained that in 1636 Mr. Winthrop was 
Governor at Saybrook, acting under the Patentees. He was not Governor 
under the Constitution until 1657. 







Historical and Political Science 


History is pwt Politics and Politics present History — J^rteman. 





By JOHN G. BOURINOT, Hon. LL. D., D. C. L. 

Clerk 9f Ok» HouBe tff Common* f\f Canada; Honorary Secretary qf the Royal Society qf Canada; Author 

of ParliammUary Praetiee amd Proeedure in Canada, Manual qf the ConHituttonal Hietory 

qf Canada, Local OoMmmmtt m Canada (in Johne Hupkine UnivertUy 



V. M UMur, PuBUCATioM AaBUT, JoKn HoPKuri Umvi&urrx' 

O«tob«r, NoT«inb«r» I>eo«iiib«r, 1880 

Copyright, 1889, by N. Murray. 



Lecture I. Historical Outline op Political Development... 7 

II. General Features of the Federal System 29 

III, The Government and the Parliament 77 

IV, The Provincial Governments and Legislatures.. 121 




In the course of this and the following lectures/ I propose 
to direct your attention to the Federal constitution of the 
Dominion of Canada. My review of the system of govern- 
ment which we now possess must necessarily be limited in its 
scope. I can but give you an outline of its leading features 
and a very imperfect insight into its practical operation. I do 
uot pretend to do more than lay before you a mere sketch — 
perhaps not more than a tracing of the architect's work — and 
point out the strength and harmony of the proportions of the 
national structure which Canadian statesmen are striving to 
perfect on the northern half of the continent. At the same 
time I shall endeavor to indicate what seem, in the opinions 
of competent authorities, to be such defects and weaknesses as 
must always, sooner or later, show themselves in the work of 
human hands. 

It is necessary that I should at the outset briefly trace the 
various steps in the |X)litical development of British North 
America, so that you may the more clearly understand the 

' Theee four lectures were read during the month of May, 1889, lieforo 
Trinity Univeraity, Toronto, Canada, and are now printed for the firet time 
with some notes and additions to the text. 


8 Federal Government in Canada. [464 

origin and nature of our present system of government. Nor 
can I well leave out of the consideration some references to 
the political institutions that existed in Canada previous to 
1759-60. Such a review will not give any evidence of polit- 
ical progress, but it would be very incomplete if it did not 
lay before you the characteristics of a system of government 
which is not simply interesting from an antiquarian or his- 
torical point of view, but also on account of the comparisons 
it leads us to make between the absolutism it represented and 
the political freedom which has been the issue of the fall of 
Quebec in 1759, and of the supremacy of England in Canada. 

But there is another important consideration which renders 
it absolutely necessary that I should give more than a passing 
allusion to the French period of Canadian history. Though 
more than a century and a quarter has passed since those days 
of the French regime, many of the institutions which were 
inherited from old France have become permanently estab- 
lished in the country, and we see constantly in the various 
political systems formed in Canada from time to time the 
impress of those institutions and the influence of the people of 
French Canada. 

As the most convenient method of dealing with this part of 
my subject, I shall leave the consideration of the political 
development of Nova Scotia and the other small provinces 
until the last lecture, when I come to review the present con- 
stitution of their governments and legislatures. I shall con- 
fine myself for the present to the political history of the large 
country generally known as Canada until 1867, and now 
divided into the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. This 
history may be properly divided into several Periods, varying 
in the number of years from the time Champlain laid the 
foundation of the French colony on the banks of the St. Law- 
rence, down to the establishment of the system of federation. 

First of all we have the period when France claimed do- 
minion over the extensive ill-defined territories watered by the 
St. Lawrence and the great Lakes and including the valleys 

465] Federal Government in Canada. 9 

of the Ohio and the Mississippi Rivers. During this period 
which lasted from 1608 to 1759-60, — for it is not necessary 
to refer to the abortive expedition of the Marquis de la Roche 
or to the voyages of Jacques Cartier which did not lead to 
immediate colonization, — Canada was under the control for 
a number of years of proprietary governments chartered by 
the king to carry on trade in the country whose furs were 
already highly valued in the markets of Europe. In those 
days of chartered corporations the governor was radically 
supreme and exercised executive, legislative and judicial powers 
with the assistance of a council which he consulted according 
to his pleasure. By 1 663, however, Louis XIV. decided under 
the advice of the eminent statesman Coll)ert to take the gov- 
ernment of Canada into his own hands, but the measures he 
proposed were for a while kept in abeyance on account of a 
charter for commercial purposes being granted to a new com- 
pany under the influence of courtiers anxious to use the colony 
for their own selfish purposes. But Colbert was ambitious to 
extend the commerce of France and establish colonies wherever 
she had a foothold, and in this respect he was wise above 
statesmen of his day. Accordingly we find that on the failure 
of the new company to realize its exiKxitatious no fresh effort 
was made in the same direction, but the plans of 1663 were 
carried out in 1674 and the king and his minister took all the 
measures necessary to establish beyond legal doubt a regular 
system of government in accordance with the autocratic spirit 
which characterized regal jK)wer in those days. It has been 
well observed by the historian Parkman that the governor of 
Canada as well as the intendant, the next most important if 
not indeed in many ways the most iinj)()rtant functionary of 
state, were to all intents and pur|)oses in iM)int of authority, 
the same oflBcials who presided over the affairs of a province 
of France. In Canada as in France governors-general had 
only such powers as were expressly given them by the king 
who, jealous of all authority in others, kept them rigidly in 
check. In those days the king was suprenu* ; *' I am the state ** 

10 Federal Government in Canada, [4G6 

said Louis Quatorze in the arrogance of his power. The 
feudal system of France had been long since deprived of its 
dangere to the monarch and the nobles of the once proud 
feudal families, who in old times had even defied their feudal 
chief, were now kept within the courtly precincts to pay him 
homage and obey his commands. The three estates, the nobles, 
clergy and tiers etaty or the " nation," still existed in name, 
but while the first was stripped of real jDower and the second 
exercised its usual influence on the conscience of the de- 
vout the people groaned under the exactions of the king and 
his courtiers. The states-general never assembled to give voice 
to the complaints of the nation and provide redress. We find 
there were Parliaments that assembled at stated periods at Paris, 
Rouen and other important places but in no respect did they 
resemble that great council of the English people which from 
the earlier days of English history has been so often a check 
on kingly assumptions. The Parliaments of France were 
purely of a judicial character, and though at times they served 
as a curb on the absolutism of the king, as a rule they were 
under his control, and forced under all circumstances to reg- 
ister his decrees, however objectionable they might be. In 
view of such facts it is easy to understand that there could be 
no such things as free government or representative institu- 
tions in Canada, like those enjoyed from the very commence- 
ment of their history by the old English colonies which were 
founded almost contemporaneously with the settlement of 
Acadia and Canada by De Poutrincourt and Champlain. 

The governor had command of the militia and troops, and 
was nominally superior in authority to the intendant, but in 
the course of time the latter became virtually the most influ- 
ential officer in the colony, and even presided at the council 
board. This official, who had the right to report directly to 
the king on colonial affairs, had large civil, commercial and 
maritime jurisdiction, and could issue ordinances on his own 
responsibility which had full legal effect in the country. Asso- 
ciated witli the governor, and intendant was a council, com- 

467] Federal Government in Canada. 11 

prising in the first instance five, and, eventually, twelve 
persons chosen from the leading people of the country. The 
change of name from the " Supreme Council *' to the " Supe- 
rior Council " is of itself some evidence of the determination 
of the king to restrain the pretensions of all official bodies 
throughout the kingdom and its dej)endencies. This body 
exercised legislative and judicial powers, and was a court of 
appeal from the judicial functionaries at Quebec, Montreal 
and Three Rivers, the principal towns of the three districts 
into which the country was divided for the administration of 
justice in accordance with the Coidume de Paris. The Bishop 
was a member of the council, and the history of the colony is 
full of the quarrels that arose between him and the governor 
on tK)ints of official etiquette, or with respect to more import- 
ant matters affecting the government of the country. The 
Roman Catholic Church, from the very first settlement of 
Canada, was fostered by express provisions in the charters of 
the incorporated commercial companies. The causes that 
assisted in tlie colonization of the French colony were trade 
and religion, and the priestly missionary was as frequent a 
visitor in llie camp of the Indian tril)es as the Coureur de hois, 
who wanderal over the Western wilderness in the days of the 
French regime. When the king assumed the government, the 
bishop and his clergy continued to increase their power and 
wealth, and by the time of the conquest the largest landed 
proprietors, and in many resj>ects the wealthiest, were the 
church and its communities. The seigniory soon gave way to 
the parish of tlie church, as a district for local as well as 
for ecclesiastical purposes. Titlies were imposed and regulated 
by the government, and as the country became more {x)pulous 
the church grew in strength and riches. It held always under 
its control the education of the ])eople, and was then, as now, 
the dominant power in the country. 

The king and the council of state in France kept a strict 
supervision over the government of the colony. An ap{>eal 
lay to the king in all civil and criminal matters, but the dis- 

12 Federal Government in Canada, [468 

tance between Paris aud Quebec, in those days of slow com- 
mimication, tended to keep up many abuses under which the 
people suffered, and it is easy to explain how it was that an 
unscrupulous intendant like Bigot was able to cheat the Cana- 
dians for so many years with impunity and amass large wealth 
by the most disgraceful peculation and jobbery. 

We look in vain for evidence of popular freedom or material 
prosperity during those times. The government was autocratic 
and illiberal, and practically for many years in the hands of 
the intendant. Public meetings were steadily repressed and 
even the few that were held in those early days on occasions of 
public emergency could be called only at the instance of the 
authorities. No system of municipal government was estab- 
lished, and the efforts to elect aldermen for civic purposes in 
Quebec were almost immediately rendered ineffectual by the 
open or insidious hostility of the governing powers. Some 
semblance of popular representation was given for a while by 
the election of "syndics," a class of officials peculiar to French 
local administration, though we can trace their origin to the 
Greeks. The French Canadian colonists had in all probability 
brought with them among their customary rights that of choos- 
ing an agent for the special purpose of defending the interests 
of a community whenever necessary before the authorities, 
but in accordance with the principles that lay at the basis of 
the Canadian government, the people soon found themselves 
incapable of exercising what might have been a useful muni- 
cipal office, and might have led to the extension of popular 
privileges. It is not strange, then, that the habitants of the 
seigniories, as well as the residents in the towns, lived for the 
most part a sluggish existence without any knowledge of, or 
interest in the affairs of the colony, which were managed for 
them without their consent or control, even in cases of the 
most insignificant matters. Even trade was in fetters. Cana- 
dians could only deal with France, in conformity with the 
restrictive policy of those times when colonies were considered 
simply feeders for the commerce of the parent state. 

46 9 J Federal Government in Canada, 13 

It may bo urged witli truth that the French Canadian had 
no knowledge of those free institutions which Englishmen 
brought to this continent as their natural birthright. The 
people of France were crushed beneath the heels of the king 
and nobles, and the Norman or Breton was hardly a freeman 
like an Englishman of Devon or Kent. But transplanted to 
the free atmosphere of this continent, and given some oppor- 
tunities for asserting his manhood, the bold courageous native 
of Brittany or Normandy might have sooner or later awaked 
from his political lethargy, and the conquest might have 
found him possessor of some political rights and in many 
respects an energetic member of the community. This was, 
however, impossible in a country where the directions of the 
king and his pliant ministers were always to the effect that 
liberty of speech should be rigidly repressed. Even the Mar- 
quis of Frontenac, when governor, was told in very emphatic 
terms that he made a grievous mistake when he presumed 
to advise the assembling of the Canadians on the plan of the 
Hois g6n6raux of France ; a piece of presumption, indeed, when 
the representative assemblies were never called together even 
in the parent state. 

We must now come to the Second Period in our political 
history, which dates from that hour of humiliation for France 
and her Canadian offspring, the capitulation of Quebec and of 
Montreal in 1759-1760. This was the commencement of 
that new era during which the French Canadians were grad- 
ually to win for themselves the fullest political freedom under 
the auspices of England. The second period may be con- 
sidered for the puri)ose3 of historical convenience, to be the 
transition stage from the conquest until the granting of repre- 
sentative institutions in 1791. I call it a transition stage 
because it illustrates the development from the state of oom- 
plete {)olitical ignorance that existed at tlio time of the conquest 
to the state of larger political freedom that the constitutional 
act of 1791 gave to the people of Canada. During this 
transition period it is interesting to notice the signs that the 

14 Federal Government in Canada. [470 

Freuch Canadian leaders gave from time to time of their 
comprehension of self government, even within a quarter of 
a century from the day they emerged from the political dark- 
ness of their own country under the French regime. Several 
political facts require brief mention in this connection. From 
1760 to 1763 when Canada was finally ceded to Great Britain 
by the Treaty of Paris there was a military government as a 
necessary consequence of the unsettled condition of things, 
but it docs not demand any special consideration in this review. 
Then King George III issued his famous proclamation of 
1763,^ and by virtue of the royal prerogative established a 
system of government for Canada. The people were to have 
the right to elect representatives to an assembly, but the time 
was not yet ripe for so large a measure of political liberty, if 
indeed it had been possible for them to do so under the in- 
structions to the governor-general, which required all persons 
holding office or elected to an assembly to take oaths against 
transubstantiation and the supremacy of the Pope. This 
proclamation which was very clumsily framed in the opinion 
of lawyers created a great deal of dissatisfaction, not only for 
the reason just given but on account of its loose reference to 
the system of laws that should prevail in the conquered 
country. As a matter of fact the ordinances issued by the 
governor and executive council that now governed Canada, 
practically went to establish both the common and the criminal 
law of England to the decided inconvenience and dissatisfac- 
tion of the French Canadians accustomed to the civil law of 
France. But events were shaping themselves in favor of the 
French Canadians or " new subjects " as they were called in 
those days. The difficulty that had arisen between England 
and the old thirteen colonies led her statesmen to pay more 
attention to the state of Canada and to study the best methods 
of strengthening their government in the French colony, where 

* Issued 7th October, 1763. See text at the end of third volume of Cart- 
wright's Cases on the British North America Act. 

471] Federal Government in Canada. 15 

the English element was still relatively insignificant though 
holding practically the reins of ix>wer by means of the execu- 
tive council and the public offices. In 1774 the parlia- 
ment of Great Britian was for the fii*st time called upon 
to intervene in the affairs of Canada and passed the act 
giving the first constitution to Canada, generally known 
in our history as the Quebec act.* During the same session 
were passed a series of acts with the object of bringing the 
colonists of New England into a more humble and loyal state 
of mind ; for the cargoes of tea, inopportunely despatched to 
different colonial ports, had been already destroyed, and the 
discontent that prevailed generally in the colonies, especially 
in Massacliusetts, had reached a crisis. The Quebec act was 
in the direction of conciliating the French Canadians, who 
naturally received it with much satisfaction. The English, 
on the other hand, regarded it with great disfavor, and the 
same may be said of the people of the old thirteen colonies, 
who subsequently, through their Congress, stated their objec- 
tions in an appeal to the people of Great Britain, and declared 
it to be "unjust, unconstitutional, and most dangerous and 
destructive of American rights." The act established a legis- 
lative council nominated by the crown, and the project of an 
assembly was indefinitely postponed. The French Canadians 
were not yet prepared for representative institutions of whose 
working they had no practical knowledge, and were quite 
content for the time being with a system which bix)ught smne 
of their leading men into the new legislative boily. All theii 
experience and traditions were in favor of a governing Ixxly 
nominated by the king, and it required time to show them the 
advantage of the English system of popular assemblies. But 
what made the act so popular in Lower Canada was tiie fact 
that it removed the disabilities under which the French Cana- 
dians, as Roman Catholics, were heretofore placed, guaranteed 
them full freedom of worship, and placed the church, with the 

>IiDp. Act, 14th Geo. Ill, cap. 83. 

16 Federal Govenwumt in Canada. [472 

exception of the religious orders, the Jesuits and Sulpitians/ 
in comi)lete possession of their valuable property. The old 
French law was restored in all matters of controversy relating 
to projierty and civil rights. The criminal law of England, 
which was, in the opinion of the French Canadians, after an 
experience of some years, preferable to their own system on 
account of its greater mildness and humanity, was to prevail 
throughout the country. The hostile sentiment that existed 
in Canada, and the old thirteen colonies arose in a great 
measure from the fact that the civil law of France was 
applied to the English residents not only in the French section, 
but to the large area of country extending to the Mississippi 
on the west, and the Ohio on the south, so as to include the terri- 
tory now embraced by the five States northwest of the Ohio. 
While this act continued in force various causes were at 
work in the direction of the extension of popular government. 
The most important historical fact of the period was the com- 
ing into British North America of some forty thousand persons, 
known as United Empire Loyalists, who decided not to remain 
in the old thirteen colonies when these foreswore their allegi- 
ance to the king of England. Few facts of modern times 
have had a greater influence on the destinies of a country than 
this immigration of sturdy, resolute and intelligent men, united 
by high principles and the most unselfish motives. They laid 
the foundations of the provinces now known as New Bruns- 
wick and Ontario, and settled a considerable portion of Nova 
Scotia. From the day of their settlement on the banks of the 
St. John, Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers, and in the vicinity 
of Lakes Ontario and Erie, they have exercised by themselves 
and their descendants a powerful influence on the institutions 

^ The Sulpitians, who are a very wealthy corporate body, were left in 
possession of their property, but it was not until 1839 that they received 
legal recognition. The Crown took formal possession of the property of the 
Jesuits in 1800 on the death of the last representative of the order in 
Canada. See Lecture II, and Lareau, Histoire du Droit Canadien, II, 
pp. 195-200. 

473] Federal Govtniinait in Canada, 17 

of Canada, not unlike that exercised by the descendants of the 
New England pioneers throughout the American Union ; and 
it is to them we owe much of that spirit and devotion to 
England which has always distinguished the Canadian people 
and aided to keep them, even in critical periods of their history, 
within the empire. 

In view of the rapidly increasing English population of 
Canada and of the difficulties that were constantly arising 
between the two races, — difficulties increased by the fact that 
the two systems of law were constantly clashing and the 
whole system of justice was consequently very unsatisfactorily 
administered, — the British government considered it the 
wisest policy to interfere again and form two separate pro- 
vinces, in which the two races could work out their own future, 
as far as practicable, apart from each other. This was a very 
important change in its far-reaching consequences. It was 
not merely another remarkable step in the political develop- 
ment of Canada, but it was to have the effect not only of 
educating the French Canadians more thoroughly in the 
advantages of self-government but of continuing the work 
which the Quebec Act practically commenced, and strength- 
ening them as a distinct nationality desirous of perjjetuating 
their religion and institutions. 

The passage of the Constitutional Act of 1791* is the 
b^inning of the Third Period in the political history of 
Canada, which lasted for half a century until it was found 
necessary to make another important change in the constitu- 
tion of the provinces. This Act extended the jwlitical liber- 
ties of the people in the two j)rovinccs of UpiKT Canada and 
Lower Canada — now Ontario and Quebec — organized under 
the Act, since it gave them a complete legislature, composed 
of a governor, a legislative council nominated by the crown, and 
an assembly elected by the i)eople on a limited franchise, prin- 
cipally the old forty shilling freehold system so long in vogue 

* Imp. Act, 81 Qeo. II, Otp. 81« 

18 Federal Government in Canada. [474 

in English speaking colonies. The object was, as stated at 
the time, to separate the two races as much as possible and to 
give both a constitution resembling that of England as far as 
the circumstances of the country would permit. 

The history of the two provinces, especially of French 
Canada, under the operation of the Constitutional Act of 1791, 
is full of instruction for the statesman and political student. 
It illustrates the fact which all history teaches, that the political 
development of a people must be always forward the juouient 
their liberties are extended, and that the refusal of franchises 
and privileges necessary to the harmonious operation of a 
gov^ernment is sure sooner or later to breed public discontent. 
I do not purpose to dwell on well-known historical facts, 
but there are a few considerations bearing on this review of 
political development which I shall briefly mention. In the 
first place the constitution of 1791, though giving many con- 
cessions and privileges to the provinces, had an inherent weak- 
ness, since it professed to be an imitation of the British 
system, but failed in that very essential principle which the 
experience of England has proved is absolutely necessary to 
harmonize the several branches of government; that is the 
responsibility of the executive to parliament, or more strictly 
speaking to the assembly elected by the people. The English 
representatives in the province of Upper Canada soon recog- 
nized the value of this all important principle of parliamentary 
government according as they had experience of the practical 
operation of the system actually in vogue ; but it is an admitted 
fact that the French Canadian leaders in the assembly never 
appreciated, if indeed they ever understood, the constitutional 
system of England in its full significance. Their grievances, 
as fully enumerated in the famous resolutions of 1834, were 
numerous, but their principal remedy was always an elective 
legislative council, for reasons quite intelligible to the student 
of those times. The conflict that existed during the last 
thirty years of this i^eriod was really a conflict between the 
two races in Lower Canada, where the French and elective 

475] Federal Government in Canada, 19 

element predominateil in the Assembly, and the English 
and oflBcial or ruling element in the legislative council. The 
executive government and legislative council, both nominated 
by the crown, were virtually the same body in those days. 
The ruling spirits in the one were the ruling spirits in the 
other. The English speaking people were those rulers, who 
obstinately contested all the questions raised from time to time 
hj the {X)pular or French party in the assembly. In this 
contest of race, religion and politics the passions of men 
became bitterly inflamed and an impartial historian must dep- 
recate the mistakes and faults that were committed on both 
sides. But looking at the record from a purely constitutional 
point, it must be admitted that there was great force in the 
arguments presente<l by the assembly against many anomalies 
and abuses that existed under the system of government. 
They were right in contending for having the initiation and 
control of the public expenditures in accordance with the prin- 
ciples of parliamentary government. The granting of supply 
is essentially the privilege of a people's house, though no 
measure can become law without the consent of the upper 
house, which may reject, but cannot amend a revenue or 
money bill. Another grievance was the sitting of judges in 
both houses. While the British government soon yielded 
to the remonstrances of the assembly, and instructed the 
governor to consent to the passage of an act to prevent the 
continuance of this public wrong — for it cannot be considered 
otherwise — of judges having a scat in the assembly, they were 
permitted to remain both in the executive and legislative 
councils for nearly the duration of the constitutional act. It 
was not until the assembly endeavored to impeach the jutlgc^ 
year after year, and deluged the imperial parliament with 
addresses on the subject, that this grievous defect disappeared 
from the j)olitical system. 

In Upper Canada the iK)litical difliculties never assumed 
so formidable an aspect as in the French Canadian section. 
No difference of race could arise in the Western province, and 

20 Federal Government in Canada. [476 

the question of supplies gradually arranged itself more satis- 
factorily than in Lower Canada, but in course of time there arose 
a contest between officialism and liberalism. An official class 
held within its control practically the government of the pro- 
vince. This class became known in the parlance of those 
days as the " family compact," not quite an accurate designa- 
tion, since the ruling class had hardly any family connection, 
but there was just enough ground for the term to tickle the 
taste of the people for an epigrammatic phrase. The clergy 
reserves question grew out of the grant to the Protestant 
Church in Canada of large tracts of land by the constitutional 
act, and was long a burning dominant question in the contest 
of parties. The reformers, as the popular party called them- 
selves, found in this question abundant material for exciting 
the jealousies of all the Protestant sects who wished to see the 
Church of England and Church of Scotland deprived of the 
advantages which they alone derived from this valuable source 
of revenue. 

The history of this period, however full of political mis- 
takes, is interesting since it shows how the people, including 
the French Canadians, were learning the principles on which 
parliamentary government must rest. It was history repeat- 
ing itself, the contest of a popular assembly against preroga- 
tive, represented in this case by the governor and executive 
which owed no responsibility to the people's house. Those 
times of political conflict have happily passed and the domi- 
nant body now is the people's house, where the council only 
holds power by the will of the majority. If there is cause for 
complaint, or danger in the present system, it is in the too 
great power assumed by the executive or ministry and the 
tendency to yield too much to its assumptions on the part of 
the political majority. 

I have endeavored, as briefly as possible, to show the 
principal causes of irritation that existed in Canada during the 
third period of our history. All these causes were intensified 
by the demagoguisni that is sure to prevail more or less in 

477] Federal Government in Canada. 21 

times of popular agitation, but the great peril all the while in 
Lower Canada arose from the hostility of the two races in 
the political arena as well as in all their social and public 
relations. The British government labored to meet the 
wishes of the discontented people in a fair and conciliatory 
spirit but they were too often ill advised or in a quandary from 
the conflict of opinion. No doubt the governors on whom 
they naturally depended for advice were at times too much 
influenced by their advisers, who were always fighting with 
the people's representatives and at last in the very nature of 
things made advocates of the unpopular party. Too gener- 
ally they were military men, choleric, impatient of control, 
and better acquainted with the rules of the camp than the 
rules of constitutional government and sadly wanting in the 
tact and wisdom that should guide a ruler of a colony. 
Exception must be made of Lord Dorchester who, like 
Wellington and even Marlborough, was a statesman who 
would have been found invaluable had fate given him to 
Canada at a later period of her history when the political 
discontent was at last fanned into an ill-advised rebellion in 
the two provinces, a rebellion which was promptly suppressed 
by the prompt measures immediately taken by the authorities. 
In Lower Canada the constitution was suspended and the 
government of the country from 1838-1841 was administered 
by the governor and a special council. The most important 
fact of this time was the mission of Lord Durham, a distin- 
guished English statesman, to inquire into the state of the 
country as governor-general and high commissioner. Few 
state papers in English history have had greater influence 
on the practical development of the colonies than the elaborate 
report which was the result of his review of the situation. 
It was a remarkably fair summary of the causes of discontent 
and suggested remedies which recommend themselves to us in 
these days as replete with political wisdom. The final issue 
of the inquiries made into the <M)ndition of the oouiitrv was 
the intervention of parliament once more iu the affairs of 

22 Federal Government in Canada. [478 

Canada and the passage of another Act providing for a very 
important constitutional change. 

The proclamation of the Act of 1841 ^ was the inauguration 
of the Fourth Period of our political development which 
lasted until 1867. The discontent that existed in Canada for 
so many years had the effect, not of diminishing but of en- 
larging the political privileges of the Canadian people. The 
Imperial government proved by this measure that they were 
desirous of meeting the wishes of the people for a larger grant 
of self-government. The French Canadians, however looked 
upon the Act with much disfavor and suspicion. The report 
of Lord Durham and the union itself indicated that there was 
a feeling in England that the separation of the two races in 
1791 had been a political mistake, since it prevented anything 
like a national amalgamation ; and it was now proposed to 
make an effort in the opposite direction and diminish the 
importance of the French Canadian section with its distinct 
language and institutions. The fact that the French language 
was no longer placed on the same footing as English, in offi- 
cial documents and parliamentary proceedings, together with the 
fact that Upper Canada had the same representation as Lower 
Canada in the assembly, despite the larger population of the 
latter section, was considered an insult and an injustice to the 
French Canadians, against which they did not fail to remon- 
strate for years. 

But in my studies and personal experience of the times in 
which I live, I have been often struck by the fact that the logic 
of events is much more forcible than the logic of statesmen. 
So far from the act of 1841, which united the Canadas, 
acting unfavorably to the French Canadian people it gave 
them eventually a predominance in the councils of the country 
and prepared the way for the larger constitution of 1867 which 
has handed over to them the control of their own province, and 
afforded additional guarantees for the preservation of their lan- 

* Imp. Act 3 and 4 Vic, Cap. 35. 

479] Federal Government in Canada. 23 

guage and institutions. French soon became again the official 
language by an amendment of the union act, and the clause 
providing for equality of representation proved a security 
when the upi)er province increased more largely in j)opulation 
than the French Canadian section. The act was framed on 
the principle of giving full expansion to the capacity of the 
Canadians for local government, and was accompanied by 
instructions to the governor-general, Mr. Poulett Thomson, 
afterwards Lord Sydenham, which laid the foundation of 
responsible government. It took severalyears to give full effect 
to this leading principle of parliamentary government, chiefly 
on account of the obstinacy of Lord Metcalfe during his term 
of office ; but the legislature and the executive asserted them- 
selves determinately, and not long after the arrival in 1847 of 
Lord Elgin, one of the ablest governors-general Canada has 
ever had, the people enjoyed in its completeness that system of 
the responsibility of the cabinet to parliament without which 
our constitution would be unworkable. More than that, all 
the privileges for which the people had been contending dur- 
ing a quarter of a century and more, were conceded in accord- 
ance with the liberal policy now laid down in England for the 
administration of colonial affairs. The particular measure 
which the French Canadians had pressed for so many years on 
the British government, an elective legislative council, was 
conceded. When a few years had passed the Canadian Leg- 
islature was given full control of taxation, supply and 
expenditure in accordance with English constitutional princi- 
ples. The clergy reserves difficulty was settled and the lands 
sold for public or municipal puri^scs, the interests of existing 
rectors and incumbents being guarded. The great land ques- 
tion of Canada, the seigniorial tenure of Lower Canada, was 
disposed of by buying off the claims of the seigniors. With 
the abolition of a system, which had its advantages in the early 
French times, since it forced both seignior and habitant to 
settle and clear their lands within a certain period, a relic of 
feudal days, foreign to the free spirit of American civilization, 

24 Federal Government in Canada, [480 

disappeared from our civil system and the people of lower 
Canada were freed from exactions which had become not so 
much onerous as vexatious, and were placed on the free foot- 
ing of settlers in all the English communities of America. 
Municipal institutions of a liberal nature especially in the 
province of Ontario, were established, and the people of the 
provinces enabled to have that control of their local affairs in 
the counties, townships, cities and parishes which is necessary 
to carry out public works indispensable to the comfort, health 
and convenience of the community, and to supplement the 
efforts made by the legislature, from time to time, to provide 
for the general education of the country ; efforts especially suc- 
cessful in the province of Upper Canada where the universi- 
ties, colleges and public schools are so many admirable 
illustrations of energy and public spirit. The civil service, 
which necessarily plays so important a part in the administra- 
tion of government, was placed on a permanent basis and has 
ever since afforded a creditable contrast with the loose system 
so long prevalent in the United States, where the doctrine, 
" To the victors belong the spoils,"^ — which was established in 
the time of President Jackson, though the phrase originated 
with a New York politician, W. L. Marcy — was found neces- 
sary and very convenient to satisfy the great body of office- 
seekers who naturally grew up in a country where elections 
are so frequent and professional politicians so numerous. In 
addition to those progressive measures, we may mention the 
acts securing the independence of parliament, the codification 
of the French civil law, the consolidation of the public statutes, 
the improvement of the election laws so as to ensure greater 
purity at elections, as among the legislation of a period replete 
with usefulness and admirably illustrating the practical char- 
acter of Canadian public men. 

The union of 1841 did its work and the political conditions 
of Canada again demanded another radical change comraen- 

* Sumner's Life of Andrew Jackson, in American Statesmen series, p. 162. 

481] Federal Government in Canada. 25 

Borate witli the material and political development of the 
country, and capable of removing the difficulties that had 
arisen in the operation of the Act of 1841. The claims of 
Upper Canada to larger representation, equal to its increasetl 
population since 1840, owing to the great immigration which 
naturally sought a rich and fertile province, were steadily 
resisted by the French Canadians as an unwarrantable inter- 
ference with the security guaranteed to them under the Act. 
This resistance gave rise to great irritation in Upper Canada 
where a powerful party made representation by population 
their platform, and government at last Ix^came practically 
impossible on account of the close political divisions for years 
in the assembly. The time had come for the accomplishment 
of a great change foreshadowed by Lord Durham, Chief 
Justice Sewell, Mr. Howe, Sir Alexander Gralt, and other 
public men of Canada : the union of the provinces of British 
North America. The leaders of the different governments in 
Canada and the maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New 
Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, to whose political 
history I shall refer in a later lecture, after negotiations into 
which I need not enter here, combined with the leaders of the 
opposition with the object of carrying out this great measure. 
A convention of thirty-three representative men was held in 
the autumn of 1864 in the historic city of Quebec, and after 
a deliberation of several weeks the result was the unanimous 
adoption of a set of seventy-two resolutions embodying the 
tenuB and conditions on which the provinces through their 
delegates agreed to a federal union in many respects similar 
in its general features to that of the United States federation, 
and in accordance with the principles of the English constitu- 
tion. These resolutions had to be laid before the various 
legislatares and adopted in the shape of addresses to the queen 
whose sanction was necessary to embody the wishes '»r tho 
provinces in an imperial statnte. 

It is an important fact that the consent of the legislature 
was deemed sufficient by the governments of all the provinces 

26 Federal Government in Canada. [482 

except one, though the question had never been an issue at the 
polls before the election of the legislative bodies which assumed 
the complete responsibility of this radical change in the con- 
stitutional position and relations of the countries affected. In 
New Brunswick the legislature was dissolved twice on the 
issue, and the opposition in the Nova Scotia assembly retarded 
the accomplishment of the measure, but finally both these 
provinces came into accord with the Canadian parliament, 
where only a relatively small minority urged objections to the 
proposed union. In the early part of 1867 the imperial par- 
liament, without a division, passed the statute known as the 
"British North America Act, 1867,'' which united in the 
first instance the province of Canada, now divided into 
Ontario and Quebec, with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick 
and made provisions for the coming in of the other provinces 
of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, British Columbia, 
and the admission of Rupert's Land and the great North- 

Between 1867 and 1873 the provinces just named, with the 
exception of Newfoundland, which has persistently remained 
out of the federation, became parts of the Dominion and the 
vast North-west Territory was at last acquired on terms emi- 
nently satisfactory to Canada and a new province of great 
promise formed out of that immense region, with a complete 
system of parliamentary government. 

I have endeavored in the preceding pages to review within 
as brief a space as possible the salient features in the political 
development of Canada, and it is my intention in the lec- 
tures that follow to direct attention to the framework and 
operation of the constitutional system. I shall not treat the 
questions that arise from a mere technical or legal view, but 
from the standpoint of one who has many opportunities of 
observing its practical working. I shall refer to the various 
important changes that have occurred in the legislation of 
the country affecting the various branches of government, 
and try to point out what appear, according to the expe- 

483] Federal Government in Canada, 27 

rience the country has gained within a quarter of a century, 
to be defects in the system requiring amendment sooner or 
later in order to give it more elasticity, efficiency and per- 

So far as I have gone my readers will see even from this 
very imperfect summary of the political history of Canada for 
two hundred and sixty years since the foundation of Quebec, 
and one hundred and four years since the treaty of Paris, that 
there has been a steady development ever since England, the 
birth-place of free institutions, took the place of France, so 
long the home of an absolute, irresponsible autocracy. It took 
a century to bring about the changes that placed Canada in 
the serai-independent position she now occupies, but as we 
review the past we can see there was ever an undercurrent 
steadily moving in the direction of political freedom. Poli- 
ticians might wrangle and commit the most grievous mistakes ; 
governments in England and Canada might misunderstand 
public sentiment in the colony, and endeavor to stem the 
stream of political progress, but the movement was ever 
onward and the destiny that watches over peoples as well as 
over individuals was shaping our political ends, and, happily, 
for our good. 

The results of these many years of political agitation 
through which Canada has passed have been eminently favor- 
able to her interests as a political community. No country in 
the world enjoys a larger measure of political liberty or greater 
opportunities for happiness and prosperity under the liberal 
system of government which has been won by the sagacity and 
patience of her people. 

Somewhere I have seen it said that the tree of liberty, like 
the oak or the maple, cannot spring suddenly into existence 
and attain full maturity in a day, but grows slowly and must 
bend at times beneath the storms of faction. But once it has 
taken deep root in a congenial soil, passion beats in vain 
against its trunk and the j)eoplefind safety and shelter beneath 
its branches. The tree of liberty was long ago brought into 

28 Federal Government in Canada. [484 

this country from the parent state, and has now developed into 
goodly proportions amid the genial influences that have so long 
surrounded it. 

Of Canada we may now truly say that it is above all others 
" a laud of settled government " resting on the vital principles 
of political freedom and religious toleration, and all those 
maxims which, experience has shown the world, are best calcu- 
lated to make communities happy and prosperous. 



The Dominion* of Canada now consists of seven provinces 
regularly organized and of an immense area of undeveloped 
and sparsely settled territory extending from Ontario to the 
base of the Rocky Mountains, and temporarily divided into 
four large districts, for the purposes of government. The area 
of the whole Dominion is only thirty thousand English square 
miles less than that of the United States,* including the vast 

* " The history of the circumstances under which the name of the ' Domin- 
ion ' came to be given to the united provinces shows the desire of the Cana- 
dians to give to the confederation, at the very outset, a monarchical like- 
ness in contnulistinction to tlie republican character of the American federal 
union. We have it on the best authority that in 1866-()7 the question arose 
during a conference between the Canadian delegates and the Im|>erial au- 
thorities what name should be given to the confederation of the provinces, 
and it was first proi>06ed that it should bo allied 'The Kingdom of Canada;' 
but it is said that the Earl of Carnarvon, then secretary of state for the colo- 
nies, thouglit 8uch a designation inadvisable, chiefly on the ground that it 
would be probably objectionable to the government of the Unilal States, 
which had so recently expressed its disapprobation of the attempt of 
the Emperor Napoleon to establish an imperial £uro|)ean dynasty in 
Mexico The Canadian delegates made due allowance for the deli- 
cacy of the sentiments of the minister and agreed, as a comproouse, to the 
leas ambitious title, Dominion of Canada, — a designation recalling that 
'Old Dominion,' named by Raleigh in honor of the virgin Queen." See 
article by author in the SootUak Bmm for April, 1886. 

'The United States hae an area of 8,601,404 square miles, indosive dt 
Alaska (577,390); Canada, 8,470,892, or about the wime area as Bnudl; 
Euro{)c 3,800,000 square milee. 


30 Federal Government in Canada. [486 

territory of Alaska. Its total population is about five millions 
of souls, of whom probably two millions and a quarter live in 
Ontario, nearly a million and a half in Quebec, and the re- 
mainder in the smaller provinces and in the territories. Out 
of the North-west has already been carved the province of 
Manitoba which has made remarkable progress, while a stream 
of population is now steadily flowing over the rich prairies 
and grazing lauds of the territories. The Maritime Provinces 
are inhabited by an English people, with the exception of cer- 
tain districts, especially in New Brunswick, where there is a 
small Acadian population still speaking the French language. 
Quebec has a French population of at least a million and a 
quarter of souls, professing the Roman Catholic religion and 
clinging with remarkable tenacity to their language and insti- 
tutions, and commencing to swarm over certain portions 
of the Western Province. The population of Ontario is 
mainly English and Protestant ; and the same may be said of 
the other provinces. In the territories and British Columbia 
there is a large Indian population, whose interests are care- 
fully guarded by the government of Canada. The industrial 
pui-suits of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, both washed by 
the Atlantic ocean, are principally maritime, mining and com- 
mercial. Prince Edward Island is chiefly agricultural. The 
St. Lawrence is the natural artery of communication, by the 
aid of a magnificent system of canals, between the ocean and 
the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and as far as the city of 
Port Arthur at the head of Lake Superior. Railways reach 
from Halifax to the growing city of Vancouver on the Pacific 
coast, and afford great facilities of commercial intercourse 
between the new territories and the markets of the old prov- 
inces and the rest of the world. The wealth of Ontario arises 
from her agricultural products, aided by a large system of 
manufactories. Quebec has varied interests, farming, manu- 
facturing and commercial. The territories promise to be the 
principal granary of the continent, while British Columbia 
has large undeveloped wealth in her mountains and in the 

487] Federal Government in Canada. 31 

that wash her coast. To unite and give a community of 
interest to all these territorial divisions of the Dominion — the 
Maritime Provinces, Quebec, Ontario, the North-west and 
British Columbia — and harmonize the ethnological and other 
<lifferences that now" exist within the limits of the confederation, 
is the very serious responsibility thrown upon the central and 
the local governments which derive their j>owers from the Brit- 
ish North America Act of 1867. How far the system which 
this act provides is likely to promote these objects, I shall 
attempt to show in the course of this and succeeding lectures. 

When the terms of the Union came to be arranged between 
the provinces in 1864, their conflicting interests had to 
be carefully considered and a system adopted which would 
always enable the Dominion to expand its limits and bring in 
new sections until it should embrace the northern half of the 
oontinent, which, as we have just shown, now constitutes the 
Dominion. It was soon found, after due deliberation, that 
the most feasible plan was a confederation resting on those 
principles which experience of the working of the federation of 
the United States showed was likely to give guarantees of 
elasticity and permanency. The maritime provinces had been 
in the enjoyment of an excellent system of laws and represen- 
tative institutions for many years, and were not willing to 
yield their local autonomy in its entirety. The people of the 
province of Quebec, after experience of a union that lasted 
from 1841 to 1867, saw decidedly great advantages to them- 
selves and their institutions in having a provincial government 
under their own control. The people of Ontario recognized 
equal advantages in having a measure of local government, 
apart from French Canadian influences and interference. The 
consequence was the adoption of the federal system, which 
now, after twenty-six years' exi)erience, we can truly say 
appears on the whole well devised and equal to the local and 
national requirements of the |)eople. 

We owe our constitution to the action of the i*arliament of 
Great Britain, before whom, as ihe supreme authority of the 

32 Federal Govet-mneiit in Canada. [488 

Eaipire, the provinces of Canada had to come and express 
their desire to be federally united. In the addresses to the 
Queen embodying tlie resolutions of the Quebec conference of 
1864 tlie legislatures of the provinces respectively set forth 
that in a federation of the British North American provinces^ 
" the system of government best adapted under existing cir- 
cumstances to protect the diversified interests of the several 
provinces, and secure harmony and permanency in the working 
of the Union would be a general government charged with 
matters of common interest to the whole country, and local 
governments for each of the Canadas, and for the provinces of 
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, 
charged with the control of local matters in their respective 

In the third paragraph the resolutions declare that "in 
framing a constitution for the general government, the confer- 
ence, with a view to the perpetuation of our connection with 
the mother country, and the promotion of the best interests of 
the people of these provinces, desire to follow the model of the 
British constitution so far as our circumstances permit." In 
the fourth paragraph it is set forth : " The executive authority 
or government shall be vested in the sovereign of the United 
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and be administered 
according to the well-understood principles of the British con- 
stitution, by a sovereign personally, or by the representative 
of the sovereign duly authorized." ^ 

In these three paragraphs we see tersely expressed the lead- 
ing principles on which our system of government rests : a 
federation with a central government exercising general powers 
over all the members of the union, and a number of local gov- 
ernments having the control and management of certain mat- 

' The preamble of the B. N. A. Act of 1867 sets forth that " the provinces 
of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have expressed their desire to 
be federally united into one dominion under the Crown of the United 
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with a constitution similar in prin- 
ci})le to that of the United Kingdom." 

439] Federal Govemvieni in Qmada, 3S 

ters Daturally and conveniently falling within their defined 
jurisdiction, while each government is administered in accord- 
ance with the British system of parliamentary institutions. 
These ai*e the fundamental principles which were enacted into 
law by the British North America Act of 1867. 

Before I proceed to refer to the general features of the fed- 
eral system I may here appropriately observe that the practical 
operation of the government of Canada affords a forcible illus- 
tration of a government carried on not only in accordance with 
the legal provisions of a fundamental law, but also in con- 
formity with what has been well described by eminent writers 
BS conventions or understandings which do not come within 
the technical meaning of laws since they cannot be enforced by 
the courts. It was Professor Freeman * who first pointed out 
this interesting and important distinction, but Professor Dicey 
lias elaborated it in a recent work, in which he very clearly 
shows that " constitutional law " as we understand it in Eng- 
land and in this country, consists of two elements : " The one 
element, which I have called the * law of the constitution ' is a 
body of undoubted law ; the other element which I have called 
the * conventions of the constitution,' consists of maxims or 
practices which, though they regulate the ordinary conduct of 
the Crown and of Ministers and of others under the constitu- 
tion, are not in strictness law at all."^ In Canada this 
distinction is particularly noteworthy. We have first of all 
tlie British Nortli America Act* which lays down the legal 
rules for the division of powers between tlie respective federal 
and provincial authorities, and for the government of the fed- 
eration generally. But it is a feature of this government that, 
apart from the written law, tliere are practices which can only 
be found in the usages and conventions that have originated 
in the general operation of the British constitution — that maas 

' Freeman's Growth of the English ConHtitution, pp. 114, 116. 
■Dicej'H I^w of the Coiwtitution, p. 25. 
•Imp. Act, 30-31 Vict. v. 3. 

34 Federal Government in Canada. [490 

of charters, statutes, practices, and conventions, which must be 
sought for in a great number of authorities. For example, if 
we wish in Canada to see whether a special power is given to 
the dominion or to the provincial governments we must look 
to the written constitution — to the ninety-first and ninety-sec- 
ond sections, to which I shall refer later on — but if we would 
understand the nature of the constitutional relations between 
the governor-general and his advisers we must study the con- 
ventions and usages of parliamentary or responsible govern- 
ment as it is understood in England and Canada. The courts 
accordingly will decide w^hether the parliament or the legisla- 
tures have a power conferred upon them by the constitutional 
law whenever a case is brought before them by due legal pro- 
cess ; but should they be asked to adjudicate on the legality of 
a refusal by a government to retire from office on an adverse 
vote of the people's house, they could at once say that it was a 
matter which was not within their legal functions, but a 
political question to be settled in conformity with political con- 
ventions with which they had nothing whatever to do. Or if 
Parliament should continue to sit beyond the five years' term, 
to which it is restricted by law, and then pass certain acts, the 
constitutionality of such legislation could be questioned, and 
the courts could declare it null and void. Or again, the con- 
stitutional act requires that every vote of money must be first 
recommended formally by the governor-general, and if it 
should appear that parliament had passed an act without that 
legal formality, the courts could be called upon to consider the 
legal eifect of this important omission. On the other hand, it 
is a well-understood maxim that no private member can ini- 
tiate a measure imposing a tax on the people, but it should 
come from a minister of the Crown — a rule rigidly observed 
in parliament — but this is not a matter of legal enactment 
which the courts can take cognizance of though it is a conven- 
tion of the unwritten constitution which is based on well- 
understood principles of ministerial responsibility. I might 
pursue this subject at greater length, but I think I have said 

491] Federal Government in Canada, 35 

enough to show you how interesting is the study of our con- 
stitution and what a wide field of reflection it opens up to the 
student. We have not only a written constitution to be inter- 
preted whenever necessary by the courts, but a vast store-house 
of English precedents and authoritative maxims to guide us — 
in other words, an unwritten law which has as much force 
practically in the operation of our political system as any legal 
enactment to be found on the statute book. 

The British North America Act gave l^al effect to the 
wishes of the people of Canada, as expressed in the addresses 
of their l^islatures, and is consequently the fundamental law, 
or constitution of the Dominion, only to be amended in its 
material and vital provisions by the same authority that 
enacted it.* Power is only given in the act itself to the 
Canadian legislature for the amendment or alteration of cer- 
tain provisions which are of a merely temporary character, or 
affect the machinery with which the parliament or legislatures 
have to operate — such as the readjustment of representation, 
the elections and trial of controverted elections, the constitution 
of executive authority in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, 
and other matters which do not really affect the fundamental 
principles of the constitution. All those provisions which con- 
stitute the executive authority of the Dominion, regulate the 
terms of union, and define the limits of the jurisdiction of the 
several governments, are unalterable except by the supreme 
legislature of the empire. 

We have now to consider, in the first place, the position 
that the Dominion of Canada occupies in the Empire, and 
then the relations its government occupies towanls the govern- 
ments of the provinces, with such remarks on the powers and 

* The act of 1867 has been amended bj two acta, Imp. Stat 88-^ Vict, 
c. 88, to remove certain doubts with respect to the power of tlie Canadian 
parliament under section 18; and 34 and 85 Vict., c. 28, to remove doubts 
as to the powers of the Oinadian parliament, to esublish provinces in the 

36 Fidetal Government in Oanada, [492 

functions and practical operation of the Constitution as are 
necessary to make the system intelligible. 

The Queen is the head of the executive authority and gov- 
ernment of Canada.* She is as much the sovereign of Canada 
as of England or Scotland, and her supremacy can be alone 
acknowledged in all executive or legislative acts of this 
dependency. As she is unable to be present in person in 
Canada, she is represented by a governor-general appointed by 
Her Majesty in council. In the following chapter I shall 
refer to his duties in Canada, and it is therefore pertinent here 
to make only a few necessary references to his imperial position. 

This high functionary, generally chosen from public men of 
high standing in England, has dual responsibilities, for he is 
at once the governor-in-chief of a great dependency, who acts 
under the advice of a ministry responsible to parliament, and 
at the same time the guardian of imperial interests. He is 
bound by the terms of his commission, and can only exercise 
such authority as is expressly or impliedly entrusted to him.^ 
He must report regularly on all those imperial and other mat- 
ters on which the secretary of state for the colonies should be 
informed. For instance, in the negotiations for the recent 
fishery treaty he was the avenue for all communications be- 
tween the Canadian and imperial governments. Canada being 
a colony, and not a sovereign state, cannot directly negotiate 
treaties with a foreign power, but must act through the inter- 
mediary of the imperial authorities, with whom the governor- 
general, as an imperial officer, must communicate on the part 
of our government not only its minutes of council, but his 
own opinions as well, on the question under consideration. In 
case of bills reserved^ for the consideration of the imperial 

* B. N. A. Act, sec. 9. " The executive government and authority of and 
over Canada is hereb; declared to continue and be vested in the Queen." 

* Musgrove v. Pulido, 5 App. Cas., 102. 

*A bill affecting the fishery dispute between Canada and the United 
States was formally reserved in 1886. 

493] Federal Government in Canada. 37 

government he forwards them to the secretary of state with 
his reasons for reserving them. The British North America 
act provides indeed that copies of all acts of the Canadian 
parliament should be transmitted to the secretary of state 
for the colonies, that they may be duly considered and disal- 
lowed within two years* in case they are found to conflict with 
imperial interests and are beyond the legitimate powers of 
Canada as a dependency, still in certain essential respects 
under the control of the imperial state. The commission and 
instructions, which the governor-general receives from the 
Queen's government, formerly contained a list of bills which 
should be formally reserved, divorce bills among other meas- 
ures ; but since the passage of the British North America Act, 
and the very liberal measure of self-government now conceded 
to Canada, these instructions have been materially modified, 

^ B. N. A. Act, 1867, sec. 55. Where a bill passed by the houses of the par- 
liament is presented to the governor-general for the Queen's assent, he shall 
declare, according to his discretion, but subject to the provisions of this act 
and to her majesty's instructions, cither that he assents thereto in the 
Queen's name, or that he withholds the Queen's assent, or that he reserves 
the bill for the signification of the Queen's pleasure. 

56. Where the governor-general assents to a bill in the Queen's name, he 
shall by the first convenient opportunity send an authentic co[)y of the act 
to one of her majesty's principal secretaries of state, and if the Queen in 
council, within two years after receipt thereof by the secretary of state, 
thinks fit to disallow the act, such disallowance (with a certificate of the 
necretary of state of the day on which the act was received by him) being 
signified by the governor-general, by speech or message to each of the 
houses of the parliament or by proclamation, shall annul the act from and 
after the day of such signification. 

57. A bill rcserveil for the signification of the Queen's pleasure shall pot 
have any force unless and until within two years from the day on which it 
was presented to the govemor-genenil for the Queen's assent, the govemor- 

, general signifisi^ by speech or me sss g e to each of the houses of the parlia- 
aeoi or bjr pwwtlaiMtJon, that it has received the asseot of the Queen in 

An entry of every such speech, meMige, or proclamation shall be made 
ia the journal of each hooss^ and a duplicate thereof duly attested shall be 
delivered to the proper officer to be kept among the reoonls of Oaosda. 

38 Federal Government in Canada. [494 

and it is only in very exceptional instances that bills are ex- 
pressly reserved. The general power possessed by the impe- 
rial government of disallowing any measure, within two years 
from its receipt, is considered as a sufficient check, as a rule, 
upon colonial legislation. The cases where a bill is disallowed 
are now exceedingly limited. Only when the obligations of 
the Empire to a foreign power are aifected, or an imperial 
statute is infringed in matters on which the Canadian parlia- 
ment has not full jurisdiction, is the supreme authority of 
England likely to be exercised. 

The imperial parliament has practically given the largest 
possible rights to the Dominion government to legislate on 
all matters of a Dominion character and importance w^hich can 
be exercised by a colonial dependency ; and the position Canada 
consequently occupies is that of a semi-independent power. 
Within the limits of its constitutional jurisdiction, and subject 
to the exercise of disallowance under certain conditions, the 
Dominion parliament is in no sense a mere delegate or agent 
of the imperial parliament, but enjoys an authority as plenary 
and ample as that great sovereign body in the plentitude of its 
power possesses.^ This assertion of the legislative authority 
of the Dominion legislature is quite reconcilable with the 
supremacy of the imperial parliament in all matters in which it 
should intervene in the interest of the empire. For that par- 
liament did not part with any of its rights as the supreme 
authority of the empire, when it gave the Dominion govern- 
ment " exclusive authority " to legislate on certain classes of 
subjects enumerated in the act of union, and to which we shall 
later on refer at length. This point has been clearly explained 
by Mr. Justice Gray of the supreme court of British Columbia, 
whose opinion as an eminent judicial authority is strengthened 
by the fact that he was one of the members of the Quebec con- 
vention of 1864. In deciding against the constitutionality of 

* See Regina vs. Burah, 3 App. Cas., 889 ; Hodge vs. the Queen, 9 lb., 117. 

496] Federal Government in Canada, 39 

the Chinese tax bill, passed by the legislature of his province, 
he laid down that 'the British North America Act (1867) 
was framed, not as altering or defining the changed or relative 
positions of the provinces towards the imperial government, 
but solely as between themselves." Proceeding he said that 
the imperial parliament " as the paramount or sovereign au- 
thority could not be restrained from fulure legislation. The 
British North America Act was intended to make l^al an 
agreement which the provinces decided to enter into as between 
themselves, but which, not being sovereign states, they had no 
power to make. It was not intended as a declaration that the 
imperial government renounced any part of its authority."* 

* Jadgment of Mr. Justice Gray on the Chinese tax bill, Sept. 23d, 1878. 

An imperial statute passed in 1865 (28 and 29 Vict., c. 63) expressly 
declares that any colonial law ** in any respect repugnant to the provisions 
of any act of parliament extending to the colony to which such law may 
relate," shall to the extent of such repugnancy be " absolutely void and in- 
operative." And in construing an act of parliament, "it shall be said to 
extend to any colony, when it is made applicable to such colony by the 
express words or necessary intendment" of the same. Since the passage of 
this act Canada has received a larger measure of self-government in the 
provisions of the B. N. A. act, which confers powers on the Dominion and 
the provincial authorities. No one can doubt that it is competent, as Mr. 
Justice Gray has intimatetl, for parliament to pass any law it pleases with 
respect to any subject, within the powers conferred on the Dominion or 
provinces : and any enactment repugnant to that imperial statute would be 
declared null and void by the courts, should the question come before them. 
But the point has been raised, whether it is in t!ie power of the Canadian 
parliament or legislatures to pass an act repealing an imjierial statute 
passed previous to the act of 1867, and dealing with a subject within the 
powers granted to the Canadian authorities. It must be here mentioned 
that the imperial government refused its assent to the Canadian copyright 
act of 1872, because it was repugnant, in the opinion of the law officers of 
the Crown, to the provisions of an imi)erial statute of 1842 extending to 
the colony (Imp. Stat., 5 and 6 Vict., c. 46 ; Can. Seas. P., 1876, No. 28). 
On the other hand, in the debate on the constitutionality of the Quebec 
Jesuits' bill mentioned later on, it was contended by the minister of justice 
that a provincial legislature " legislating U|x>n subjects which are given it 
by the B. N. A. act, has the power to repeal an imiierial statute, prior to 
the B. N. A. act, affecting those subjects." In mipiM>rt of this position he 

40 Federal Govemmeni in Canada, £496 

But, as I have already shown, this supreme authority of 
the imperial government will be exercised only in cases where 
interference is necessary in the interests of the Empire, and in 
the discharge of its obligations towards foreign powers. In 
the case of all matters of Dominion or Canadian concern, 
within the rights and privileges extended to Canadians by the 
British North America Act, and in accord with the general 
l^olicy now pursued towards all colonies exercising a full sys- 
tem of local self-government, the imperial authorities can con- 
stitutionally claim no authority whatever. That is, they can 
interfere, to quote a distinguished Canadian statesman, "only 
in instances in which, owing to the existence of substantial 
imperial, as distinguished from Canadian, interests it is con- 

referred to three decisions of the judicial committee of the privy council. 
One of these, in Harris vs. Davies (10 App. Cas., p. 279), held that the leg- 
islature of New South Wales had power to repeal a statute of James I. 
with respect to costs in case of a verdict for slander. The second case was 
Powell vs. Apollo Candle Co. (10 App. Cas., p. 282), in which the princi- 
ples laid down in Regina vs. Burah (3 App. Cas,, 889) and in Hodge vs. the 
Queen (9 App. Cas., p. 117) were affirmed. The third and most important 
case as respects Canada was the Queen and Kiel (10 App. Cas., p. 675), 
in which it was decided that the Canadian parliament had power to pass 
legislation changing, or repealing (if necessary) certain statutes passed for 
the regulation of the trial of offences in Rupert's Land, before it became 
a part of the Canadian domain (see Sir J. Thompson's speech, Can. Hansard, 
March 27, 1889). But several high authorities do not appear to justify the 
contention of the minister of justice. See Hearn's Government of England, 
app. II.; "The Colonies and the Mother Country;" Todd's Government 
in the Colonies, pp. 188-192, etc. ; Dicey's Law of the Constitution, pp. 95, 
et seq. The question is too important to be treated hastily, especially as 
it will come up soon in connection with the copyright act of 1889, in which 
the same conflict as in 1875 arises. No doubt the fundamental principle 
that rests at the basis of our constitutional system is to give Canada as full 
jxjwer over all matters affecting her interests as is compatible with imperial 
obligations. The parliament and legislatures must necessarily repeal, and 
have time and again repealed, imperial enactments, especially those not 
suitable to the circumstances of the country. See debate of April 20, 1889, 
Canadian Commons, on the