Colony Virginia Religion Facts and History
In Colonial Virginia, the established Anglican Church ran into the same problems of Colonial North Carolina. The distances between Parishes made it impossible to enforce Church attendance and collect tithes. There were few trained Clergy in Colonial Virginia to maintain a Church. Often there was one clergyman assigned to several parishes. When the Colonial Virginia legislature tried to impose a tax to support Christian teachers, James Madison passionately oppose the proposed bill in his speech Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessment, addressed to the Virginia legislature 1785. "We maintain that in matters of religion, no man's right is abridged by the institution of civil society.
In 1607, the first permanent settlement was made by the English at Jamestown, Va., under the charter of the London or Southern Company. This charter contained none of the elements of popular liberty, not one elective franchise, nor one of the rights of self-government; but religion was especially enjoined to be established according to the rites and doctrine of the Church of England. The infant colony suffered greatly for several years from threatened famine, dissensions, and fear of the Indians, but through the energy and firmness of Capt John Smith, was enabled to maintain its ground, and in time, show evident signs of prosperity. The jealousy of arbitrary power, and impatience of liberty among the new settlers, induced Lord Delaware, Governor of Virginia in 1619, to reinstate them in the full possession of the rights of Englishmen; and he accordingly convoked a Provincial Assembly, the _first_ ever held in America. The deliberations and laws of this infant Legislature were transmitted to England for approval, and so wise and judicious were these, that the company under whose auspices they were acting, soon after confirmed and ratified the groundwork of what gradually ripened into the _American representative system
The guarantee of political rights led to a rapid colonization. Men were now willing to regard Virginia as their home. "They fell to building houses and planting corn." Women were induced to leave the parent country to become the wives of adventurous planters; and during the space of three years thirty-five hundred persons of both sexes, found their way to Virginia. By various modifications of their charter, the colonists, in a few years, obtained nearly all the civil rights and privileges which they could claim as British subjects; but the church of England was "coeval with the settlement of Jamestown, and seems to have been considered from the beginning as the established religion." At what time settlements were first permanently made within the present limits of North Carolina, has not been clearly ascertained. In 1622, the Secretary of the colony of Virginia traveled overland to Chowan River, and described, in glowing terms, the fertility of the soil, the salubrity of the climate, and the kindness of the natives.
In 1643, a company obtained permission of the Virginia Legislature to prosecute discoveries on the great river South of the Appomatox of which they had heard, under a monopoly of the profits for fourteen years, but with what measure of success has not been recorded. These early exploring parties to the South, bringing back favorable reports of the fertile lands of the Chowan and the Roanoke could not fail to excite in the colony of Jamestown a spirit of emigration, many of whose members were already suffering under the baneful effects of intolerant legislation.
In 1643, during the administration of Sir William Berkeley, it was specially "ordered that no minister should preach or teach, publicly or privately, except in conformity to the constitutions of the church of England, and non-conformists were banished from the colony."[A] It is natural to suppose that individuals as well as families, who were fond of a roaming life, or who disliked the religious persecution to which they were subjected, would descend the banks of these streams until they found on the soil of Carolina suitable locations for peaceable settlements.
In 1653, Roger Green led a company across the wilderness from Nansemond, in Virginia, to the Chowan River, and settled near Edenton. There they prospered, and others, influenced by similar motives, soon afterward followed.
In 1662, George Durant purchased of the Yeopim Indians the neck of land, on the North-side of Albemarle Sound, which still bears his name. It was settled by persons driven off from Virginia through religious persecutions.
In 1663, King Charles II, granted to the Earl of Clarendon and seven other associates, the whole of the region from the thirty-sixth degree of north latitude to the river San Matheo, (now the St. John's) in Florida; and extending westwardly, like all of that monarch's charters, to the Pacific Ocean.
At the date of this charter, (1663,) Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia, visited the infant settlement on the Chowan, and being pleased with its evident signs of prosperity, and increasing importance, appointed William Drummond the _first Governor_ of the Colony of Carolina. Drummond was a Scotch Presbyterian, and, inheriting the national characteristics of that people, was prudent, cautious, and deeply impressed with the love of liberty. Such were the pioneer settlements, and such was the first Governor of North Carolina. The beautiful lake in the centre of the Dismal Swamp, noted for its healthy water, and abundantly laid in by sea-going vessels, perpetuates his name.
In 1785, When the Colonial Virginia legislature tried to impose a tax to support Christian teachers, James Madison passionately oppose the proposed bill in his speech Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessment, addressed to the Virginia legislature . "We maintain that in matters of religion, no man's right is abridged by the institution of civil society.