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Colonial Virginia

Colonial Virginia

Alexander Spotswood in Colonial Virginia

Alexander Spotswood (1676-1740) was the lieutenant governor of Virginia from 1710 to 1722. The nominal governor, George Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney, never visited the colony, leaving Spotswood in control as one of the longest acting governors of the colonial period. Under his direction, the Tobacco Act of 1713 was passed, requiring the inspection of all tobacco intended for export and the destruction of tobacco not meeting government standards.

Like the other Crown-appointed governors to Virginia, Spotswood spent his term in office wrestling with the wealthy planters that dominated the House of Burgesses for political control of the colony. He attempted to court small farmers by proposing measures that would have forced large planters to put portions of their uncultivated land onto the market. But his proposal was defeated. He then took the opposite course and attempted to raise the property requirement for voting. Members of the House of Burgesses used this to portray him as an enemy of representative government. Spotswood was forced to resign in 1722.

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