Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

of government and legislature, thus established, be governed, directed, restrained or restricted, by any posterior instructions or commands by the letters of Secretaries of State. But upon the supposition, that a kind of general indetermined power in the crown, to superadd instructions to the commissions and charter be admitted, where the Colonists do not make a question of the case wherein it is exerted, yet there are particular cases wherein both directive and restrictive instructions are given, and avowedly not admitted by the Colonists. It is a standing instruction, as a security of the dependence of the government of the colonies on the mother country, that no acts wherein the King's Rights, or the rights of the mother country or of private persons can be affected, shall be enacted into a law without a clause suspending the effect thereof, till his Majesty's pleasure shall be known. This suspending clause is universally rejected on the principles above, because such suspension disfranchises the inherent full power of legislature, which they claim by their rights to the British liberties, and by the special declarations of such in their charters. It does not remove this difficulty by saying, that the crown has already in its hands the power of fixing this point, by the effect of its negative given to its governor. It is said, that if the crown should withdraw that instruction, which allows certain bills to be passed into laws with a suspending clause, which instruction is not meant as a restriction upon, but an indulgence to the legislatures; that if the crown should withdraw this instruction, and peremptorily restrain its governor from enacting laws, under such circumstances as the wisdom of government cannot admit of, that then these points are actually fixed by the true constitutional power; but whereever it is so said, I must repeat my idea, that this does not remove the difficulty. For waving the doubt which the Colonists might raise, especially in the charter colonies, how far the governor ought, or ought not, to be restricted from giving his assent in cases contrary only to instructions, and not to the laws of Great Britain; waving this point, let administration consider the effects of this measure. In cases where the bills, offered by the two

branches, are for providing laws, absolutely necessary to the continuance, support, and exercise of government, and where yet the orders of the crown, and the sense of the people, are so widely different as to the mode, that no agreement can ever be come to in these points. - Is the government and administration of the government of the colonies to be suspended? The interest, perhaps the being of the plantations, to be hazarded by this obstinate variance, and can the exercise of the crown's negative, in such emergencies, and with such effect, ever be taken up as a measure of administration? And when every thing is thrown into confusion, and abandoned even to ruin by such measure, will administration justify itself by say. ing, that it is the fault of the Colonists? On the contrary, this very state of the case shows the necessity of some other remedy. ..

In the course of examining these matters, will arise to consideration the following very material point. As a principal tie of the subordination of the legislatures of the colonies on the government of the mother country, they are bound by their constitutions and charters, to send all their acts of legislature to England, to be confirmed or abrogated by the crown; but if any of the legislatures should be found to do almost every act of legislature, by votes or orders, even to the repealing the effects of acts, suspending establishments of pay, paying services, doing chancery and other judicatory, business: if matters of this sort, done by these votes and orders, never reduced into the form of an act, have their effect without ever being sent home as acts of legislature, or submitted to the allowance or disallowance of the crown: If it should be found that many, or any of the legislatures of the colonies carry the powers of legislature into execution, independent of the crown by this device, - it will be a point to be determined how far, in such cases, the subordination of the legislatures of the colonies to the government of the mother country is maintained or suspended; -- or if, from emergencies arising in these governments, this device is to be admitted, the point, how far such is to be admitted, ought to be determined; and the validity of

[ocr errors]

these votes and orders, these Senatus Consulta so far declared. For a point of such great importance in the subordination of the colony legislatures, and of so questionable a cast in the valid exercise of this legislative power, ought no longer to remain in question.

9. Every Proprietary Governor has Two Masters."ı It is by this Time apparent enough, that tho' the proprietary and popular interests spring from one and the same Source, they divide as they descend: That every proprietary Governor, for this Reason, has two Masters; one who gives him his Commission, and one who gives him his Pay: That he is on his good Behaviour to both: That if he does not fulfil with Rigour every proprietary Command, however injurious to the Province or offensive to the Assembly, he is recall'd: That if he does not gratify the Assembly in what they think they have a right to claim, he is certain to live in perpetual Broils, tho' uncertain whether he shall be enabled to live at all. And that, upon the whole, to be a Governor upon such Terms, is to be the most wretched Thing alive.

Sir William Keith could not be ignorant of this: And therefore, however he was instructed here at Home, either by his Principal or the Lords of Trade, resolv'd to govern himself when he came upon the Spot, by the governing Interest there.

So that his Administration was wholly different from that of . his two Predecessors.

With as particular an Eye to his own particular Emolument he did indeed make his first Address to the Assembly. - But then all he said was in popular Language. — He did not so much as name the Proprietary: And his Hints were such as could not be misunderstood, that in case they would pay

him well, he would serve them well.

The Assembly, on the other Hand, had Sense enough to discern, that this was all which could be required of a Man who had a Family to maintain with some Degree of Splendor, and

1 Benj. Franklin, An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania, (1759) 72-73.

who was no richer than Plantation Governors usually are: In short, they believed in him, were liberal to him, and the Returns he annually made them were suitable to the Confidence they plac'd in him. - So that the proper Operation of one MasterSpring kept the whole Machine of Government, for a considerable Period of Time, in a more consistent Motion than it had ever known before.

Of all political Cements reciprocal Interest is the strongest: And the Subjects Money is never so well disposed of, as in the Maintenance of Order and Tranquility, and the Purchase of good Laws; for which Felicities Keith's Administration was deservedly memorable. ...

10. The Power of the Purse. The crown does, by its instructions to its governors, order them to require of the legislature a permanent support. This order of the crown is generally, if not universally rejected, by the legislatures of the colonies. The assemblies quote the precedents of the British constitution, and found all the rights and privileges which they claim on the principles thereof. They allow the truth and fitness of this principle in the British constitution, where the executive power of the crown is immediately administred by the King's Majesty; yet say, under the circumstances in which they find themselves, that there is no other measure left to them to prevent the misapplications of public money, than by an annual voting and appropriation of the salaries of the governor and other civil officers, issuing from monies lodged in the hands of a provincial treasurer appointed by the assemblies: For in these subordinate governments, remote from his Majesty's immediate influence, administred oftentimes by necessitous and rapacious governors who have no natural, altho’ they have a political connection with the country, experience has shewn that such governors have misapplied the monies raised for the support of government, so that the civil officers have been left unpaid, even after having been provided for by the assembly. The point then of this very

1 Pownall, Administration of the Colonies (1765), 50-53.

important question comes to this issue, whether the inconveniencies arising, and experienced by some instances of misapplications of appropriations (for which however there are in the King's courts of law, due and sufficient remedies against the offender) are a sufficient reason and ground for establishing a measure so directly contrary to the British constitution: and whether the inconveniencies to be traced in the history of the colonies, through the votes and journals of their legislatures, in which the support of governors, judges, and officers of the crown will be found to have been withheld or reduced on occasions, where the assemblies have supposed that they have had reason to disapprove the nomination, —'or the person, or his conduct; — whether, I say, these inconveniencies have not been detrimental, and injurious to government; and whether, instead of these colonies being dependent on, and governed under, the officers of the crown, the scepter is not reversed, and the officers of the crown dependent on and governed by the assemblies, as the Colonists themselves allow, that this measure

renders the governor, and all the other servants of the crown, dependent on the assembly.” This is mere matter of experience; and the fact, when duly enquired into, must speak for itself: — but the operation of this measure does not end here; it extends to the assuming by the assemblies the actual executive part of the government in the case of the revenue, than which nothing is more clearly and unquestionably settled in the crown. In the colonies the treasurer is solely and entirely a servant of the assembly or general court; and although the monies granted and appropriated be, or ought to be, granted to the crown on such appropriation, the treasurer is neither named by the crown, nor its governor, nor gives security to the crown or to the Lord High Treasurer, (which seems the most proper) nor in many of the colonies, is to obey the governor's warrant in the issue, nor accounts in the auditor's office, nor in any one colony is it admitted, that he is liable to such account. In consequence of this supposed necessity, for the assembly's taking upon them the administration of the treasury and revenue, the governor and servants of the crown, in the ordin

« ZurückWeiter »