« ZurückWeiter »
other; if you will be tenacious in stickling for this, it is a plain demonstration, use what words you please, that indeed you decline the other."
The assembly again, not to be wanting in duty to the King and Queen, nor consistency to themselves, admitted their Majesties' right of government to be indubitable; but would not allow themselves to be under any mistake in relation to the proprietary's absence. "And to the other reasons rendered," said they in their remonstrance, "for the superseding our proprietary's governancy, we apprehend [they] are founded on misinformations; for the courts of justice were open in all counties in this government, and justice duly executed from the highest crimes of treason and murder to the determining the lowest difference about property, before the date or arrival of the governor's commission. Neither do we apprehend, that the province was in danger of being lost from the crown, although the government was in the hands of some whose principles are not for war; and we conceive, that the present governancy hath no direct opposition (with respect to the King's government here in general) to our proprietary's, William Penn, though the exercise of thy authority at present supersedes that of our said proprietary; nevertheless we readily own thee for our lawful governor, saving to ourselves, and those whom we represent, our and their just rights and privileges."
Proceeding then to business, they voted a supply; but inclined to have their laws confirmed and their grievances redressed first. Accordingly they sent up a committee of ten with the book of their laws to the governor, for his acceptance and ratification; and, after a long debate between him, assisted by five of his council, and them, which was terminated on his side somewhat equivocally, he sent two of the said council
to assure the House, in his name, of his confirmation of all the said laws (excepting one relating to shipwrecks) during the King's pleasure; for which they thought proper to return him a vote of thanks.
Nor is it much to be wondered at, that men, taken by surprise out of the hands of their friend the proprietary, and exposed at once to a wrestling-match with the crown, which they had never had any immediate transactions with before, should submit to hold their liberties by courtesy, rather than incur the least risk of not holding them at all.
There was, however, a party among them, who, having drawn up a petition of right, claiming and desiring the use and benefit of two hundred and three laws therein specified, as in all respects consonant to their charter, and none of them annulled by the crown consequence of the power reserved to the sovereign, would hear of no abatement; and who had credit enough with the assembly to obtain the sending a message to the governor, signifying, "that it was the sense and expectation of the assembly, that aggrievances ought to be redressed before any bill of supply ought to pass."
And here their hearts failed them; for, the governor having returned the bill sent up with the message which he had proposed amendments to, without any specifiIcations of what those amendments were to be, with the following answer, "that the Assembly should have
account of the amendments of the bill, till they came in a full House before him to give the last sanction to the laws," and further, "that he saw nothing would do but an annexion to New York," the menace carried the supply.
When the bill for granting it was however sent up, they not only sent up the roll of their laws with it,
but also gave that part of their order the first place in their books.
They further "Resolved, nem. con. that all bills, sent to the governor and council in order to be amended, ought to be returned to this House, to have their farther approbation upon such amendments, before they can have their final assent to pass into laws."
And though they did not join with their committee of ten in the following paper, they suffered it to be entered in their books, by way of protest on their behalf; to wit,
"We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, representatives of the freemen of this province in assembly, do declare, it is the undoubted right of this House to receive back from the governor and council all such bills as are sent up for their approbation or amendments; and that it is as necessary to know the amendments, and debate the same, as the body of the bills; and that the denial of that right is destructive to the freedom of making laws. And we also declare, it is the right of the assembly, that, before any bill for supplies be presented for the last sanction of a law, aggrievances ought to be redressed, Therefore, we, with protestation (saving our just rights in assembly) do declare, that the assent of such of us, as were for sending up the bill this morning, was merely in consideration of the governor's speedy departure, but that it should not be drawn into example or precedent for the future. DAVID LLOYD," &c.
And concerning this whole period, we find the freemen in assembly met, for the year 1704, thus farther expostulating with their proprietary, in the remonstrance already more than once referred to; to wit, "But what thou and they (the five commissioners of state) could not effect in that behalf, was performed by Colonel
Fletcher in the year 1693, and then we were brought under the immediate direction of the crown, but with commands for him to govern us by the laws of the country; and although both the laws and charter had been long before transinitted to thee, in order to get the late King's (James) approbation thereof, which we insisted upon, and urged that they were laws till disapproved, yet, thou having sent no account whether they were approved or not, we were forced to comply with him, and accept of such as he pleased; but the charter he totally rejected."
Before he set out for New York, he did, however, give a written sanction to the laws required; and the next year's assembly proved, notwithstanding, to be of the same leaven with the last.
This assembly had been summoned by the writs of the Lieutenant-Governor (Markham), and, when met in a humor to state and redress the grievances of the colony, found themselves precluded from acting, by an order from Fletcher for their adjournment.
That, therefore, they might make the most of two days, they appointed a committee of grievances; and having received their report, agreed upon a remonstrance to the governor thereon, containing a complaint of their being sent for only to be dismissed; asserting the right of the House to adjourn themselves, and, among several other particulars, calling upon the governor so to exert his power and authority, that cases determined by juries might not be unduly avoided by determinations in equity; that, to prevent arbitrary assessments and the dissatisfaction they gave rise to, the justices of the peace might consult with, and be directed by the approbation of the several grand juries; and that the money raised by the last assembly might
be properly applied and properly accounted for to the present at their next sitting.
Their right of adjourning themselves having been admitted, they met accordingly towards the end of the next month. Governor Fletcher was by this time returned to them in person; and, in the opening of his speech, made them a handsome apology for not meeting them before; urging the necessity of a sudden journey to Albany, to endeavour at reclaiming the Five Nations of Indians, hitherto the allies of England, but now confederated with the governor of Canada against us; said he had brought the papers which passed at the conference along with him, for their satisfaction; that their Indians would be next forced into the same fatal confederacy; that he had seen with his eyes a large tract of cultivated land about Albany, which had been abandoned by the inhabitants, rather through the unkindness of their neighbours in refusing them assistance, than by the force of the enemy; prayed, that those, who shut their eyes against a distant danger, might not find it at their own doors; extolled the two provinces of Jersey for the aids they had sent; and concluded thus; "Gentlemen, I consider your principles, that you will not carry arms, nor levy money to make war, though for your own defence; yet I hope you will not refuse to feed the hungry and clothe the naked; my meaning is to supply those Indian nations with such necessaries as may influence them to a continuance of their friendship to these provinces. And now, Gentlemen, if you will consider wherein I may be useful to you, according to the tenor of my commission, in redressing your grievances, if you have any, you shall find me ready to act by the rules of loyalty, with a true regard to liberty and property." What appears to have been most remarkable in this