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lately received intelligence, which he had communicated to him, that the French, together with their Indians, intended;
as soon as the army was far advanced, to fall‘upon the back '
country"; andthat, though the general thought it a ‘bravado, he also thought it advisable to take all possible precautions against it; that he had called them together upon this application andintelligence; that he had recommended it to them to enable him to furnish such of the things demanded as were proper for the province, and to conduct them to the places where they would he wanted, which could not be welldone without a strong guard; as also by a militia or otherwise, to protect the said back country against the incursions of the enemy; that, upon the receipt of the general’s letter, he had written to the governors of Virginia and Maryland, to know what shares of these supplies their governments would respectively furnish; that he needed not inforce the point by any other arguments, than that fort Du Quesne was within their province, and that the great expence the nation was at on this occasion would be thrown away, his majesty’s intentions rendered abortive, and his arms dishonored, if the countries the said general should recover were left in such‘a naked condition, that the French might'take posses~ sion of them again, as soon as the army should be withdrawn, &c.
A very little skill in political matters would have shewn those concerned, that there was‘ rather more management concealed under this speech than was strictly necessary, and put them on their guard accordingly.
The assembly of Pennsylvania had some wisdom as well as much plainness; and therefore, by way of preliminary, desired to have the letter in their custody, which was to bev the ground of their proceedings. The governor hesitated: said it contained many matters not proper to be made public; that it would not be safe, therefore, unless the house would previously promise him it should not be printed; but however, he would shew it to a committee, if the house
would appoint one for that purpose.‘ The house on the other" hand, renewed—their request. in writing, alleged that it had-e
always been the custom, when assemblies were called together on occasion- of letters received, to communicate those letters; that giving a committee a sight of letters, on» which any important step was‘ to be taken, did not seem sufficient’; but that the letters should lie before the house to ‘be read as often as necessary to the right understanding of the matters they contained or required; that the governor might safely put his trust in the prudence of the house; in fine, they would hear of no alternative, since the importance of the contents of that letter had been urged as the reason for calling them together at so unseasonable a time of the year; and, as they could not take the letter into consideration without seeing it, they hoped he would not, by starting new methods of proceeding, and engaging them in trivial disputes, any longer obstruct or delay the public service.
This was done the sixteenth. The next day, instead of an answer, the governor sent them down a brace of new messages. One in- the morning, giving them to understand, “ That the roads they had ordered to be made to the Ohio would be attended with a much greater expence than was at first imagined; that the money sent to the commissaries was already spent; that more was wanting ; and, that the general having discharged the soldiers’ wives out of the army, with a stoppage of one shilling sterling aweek out of their husbands pay for their subsistence, it would become the compassion of the province to supply what would be farther necessary for that purpose ;” and another in the afternoon, containingimore intelligence.‘ Intelligence he himself had now received,and had forwarded to the general: namely, that several bodies of
I troops had passed from Canada over the lake Ontario in their
way to the Ohio, to join the forces‘ already there; that the French were doing their utmost to engage the Indians on their side; and, rather than fail, were determined to oppose general Braddock .with the whole force of Canada. Containing also a repetition of 'what in effect he had said before ‘concerning the back country; heightened with some new apprehensions, that when the troops were removed, the enemy might either cut off or greatly interrupt their communication
with the province, which might be every way attended with fatal consequences. ' And; all was made use of to authorize a fresh demand for a militia-law, and a new demand for a supply to enable him to build strong houses on the new road to the Ohio, and to maintain such a number of men as should be necessary to keep the‘ communication between the pro--' vince and the army ‘open, escort provisions; stores, 8co- that the general might neither be forced to weaken his army by making detachments from- it, nor expose those detachments to‘ be surprized and cut off; and that he might occasionally make use of them as auxiliaries too, in case the numbers brought against him should make such a reinforcement necessary ; and (after having rung. all the changes that such a medley of demands and suggestions in such hands was capable of ) making the province answerable, as usual, in case of non-compliance, for all mischiefs.
On the 21st, however,-when the house (having taken into
consideration, that the fifteen thousand pounds given to the
king’s use in the preceding April, and paid out of the money in the disposition of the house‘, which was almost exhausted, could not answer all the purposes intended; by the bill for granting twenty-five thousand pounds to which the governor refused his assent) had already prepared two money-bills, one for striking ten thousand pounds for the exchange of defaced bills, and one of ‘fifteen thousand pounds more for the king’s use, the governor’s answer concerning general Braddock’s letter came; and therein he assented, that the governor for the time being had a right to call the assembly together whenever he thought the public service required it; that his speeches or messages were asufiicient foundation for them to proceed upon,- that they having, by the plenitude of their own power, not only given their orders to the printersto proceed with the publication of the secretary of state’s letters, in contradiction to his to the contrary, but also claimed a right of doing the same by any other‘ papers laid.
before them,,they could not be at a loss for the reason of his
cautionfon the present occasion; that he being answerable for every secret of state that should be communicated to
. him for the king’s service,and by the nature of his station
the sole and-only judge what letters and papers were proper
' to be made public, did expect a promise of secrecy from the
house, either verbal or otherwise, or something tantamount to it;‘and that otherwise he should not communicate it. And, on the twenty-sixth following, the assembly returned their answer. In'the opening of which, having admitted the governor’s right or power to call them together, they, nevertheless, insist on the usual manner of exercising it; that is
‘ to say,with a proper regard to the convenience of the mem
bers at their harvest, and to dispatch, when necessarily summoned at that or other unseasonable times, for the sake of keeping up a good understanding between the governor and them. ‘But,’ said they, ‘should our governors consider this power, as‘a power of bringing us together at a great gxpence to the country, merely to shew their abilities in contriving new modes, or making, new demands upon the people, to obstruct the ends of their meeting, we apprehend it will answer no valuable purpose.’ That his speeches and messages were a sufficient foundation for them to proceed upon, they also. admitted to ‘be occasionally true; but then they were of opinion, on the contrary, that when his writs of summons were founded on letters or advices, referred to in his said speeches and messages, they had a right to have the" original papers laid before them; and they averred this vhad ever been the practice in their province; so that a. different
_ conduct at that time could only tend to obstruct the public \
business before them. ‘ If governors,’ they fartherintimated, "might differ in their modes of conducting themselves, according to the different reasons for choosing them or purposes
to be served by them, it became the people nevertheless to ‘
be consistent with themselves at all times, which could never be if they did not make original papers the rule of their proceeding. The objection drawn from their printing the se— cretary of state’s letter, so often recurred to by the governor, though so fully confuted, they would not allow to be of any weight, unless he could shew, their printing it had discovered, any of his majesty’s designs and commands, withrespect
to the French, not more generally ~known before by his own messages, the public prints, and the speeches of other g0vernors ; especially as it had been communicated without any caution, and had been printed before this'wobjection of his was known. Answerable for every secret of state communicated to him by his superiors as such, they seemed willing 'to allow,- but such as he was enjoined to lay before the assembly, they contended, were so to be laid before them, and they were to be responsible for the use made of them after
wards. And as to his sole and only power of judging what
papers were fit, and what not, to be laid before the public, they so far disputed it, 'as to except such papers as were necessary for their‘justification, which, they presumed, were subject to the decisions of their own prudence only, wherein they were assured he might very safely confide.’
The more trivial this dispute may appear, the more apparent becomes that spirit of perverseness'which the proprietaries had let loose, to keep the province in a perpetual broil; till, weary of the conflict, they should grow tame by degrees, and at last crouch, like the camel, ‘to take up what load, and carry it what length of way, their drivers pleased.
Onthe said 21st of June‘, when the governor’s litigious message thus answered came down, the house sent up their two money-bills with a message, importing, that the several services, by them enumerated, having almost exhausted their treasury, they had sent up a new bill to give the additional sum of fifteen thousand pounds for those purposes; in which bill, said they (for the rest of the message shall be given in their own words) “ We have carefully followed the act passed
by governor Thomas, in 1746, for‘ granting five thousand in
pounds for the king’s use,‘ and the other acts relating to our