Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

That they might not, however, have any merit to plead on either of these heads, but might seem to bedriven by force into every such measure as was thus recommended, on the very next day after this, and before it was possible for them to come properly to any resolutions at all; came again the mayor of Philadelphia, having now also prevailed with his corporation to join him and his prompters, with a remonstrance, in a style altogether dictatorial, ‘reproaching them with losing their time in deliberations, while their fellow-subjects were exposed to slaughter, and in debates about privis lege's while they were deprived of the greatjtirst privilege of self-preservation, and requiring them to postpone all dis’ putes, grant necessary supplies, and pass a reasonable law for establishing a militia; and in the close of it, recommending dispatch, as the people seemed already in a deplorable and desperate state, and they feared it would not be possi, ble to preserve the peace and quiet of the city, or of the province itself, much longer.’ ‘

The house, notwithstanding, to‘ be consistent in all things, called, in the first place, upon their committee for the answer they were directed to prepare to the governor’s last invective, which was ready, and in substance as follows: to

wit, ‘ “ That if they could be astonished at any thing which came from their governor, they should be astonished at his repeat~ ing charges and calumnies, groundless in themselves, and so repeatedly, fully, and publicly refuted; that instead of re» futing them, therefore, they should only refer to their former refutations; that what he says concerning the risk of losing so important an act was meresophistry and amusement; that, as they had before asserted, conditional or alternative clauses were common; that in the same. act there was another, name» ly, that in case the four year tax did not produce sixty thou~ sand pounds the defect should be supplied by an additional tax ; and, if it exceeded, the overplus should be disposed by .a future act; to which the governor had made no objection; that, notwithstanding all the dust he had attempted to raise, it was therefore clear to them, that the bill was entirely uns

objectionable; that their mode was more proper than his, -~

and as safe both for the bill, and the pretended rights of the proprietary; that his commission had no such prohibition as he affected to find in it; and that they could not, in amoneybill like this, admit of amendments not founded in reason, justice, or equity, but in the arbitrary pleasure of a governor, without betraying the trust reposed in them by their constituents, and giving up their just rights as free-born subjects of England; that by the charters their constitution was founded upon, in addition to the privileges therein specially named, they are moreover. intitled to all other powers and privileges of an assembly, according to the rights of the free-born subjects of England, and as is usual in any of the king’s plantations in America; that the free-born subjects of England had a right to grant their own money their own way, the governor did not deny, nor that the same was usual in other plantations ; that therefore they had the same right, and should have had it if it had not been so specified in their charter; such free-born subjects, instead of losing any of their essential rights, by removing into the king’s plantations, and extending the British dominions' at the hazard of their lives and fortunes ; being, on the contrary, indulged with particular privileges for their encouragement in so useful and meritorious an undertaking; that indeed theirconstitution was, in one respect, no way similar to that of England, namely, the king’s having a natural connection with his people, the crown descending to his posterity, and his own power and security Waxing and waning with the prosperity of his people; whereas plantation-governors were frequently transient persons, of broken fortunes, greedy of money, des~ titute of all concern [for those they governed, often their enemies, and endeavoring not only to oppress but defame them, and thereby render them obnoxious to their sovereign, and

odious to their fellow-subjects; that their present governor c

‘not only denied, them the privileges of an English'constitution, but had endeavored to introduce a French‘ one, by reducing their assemblies to the insignificance to which the French parliaments had been reduced; had required them

to defend their country, and then put it out of their. power, unless they would first part with some of the essentials which

made it worth defending, which was in fact reducing them \

to an Egyptian constitution: for, thatms the Egyptians were to perish by famine unless they became servants to Pharaoh, so were they by the sword, unless they also became servants to an absolute lord, or as he was pleased to style himself, absolute proprietary; that all comparisons made by the governor of himself to his immediate predecessor would be to his own disadvantage, the differences between the former gentleman and his assemblies having been but small, in comparison with those then subsisting, and conducted by him with some tenderness to his country; that how much soever the people were at that time dissatisfied with some particulars in his administration, the present had given them abundant reason to regret the change ; that as to the collusion charged upon them, in not intending any of the bills they had ofi'ered for the defence of their country should pass, they could with humble confidence, appeal to the searcher of all hearts, that their intentions perfectly corresponded with their actions; that, not to mention the unfairness of ascribing to a whole people the indiscretion of a few [those who had declared they would suffer rather than pay for military measures] the governor himself must own, they could not be under the in

fluence he supposed, when they assured him that several

more votes had been given for those measures since they were petitioned against, than before; that they were totally ignorant of the many other ways of raising money, to which the governor had no objection; as also, what that other,bill might be, which he might think consistent with his duty to pass; that he thought it inconsistent with his duty to pass any bills contrary to his instructions from the proprietaries, which (like the instructions of the president and council of the north, mentioned by lord Coke, 4 inst. p. 246,) were to them impenetrable secrets; that, according to the same great

lawyer’s remarkv on governing by such instructions, mz'sera

est servitus uln'jus est nagum aut incagnitum; that, therefore, it would be in vain for them to search for other ways, or

\

frame other bills; and that here the matter must rest till his majesty should be graciously pleased to relieve them; since, with the governor, they could no otherwise hope to end their unhappy divisions, than by submitting to one part or the other of the miserable alternative mentioned by him; either not to have a privilege worth disputing about, or be deprived of a country to dispute it in.”

But though this answer was, in every particular, conform‘ able to the-sense of the house, and was afterwards printed in the appendix to their proceedings, they declined making use of it; and that for the present reported by the committee was to the effect following: to wit, “that the bulk of the governor’s long message consisted of groundless charges and calumnies, which having been repeatedly refuted, might be safely left to themselves; that though theyha'd prepared a full answer to the rest, yet as there were now some hopes of

'an agreement with him in the money-bill, which was the principal business of the session, they submitted it to the house, whether it would not be more consistent with their prudence and moderation to suppress it; that there being, however, one or two new charges brought against the assemblies of that province, it might be proper to take some notice of them; that the first of these was, that they contemptuously treated the proprietary offer of four hundred pounds, for erecting a place of- strength on the Ohio, and of one hundred pounds,

per annum towards its support; that this contemptuous treat- ,

ment was not specified, but might be explained, bya passage out of the Brief State [a proprietary pamphlet] where it is said, “the house refused this proposal a place in their minutes ;” that the fact was, however, otherwise; that the said proposal appears in several pages there specified; and that nothing farther than what is there, could properly be made a part of those records ; and the reason thereof is then assigned in the following narrative; which, for various reasons, deserves to be madea part of this discourse.

‘The late governor Hamilton, after sendingthe message of the thirteenth of August, 1751, requested a private meeting with some of the members of that house, but without any authority from the assembly. ‘

I

‘ At this meeting governor Hamilton offered, on behalf of the proprietaries, four hundred pounds, towards building such

a house upon or near the Ohio, (but not a syllable of main- '

taining or supporting it). The Indians were so far from pressing our engaging in it, that instructions were drawn by this government to require it of them, at a treaty held by G. Croghan, in May, 1751, and they evidently shewed themselves apprehensive, such an attempt might give umbrage to the F rench, and bring them down the Ohio with an armed force, to take possession of those lands. And about two years afterwards, these very Ohio Indians, at the treaty held

‘ at Carlisle, in October, 1753, say to our government, “I de

sire you would hear and take notice of what I am about to

say; the governor of Virginia desired leave to build a strong _>

house on Ohio, which came to the ears of the governor of Canada, and we suppose this caused him to invade our country.” Treaty, page 8. The same sentiments appeared among the Six Nations, at the Albany treaty ; “ that the English and French were only contending which of them should have their lands.” The reasoning made use of by the mem~ bers at this private conference with the late governor was, that the land where they proposed to build it was claimed by the crown, and was very probably beyond the limits of Pennsylvania; that at least it would be beyond the reach of our laws, as appeared by the people already settled on Juniata, just beyond the North mountain; that this, instead of heal-_ ing, might create irreconcileable breaches with our Indians, considering what sort of people would probably reside there; that the Indians had never- heartily requested it, nor did it seem to be their interest so to do; and if they had requested it, as they were in subjection to the Six Nations, it would be necessary to have their assent; that this precipitate act would probably create a jealousy in the Frencln‘and give them some pretence of an infraction of the treaty of Utrecht on our pant, and might finally engage the British nation in a war with France. These, and many other reasons, were urged at that private conference, as several of those members

apprehended, to governor Hamilton's satisfaction. And it ‘

« ZurückWeiter »