« ZurückWeiter »
. ing, and it may be hoped that no future assembly will give See Viner’s up their just rights for the obtaining of new emissions, Abridgment', whatever inconveniencies they may labour under for want Tit. Parl. of them, the payment of assemblymen’s wages must become Let G. very burdensome if they are to be kept sitting, though to Page 196. little or no purpose (as of late) through a great part of the Id. Tit. Peer. year; and especially if our proprietaries, against our exPage 289. pectations, should have as much power as they have incli
nation to get their encreasing estates exempted from hearing any share of our taxes; for in this case we have reason to up. prehend they may judge it their private interest to impoverish the people by exorbitant impositions, or a profusion of the public money; and as under these circumstances pretences will never be wanting, new and grievous burdens will be repeatedly called for, till by degrees the free
‘ holds and possessions of this young colony must insensibly fall into the
proprietaries hands; and thus by the continual proprietary exemptions. and the weight becoming still heavier upon the decreasing number who may be able, for a while, to bear up, and continue among the calamities of their country; these tod must at length submit ahcl leave the colony their pl'e‘ decessors had cultivated and settled with honor under a milder adminis'
Note-The editor takes the liberty of adding in this note the following authorities.
The commons in 1700 having tacked or consolidated the land-tax and Irish-forfeiture bills, and the lords having returned the same with certain amendments, the commons rejected the said amendments for the following reasons, viz “ for that all aids and supplies granted to his majesty in parliament, are the sole and entire gift of the commons; and as all bills for the granting such aids and supplies begin with the commons, so it is the undoubted and sole right of the commons to direct, limit and appoint, in such bills, the ends and purposes, considerations, limitations, and qualifications of such grants; which ought not to be changed or altered by your lordships. This is well known to be such a fundamental right of the commons, that to give reasons for it has been esteemed by our ancestors to be a weakehing of’that right,” 8:0. and though the lords at a farther conference strenuously contended for their said amendments, in opposition to these reasons; the commons adhered, and left the bill with theirlordships, to adopt in the gross, or reject as they thought fit. After which the reader need not be told what was the issue. '
Extract fioan the report of nfree conference between the two houses,
“ That the ancient manner of giving aids was by indenture, to which con
ditions were sometimes annexed; the lords only gave their consent, with
out making any alteration ; and this was the continued practice, until the latter end of Henry the fifth, and, in‘some instances, until Henry the seventh. That in the famous record, called the indemnity of the lords and commons settled by the king, lords, and commons, on a most solemn debate‘ in 9 Henry IV, it is declared, that all grants and aids are made by the com-, ' mons, and only assented to by the lords. That the modern practice is, to omit the lords out of the granting, and name- them parties only to the enacting clause of‘ aids granted to the crown; to which their lordships have always concurred, and on conferences departed from their attempts of petty alterations in acts relating thereunto. That if then all aids be by the grant of the commons, it follows that the limitation, disposition, and manner of account, must likewise belong only to them.”
In obedience to the. order of the house, we have considered the proprietaries element/z, twey'th, and twentyzfirst instructions, relating to money bills, and
now ofl'er such remarks thereon as occur to us.
THE preamble to the eleventh instruction sets forth, ‘ That the inherest money arising‘ from the loan of bills of credit in this province, was intended by the proprietaries, and the house of‘ representatives, to be applied for the public service of the province, and of the inhabitants thereof, and should therefore, under the direction of the same power that raises it, be most carefully applied to those purposes, as a greater security to the people against misapplications, than if it was entrusted only to one branch of the legislature; and such was the ancient practice in their said (province.’ That the interestmoney was intended to be applied for the public service of the province, and of the inhabitants thereof, is undoubtedly right; but that it was ever the ‘practice,’ or that there was ever even a single instance of the proprietaries or their deputies having a vote in the application of the interest money, we must absolutely deny. Their consent to the disposition is not required in any of our loan acts from the beginning to this day, the constant tenor of those laws being, that the ‘ interest money shall be disposed of‘ as the assembly of this province shall from time to time order and direct.’ Their consent was never asked, unless in the acceptance of presents made them out of that interest, which could not
i be forced on them without their consent; and that kind of application they
have indeed been graciously pleased to consent to from time to time, to the amount of above thirty thousand pounds given to themselves out of that fund and the excise. Ifthis was a misapplication, and we know ofno other, the power they contend for would not have prevented it; for it is scarce probable they should ever disapprove or refuse to sign acts, votes, or re solves, which they thought so just and reasonable.
3 F ,
_ “was” , “Kw,” Amos-“vases “A
And indeed, had these presents been always as regular as the seasons, and never intermitted, be the conduct of the governor ever so inconsistent with the public good, your committee have reason to believe, this new instruction had never been formed or thought of. But since the representatives of the people have dared to signify their disapprobation of a governor’s measures, by withholding those tokens of their esteem, afl'ection, and gratitude, which were constantly given when they found themselves
‘ well governed; this instruction is thought necessary to be enforced. Not
for the greatervsecurity of the people against misapplication; for they never complained of any; but to compel your continuance of those presents; to compel 'an addition to them, for they are thought too- small; and to compel the payment of what they are pleased to call the arrears’ of such presents to any governors from whom they have at any time been withheld. For if the' people’s money cannot be disposed of for their own benefit, without the proprietary or his deputy’s consent,v the passage of the bill‘, or the approbation of the resolve, must be facilitated, as the proprietaries were pleased to‘ tell us on a former occasion, by a regard to their interest, that is, by putting at the same time into their private pockets whatever share of the public money they shall be pleased to insist on, under the specious name of salary or support; though by the quit-rents, and even by their other fees and perquisites, established by law or taken by custom, they have already a support much more than sufficient.
The money arising by the interest of the bills of credit, as well as that arising by the excise, is paid wholly by the people. I To‘ dispose of their own money, by themselves or their representatives, is, in our opinion, a natural right, inherent in every man, or body of men, antecedent to all laws. The proprietaries pay no part of this money, and therefore can have no right to a share in the power of disposing of it. They might as reasonably claim a right to a negative in the disposition of every man’s private fortune, and for the same reasons, to wit, the man’s greater security, and to prevent misapplication; nay, the reasons would be stronger, bodies of men not being generally so, apt to misapply their money, as single prodigals. The people have never complained that any such misapplication has been made by their representatives; on the contrary‘ they have shew" their approbation of the conduct of the assembly in this tender point, by long repeated annual elections of the same men to the same trust in the same oflice. They have always seen their money disposed of, tion; time to time, for the advantage and honor of the public, or for the king's immediate service, and they had reason to be contented with the disposition. The public cre(lit has been constantly preserved, and every man who served the government', has been always duly and readily paid; but if this new-claimed ne' gative inthe proprietaries takes place, the people will not have it in their power to reward the man that serves them, or even to pay the hire of the labourer that works for them, without the governor’s leave first purchased; much less will they be allowed to support an agent in England to defend their rights, or be able to pay the expence of‘ prosecuting their complflinls
, when oppressed. And to prevent their doing this, is, weconceive, ans-
ther main view of this instruction.
In short, it does not appear to your committee that this extraordinary instance of the proprietary’: care of the people’s money, to prevent its being wasted by their own representatives, was for the people at all necessaryThose representatives themselves are a part of the people, and must bear a sbareof their burdens. For their own sakes, thenefore, as well as to re
commend themselves to the esteem and regard of their constituents, it is '
highly probable they will execute that trust, as they always have done, with justice, prudence, and frugality; with freedom to the king‘s service, and grateful generosity to governors that sincerely seek their welfare, vand do not‘ join with the proprietaries to oppress them. But this instruction might perhaps be necessary to extort those grants to governors which they had been pleased to style salary, and render that certain, which before depended on the good will of the people; for how else can the proprietaries be sure of that share of those grants, which, ,by their private contracts sometimes made with their governors, is (if report says true) to be paid to themselves/2 , ‘
The proprietaries are however willing to permit the renewal of the eighty thousand pounds, which is now to sink in a flew years, and even the adding forty thousand pounds more, the whole to be emitted on loan, provided, that the eleventh instruction be complied with, ‘and half the power of applying the interest reserved to them,- and provided, that all rents and quit-rents due, or to be due or payable to them, be always paid according to the rate of exchange at the times ofpaymentvbet'ween Philadelphia and London, or some other sufficient provision enacted in lieu thereof, as was done by a former act.’ Your committee cannot help observing here, that the proprietaries tenderness for their own interest appears in this inatruction much stronger than their care for thatlof the people. Very great emoluments arise to them by emissions of paper money on loan, and the interest money is a tax they are clear of. They are therefore willing the quantity sho uld be encreased; but whatever advantages they receive from it, they are resolved to suffer no disadvantage from any occasional depreciation ; for they will always be paid their rents and quit-rents, according to the rate of exchange between Philadelphia and London. By the original agreements, those rents and quit-rents were to be paid in sterling money (or the value in coin current) to the proprietary receivers in the province. A bill of exchange besides the sterling sum conveyed, includes all theifileight, risk and expence of conveying that sum in specie to London. Now we conceive the people are not, nor can in justice or reason be, obliged to transmit their rents to London, and pay them there to the proprietaries. If the proprietaries should think fit, to remove to China, they might as justly add to their demand the rate of exchange between London and Canton; this therefore is extortion, and ought never vto he, allowed in any future act, nor any equivalent made for it. For had that equivalent .been really given as a matter of justice, and not extol-ted as purchase money for the law, it would have been extended to the rents of private landlords, as well as those of’
the proprietaries. » Besides, the great sums to be yearly remitted to them in London, for which no returns come back to the country, naturally tend to raise the exchange; and even put it in the power of their agents to raise
, it occasionally, just before the periodical times of payment (to the great
injury of the people) and to lower it again at their pleasure; a dangerous power this, if no inconvenience can arise to themselves by the rise of exchange! the depreciation of money in every country where it happens, is a common calamity. The proprietary estate ought not to be exempt from it, at the expence of all other estates. There are many fixed ground rents, and other rents arising in the province belonging to the people, and due to private estates. These rents have as much right to be considered, and their
' deficiency, in case of depreciation, provided for out of the public funds, as
those of the proprietaries. But of these they take no care, so their own are secured. It appears however to your committee, that all rents in the country ought to be on the same footing, with regard to any loss by the depreciation of its currency, since that is less likely ever to happen which it is the interest of all to prevent.
Your committee now come to the twenty-first instruction, by the preamble of which it is insinuated, as if acts for provincial taxes had been common in this province, and that the proprietary’s estate had been always exempted in such acts; whereas the truth is that there never were but two or three, and those in the early times of the province, when the proprietary’s circumstances were low, his afl'airs encumbered, and the quit-rents so small, as to be insuflicient for his support, and therefore they were not only exempted from any part of such tax, but duties and licence fees were granted to help them out. For more than forty years, as the excise and interest money have been suflicient for support of government, no provineial taxes have been levied (in this very instruction, a little lower, they themselves acknowlege'none' have been raised in their time) and the proprietary ,estatehas vastly encreased; those licence fees are also vastly increased, and yet they still received them But that their estate should now be exempt‘ from provincial taxes, raised for the defence of that very estate, appears to us extremely unreasonable. During the distress of the family, there was likewise a voluntary subscription among the people to pay the proprietary’s passage to England; they may from thence as justly claim a right of having their expences borne by the public whenever they cross the seas. But when those aids were grantedto the old proprietary, he had a much better claim to them than his sons; for he undertook to act as an agent and advocate for his people, in England; to defend and secure their rights and privileges; not like his successors, to abolish and destroy them.‘‘
' This he executed in several instances, and particularly in his answer to the lords of trade’s objections to the act of‘ privileges to a freeman, in the year 17.05; in which heinf'ormed their lordships, that the act was agreeable to the great charter which all Englishmenwere entitled to; and that ‘ we went not so far (i. e. from England to America) to ‘lose a tittle of it,’