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REPORT

OF THE
COMMITTEE OF GRIEVANCES

OF THE

ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA.

FEB. 22, 1757.

IN obedience to the order of the house, we have drawn up the heads of the most important aggrievances that occur to us, which the people of this province with great difficulty labour under; the many infractions of the constitution (in manifest violation of the royal grant, the proprietary charter, the laws of this province, and of the laws, usages, and cus~ toms of our mother-country) and other matters; which we

apprehend call aloud for redress.

They are as follow:
First, By the royal charter (which has ever been, ought

to be, and truly is, the principal and invariable fundamental of this constitution) king Charles the second did give and grant unto William Penn, his heirs and assigns, the province

of Pennsylvania; and also to him and his heirs, and his or >

their deputies or lieutenants, free, full, and‘ absolute power, for the good and happy government thereof, to make and enact any laws, according to their best discretion; by and with the advice, assent, and approbation of the freemen of

the said country, or of their delegates or deputies ;” for the raising of money or any other end appertaining to the public state, peace, or safety of the said country. By the words of this grant, it is evident, that full powers are granted to the deputies and lieutenants ofVVilliam Penn and his heirs, to con

the safety of the province, according to their best discretion; independent of any instructions or directions they should receive from their principals. And it is equally obvious to your committee, that the people of this province and their representatives were interested in this royal grant; and by’virtue thereof‘, have an original right of legislation inherent. in them; which neither the proprietors nor any other person whatsoever can divest them of, restrain or abridge, without manifestly violating and destroying the letter, spirit, and de— sign of this grant.

Nevertheless we unfortunately find, that the proprietaries of this province, regardless of this sacred fundamental of our vrights and liberties, have so abridged and restricted their late

I and present governor’s discretion in matters of legislation, 1 i 'by their illegal, impracticable, and unconstitutional instruc~i"' ‘ tions and'prohibitions; that no billii‘or granting aids and supplies to our most gracious sovereign (be it ever ‘so reasonable, expedient, and necessary for the defence of this his’ ma3 ‘_ jesty’s colony, and safety of his people) unless it be agr'eeable thereto, can meet with his approbation»: bymeans whereof the many considerable sums of money which have been offered for those purposes, by. the assemblies of this province

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rejected: to the great encouragement of his majesty’s enemics, and the imminent danger of the loss of this colony.

Secondly, The representatives of the people, in general as

sembly met, by virtue of the said royal grant, and the char

~ ter of privileges granted by the said William Penn, and a

law of this province, have right to, and ought to enjoy all the

powers and privileges'ofan assembly, according to the rights

,7 I of the Free-born subjects of England, andas is. usual in any

I i ' of the plantations in America: [also] it is an indubitable- and

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cur with the people in framing laws for their protection and ‘

(ever anxious to maintain his honor and rights) have been _

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now an incontested right of the commons of England, to grant aids and supplies to his majesty in any manner they think most easy to themselves and the people ; and they [also] are the sole judges of the measure, manner, and time of granting and raising the same. ‘ Nevertheless the proprictaries of this province, in contempt of the said royal grant, proprietary charter, and law of their colony, designing tosubvertihe fundamentals of this constitution, to deprive the assembly and people of their rights and privileges. and to assume an arbitrary and tyrannical power over the liberties and properties of his majesty’s liege subjects, have so restrained the governors 'by the despotic instructions (which are not to be varied from, and are particularly directory in the framing and passing of moneybills and supplies to his majesty, as to the mode, measure, and time) that it is impossible for the assembly, should they lose all sense of their most essential rights, and comply with those instructions, to grant sufficient aids for the defence of

, this his majestyds province from the common enemy. Third/y, In pursuance of sundry acts of general assem-

bly, approved of by the crown, [and] a natural right inheent in every man antecedent to all laws, the assemblies of this province have had the power of disposing of the public monies, that have been raised for the encouragement of trade and support of government, by the interest money arising by the loan of the bills of credit ‘and the excise. No part of these monies was ever‘paid by the proprietaries, or. ever raised on their estates; and therefore they can have no pretence of right to a voice in the disposition of them. They have ever been applied with prudent frugality to the ‘honor and advantage of the public, and the kihg’s immediate service, to the general approbation of the people: the credit of the government has been preserved, and the debts of the Public punctually discharged. In short, no inconvenicncies but great and many advantages have accrued, from the assembly’s prudent care and management of these funds.

Yet the proprietaries resolved to deprive the assemblies of the power and means of supporting an agent in England,

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and of prosecuting their complaints and remonstrating their aggrievances, when injured and oppressed, to his majesty and his parliament; and to rob them of this natural right (which has been so often approved of by their gracious sovereign) have, by their said instructions, prohibited their governor from giving his assent to any laws emitting or reemitting any paper-currency or bills of credit, or for raising money by excise or any other method ; unless the governor or commander in chief for the time being, by clauses to be inserted therein,'has a negative in the disposition of the mo; nies arising thereby; let the languishing circumstances of our trade be ever so great, and a further or greater medium be ever so necessary for its support. ' _

Faurt/zly, By the laws and statutes of England, the chief rents, honors, and castles-of the crown are taxed, and [my their proportion to the supplies that are granted to the king for the defence of the realm and support of government: his majesty, the nobility of the realm, and all the British subjects, do now actually contribute their proportion towards the defence of America in general, and this province in particular; and it is in a more especial manner the duty of the jiraprz'etarz'es to pay their proportion of a tax, for the immediate preservation of their own estates, in this province. To exempt therefore any part of their estates from their reasonable part of this necessary burthen, it is unjust as it is illegal, and as new as it is arbitrary.

Yet the proprietaries, notwithstanding the general danger to which the nation and its colonies are exposed, and great distress of this province in particular, by their said instructions, have prohibited their governors from passing laws for the raising supplies for its defence ; unless all their located, unimproved, and unoccupied lands, quit-rents, fines, and

purchase monies on interest (the much greater part of their \

enormous estates in this colony) are expressly exempted from

paying any part of the tax.
Fifi/11y, by virtue of the said royal charter, the proprieta-

'ries are invested with a power of doing every thing “which .i

unto a complete establishment of justice, unto courts and

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