Abbildungen der Seite


The Government assumed into the Hands of the Crown in 1693, and administered by Colonel Fletcher, Governor of New York. He declares the Constitution of Penn's Government, and that of their Majesties, to be directly opposite each to the other. He menaces the Assembly with an Annexation of their Province to that of New York. Protestation against passing Bills. Remonstrance to Penn. The Governor admits the Principles of the Quakers, not to carry Arms or levy Money to make War. The Assembly insist on their Right to appropriate as well as to raise Money. The Government of William Markham. A new Act of Settlement or Frame of Government. The Government resumed by Penn. A new Model of Elections. The Assembly formed thereon dissolved. Another Assembly called upon another Model. Aids granted to the Proprietary Governor in Exchange for a Confirmation of Property. Penn's Speech to a new Assembly. Three of the Requisitions they made to him, with his Answers and their Replies. A Breach between the Province and the Territory. The last Charter of Privileges. It is unanimously rejected by the Freemen of the Territory. Penn's Departure for England. Andrew Hamilton, DeputyGovernor, in vain endeavours to re-unite the Territory with the Province.

COLONEL Fletcher was appointed governor of New York and Pennsylvania by one and the same commission, with equal powers and prerogatives in both provinces; as if there was no such thing as a charter extant.

This commission of his was also accompanied with a letter from the Queen, countersigned Nottingham, requiring him, as governor of Pennsylvania, to send such aid or assistance, in men or otherwise, for the security of the province of New York against the attempts of the French and Indians, as the condition of the said colony would permit; as if the good will of the freemen was no longer worth mentioning.

To the assembly, however, this royal visitor thought fit to communicate both his commission and her Majes

ty's said letter. But then it was an assembly widely different from that appointed by their charter. Instead of six members for each of the six counties, those of Philadelphia and Newcastle were reduced to four each, and the rest to three; difference sixteen; and, as an act of grace, his Excellency dispensed with the oaths of such as made it a point of conscience not to swear; and accepted a written profession and declaration of allegiance, before established in their stead. Whether so strange an innovation was openly and specially complained of or not, the assembly had nevertheless the spirit to open their session with the following resolution, which passed nem. con. "That the laws of this province, that were in force and practice before the arrival of this present governor, are still in force; and that the assembly have a right humbly to move the governor for a continuation or confirmation of the same."

They also interwove this vote of theirs in their address to him, and, not unartfully, introduced it under the umbrage of an insinuation, that the King and Queen had thought fit to appoint him to be their governor because of the absence of their proprietary; but derived no benefit from it; for the governor bluntly told them, "he was sorry to find their desires grounded upon so great mistakes;" adding these emphatical expressions, "The absence of the proprietary is the least cause mentioned in their Majesties' letters patent, for their Majesties asserting their undoubted right of governing their subjects in this province. There are reasons of greater moment; as the neglects and miscarriages in the late administration, the want of necessary defence against the enemy; the danger of [the province must be understood] being lost from the crown. The constitution of their Majesties' government and that of Mr. Penn's are in direct opposition one to the

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

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 in-
dubitable; 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 mis-
informations; 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, be-
fore 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 gov-
ernment 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 pro-
prietary's, William Penn, though the exercise of thy
authority at present supersedes that of our said pro-
prietary; nevertheless we readily own thee for our law-
ful 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

[ocr errors]

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 in 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 specifications of what those amendments were to be, with the following answer, "that the Assembly should have no 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

« ZurückWeiter »