Abbildungen der Seite

your leaving the province in this defenceless state must lie at your doors."

The House in return unanimously resolved, "That the governor has been respectfully and repeatedly solicited by this House to pass a bill presented to him for granting twenty thousand pounds for the King's use, which, in our opinion, would have answered the expectations of the crown from this province, as signified by the secretary of state's letters, had the governor been pleased to have given it his assent; therefore, whatever ill consequences ensue from supplies not having been granted at this critical juncture must lie at his door."

The governor, by his secretary, demanded a copy of their minutes. The House ordered the minutes both of this and their last session to be printed, and that a copy finished should be delivered to the governor; and, having then resolved to adhere to their adjournment, adjourned accordingly.

In the beginning of March, however, the governor thought fit to reassemble them, and assigned the arrival of General Braddock, the necessity of considering what he had to propose without delay, and making the provisions expected by his Majesty for the service in time, as his reasons for so doing. In the same message he also acquainted them, "That he had issued a commission to a number of men acquainted with the country, to form a plan of opening roads from the inhabited parts of the province westward towards the Ohio, at the requisition of Sir John St. Clair, quartermaster-general, to facilitate the march of the troops, conveyance of provisions, &c., and also to prepare an estimate of the expense, which he called upon them to provide for; also, to be enabled to take such a part

in the measures proposed by the eastern governments for the maintenance of his Majesty's just rights, &c., as became the honor and interest of a province circumstanced like theirs. Having then premised, that it was said, the large supply of provisions furnished to the French from these colonies, not Pennsylvania in particular, which he acknowledged had little concern in that unnatural trade, had enabled the enemy to support their forces in America, he informed them, he had given the officers of the customs preventive orders in relation thereto; and added, that he made no doubt of their joining with him in a law to make those orders more effectual. The desire of the eastern governments, that Pennsylvania would join with them in their operations to frustrate the schemes of the French, made his next topic; and he grafted a hope upon it, that they would enable him to take such part as became the honor and interest of a province circumstanced like theirs. The establishment of a post between Philadelphia and a place called Winchester, at the desire of General Braddock, was what he recommended next; and that again was followed by another desire of the same general's, that the quotas for the common fund of the several provinces, recommended by the secretary of state, might be lodged in the hands of a treasurer, subject to his demands, in order to expedite business; and, the general being perfectly disinterested, as also willing to account for his disbursements, he hoped they would put it in his power to return him a satisfactory answer; and for a conclusion he recommended vigor, unanimity, and despatch, that the happy opportunity put into the hands of the colonies by his Majesty's paternal care, &c., might not be lost."

That there was no retrospect in this message was some recommendation of it; but the merit of this for

bearance lasted no longer than till the afternoon of the very same day, when the House was artfully perplexed with two messages more, which could not but revive the memory of past dissensions, and consequently the ill humor they had produced. The first contained a reprimand for their having printed Sir Thomas Robinson's letters, communicated to them without his, the governor's, privilege or consent, and a caution against the publication of them; and an intimation, that, though he had letters and other papers relating to his Majesty's service to communicate to them, he did not think it safe to do it, without proper assurances that the contents should remain a secret. The second being nearly as short, and rather more extraordinary, shall be given in his own words;


"On the 10th of January last, I demanded by the secretary a copy of the minutes of your proceedings, which you promised to send me; but, not receiving them, I did, on the 29th of the same month, by letter to the speaker, again demand them, and have frequently by the secretary reiterated my request, but could not obtain a sight of them till the 12th instant, above two months after your rising, and then only a part of them were sent me in print, and I have not yet seen the whole of them.

"The keeping your proceedings thus a secret from me, I take to be a very unconstitutional and extraordinary measure, liable to a construction that I do not choose at present to put upon it, but only to acquaint you that I expect you will order your clerk to attend me every night with the minutes of the day, that I may know what is done and doing in your House, and be able in time to lay the same before his Majesty

and his ministers, who expect to be regularly informed of the measures taking by the legislatures of the colonies."

Both were answered the next day in substance thus, "That they were humbly of opinion, such letters as those in question, containing the commands of the crown, ought generally to be inserted in their minutes as being the foundation of their proceedings, and what might be necessary for their justification; that those letters were communicated without the least caution to keep the contents a secret; that the latter, which was the most material of the two, was a circular letter which had been sent in effect to all the provinces and colonies in North America, and of which the substance, as they were informed, had been printed in the speeches of several governors to their assemblies; that the design of sending two regiments from England, and raising two more in America, was no secret, having been avowed even in the London Gazette; that the governor himself had given very full and particular abstracts of those letters, in his messages, which had been printed in their own gazettes long before the House adjourned, and passed without objection; that they were, therefore, surprised at the exceptions started now to the insertion of them in their minutes, and, no single inconvenience to result from it having been pointed out, were not inclined to expunge them; that, knowing not what assurances of secrecy would be satisfactory, they could only say, that, whenever it should appear to the House to be necessary for the King's service, or the public good, to keep any matters laid before them secret, proper measures, they doubted not, would be taken for that purpose." Proceeding then to what related to the governor's demand of a copy of their minutes, they adjoined, "That they had ordered the

said minutes to be printed with all convenient speed, and, when finished, that a copy should be delivered as required; that, as soon as they could be copied and revised by a committee of the House, they were put to press; and that the governor had been supplied with a copy of the greatest part of them even before they were finished; that it had been the constant practice of the House to have their minutes so revised, and to postpone the said revisal till after the rising of the House; and that, till this was done, no copies had ever been given out, unless of special votes on special occasions; that the principal matters contained in these minutes were generally to be found in the governor's speeches or messages, and the answers of the House; and that these, together with such votes as were most material, were, for the most part, immediately printed in the newspapers; that the rest was chiefly matter of form; that, therefore, as it would be inconvenient to the House to make up and perfect their votes daily, so as to send a copy to the governor, as they saw no public service concerned in it, nor knew of any right in the governor so peremptorily to demand it, they were not inclined to alter their ancient custom; that his charge of taking extraordinary or unconstitutional measures to keep their proceedings a secret from him, was void of any real foundation; that, as to the construction put by the governor on their conduct, they neither knew nor could guess what it was; that whatever it was, they had rather it had been spoken plainly, than insinuated, because they might then have known how to justify themselves; that, however, being conscious of the firmest loyalty to the crown, and the most upright intentions to the people they represented, they were not very apprehensive of any great prejudice from such, insinuations: that reflecting on the

« ZurückWeiter »