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BEGINNINGS OF STATES
The tendency and spirit of political belief in Eng. land during the period of the founding of the Ameri. can Colonies had such an intimate relation with the causes of Colonial political movements, so great an influence in shaping their effects, that it is necessary here first to consider them a little. Edward VI, influenced by Cranmer, first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, had made England officially Protestant. Bloody Mary, Edward's successor, burnt Cranmer, and endeavored to restore the English Church to Rome; but John Knox had returned to Scotland from preaching in Geneva, where Calvin had established a Republic, and was more Calvinistic than his great teacher. The Protestants were growing stronger when Elizabeth, succeeding Mary, began her long reign, and what was then deemed religious toleration permitted Puritanism to flourish and gain courage, though its efforts to regulate the Established Church were un. availing. But in 1603, James I, a Stuart, succeeded Elizabeth on the English throne, and we soon begin to see the causes which sent such a zealous company of political and religious reformers to America. “The Stuarts," says a thoughtful German historian, "by their arrogance, their exaggerated idea of the sacredness of their authority, their severity, capriciousness and obstinacy were totally unfitted to be rulers." Yet, to such a ruler, a thousand Puritan ministers sent a petition praying for the reform of what they deemed abuses in the Anglican Church. James, “the wisest fool in Christendom," heard only those who opposed the Puritans, lectured the petitioners roughly, and denied all they asked. That was the famous Hampton Court Conference whose decision quickened the emigration of Puritans from England. Some of those who fled to find freedom from what were to them hateful religious ceremonies, went to Leyden, in Hol. land; and of that number, some, dissatisfied with their Dutch surroundings, made the first English settlement in New England. Most of those who followed, whether Puritan, Episcopalian or Catholic, took with them to America some measure of the political beliefs which yere growing and expanding in England.
Englishmen had long had Constitutional rights, for in 1215, King John was forced to grant the Magna Charta, which gave the suffrage not only to the great feudal lords and the inferior nobility, but to a lower grade of citizens, made regulations for the benefit of the whole nation, prohibited arbitrary taxes, provided regular courts of justice, and that no man could be tried except by the law of the land. While Englishmen had not always freely exercised their Constitutional rights, these had not been lost sight of; so, when James I began to display his exaggerated ideas of the absolutism of his powers, Parliament had answered: "Our liberties are our freehold, and the fairest flower that groweth in the garden of the Commons, and if they be once nipped they will never grow again.” Such was the political spirit moving those who were going to America during the reign of James I.
Then came Charles I to the English throne, at a time when on the Continent royalty had nearly everywhere regained unlimited power; in Spain, Italy and Austria rulers were again absolute, in France the kings would have no States-General, the ancient Assembly of Nobles, Clergy and Citizens. So Charles, too, sought absolutism. Two powerful aids to this end were the Earl of Strafford with the Star Chamber, and Bishop Laud with the High Commission. The Star Chamber assumed the power to decide questions relating to the property, liberty, even life of any Englishman, and Strafford used it to enrich Charles; the High Commission was used by Laud to punish the enemies of Charles—and he deemed every one his enemy who denied his right to absolutism. Englishmen recalled their Magna Charta, and a Parliament passed the Petition of Right, a statutory restriction of the power of the Crown, which Charles answered by dismissing Parliament. If his lawmakers would not lay taxes for him the Earl of Strafford would—and the Ship Money tax was imposed. Hampden, a cousin of Cromwell, refused to pay a tax not levied by Parliament, and went to jail the more deeply to impress upon his countrymen his protest against an unconstitutional ruler. Then Charles tried Parliament again, and they passed the Grand Remonstrance, threatening, when the Lords obstructed, that the Commons would “save the country alone." Strafford and Laud were beheaded, the English and Scotch Parliaments were allied against the King and raising troops; a civil war for Constitutional rights was fought, Charles lost his head on the scaffold; and Parliament ruled under the Agreement of the People of the people, but by the army. Then came Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of
the Commonwealth of England, with his Constitution, the Instrument of Government, adopted by Cromwell and his Council of Officers. The Puritans numbered but one-tenth of the nation, yet they could raise up one of their number to rule England and dictate laws to Europe. Knox had been trained in the Republic of Geneva. Political liberty was part of the Puritan religion. Such were the times which impressed political ideas on the English who emigrated to America dur. ing the reign of Charles I, the rule of the Parliament, and of Cromwell, from 1625 to 1660.
Cromwell died; the majority, opposed to Puritanism, brought back two more Stuarts, Charles II until 1685, and James II for the three following years. Charles attempted monstrous usurpations of his subjects' rights, and Parliament in self-defense passed the Habeas Corpus Act, “one of the chief guards of English liberty." Charles saved the succession to the English throne for his scandalous brother James only by dismissing Parliament when it was about to pass a bill to exclude him. But James's rule was short: he was soon driven from England by the great Revolution of 1688, wbich sent him to die in exile. William and Mary were called to the throne, but they first had to subscribe to the principles declared in the Bill of Rights (of which we shall hear much in connection with our Constitution), passed by Parliament for the guidance of the new rulers. That bill, says Macaulay, "contained the germ of the law which gave religious freedom to the Dissenter, of the law which secured the independence of the judges, of the law which limited the duration of Parliament, of the law which placed the liberty of the press under the protection of juries, of the law which prohibited the slave trade, of