« ZurückWeiter »
only a change of governor, that is, instead of selfinterested proprietaries, a gracious King. His Majesty, , who has no views but for the good of the people, will thenceforth appoint the governor, who, unshackled by proprietary instructions, will be at liberty to join with the assembly in enacting wholesome laws. At present, when the King requires supplies of his faithful subjects, and they are willing and desirous to grant them, the proprietaries intervene and say, “unless our private interests in certain particulars are served, nothing shall be done.” This insolent tribunitial vero has long encumbered all our public affairs, and been productive of many mischiefs. By the measure proposed, not even the proprietaries can justly complain of any injury. The being obliged to fulfil a fair contract is no injury. The crown will be under no difficulty in completing the old contract made with their father, as there needs no application to Parliament for the necessary sum, since half the quit-rents of the lower counties belongs to the King, and the many years' arrears in the proprietaries' hands, who are the collectors, must vastly exceed what they have a right to demand, or any reason to expect.
On the whole, I cannot but think, the more the proposal is considered, of an humble petition to the King to take this province under his Majesty's inmediate protection and government, the more unanimously we shall go into it. We are chiefly people of three countries. British spirits can no longer bear the treatment they have received, nor will they put on the chains prepared for them by a fellow subject. And the Irish and Germans have felt too severely
In 1722, the arrears then in their hands were computed at £ 18,000 sterling
the oppressions of hard-hearted landlords and arbitrary princes, to wish to see, in the proprietaries of Pennsylvania, both the one and the other united. I am, with much respect, Sir, Your most obedient, humble servant,
PETITION TO THE KING,
FOR CHANGING THE PROPRIETARY GOVERNMENT OF PENNSYL
VANIA INTO A ROYAL GOVERNMENT.
Drafted by Dr. Franklin, and adopted by the Assembly of Pennsylvania, in 1764. - Editor.
To the King's MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY, IN COUNCIL,
The Petition of the Representatives of the Freemen of the Province of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met,
Most humbly showeth; That the government of this province by proprietaries has by long experience been found inconvenient, attended with many difficulties and obstructions to your Majesty's service, arising from the intervention of
proprietary private interest in public affairs and disputes concerning those interests.
That the said proprietary government is weak, unable to support its own authority, and maintain the common internal peace of the province; great riots have lately arisen therein, armed mobs marching from place to place, and committing violent outrages and insults on the government with impunity, to the great terror of your Majesty's subjects. And these evils are not likely to receive any remedy here, the continual disputes between the proprietaries and people, and their mutual jealousies and dislikes preventing.
We do, therefore, most humbly pray, that your Majesty would be graciously pleased to resume the government of this province, making such compensation to the proprietaries for the same as to your Majesty's wisdom and goodness shall appear just and equitable, and permitting your dutiful subjects therein to enjoy under your Majesty's more immediate care and protection, the privileges that have been granted to them by and under your royal predecessors.
By order of the House.
ON A PARTICULAR MILITIA BILL REJECTED BY THE
PROPRIETOR'S DEPUTY, OR GOVERNOR.
TO THE FREEMEN OF PENNSYLVANIA.
Philadelphia, September 28th, 1764. GENTLEMEN, Your desire of knowing how the militia bill came to fail, in the last assembly, shall immediately be complied with.
As the governor pressed hard for a militia law, to secure the internal peace of the province, and the people of this country had not been accustomed to militia service, the House, to make it more generally agreeable to the freeholders, formed the bill so that they might have some share in the election of the officers; to secure them from having absolute strangers set over them, or persons generally disagreeable.
This was no more, than that every company should choose, and recommend to the governor, three persons for each office of captain, lieutenant, and ensign; out of which three the governor was to commission one that he thought most proper, or which he pleased, to be the officer. And that the captains, lieutenants, and ensigns, so commissioned by the governor, should, in their respective regiments, choose and recommend three persons for each office of colonel, lieutenant-colonel, and major; out of which three the governor was to commission one, whichever he pleased, to each of the said offices.
The governor's amendment to the bill in this particular was, to strike out wholly this privilege of the people, and take to himself the sole appointment of all the officers.
The next amendment was, to aggravate and enhance all the fines. A fine that the assembly had made one hundred pounds, and thought heavy enough, the governor required to be three hundred pounds. What they had made fifty pounds, he required to be one hundred and fifty. These were fines on the commissioned officers for disobedience to his commands; but the non-commissioned officers, or common soldiers, whom, for the same offence, the assembly proposed to fine at ten pounds, the governor insisted should be fined fifty pounds.
These fines, and some others to be mentioned hereafter, the assembly thought ruinously high. But when, in a subsequent amendment, the governor would, for offences among the militia, take away the trial by jury in the common courts; and required, that the trial should be by a court-martial, composed of officers of his own sole appointing, who should have power of sentencing even to death; the House could by no means consent thus to give up their constituents’ liberty, estate, and life itself, into the absolute power of a proprietary governor; and so the bill failed.
That you may be assured I do not misrepresent this matter, I shall give you the last-mentioned amendment (so called) at full length; and for the truth and exactness of my copy, I dare appeal to Mr. Secretary Shippen.
The words of the bill, page 43, were, “Every such person so offending, being legally convicted thereof," &c. By the words legally convicted was intended a conviction after legal trial, in the common course of the