« ZurückWeiter »
transactions of a colony, till of late hardly mentioned in our annals; in point of establishment one of the last upon the British list, and in point of rank one of the most subordinate; as being not only subjects, in common with the rest, to the crown, but also to the claims of a proprietary, who thinks he does them honor enough in governing them by deputy ; consequently as much farther removed from the royal eye, and so much the more exposed to the pressure of selfinterested instructions ; — considerable, however, as most of them, for happiness of situation, fertility of soil, product of valuable commodities, number of inhabitants, shipping, amount of exportations, latitude of rights and privileges, and every other requisite for the being and well-being of society, and more considerable than any of them all for the celerity of its growth, unassisted by any human help but the vigor and virtue of its own excellent constitution.
A father and his family, the latter united by interest and affection, the former to be revered for the wisdom of his institutions, and the indulgent use of his authority, was the form it was at first presented in. Those who were only ambitious of repose found it here; and as none returned with an evil report of the land, numbers followed, all partook of the leaven they found ; the community still wore the same equal face; nobody as
; pired; nobody was oppressed; industry was sure of profit, knowledge of esteem, and virtue of veneration.
An assuming landlord, strongly disposed to convert free tenants into abject vassals, and to reap what he did not sow, countenanced and abetted by a few desperate and designing dependents, on the one side ; and on the other, all who have sense enough to know their rights, and spirit enough to defend them, combined
one man against the said landlord, and his encroachments, is the form it has since assumed.
And, surely, to a nation born to liberty like this, bound to leave it unimpaired as they received it from their fathers in perpetuity to their heirs, and interested in the conservation of it in every appendage of the British empire, the particulars of such a contest carnot be wholly indifferent.
On the contrary, it is reasonable to think, the first workings of power against liberty, and the natural efforts of unbiassed men to secure themselves against the first approaches of oppression, must have a captivating power over every man of sensibility and discernment amongst us.
Liberty, it seems, thrives best in the woods. America best cultivates what Germany brought forth. And were it not for certain ugly comparisons, hard to be suppressed, the pleasure arising from such a research would be without alloy.
In the feuds of Florence, recorded by Machiavel, we find more to lament and less to praise. Scarce can we believe the first citizens of the ancient republics had such pretensions to consideration, though so highly celebrated in ancient story. And as to ourselves, we need no longer have recourse to the late glorious stand of the French parliaments to excite our emulation.
It is a known custom among farmers to change their corn from season to season for the sake of filling the bushel; and in case the wisdom of the age should condescend to make the like experiment in another shape, from hence we may learn, whither to repair for the proper species.
It is not, however, to be presumed, that such as have long been accustomed to consider the colonies, in general, as only so many dependencies on the Councilboard, the Board of Trade, and the Board of Customs; or as a hot-bed for causes, jobs, and other pecuniary emoluments, and as bound as effectually by instructions as by laws, can be prevailed upon to consider these patriot rustics with any degree of respect.
Derision, on the contrary, must be the lot of him who imagines it in the power of the pen, to set any lustre upon them; and indignation theirs for daring to assert and maintain the independency interwoven in iheir constitution, which now, it seems, is become an improper ingredient, and therefore to be excised away.
But how contemptible soever these gentlemen may talk of the colonies, how cheap soever they may hold their Assemblies, or how insignificant the planters and traders who compose them, truth will be truth, and principle principle notwithstanding.
Courage, wisdom, integrity, and honor are not to be measured by the sphere assigned them to act in, but by the trials they undergo, and the vouchers they furnish ; and, if so manifested, need neither robes, nor titles to set them off.
Abstract of the Charter granted to William Penn. Conditions to the
first Settlers of Pennsylvania. Penn's first Frame of Government. His Reservation of Quit-Rents. His second Frame of Government. Pennsylvania and the Territory of the Three Lower Counties united. Remonstrance of a subsequent Assembly against the Union. Motives of the Planters for accepting the second Frame of Government. Mr. Penn's Return to England, and Appointment of five Commissioners to administer the Government. Disorders which ensued during his Absence. Captain Blackwell's Government.
The Constitution of Pennsylvania is derived, first, from the birthright of every British subject; secondly, from the royal charter granted to William Penn by King Charles the Second; and, thirdly, from the charter of privileges granted by the said William Penn as proprietary and governor, in virtue of the former, to the freemen of the said province and territories; being the last of four at several periods issued by the same authority.
The birthright of every British subject is, to have a property of his own, in his estate, person, and reputation ; subject only to laws enacted by his own concurrence, either in person or by his representatives; and which birthright accompanies him wheresoever he wanders or rests; so long as he is within the pale of the British dominions, and is true to his allegiance.
The royal charter was granted to William Penn in the beginning of the year 1681. A most alarming period! the nation being in a strong ferment; and the court forming an arbitrary plan, which, under the countenance of a small standing army, they began the same year 10 carry into execution, by cajoling some corporations, and forcing others by quo-warrantos to surrender their charters; so that, by the abuse of law, the disuse of Parliaments, and the terror of power,
the kingdom became in effect the prey of will and pleasure.
The charter governments of America had, before this, afforded a place of refuge to the persecuted and miserable; and, as if to enlarge the field of liberty abroad, which had been so sacrilegiously contracted at home, Pennsylvania even then was made a new asylum, where all who wished or desired to be free might be so for ever.
The basis of the grant expressed in the preamble, was, the merits and services of Admiral Penn, and the commendable desire of his son to enlarge the British Empire, to promote such useful commodities as might be of benefit to it, and to civilize the savage inhabitants.
In the third section, which constitutes the said William Penn the true and absolute proprietary of the said province, there is a saving to the crown, of the faith and allegiance of the said William Penn, his heirs and assigns, and of all other proprietaries, tenants, and inhabitants of the said province, as also of the sovereignty thereof.
The fourth, professing to repose especial trust and confidence in the fidelity, wisdom, justice, and provident circumspection of the said Penn, grants to him and his heirs, and to his and their deputies, free, full, and absolute power, for the good and happy government of the said country, to ordain, make, and enact, and, under his or their seals, to publish any laws whatsoever, for the raising of money for public uses of the said province, or for any other end appertaining either unto the public state, peace, or safety of the said country, or unto the private utility of particular persons, according to their best discretion ; by and with the advice, assent, and approbation of the freemen of