Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

on in his speech, and an act of settlement; should disapprove the same, that then the that an answer to his speech was drawn up said act should be void, and no ways prejudiand sent to the governor, together with an act cial to him or the people in relation to the vaof settlement; that the messengers on their lidity or invalidity of the said charter.” return, reported, they had delivered both, and To this expedient the house unanimously were told the governor and council had no agreed. A bill of settlement, and a money farther business at present; and that after bill, were thereupon ordered and prepared ; several adjournments, being met in committee, and after some temperament, reported, agreed and in high debate, their attendance was re- to, and passed. quired by the governor in order to dissolve The money bill was for raising three bunthem.

dred pounds for support of government, and That the demands made upon them, in vir-relieving the distressed Indians. tue of the queen's letter, were the subject of In the act of settlement, the rotation printhese debates, is more than probable : and if ciple was wholly dropped. Elections boih of so, it will follow, that their want of will or council and assembly were to be annual and power to comply with them was the cause of certain : the time of election, March 10th : their dissolution.

the time of sitting, May the 10th : the memIn the year 1696, being the next year fol. bers of council for each county two, for the lowing, Markham, once the proprietary's se-assembly four: they were to be of the most cretary and clerk of the council, and of late note for virtue, wisdom, and ability, and lieutenant-governor, summoned the next as- otherwise qualified in point of fortune and reseinbly, as lieutenant to the proprietary now sidency. In the governor or his deputy, and reinstated in the government; and at their , the said assembly and council, the governmeeting, recommended governor Fletcher's ment was placed. The governor or his despeech at the opening of the New York as- puty was to preside in council; but at no sembly, thereby to excite the charity of Penn- time perform any act of state whatsoever, sylvania, in relieving the poor Indians, whose but by and with the advice and consent of the corn and provisions had been destroyed by the council, or a majority thereof: that two thirds French: and the sense of the house upon it were to be a quorum in the upper walk of buwas, by way of message, thus communicated. siness, and one third in the lower: that the

“Whereas the governor has been pleased assembly should have power to propose bills to convene us, by his writs, although not in as well as the council : that both might conthe form of our charter, as we could desire, fer on such as either of them should propose : we have obeyed the same, and considered that such as the governor in council gave his what he has laid before us, viz. an answer to consent to, should be laws: that the style of the late queen's letter, and our proprietary's those laws should be,-By the governor, with promise upon his restoration to his govern- the assent and the approbation of the freemen ment; and are heartily and unanimously in general assembly met: the duplicates willing and ready to perform our duty therein, thereof should be transmitted to the king's so far as in us lies, if the governor would be council, according to the late king's patent: pleased to settle us in our former constitutions, that the assembly should sit on their own adenjoyed by us before this government was journments and committees, and continue to committed to governor Fletcher's trust.” prepare and propose bills, redress grievances,

This was followed, on the governor's part, impeach criininals, &c. till dismissed by the with a demand of money as before for the re- governor and council; and to remain during hief of the Indians: and the assembly choosing the year liable to serve upon his and their to take care of the provincial constitution first, summons; should be allowed wages and required the governor to appoint a commit-travelling charges; two thirds to make a quotee of the council to join with a committee of rum; all questions to be decided by a majothe assembly for that purpose: such a joint rity; affirmations to be admitted in all courts, committee was appointed accordingly ; who &c. instead of oaths, where required; all peragreed in recommending this expedient, sons in possession of lands by purchase or " that the governor, at the request of the as otherwise under any legal or equitable claim, sembly, would be pleased to pass an act (of so to continue; sheriffs and their substitutes settlement must be understood) with a salvo to give security for office behaviour; elections to the proprietary and people; and that he were to be free, regular, incorrupt, &c. no would also issue out his writs for choosing a member being permitted to serve without full number of representatives on the 10th of wages, or for less wages than by this act apMarch next ensuing, to serve in provincial pointed, &c. Neither the form or effect of council and assembly according to charter, this act was to be diminished or altered in until the proprietary's pleasure should be any part or clause thereof, contrary to the known therein; and that if the proprietary true intent or meaning thereof, without the * They had been issued upon Fletcher's plan before

ora consent of the governor and six parts in seven specified.

"I of the freemen in council and assembly met: it was to continue and be in force till the to please all by his choice of a fit person: as proprietary should by some instrument under to their address to avoid confusion in the his hand and seal, signify his pleasure to the next election, that he consented to the request contrary: and it was provided, that neither of the house, and ordered by general consent this act nor any other should preclude or de- of council and assembly, minutes to be made bar the inhabitants of this province and terri- in both: that, at the next election, three should tories from claiming, having, and enjoying be chosen for council in each county, and six any of the rights, privileges, and immunities, for assembly ; the election to be on the usual which the said proprietary for himself, his day; but reserving to himself the specification heirs and assigns, did formerly grant, or which of the term the former were to serve for, which of right did belong unto them the said inhabi- was to be expressed in the writ: and that as tants by virtue of any law, charter, or grant to the other point of false information sent whatsoever, any thing therein contained to against the colony to England, the unseasonthe contrary notwithstanding.

able time of the year would not suffer the A new application from governor Fletcher merits of the case to be thoroughly discuesed, for farther assistance, and the report of a com- but that all the representatives both of council mittee of the assembly to whom it was refer- and assembly, had agreed in drawing up some red (urging the infancy, poverty, and incum- general defence for the present." bered state of the colony in excuse for non- And before their separation it was drawn up compliance) together with an act for ratifying and presented to the governor accordingly. and confirming the acts and proceedings of The next general assembly met at the usual the last year's assembly by some persons time, and was in every respect an extraordinaquestioned and misrepresented, are all the re- ry one : extraordinary for the number of menmains of what passed in the assembly of 1697. bers superadded in the manner just recited;

Nor does any thing material occur in the extraordinary for an occasional law they passyears 1698, 1699, till the arrival of the pro- ed at the instance of the governor and counprietary from England.

cil, to prolong the present sessions beyond the January 25th, 1699-1700, the assembly be- time limited by charter; and extraordinary for ing convened for the second time, was told by the debates concerning another new frame of the proprietary in person, that he had so con-government, which continued through the vened them chiefly to reinforce the former whole course of it, without producing any salaws; or by a new law more rigorously to tisfactory temperament at last. discourage piracy and forbidden trade: misde-l Found intractable, after a month's practice, meanours which he said had exposed the go- they were dissolved; and in October following, vernment to much odium at home, which he a new assembly was summoned; not as before had been much pressed by his superiors to cor- to consist of thirty-six members, but of twenrect, and which he, therefore, pressed most ty-four; that is to say, four instead of six for concernedly upon them.

each county. Both these points were immediately refer- The place of meeting was also different; red to the consideration of two several com- for instead of assembling as usual at Philadelmittees; and one of their own members, son-phia, the members were convened at Newin-law of their late lieutenant-governor Mark- castle, perhaps only to gratify the inhabitants ham, proving to be the most obnoxious person of the territories, at a time when extraordinaon the first of these accounts, they proceeded ry demands were to be made upon them for so far as to commit him, till satisfied by the the gratification of the proprietary governor. governor that he had given sufficient security At the opening of this assembly, the governfor his appearance to answer what complaints or said, he had called them upon urgent occashould be brought against him.

sions: that they were in want of a frame of They also took care to purge themselves on government; a body of laws; a settlement of the head of forbidden or illicit trade, which ap- property; and a supply for the support of gopears to have been done in so effectual a man-vernment: adding, that he would give them all ner, that the governor himself could not avoid the assistance in his power. co-operating with the council in their justifi- With the body of laws they began, and made cation. To prove which, his answer to their a considerable progress in the work; but the several addresses (concerning a fit person to frame of government again met with as many be provincial treasurer; cautions to avoid con- difficulties as before. The conditions of union fusion in the next election, which was to be between the province and the territories, in on a new model, as also the expediency of the particular, had like to have produced an imadvice and consent of the council and assem-mediate separation : and the dispute which bly thereon; and false information sent to arose concerning equal privileges or equal England against them) here inserted, will be voices in the representative, could be no sufficient: to wit,

otherwise compromised than by referring the * First, as to the receiver or treasurer, that issue to the next general assembly. he would consider of it, and would take care. The points which more immediately concerned both branches of the legislature, were should, with submission to God's providence, the settlement of property and the supply. In ever be able to alter his love to the country, the latter the governor himself was deeply in- and his resolution to return and settle his faterested, and almost every landholder of the mily and posterity in it, &c. “ Think, therecolony in the former. These, therefore, were fore, (continued he in the most captivating to be first despatched ; and, accordingly, a style and manner that ever was made use of) bill for the effectual establishment and con- since all men are mortal, of some suitable exfirmation of the freeholders of both parts of pedient and provision for your safety as well the united colony, their heirs and assigns, in as in your privileges as property, and you their lands and tenements; together with two will find me ready to comply with whatsoever others; one for raising of one penny per pound, may render us happy by a nearer union of our and six shillings per · head for support of go interests. Review again your laws! propose vernment, &c. and one for granting and rais- new ones that may better your circuming to the proprietary and governor two thou- stances; and what you do, do it quickly! sand pounds, upon the real value of estates remembering that the parliament sits the real and personal, and another six shillings end of the next month, and that the sooner poll-tax; of which more than a moiety was am there, the safer I hope we shall all be paid by the county of Philadelphia alone. here." Nor ought it to be forgotten, that in the pre- He then returned to the three hundred and ceiling session four pence in the pound and fifty pounds sterling, demanded by the king: twenty-four shillings per head had been de- imparted to them the happy issue of colonel munded for these services, and that as they Fletcher's conferences with the five nations ; paid by halves, the proprietary performed by and again recommended unanimity and deshalves; as the mention hereafter made of his patch, since it might contribute to the disapcharter of property will demonstrate. pointment of those who had long sought the

The same assembly being again convened ruin of their young country. in August at Philadelphia, in consequence of The assembly returned a short but affeca letter from his majesty, requiring an aid tionate and respectful answer; after which of three hundred and fifty pounds sterling, to they presented an address to him, consisting wards the fortifications to be raised on the of twenty-one articles: the first desiring, that, frontiers of New York, they excused them- on his departure for England, due care be selves from complying; urging that the great taken, he might be represented there by sums lately assessed upon the colony by way persons of integrity and considerable known of inposts and taxes, over and above the ar- estates, who might have full power and aurears of quit-rents, had rendered them inca- thority not only to grant and confirm lands, pable: and these excuses were readily admit- &c. but to compensate short and resume over ted by the government; so that the proprieta- measure.—The second, that he would grant ry interest in this instance undeniably sup them such an instrument as might absolutely planted the royal : and private interest pub- secure and defend the freemen of the prolic service.

| vince, by them represented, in their estates and In September, 1701, the proprietary con- properties, from himself, his heirs and assigns vened another assembly, consisting of four for ever, or any claiming under him, them, members for each of the six counties, agreea- or any of them; as also to clear all Indian ble to the law, for ascertaining the nuinber purchases and others.—And the last, that of members, lately passed at Newcastle; and the bill of property, passed at Newcastle, though he had in the last evaded giving a might be inserted in the charter, with such copy of his speech in writing to the house, as amendments as should be agreed on. not being his usual way, went out of his way To each of the whole twenty-one he refor this once to do it now.

turned a special answer; and to the three reSome apology he made for calling them to cited, those that follow. “To the first: 1 gether a month sooner than they would have shall appoint those in whom I can confide, int of course : assigned as a reason, the ne- whose powers shall be sufficient and public cessity he was under, through the endeavours for the security of all concerned; and I hope of the enemies to the prosperity of the colony, they shall be of honest character without just to go for England, where, taking the advan- exception, to do that which is right between tage of his absence, some had attempted to you and me." ["Tis strange the crown should undermine his government: talked as if the not be so much as mentioned.] “ To the sevoyage was disagreeable to him; as if the cond: much of it is included in my answer quiet of a wilderness was all his ambition; as to the first; however, I am willing to execute if his purpose had been to stay with them al- a public instrument or charter to secure you ways, or at least till he could render every in your properties, according to purchase and boly safe and easy : said his heart was with the law of property made lately at Newcastle, them, whatever some people might please to excepting some corrections and amendments think; that no unkindness or disappointment absolutely necessary therein: and to the last, I agree that the law of property made at dered into the hands of the governor, by six Newcastle shall be inserted in the charter parts in seven of the assembly, under a sowith requisite amendments."

lemn promise of restitution, with such alteraHow short these expressions fell of his tions and amendments as should be found nespeech is obvious; nor is it any honour to cessary. himself or his laws, that the latter stood in On the 28th of October, 1701, when the need of so many amendments; and that the governor was so near his departure that it freemen found reason to think they could not might almost be said he had one foot on take too many precautions to secure them- | board, this promise was made good; the counselves against him.

cil, the assembly, (the provincial part of it, To these answers of the governor, the as-that is to say,) and several of the principle in sembly returned as many replies; most of habitants of Philadelphia attending. them expressing their acceptance and ac- The charter of privileges granted by Wil. knowledgments: and the matter of the first liam Penn, Esq. to the inhabitants of Pennsylbeing at all times equally reasonable, deserves vania, and territories, this important instruto be particularly remembered, to wit, “that ment is called; and the main purport of it is the commissioners thou art pleased to pro- as follows, to wit: “ that because no people mnise, be invested with full and complete pow- could be truly happy, though under the er, and be obliged by some clause in the com- greatest enjoyment of civil liberties, if abridgmission to act, without refusal or delay, ac-ed of the freedom of their consciences, as to cording to the full and public powers thereof; their religious profession and worship, no inand that it would please thee to nominate the habitant, confessing and acknowledging one persons to the assembly.",

almighty God, and professing himself obliged The governor, on the other hand, whether to live quiet under the civil government, out of artifice or complaisance is hard to say, should be in any case molested or prejudiced would have induced them to name his substi- in person or estate: that all persons professtute themselves: but, they as artificially oring to believe in Jesus Christ the Saviour of complaisantly excused themselves; saying, the world, promising when required, allegithey did not pretend to the knowledge neces- ance to the king, and taking certain attests sary for such a nomination, and that they de- by a certain provincial law provided, should sired to leave it to the governor's pleasure. be capable to serve the government either

While the charter of privileges was under legislatively or executively: that an assemconsideration, the late breach between the bly should be yearly chosen by the freemen, members of the province and those of the ter- to consist of four persons out of each county, ritory was again opened, and soon grew wider of most note for virtue, wisdom, and ability; than ever.

or of a greater number, if the governor and The territory-men were for obtaining some assembly should so agree; upon the first of powers or rights peculiarly favourable to them- October for ever, and should sit on the 14th selves; which the others thinking unreason- following, with power to choose a speaker and able, were not willing to allow; and not be- other their officers, to be judges of the qualiing able to carry their point, the members for fications and elections of their own members, the territory left the house.

sit upon their own adjournments, appoint comThe proprietary interposed his authority to mittees, prepare bills, impeach criminals, and bring about an accommodation; and for the redress grievances, with all other powers and present prevailed. But the same spirit of privileges of an assembly, according to the animosity still remained; and what with the rights of the freeborn subjects of England, hurry the governor was in to set sail, and and the customs observed in any of the king's what with the warm dispute which arose be- plantations in America : that two thirds of the tween him and the assembly concerning the freemen so chosen should have the full power allowance to be made to such as had defec- of the whole: that the said freemen in each tive measure in their lands, the remainder of respective county, at the time and place of a session, so plausibly opened, and in which meeting for electing representatives, might the constitution was to be finally settled, was choose a double number of persons to present soured with expostulations and reproaches to the governor' for sheriffs and coroners, to even to the last moment of it: and the go- serve for three years, if so long they should vernor and his freemen at last parted like behave themselves well, out of whom the gopeople who were equally glad, they had vernor was to nominate one for each office, made so much of, and were now to be sepa- provided his domination was made the third rated from each other.

| day after presentment, otherwise the person And thus the course of time has brought first named to serve; and in case of death or us to that frame or system which, in subordi- default, the governor to supply the vacancy: nation to the royal charter, is, at present, the that three persons should be nominated by rule of government in Pennsylvania.

the justices of the respective counties, out of In May, 1700, the former had been surren- whom the governor was to select one to serve for clerk of the peace, within ten days, or second of laws. That universal reason was otherwise the place to be filled by the first and ought to be, among rational beings, uniso nominated: that the laws of the govern- versal law: that of laws, some were fundament should be in this style, viz.-By the mental and immutable; some temporary, governor, with the consent and approbation made for present convenience, and for conveof the freemen in general assembly met: nience to be changed. That the fundamental that all criminals should have the same privi- laws of England were of all laws most abhor. leges of witnesses and council as their prose- rent of will and pleasure : and, that till houses cutors: that no person should be obliged to should stand without their own foundations, answer any complaint, matter or thing what- and Englishmen cease to be Englishmen, they soever, relating to properly, before the govern- could not be cancelled, nor the subjects deor and council, or in any other place but in prived of the benefit of them." ordinary course of justice, unless in appeals | Such as it was, by the freemen of the proaccording to law : that the estates of suicides vince it was thankfully accepted, but by those should not be forfeited: that no act, law, or of the territory unanimously declined ; and in ordinance whatsoever should atany time here this divided condition this new Lycurgus, as after, be made or done to alter, change, or di- Montesquieu calls him, left them. minish the form or effect of this charter, or Andrew Hamilton, Esq. (not the celebrated of any part or clause therein, according to the barrister of that name) was the person appointtrue intent and meaning thereof, without the ed to be his substitute; and the principal consent of the governor for the time being, effort of his administration was to bring about and six parts in seven of the assembly met: a reunion, which being at length found imthat the first article relating to liberty of con- practicable (the territory-men still persisting science should be kept and remain without in their refusal of the charter) the province, any alteration inviolably for ever: that the in virtue of that charter, claimed a separate said William Penn, for himself, his heirs and representative of their own, which in point assigns, did thereby solemnly declare, grant, of number was fixed at eight members for and confirm, that neither he, his heirs or as- each of the three counties, and two for the signs, should procure, or do any thing or city of Philadelphia, now so constituted by the things whereby the liberties in this charter proprietary's special charter; and after duly contained and expressed, nor any part there- qualifying themselves according to law, their of, should be infringed or broken; and, that first resolution was, if any thing should be procured and done by “That the representatives or delegates of any person or persons contrary thereto, it the freeholders of this province, according to should be held of no force or effect." " the powers granted by the proprietary and

Thus, though much remained of the first governor by his charter, dated the eighth day institution, much was taken away. The peo- of October, Anno Domini 1701, may meet in ple had no longer the election of the council; assembly on the fourteenth day of October, consequently all who, for the future, were to yearly, at Philadelphia, or elsewhere, as shall serve in that capacity, were to be nominated be appointed by the governor and council for by the governor; consequently were to serve the time being, and so continue on their own on what terms he pleased. Instead of having adjournments from time to time during the but three voices in seventy-two, he was left year of their service, as they shall find oc

single in the executive, and at liberty to re-casion, or think fit, for preparing of bills, de· strain the legislative, by refusing his as-bating thereon, and voting, in order to their sent to their bills whenever he thought fit. being passed into laws; appointing com

On the other hand, the assembly, who at mittees, redressing of grievances, and imfirst could not propound laws, though they peaching of criminals, as they shall see meet, might amend or reject them, were put in in as ample manner as any of the assemblies possession of that privilege ; and, upon the of this province and territories have hitherto whole, there was much more room for ac- at any time done, or might legally do; as knowledgments than complaints.

effectually, to all intents and purposes, as any How much soever the governor had grown of the neighbouring governments under the upon Mr. Penn, and how much soever his crown of England have power to do, accordconcern for others had worn off, when raised (ing to the rights and privileges of the freeto a sphere above them, it is plain he had not born subjects of England, keeping to the forgotten his own trial, nor the noble com- rules and prescriptions of the parliament of mentary upon Magna Charta, which, in his England; as near as may be, respecting the tract called, The people's ancient and just li-infancy of the government and the capacities berlies asserted, he had upon that occasion of the people : and that the said assembly, as mude public; wherein he says,

often as the governor for the time being shall “There were but two sorts of government: require, attend on him, in order to legislation: will and power; or, condition and contract. and to answer allother just ends of assemblies That the first was a government of men, the on any emergencies or reasons of state; but

« ZurückWeiter »