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liament, in which they had no representation, as a grievance. It is also worthy of being noted, that of the thirteen colonies, formed into states at the end of the war, no one (Georgia excepted) was settled at the expence of government. Towards the settlement of that fouthern fron. tier, considerable fums had at different times been granted by par. liament, but the twelve more northern provinces had been wholly leta tled by private adventurers, without any advances from the national treasury. It does not appear, from existing records, that any compensation for their lands was ever made to the Aborigines of America by the crown or parliament of England; but policy, as well as justice, led the colonists to purchase and pay for what they occupied. This was done in almost every settlement, and they prospered most, who by jus, tice and kindness took the greatest paing to conciliate the good-will of the natives,
It is in vain to look for well-balanced constitutions in the early periods of colonial hitory. Till the revolution in the year 1688, a period subsequent to the settlement of the colonies, England herself can scarcely be faid to have had a fixed constitution. At that eventful ära the line was first drawn between the privileges of subjects, and the prerogatives of sovereigns. The legal and constitutional history of the colonies, in their early periods, therefore, affords but little instruction. It is fufficient in general to observe, that in less than eighty years from the first permament English settlement in North America; the two original patents granted to the Piymouth and London Companies were divided, and subdivided, into twelve distinct and unconnected provinces, and in fifty years more a thirteenth, by the name of Georgia, was added to the southern extreme of previous establishments.
To each of these, after various changes, there was ultimately granted a form of government resembling, in its most essential parts, as far as local circumstances would permit, that which was established in the parent state. A minute description of constitutions, which no longer exist, would be both tedious and unprofitable. In general, it may be observed, that agreeably to the spirit of the British constitution, ample provision was made for the liberties of the inhabitants. The prerogatives of royalty and dependence on the mother country, were but feebly im. pressed on the colonial forms of government. In some of the provinces the inhabitants chose their governors, and all other public officers, and their legislatures were under little or no controul. In others, the crown delegated most of its power to particular persons, who were also invested with the property of the soil. In those which were most immediately dependent on the king, he exercised no higher prerogatives over the
colonists than over their fellow subjects in England, and his power over the provincial legislative assemblies was not greater than what he was constitutionally vested with, over the House of Commons in the mother country. From the acquiescence of the parent state, the spirit of her conftitution, and daily experience, the colonists grew up in a belief, that their local assemblies stood in the fame relation to them, as the parliament of Great Britain to the inhabitants of that island. The benefits of legislation were conferred on both, only through these consti. tutional channels.
It is remarkable, that though the English poffeffions in America were far inferior in natural riches to those which fell to the lot of other Eu. ropeans, yet the security of property and of liberty, derived from the English constitution, gave them a consequence to which the colonies of other powers, though settled at an earlier day, have not yet attained. The wife and liberal policy of England towards her colonies, during the first century and half, after their settlement, had a considerable influence in exalting them to this pre-eminence. She gave them full liberty to govern themselves by such laws as the local legislatures thought necessary, and left their trade open to every individual in her dominions. She also gave them the ampleft permision to pursue their respective interests in such manner as they thought proper, and reserved little for herself, but the benefit of their trade, and that of a political union under the same head. The colonies, founded by other powers, experienced no such indulgencies. Portugal and Spain burdened theirs with many vexatious regulations, gave encouragement only to what was for their own interest, and punished whatever had a contrary tendency. France and Holland did not adopt such oppressive maxims, but were, in fact, not much less rigorous and coercive. They parted, as it were, with the propriety of their colonies to mercantile associations, which sold to the colonifts the commodities of Europe, at an enormous adyance, and took the produce of their lands at a low price, and, at the same time, discouraged the growth of any more than they could difpose of, at excessive profits. These oppressive regulations were followed with their natural consequence : the settlements thus restricted advanced but howly in population and in wealth.
The English Colonies participated in that excellent form of government with which their parent isle was blessed, and which has raised it to an admirable height of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures. After many struggles, it had been acknowledged to be essential to the conftitution of Great Britain, that the people could not be compelled to pay any taxes, nor be bound by any laws, but such as had been granted or Voi, I. 3 F
enacted with the consent of themselves, or of their representatives. It was also one of their privileges, that they could not be affected either in their property, their liberties, or their persons, but by the unanimous consent of twelve of their peers,
From the operation of these general principles of liberty, and the wise policy of Great Britain, her American settlements increased in number, wealth and resources, with a rapidity which surpassed all previous calcu. lations. Neither ancient nor modern history can produce an example of Colonies governed with equal wisdom, or flourishing with equal rapidi. ty. In the short space of one hundred and fifty years their numbers increased to three millions, and their commerce to such a degree, as to be more than a third of that of Great Britain. They also extended their settlements fifteen hundred miles on the sea coast, and three hundred to the westward. Their rapid population, though partly accelerated by the influx of strangers, was principally owing to internal causes. In confequence of the equality of fortune and fimplicity of manners, which prevailed among them, their inhabitants multiplied far beyond the pro. portion of old nations, corrupted and weakened by the vices of wealth, and above all, of vanity, than which, perhaps, there is no greater enemy to the increase of the human species.
The good effects of a wise policy and equal government were not only discernible in railing the Colonies of England to a pre-eminence over those of other European powers, but in raising some among themselves to greater importance than others. Their relative population and wealth were by no means correspondent to their respective advantages of foil and climate. From the common disproportion between the natural and artifcial wealth of different countries, it seems to be a general rule, that the more nature does for any body of men, the less they are disposed to do for themselves.
The New England provinces, though poffefsed of comparatively a barren country, were improved much faster than others, which were bleiled with a superior soil and milder climate. Their first settlers were animated with a high degree of that religious fervor which excites to grcat undertakings: they also fettled their vacant lands on principles of the wiselt policy. Infead of granting large tracts to individuals, they fold the foil in small farms, to those who personally cultivated the fame. Instead of disseminating their inhabitants over an extensive country, they formed successive settlements, in townships of fix miles fquare. They also made fuch arrangements, in these townships, as co-extended the blessings of education and of religious instruction with their settlements,
By these means industry and morality were propagated, and knowledge was generally diffused.
In proportion to their respective members, it is probable that no other country in the world contained more sober orderly citizens, and fewer who were profligate and abandoned. Those high crimes which are usually punished with death, were so rare in New-England, that many years have elapsed, in large populous settlements, without a single execution. Their less fertile foil disposed them to a spirit of adventure, and their victorious industry rose superior to every obstacle. In carrying on the whale fishery, they not only penetrated the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson's Bay, and Davis' Straits; but pierced into the opposite regions of polar cold. While some of them were striking the harpoon on the coast of Africa, others pursued their gigantic game near the shores of Brasil. While they were yet in their infancy as a political society, they carried on this perilous business to an extent exceeding all that the pera feverance of Holland, the activity of France, or the vigour of English enterprize, had ever accomplished. A spirit of liberty prompted their industry, and a free constitution guarded their civil rights. The country was settled with yeomanry, who were both proprietors, and cultivators, of the soil. Luxury was estranged from their borders. Enervating wealth and pinching poverty were both equally rare. Early marriages, and a numerous offspring, were common---thence population was rapid, and the inhabitants generally possessed that happy state of mediocrity, which favours the improvment both of mind and body.
New-York joined New-England, but did not increase with equal rapidity. A few, by monopolizing large tracts of lands, reduced many to the necessity of being tenants, or of removing to other provinces, where land could be obtained on more favourable terms. The increase of population, in this province, was nevertheless great, when compared with that of old countries. This appears from the following statement of their numbers at different periods. In 1756, the province of NewYork contained eighty-three thousand two hundred and thirty-three whites, and in 1771, one hundred and forty-eight thousand one hundred and twenty-four, an increase of nearly two for one, in the space of fifteen years.
Pennsylvania was at first settled under the auspices of the celebrated William Penn, who introduced a number of industrious inhabitants, chiefly of the sect of Quakers. The population of this country advanced equally with that of the New-England provieces. Among the inducements operating on foreigners to settle in Pennsylvania was a most cxcellent form of provincial government, which secured the religious as
well as the civil rights of its inhabitants. While the Mother Counery laboured under an oppreffive ecclesiastical establishment, and while partialities of the same kind were sanctioned by law, in some of the American provinces, perfect liberty of conscience, and an exact equality of all sects was, in every period, a part of the constitution of Pennsylvania.
Quaker fimplicity, induftry, and frugality, contributed, in like manner, to the flourishing of that province. The habits of that plain people correspond, admirably, with a new country, and with republican conftitutions. Opposed to idleness and extravagance, they combined the whole force of religion, with customs and laws, to exile these vices from their society. The first quaker settlers were foon followed by Germans, whose industry was not inferior to their own. The emigrants from other countries who settled in Pennsylvania, followed these good examples, and industry and frugality became predominant virtues over the whole province.
The policy of a Loan-Office was also eminently beneficial. The proprietaries of Pennsylvania sold their lands in small tracts, and on long credit. The purchasers were indulged with the liberty of borrowing, on interest, paper bills of credit, out of the Loan-Office, on the mortgage of their lands. Perhaps there never was an institution which contributed more to the happiness of the people, or to the flourishing of a new country, than this land Loan-Office scheme. The province being enriched by the clear interest of its loaned paper, was thereby enabled to defray the expences of government with moderate taxes. The induftrious farmer was furnished with the means of cultivating and stocking his farm. These improvements, by increasing the value of the land, not only established the credit of the paper, but enabled the borrower, in a few years, to pay off the original loan with the productions of the foil. The progressive improvement of Pennsylvania may be estimated froin the increase of its trade. In the year 1704, that province importeri goods from the Mother Country, amounting in value only to eleven thousand four hundred and ninety-nine pounds sterling, but in 1772, to the value of five hundred and seven thousand nine hundred and nine pounds, an increase of nearly fifty for one, in little more than half a century.
In Maryland and Virginia, a policy less favourable to population, and somewhat different from that of Pennsylvania, took place. The church of England was incorporated with the first fettlement of Virginia, and in the lapse of time, it also became the established religion of Maryland. In both these provinces, long before the American revolution, that church poffeffed a legal pre-eminence, and was maintained at the expence, not only of its own members, but of all other denominations.