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of woes, as excites an apprehension, that the evil has outweighed the good.

In vain do we look among ancient nations for examples of colonies established on principles of policy, fimilar to those of the colonies of Great Britain. England did not, like the republics of Greece, oblige her sons to form diftant communities in the wiles of the earth. Like Rome she did not give lands as a gratuity to soldiers, who became a military force for the defence of her frontiers. She did not, like Car. thage, subdue the neighbouring states, in order to acquire an exclufive right to their commerce. No conquest was ever attempted over the Aborigines of America. Their right to the soil was disregarded, and their country looked upon as walte, which was open to the occupancy and use of other nations. It was considered that settlements might be there formed for the advantage of those who should migrate thither, as well as of the Mother Country. The rights and interests of the native proprietors were, all this time, deemed of no account.

What was the extent of obligations by which colonies planted under these circumstances were bound to the Mother Country, is a subject of nice discussion. Whether these arose from nature and the conftitution, or from compact, is a question necessarily connected with many others. While the friends of Union contended that the king of England had a property in the soil of America, by virtue of a righe derived from prior discovery: and that his subjects, by migrating from one part of his dominions to another, did not leffen their obligations to obey the supreme power of the nation, it was inferred, that the emigrants to English America continued to owe the same obedience to the king and parliament, as if they had never quitted the land of their nativity. But if as others contended, the Indians were the only lawful proprietors of the country in which their Creator had placed them, and they fold their right to emigrants who, as men, had a right to leave their native country, and as subjects, had obtained chartered permission to do so, it follows from these premises, that the obligations of the colonists to their parent state must have resulted more from compact, and the prospect of reciprocal advantage, than from natural obligation. The latter opinions seem to have been adopted by several of the colonists, particularly in New England. Sundry persons of influence in that country always held, that birth was no necessary cause of subjection, for that the subject of any prince or state had a natural right to remove to any other state or quarter of the globe, especially if deprived of liberty of conscience, and that, upon such removal, his subjection ceased.




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The validity of charters about which the emigrants to America were universally anxious, reits upon the same foundation. If the right of the sovereigns of England to the soil of America was ideal, and contrary to natural justice, and if no one can give what is not his own, their charters were on several accounts a nullity. In the eye of reason and philosophy, they could give no right to American territory. The only validity which such grants could have, was, that the grantees had from their sovereign a permission to depart from their native country, and negociate with the proprietors for the purchase of the soil, and thereupon to acquire a power of jurisdiction subject to his crown. These were the opinions of many of the settlers in New-England. They looked upon their charters as a voluntary compact between their sovereign and themselves, by which they were bound neither to be fubject to, nor seek protection from any other prince, nor to make any laws repugnant to those of England : but did not consider them as inferring an obligation of obedience to a parliament, in which they were unrepresented. The prospects of advantage which the emigrants to America expected from the protection of their native sovereign, and the prospect of aggrandisement which their native sovereign expected from the extenfion of his empire, made the former very solicitous for charters, and the latter very ready to grant them. Neither reasoned clearly on their nature, nor well underitood their extent.

In less than eight years one thousand five hundred miles of the sea coast were granted away, and so little did they who gave, or they who accepted of charters, understand their own transactions, that in several cases the same ground was covered by contradictory grants, and with an absurdity that can only be palliated by the ignorance of the parties, some of the grants exended to the South Sea, over a country whose breadth is yet unknown, and which to this day is unexplored.

Ideal as these charters were, they answered a temporary purpose. The Colonists reposed confidence in them, and were excited to industry on their credit. They also deterred European powers from disturbing them, because, agreeable to the late law of nations, relative to the appropriation of newly discovered Heathen countries, they inferred the protection of the sovereign who gave them. They also opposed a barrier to open and gross encroachments of the mother country on the rights of the colonists; a particular detail of these is not now necessary. Some general remarks may, nevertheless, be made on the early periods of colonial history, as they cast light on the late revolution. Long before the declaration of independence, several of the colonies on different occasions declared, that they ought not to be taxed but by their own provincial affemblies, and that they confidered subjection to acts of a British Par


liament, in which they had no representation, as a grievance. It is alís worthy of being noted, that of the thirteen colonies, formed into ftates at the end of the war, no one (Georgia excepted) was settled at the expence of government. Towards the settlement of that fouthern frontier, considerable fums had at different times been granted by parliament, but the twelve more northern provinces had been wholly fete 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 justice and kindness took the greatest pains to conciliate the gooq-will of the natives,

It is in vain to look for well-balanced conftitutions in the early periods of colonial history. Till the revolution in the year 1688, a period subsequent to the settlement of the colonies, England herself can scarcely be said to have had a fixed constitution. At that eventful ära the ling was first drawn between the privileges of subjects, and the prerogativa of sovereigns. The legal and conftitutional history of the colonies, in their early periods, therefore, affords but little inftruction. It is fuf. ficient 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 Plymouth 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 pa. rent 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 foil. In those which were most immediately dependent on the king, he exercised ng 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 conftitutionally vested with, over the House of Commons in the mother country. From the acquiescence of the parent state, the spirit of her constitution, and daily experience, the colonifts grew up in a belief, that their local assemblies stood in the same 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 constitutional 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 conftitution, gave them a consequence to which the colonies of other powers, though settled at an earlier day, have not yet attained. The wise and liberal policy of England towards her colonies, during the first century and half, after their settlement, had a considerable inAuence 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 amplest permission 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 fuch oppressive maxims, but were, in falt, not much less rigorous and coercive. They parted, as it were, with the propriety of their colonies to mercantile associations, which sold to the colonists the commodities of Europe, at an enormous ad. vance, and took the produce of their lands at a low price, and, at the fame time, discouraged the growth of any more than they could difpoke of, at excessive profits. These oppressive regulations were followed with their natural consequence : the settlements thus restricted advanced but slowly 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 effential 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 VOL. I.


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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 calculations. 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 consequence 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 wealti, and above all, of vanity, than which, perhaps, there is no greater enemy to the incțease of the human species.

The good effects of a wise policy and equal government were not only discernible in raising 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 soil and climate. From the common disproportion between the natural and artificial wealth of different countries, it seems to be a general rulc, that the more nature does for any body of men, the less they are disposed to do for theniselves,

The New England provinces, though possessed of comparatively a barren country, were improved much fafter than others, which were blessed with a superior soil and milder climate. Their first settlers were animated with a high degree of that religious fervor which excites to great undertakings: they also settled their vacant lands on principles of the wiselt policy. Instead of granting large tracts to individuals, they fold thc foil in small farms, to those who personally cultivated the fame. Instead of diffeminating their inhabitants over an extensive country, they formed successive settlements, in townships of fix miles fquare. They also made such arrangements, in these townships, as co-extended the bleflings of education and of religious instruction with their fettlements.


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