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being had together, a sworn Committee should examine the whole and declare the elections. This method, though it may appear somewhat troublesome, will not turn out so upon trial ; and it is the most effectual method to secure the freedom of voting, and prevent every species of fraud and connivance. Any persons who offer themselves as candidates for
berth may, agreeably to the method practised in Pennsylvania, publish their design in newspapers, or communicate it in any other method they may think proper, or leave the people to find out persons of merit and nominate for themselves. All civil officers should be appointed by the three branches, and all military officers by the Governour and Council, and never superseded in commission but by the same power which created them. All laws negatived by a Governour, if revived afterwards, and passed by a new House and Council, to be assented to by him at all events, as it would be unreasonable to suppose two Houses of Representatives and two sets of Counsellors, possessed of less wisdom, or to have less understanding of the true interests of the people, than a single person has, and that after having a long time to think upon the matter, and to consult their constituents thereon.
And here I must beg leave to observe that however high other people's notions of government may run, and however much they may be disposed to worship a creature of their own creation, I can by no means consent to lodging too much power in the hands of one person, or suffering an interest in government to exist separate from that of the people, or any man to hold an office, for the execution of which he is not in some way or other answerable to that people to whom he owes his political existence.
Time will not permit me to go more largely into the subject, but I must leave you to weigh these hints, and make such improvement thereon as your wisdom shall direct; and though my notions of Government are somewhat singular, yet, I think this plan will be an improvement upon the Constitution, by far the happiest I know of. Where I have supposed a defect in that Constitution, I have taken the freedom to borrow from that of Pennsylvania, and other governments, to supply it; and in some instances have added my own thoughts, which if they have the force of reason in them, will have their weight. If they should not appear to be founded on reason, I must beg you to excuse my giving you trouble, as I sincerely aim to promote the welfare of that Colony, to which I wish the most lasting happiness.1 And assure yourself that I am, with much esteem,
Your most obedient servant,
The Fifth Provincial Congress thus summoned for the special work of preparing a new frame of government for the state of New Hampshire, and thus advised by one of its most competent and faithful citizens, was convened at Exeter, December 21, 1775.
First Constitutional Convention 1775-6.- On the 28th day of December, 1775, the fifth and last Provincial Congress of New Hampshire voted to "take up civil government, to continue during the present contest with Great Britain, and resolve themselves into a House of Representatives, and then choose a Council to continue one year from the 21st day of December current."
On the same day the following gentlemen were appointed a committee to frame and bring in a draft of a new constitution for the rule and government of this colony:
Matthew Thornton, Meshech Weare, Ebenezer Thompson, Wyseman Claggett, and Benjamin Giles; and two days later John Giddinge and Joseph Badger were added to the committee.
On the 5th day of January, 1776, the committee reported and the Congress passed the following vote :
That this Congress take up civil government for this colony in manner and form following, viz.:
*(From Provincial Papers, New Hampshire, Vol. VII, 1764-1776, pp. 685-688.) This letter as printed in Moore's and Farmer's Collections, pp. 272-277, bears date Dec. 12 and has the following postscript:
“P. S. Though I have mentioned three years, I am much in favour of annual elections.
IN CONGRESS AT EXETER,
January 5, 1776. We, the members of the Congress of the colony of New Hampshire, chosen and appointed by the free suffrages of the people of said colony, and authorized and empowered by them to meet together and use such means and pursue such measures as we should judge best for the public good, and in particular to establish some form of government, provided that measure should be recommended by the Continental Congress, and a recommendation to that purpose having been transmitted to us from the said Congress, have taken into our serious consideration the unhappy circumstances into which this colony is involved by means of many grievous and oppressive acts of the British Parliament, depriving us of our natural and constitutional rights and privileges; to enforce obedience to which acts, a powerful fleet and army have been sent into this country by the ministry of Great Britain, who have exercised a wanton and cruel abuse of their power in destroying the lives and properties of the colonists in many places with fire and sword, taking the ships and lading from many of the honest and industrious inhabitants of this colony employed in commerce agreeable to the laws and customs a long time used here.
The sudden and abrupt departure of His Excellency John Wentworth, Esq., our late Governor, and several of the Council, leaving us destitute of legislation; and no executive courts being open to punish criminal offenders, whereby the lives and properties of the honest people of this colony are liable to the machinations and evil designs of wicked men;
Therefore, for the preservation of peace and good order, and for the security of the lives and properties of the inhabitants of this colony, we conceive ourselves reduced to the necessity of establishing a form of government, to continue during the present unhappy and unnatural contest with Great Britain ; protesting and declaring that we never sought to throw off our dependence upon Great Britain, but felt ourselves happy under her protection while we could enjoy our constitutional rights and privileges, and that we shall rejoice if such a reconciliation between us and our parent State can be effected as shall be approved by the Continental Congress, in whose prudence and wisdom we confide.
Accordingly, pursuant to the trust reposed in us, we do resolve that this Congress assume the name, power, and authority of a House of Representatives, or Assembly, for the colony of New Hampshire; and that said house then proceed to choose twelve persons, being reputable freeholders and inhabitants within this colony, in the following manner, viz.: Five in the county of Rockingham, two in the county of Strafford, two in the county of Hillsborough, two in the county of Cheshire, and one in the county of Grafton, to be a distinct and separate branch of the Legislature, by the name of a Council for this colony, to continue as such until the third Wednesday in December next, any seven of whom to be a quorum to do business.
That such Council appoint their president; and in his absence that the senior councilor preside.
That a secretary be appointed by both branches, who may be a councilor or otherwise as they shall choose.
That no act or resolve shall be valid and put into execution unless agreed to and passed by both branches of the Legislature.
That all public officers for the said colony and each county for the current year be appointed by the Council and Assembly, except the several clerks of the executive courts, who shall be appointed by the justices of the respective courts.
That all bills, resolves, or votes for raising, levying, and collecting money, originate in the House of Representatives.
That at any session of the Council and Assembly neither branch shall adjourn for any longer time than from Saturday till the next Monday without consent of the other.
And it is further resolved that if the present unhappy dispute with Great Britain should continue longer than this present year, and the Continental Congress give no instructions or directions to the contrary, the Council be chosen by the people of each respective county in such manner as the Council and House of Representatives shall order.
That general and field officers of the militia, on any vacancy, be appointed by the two houses, and all inferior officers be chosen by the respective companies.
That all officers of the army be appointed by the two houses, except they should direct otherwise in case of any emergency.
That all civil officers for the colony and for each county be appointed and the time of their continuance in office be determined by the two houses, except clerks of courts, and county treasurers, and recorders of deeds.
That a treasurer and a recorder of deeds for each county be annually chosen by the people of each county respectively; the votes for such officers to be returned to the respective courts of general sessions of the peace in the county, there to be ascertained as the Council and Assembly shall hereafter direct.
That precepts in the name of the Council and Assembly, signed by the president of the Council and the speaker of the House of Representatives, shall issue annually, at or before the first day of November, for the choice of a Council and House of Representatives, to be returned by the third Wednesday in December then next ensuing, in such manner as the Council and Assembly shall hereafter prescribe.