Графични страници
PDF файл

ceive, it is made a fundamental in our constitution and government that the King of England cannot justly take his subjects goods without their consent: this needs no more to be proved than a principle, it is jus indigene, an home-born right, declared to be law by divers Statutes; as in the great charter, ch. 29, and thirty-fourth Ed. III: ch. 2 ; again twenty-fifth Ed. ch. 7.* To give up the power of making laws is to change the government, to sell or rather resign ourselves to the will of another, and that for nothing; for we buy nothing of the Duke, if not the right of an undisturbed colonizing, with no diminution, but expectation of some increase of those freedoms and privileges enjoyed in our own country. We humbly fay, that we have not loft any part of our liberty by leaving our country; but we transplant to a place, with express limitation to erect no polity contrary to the established government (of England) but as near as may be to it; and this variation is allowed, but for the sake of emergencies; and that latitude bounded with these words, for the good of the adventurer and planter. This tax is not to be found in the Duke's conveyances, but is an after business. Had the planters foreseen it, they would sooner have taken up in any other plantation in America (a plain intimation that no such tax was imposed in any other American plantation.) Beside, there is no end of this power ; for since we are by this prece: dent aftefied without any law, and thereby excluded our English right of common asient to taxes ; what security have we of any thing we possess? We can call nothing our own, but are tenants at will, not only for the soil, but for all our personal estates; we endure pea nury, and the sweat of our brows, to improve them at our own hazard only. This is to transplant from good to bad. This sort of conduct has destroyed government, but never raised one to any

true greatne.t."

The paper presented to the Duke's commissioners evidently proves, that it was the opinion of those gentlemen, who were Quakers, that no tax could be justly imposed upon the inhabitants with out their own consent first had, and by the authority of their own General Affembly. The report of the council in favour of the age grieved, and the relief that followed, were virtual concessions to the fame purport. This will not be judged wholly unprecedented by

* The manuscript copy contains a number of authorities from Bracton, Fortesques the Petition of Right, &c. Sce Smith, p. 120, the note.

+ Smith, p. 117, 123.


those who are acquainted with what happened relative to the county-palatine and city of Chester, in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Henry VIII. The inhabitants complained in a petition to the king, « that for want of knights and burgesses in the court of parliament they sustained manifold damages, not only in their lands, goods, and bodies, but in the civil and politic governance and maintenance of the commonwealth of their faid county : and that while they had been always bound by the acts and statutes of the said court of par. liament, the fame as other counties, cities, and boroughs that had knights and burgesses in said court, they had often been touched and grieved with acts and statutes made within the said court, as well derogatory unto the most ancient jurisdictions, liberties, and privileges of the said county-palatine, as prejudicial unto the commonwealth, quietness and peace of his majesty's subjects.” They proposed to the king, as a remedy,“that it would please his highness, that it be enacted, with the assent of the lords fpiritual and temporal, and by the commons in parliament assembled, that from the end of the session the county-palatine shall have two knights for the said county, and likewise two citizens to be burgesses for the city of Chester.” The complaint and remedy were thought to be so just and reasonable, that the relief for which they prayed was granted, and they were admitted to send representatives to parliament.

PENNSYLVANIA AND DELAWARE. Mr. William Penn, one of the joint purchasers of the western part of the Jerseys, having received correct information of the country to the westward of the Delaware, while engaged in the administration of the joint purchase, became desirous of acquiring a separate eftate.

He accordingly prefented a petition to Charles II. in June, 1680, stating not only his relationship to the late admiral, but that he was deprived of a debt due from the crown when the exchequer was shut, and praying for a grant of lands, lying to the northward of Mary, land, and westward of the Delaware : adding, that by his intereft he should be able to settle a province which might in time repay his claims.

Having the prospect of success, he copied from the charter of Maryland the sketch of a patent, which in November was laid before the attorney-general for his opinion. Mr. Penn had the same object in view as Lord Baltimore, the guarding against the exertions of prerogative, which both had found to be very inconvenient. The attorney-general declared the clause of exemption from taxation illegal: and Chief Justice North being of the fame opinion, and observing its VOL. II.



tendency, added, “ saving of the authority of the English parliae ment,” so that it was stipulated by the king, for himself and his fucceffors, “ that no custom or other contribution should be laid on the inhabitants or their estates, unless by the consent of the proprietary or governor and assembly, or by act of parliament in England.”

The next year the patent was granted in consideration of the merits of the father, and the good purposes of the fon, in order to extend the English empire, and to promote useful commodities." It was provided, that the sovereignty of the king should be preferved, and acts of parliament concerning trade and navigation, and the customs duly observed. Mr. Peon was empowered to assemble the freemen or their delegates, in luch form as he fould think proper, for raising money for the uses of the colony, and for making useful laws, not contrary to those of England or the rights of the kingdom. Duplicates of the acts of the Assembly were to be trantmitted within five years to the king in council, and the acts might be declared void within fix months, if not approved.

The novel introduction of the clause subjecting the inhabitants of Pennsylvania to taxation by act of parliament, might afford an argument against being so taxed, to all the colonies whose charters con. tained no such claufe. Dr. Franklin being asked, when examined by the House of Commons in the time of the itampact, “ Seeing there is in the Pennsylvania charter, an express reservation of the right of parliament to lay taxes there, how could the Assembly affert, that laying a tax on them by the itamp act was an infringement of their rights ?" answered, " They understand it thus-By the same charter and otherwise, they are entitied to all the privileges and liberties of Englishmen. They find in the great charters and the petition and declaration of rights, that one of the privileges of Englifa subjects is, that they are not to be taxed but by their own content; they have therefore relied upon it, from the first fettlement, that the parliament fever would or coulci, by colour of that claule, tax them till it bad qualified itself for the exercise of such right, by adnjitting representatives from the people to be taxed.” Governor Nicholson's language was to the ladie purpose; writing to the board of trade in 1698, he observes, that “ a great many people of all the colonies think, that no ? law of England ought to be binding to them without their own confent; for they say, they have no representatives fent from them felves to the parliament of England.”

In May, 1r. Penn aletached Mr. Markham, his kinsman, with a small Ginigration, in order to take posleilion of the country and prepare it


for a more numerous colony; and Mr. Markham had it in charge to pay an humane attention to the rights of the Indians.

The frame of government for Pennsylvania was published in April, 1682 ; and as a supplement in the subsequent May, a body of laws were agreed upon by the proprietary and adventurers, which was intended as a great charter, and does honour to their wifdom as statemen, their inorals as men, and their spirit as colonists.

These laws, which were termed probationary, were to be submitted to the explanation and confirmation of the first General Assembly which should be convened in the province. This was undoubtedly a prudent measure, for events made it manifest that a better acquaintance with the local circumstances of the country, rendered many changes necessary; nor was this the only advantage, for by this agreement the authority of the legislature was established, and rendered necessary in all future laws and regulations.

Mr. Penn, desirous of extending his territory southward to the Chesapeak, solicited the Duke of York for a grant of the Delaware colony; and accordingly the prince conveyed to him, in the month of August, the town of Newcastle, with a territory of twelve miles round, as also that tract of land extending southward from it upon the Delaware to cape Henlopen.

For a considerable portion of this grant Lord Baltimore put in a claim, and three several applications were made, on behalf of his Lordfhip, to the Executive Government of England; it appears, however, by the several orders of council made in consequence of these applications, and dated 1683, 1685, and 1709, that they confidered his Lordship's claim as unfounded, and of consequence confirmed the grant made to Mr. Penn.

When, for the first time, Mr. Penn arrived on the banks of the Delaware, October the 24th, he found them inhabited by three thousand persons, composed of Swedes, Dutch, Finlanders, and English. Not only his own colonills, but the reft, received him with joy and respect. He was accompanied by about two thousand emigrants, who being either Quakers or other diffenters, fought the enjoyment of their religious sentiments in a country that offered a peaceful asylum to the perfecuted. Mr. Peno immediately entered into a treaty with the Indians, and purchased from them as much of the soil as the circumftances of the colony required; for a price that gave them satisfaction : he also settled with them a very kind correspondence. In December he convened the first Assembly at Chester, confisting of seventy-two delegates from the fix coun:ies, into which they had divided PennsylPp 2


[ocr errors]

vania, and the Delaware colony, foon after denominated the territories. The inhabitants proposed that the deputies might serve both for the provincial council and General Assembly; three out of every county for the former, and nine for the latter. Their proposals were passed by the Assembly without hesitation into an act of settlement. The persons returned were declared to be the legal council and Affembly, and every county was empowered to send the same number in future, which in the same manner should constitute the legislature; and after the addition of a few other explanations, the modified frame of government was solemnly recognised and accepted. An act was then passed, annexing the territories to the province, and communicating to the one the same privileges, government and laws, as the other already enjoyed. Every foreigner who promised allegiance to the king, and obedience to the laws, was declared to be a freeman, and entitled to his rights. By the legitlative regulations, established as fundamentals by this Afsembly, factors who wronged their employers were to make satisfaction, and one-third over---not only the goods, but the lands of the debtor were subjected to the payment of debts---every thing which excited the people to rudeness, cruelty and irreligion, was to be discouraged and severely punished---no person acknowledging one God, and living peaceably in society, was to be molested for his opinions or practice, or to be compelled to frequent or maintain any ministry whatsoever. It was a principle of the great charter, that children should be taught some useful trade, to the end that none might be idle, but that the poor man might work to live, and the rich, if they became poor, might not want.

The act of settlement not giving fatisfaction, a second frame was prepared by Mr. Penn, agreeing partly with the first, and modified according to the act of settlement in certain particulars, but in some measure different from both: to this the assent of the next Assembly was in 1683 given ; but in time it shared the fate of the former.

In 1684 Mr. Penn departed for England, at which time it appears that the interests and passions of the settlers had produced a diversity of sentiment, which was probably increased after the departure of the proprietary; for we find the deputy-governor Blackwell, who entered on his government in 1688, bringing this charge against them. It is evident, however, that these diffenfions and animosities bore no resemblance to those " violent dissenfions" with which they have been charged. Indeed, on as particular an investigation of this subject as we have found it poffible to make, it appears more than probable, that this charge is like most of those brought forward


« ПредишнаНапред »