« AnteriorContinuar »
That charter incorporated the inhabitants, by the name of “the Governor and Company of the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England, in America,” conferring on them the usua! powers of corporations.
Rhode Island enjoys the honor of having been, if not the first, at least one of the earliest, of the colonies, and indeed of modern states, in which the liberty of conscience and freedom of worship were boldly proclaimed among its fundamental laws.
In December, 1686, Sir Edmund Andros, agreeably to his orders, dissolved their government, and assumed the administration of the colony. The revolution of 1688 put an end to his power; and the colony immediately afterwards resumed its charter, and, though not without some inter. ruptions, continued to maintain and exercise its powers down to the period of the American Revolution. It still continues to act under the same charter as a fundamental law, it being the only state in the Union which has not formed a new constitution of
government. One of the most memorable circumstances in the history of New England is the early formation and establishment of a confederation of the colonies for amity, offence and defence, and mutual advice and assistance. The project was agitated as early as 1637; but difficulties having occurred, the articles of union were not finally adopted until 1643. In the month of May of that year, the colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Haven, and Plymouth, formed a confederacy, by the name of the United Colonies of New England, and entered into a perpetual league of friendship and amity, for offence and defence, and mutual advice and succor. The charges of all wars, offensive and defensive, were to be borne in common, and according to an apportionment provided for in the articles ; and in case of invasion of any colony, the others were to furnish a certain proportion of armed men for its assistance. Commissioners appointed by each colony were to meet, and determine all affairs of war and peace, leagues, aids, charges, &c., and to frame and establish agreements and orders for other general interests. This union, so important, and necessary for mutual desence and assistance, during the troubles which then agitated the parent country, was not objected to by King Charles II. on his restoration; and, with some few alterations, it subsisted down to 1636, when all the charters were prostrated by the authority of King James. Rhode Island made application to be admitted into this union, but was refused, upon the ground that the territory was within the limits of Plymouth colony. It does not appear that subsequently the colony became a party to it.
The province of Maryland was included originally in the patent of the Southern or Virginia Company; and, upon the dissolution of that company, it reverted to the crown. King Charles I., on the 20th June, 1632, granted it by patent to Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore, the son of George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, to whom the patent was intended to be made; but he died before it was executed. By the charter, the king erected it into a province, and gave it the name of Maryland, in honor of his queen, Henrietta Maria, the daughter of Henry IV. of France, to be held of the crown of England, he, yearly, forever, rendering two Indian arrows.
The territory was bounded by a right line, drawn from Watkins's Point, on Chesapeake Bay, to the ocean, on the east ; thence to VOL. I.
that part of the estuary of Delaware, on the north, which lieth under the 40th degree, where New England is terminated; thence, in a right line, by the degree aforesaid, to the meridian of the fountain of Potomac; thence, following its course by the farther bank, to its confluence with the Chesapeake, and thence to Watkins's Point.
The first emigration made under the auspices of Lord Baltimore was in 1632, and consisted of about 200 gentlemen of considerable fortune and rank, and their adherents, being chiefly Roman Catholics. “ He laid the foundation of this province (says Chalmers) upon the broad basis of security to property and of freedom of religion, granting, in absolute fee, fifty acres of land to every emigrant; establishing Christianity agreeably to the old common law, of which it is a part, without allowing preëmi. nence to any particular sect. The wisdom of his choice soon converted a dreary wilderness into a prosperous colony."
The first legislative assembly of Maryland, held by the freemen at large, was in 1634 – 1635; but little of their proceedings is known. No acts appear to have been adopted until 1638-16:39, when provision was made, in consequence of an increase of the colonists, for a representative assembly, called the House of Assembly, chosen by the freemen; and the laws passed by the Assembly, and approved by the proprietary, or his lieutenant, were to be of full force.
At the same session, an act, which may be considered as in some sort a Magna Charta, was passed, declaring, among other things, that “ Holy Church, within this province, shall have all her rights and liberties; that the inhabitants shall have all their rights and liberties according to the great charter of England;" and that the goods of debtors, if not sufficient to pay their debts, shall be sold and distributed pro rata, saving debts to the proprietary. In 1649, an act was passed punishing blasphemy, or denying the Holy Trinity, with death, and confiscation of goods and lands.
Under the protectorate of Cromwell, Roman Catholics were expressly denied any protection in the province; and all others, “ who profess faith in God by Jesus Christ, though differing in judgment from the doctrine, worship, or discipline, publicly held forth,” were not to be restrained from the exercise of their religion. In 1996, the Church of England was established in the province; and in 1702, the liturgy, and rites, and ceremonies, of the Church of England, were required to be pursued in all the churches — with such toleration for dissenters, however, as was provided for in the act of William and Mary. And the introduction of the test and abjuration acts, in 1716, excluded all Roman Catholics from office.
It appears to have been a policy, adopted at no great distance of time after the settlement of the colony, to provide for the public registration of conveyances of real estates. In the silence of the statute book until 1715, it is presumed that the system of descents of intestates was that of the parent country: In that year an act passed which made the estate partible among all the children ; and the system thus introduced has, in its substance, never since been departed from. Maryland too, like the other colonies was early alive to the importance of possessing the sole power of internal taxation ; and accordingly, in 1650, it was declaren that no taxes should be levied without the consent of the General Assembly.
Upon the revolution of 1688, the government of Maryland was seized into the hands of the crown, and was not again restored to the proprietary until 1716. From that period no interruption occurred until the American Revolution.
Charles II., soon after his restoration, instigated as much by persinal antipathy as by a regard for the interest of the crown, determined lv maintain his right, and in March, 1664, granted a patent to his brother, the Duke of York and Albany, by which he conveyed to him the region extending from the western bank of the Connecticut to the eastern shore of the Delaware, together with Long Island, and conferred on him the powers of government, civil and niilitary.
A part of this tract was afterwards conveyed by the duke, by deed of lease and release, in June of the same year, to Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. By this latter grant they were entitled to all the trict adjacent to New England, lying westward of Long Island, and bounded on the east by the inain sea, and partly by Hudson's River, and upon the west by Delaware Bay or River, and extending southward to the main ocean as far as Cape May at the mouth of Delaware Bay, and to the northward as far as the northernmost branch of Delaware Bay or River, which is 41 degrees 40 minutes latitude; which tract was to be called by the name of Nova Cæsarea, or New Jersey. So that the territory then claimed by the Dutch as the New Netherlands was divided into the colonies of New York and New Jersey. In September, 1664, the Dutch colony was surprised by a British armament, which arrived on the coast, and was compelled to surrender to its authority.
No general assembly was called for several years; and the people having become clamorous for the privileges enjoyed by other colonists, the governor was, in 1682, authorized to call an assembly, which was empowered to make laws for the general regulation of the state, which, however, were of no force without the ratification of the proprietary. Upon the revolution of 1683, the people of New York immediately took side in favor of the Prince of Orange. From this era they were deemed entitled to all the privileges of British subjects, inhabiting a dependent province of the state.
As soon as the first royal governor arrived, in 1691, an assembly was called, which passed a number of important acts. Among others was an act virtually declaring their right of representation, and their right to enjoy the liberties and privileges of Englishmen by Magna Charta. It enacted, that the supreine legislative power should forever reside in a governor and council appointed by the crown, and the people by their representatives (chosen in the manner pointed out in the act) conveneil in General Assembly; that in all criminal cases, there should be a trial by a jury; that estates of femes covert should be conveyed only by deed upon privy examination; that wills in writing, attested by three or more credible witnesses, should be sufficient to pass lands; that there should be no fines upon alienations, or escheats and forfeitures of lands, except in cases of treason; that no person should hold any office, unless upon his appointment he would take the oaths of supremacy, and the test prescribed by the act of Parliament; that no tax or talliage should be levieil but by the consent of the General Assembly.
l'erhaps New York was more close in the adoption of the policy and legislation of the parent country, before the revolution, than any other colony.
NEW JERSEY New Jersey, as we have already seen, was a part of the territory granted to the Duke of York, and was by him granted, in June, 1664, to
Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, with all the rights, royalties, and powers of government which he himsell possessed. The proprietors, for the better settlement of the territory, agreed, in February, 1964–1665, upon a constitution or concession of governn:ent.
This constitution continued until the province was divided, in 1676, between the proprietors. By that division East New Jersey was assigned to Carteret; and West New Jersey to William Penn and others, who had purchased of Lord Berkeley. Carteret then explained and confirmed the former concessions for the territory thus exclusively belonging to himself. The proprietors also of West Jersey drew up another set of concessions for the sellers within that territory. They contain very ample privileges to the people.
Whether these concessions became the general law of the province seems involved in some obscurity. There were many difficulties and contests for jurisdiction between the governors of the Duke of Y and the proprietors of the Jerseys; and these were not settled until after the duke, in 1680, finally surrendered all right to both by letters patent granted to the respective proprietors. In 1681, the governor of the proprietors of Wesi Jersey, with the consent of the General Assembly, made a frame of government, embracing some of the fundamentals in the former concessions. There was to be a governor and council, and a General Assembly of representatives of the people. The General Asseinbly had the power to make laws, to levy taxes, and to appoint officers. Liberty of conscience was allowed, and no persons rendered incapable of office in respect of their faith and worship. West Jersey continued to be governed in this manner until the surrender of the proprietary government, in 1702.
Carteret died in 1679, and, being sole proprietor of East Jersey, by his will he ordered it to be sold for payment of his debts; and it was accordingly sold to William Penn and eleven others, who were called the Twelve Proprietors. They afterwards took twelve more into the proprietaryship, and to the twenty-four thus formed, the Duke of York, in March, 1632, made his third and last grant of East Jersey. Very serious dissensions soon arose between the two provinces themselves, as well as between them and New York, which banished moderation from their councils, and threatened the most serious calamities. A quo warranto was ordered by the crown, in 1656, to be issued against both provinces. East Jersey immediately offered to be annexed to West Jersey, and to submit to a governor appointed by the crown.
Soon afterwards the crown ordered the Jerseys to be annexed to New England, and the proprietors of East Jersey made a formal surrender of its patent, praying only for a new grant, securing their right of soil. Before this request could be granted, the revolution of 1688 took place, and they passed under the allegiance of a new sovereign.
From this period, both of these provinces were in a state of great confusion and distraction ; and remained so, until the proprietors of both made a formal surrender of all their powers of government, but not of their lands, to Queen Anne, in April, 1702. The queen immediately reunited both provinces into one province, and by commission appointed a governor over them.
PENNSYLVANIA. Pennsylvania was originally settled by different detachments of planters under various authorities, Dutch, Swedes, and others, which at different
times occupied portions of land on South or Delaware River. The ascendency was finally obtained over these settlements by the governors of New York, acting under the charter of 1664, to the Duke of York.
It continued in a feeble state until the celebrated William Penn, in March, 1631, obtained a patent from Charles II. by which he became the proprietary of an ample territory, which, in honor of his father, was called Pennsylvania. The boundaries described in the charter were on the east by Delaware River, from twelve iniles distant northwards of New Castle town, to the 43d degree of north latitude, if the said river doth extend so far northward; but if not, then by said river so far as it doth extend; and from the head of the river, the eastern bounds are to be determined by a meridian line to be drawn from the head of said river unto the said 43d degree of north latitude. The said lands to extend westward five degrees in longitude, to be computed from the said eastern bɔunds; and the said lands to be bounded on the north by the beginning of the 430 degree of north latitude; and on the south by a circle drawn at twelve miles' distance from New Castle, northward and westward, to the beginning of the 40th degree of northern latitude; and then by a straight line westward to the limits of the longitude above mentioned. The charter constituted Penn the true and absolute proprietary of the territory thus described.
It authorized the proprietary, and his heirs and successors, to make all laws for raising money and other purposes, with the assent of the freemen of the country, or their deputies assembled for the purpose. But "the same laws were to be consonant to reason, and not repugnant or contrary, but, as near as conveniently may be, agreeable to law, and statutes and rights, of this our kingdom of England." The laws for the descent and enjoyment of lands, and succession to goods, and of felonies, were to be according to the course in England, until altered by the Assembly. All laws were to be sent to England within five years after the making of them, and, if disapproved of by the crown within six months, to become null and void. It also authorized the proprietary to appoint judges and other officers; to pardon and reprieve criminals; to establish courts of justice, with a right of appeal to the crown from all judgments; to create cities and other corporations; to erect ports, and manors, and courts baron in such manors. Liberty was allowed to subjects to transport thenselves and their goods to the province; and to import the products of the province into England; and to export them from thence within one year, the inhabitants observing the acts of navigation, and all other laws in this behalf made. It was further stipulated that the crown should levy no tax, custom, or imposition, upon the inhabitants, of their goods, unless by the consent of the proprietary or Assembly, “ or by act of Parliament in England."
Among other things truly honorable to the memory of this great man, Penn, is the tender regard and solicitude which, on all occasions, he manifested for the rights of the Indians, and the duties of the settlers towards them.
A new frame of government was, with the consent of the General Assembly, established in 1683. In 1692, Penn was deprived of the government of Pennsylvania by William and Mary; but it was again estored to him in the succeeding year. A third frame of government was established in 1696. This again was surrendered, and a new, final charter of government was, in October, 1701, with the consent of the