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While the town was insignificant, the county appeared with great prominence. It was the unit of representation, within which assemblies highly democratic convened for the election of officers. These assemblies were, indeed, a revival of the shire-moots in form more complete than is to be found anywhere on Anglo-Saxon soil since the days of the Heptarchy. Next to the Township-county system of New York, the County system of Pennsylvania, after the ordinance of 1787 had finally thrown open to settlement the immense central region of America, determined the present form of local government throughout the great Northwest.

So it was that the Anglo-Saxon in the seventeenth century established himself in a new home beyond the sea, bringing with him Anglo-Saxon freedom; just as in the fifth century he had established himself in England, bringing with him that same freedom from the marks, hundreds, and tribes of the plains of the Elbe and Weser. As that ancient freedom was transferred across the wider ocean, it was by no means unmodified. The proper primordial cell of any Anglo-Saxon body politic is the popular moot, the assembly of the sovereign citizens for the exercise of government of the people, moot the pri. by the people, and for the people. Our Anglo-Saxon survey enables us to judge the precise con- Summary of dition of this primordial cell among the in the Thir; Englishmen of the Thirteen Colonies. It existed in the soundest and best-developed form in the New England town-meeting. In the New England general courts, each deputy, in nowise superior to those who sent him in wealth or position, stood for the little democracy he represented, as the humble reeve with his four associates had for ages stood in the general court for the tithing in which he dwelt. He was not his own master, except in so far as his superior ability or character made his townsmen give way to him. He was carefully instructed what course he must pursue; was liable to censure if he went against the wishes of his sharply watching constituents; and each year must submit himself anew to the suffrages of his townsmen, who promptly consigned him to private life if his course were disapproved. While the deputy was thus closely watched, the town-meeting took care to delegate just as little authority as possible. It reserved to itself all business except what it must perforce put out of its hands, every freeman who sat in the town-hall before the moderator feeling forever upon his shoulders the strain, so salutary and so strengthening, of the public burden. Though in the Thirteen Colonies towns play little part except in New England, it would be wrong to conclude that, for that reason, the primordial cell in the body politic was elsewhere wanting. Everywhere we can find the county, and at the heart of the county is the county court. It was largely a reproduction of the English Quarter Sessions, to be sure, with justices appointed from above, not elected from below; but as side by side with the Quarter Sessions, since its establishment in the time of Edward III, the shire-moot had gone on, retaining its ancient functions as an elective body;

1 Howard: Local Constitutional Government in the United States,

The popular

teen Colonies.

p. 383.

1 See p.


so we can find in America, sometimes, indeed, in a form very shadowy, but sometimes in a form very distinct, the assembly of the people to confer and to speak their own will. It appears vaguely in Virginia, where we have seen a portion of the people cast their votes on county-court day, in the presence of the sheriff, for the burgesses who are to sit at Williamsburg. It appears very definitely in Pennsylvania. Nowhere, probably, was the popular moot utterly unapparent, though in many places no doubt it was greatly attenuated. We shall note hereafter to what extent it has been possible to revive it, and what are its prospects for the future.



Charles I, 1625.

HAVING seen an English-speaking world firmly established in the Western Hemisphere, let us now return to England to watch the fortunes of the stock in the old home. As has been described, an utter subversion of the ancient popular freedom seemed on the point of taking place at the time of the accession of the Stuarts. Under James I, the claims of absolutism, before his time only vaguely set forth, were carefully formulated and published. These claims, Charles I went to work with great energy to make good. At the beginning of 1640, when Charles had

been ruling for eleven years without a Parliament, King and people are found

locked in a fierce wrestle; for the people, roused from an apathy that had lasted since the fall of the Lancastrians, nearly two hundred years before, had been stung into vigorous opposition by the encroachments of tyrannical princes utterly without tact. Charles, at war with the Scotch, upon whom he had undertaken to force a form of worship to the last degree repugnant to them, found his resources

Effort of
Charles to
rule without a

The Short

quite inadequate to the situation, even though the judges had sanctioned ship-money, and was forced at last to summon Parliament in hope of a subsidy. The members of this Parliament, the “Short Parliament,” took their places upon the benches of Westminster, so long empty, quite Parliament. strange to legislative work. In the long intermission, the longest which had occurred since Parliament began, even methods of procedure had been to a large extent forgotten. There were a few veterans, however, who had fought on the floor of St. Stephen's in the days of Sir John Eliot and the Petition of Right, and these served as instructors. Particularly conspicuous in this capacity were Pym and Hampden. Both Houses were apt pupils. As to what was the right course, neither Lords nor Commons had any doubt; and before three weeks had passed, the King, disheartened at the stern demand for a redress of grievances before a grant of money should be made, put an end to the session. Necessity, however, pressed. His ill-appointed, demoralized forces fled before the Scotch at the skirmish of Newburn, in the summer. No other issue being possible, the writs were issued again, and in November, 1640, convened that memorable Parliament, whose history was not to end until nearly twenty years

of the Long had passed,

the “ Long Parliament." The temper of the Long Parliament was most stubborn, and it showed from the first the soundest Eng lish courage in carrying out its purpose. Before the King could have help from the nation, a number of innovations upon time-honored constitutional ways must come to an end, and a swarm of evil advisers



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