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Charles II. paid a debt of £15,000, which he owed Penn, on account of money loaned and services rendered to England by Sir William, the father of William Penn, by deeding to the distinguished Quaker the Province of Pennsylvania. Penn, by deed from James II., then Duke of York, of the date of August 24, 1682, secured a fee simple in the land, and by charter from Charles II., dated March 4, 1680, secured for himself, his heirs and assigns, the office of Goyernor, with almost the powers of an absolute monarch. By self-sacrifice and devotion to principle, Penn strove to found a free government, but brought upon himself wretchedness and poverty.
The constitution drawn up by Penn in England lasted but a year, when delegates from various parts of the province, by powers granted to them by law, remodeled it.
The Council, which consisted of twelve from each of the six counties of the province, was changed to three from each county-one to be elected by the county each year to serve for three years. The Governor or his deputy presided in the Council, and had a “treble voice;" but in 1683, his powers were defined so that he could perform no public act of state that might relate to the justice, trade, treasury or safety of the province, but by and with the advice and consent of the Council.
The Governor and Council proposed and executed all laws. The General Assembly had only power to concur or reject.
By Penn's constitution, the Council was to be divided into committees to manage the general affairs
of the province, but in 1683, the provision was substituted that one-third of the Council, with the Governor, should have the management of public affairs relating to the peace, justice, treasury, education and sobriety of the province.
The General Assembly was to consist of two hundred members and to be elected yearly, but in 1683 the number was reduced to thirty-six, and in 1696 to twenty-four persons; yet Penn, in his theoretical constitution, had provided that the first year the General Assembly should consist of all the freemen of the province, and that the number two hundred should be enlarged as the country should increase in people.”
Even in 1683, the provision was made that seventytwo in Council and two hundred in the Assembly were to be the highest number of legislators.
Sheriffs, justices of the peace and coroners were appointed yearly by the Governor, but the terms of services of judges, treasurers and masters of the rolls, were changed from a yearly to the duration of good behavior. The appointment of all such officers was with the Governor, upon the recommendation of Council or Assembly.
The Assembly impeached, but the Council tried impeachments, and it was provided that the consent of the Governor, his heirs or assigns, and six-sevenths of the Council and Assembly, alone could alter or diminish the effect of the constitution, contrary to its true intent.
In 1683, aliens received the privilege of naturalized citizens in regard to the transmission of their property, and Penn granted to all inhabitants of the province liberty to "foul' and hunt upon the lands they hold, and in all other lands not inclosed, and to fish in all rivers,” and assured to all the possession of lands which they held by any legal or equitable title-saving such rents as are due.
In 1696, some additional provisions were placed in the constitution, such as declaring the legislative bodies the sole judges of the elections of their respective members, limiting the ballot to citizens of two years' residence and of £50 clear estate, punishing bribery at elections, and fixing the pay of legislators; but the the constitution of 1683 was essentially the fundamental law of Pennsylvania till 1776.
In 1701, William Penn grants to his people a new charter of privileges, which the Assembly thankfully received from their Proprietor and Governor. In it, Penn speaks of how he is now pleased to restore to the people the constitution, which the Assembly, the year before, by six parts out of seven, was pleased to surrender to him, as not fit for the government of Pennsylvania, and he now grants “liberties, franchises and privileges."
Freedom of conscience in religion is guaranteed to all who believe in one Almighty God, and all persons could serve the government in any capacity, if they professed a belief in Christ as the Saviour of the world. Criminals were allowed witnesses and counsel for their defense, and disputes about property were to be determined in court, and not in Council before the Governor. The property of one who had committed suicide, was made to descend as did that of one dying
a natural death, nor was a forfeiture to the Governor to occur upon the death of one by misfortune or accident. Youth were to be instructed at low prices, education having been esteemed of less value by the Quakers than by the people of Massachusetts, who required a system of universal education.*
Penn, for himself, his heirs and assigns, solemnly declared that neither he, his heirs or assigns, should procure or do anything whereby the liberties of the charter should be infringed. In accordance with his religious and political convictions, and to procure emigrants to Pennsylvania, its Governor strove to make it free and attractive.
In theory, the government of Pennsylvania was a constitutional monarchy, in which the Penns, their heirs and successors, represented the British sovereign and enjoyed his prerogatives, as far as the circumstances of the country and the dispositions of its inhabitants would permit. A people who were poor, and who had to struggle with the obstacles of a new country, did not lavish money upon even popular rulers, and the democratic spirit of American immigrants held government to be for the good of the governed. The Penn family was often in want, even with its vast domain and possessions.
The Proprietary government ended with the adoption of the constitution of 1776. Its power ended before that time. The revolt of the colony swept away all power eminating from the British Throne, and the people became Sovereigns. Nor was the conflict which ended in the independence of Pennsylvania of *Bancroft, ix., p.
short duration. The Proprietor, or his deputy, and his Council, formed one party, and the Assembly, representing the people, formed another. A perpetua strife existed between these parties; the King on one side and the people on the other. The Proprietor had an absolute veto upon all legislation, almost every executive and judicial officer was the instrument of his creation, every freeholder his tenant; a rental from the quit-rents formed a revenue for his deputies, which made them independent of the Assembly; and he had millions of acres to dispose of as his interest or ambition might suggest.
The Assembly, on the other hand, strove to get the disposition of the public revenues into its own hands or into the hands of officers of its own appointment. Such were the two parties of colonial history—the people on one side, the King on the other, and when the final conflict came, the Declaration of Independance consummated the rule of the people.
The Revolution also put an end to the reign of the Baltimores in Maryland, but their Proprietaryship dated back to 1632. For more than one hundred years, the family founded by George Calvert dictated the laws and policy of Maryland. The home for the persecuted Catholics of Europe, Maryland, to-day enjoys the envious distinction of having afforded a refuge to the persecuted, long before Protestants had adopted the political doctrine of entire toleration of every religious belief.
The Baltimores had to contend against the religious hostility of their Protestant population, which rose at times to bloodshed and revolution; and upon the acces