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The colonization of America was attended with so many perils and hardships that it was attempted only upon the most flattering inducements, or as one of two deplorable evils—upon the prospects of empire or as a refuge from the religious persecutions of Europe.

With the Reformation and the Revival of Letters, came independence of religious belief and the political doctrine that government is for the benefit of the governed, which were met by intolerant laws and the doctrine of the divine right of Kings. America afforded a refuge for every one who held an opinion that was unpopular in Europe.

The Quakers in Pennsylvania were foremost in favor of toleration, and indulged all religious views as long as men“confessed one God to be the Creator, upholder and ruler of the world, and that hold themselves obliged in conscience to live peaceably and justly in civil society.” The Puritans in New England tolerated only the religious opinions of their own sect; yet they themselves were free from foreign interference in their own worship.

Our colonial history tells of progress both in civil and religious liberty.

On the fourth of March, 1629, Charles I. granted to “the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England,” a charter, which continued for fifty-five years to govern the greatest of the New England colonies. It confirmed to the corporators the ownership of the land which now forms the greater part of Massachusetts; it empowered them and their successors and associates forever to elect annually a Gorvenor and eighteen Assistants, and to make laws and ordinances not repugnant to the laws of England. It authorized the Company to admit new partners, to transport settlers, to encounter and repel enemies, and to constitute inferior officers as they should think proper for the ordering and managing of their affairs.t

This was a grant of the power of local self-government to the people of Massachusetts, and to preserve that power was the cardinal principle of Massachusetts politics for one hundred and sixty years.

The structure of the government of Massachusetts Bay did not continue as marked out in the charter of 1629. At first, the Legislature consisted of one body, known as the General Court, which also acted as a supreme judicial court. In 1636, a dispute arose between two persons about the ownership of a sow. The litigation that followed developed parties in the State, until in 1644 the Legislative body was divided into two chambers, consisting of Magistrates and Depu† Hildreth, vol. ii., p. 68. * Palfrey's N. England, vol. i., p. 98.


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