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This was followed by the resolution of May 10th, 1776, “that it be recommended to the several Assemblies and conventions of the United Colonies where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs hath been hitherto established, to adopt such government as shall in the opinion of the representatives of the people best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular and America in general.” “ This resolution,” said John Adams,
was independence." The colonies now began the work of substituting regularly constituted govern. ments for the Committee of Safety and other temporary powers that assumed the reins of government during the violence of Revolution.
Up to the time of the formation of our Federal constitution in 1787, the systems of government both State and National, were somewhat experimental. The statesmen of a century ago studied the problems of government, both by experiment and the teachings of history.
Improvements in State governments followed each other in quick succession, and our Federal government rose from the ashes of the Continental Congress and the Confederation.
In 1780, New York devised the method of a conditional veto by a Council, of which the Governor formed one. Massachusetts followed, placing a conditional veto in the hands of the Governor. The republican spirit of the early days of the Republic weakened the hands of the executive officer. Anarchy had become preferable to kingly rule. The legislative branch became the center of the systems.
Nowhere had the Governor of a colony power to dissolve the legislature, or either branch of it, and so appeal directly to the people. The Governor, however, could not be removed during his term of office except by impeachment.*
In September, 1779, a Convention, which the people authorized, framed for Massachusetts a Constitution. It was chiefly the work of John Adams, who took for his guide the English Constitution, the Bill of Rights of Virginia, and the experience of Massachusetts and other colonies. Adopted by the people, it continued to be the fundamental law of the State for forty-one years, a model system of government by the people and for the people.
* Bancroft's U.S. History, vol. 9, p. 268.