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13TH CONGRESS—1ST SESSION.
port on the state of the finances ; prepared in obedience to the act to
establish the treasury department
REVIEW OF THE POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS OF
THE UNITED STATES.
OF THE STATE GOVERNMENTS.
$ 1. Settlement of the English colonies. 2. Their forms of govern
ment. 3. Revolution. 4. The thirteen states. $ 5. Formation of the new states. $ 6. State governments. 97. Governor. $ 8. Legislature. $ 9. Judiciary. $ 10. Qualifications of electors. 11. Appointment to office. $ 12. Religious tests. § 13. Eligibility of ministers of the gospel. Š 14. Religious establishments. 15. Provision for the support of schools. 16. Imprisonment of debtors. § 17. Ti. tles. § 18. Instruction of representatives. $ 19. Modes of amending the constitution. § 20. Territorial governments.
01. THE extensive country comprehending the United States has been principally settled by emigrants from the British dominions. The accounts of the discoveries of Columbus, towards the close of the 15th century, filled all Europe with astonishment and admiration, and inspired very generally among maritime nations the desire of sharing with Spain in the glory, the wealth, and the dominion to be acquired in the new world. So early as 1495, Henry VII of England commissioned Sebastian Gabotto (or Cabot, the name he assumed in England), a Venetian, to discover and take possession, in his name, of any country that was unoccupied by a Christian state. Two
afterwards, Cabot discovered Newfoundland, and sailed along the coast of North America from lat. 56° to 38° N. From this discovery the English deduced their title to this extensive region.
During the 16th century, a number of abortive attempts were made by English adventurers to effect a settlement in America. Misled by the delusive dreams of avarice, the attertion of those adventurers was principally devoted to the search after gold and silver mines, totally regardless of those more valuable VOL. I. PART I.
treasures which every where met the eye. The consequence was, that those wretched colonists either abandoned the country in despair, or were destroyed by famine, or cut off by the natives. Towards the end of that century, however, more just views began to be entertained in England of the real value of this country. An extensive association was formed of influential and wealthy individuals, for the purpose of establishing colonies, to whom were granted, in the year 1606, under the great seal of England, those territories in America lying on the sea-coast, between the 34th and 45th degrees of north latitude. They were divided into two companies, the first of which was required to settle between the 34th and 41st, the other between 38th and 45th degrees of north latitude, yet so that the colony last formed should not be planted within 100 miles of the prior establishment.
In the following year, 1607, the first permanent settlement was made in Virginia, the name then given to all that extent of country now forming the United States, except Georgia. The emigrants, 105 in number, took possession of a peninsula on the northern side of James river, and erected a town, which, in honour of their sovereign, they called Jamestown. Thirteen years afterwards, a congregation of English puritans, who had been driven to Holland by religious persecution, sailed for America, 101 in number, and arrived at Cape Cod, in November, 1620. From this handful of people and their subsequent associates, have sprung the hardy New Englanders New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut being in a great measure shoots from this establishment.
In less than 80 years from the first permanent English settlement in North America, the two original patents which had been granted by king James were divided into twelve distinct and unconnected provinces, and in 50 years more a thirteenth, by the name of Georgia, was added at their southern extremity.
$ 2. The inhabitants of the English colonies received from their first settlement, impressions highly favourable to democratic institutions. They were all one rank, and numbers of them had fled, not only from religious but from political persecution. Their governments were of four kinds :
The first was a charter government, by which the powers of legislation were vested in a governor, council, and assembly, all chosen by the people. This secured to the governed far more freedom than either of the others. Of this kind were the gov, ernments of Connecticut and Rhode Island ; and the inhabitants of those states, from the time of obtaining their charters, enjoyed the same degree of liberty, which they have enjoyed since the
revolution. Of this kind also was that of Plymouth colony, and originally that of Massachusetts.
The second was a proprietary government, in which the proprietor of the province was governor ; although he generally resided in England, and administered the government by a deputy of his own appointment; the assembly only being chosen by the people. Such were the governments of Pennsylvania and Maryland ; and originally those of New Jersey and the Caroli
The third was a royal government, in which the governor and council were appointed by the crown, and the assembly by the people. Of this kind were those of New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, Georgia, New Jersey after 1702, and the Carolinas after 1728.
The fourth was a mixed government, in which the governor alone was appointed by the crown, and both the council and assembly were chosen by the people. The governor, however, had the right to negative a certain number of the council ; but not to fill up vacancies thus occasioned. Of this kind was the government of Massachusetts.
This variety of governments created different degrees of dependence on the crown. The charter governments had the sole power of enacting laws; but the laws might not be contrary to the laws of England. In the others, the laws must be ratified by the king.
83. This state of things continued until the conclusion of the war of 1755, which ended by the expulsion of the French from Canada, and its annexation to the British dominions in North America. Within one year from the peace began the struggle between Great Britain and her colonies, relative to the right of parliament to impose taxes upon them, a struggle that eventuated in their complete independence. The attempt to tax America by a body in which they were not represented, and over which they had no controul, excited a general spirit of resistance throughout the country, which broke out in hostilities in the spring of 1775; and on the 4th of July, 1776, a declaration of independence was issued by a congress of deputies from all the provinces, held at Philadelphia. On the 15th of May preceding, a resolution had been passed by the same congress, recommending to the different colonies to adopt new forms of government suitable to the exigencies of affairs, on the ground of its being irreconcileable to reason and good conscience for the people to take the oath and affirmations necessary for the support of any government under the crown of Great Britain, since they had been excluded, by an act of parliament, from the protection of the crown, which rendered it necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under that crown should be totally suppressed. This recommendation was generally acted on immediately, and at length prevailed in all the provinces except Connecticut and Rhode Island, where it was deemed unnecessary to make any change, as in those colonies the executive as well as the whole legislature had always been elected by themselves.
94. At the time of the declaration of independence, the United States consisted of thirteen distinct provinces, namely, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The number of the states is now eighteen.
9 5. Vermont had been possessed at different times by Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York, and a part of it by Connecticut. The inhabitants, by their representatives in convention at Windsor, on the 25th of December, 1777, declared, that “whereas all government ought to be instituted and supported for the security and protection of the community as such, and to enable the individuals, who compose it, to enjoy their natural rights, and the other blessings which the Author of existence has bestowed upon man: and, whenever those great ends of government are not obtained, the people have a right, by common consent, to change it, and take such measures as to them may appear necessary, to promote their safety and happiness.
“And whereas the inhabitants of this state have (in consideration of protection only) heretofore acknowledged allegiance to the king of Great Britain ; and the said king has not only withdrawn that protection, but commenced and still continues to carry on, with unabated vengeance, a most cruel and unjust war against them ; employing therein not only the troops of Great Britain, but foreign mercenaries, savages, and slaves, for the avowed purpose of reducing them to a total and abject submission to the despotic domination of the British parliament, with many more acts of tyranny (more fully set forth in the declaration of congress), whereby all allegiance and fealty to the said king and his successors are dissolved and at an end, and all power and authority derived from him ceased in the American colonies. And whereas the territory, which now comprehends the state of Vermont, did antecedently of right belong to the government of New Hampshire, and the former governor thereof, viz. his excellency Benning Wentworth, esq. granted many charters of lands and corporations within this state to the present inhabitants and others. And whereas the late lieutenantgovernor Colden, of New York, with others, did, in violation