Page images
PDF
EPUB

verting Bacon's advice from a rule of statesmanship to a curiosity of history. But in America, under a dissolution of the Union, its authority would for the first time be asserted. The new frontier would be but one long line of military border. Trade and Commerce would languish under the operation of hostile tariffs and the constant dread of civil war. Territorial disputes at home and entangling alliances abroad would create the necessity for standing armies, and impart an entirely new character to the policy hitherto pursued by the Republic both in its internal and external relations. Well may the statesmen of America hesitate before an alternative fraught with dangers such as these.

28

II.

THE COLONIAL GOVERNMENTS.

AMERICAN freedom is not indebted for its earliest manifestations to any union of the States. Its germs were thrown broadcast over all the various colonies established by the mother country. No matter what was the form of government-Royal, Proprietary, or Charter in every colony the principle of representative government was early adopted, more or less complete in its arrangement, but always modifying or controlling the encroachments of arbitrary power.

The royal governments comprised the colonies of New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. Their constitutions closely resembled that of the mother country. Governors and councils were appointed by the crown; representatives by the people. The council acted as an upper house, and the representatives as a lower house,

while the governor had a negative on all their proceedings.

The proprietary governments, comprising Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, only differed from the royal in this, that in the appointment of governors the proprietaries stood in the place of the crown and exercised, by federal right, all its powers and privileges.

The charter governments were the most democratic of all. They comprised the colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. In the first the Governor was appointed by the Crown, the Representatives chosen by the people, and the general Council, after the first board, by all three. These constituted one general assembly. In Connecticut and Rhode Island, governor, representatives, and council were all elected by the people. In all these Colonies, however, the power of veto upon every law was reserved with certain conditions to the English Crown.

Thus, the enthusiastic Puritans of New England, the gay Cavaliers of Virginia, the quiet Quakers of Pennsylvania, all proceeding from one common stock, alike exhibited,

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

But such W SIG The heated array of Chatham and the thi losophie eloquence of Burke eageted on their behalf in the English Parliament. Buch these great men urged upon L the troops and ndo all 1 the colonies s

[graphic]

New England were already ringing with sharp peals of musketry. The King's troops and the determined colonists had met, and the first blood had been shed. On the 26th May, 1775, Parliament separated, declaring that "if the Americans should persist in rebellion, and the sword must be drawn, the faithful Commons would do everything in their power to support his Majesty and maintain the supremacy of the Legislature." Almost on

the same day, the second Congress of Colonial Delegates met in Philadelphia. On this occasion they organized a general system of physical resistance, and adopted a preamble which stated that the exercise of every kind of authority, under the crown of England, should be suppressed." They established a general post; they emitted a large amount of paper money, pledging the united colonies for its redemption, and they appointed General Washington commander-in-chief of the forces.

It is more needful, however, to our present purpose to point out that both these important Congresses of 1774 and 1775 had consisted of delegates chosen partly by the representa

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »