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ment of a military democracy in England were circumstances highly favorable to the growth of republicanism in America. During this period the self-governing principle made progress in all the colonies, though largely through the example and influence of New England.”
In 1644 another step toward our present form of government was taken. When the representatives of the people were first selected they sat in the same room as the governor and council, but in the year named it was ordained that the two bodies should meet in separate chambers, which constituted the first American legislature of two houses, the councilors being chosen by the whole body of the people and the representatives by the settlements as such. “The early prejudices in favor of rank and title quickly disappeared, perfect equality was arrived at, and even such titles as those of Esquire and Mr. were applied to but few persons, Goodman and Goodwife being the ordinary appellations. Aristocratic connections in time became a bar to public favor."
No restrictions of any sort had as yet been placed upon the colonies beyond those of a commercial character, which were removed during the Commonwealth and again imposed after the Restoration. No vessels but those of England were permitted to trade with the colonies, and no article of American manufacture for which there was a demand in England could be shipped to any port but hers. Free trade between the colonies was restricted; and at last they were forbidden “to manufacture, for use at home or abroad, any article that would compete with English manufactures.” Naturally there was complaint at these high-handed measures, and to settle these and others that had arisen, the crown sent commissioners to Boston in 1664, with power to “act upon all causes of colonial disturbance."
The Americanized Englishmen were not one whit behind their Puritan brethren of the late Commonwealth in sturdy independence and a determination to hold hard upon all the rights so far secured, and the coming of these royal messengers was viewed with distrust and fear, as the beginning of measures by which their freedom might be abridged. They were resisted secretly or openly in all the col
onies, with the exception of Rhode Island, that seemed to tolerate their presence with a certain degree of respect. Massachusetts laid deep stress upon her loyalty to the king, but asserted her chartered rights and denied any authority of control from England that was not declared and defined in that instrument. The result was the recall of the commissioners and the utter failure of their mission. Quiet reigned until 1681, when Massachusetts again put herself in opposition to the crown, by the signal defiance and defeat of a custom-house officer who had been sent across seas for the collection of dues under the burdensome commercial restrictions.
An early collision was inevitable. The purpose long held by the king of taking affairs into his own hands and becoming a ruler in fact as in name, saw an excuse for realization in this act of rebellion. It was declared by judges of the English courts that Massachusetts had forfeited her charter, through disobedience to the laws of England. The death of the king before active measures could be taken made no change in the situation, as his successor, James II., proceeded vigorously along the same line of policy. In 1686 a royal rather than a charter government was forced upon Massachusetts, and Joseph Dudley was placed by the king in charge. An effort was made to secure a return of the charter, which was refused, but in 1692 a new one was granted, which vested the appointment of the governor in the king. Beyond the exercise of this right, “there was little interference with colonial liberty, but the representatives of the people for many years kept up a violent controversy with the royal governors. The latter demanded a fixed and permanent salary. With this demand the assembly refused to comply, claiming the right to vary the salary each year at their pleasure, and so manipulating this right that the amount of the governor's salary was made to depend upon the character of his administration, The people had learned theii lesson well, and held firmly in hand this useful method of enforcings government in accordance with their ideas of justice and utility. The controversy finally ended in a compromise, in which the claim of the assembly was admitted, while it was agreed that a fixed sum should be voted annually."
While the other colonies were not so sure in their faith in democracy, or so determined in its assertions, they were still all traveling slowly but surely along the road in which New England had made such sturdy advance. In the first Virginian charter, that colony was placed under the absolute control of a council residing in England and appointed by the king, who likewise appointed a council of members of the colony for its local administration, leaving no right of self-government whatever in the people most directly concerned. In 1609 the company were given a new charter, which allowed the English councilors to fill vacancies by their own votes and to appoint a governor whose power was despotic. The first steps in the direction of popular rights were taken in 1619, when martial law, which had before prevailed, was abolished and a colonial assembly convened, although the measures it might pass could have no legal force until ratified by the company in England. In 1621 another advance step was taken when a written constitution was granted, and with it came a pledge that no orders of the company in England should have force in the colony until ratified by the assembly. Trial by jury was established, and courts after the form of those held in England. As the spirit of independence became more manifest among the Virginians, the king decided to take the control of affairs into his own hands, and by a judicial decision against the company, that organization was dissolved and the colony changed into a government under direct control of the crown. No attempt was made to destroy the assembly, which still continued in the exercise of its powers, and administered affairs in connection with a governor and ten councilors appointed by the king.
Turning now to the colony of Maryland we find it commencing its career under a charter of great liberality, which made its members equal in a political sense and gave them the right to worship God after the dictates of their own conscience. All laws of the province were to be subject to the approval of a majority of the freemen or of their representatives. The first assembly was held in 1635, to which the members of the colony came direct, but in 1639 a representative government was adopted. In the Carolinas, the charter
of 1653 gave to the people religious freedom and a voice in legislation, while the main balance of power was lodged in the proprietary corporation. One attempt was made to establish a despotic form of government, but the people resisted and it ended in failure.“
“They established a republican government of their own,” says Morris, "elected delegates to a popular assembly, drove out tyrannical governors and replaced them by men of their own choice, and in all displayed an aptness for and a tendency to self-government equal to those of any other of the colonies."
In the colony of New York there was a growing discontent at the severity of the Dutch rulers, and when the power passed to the English, it was welcomed by many as offering a chance for increased freedom. But there was no change for the better until in 1683, when the duke of York directed the governor to call an assembly of representatives of the people. This gathering passed a “charter of liberties” which placed the legislative power in the governor, council and people then in assembly, “gave to every freeman full right to vote for representatives; established trial by jury; required that no tax whatever should be assessed without the assent of the assembly, and that no professing Christian should be questioned concerning his religion.” All these demands were not granted, but the power gained by the people as a part of the law-making power was never afterwards surrendered.
The progressive and republican spirit of William Penn had been closely reflected in the colony to which his name had been given. The charter he had received from Charles II. was quite liberal in its provisions, yet hardly not sufficient to meet the views of Penn, who had promised those who had followed him across the sea that they should be ruled by laws of their own making. In 1682 he prepared and made public his celebrated “frame of government,” which was amended by the second assembly of the province, and led to the granting of charters which made of Pennsylvania very nearly a representative democracy. “The right of appointment of judicial and executive officers, which was reserved by the proprietors of the other colonies, was surrendered by William Penn to
the people, and the government consisted of the proprietor and the assembly, with no intermediate council, as in Maryland and elsewhere. Yet, liberal as this constitution was, the people soon demanded further concessions and privileges, and Penn, in his last visit to his province, granted a new charter, still more liberal and conferring greater powers upon the people, who from this time forward possessed a very full measure of political liberty.”'
From the above it will be seen that at the dawning of the eighteenth century the people of the American colonies were measurably free in a political sense, and in some respects were even less under arbitrary rule than England itself. In New England the rights of a republic were practically granted, while Pennsylvania was not far behind in that regard, and their examples were before the yet less favored colonies in illustration of what time and shrewd management might bring to all. The hundrr.d years that lay between 1676 and 1776 was an admirable school of self-reliance and practical self-rule; and the republic that came in the wake of the Revolution was, in one sense, no new and untried experiment. In the first town meeting of New England that experiment was first tried, and the American Republic was but the fruit of long growth and slow ripening.
Had England been content to leave her colonies free in other ways, as she did in politics, she might, so far as one can tell, be yet in possession of a great and loyal empire on the west side of the sea. But the hardy and productive people who had made the wilderness a garden, were looked upon by the rulers and merchants of the mother country as a source of constant supply, and it was out of financial and economic oppressions that Lexington and Yorktown were at last evolved. The oppressive commercial and manufacturing regulationstreated of elsewhere in this book-that were imposed upon the infant industries of the colonies, with undue taxation without representation, led to discontent, and finally so widened the breach that there could be no peace. “In their earlier and weaker days," as one historian has well said, "these evils were of secondary importance, but with every step of growth and population and of development of America, the right to trade with whom they pleased