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themselves in a body. And to compleat this state these conditions are necessary: 1. That a certain time and place be assigned for assembling. 2. That the vote of the majority must pass for the vote of the whole body. 3. That magistrates be appointed to exercise the authority of the whole for the better dispatch of business, of everydays occurence. (2) The second species of regular government, is an aristocracy. (3) The third species of a regular government, is a monarchy. It is said of the British empire, that it has the main advantages of an aristocracy, and of a democracy, and yet free from the disadvantages and evils of either. It is such a Monarchy, as by most admirable temperament affords very much to the industry, liberty, and happiness of the subject, and reserves enough for the majesty and prerogative of any king, who will own his people as subjects, not as slaves. It is a kingdom, that of all kingdoms of the world, is most like to the kingdom of Jesus Christ, whose yoke is easy, and burden light."
Neither did the colonists entertain modern notions of religious liberty, although by gradual process a high degree of toleration had been established. In New York, for example, Catholics and Jews were excluded from the suffrage by the terms of the law, but it is impossible to discover to what extent the law was actually enforced. In fact, Catholics and Jews were quite frequently disfranchised. In Virginia the Established Church sought to suppress dissent, and as late as 1774 James Madison wrote: "that diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some. . . . There are at this time in the adjacent country no less than five or six well meaning men in close jail for publishing their religious sentiments which in the main are very orthodox." 1
Experiments in Federation
Although it was the Revolution that welded the thirteen colonies into the union which finally proved permanent, there had been three noteworthy attempts at federation previous to the War of Independence. The first was the New England
Letters and Writings of James Madison, Vol. I, p. 12. On the whole question of religious liberty, see S. H. Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America.
Confederation formed among Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven in 1643. The united colonies of New England were bound together in a "firm and perpetual league of friendship and amity for offence and defence, mutual advice and succor, upon all just occasions, both for preserving and propagating the truth and liberties of the Gospel and for their own mutual safety and welfare." For some twenty years the Confederation was active, and it continued to hold meetings until 1685, but it left little permanent impress.
The second attempt at union was at Albany in 1754, when on suggestion of the Lords of Trade in England an intercolonial conference was held for the purpose (among other things) of entering into "articles of Union and confederation with each other for mutual defence of his majesty's subjects and interests in North America in time of peace as well as war." Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, and Maryland were represented, and a committee, with Franklin in the lead, reported plans for union. The colonists, however, did not adopt the scheme because they feared that it would give the crown too much power. The crown regarded the plan as too democratic, and so the project fell through.
The introduction of the Stamp Tax bill into Parliament led several of the colonies to protest to the home government; and when the bill was passed in spite of their objections, the Massachusetts legislature recommended a colonial congress and appointed representatives. After no little dispute among the members of other colonial assemblies, the proposed congress composed of the representatives of nine colonies - all except Virginia. New Hampshire, Georgia, and North Carolina convenea in New York in 1765. Permanent union, however, was not their purpose. They merely formulated an address to the King, a memorial to the Lords, and a petition to Commons;1 and the repeal of the Stamp Act put a stop to the union movement for the time. It required the patriotism and pressure of the long war to fuse the colonies into a nation.
INDEPENDENCE, UNION, AND SELF-GOVERNMENT
THE American Revolution has two aspects. On the one hand, it was a contest between the government of Great Britain and those colonists who determined, in the beginning of the controversy, to resist the policy of the mother country, and finally to throw off her rule altogether. To bring this contest to a successful issue, the Revolutionists formed committees, assemblies, and national congresses; they raised troops, levied taxes, borrowed money, negotiated with foreign powers, and waged war in the field. On the other hand, when independence was declared, the Revolutionists had to provide some form of united government for the realization of their common purposes, and at the same time to establish permanent state governments. Thus cooperation among the Revolutionists of all the colonies and internal reconstruction within each colony proceeded simultaneously, and the result at the close of the war was a collection of "free, sovereign, and independent states "- each with a constitution of its own-leagued in a "perpetual union" under the Articles of Confederation.
Union under the Continental Congresses
The Revolution was the work of definite groups of men cooperating for specific purposes. In the preliminary stages of resistance to Great Britain, the colonists relied mainly on their regular assemblies as organs for the expression of revolutionary opinion, but as the contest became more heated and acts were performed for which there was no legal sanction, the Revolutionists began to form independent committees to represent them. This was necessary for the purposes of agitation, and later for organized rebellion, especially in those colonies with royal governors.
The germs of these revolutionary organizations which soon widened into state and national governments are to be found in the committees of correspondence small groups of persons selected by the Revolutionists in parishes, towns, and counties for the purpose of corresponding with one another, comparing views, and finally coöperating in the great task of overturning the old government and setting up a new system. These committees began as local organizations, but spread so rapidly and coöperated so effectively that they soon gathered sufficient force to accomplish the work of the Revolution.1
As early as November, 1772, a committee of correspondence was formed in Boston under the direction of Samuel Adams; it held regular meetings, sent emissaries to neighboring towns to organize similar bodies, and carried on a campaign of popular education in opposition to British colonial policy.
Early in the following year the Virginia House of Burgesses? appointed a special committee which was charged "to obtain the most early and authentic intelligence of all such acts and resolutions of the British Parliament or proceedings of adminis'tration as may relate to or affect the British colonies in America; and to keep up and maintain a correspondence and communication with our sister colonies respecting those important considerations; and the result of such their proceedings from time to time to lay before this house." This official example was speedily followed by other legislative assemblies, so that within about a year there were twelve colonial committees appointed in regular form. Imposing as they seemed, however, they were by no means as active and important as the unofficial local committees representing the Revolutionists directly.
These local committees sprang up everywhere under the direction of the county committees, and assumed control of the revolutionary forces. Thus there was organized a government within a government, with the old territorial subdivisions of the colony as a basis. For example, in New Jersey each township had its committee which chose delegates to form the 1 1 Collins, Committees of Correspondence of the American Revolution, Annual Report of the American Historical Association, 1901, Vol. I, pp. 247 ff.
2 For the significant Boston resolution establishing this committee, see Readings, p. 17.
county committee, which in its turn selected representatives to compose a committee for the entire colony. These committees were powerful organs for action; they kept up the general agitation; they called periodical conventions of Revolutionists; and indeed assumed the reins of government.
The skeleton or framework of the revolutionary machine was therefore well perfected when Samuel Adams in 1774 proposed in the Massachusetts legislature a resolution in favor of calling a congress of delegates from all the colonies to meet at Philadelphia in September.' While the messenger of the governor, sent to dissolve the assembly, was thundering at the door, the momentous resolve was passed and the call for united action against Great Britain was issued. The other colonies except Georgia responded to this appeal with alacrity by selecting, in some fashion or another, representatives for the general Congress. The method of choice varied so greatly that the Congress was in every way an irregular and revolutionary body. The colonies without the consent of the British crown can scarcely be said to have enjoyed the right of calling and organizing such a congress. In Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania, the representatives were chosen informally by the colonial assembly; in New Hampshire they were selected by a meeting of delegates appointed by the several towns. In Connecticut they were elected by committees of correspondence; in New York practically by the Revolutionists of New York county; in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia by conventions composed of county delegates, many of whom had been members of the colonial legislatures; in South Carolina by a "general meeting of the inhabitants of the colony," and in North Carolina by "a general meeting of the deputies of the province." 2 In all of these irregular elections, the lead was taken by the men who had been most active in the organization of committees of correspondence and the agitation against Great Britain.
The general purpose of this Congress, ostensibly at least, was stated in the instructions which were given to the delegation of each colony by the body that elected it. These instructions
1 This call is printed in the Readings, p. 18.
* The South Carolina Resolution appointing delegates is in the Readings, p. 19.