« PreviousContinue »
English forefathers had exacted from royal tyranny THE FOUR GREAT GUARANTEES OF INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY. These are as follows:
1215. (1) Magna Charta (most important), securing the liberty of the individual and foreshadowing parliamentary taxation.
1626. (2) Petition of Rights, forbidding taxation without representation.
1679. (3) Habeas Corpus, securing speedy deliverance from unlawful and arbitrary imprisonment.
1689. (4) Bill of Rights, reaffirming the (above) rights set aside by the Stuarts.
THE COLONISTS COMPLAINED THAT, contrary to these common rights:
(1) They had been taxed without being represented. (2) They had suffered not only the presence, but even the expense, of standing armies.
(3) They had been denied the right of trial by a jury of the vicinage (of neighbors).
(4) Search warrants had been issued specifying no ground of search.
2. The Remoteness of the English Government. This caused misunderstanding and neglect of the colonies on the part of England, and necessitated the existence in them of local self-government.
There were THREE KINDS OF COLONIAL GOV'TS:
(1) Provincial. Such governments existed in N. H., N. Y., N. J., Va., N. C., S. C., and Ga., and consisted of three dept's:
(a) The Executive, consisting of a Governor and Council appointed by the crown.
(b) The Legislative, called the Colonial Assembly, consisting of the Gov., the Council as an upper house, and as a lower house, the representatives of the freeholders of the province.
(c) The Judicial, consisting of magistrates appointed by the Gov. with the advice of the Council.
The Gov., according to his instructions, and as the royal deputy, could suspend members of the Council from office, and fill their places till the royal pleasure was known; could negative all proceedings of the Assembly, and prorogue or dissolve it at his pleasure. The Assembly could pass local laws, subject to the approval or disapproval of the Crown. (Story, I. § 159; Curtis, I. 4.) (2) Proprietary. These existed in Md., l'enn., and Del. In these "the subordinate powers of legislation and government had been granted to certain individuals, called the proprietaries, who appointed the Gov. and authorized him to summon the legislative assemblies." Both the Gov. and the legislature had to follow out the purposes of the grant, and to maintain the sovereignty of the mother country. "In Md. alone, the laws enacted by the proprietary gov't were not subject to the direct control of the crown." (Curtis, I. 5; Story, I. § 160.)
(3) Charter. Mass., R. I., and Conn. at the Revolution had gov'ts of this kind. These alone had written constitutions, i. e. charters granted by the Crown and establishing "an organization of the different dep'ts of government, similar to that in the provincial governments. In Mass., after the charter of William and Mary granted in 1691, the Gov. was appointed by the crown; the Council were chosen annually by the General Assembly, and the House of Representatives by the people. In Conn. and R. I. the Gov., Council, and Representatives were chosen annually by the freemen of the colony. In the Charter, as well as the Provincial Gov'ts, the general power of legislation was restrained by the condition, that the laws enacted should be, as nearly as possible, agreeable to the laws and statutes of England.” (Curtis, I. 5-6; Story, I. § 161.)
3. Various Measures by the English Gov't hastened the Revolution.
The colonies differed among themselves respecting race, customs, creeds, interests and methods of industry; but these differences were superficial, and the tendencies toward union were real and fundamental. They all were trained in local self-government through the town-meeting (their political unit). They had the Common Law, and for the most part they were of a common race and spirit. Dangers from the Dutch and Indians necessitated a confederation called the United Colonies of New England —” the first attempt (says Lodge, 351) .... at a Federal system, which more than a century later became the central principle in the formation of the United States." This union lasted 14 years. Later Franklin projected the Congress of Albany-a union of a majority of the colonies for common defence. This plan, however, failed of execution. (Lodge, 307.) Certain arbitrary acts by the English Gov't aided in bringing about the permanent union of the colonies. (1) WRITS OF ASSISTANCE,-issued by the court to aid custom-house officers in suppressing the contraband trade that had sprung up because of a tax upon sugar. In arguing before Chief Justice Hutchinson. against the issuing of these writs, James Otis called them "an invasion of the rights of Englishmen." (Lodge, 371.)
(2) ENGLAND ATTEMPTS TO RAISE A REVENUE IN THE COLONIES. America was to pay the expense of the French and Indian war. "A new king (Geo. III.) had come to the throne, and small men occupied the place once filled by William Pitt." (Ibid.) The colonies objected to this on the
ARBITRARY ACTS OF ENGLAND.
ground that they had already contributed more than their share of the burdens of that war. But the attempt was persisted in as follows:
(3) STAMP ACT PASSED. "Obligations in writ
ing in daily use were to be null and void unless 1765 they were executed on a paper or parchment Mar. 22 stamped with a specific duty. Also newspapers, almanacs, and pamphlets were to be made to contribute to the British treasury." (Young, 37.) This act met with great opposition. Many of the colonial assemblies resolved that they could not be taxed without being represented. At the call of Mass. a congress of nine colonies met at New York, and "founded the Oct. American Union, for the example of federation once given was not forgotten." (Lodge, 476.) In the Declaration of Rights and Grievances "the Congress asserasserted the right to trial by jury against an extended admiralty jurisdiction, the right to freedom from taxation, except by the colonial assemblies, as the people could not be represented in Parliament, and, therefore, that Parliament could not constitutionally tax them. They complained of the acts of trade, admitted a due submission to the King and Parliament, and the right of Parliament to legislate generally and to regulate trade; but beyond this they would not go." (Ibid.)
Finally, the Stamp Act was repealed by the 1766 Rockingham ministry; but the right of taxing the Mar. 18 colonies was reaffirmed Parliament declared that it could pass laws binding upon the colonies in all cases whatsoever. (Young, 39; Lodge, 477.)
FIRST COLONIAL CONGRESS.
(4) DUTIES IMPOSED on glass, paper, paints, and tea imported into the colonies from Great Britain. So great was the opposition to this act that British troops had to be stationed in Boston and in other
cities to enforce it. As a result, an affray took place in Boston between the troops and some Mar. 5 citizens, in which four of the latter were shot. After this the troops were withdrawn, and, Apr. 12, the duty was taken off from all articles except tea. But the colonists still refused to import tea.
(5) EAST INDIA COMPANY ALLOWED A DRAWBACK "of all the duties they had paid in England on such of their teas as they should export to America." By this act the Company could sell tea cheaper in America than in England; they therefore shipped large amounts to this country, hoping thus to dispose of the large accumulations in England. Unwilling that a precedent for taxing them should be established, the colonists would not allow the tea to be landed, and, Dec. 16, 1773, a band of men disguised as Indians boarded the tea ships in Boston Harbor, and emptied 342 chests of tea into the water. (Young, 44;
BOSTON AND THE TEA BILL.
(6) BOSTON PORT BILL PASSED, interdicting all intercourse with Boston until the East India Co. should be fully compensated for the loss of their tea, and until the King should be satisfied that peace and order had been restored in the town. Gen. Gage was appointed civil Gov., and sent with four regiments to carry out the provisions of the bill.
(7) CHARTER ACT PASSED, Striking at "the political life of every colony alike. This second act altered by will of Parliament alone the charter of Mass. It provided for the destruction of town-meetings, for the appointment of the Council, and also of the Sheriffs, into whose hands was given the selection of the juries." (8) TRIALS OF BRITISH OFFICERS OR SOLDIERS The trial of any soldier or crown