Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

tice, with a right to appeal to the crown from all judgments; to create cities and other corporations; to erect ports, and manors, and courts baron in such manors. Liberty was allowed to subjects to transport themselves and their goods to the province; and to import the products of the province into England; and to export them from thence within one year, the inhabitants observing the acts of navigation, and all other laws in this behalf made. It was further stipulated that the crown should levy no tax, custom, or imposition, upon the inhabitants, of their goods, unless by the consent of the proprietary or Assembly, “or by act of Parliament in England."

A new frame of government was, with the consent of the General Assembly, established in 1683. In 1692, Penn was deprived of the government of Pennsylvania by William and Mary; but it was again restored to him in the succeeding year. A third frame of government was established in 1696. This again was surren. dered, and a new, final charter of government was, in October, 1701, with the consent of the General Assembly, established, under which the province continued to be governed down to the period of the American Revolution.

DELAWARE.—After Penn had become proprietary of Pennsylvania, he purchased of the Duke of York, in 1682, all his right and interest in the territory afterwards called the Three Lower Counties of Delaware, and the three counties took the names of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex. At this time they were inhabited principally by Dutch and Swedes, and seem to have constituted an appendage to the government of New York.

In the same year, with the consent of the people, an act of union with the province of Pennsylvania was passed, and an act of settlement of the frame of government in a General Assembly, composed of deputies from the counties of Delaware and Pennsylvania. By this act the three counties were, under the name of the Territories, annexed to the province, and were to be represented in the General Assembly, governed by the same laws, and to enjoy the same privileges, as the inhabitants of Pennsylvania. Difficulties soon afterwards arose between the deputies of the province and those

of the Territories; and, after various subordinate arrangements, a final separation took place between them, with the consent of the proprietary, in 1703. From that period down to the American Revolution, the Territories were governed by a separate legislature of their own, pursuant to the liberty reserved to them by a clause in the original charter or frame of government.

NORTH AND SOUTH CAROLINA -In March, 1662 (April, 1663), Charles II. made a grant, to Lord Clarendon and others, of terri. tory lying on the Atlantic Ocean, and erected it into a province, by the name of Carolina, to be holden as the manor of East Greenwich, in Kent, in free and common soccage, and not in capite, or by knight service, subject immediately to the crown, as a dependency, forever.

The grantees were created absolute lords proprietaries, saving the faith, allegiance, and supreme dominion of the crown, and invested with as ample rights and jurisdictions as the Bishop of Durham possessed in his palatine diocese. The charter seems to have been copied from that of Maryland, and resembles it in many of its provisions.

It further required that all laws should“ be consonant to reason, and, as near as may be conveniently, agrecable to the laws and customs of this our kingdom of England.” And it declared that the inhabitants and their children, born in the province, should be denizens of England, and entitled to all the privileges and immunities of British-born subjects.

In 1665, the proprietaries obtained from Charles II. a second charter, with an enlargement of boundaries.

Several detached settlements were made in Carolina, which were at first placed under distinct temporary governments; one was in Albemarle, another to the south of Cape Fear. Thus varions independent and separate colonies were established, each of which had its own Assembly, its own customs, and its own laws—a policy which the proprietaries had afterwards occasion to regret, from its tendency to enfeeble and distract the province.

In the year 1669, the proprietaries, dissatisfied with the systems already established within the province, signed a fundamental constitution for the government thereof, the object of which is declared to be," that we may establish a government agreeable to the monarchy, of which Carolina is a part, that we may avoid making too numerous a democracy.” This constitution was drawn up by the celebrated John Locke.

It provided that the oldest proprietary should be the palatine, and the next oldest should succeed him. Each of the proprietaries was to hold a high office. The rules of precedency were most exactly established. Two orders of hereditary nobility were instituted, with suitable estates, which were to descend with the dignity. The provincial legislature, dignified with the name of parliament, was to be biennial, and to consist of the proprietaries or their deputies, of the nobility, and of representatives of the freeholders chosen in districts. They were all to meet in one apartment (like the ancient Scottish Parliament), and enjoy an equal vote. No business, however, was to be proposed until it had been debated in the grand council (which was to consist of the proprietaries and forty-two counsellors), whose duty it was to prepare bills. No act was of force longer than until the next biennial meeting of the Parliament, unless ratified by the palatine and a quorum of the proprietaries. All the laws were to become void at the end of a century, without any formal repeal. The Church of England (which was declared to be the only true and orthodox religion) was alone to be allowed a public maintenance by Parliament; but every congregation might tax its own members for the support of its own. minister. Every man of seventeen years of age was to declare himself of some church or religious profession, and to be recorded as such ; otherwise he was not to have any benefit of the laws. And no man was to be permitted to be a freeman of Carolina, or have any estate or habitation, who did not acknowledge a God, and that God is to be publicly worshipped. In other respects there was a gnaranty of religious freedom. There was to be a public registry of all deeds and conveyances of lands, and of marriages and births. Every freeman was to have "absolute power and authority over his negro slaves, of what opinion or religion soever." No civil or criminal cause was to be tried but by a jury of the peers of the party ; but the verdict of a majority was binding. With a view

to prevent unnecessary litigation, it was provided that "it shall be a base and vile thing to plead for money or reward;" and that, “ since multiplicity of comments, as well as of laws, have great in. conveniences, and serve only to obscure and perplex, all manner of comments and expositions on any part of those fundamental constitutions, or on any part of the common or statute law of Carolina, are absolutely prohibited."

After a few years' experience of its ill arrangements, and its mischievous tendency, the proprietaries, upon the application of the people in 1693), abrogated the constitution, and restored the ancient form of government. Thus perished the labors of Mr. Locke; and thus perished a system, under the administration of which, it has been remarked, the Carolinas had not known one day of real enjoyment, and that introduced evils and disorders which ended only with the dissolution of the proprietary government !

There was, at this period, a space of three hundred miles be tween the southern and northern settlements of Carolina ; and, though the whole province was owned by the same proprietaries, the legislation of the two great settlements had been hitherto conducted by separate and distinct assemblies--sometimes under the same governor, and sometimes under different governors. The legislatures continued to remain distinct down to the period when a final surrender of the proprietary charter was made to the crown, in 1729. The respective territories were designated by the name of North Carolina and South Carolina, and the laws of each obtained a like appellation. Cape Fear seems to have been commonly deemed, in the commissions of the governor, the boundary between the two colonies.

At a little later period (1732), the province was divided; and the divisions were distinguished by the names of North Carolina and South Carolina.

The government conferred on Carolina, when it became a royal province, consisted of a governor and council appointed by the crown, and an Assembly chosen by the people; and these three branches constituted the legislature. The governor convened, prorogued, and dissolved the legislature, and had a negative upon the laws, and exercised the executive authority. He possessed also the pow

ers of the court of chancery, of the admiralty, of supreme ordinary, and of appointing magistrates and militia officers. All laws were subject to the royal approbation or dissent, but were in the mean time in full force.

On examining the statutes of South Carolina, a close adherence to the general policy of the English laws is apparent. As early as the year 1712, a large body of the English statutes were, by express legislation, adopted as part of its own code; and all English statutes respecting allegiance, all the test and supremacy acts, and all acts declaring the rights and liberties of the subjects, or securing the same, were also declared to be in force in the province. All and every part of the common law, not altered by these acts, or inconsistent with the constitutions, customs, and laws of the province, was also adopted as part of its jurisprudence.

In respect to North Carolina, there was an early declaration of the legislature (1715), conformably to the charter, that the common law was, and should be, in force in the colony. All statute laws for maintaining the royal prerogative and succession to the crown; and all such laws made for the establishment of the church, and laws made for the indulgence to Protestant dissenters; and all laws providing for the privileges of the people, and security of trade; and all laws for the limitation of actions, and for preventing vexatious suits, and for preventing immorality and fraud, and confirming inheritances and titles of land, were declared to be in force in the province. The policy thus avowed was not departed from down to the period of the American Revolution.

GEORGIA.—In the same year in which Carolina was divided (1732), a project was formed for the settlement of a colony upon the unoccupied territory between the rivers Savannah and Alatamaha. The object of the projectors was to strengthen the province of Carolina, to provide a maintenance for the suffering poor of the mother country, and to open an asylum for the persecuted Protestants in Europe ; and, in common with all the other colonies, to attempt the conversion and civilizatiün of the natives. Upon application, George II. granted a charter to the company (consisting of Lord Percival and twenty others, among whom was the celebrated

« ForrigeFortsett »