Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

by denying to his governors

permission to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operations for his assent, and, when so suspended, neglecting to attend to them for many years ;

work of George Mason. The Constitution, with the Preamble, was passed on the 29th of June, and the Committee of Congress had only the day before that reported to that body the draught of the Declaration of Independence. The fact is, that that Preamble was prior in composition to the Declaration ; and both having the same object, of justifying our separation from Great Britain, they used necessarily the same materials of justification, and hence their similitude."

Jefferson, both at the time, and afterwards, denied the power of the Virginia Convention to adopt a permanent constitution, on the grounds that it was chosen an executive body to carry on the war, and that independence and the establishment of a state government were not before the people when they chose the delegates to it. Edmund Randolph (MS. History of Virginia, p. 63) states that :

“Mr. Jefferson, who was in Congress, urged a youthful friend in the convention to oppose a permanent constitution until the people should elect deputies for the special purpose. He denied the power of the body elected (as he conceived them to be agents for the management of the war) to exceed some temporary regimen." The leading members of the convention, however, according to Randolph, saw no distinction between the conceded powers to declare independence, and its necessary consequence, the fencing of society by the institution of government."

In pursuance of his opinion, Jefferson's proposed constitution was given the form of a mere act, and much is included which has no place in a constitution. The non-concurrence of the convention in his view, and even more, the aristocratic limits on the franchise and the unfavorable discrimination against the western counties, that the planter and tide-water representatives secured, which made “no grosser error than to suppose that the Constitution of Virginia was formed in 1776, (for) its two great distinctive features, the sectional, and the aristocratic, had been given to it a century before (Debates of Virginia Convention, 1830), were the causes for his dislike of the Constitution adopted in 1776, and of his constant attempts to obtain its alteration. His objections are indicated in his Notes on l'irginia (Query XIII, ? 5) as well as in his correspondence, and his preparation of his Fundamental Constitution" in 1783 and his “ Notes for a Constitution” in 1794 ; both of which form striking examples, in contrast to this, of the democratic development of his mind.

by refusing to pass certain other

laws, unless the person to be benefited by them would relinquish the inestimable right of representation in the legis

lature by dissolving legislative assem

blies repeatedly and continually for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the

rights of the people; when dissolved, by refusing to

call others for a long space of time, thereby leaving the political system without any

legislative head; by endeavoring to prevent the

population of our country, & for that purpose obstructing the laws for the naturalization of foreigners & raising the condition (lacking appro]pria

tions of lands; [by keeping among u]s, in times

of peace, standing armies and

ships of war; [lacking]ing to render the mil

itary independent of & superi

or to the civil power; by combining with others to

subject us to a foreign jurisdiction, giving his assent to their pretended acts of legisla

tion. for quartering large bodies of

troops among us; for cutting off our trade with

all parts of the world ;

for imposing taxes on us without

our consent ; for depriving us of the benefits

of trial by jury; for transporting us beyond seas

to be tried for pretended

offences; and for suspending our own legisla

tures & declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases what

soever ; by plundering our seas, rava

ging our coasts, burning our towns and destroying the lives

of our people ; by inciting insurrections of our

fellow subjects with the allurements of forfeiture &

confiscation; by prompting our negroes to

rise in arms among us; those very negroes whom he hatha from time to time by an in. human use of his negative he hath refused permission to

exclude by law; by endeavoring to bring on the

inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, & con

ditions of existence ; by transporting at this time a

large army of foreign mercenaries [to complete the works of death, desolation & tyranny

[ocr errors]

already begun with circum[stances] of cruelty & perfidy so unworthy the head of a

civilized nation ; by answering our repeated peti

tions for redress with a repe

tition of injuries ; and finally by abandoning the

helm of government and declaring us out of his allegiance & protection ;

by which several acts of misrule the said George Guelf has forfeited the kingly office and has rendered it necessary for the preservation of the people that he should be immediately deposed from the same, and divested of all its privileges powers, & prerogatives :

And forasmuch as the public liberty may be more certainly secured by abolishing an office which all experience hath shewn to be inveterately inimical thereto or which- and it will there. upon

become further necessary to re-establish such ancient principles as are friendly to the rights of the people and to declare certain others which may co-operate with and fortify the same in future.

Be it therefore enacted by the authority of the people that the said, George

Guelf be, and he hereby is deposed from the kingly office within

Be it therefore enacted by the authority of the people that the said George the third king of Great Britain and elector of Hanover formerly holding &

exercising the kingly power of this government and absolutely free within this colony be & be divested of all it's rights, powers, is, be & he is hereby absolutely and prerogatives : and that he divested of deposed from the and his descendants and all kingly office powers within persons acting by or through this colony, within yt govern- him, and all other persons whatment & absolutely divested of soever shall be and forever reall it's rights and powers & that main incapable of the same : he & his descendants & all and that the said office shall persons claimg by or through henceforth cease and never him & all other persons what more either in name or subsoever are hereby declared, stance be re-established within shall be & forever remain in

this colony. capable of being again appointed to holding the same & further that the sd office shall henceforth cease and be never more erected within this govern ment colony.

And be it further enacted by And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that the

the authority aforesaid that the in lieu of those which have here following fundamental laws and tofore taken place the following principles of government shall fundamental laws & principles henceforth be established. of government shall henceforth be established.

The Legislative, Executive, The Legislative, Executive & Judicial offices shall be kept and Judiciary offices shall be for ever separate, & no person kept forever separate ; no perexercising the one shall be son exercising the one shall be capable of appointment to the capable of appointment to the others or to either of them. others, or to either of them.

I. LEGISLATIVE.

Legislation shall be exer. Legislation shall be exercised Legislative.

cised by two separate by two separate houses, to wit

houses who shall be a house of Representatives, and called the General Assembly of a house of Senators, which shall

« PředchozíPokračovat »