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by the legislature of Massachusetts, with the advice of committees from the towns, with whom they were associated on important occasions. But, not being within the limits of the charter of Massachusetts, they formed, in 1639, a government for themselves. The settlements were at this time confined to three towns, Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor, containing a population of about 800. By this constitution, the legislative power was vested in the general assembly, consisting of a governor, six magistrates, and the representatives of the towns, all of whom were elected annually by the great body of freemen. The governor was chosen from the magistrates : he presided in the assembly, and had a casting vote.
These colonists, like those of the Plymouth colony, were many years without a charter, holding the soil by mere occupancy, except such portions as they acquired by purchase or conquest of the natives, and being governed by themselves. In 1662, a charter was granted by Charles II., which adopted the most essential parts of their free constitution. In 1698, the general assembly was divided into two branches. The magistrates or assistants, with the governor as president, constituted the upper house; and the representatives the lower house; and each had a negative on the acts of the other.
The colony of New Haven was settled in 1637, by a small company of persons from England. The people of this colony also, having no charter, formed themselves into a body politic, and established a form of civil and church government. The government was administered by a governor and a few magistrates. These and other officers were elected by those only who were in church fellowship. In 1643, representatives from the towns were associated with the governor and magistrates in the general court, as in Connecticut, with which it became united in the charter of 1662.
Rhode Island was settled at the same time as Connecticut. Roger Williams, a minister at Salem, in Massachusetts, for teaching what were regarded by his brethren as erroneous religious doctrines, was banished from the colonies, and with a few followers, commenced a settlement at Providence. In the civil compact, they agreed" to submit themselves in active and passive obedience, to all such orders and agreements as should be made for the public good of the body, in an orderly way, by major consent of the inhabitants." In 1640, a plan of government better adapted to their circumstances, was adopted. The Providence and Rhode Island plantations were at first two distinct colonies. The settlement at Rhode Island was the result of a cause similar to that which led to the settlement of Providence. In 1638, a number of the most prominent advocates and propagators of the Antinomian heresy, which
arose about that time in Massachusetts, were ordered to leave the colony, and having, by the assistance of Mr. Williams, purchased the island of the Indians, commenced a settlement, having entered into the following compact, signed by eighteen persons:
“We, whose names are underwritten, do hereby solemnly, in the presence of Jehovah, incorporate ourselves into a body politic, and as He shall help, will submit our persons, lives, and estates, unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and to all those perfect and absolute laws of his, given in his Holy Word of truth, to be judged and guided thereby."
The ruling power was subsequently vested in a governor, a deputygovernor, and five assistants. And in 1641, the government was declared to be a democracy, and the power to be in the body of freemen, orderly assembled, or a major part of them, to make or constitute just laws, and to depute from among them such ministers as should see them faithfully executed. And none were to be accounted delinquent for doctrine, provided it were not directly repugnant to the established government and laws.
In 1644, the two plantations were united in a charter obtained by Roger Williams, who had been sent to England for that purpose. The charter granted to the inhabitants “full power and authority to rule themselves, by such a form of civil government, as by voluntary consent of all
, or the greater part of them, they shall find most suitable to their estate and condition; and to make and ordain such civil laws and constitutions, and to inflict such punishments upon transgressors, and for the execution thereof so to place and displace officers of justice, as they, or the greater part of them, should by free consent agree thereto." All laws, however, must, as nearly as might be, conform to those of England. The government established under this charter was a pure democracy. There was a legislative body called a court of commissioners, consisting of six persons from each town; but their acts were subject to repeal by the votes of the freemen of each town. All judicial officers, and officers
manage town affairs, were elected by popular suffrage. This charter was granted in the time of the contest between the king and parliament, and while the latter had the supremacy, and continued until after the restoration of the kingdom to Charles II, by whom a new charter was granted in 1663.
In 1643, the colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven, formed a league, or confederation, by the name of “The United Colonies of New England," for their mutual protection against the Indians, and against the Dutch at Manhattan. By the terms of this union, the internal affairs of each colony were left to its own government.
In war, each was to furnish its proportion of men, according to its population; and the common affairs of the confederacy were to be conducted by a congress composed of two commissioners from each colony. In its most essential provisions, it resembled, and probably afterwards suggested, that more celebrated confederation of the thirteen independent states, which was formed for their mutual defense during the war of the revolution.
During the civil wars of England, while the government was in the hands of the republican parliament, and afterwards under the protectorate of Cromwell, the most friendly feelings subsisted between the colonists and the ruling power of the parent country. The acts of parliament were highly favorable to the colonists. The navigation act, [elsewhere described,] was not enforced against them; and the goods imported from, and those exported to Europe, were exempted from duties. And even the charters granted by Charles II, soon after his restoration to the throne, secured to the colonists the right of selfgovernment.
The royal, or provincial governments, were those of Virginia, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, the Carolinas, and Georgia. The Carolinas, and the Jerseys, (there being East and West Jersey,) were at first under proprietary governments; but at a later period, the Carolinas (1728) and New Jersey (1702) came under royal charters, which continued until the Revolution. In the royal governments, the power was vested in a governor and council, appointed by the crown, and a representative assembly chosen by the people. These governments were called royal, because they derived all their powers directly from the king. The governors held their offices at his pleasure, and acted under his instructions. The council, besides constituting one branch of the legislature, in which they had a negative on the acts of the other, acted also in an executive capacity, as advisers of the governor. The governors had power to negative the acts of both houses; and all acts, though approved by him, must be submitted to the king and receive his approval, before they could have the effect of laws. The judges also, and most of the other officers, were appointed by the king, and held their offices at his pleasure.
Virginia was settled in 1607, by a colony of 100 persons sent out by the London company. This was the earliest permanent settlement made within the country.
The affairs of the colony were at first managed by a governor and council appointed by the company. In 1619, a great change was made in the government of the colony. A general assembly, the first that was held in America, was called by the governor. This assembly con
sisted of " two burgesses chosen from every town, hundred, and plantation, by the inhabitants, to decide, conjointly with the governor and council
, by the greatest majority of voices, in all matters of concern relating to the colony." Eleven boroughs were represented in the convention. The government was now established on the plan of that of England, the governor, council, and assembly, corresponding to the king, lords, and commons. In 1621, by an ordinance of the company, two councils were constituted, one a council of state, appointed by the company, to assist the governor ; the other a legislative council, composed of the council of state, and the burgesses, and called the general assembly. A negative upon the acts of the assembly was reserved to the governor ; and no act was to have force until confirmed by the company in Europe ; nor were any orders from the company to bind the colony, until ratified by the general assembly.
The displeasure of the king (James I) having been excited by the establishment of so popular a form of government, he demanded of the company a surrender of their charter. Compliance with this demand being refused by the company, a writ of quo warranto was issued, (1624,) and judgment rendered against the company. The charter was declared forfeit, the company was dissolved, and all its powers revested in the crown.
The government having been taken into royal hands, the king issued a special commission, appointing a governor and twelve councillors to direct the affairs of the colony. James died soon after, and was succeeded by Charles I, who was not more friendly to the late popular system of government than his father. He devolved upon the governor and council the whole legislative and executive powers of the colony, with instructions to conform strictly to all orders they should receive from bim. They were authorized to levy taxes; to seize the property of the late company, and to apply it to public use; and to transport colonists to England, to be punished for crimes committed in Virginia. In addition to this, a monopoly of the tobacco trade was secured, by requiring the whole of that article to be shipped to England, and delivered to agents of the king
Under the pressure of these arbitrary regulations, rendered more secure by the cruelty with which the governor (Sir John Harvey) exercised his powers, the colonists, in 1636, after a peaccable submission for several years to his authority, seized the governor, and sent him a prisoner to England, accompanied by two of their number to represent their grievances. Displeased with this act of violence, without giving the deputies a hearing, the king sent Harvey back to Virginia, reinvested
with his former powers.
Soon after this occurrence, Charles, probably apprehending that the
complaints of the colonists would be brought before his parliament, which, after an intermission of seven years, he was about to reassemble; and that these complaints would be regarded as evidenee of his arbitrary disposition, and serve to increase the discontent which his despotic rule had excited among his subjects at home, suddenly changed his conduct towards the colonists. Sir William Berkeley, a gentleman possessing a character the opposite of that of Harvey, was appointed to succeed the latter as governor, and directed to restore to the people the right of representation, by issuing writs for the election of burgesses from the plantations, who, with the governor and council, were to constitute the general assembly.
Berkeley, who continued to administer the government until after the downfall and execution of Charles, had, by his mild administration, rendered both himself and royal family highly popular. The house of commons, having become established in power, claimed the right to control the affairs of the colony, and passed an ordinance in 1650, declaring the people of Virginia and other places in a state of rebellion, and prohibiting all trade with the English settlements in America. In pursuance of authority granted by the act, the council of state sent to Virginia an armed force to bring the colonists to obedience. Commissioners also were sent, authorized to offer to the inhabitants, as a condition of their submission, the liberty to choose such burgesses as they should think fit, for the better regulating and governing of affairs ;" provided nothing should be done contrary to the government and laws of the Commonwealth of England. The squadron entered the Bay of Chesapeake in 1651, but Berkeley, unable to make successful resistance to superior force, capitulated; on terms, however, which were favorable to the colonists,
During the supremacy of the parliament and Cromwell, the Virginians enjoyed 'the right of self-government and free trade. The governor, councillors, and other officers, were chosen by the burgesses or grand assembly. Their submission to the commonwealth of England, however, was never cordial, and after a period of nine years, they determined to return to their former allegiance. The house of burgesses declared that the supreme power should reside in the assembly, and that all writs should issue in the name of the "grand assembly of Virginia, until such a command and commission come out of England, as should be by the assembly judged lawful.” Berkeley was again appointed governor, and Charles II, even before his restoration to the throne had been effected, was proclaimed in Virginia before intelligence of Cromwell's death had been received. Berkeley was soon after appointed governor by the king, with instructions to summon an assembly, according to usage, and to declare a general act of indemnity.