Изображения страниц

Act regulated the rates of postage to be paid in the plantations, exempted the mail carriers from ferriage, and enabled the officers to recover their dues by summary process. So slow, however, was its progress, that eight years elapsed before it was extended to Virginia. Clamour instantly propagated objections to the principles of the Act of Parliament, as unconstitutional, and to the practice of the Post Office as inconvenient. Spotswood wrote to the Board of Trade in June, 1718, that “the people were made to believe that the Parliament could not lay any tax (for so they call the rates of postage) on them, without the consent of the General Assembly. This gave a handle for framing some grievance against the new office, and thereupon a bill was passed by both councils and burgesses, which, though it acknowledged the Act of Parliament to be in force in Virginia, doth effectually prevent its ever being put in

New York, and thence to London, was—single, 1s.; double, 2s. ; treble, 3s. ; ounce, 4s. The rate of all letters from New York to any place within sixty miles thereof, and thence to New York, was—single, 4d. ; double, 8d. ; treble, 1s. ; ounce, 1s. 4d.

execution. Whence your Lordships may judge how well affected the major part of the Assembly men are towards the collection of this branch of his Majesty's revenue.” Morris gave information from New Jersey to the Board of Trade in June, 1743, that “the delegates are generally so fond of the example of the Parliament of 1641, and of their neighbours in Pennsylvania and New England, that it is easy to see what assemblies in these parts of the world are aiming at.” To the Duke of Newcastle, he remarked, “it may, perhaps, seem strange to your Grace, that an American Assembly should make the passing of any law a condition, sine qud mon, of supporting the Government; but to what lengths they will carry their endeavours, unless they meet with some more effectual check than they have done, my superiors can best judge.” The Board of Trade reported that the Pennsylvanian Assembly, having passed several acts, which were found to offend equally against natural justice, the laws of England, and the Royal prerogative, containing the most dangerous claims, “that it was in vain to negotiate away

[ocr errors][merged small]

his Majesty's authority, since every new concession becomes a foundation for some new demand, and that of some new dispute.” It also complained of the obstacles thrown in the way of its obtaining information. “We cannot conceal,” they say, “the difficulty of procuring returns of the commercial affairs of New England, which will not appear extraordinary, when we acquaint your Lordship that the Assembly of Massachusetts Bay had the boldness to summon Mr. Jeremiah Dunbar before them, and to pass a severe censure upon him, for having given evidence at the bar of the House of Commons, with regard to their trade and manufactures.” To all these warnings, the Parliament was indifferent or inattentive, and the evil was allowed to extend itself to that degree, that when a remedy was attempted it was found to be incurable. The colonists, however, were fully alive to their interests, and lost no opportunity of advancing them. The most important subject at that time ever debated on this continent, was now fully considered in all its bearings, namely, a confederation of all the provinces, with a constitution as nearly as possible resembling that of the United States. This, doubtless, was suggested by the combination of the early plantations of New England, already referred to, while this more perfect and better matured plan, served as a model first for Congress, and convention, and then for the union of all the revolted colonies. The interest and importance of the subject justify and require a detailed notice of it. The Board of Trade ordered an assemblage of delegates from all the Governments to be held at some central place, for the purpose of considering the subject of Indian affairs. To this meeting, which took place at Albany, on the 14th of June, 1754, six provinces sent commissioners. It is remarkable that Massachusetts not only empowered her delegates to act upon the object of the letter from the Lords Commissioners, but authorised them to enter into articles of union and confederation with the other Governments, for the general defence of his Majesty's subjects and interests in North America, as well in time of peace as in war. After mature deliberation, the following plan was agreed upon:“It is proposed that humble application be made for an Act of Parliament of Great Britain, by virtue of which one general Government may be formed in America, including all the said colonies (Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina). Within, and under which Government, each colony may retain its present constitution, except in the particulars wherein a change may be directed by the said Act as hereafter follows:


“That the said general Government be administered by a President-General, to be appointed and supported by the Crown, and a Grand Council, to be chosen by the representatives of the people of the several colonies, met in their respective assemblies,


“That within months after the passing of such Acts, the House of Representatives that happen to be sitting within that time, or that shall be especially for the purpose convened, may

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »