« PreviousContinue »
Fourthly, By the laws and statutes of England, the chief rents, honours, and castles of the crown are taxed, and pay their proportion to the supplies that are granted to the king for the defence of the realm and support of government: bis majesty, the nobility of the realm, and all the British subjects, do now actually contribute their proportion towards the defence of America in general, and this province in particular: and it is in a more especial manner the duty of the proprietaries to pay their proportion of a tax, for the immediate preservation of their own estates, in this province. To exempt therefore any part of their estates from their reasonable part of this necessary burthen, it is unjust as it is illegal, and as new as it is arbitrary.
Yet the proprietaries, notwithstanding the general danger to which the nation and its colonies are exposed, and great distress of this province in particular, by their said instructions, have prohibited their governors from passing laws for the raising supplies for its defence; unless all their located, unimproved, and unoccupied lands, quit-rents, fines, and purchase monies on interest (the much greater part of their enormous estates in this colony) are expressly exempted from paying any part of the tax.
Fifthly, By virtue of the said royal charter, the proprietaries are invested with a power of doing every thing “ which unto a compleat establishment of justice, unto courts and tribunals, forms of judicature, and manner of proceedings, do belong.” It was certainly the import and design of this grant, that the courts of judicature should be formed, and the judges and officers thereof hold their commissions, in a manner not repug
nant, but agreeable to the laws and customs of England: that thereby they might remain free from the influence of persons in power, the rights of the people might be preserved, and their properties effectually secured. That the guarantee, William Penn (understanding the said grant in this light) did, by his original frame of government, covenant and grant with the people, that the judges aud other officers should hold their commissions during their good behaviour, and no longer.
Notwithstanding which, the governors of this province have, for many years past, granted all the commissions to the judges of the king's bench or supreme court of this province, and to the judges of the court of common pleas of the several counties, to be held during their will and pleasure ; by means whereof, the said judges being subject to the influence and directions of the proprietaries and their governors, their favourites and creatures, the laws may not be duly administered or executed, but often wrested from their true sense; to serve particular purposes, the foundation of justice may be liable to be destroyed; and the lives, laws, liberties, privileges, and properties of the people thereby rendered precarious and altogether insecure; to the great disgrace of our laws, and the inconceivable injury of his majesty's subjects.
Your committee further beg leave to add, that besides these aggrievances, there are other hardships the people of this province have experienced, that call for redress.—The inlistment of servants, without the least satisfaction being made to the masters, has not only pre
vented the cultivation of our lands, and diminished the trade and commerce of the province, but is a burthen extremely unequal and oppressive to individuals. And should the practice continue, the consequence must prove very discouraging to the further settlement of this colony, and prejudicial to his majesty's future ser. vice.---Justice, therefore, demands, that satisfaction should be made to the masters of such inlisted servants; and that the right of masters to their scrvants be confirmed and settled.---But as those servants have been inlisted into his majesty's service for the general defence of America, and not of this province only, but all the colonies, and the nation in general, have and will receive equal benefit from their service; this satisfaction should be made at the expence of the nation, and not of the province only.
That the people now labour under a burthen of taxes, almost insupportable by so young a colony, for the defence of its long-extended frontier, of about two hundred miles from New Jersey to Maryland; without either of those colonies, or the three lower counties on Delaware, contributing their proportion thereto; though their frontiers are in a great measure covered and protected by our forts. And should the war continue, and with it this unequal burthen, many of his majesty's subjects in this province will be reduced to want, and the province, if not lost to the enemy, involved in debt, and sunk under its load.
That notwithstanding this weight of taxes, the assemblies of this province have given to the general service of the nation, five thousand pounds to purchase provisions for the troops under General Braddock; 2,9851.
Os. Ud. for clearing a road by his orders; 10,5141. 10s. id. to General Shirley, for the purchasing provisions for the New England forces; and expended the sum of 2,3851. Os. 24d. in supporting the inhabitants of Nova Scotia; which likewise we conceive ought to be a national expence.
And that his majesty's subjects, the merchants and insurers in England, as well as the merchants here and elsewhere, did during the last, and will during the present war, greatly suffer in their property, trade, and commerce, by the enemy's privateers on this coast, and at our capes, unless some method be fallen on to prevent it.
Wherefore your committee are of opinion, That the commissioners intended to be sent to England *, to solicit a memorial and redress of the many infractions and violations of the constitution ; should also have it in charge, and be instructed to represent to our most gracious sovereign and his parliaments, the several unequal burthers and hardships before-mentioned ;---and endeavour to procure satisfaction to the masters of such servants as have been inlisted, and the right of masters to their servants established and confirmed ;--and obtain a repayment of the said several sums of money, some assistance towards defending our exten
. Dr. Franklin was afterwards appointed to present this address, as agent for the province of Pensylvania, and departed from America for the purpose in June 1757. See his life, Vol. I. p. 134. While in England, the more effectually to accomplish the business upon which he was sent, he wrote the article that follows in the next page, entitled An historical Review, &c. Editor.
sive frontier, and a vessel of war to protect the trade and commerce of this province.
Submitted to the correction of the house.
An historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pensylvania, from its origin; so far as regards the several Points of Controversy which have, from Time to Time, arisen between the several Governors of that Province, and their several Assemblies. Founded on authentic Documents. Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. Griffiths, 1759*.
To the right honourable Arthur Onslow, speaker of the
honourable House of Commons.
SIB, THE subject of the following sheets is an unhappy one: the controversy between the proprietaries and successive assemblies of Pensylvania : a controversy
• This is the title of an octavo volume, consisting of nearly five hundred pages closely printed. It was written, as mentioned in the preceding note, while Dr. Franklin was in England as agent for the province of Pensylva. nia, to further the ends of his mission, by removing the unfavourable impressions which had taken place to the prejudice of the Pensylvanians : and “it must be confessed,” as a reviewer of the work observes, “they