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meet with any obstructions from this address, that, by the deed from the Duke of York to William Penn, he was only entitled to the soil and not to the powers of government, the soil being only granted; and that, consequently, Mr. Penn exceeded his power in extending the charter to the Lower Counties; and that therefore the charter, being granted by a person not having the power of granting, is void? And as to their laws, the ministry may certainly be surprised to find a government carried on, and laws made for upwards of sixty years, without transmitting any of them for their approbation. This conduct is not only treating the crown with great disrespect, but is invading its prerogatives in a dangerous point. · I apprehend the reason of the crown's reserving a power to repeal or confirm the laws of the colonies is, that it may, by a superintendent power, be able at all times to prevent the ill consequences, that must flow from statutes made inconsistent with the allegiance of the subject, or contrary to the royal prerogative. But, if a colony should have it in its power, by a juggle between the two branches of the legislature, to pass laws without ever presenting them to the royal eye, or ministerial inspection, then sedition, disloyalty, and infringements of the King's prerogative may be promoted, and sanctified by the solemnity of laws, and all their attendant mischiefs ensue, without the least possibility of redress. I call it a juggle, because you well know, the Assembly of that government have been indulged by the Proprietaries in many things, which they have refused here, particularly the Loan Office Act, which was passed about the same time, in which the one in Pennsylvania was assented to by the governor; an act liable to the same objections made by the Proprietaries to the one passed
here, and yet they presented the latter for the royal disapprobation, and exerted all their industry to obtain a repeal, while the former they permitted, with all the rest of the Lower County laws, to sleep unpresented. Nay more, their present governor appointed by a new act a new set of trustees to carry the former law into execution.
Does not a conduct of this sort in a Proprietary governor fully justify the assertion of the Lords of Trade, that his Majesty's prerogative is too' weighty to be intrusted to the feeble hands of private individuals, who, from attachments to their own private interest, views, and schemes, are ever ready to violate or surrender it up, to serve their own purposes of a private nature. Mr. Wharton has promised to send you the act, with the supplement, or I should do it by this opportunity. • The proprietary party still are industrious in endeavouring to prevent our design to change the government. The corporation of this city have been for several days engaged in petitioning the Proprietaries not to surrender the government to the crown; but, in case this cannot be avoided, to use their interest to preserve the charter privileges. The Presbyterians, likewise, have been as active in preparing and signing a petition to the same purpose, only differing in the conclusion, that, in case the change takes place, their religious privileges are to be preserved. These petitions are to go over with Mr. Hamilton.
The confusion of the government does not seem yet to be at an end, and, I am convinced, never will be, unless one more just, impartial, and respectful, than that of a Proprietary, should succeed. Every day furnishes further proofs. At the last election at Lancaster a Dutchman, who came into the country
young, and is very capable of executing the office, was elected, and appointed sheriff of that county. The Irish Presbyterians, being disappointed in not having one of themselves elected to that office, refused to serve on either grand or petit juries, though regularly summoned by the sheriff, because he was a Dutchman, so that there was a failure of justice last term in that city. The sheriff, in endeavouring to serve a process on one of those people, was violently assaulted, had both ears of his horse cut off, and was obliged to fly to save his life. And here the matter rests. For I cannot learn there are any measures taking to bring the offenders to justice; and, were they taken, I much doubt their success, such is the debility of this proprietary government.
I hear that the governor, to show how little he regards the remonstrances from the Assembly respecting the maleconduct of the justiciary officers, has reinstated William Moore of Chester County, as the president of Chester court, and has turned out Mr. Hannums, a very worthy man, for this only reason, because he has supported the measures prosecuted in favor of the crown, respecting a change of gov. ernment; and I am also well informed, that Mr. Pawling is to be left out in this county with several others, for the like reason, and several Presbyterians are to fill their places. Mr. Bryan, of this city, is one. A strange government this, in which loyalty and affection to the sovereign are made criminal, while a servile submission and implicit obedience to the unjust and oppressive measures of a private subject, are the only path to promotion. I am, &c.
• Thomas Wharton, writing to Dr. Franklin a few days later on the subject of the above letter, says ; “ The more I have reflected on the TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN.
Arrival in England.
Saint Helen's Road, Isle of Woght,
5 o'clock, P. M, 9 December, 1764. MY DEAR DEBBY,
This line is just to let you know, that we have this moment come to an anchor here, and that I am going ashore at Portsmouth, and hope to be in London on Tuesday morning. No father could have been tenderer to a child than Captain Robinson has been to me, for which I am greatly obliged to Messrs. James and Drinker; but we have had terrible weather, and I have often been thankful, that our dear Sally
state we are in, the clearer I am confirmed in my judgment of the absolute necessity of the measure (a change of government); and for my own part cannot help saying, that I think a Legislative Council will one day or other be found to be the greatest support of our privileges, as well as that of the rights of the crown. For, when I consider the natural increase of the
n s, and the vast numbers yearly arriving among us, I am induced to believe they will have the rule and direction of our elections. If that should prove the circumstance, nothing can contribute to our freedom so much as a Legislative Council, who would, no doubt, receive their appointment from London, and every avenue would be well guarded on that side of the water; 80 that those people would not have it in their power to fill both the legislative and executive branches of government." - Philadelphia, December 4th.
The blank in this extract doubtless refers to the Presbyterians. It would seem that religious motives, as well as political, mingled in this controversy about the change of government. In this point of view the following “Circular Letter” throws some ight on the subject.
Philadelphia, 30 March, 1764. « Our General Assembly have adjourned for a short time to consult their constituents, whether an humble address should be drawn up and transmitted to his Majesty, praying that he would be pleased to take this province under his immediate protection and government; that is, whether the freemen of this province should petition the King, that we may be reduced to the form of a King's government. The fres
was not with me. Tell our friends that dined with us on the turtle, that the kind prayer they then put up for thirty days' fair wind to me was favorably heard and answered, we being just thirty days from land to land.
I am, thanks to God, very well and hearty. John has behaved well to me, and so has everybody on board. I thank all my friends for their favors, which contributed so much to the comfort of my voyage. I have not time to name names. You know whom I love and honor. Say all the proper things for me to everybody. Love to our children, and to my dear brother and sister. I am, dear Debby, your ever loving husband,
byterians here, upon mature deliberation, are of opinion, that it is not safe to do things of such importance rashly. Our privileges by these means may be greatly abridged, but will never be enlarged. We are under the King's protection now, as much as we can be, for he will never govern us in person; and it is of no great consequence whether his deputy be recommended by the Proprietaries, or by some other great man by his Majesty's approbation. Our charter is in danger by such a change, and let no man persuade you to the contrary.
“There has been a half-yearly meeting of the Quakers in this city; but this change of government has not been proposed in their meeting, as we can yet understand, nor is it approved of by the heads of that Society. This affair is in all probability a trap, laid to ensnare the unwary, and then to cast an odium on the Presbyterians for ruining, or attempting to ruin, the province. The frontier counties are now suing for redress of grievance, and we have the greatest reason to believe, that it is no more than an artful scheme lo divide or divert the attention of the injured frontier inhabitants from prosecuting their petitions, which very much alarm them. For these reasons, we would earnestly recommend to you to lose no time in advising all under your influence, whether of our denomination or others, not to sign any such petition. “ Signed per order,
“ GILBERT TENNENT,
• He reached London in the evening of the 10th of December, and went immediately to his old lodgings. In a short letter to Miss Sto