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THE object of the compilers of this volume is to present to the people of Pennsylvania the constitutions of the province and the commonwealth, and the mode and manner in which the several changes in the frame of government were made to effect this purpose, the following pages exhibit a view of all the official proceed. ings in relation to calling conventions in this state, the minutes of the conventions, and the frames of the proprietary and state governments.
Charles the second, on the 4th of March, 1681, granted to William Penn, pros prietary and governor, a charter for the province of Pennsylvania. Under the powe ers delegated by this charter, the proprietary, with certain freemen of the province, adopted the first frame of governmeut and certain laws, in England, on the 20th day of April, 1682, these were to be further explained and confirmed by the first provincial council, if they should see meet.
William Penn arrived in America, for the purpose of taking possession of the province, on the 24th of October, 1682. He landed at New Castle, now in the state of Delaware—the inhabitants on the Delaware then consisted of English, Dutch and Swedes; on the next day he convened the people at the court house, (where after possession of the country was legally given to him, he made a speech to the old magistrates and the people, signifying to them the design of his coming, the nature and end of government in general, and particularly of that which he came to es. tablish; assuring to them the full enjoyment of their spiritual and temporal rights, liberty of conscience and civil freedom; and recommending to them to live in sobriety and peace. After having renewed the magistrate's commissions, he proceeded to Upland, now called Chester, where, on the 4th day of December, 1682, he called an assembly of the people, which consisted of as many of the freemen of the province, and three lower counties, then called the territories, as thought proper to appear, according to the provisions of the 16th article of the frame of government. At this assembly an act of union was passed annexing the three lower counties (now the state of Delaware) to the province in legislation.
Among other laws, the act of settlement was passed, by which, with some alterations and additions, the frame of government agreed upon in England, was accepted and confirmed.* At this assembly all the laws agreed upon in England, were, with some alterations, passed in form, and the foreigners were naturalized. Nicholas Moore, was speaker of this assembly, which continued in session only three days.
In the latter part of the year 1682, the proprietary purchased the land whereon Philadelphia now stands, called by the natives Coaquannock, and with the assistance of his surveyor general, Thomas Holmes, laid out the city. At this period the proprietor with the consent of the purchasers. divided the province and territories, each, into three counties; those of the province were called Philadelphia, Bucks and Chester; and those of the territories, New Castle, Kent and Sussex; and having appointed sheriffs and other proper officers for each county, be issued writs for the election of members of council and assembly, accord:i'g to the provisions of the frame of government
He met the council on the 10th day of March, 1683, 0. S. at Philadelphia, and the assembly two days afterwards. T'here were three members of council, and nine members of assembly, returned for each county. The number of councillors and members of assembly returned, being deficient, the freemen of the counties prayed the proprietor that the number might be limited to three councillors and nine members of assembly for each county, and that their non-compliance with the terms
* The act of settlement is not inserted in this work, because all the alterations whic it introduced into the frame of 1682, are among others contained in the frame of 1683