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be a complete legislature. They were required to meet once in each year, or oftener, under the name of the general assembly of Virginia, composed of a house of delegates and the senate. The laws of Virginia were first revised in September, 1632, although not so named until March, 1642-3. In March, 1657-8, during the existence of the commonwealth, another revisal was made, adapting the laws of the colony to the state of the church and the republican institutions of that day. In March, 1661-2, after the restoration of Charles II., the laws were again revised; the object of this revision, as expressed in the preamble of the act was, to repeal and expunge all laws “which might keep in memory their forced deviation from their majesty's obedience.”
The next revisal was in 1705. No laws were printed until the year 1733. The first edition, called Purvis's edition, was published in London without date, and only with the initials of the printer's name, as it was supposed between the years 1684 and 1687, from the fact that it was dedicated to Lord Howard, who was governor of Virginia during that period. In 1722 an abridgment of the laws of Virginia were also published in London, and a second edition of it in 1728. Purvis's edition seems to have been bound up with blank leaves for the reception of subsequent laws, and to have been distributed to the separate counties at different times. All these editions, except that of Purvis's collection, exist to this day. The principal revisals since Purvis's, are the editions of 1733, 1752, 1769, 1783, 1794, 1803, 1808, and 1819.
8 35. By an act of the general assembly of Virginia. passed 28th December, 1792, it was ordained, that a collection should be made of all such acts of the assembly of a public and permanent nature as were then in force. This compilation was not completed until the close of the year 1794. Under the act of 5th Febru
ary, 1808, the statutes at large of Virginia were published by Mr. Hening, comprising a collection of the laws of Virginia from the first session of the legislature in 1619.
Under an act of the 12th March, 1819, another revised code of the laws of Virginia was published, which contained a collection of all such acts of the general assembly of a public and permanent nature as were then in force, edited by Thomas Ritchie, aided by Messrs. Hening and Mumford. · From that period to the present time, the laws of Virginia are published in separate volumes containing the statutes of each year.
§ 36. HAVING detailed some of the prominent facts connected with the history of the statutes of the colony and state of Virginia, we shall next direct our attention to the history of the statute laws of Massachusetts. The immediate causes which led to the first settlement of the colony of New Plymouth had their origin in one of those mysterious dispensations of divine economy not unfrequently misunderstood by short sighted men, but which form a part of that great consecutive plan, or link in the great chain of events, by which the righteous sovereign of the universe accomplishes his purposes in moulding the destinies of a nation. A small but truly Spartan band had, by their independence in religious sentiments, rendered themselves obnoxious to an arrogant ecclesiastical hierarchy, sanctioned by the civil polity of England. They, as offenders against the forms of religion, in the exemplification of its spirit and power, were forced into exile and banished from their native land, to the end that they might be schooled in adversity, for the sacrifice of kindred and country, to the demands of the great and glorious cause of truth, thus to be fitted and trained to the endurance of those privations, toils and hardships necessarily to be encountered in the early settlement of a new country; here to lay the foundations broad and deep of one of the greatest republics ever known in the world's history; here to plant those great civil and political institutions which now so justly claim the admiration and respect of the whole civilized world.
The history of colonial legislation in Massachusetts is divided into three parts, each of which demand and will receive a separate consideration. The one, embracing
that of the colony of Plymouth from its earliest settlement down to the period of its union with that of Massachusetts Bay in 1691. The second, that of the colony of Massachusetts Bay from the period of its settlement to the time of its union with Plymouth. The third, from the union of the two colonies to the Revolution. We shall first proceed to that of New Plymouth. For all that we shall collate upon this branch of our subject, it is proper that we premise with an acknowledgment that we are exclusively. indebted to the learned and laborious as well as accurate researches of William Brigham, Esq., in an article from his pen in a number of the North American Review, from which all that we shall say is derived, and much of it couched in his own succinct and beautiful language.
$ 37. The history of this colony extends through a period of seventy-one years, from 1620 to 1691, when it was united to Massachusetts, becoming a part of the province of Massachusetts Bay. Its territory, comprising most of the present counties of Plymouth, Barnstable, and Bristol, together with a small tract of land- now included within the limits of Rhode Island, being about one seventh part of the present commonwealth of Massachusetts. It was divided into three counties and twenty townships and districts, and in 1691 it contained a population of about 9000, now including upwards of fifty townships and 140,000 inhabitants. As early as 1602 a number of persons in England, feeling themselves aggrieved, began to converse upon the subject of removing from that country, but took no measures for that purpose until 1602, when a small number of puritans settled at Leyden in Holland, where they remained until July, 1620. Their first permanent settlement at Plymouth was on the 22d December in that year.
$ 38. On their arrival they found themselves without government,—without any constituted authority by
which the members of their community could be restrained and its affairs managed. They acknowledged themselves subjects of the King of England and knew they were within his dominions. Yet they were too insignificant and too remote to feel or fear his authority or to expect any protection. No people had so fully appreciated the value of the rights of each member of the state, none had felt so deeply the great cause of humanity, or entertained such cheering hopes of human improvement. Yet such is the constitution of the human mind and the nature of human attachment to the institutions of ancestors, and the early associations of childhood, that it was difficult for them at once to break loose from the ties that bound them to their native land, or to model a form of government in all respects unlike that under which they had lived and suffered. No one can doubt that the form and constitution of the government of England was entirely unsuited to the condition of an infant colony, and that the circumstances and condition of the colonists demanded such a modification of their institutions, as in many important features to change the very nature and character of their political compact.
They had fled from a government which they believed tyrannical, and it was not strange that they should have used every precaution to resist in their new situation the evils from which they had escaped. In their new situation they were free from all political restraints, and could make in the establishment of their government and institutions a practical recognition of those political principles upon which they believed the well being and happiness of society rested. In this respect they had the advantage over most of the other American colonies, for which governments were formed previous to their settlement by means of charters from the king.
§ 39. The government of this colony dates its origin from November 11th, 1620, when the Plymouth fathers