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Assembly but of the Governor and Proprietor as well, for he gave up the right of veto and only retained three votes in a council of seventytwo members.
Neither of these provisions could become permanent. The people immediately demanded full legislative rights for the Assembly, and after 1693 practically excluded the Council from any law-making powers. . In 1701 it became an advisory board for the Governor, appointed by the Proprietor. Both people and Proprietor saw that the latter official or his representative would be powerless without the veto, and restored it in 1696. But the willingness of William Penn to give up power and privilege does credit to his generosity, if not always to his judgment.
The Assembly of the first year was to consist · of all the freemen of the province, afterwards of two hundred members. But here again the desire for a pure democracy had outgrown the bounds of reason. The freemen would not come together. They were too busy. Nor could the sparse population support two hundred Assemblymen. Finally thirty-six became the maximum number, and so it remained through the Colonial period.
The“ Frame of Government" and the “ Laws
agreed upon in England” were the final products of all Penn's best thinking and conferences, and were brought with him to the Colony in 1682. Though changed in forin many times they shaped all future Constitutions of Pennsylvania, of other States and of the Federal Union.*
This Frame was modified in 1683 to correct some glaring inconveniences, again in 1696 in the direction of popular freedom, and in 1701 it assumed the form which it maintained during the Colonial period. It was the Constitution of Pennsylvania until 1776. There seems good reason to believe that Penn preferred the earlier drafts, but that the concentration of the power in the hands of the Assembly was demanded by the democratic aspirations of the people. The Proprietor had said to them in 1700 with the greatest frankness, “ Friends, if in the Constitution by charter there be anything that jars, alter it. If you want a law for this or that, prepare it. ... Study peace and be at unity ... I desire to see mine not otherwiso than in the public's prosperity.” The demand of the people for liberty was met by a gracious surrender on the part of
* For an interesting comparison between Locke's Con. stitution and Penn's see Bancroft's History.
the Proprietor. Himself greatly in advance of the times, he so far honored the principle of government by the people, as repeatedly to yield his own judgment and desires ; so that while they were contending with him and his agents for additional privileges he was himself shielding them to his own pecuniary disadvantage from the attacks of enemies in England who were seeking to deprive them of privileges already granted.
The charter of 1701 which embodied the final triumph of radical democratic principles contained only nine articles. The first grants liberty of conscience to all who “ Confess and acknowledge Almighty God," and grants to all who profess to believe in Jesus Christ the right to hold executive and legislative offices, by giving a promise of allegiance and fidelity.
The second requires an Assembly to be chosen yearly by the freemen to consist of four persons or more from each county. This Assembly has full powers to choose its officers, to judgo of the qualifications of its own members, to adjourn itself, to prepare bills and make laws, impeach criminals and redress grievances,“ with all other powers and privileges of an assembly according to the rights of free-born subjects of England.”
The third requires the freemen to elect two or three people for each position of sheriff or coroner or other court officers, and the Governor to choose among them. Or if the Governor fails to select, the first named shall serve.
The fourth declares that all laws shall be issued in the form, “By the Governor, with the consent and approbation of the frecmen in General Assembly met."
The fifth allows all criminals to have the same privileges of witnesses and counsel as their prosecutors.
The sixth requires that all cases concerning property shall be decided by courts of justice and not by Governor and Council.
The seventh prevents any onc receiving a tavern license who is not recommended by the justices, and allows the justices to suppress a disorderly public housc.
The cighth prevents the forfeiture of the estates of suicides or intestates ; prohibits any law contrary to this Charter without the consent of the Governor and six-sevenths of the Assembly, and pledges the Proprietor to observe inviolably the first article concerning liberty of conscience.
Lastly the Proprietor binds himself and heirs
not to destroy the liberties of the Charter, and declares such actions if attempted to be of no force or effect.
Nothing was said in the Charter about a veto of laws by the Governor except such as is implied in the fourth article. This seems, however, never to have been questioned. When the Proprietor was in the Province his assent was necessary to all laws. When absent the Deputy Governor was also to assent, but he was governed by general proprietary instructions. While excluded from law-making, the Council could exercise a salutary restraint upon both the Assembly and the Governor. It was composed of eight: or twelve wise and solid men, and being appointed by the Proprietors largely to safeguard their interests, was out of direct reach of popular clamor. The Deputy Governors were usually instructed to perform no act without its consent. This gave it a valuable conservative place in government.
“Thus did Penn perfect his government. An executive dependent for its support on the people; all subordinate elective officers elected by the people ; the judiciary dependent for its existence on the people ; all legislation originating exclusively with the people ; no forts, no armed
force, no militia ; no established church ; no difference of rank ; and a harbor open for the reception of all mankind of every nation, of children of every language and every creed ; could it be that the invisible power of reason would be able to order and restrain, to punish crime and to protect property ?”*
Before entering upon the development of the principles of democracy and civil liberty in the Province, it will be interesiing to know the extent to which the Quakers controlled the government. While William Penn was in his usual hcalth his influence was of course very great. IIis proprietorship in its relations to the government, to his quit-rents due from lands sold, to his private ownership of vast acres of unoccupied land, as well as his personal character, furity and simplicity of life, the value of his religious ministry, and his great abilities, gave him a commanding influence. He was in the country in active control in 1682-4, and again in 16991701. In 1712 he was seized with a stroke of apoplexy, and was unable to do business until 1718, when he died. During this time his affairs were managed with great ability by his
* Bancroft's “ History of the United States."