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of the frame of government might not deprive them of it. The governor answ
swered, “ That they might amend, alter or add, for the public good, and that he was ready to settle such foundations as might be for their happiness, according to the powers vested in him.”
This session continued twenty-two days. The principal business that was transacted, was the alteration of the frame of government. By the twenty-third section it was provided, that no law should be passed to alter, change or diminish the form or effect of the frame of government, or any part or clause thereof, or contrary to the true intent and meaning thereof without the consent of the governor and six parts of seven of the freemen in provincial council and general assembly.
A conference was held between the governor and council and the general assembly, at which the council and assembly unanimously requested an alteration of the frame of government. Whereupon a committee was appointed by each house to amend the same, and include such alterations as had been agreed upon; and at a council held on the 2d of April, 1683, the frame, as amended, being prepared, was read, signed, sealed and delivered by the goveruor to a committee of the assembly, who returned to him the frame of 1682. The charter of 1683 continued to be the supreme law of the province until 1696.
William Penn continued in the province until the summer of the year 1684, when a dispute about the southern boundary of the province with Lord Baltimore, the proprietor of Maryland, and other important interests, called him home to England. Upon leaving the country, he empowered the provincial council to supply his place in the government. In the year 1686, the proprietary found that the executive part of the government was not well administered in consequence of being commit. ted to so many hands, he therefore issued a new commission to five persons, consti. tuting them commissioners of state, and vesting them with the executive power of government, with instructions to compel the attendance of the provincial council; to suffer no intrenchment of the council or assembly upon the privileges and powers of the executive; to inspect the proceedings of the legislature, the qualifications of the members, &c. Under the administration of the government by these commissioners, some difficulties occurred, particularly because of the dissatisfaction of the three lower counties; and the proprietary was induced, in the year 1691, to submit to the choice of the council three different modes of administering the executive powers of government, viz. Either that of the council; of five commissioners, or of a deputy governor. The council adopted the latter, and Thomas Lloyd was elected deputy. Owing to the disagreement between the province and territories, this election did not meet with the approbation of the latter, and the proprietary appointed William Markham, their governor.
It appears that William Penn, during the unfortunate reign of James II, was in favor at court; which, together with other circumstances, gave to his enemies an opportunity, after the revolution in 1688, of gaining over him a partial advantage.
in 1692 he was deprived, by William and Mary, of the government of the provincc and territories of Pennsylvania, and a commission was issued to Benjamin Fletcher, governor of New York, dated the 21st of October, 1692, authorising him to annex Pennsylvania to his jurisdiction. Governor Fletcher arrived at Philadelphia in April, 1693. The assembly met on the 16th May following, and resolved, that the laws of the province that were in force before the arrival of the new gov? ernor were still in force; and that the assembly had a right to move for a continuance or confirmation thereof. They accordingly addressed the governor, acknowledged his power, and prayed that the legislative proceedings might be regulated according to the charter and laws of the province, and that the same might be confirmed to them.
The governor in his reply, stated that the late governor had been displaced because of the neglects and miscarriages of his administration, that the constitution of the government of the province, was in direct opposition to the government of England, and that their adherence to the former was proof of their opposition to the latter. These disputes between the governor and assembly arising from the assertion of rights on the one side, and the denial of them on the other, interrupted the harmony of the government. Several laws we e however passed, where pon governor Fletcher returned to New York, having appointed William Markham, Tieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. The assembly again met in May and Sen. tember, 1694, at which sessions several laws were passed, and here terminated the administration of governor Fletcher.
In November 1693, the friends of William Penn, at court, represented his case to the king, as oppressive; that the charges against him were urged by imposters, and
that his political and private character were above reproach. This representation was well received by the sovereign, and the proprietor was reinstated in bis government by letters patent, dated the 20th August, 1694; upon which he appointed William Markham his lieutenant governor, who convened the assembly on the 26th October, 1696; at this session the act of settlement or frame of 1696, was passed, which continued in force until the year 1701.
In August 1699, William Penn set sail from England for Pennsylvania, where he arrived early in December, the same year. During his stay he had various meetings with the general assembly, at which the business of the province was transacted with great harmony, and very much to the satisfaction of the people.
In May 1701, the former charter was surrendered into the hands of the proprietary and governor, by six parts in seven of the assembly. And on the 28th Octo: ber 1701, the council, the assembly and several of the principal inhabitants of Philadelphia attending, the governor presented to them the last charter of privileges or frame of 1701. At the same time he established by letters patent, under the great seal, a council of state for the province and territories, to consult and assist the proprietary or his lieutenants with the best of their advice and counsel in public affairs and matters relating to the government, and to the peace, well being and safety of the people; and in the absence of the proprietary, or upon the lieutenants death or incapacity, to exercise all and singular the powers of government. And having appointed Andrew Hamilton, lieutenant governor of the province, he sailed for England.
The frame of 1701, continued the supreme law of the province during the resi. due of the proprietary government, and is inserted at large in the following pages. The first frame adopted in 1682 is also inserted, and the alterations and amenda ments made by the frames of 1683 and 1696, are annexed in notes. The last general assembly under the proprietary government was elected in October 1775, and adjoured on the 26th September 1776.
The origin and progress of the revolution which terminated in the establishment of the independence of the United States, is a matter of history well known to the people of Pennsylvania. It is only necessary here to state, fthat the continental congress, on the 15th May 1776, adopted a resolution recommending to the respec. tive assemblies and conventions of the United Colonies, where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs had been established, to adopt such government as should, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.*) There was a diversity of opinion in the province, on the subject of this resolution. On the 21st May 1776, a protest was presented to the representatives in assembly, against the anthority of the house to interfere in the premises. It was said that the chartered powers of the house were derived from the mortal enemy of the colonies, and the members were elected by such persons only as were in real or supposed allegiance to the king; that the house was in immediate intercourse with a governor bearing the kings commission, being his sworn representative, and by his oath obliged to hold official correspondence with his ministers. That the circumstances under which the members were elected, and their relation to, and con. nexion with the government of Great Britain, disqualified them to take into consideration the resolve of the congress. That they did not object to the house exer. eising the proper powers which it had hitherto enjoyed for the safety and conveni. ence of the province, until such time as a new constitution originating from, and founded on the authority of the people, should be adopted by a provincial convention to be elected for that purpose; that an application would be made to the com. mittee of inspection and observation of the city and liberties for calling a conference of committees of the several counties, to provide for the election of a convention for the purpose of carrying the resolve of congress into execution, and that they were fully convinced that their safety and happiness, next to the immediate providence of God, depended on their complying with, and supporting firmly the said resolve of congress. This protest was answered by addresses to the assembly, from various parts of the
It was urged by those of a contrary opinion, that the ground upon which the opposition to the arbitrary and oppressive measures of the British ministry was first made, was by these proceedings of the congress totally changed, that instead of forwarding a reconciliation with the parent state, on constitutional principles, an object which all should have in view, a system of policy had been adopted tend
For this resolution and preamble see page 87 of this work.
ing immediately to the subversion of the constitution. It was said that if the inveterate enemies of the colonies should persist in their despotic measures, and drive them by violence to that last shift, a declaration of independence, all would then, be united and strengthened by the conviction that the measure was absolutely necessary; that they had qualified themselves in military matters, and were exceeded by none in their exertions to terminate the oppression of their country, but it was with a determined resolution to defend their constitution against innovations they advised the assembly to proceed in the weighty matters under their consideration with unanimity and firmness, and to look forward to a happy termination of difficulties in a constitutional reconciliation with ancient friends, to adhere religiously to the instructions given to the delegates in congress, by which they were enjoined to dissent from and utterly reject any propositions, should any such be made, that might lead to a separation from the mother country or a change of the form of government, and they prayed the assembly to oppose the changing or altering in any the least part, their invaluable constitution under which they had experienced so much happiness, and in support of which there was nothing just or reasonable, which they would'not willingly undertake.
They also urged that the resolie of congress was a conditional recommendation, that the practice, had been, when assemblies and conventions were referred to bý the congress, to commit the subject to the assemblies, as the ancient constitutional bodies in the respective colonies—that conventions were only resorted to in cases where arbitrary governors had dissolved the assemblies or had subverted their constitutions by abdicating their offices—that the assembly of this province could not be prorogued or dissolved, that it had not been exceeded in exertions in the common cause of liberty, that by the resolve of congress, the representatives. of the people were the sole judges whether their governments were sufficient for the exigencies of their affairs or not—that by the charter, six parts in seven of the assembly were vested with the power of altering the constitution and that in times of confusion, changes should be cautiously adopted and only such should be made as were absolutely necessary.
The assembly took no measures in relation to the resolve of congress more than to appoint a committee to take the same into consideration, and to draft a memorial from the house, setting forth the different contsructions and requesting an explanation from congress in definite terms. It does not appear that this committee made a report. These proceedings of the last provincial assembly took place in the latter part of May, 1776. After which time a quorum of members seldom appear. ed in the house, and they finally adjourned on the 26th September, following:
In order to carry into effect the said resolution of the congress, the committee of the city and liberties of Philadelphia addressed circular letters enclosing the resolve of congress, to the committees of the several counties, requesting them to appoint deputies to meet in provincial conference-the county committees complied with the request, and the conference met in Philadelphia on the 18th of June, 1776, and made provision for calling the convention which formed the constitution of 1776. Such proceedings of the conference and convention as relate to the consitution will be found in the following pages.
(It appears that the constitution of 1776, did not meet the full approbation of the people, for in 1777, and in 1778, resolutions were adopted by the assembly for. calling a convention, * but in 1779, upon the petitions of a very large number of citizens, the resolutions were rescinded)
By the 47th section of the constitution of 1776, the most important powers were delegated to the council of censors, which was to consist of two persons from each city and county, to be elected on the second Tuesday of October, 1783, and on the second Tuesday of the same month, in every seventh year thereafter,—the first and only council met upon the 10th of November 1783. The first session terminated on the 21st of January, 1784, the second session commenced on the 1st of June, 1784, and the council finally adjourned on the 25th of September, 1784.)
Two detailed reports of the council, with reasons of assent and dissent to vari. ous parts are inserted in this volume,t they relate entirely to the constitution, and exhibit the opinions of the council upon that instrument and their construction of its several articles_The opinion of the council is quoted as a reason for the pass. age of the act of the 4th April, 1785, which see in note to page 101 of this vol.
* See the resolution in note to page 111 of this volume. † See page 123.
| It will be observed that at the first session a majority of the council was in favor of calling a convention for the purpose of altering the constitution, and at the second session the majority was opposed to a convention.
The following appear to have been the reasons for this difference in the senti. ments of the majority:
George Bryan was elected in the room of Samuel Miles, resigned-James Potter was elected in the room of Samuel Hunter deceased, who had not attended, and James Read and Willian Montgomery, who were absent at the first, attended du. ring the second session.
The proceedings relative to calling the convention, and the minutes of the convention that formed the present constitution, are inserted at large, together with the act of the 28th of March, 1825, for ascertaining the opinion of the people of the commonwealth relative to the call of a conyention.
August 3, 18254