« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
Congress recommends to the several States to form govern
ments for themselves-Formation of the first Constitntions of New Hampshire and Pennsylvania-The first Constitutions of the different States, varied as their Colonial Governments had varied-Extracts from the charter of Gov. Penn-History of the first Constitution of Pennsylvania and the formation of a new Constitntion..
Before we proceed to a protracted examination of the Constitution of Vermont, it cannot be out of place to refer briefly to the formation of Constitutions by the United American Colonies. When they had successfully resisted the authority of the British crown, and overthrown the coloniial governments, all of them, except Connecticut and Rhode Island, who had under their charters clected all their public functionaries, were destitute of any organized civil governments, and Congress recommended to the different colonies to frame, each for itself, such form of civil government as the people should judge would be most conducive to their happiness. In pursuance of this resolution, the people of New Hampshire, on the 5th day of January, 1776, formed a Constitution of civil government. This was not only the first Constitution formed by any of the colonies, but the first writ
ten Constitution of civil government formed by any people, unless the compact signed by our Pilgrim Fathers on board the May Flower may be considered as a written Constitution of civil government.
The reader will be prepared to find this Constitution very defective. It was such as the colonial government under which they had lived induced them to form. Under their colonial charter, the Governor had been appointed by the crown, who had a negative upon all acts of the Legislature, and by the exercise of the veto
power both he and his office had become so odious to the people that they could not endure a governor, although elected by themselves, and as they considered the Constitution which they were forming to be but temporary, to continue only until a reconciliation with the mother country should take place, they bestowed so little attention upon it that they provided no substitute for the Governorthey instituted no executive department.
But when the government was organized, it was found that Mesheck Weare, the President of the Council, was the highest officer in the government, and he acted as Executive during the revolutionary war. And yet, imperfect as the Constitution
was in other respects, the Legislature being divided into two co-ordinate branches, a House of Rep resentatives and a Council, it carried them through the revolutionary war, and down to the year 1792, when a new Constitution was adopted, which has continued to this day without any amendment or attempt to amend it.
In every other State except Pennsylvania, the Legislature was divided by the Constitution or charter, and consisted of a House of Representatives and a Senate, or Council. In that State, as we have seen, supreme legislative power was vested in a House of Representatives.
The great body of the inhabitants of the colony of Pennsylvania, at the commencement of the revolutionary war, had been born and lived under their proprietary, Gov. Penn, enjoying such privileges as he had been pleased to grant them. It would be desirable to give the charter of Gov. Penn in full, establishing a frame of government, that the reader might judge for himself, what views the people of that colony entertained, and what habits of thinking in relation to government they had acquired, and what sort of government such a people would probably form for themselves, and thus be able to account for the formation and a
doption of the first Constitution of Pennsylvania, so essentially different from the Constitutions of all the other States; and, I may add, so much more defective; but it would occupy too much space, and I will only give the following extracts from the charter of Gov. Penn.
THE FRAME OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PROVINCE OF PENNSYLVANIA, IN AMERICA.
TO all people, to whom these presents shall come. WHEREAS, King Charles the second, by his letters patents, under the great seal of England, for the consideration therein mentioned, hath been graciously pleased to give and grant unto me William Penn (by the name of William Penn, Esquire, son and heir of sir William Penn deceased) and to my heirs and assigns forever, all that tract of land, or province, called Pennsylvania, in America, with divers great powers, preeminences, royalties, jurisdictions, and authorities, necessary for the well-being and government thereof: Now know ye, that for the well-being and government of the said province, and for the encouragement of all the freemen and planters, that may be therein concerned, in pursuance of the powers aforementioned, I, the said William Penn, have declared, granted, and confirmed, and by these presents, for me, my heirs and assigns, do declare, grant, and confirm unto all the freemen, planters and adventurers of, in and to the said province, these liberties, franchises and properties, to be held, enjoyed and kept by the free. men, planters and inhabitants of the said province of Pennsylvania for ever.
Imprimis, That the government of this prov. ince shall, according to the powers of the patent, consist of the Governor and freemen of the said province, in form of a provincial council, and general assembly, by whom all laws shall be made, officers chosen, and public affairs transacted, as is hereafter respectively declared, that is to say,
II. That the freemen of the said proyince shall, on the twentieth day of the twelfth month, which shall be in this present year, one thousand six hundred eighty and two, meet and assemble in some fit place, of which timely notice shall be before hand given by the governor or his deputy; and then and there, shall choose out of themselves seventy-two persons of most note for their wisdom, virtue and ability, who shall meet, on the tenth day of the first month next ensuing, and always be called, and act as, the provincial council of the said province.
III. That at the first choice of such provincial council, one-third part of the said provincial council shall be chosen to serve for three years then next ensuing ; one third part, for two years then next ensuing; and one-third part, for one year then next ensuing such election, and no longer; and that the said third part shall go out accordingly : and on the twentieth day of the twelfth month, as aforesaid, yearly for ever afterwards, the freemen of the said province shall, in like manner, meet and assemble together, and then