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33. Magna Charta, 16th Article.
in the written constitution.
They made the colony by their union.
In 1640 the colonies of Portsmouth and New port united.
Details of legislation of this first union of Rhode Island colonies. 39. Each town reserved transaction of its own affairs.
Such has ever been the Rhode Island custom, although not stated in the
written constitution. In view of the encroachments of the general assembly upon these rights, it
should be explicitly stated in the constitution.
Its use one of the insignia of sovereignty. 1 Arnold Hist. R. I. 149. 40. The significance of this union not adequately recognized.
The two original towns conferred powers upon the union they instituted.
The colony was the offspring of the four united towns.
The original towns of this State and the first union bave enjoyed a period
of sovereignty, although the colony and the State never have. 1 Arnold Hist. R. I. 487. Foster, Town Govt. in R. I. 117, 39. The Nation,
117. Milton, 2 Prose Works, 299.
Milton and Williams, and their intercourse. 42. Bryce, 1 Am. Commw. 18. Bancroft, 1 Hist. U. S. 380.
Part of the unwritten constitution of this state is the right of the towns to
manage their own local affairs. This continues to be the law here now. Claim that this sets up a new sovereignty.
The people of the United States are the only sovereign.
Jameson, Const. Convs. 51 and 65. 43. Madison in Fed. Conv. 1787, quoted. Penhallow v. Doane, Adrs. 3 Dall. 54.
Jay, C. J. in Chisholm Excr. v. State of Ga., 2 Dall. 419, at 470-471.
The people of the United States won a joint independence only. 44. We speak of State sovereignty only in a conventional manner.
As meaning the exercise of the highest powers allowed by the constitution
and laws of the United States.
their towns that never existed until they created them.
termining the power of towns in such States as Rhode Island. Doctrine of States rights incompatible with our town system. Art. IX. Const. R. I., sets the State above the United States and is wrong.
Roger Williams sent to England, in 1643, to procure the charter. 45. He returned in 1644, with the charter.
Union under this charter not brought about until 1647.
Claim of authority by Massachusetts over Warwick. 46. Extract from 1 MSS. John Carter Brown, No. 63.
Warwick admitted to union under the charter, in 1647.
plained powers already possessed by the town.
of its inhabitants and representatives. 47. Controversy between Massachusetts and Rhode Island over admission of
Statement as to settlement of this town. 48. Asserted right of jurisdiction of Massachusetts denied. 1 Arnold Hist. R.
I. 276, 282, 316.
Westerly admitted in 1669. 2 R. I. Col. Recs. 250-251. 49. Settlement of Block Island. Its history..
Admitted as New Shoreham in 1672. 2 R. I. Col. Recs. 55, 466, 470.
stitution of Rhode Island.
This town was not the creature of the State, but came into it with powers
of its own that it still continues to enjoy. Settlement and history of King's Towne, afterwards Kingston. 2 R. I.
Col. Recs. 525.
Admitted in 1674. 3 R. I. Col. Recs. 55. 51. Settlement and history of East Greenwich.
Arnold, 1 Hist. R. I. 428; 2 R. I. Col. Recs. 586-588.
Glocester, 4R. I. Col. Recs. 442.
right to local self-government, etc. 52. Letter of Jobn Howland from Stone's Life and Recs. of John Howland, 256.
He voiced, from life-long experience, the common understanding.
system of States forming the United States.
More ideas that since bave become national emanated from Rhode Island
than from any other colony. Stated by Bancroft, in address in 1866. The power of the towns of Rhode Island to local self-government cannot PAGE. 56. Philadelphia v. Fox, 64 Penn. St. 169, examined. Such a decision impossible
be taken away. 54. Reasons contributing to ignorance of existence of town powers of thirteen
knowledge of these rights and to prevent encroachment on them.
Decision in Commonwealth o. Plaisted, 148 Mass. 375, deplored. 55. The lawyers of the present day know more about the development of the
constitutional law of the State than their predecessors did when the
records were not in print. They should help to form a better enlightened public opinion on the sub
ject of these powers.
direct, upon request, the exercise of powers by towns.
or divisions of towns, have been made by the general assembly only upon
in Rhode Island. The consequence of such decisions is loss of civic pride, all self-control being
taken away, and power passing into hands of professional politicians.
by republican legislatures.
versed in knowledge of constitutional law of town rights.
in Fifteenth Cent. 5. 57. Supremacy of the town in Rhode Island evidenced by insignificant role of
First division into counties was in 1703. 3 R. I. Col. Recs. 477–478. 58. They were not incorporated, but were merely geographical divisions of the
1 R. I. Col. Recs. 188.
under each town council is the probate court for the town. 2 R. I. Col.
vides a special probate court.
The life of the colony and State has not.
Letter from Sir Henry Vane urging reconciliation. 60. Reunion effected in 1654.
Usurpation of Andros, December, 1686, to April, 1689, suspended all charter
governments of New England.
The towns by their continuous existence kept alive the vital flame after
three years of suspension of colonial corporate existence.
The referendum and initiative in Rhode Island. 61. Introduced in 1647 upon acceptance of charter. 62. Explanation and citation of acts. 1R. I. Col. Recs. 147–148.
The freemen met, in person or by proxy, in Newport, until 1760, to elect
members of the general assembly. 6 R. I. Col. Recs. 256. 63. 1 Arnold, Hist. R. I. 203; 1 R. I. Col. Recs. 228, 1650.
1 R I. Col. Recs. 401, 1658. 64. 1 R. I. Col. Recs. 429, 16602 ; do. 27. 65. The remark by Gov. Hopkins (7 R. I. Hist. Colls. 45) shows that even then
the people had forgotten what the powers of the towns were. The towns of Rhode Island possessed independent governmental powers
before there was any colony ; they formed the united colony, surrender ing some powers to it; new towns were admitted upon the footing of old towns ; the powers of the colony and State increased, those of the towns diminished ; this was done with their consent ; the towns still have the right to exist and to manage their own local affairs, wbile the State
has the right to pass general laws. 66. Particular acts of the general assembly cited that infringe this principle. 67. The requisites of a new constitution.
It should contain statement of all the fundamentals of government.
ment and administration, articles relating to the electorate, corporations,
effect through ordinary legislation.
The experience of the three States named shows this works well. 68. Examination of the law and the cases in Missouri, California, and Washing
ton. 69. The citizens of Providence should pass upon charter lately submitted for
that city. A constitutional inhibition should protect it from change by the general
assembly after its adoption by the electors of Providence . The right to privacy should be guaranteed. Necessity for such a guaranty. 4 Harv. L. R. 193. This can only be done by putting it in the bill of rigbts. Laws against unjust imprisonment not enough until habeas corpus act passed. Necessity for restricting power of general assembly. Inhibition against ex post facto legislation should extend to civil as well as
to criminal legislation,