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the several counties of the province which must have been the result of a preconcerted plan. Meetings of the citizens were called at different places in the colony, which were very largely attended. At these meetings various plans were discussed and many suggestions made, all having reference to the same end—the settlement of the controversy with the mother country. It was understood by all. that some measure must be adopted and that right speedily, to relieve the unrest of the public mind and to preserve the liberties of the citizens intact from the encroachments of the English ministry. Boston had proposed a general non-importation and exportation act. All were ready to agree to that course, however ruinous it might be to the interests of merchants and traders and of the community in general, if by adopting it any good could be accomplished. A few might have entertained the idea and undoubtedly did, of separation from England. But, if such a measure were thought of, no one proposed it in the Legislatures or Congress until later and it was not discussed in those bodies. It would have met with no favor, for at every one of the meetings where delegates were appointed to the Convention, with one single exception, the strongest asseverations of loyalty were made to the English crown. In many instances, professions of abiding confidence in the Sovereign; of cheerful obedience to all constitutional laws of England and of an earnest desire to remain dependent upon the British government, characterized the resolutions passed at the various meetings. The Convention itself, composed as it was of delegates coming up from the people at large, representing faithfully the sentiments of their constituents, voiced the wishes of the great majority of the colonists when, in its first resolution, it was declared that the inhabitants of the province "are and ever have been firm and unshaken in their loyalty to King George and that they detest all thoughts of an independence on the Croivn of Great Britain."
Although these various meetings were almost simultaneously held and undoubtedly with a prior understanding on the part of those who called them, and the Electors present did not seem to have any concerted plan for future action, yet, it was evident from their proceedings and resolutions that a provincial Congress or Convention, was deemed necessary and that delegates should be appointed to that Congress. The minds of the people were so oppressed, the danger was so imminent, the emergency so full of peril, that Ho question was raised as to form, or, as to what should be the jurisdiction of the proposed provincial meeting.
From the many discussions and suggestions, a plan was finally evolved which met with the approbation of all, and that was the assembling of a provincial convention or congress, to which should be referred the whole subject and which was to be charged with the responsibility of providing some measure of meeting the dilemma. That convention or congress was composed of delegates from the different Counties.
This was a momentous measure, and it was the beginning of the end. Seventy-two delegates, in all, were appointed to this Congress, which met at New Brunswick, July 21, 1874. These delegates were representative men, wise, judicious, thoughtful, conservative, coming up from every county, representing all classes—the very best men in the colony. They continued in session several days, discussed the whole range of circumstances surrounding the situation, the dangers that menaced the life of the colonies, denounced the obnoxious acts of Parliament in strong and unmistakable terms, recommended a general non-importation and non-consumption agreement, appointed a committee to raise funds to afford relief to the suffering inhabitants of Boston and rendered grateful acknowledgments "to the noble and worthy patrons of constitutional liberty in the British Senate, for their laudable efforts to avert the storm they beheld impending over a much injured colony, and in support of the just rights of the King's subjects in America." The last action of the Convention was to appoint James Kinsey, William Livingston, John De Hart, Stephen Crane and Richard Smith delegates to represent the Colony of New Jersey in a general Continental Congress, to be held in Philadelphia, about the first of September then next, "to meet, consult and advise with the Deputies from the other colonies; and to determine upon all such pendent and lawful measures as may be judged most expedient for the colonies immediately and unitedly to adopt, in order to obtain relief for an oppressed people and the redress of our general grievances."
These men were not all staunch patriots; Kinsey was one of the best men in the community and was afterwards made Chief Justice; but, although enjoying the unbounded confidence of all classes, there were excellent reasons for doubting his adherence to the patriot cause. He and JohnDe Hart, in November, 1775, declined to serve any further as delegates, and Kinsey, after the breaking out of the war, refused to take the oath prescribed by the Colonial Legislature. Richard Smith, after the adoption of the Constitution of 1776, was elected a member of the first State Council, but refused to serve and tendered his resignation. The Council held that they could not receive it and therefore expelled him.
Most of the counties and of the townships, also,appointed committees of correspondence, and of " observation " and "inspection," the first of which were directed to correspond with similar bodies from the other counties and townships. These various committees were industrious in the performance of their duties; they met from time to time, adopted rules of conduct, assiduously guarded the public interest, watched the actions of suspicious citizens, organized the militia of the colony, appointed their officers and the proper persons tojflrill them in martial exercises, and when the war with all its horrors was upon the people, they provided for obtaining information of the approach of the enemy's forces, or vessels, gave notice to the authorities of movements of the British, provided ammunition and arms for the patriot soldiers, acted as express riders and corresponded with other committees and with friends of their cause, not only in New Jersey, but, in other colonies.
Congress met in Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia, October 4, 1774. Its proceedings belong to the whole country, and, although New Jersey is identified with it and was loyal to all its resolutions, yet, it is not the province of a historian of a single State to record minutely all its measures, but only such as may relate to that particular State. It may be said however, that it advised all the colonies to accept the proposition of Massachusetts, to "cease importing, purchasing or using any goods from England, Ireland or their dependencies from and after the first of December then next, and also to stop exporting any goods to Great Britain or the West Indies, after the first of September, 1775, unless the grievances of the colonies should be sooner redressed." The New Jersey delegation reported the proceedings of Congress to the Assembly on the 11th of January, 1775, and they were unanimously approved by that body. The same persons were continued as delegates to the next Congress, with power to propose and agree to every "reasonable and Constitutional measure for the accommodation of the unhappy differences existing between the mother and her colonies."
So the fateful year of 1775 was ushered in with no possible hope of an adjustment of the controversy between the English Government and its subjects in North America. The king still ruled his ministers; his obstinate will saw no possible solution of the problem but by a continuance of vexatious and irritating measures, only widening the breach and driving his American subjects into open rebellion.
The relations of Governor Franklin and the Legislature during all this commotion, became strained, and finally led to greater alienation between them. The Assembly did not fail to recognize the entire honesty of Franklin's opinion as to his duty to his sovereign. He fully and sincerely believed that his first obligation was to the king and that he was bound by every consideration, in this terrible crisis, to devote all his powers and influence to his sovereign's cause. There were several matters which came up in dispute between him and the Assembly. In 1771, the Governor called the attention of the Legislature to the subject of providing for the support of some British troops which had been quartered in the province. This measure had been one 6f the causes of complaint by the colonies and the people and their representatives had been very restive under what they considered an invasion of their rights. In June, 1767, the Legislature passed "An act appointing Commissioners for supplying the several Barracks erected in the colony of New Jersey with Furniture and other necessaries for accommodating the king's troops in or marching through the same, for supplying deficiencies and Defraying other Incidental charges" This act had received the concurrence of the Council and had been approved by the Governor. But, when it was presented to the English authorities for approval, they reported adversely to the king and it was disallowed, with an order that one of the Secretaries of State should "admonish" Governor Franklin for having passed the act. Lord Hillsborough, in pursuance of this order wrote a sharp letter to Franklin, severely reprimanding him not only for allowing the bill in question to be passed, but for other alleged derelictions of duty. A very long and labored reply was returned by Franklin, which is only important, in one respect, for the present purpose. The objection against the law made by the king's ministers was that it had not been passed in exact compliance with a previous act of Parliament. The Governor showed very plainly not only that the Legislature had complied with the spirit if not with the very letter of that statute, but that it questioned very seriously the right to call on the colonies to pay for the troops quartered on them against their consent and utterly denied any authority for taxing them without representation. So, in 1771, when, in his address at the opening of the Legislature, on April 18th, Franklin called for further appropriation for the support of the troops, the Assembly flatly refused, and then, the Governor entered into an elaborate mathematical argument to convince it that their constituents were amply able to pay more. The Assembly, however, was firm and refused to load the country with additional burdens. It was unmistakably true that the people of the province were exceeding irritated by the presence of the king's soldiers at a time of peace, and the delegates were strengthened in their refusal by the knowledge of that fact. The Freeholders of Hunterdon County, about that time, presented a remonstrance to the representatives from that County, at the close of which they presented these four questions for solution:
"1st. Whether to have the king's Troops stationed among us in Time of Peace is Constitutional and Agreeable to our Rights and Privileges?"
"2nd. Whether they are or can be of any use to us, or whether any proper Officer of this Government has the command of them in any Case of Immergency?"
"3rd. Whether Regular Troops does not spread Vice and Imorality in a Country when they are maintained in Idleness?"
"4th. Is it Consistent with Honor and Justice to support those who do us no service?"
"5th. Whether there is not Danger that a Military Power may in Time interrupt the Proper Influence and Management of Civil Administration?"
In the fall of 1771 the Legislature, however, agreed to pay any arrears that might be due for the subsistence of the troops, but this was done with the implied assurance that the soldiers should be withdrawn and that the colony would not be again called upon to raise money for that purpose. Accordingly, early in 1772, the troops were removed and that cause of dissension ceased.
Another disagreement arose in the same year. A member from Essex, named John Ogden, after accepting the position of delegate to the Assembly, and taking his seat, became insolvent and resigned. The House accepted the resignation and directed the Speaker to issue his warrant to the Clerk for another election. The Clerk drew the writ and applied to the Governor to have the Great Seal affixed. The Governor doubted the legality of the act and consulted with his Council, who advised him that it was "by no means regular or constitutional." A controversy arose at once between the Government and the Assembly, Franklin claiming that the House could not accept a resignation; that after a member had once qualified and taken his seat, his subsequent insolvency did not disqualify him. The dispute was settled in a