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13TH CONGRESS—15T SESSION.
REVIEW OF THE POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS OF
THE UNITED STATES.
OF THE STATE GOVERNMENTS.
$ 1. Settlement of the English colonies. 5 2. Their forms of government. 3. Revolution. 4. The thirteen states. 5. Formation of the new states. $ 6. State governments. 57. Governor. 58. Legis. lature. $ 9. Judiciary. 510. Qualifications of electors. 11. Appointment to office. $ 12. Religious tests. 13. Eligibility of ministers of the gospel. Š 14. Religious establishments. | 15. Provision for the support of schools. 16. Imprisonment of debtors. 17. Ti. tles. $ 18. Instruction of representatives. $ 19. Modes of amending the constitution. $ 20. Territorial governments.
· HE extensive country comprehending the United States has been principally settled by emigrants from the British dominions. The accounts of the discoveries of Columbus, towards the close of the 15th century, filled all Europe with astonishment and admiration, and inspired very generally among maritime nations the desire of sharing with Spain in the glory, the wealth, and the dominion to be acquired in the new world. So early as 1495, Henry VII of England commissioned Sebastian Gabotto (or Cabot, the name he assumed in England), a Venetian, to discover and take possession, in his name, of any country that was unoccupied by a Christian state. Two years afterwards, Cabot discovered Newfoundland, and sailed along the coast of North America from lat. 56° to 380 N. From this discovery the English deduced their title to this extensive region.
During the 16th century, a number of abortive attempts were made by English adventurers to effect a settlement in America. Misled by the delusive dreams of avarice, the attertion of those adventurers was principally devoted to the search after gold and silver mines, totally regardless of those more valuable
VOL. I. PART I.
treasures which every where met the eye. The consequence was, that those wretched colonists either abandoned the country in despair, or were destroyed by famine, or cut off by the natives. Towards the end of that century, however, more just views began to be entertained in England of the real value of this country. An extensive association was formed of influential and wealthy individuals, for the purpose of establishing colonies, to whom were granted, in the year 1606, under the great seal of England, those territories in America lying on the sea-coast, between the 34th and 45th degrees of north latitude. They were divided into two companies, the first of which was required to settle between the 34th and 41st, the other between 38th and 45th degrees of north latitude, yet so that the colony last formed should not be planted within 100 miles of the prior establishment.
In the following year, 1607, the first permanent settlement was made in Virginia, the name then given to all that extent of country now forming the United States, except Georgia. The emigrants, 105 in number, took possession of a peninsula on the northern side of James river, and erected a town, which, in honour of their sovereign, they called Jamestown. Thirteen years afterwards, a congregation of English puritans, who had been driven to Holland by religious persecution, sailed for America, 101 in number, and arrived at Cape Cod, in November, 1620. From this handful of people and their subsequent associates, have sprung the hardy New Englanders New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut being in a great measure shoots from this establishment.
In less than 80 years from the first permanent English settlement in North America, the two original patents which had been granted by king James were divided into twelve distinct and unconnected provinces, and in 50 years more a thirteenth, by the name of Georgia, was added at their southern extremity.
52. The inhabitants of the English colonies received from their first settlement, impressions highly favourable to democratic institutions. They were all one rank, and numbers of them had fled, not only from religious but from political persecution. Their governments were of four kinds :
The first was a charter government, by which the powers of legislation were vested in a governor, council, and assembly, all chosen by the people. This secured to the governed far more freedom than either of the others. Of this kind were the gov. ernments of Connecticut and Rhode Island ; and the inhabitants of those states, from the time of obtaining their charters, enjoyed the same degree of liberty, which they have enjoyed since the