« PreviousContinue »
thirteen of them, to hold courts-martial, of whom a field-ufficer shall always be one, and president of the said court; and such courts-martial sball, and are hereby impowered to administer an oath to any witness, in order to the examination or trial of any of the offences which by this act are made cognizable in such courts, and shall come before them. Provided always, that in all trials by a court-martial by virtue of this act, every officer present at such trial, before any proceedings be had therein, shall take an oath upon the holy evangelists, before one justice of the peace in the county where such court is held, who are hereby authorized to administer the same, in the following words, that is to say, “I A. B. do swear, that I will duly administer justice according to evidence, and to the directions of an act, entitled, An act for forming and regulating the militia of the province of Pensylvania, without partiality, favour, or affection; and that I will not divulge the sentence of the court, until it shall be approved of by the governor or commander in chief of this province for the time being; neither will I, upon any account, at any time whatsoever, disclose or discover the vote or opinion of any particular member of the court-inartial. So belp me God.”—And no sentence of death, or other sentence shall be given against any offender but by the concurrence of nine of the officers so sworn. And no sentence, passed against any offender by such court-martial, shall be put in execution, until report be made of the whole proceedings to the governor or commander in chief of this province for the time being, and his directions signified thereupon.'
It is observable bere, that by the common course of justice, a man is to be tried by a jury of his neighbours and fellows; impannelled by a sheriff, in whose
appointment the people have a choice: the prisoner too has a right to challenge twenty of the pannel, without giving a reason, and as many more as he can give reasons for challenging; and before he can be convicted, the jury are to be unanimous; they are all to agree that he is guilty, and are therefore all accountable for their verdict. But by this amendment, the jury (if they may be so called) are all officers of the governor's sole appointing, and not one of them can be challenged; and though a common militia-man is to be tried, no common militia-man shall be of that Jury; and so far from requiring all to agree, a bare majority shall be sufficient to condemn you. And lest that majority should be under any check or restraint, from an apprehension of what the world might think or say of the severity or injustice of their sentence, an oath is to be taken, never to discover the vote or opinion of any particular member!
These are some of the chains attempted to be forged for you by the proprietary faction! Who advised the gris not difficult to know. They are the very men, wbo now clamour at the assembly for a proposal of bringing the trial of a particular murder to this county, from another, where it was not thought sate for any man to be either juryman or witness; and call it disfranchising the people! who are now bawling about the constitution, and pretending vast concern for your liberties! In refusing you the least means of recommending or expressing your regard for persons to be placed over you as officers, and who were thus to be made your judges in life and estate; they have not regarded the example of the king, our wise, as well as kind master, who, in all his requisitions made to the
colonies, of raising troops for their defence, directed, that “ the better to facilitate the important service, the commissions should be given to such as from their weight and credit with the people may be best enabled to effectuate the levies *.” In establishing a militia for the defence of the province, how could the “ weight and credit” of men with the people be better discovered, than by the mode that bill directed; viz. by a majority of those that were to be commanded nominating three for each office to the governor, of which three he might take the one he liked best?
However, the courts-martial being established, and all of us thus put into his honour's absolute power, the governor goes on to enhance the fines and penalties; thus, in page 49 of the bill, where the assembly had proposed the fine to be ten shillings, the governor required it to be ten pounds: in page 50, where a fine of five pounds was mentioned, the governor's amendment required it to be made fifty pounds. And in page 44, where the assembly had said, “ shall forfeit and pay any sum not exceeding five pounds,” the governor's amendment says, “ shall suffer Death, or such other punishment, as shall, according to the nature of the offence, be inflicted by the sentence of a court-martial!"
The assembly's refusing to admit of these amenda ments in that bill is one of their offences against the Lord Proprietary; for which that faction are now abusing them in both the languages t of the province, with all the virulence that reverend malice can dictate; en-. forced by numberless barefaced falshóods, that only the most dishonest and base would dare to invent, and none but the most weak and credulous can possibly believe.
* See Secretary of State's Letters in the printed Votes. * It is hardly necessary to mention here, that Pensylvania was settled by a mixture of German and English. B. V.
Preface by a Member of the Pensylvanian Assembly (Dr. Franklin)
to the Speech of Joseph Galloway, Esq. one of the Members for Philadelphia County; in Answer to the Speech of John Dickinson, Esq.; delivered in the House of the Assembly of the Province of Pensylvania, May 24, 1764, on Occasion of a Petition drawn up by Order, and then under the Consideration of the House, praying his Majesty for a Royal, in lieu of a Proprietary, Guvernment *.
IT is not merely because Mr. Dickinson's speech was ushered into the world by a preface, that one is made
* As I am very much unacquainted with the history and principles of these provincial politics, I shall confine myself to some imperfect anecdotes concerning the parties, &c. A speech, which Mr. Dickinson had delivered in the Pensylvania assembly against the abolition of the proprietary government, having been published, and a preface having been written to it, as I think by a Dr. Smith, Mr. Galloway's speech was held forth as a proper answer to that speech, wbile the preface to it appeared balanced by the above preface from Dr. Franklin. Mr. Galloway's speech, or probably the advertisement that attended it, urged, I believe, Mr. Dickinson first to a challenge, and then to a printed reply.--The controversy was quickly republished in England, or at least the principal parts of it; and it is from the English edition of Mr. Galloway's speech (printed in London by Nichols in 1765) that I have copied the above.
These several gentlemen however seem, for a time, to have better agreed in their subsequent opinions concerning Americau taxation by Great Britain ; Mr. Dickinson, in particular, having taken a very spirited line in
to this of Mr. Galloway. But as, in that preface, a number of aspersions were thrown on our assemblies, and their proceedings grossly misrepresented, it was thought necessary to wipe those aspersions off by some proper animadversions, and by a true state of facts, to rectify those misrepresentations.
The preface begins with saying, “ That governor Denny (whose administration will never be mentioned but with disgrace in the annals of this province) was induced, by considerations to which the world is now no stranger, to pass sundry acts,” &c. thus insinuating, that by some unusual base bargain, secretly made, but afterwards discovered, he was induced to pass them.
It is fit therefore, without undertaking to justify all that governor's administration, to show what those considerations were. Ever since the revenue of the quitrents first, and after that, the revenue of tavern-licences, were settled irrevocably on our proprietors and governors, they have looked on those incomes as their proper estate, for which they were under no obligations to the people: and when they afterwards concurred in passing any useful laws, they considered them as so many jobs, for which they ought to be particularly paid. Hence arose the custom of presents twice a year to the governors, at the close of each session in which laws were passed, given at the time of passing : they usually amounted to a thousand pounds per annum.
the Farmer's Letters and other pieces, which procured him considerable reputation. The congress declaration, nevertheless, for independence, was reported not to have given perfect satisfaction at first, either to himself or to Mr. Galloway. And in the event, Mr. Galloway thought proper to come over to General Howe, and afterwards to embark for England. B. V.