« PreviousContinue »
He left his province in profound tranquillity, under the administration of five commissioners chosen from the council. The unfortunate James the Second soon after ascended the throne. “As he has,” said Penn, “been my friend and my father's friend, I feel bound in justice to be a friend to him.” He adhered to him while seated on the throne, and for two years after he was expelled from his kingdom, the government of the province was administered in his name.
By this display of attachment to the exiled monarch, he incurred the displeasure of King William. On vague suspicion, and unfounded charges, he was four times imprisoned. The government of his colony was taken from him and given to Colonel Fletcher, the governor of New York. But by the severest scrutiny, it was rendered apparent that he had in all his conduct, been actuated as much by the love of his country as by personal gratitude. He regained the good opinion of King William; and, being permitted to resume and exercise his rights, appointed William Markham, to be his deputy governor.
In 1699, he again visited Pennsylvania, and found the people discontented. They complained that his powers and their rights were not defined with sufficient precision, and demanded a new charter. In 1701, he prepared and presented one to the assembly, which was accepted. It gave to the assembly the right of originating bills, which by the previous charters was the right of the governor alone, and of amending or rejecting power. The
those which might be laid before them. To the governor it gave the right of rejecting bills passed by the assembly, of appointing his own council, and of exercising the whole executive Territories, now the state of Delaware, refusing to accept the new charter, separated from Pennsylvania, and were allowed a distinct assembly. The same governor, however, presided over both.
Immediately after his third charter was accepted, Penn returned to England, and the executive authority was afterwards administered by deputy governors appointed by the proprietor. The people incessantly murmured and complained; but the uninterrupted and unparalleled prosperity of the colony demonstrates, that but slight causes of complaint existed. That which produced the greatest and most constant irritation was the refusal by the deputy governors, to assent to any law imposing taxes on the lands of the proprietors, although the sum raised was to be expended for the benefit of the whole province. This unwise, and indeed unjust claim, of exemption, occasioned greater disgust than injury, and embittered all the enjoyments of the inhabitants.
But these dissensions did not, in the least, retard the prosperity of the colony. Nor did any other cause, having that tendency, exist. The upright conduct of Penn, in his intercourse with the Indians, was imitated by those who came after him; and, for seventy years, uninterrupted harmony existed between them and the whites. In the early part of the revolutionary war, the people adopted a new constitution, by which the proprietor was excluded from all share in the government. He was offered, and finally accepted, the sum of 570,000 dollars, in discharge of all quit-rents due from the inhabitants.
During the reign of James the First, the laws against Roman Catholics were severe and the popular hatred was inveterate. Lord Baltimore, a distinguished member of that sect, resolved, in consequence, to remove from England to Virginia, believing that he might there enjoy his religious opinions, without violating the laws or incurring reproach. But the people among whom he came to reside, were almost as intolerant as those he had left, and he soon found it necessary to seek some other asylum.
Having ascertained that the territory on both sides of Chesapeake bay, was inhabited only by the natives, he conceived the project of planting there a colony for himself, and for all who might wish to retire from religious persecution. He explored the country, returned to England, obtained the assent of King Charles the First to a grant of territory, but died before the requisite formalities were completed.
Cecil, his eldest son, and heir to his estate and title, obtained for himself the grant intended for his father. To the new colony the name of Maryland was given, in honour of Henrietta Maria, the royal consort of Charles. The land conveyed being within the boundaries of Virginia, the planters in that province remonstrated against the grant. The king refusing to rescind it, Lord Baltimore made preparations to commence a settlement. He appointed his brother, Leonard Calvert, governor; who, near the close of the year 1633, sailed for America, accompanied by about two hundred emigrants, mostly Roman Catholics.
They arrived in February, 1634, at the mouth of the river Potomac. At a conference with the Indians who dwelt on the shore, they purchased Yoamaco, a considerable village, the site of which St. Mary's now occupies. By this measure, wise as well as just, the rightful proprietors of the soil were satisfied, convenient habitations and some cultivated land were obtained, and the first settlers were of course exempted from the miseries of famine, and from the diseases which it produces.
Other circumstances favoured the rapid population of the colony. The charter granted more ample privileges than had ever been conceded to à subject; the country was inviting; the natives were friendly; from the south churchmen drove puritans, from the north puritans drove churchmen, into her borders, where all were freely received, protected, and cherished.
The charter granted to the inhabitants the privilege of passing laws either by themselves or
representatives, without reserving to the crown, as had been done in all previous charters, the right to reject the laws só passed. At first, when the freemen were few in number, each attended in person, or authorized some other freeman, who chose to attend, to vote and act in his stead. The increase of population soon rendered it necessary to adopt a different mode of legislation. In 1639, an act was passed, constituting a “house of assembly,” to be composed of such as should be chosen by the people, of such as should be summoned or appointed by the proprietor, and of the governor and secretary. These were to sit together, and the laws which they should enact were to possess the same validity, as though the proprietors and all the people had concurred in enacting them.
In 1650, a second alteration was made. The legislative body was divided into two branches, the delegates chosen by the people constituting the lower house, and the persons summoned by the proprietors, the upper house. It ought to be stated, for the honour of Lord Baltimore and his associates, that, while the catholics retained the ascendency in the province, the assembly passed no law abridging the liberty of conscience.
But this colony, as well as all the others, in the early period of their existence, was afflicted with intestine troubles. They were principally caused by one William Clayborne. While a member of the Virginia council he had obtained a license from the king, to traffic in those parts of America where no other person enjoyed the exclusive right