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FROM ITS DISCOVERY IN 1492 to 1806.
BY ABJEL HOLMES, D. D.
Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Member of the Massachusetts
Historical Society, and Minister of the First Church in Cambridge.
SUUM QUÆQUE IN ANNUM REFERRE.
Additions and Corrections
BY THE AUTHOR,
IN TWO VOLUMES.
Cambridge, (Massachusetts) Printed.
I HE Revolution in England forms an epoch in Americ can history. The effects of it were the most sensibly felt in the colony of Massachusetts. When the colonists resumed their charter in 1689, they earnestly solicited its re-establishment, with the addition of some necessary powers; but the king could not be prevailed on to consent to that measure, and a new charter was obtained. Sir William Phips arrived at Boston on the fourteenth of May, with this charter, and a commission, constituting him governor'. He was soon after conducted from his house to the town house by the regiment of Boston, the militia companies of Charlestown, magistrates, ministers, and principal gentlemen of Boston and the adjacent towns. The charter was first published, and then the governor's commission. The venerable, old .charter governor Bradstreet next resigned the chair. After the lieutenant governor's conimission was published, the oaths were administered ; and the new government thus became organized.
The province, designated by the new charter, contained the whole of the old Massachusetts colony, to which were added the colony of Plymouth, the province of Maine, the province of Nova Scotia, and all the country between the province of Maine and Nova Scotia, as far northward as the river St. Lawrence, also Elizabeth islands, and the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Under the old charter, all the magistrates and officers of state were chosen annually by the general assembly. By the new charter, the appointment of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary, and all the officers of the admiralty, was vested in the crown. Under the old charter, the governor had little more share in the administration than any one of the assistants. He had the power of calling the general court; but he could not adjourn, prorogue, or dissolve it. To such acts the vote of the major part of the whole court was necessary. The governor gave commissions to civil and military officers; but all such officers were elected by the court. Under the new charter, there was to be an annual meeting of the general court on the last Wednesday in May; but the governor might discretionally call an assembly at any other time, and adjourn, prorogue, and dissolve it at pleasure. No act of government was to be valid without his consent. He had, with the consent of the council, the sole appointment of all military officers, and of all officers belonging to the courts of justice. Other civil officers were elected by the two houses; but the governor had a negative on the choice. No money could issue out of the treasury, but by his war. rant,, with the advice and consent of the council. Under the old charter, the assistants or counsellors were elected by the votes of all the freemen in the colony ; and were not only, with the governor, one of the two branches of the legislature, but the supreme executive court in all civil and criminal causes, excepting those cases where, by the laws, an appeal to the general court was allowed. The new charter provided, that, on the last Wednesday of May annually, twenty-eight counsellors should be newly chosen by the general court or assembly'. The representatives, under the old charter, were elected by freemen only. Under the new eharter, every freeholder, of forty shillings sterling a year, was a voter, and every other inhabitant, who had forty pounds sterling personal estate. The new charter contained nothing of an ecclesiastical constitution. With the exception of Papists, liberty of conscience, which was not mentioned in the first charter, was by the second expressly granted to all.
i The king complimented the New England agents for the first time with the nomination of their governor; and they agreed to nominate Sir William Phips. The commission constituted him captain general over the colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island. In the last of these colonies the authority was attempted to be exercised; but without effect. Hutchinson. VOL. II.
Writs having been immediately issued on the governor's arrival, the general court met on the eighth of June. An act was then passed, declaring, that all the laws of the colony of Massachusetts Bay and the colony of New Plymouth, not being repugnant to the laws of England, nor inconsistent with the charter, should be in force, in the respec
1 The construction, given to the terms “ general court or assembly" was, that it included the whole three branches.