Item of the Day: Historical Review of the Consitution and Government of Pensylvania [sic] (1759)

Full Title: An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pensylvania [sic], From its Origin; So far as regards the several Points of Controversy, which have, from Time to Time, arisen between The several Governors of the Province, and Their several Assemblies. Founded on authentic Documents. London: Printed for R. Griffiths, in Paternoster-Row, MDCCLIX [1759].

The Constitution of Pensylvania [sic] is deriv’d, first, from the Birthright of every British Subject; secondly, from the Royal charter granted to William Penn by King Charles II. and thirdly, from the Charter of Privileges granted by the said William Penn as Proprietary and Governor, in Virtue of the former, to the Freemen of the said Province and Territories; being the last of four at several Periods issued by the same Authority.

The Birthright of every British Subject is, to have a Property of his own, in his Estate, Person and Reputation; subject only to Laws enacted by his own Concurrence, either in Person or by his Representatives: And which Birthright accompanies him wheresoever he wanders or rests; so long as he is within the Pale of the British Dominions, and is true to his Allegience.

The Royal Charter was granted to William Penn in the Beginning of the Year 1681. A most alarming Period! The Nation being in a strong Ferment; and the Court forming an arbitrary Plan; which, under the Countenance of a small standing Army, there began the same Year to carry into Execution, by cajolling some Corporations, and forcing others by Quo Warrantos to surrender their Charters: So that by the Abuse of Law, the disuse of Parliaments, and the Terror of Power, the Kingdom became in Effect the Prey of Will and Pleasure.

The Charter Governments of America had, before this, afforded a Place of Refuge to the persecuted and miserable: And as if to enlarge the Field of Liberty abroad, which had been so sacrilegiously contracted at home, Pensylvania [sic] even then was made a new Asylum, where all who wish’d or desir’d to be free might be so for ever.

The Basis of the Grant express’d in the Preamble was, the Merits and Services of Admiral Penn, and the commendable Desire of his Son to enlarge the British Empire, to promote such useful Commodities as might be of Benefit to it, and to civilize the savage inhabitants. . . .

(See also blog posting of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pensylvania for October 11, 2005)

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Filed under 1750's, Colonial America, Franklin, Government, History, Pennsylvania, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

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