Слике страница

traditions, many of which, it is inpoint the council, or upper then older than are our nation tivi officers only with its conof government, however, especializable military authority; he colonies presented striking similire chief officers, commandin an assembly, and a judicial syartial law in case of rebesiina England, as far as it was apprison of authority invited come by legislation, was binding event Massachusetts led the way m In eight of the colonici Senga

Carolina, Virginia, New Jenectut the governor occupied 2 and Massachusetts, the is place, he was elected analy and recognized as the kings of the governor, assistants. twofold position. On the bits the voters in each "city, town, of British interests in the the governor did not stand out as the will of the British gove little more than a gureitai, his habitants, and the gums only in cooperation with his assistthe state of the provinda cach of these colonies, the governor and executive official in theorized to make all necessary laws and of the peace and advase corporate business with a large degree As a contemporary wits accordingly no separation of legislative governor for the times the royal provinces, and the governor authority, civil and inalled in his office by the advisers who, like the crown hastes by the general assembly. Furthermore powers of chancery, a over legislation."

ordinary authority in the proprietary colonies of MaryAs the chief in and Delaware stood on a different basis laws and appoitroval provinces or in Connecticut or Rhode council, the former was, as Professor Osgood points out, and officiis olem of a semi-feudal type and the proprietor Bach was a vast estate carved out of the royal virtue of Jon court in the anted by the crown to a proprietor who, in theory bunals and the rights of government with those of landch he derived large revenues. When the proprietor For Aleshia was in his province, he assumed executive auSee Road

[ocr errors]

thority himself, but when he was absent he vested it in a lieutenant-governor who served in the capacity of his agent.1 The Pennsylvania assembly successfully resisted the power of the governor to dissolve or prorogue, and the executive council did not serve as an upper chamber, as was the case in the legislatures of the other colonies, although it did enjoy a somewhat indefinite influence over legislation." In Maryland, "the proprietary held the title to all the land, was captain-general and head of the Church. All patronage, lay and clerical, amounting to fourteen or fifteen thousand pounds a year- from the governor with a salary of fifteen hundred and fifty pounds down to the naval officers and sheriffs was in his hands. He had a negative upon all laws, and the power of pardon. To the proprietary belonged all the quit-rents, the tobacco and tonnage duties, and the legal fines and forfeitures, although the assembly vigorously resisted this last source of emolument. . . . To the governor, who was appointed by the proprietary, the exercise of all these sovereign powers was, as a rule, entrusted. The governor represented the proprietary in the province, summoned, prorogued, and dissolved the assembly, and assented to laws. He also claimed a veto on legislation, but this right was not admitted by the Burgesses. He made all appointments to office, issued pardons, signed the warrants for execution, and exercised great political influence." Nevertheless, under its power to control money grants, the popular branch of the legislature in Maryland succeeded, toward the Revolution, in securing a tolerably effective control over the governor in the exercise of these large powers.

Colonial Legislatures

In all of the colonies, except Pennsylvania, there were two branches of the legislature, and only in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, was the upper house-to use the term in a general sense elective. In these three New England colonies, the councillors, or assistants, as they were called, were chosen by the general assemblies, and thus did not occupy the

1 W. R. Shepherd, History of Proprietary Government in Pennsylvania (Columbia University Studies), p. 474.

2 Ibid., p. 321.

'Lodge, English Colonies in America, p. 113.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]





[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

in assembly of representatives chosen Py to common impressions, there was

a dhood suffrage. In New York, for of the assembly the lower branch

repared to be freeholders of lands or

of forty pounds free from all encumA Now York City and Albany the suffrage that is, all men who had been reguIn Virginia the voter had to be 4ate of at least tilty acres of land, if there was of tie aty five actes with a house twelve feet ALONGA 13. Schrage Franchise in the Thirteen ty of Pennsylvania Publications — the stand

atia of tai term see McKinley, ibid., pp. 208 fi.

square; or, if a dweller in a city or town, he had to own a lot or part of a lot with a house twelve feet square. In Massachusetts the voter for member of the legislature, under the charter of 1691, had to be a freeholder of an estate worth at least forty shillings a year, or the owner of other property to the value of forty pounds sterling. In Pennsylvania the vote was restricted to freeholders of fifty acres or more of land "well seated" and twelve acres cleared, and to other persons worth at least fifty pounds in lawful money.

As a result of these property qualifications, a considerable portion of the adult males were excluded from any share in the government. Exact statistics are difficult to obtain, and the following figures are given by Dr. McKinley merely by way of illustration. He estimates that in New York City the voting class included from one-ninth to one-fourteenth of the total population, and that two-fifths of these electors were not owners of property, but voted as freemen of the city. Taking some scattered figures for mid-century elections in Virginia, he places the voting population at from seven to ten per cent of the white inhabitants, and concludes that "the franchise was more widely exercised, if not more widely conferred, in Virginia than in the more Northern colonies." In Boston during the period from 1745 to 1754 the number of voters averaged about three per cent of the population, but this was partially due to the fact that many duly qualified voters were ordinarily inactive, for on one occasion at least six and one-half per cent of the inhabitants took part in an election. In the rural districts of Pennsylvania about one out of ten of the population could vote, while in the city of Philadelphia the fifty-pound qualification disfranchised so many inhabitants that, according to the tax list, only one in fifty possessed the suffrage.

In conclusion, Dr. McKinley says: "In New York City in the elections of 1735, 1761, and 1769, the actual voters numbered about eight per cent of the population. In Pennsylvania the tax list figures give only the potential voters, but they show about eight per cent of the rural population qualified for the suffrage and only two per cent in the city of Philadelphia, a condition quite in contrast to that of New York City. In New England the actual voters appear to be less proportionately than in the middle and southern colonies. Massachusetts, for instance,

shows only one person in fifty as taking part in elections, and Connecticut, in elections immediately preceding the Revolution, had about the same proportion. In Rhode Island the freemen or potential voters numbered only nine per cent of the population. These figures are entirely too few and too scattered in time and territory to justify any accurate generalization from them. The potential voters seem to vary from one-sixth to one-fiftieth of the population, and the actual number of voters shows almost an equal variation; Massachusetts and Connecticut showing at times only two per cent of actual voters among the population, where perhaps sixteen per cent were qualified electors; and New York City and Virginia showing the far larger proportion of eight per cent of the population as actual voters. At best the colonial elections called forth both relatively and absolutely only a small fraction of the present percentage of voters. Property qualifications, poor means of communication, large election districts, and the absence of party organization combined to make the most sharply contested elections feeble in their effects upon the community as compared with the widespread suffrage of the twentieth century."1

Most of the colonies also followed the example of the mother country in imposing special qualifications on members elected to the legislature. In South Carolina, for example, a member had to own five hundred acres of land and ten slaves or be worth one thousand pounds sterling in land, houses, or other property. New Jersey members had to have one thousand acres freehold, while in Georgia delegates were required to own at least five hundred acres of land. In addition to property qualifications, religious tests were usually imposed on assemblymen.

Following the ancient practice of England, representatives were distributed, in colonial times, among distinct territorial districts rather than among equal groups of people. In New England the town was the unit of representation, and only a slight attempt was made to adjust the representation to the population. For example, the charter of Rhode Island stipulated that Newport should send not more than six persons, Providence, Portsmouth, and Warwick four each, and other places, towns, and cities two each. The Massachusetts charter,

'Op. cit., p. 487.

« ПретходнаНастави »