페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

purchase; and a still larger portion by the irresistible power of arms, over a brave, hardy, but declining race, whose destiny seems to be to perish as fast as the white man alvances upon his footsteps.”

CHAPTER II.

ORIGIN OF LAND-TITLES IN THE UNITED STATES.

$1. When our fathers conquered their independence, the States, and, subsequently, the United States, succeeded to whatever title Great Britain previously had to the territory.

$ 2. The lapse of time, and general acquiescence, as well as the judicial and legislative authorities, have so established this source as the foundation of land-titles, that its validity can not now be successfully called in question. Whether just or unjust, it will probably remain for ever undisturbed.

§ 3. But these remarks are applicable to those lands only which were obtained through the revolutionary struggle with Great Britain, resulting in the achievement of our independence. Extensive additions have been made to the domain of this country by treaties with other powers; and, of course, the origin of land-titles is traceable within any such territory to the treaties through which the titles have been acquireil. DATES OF THE SETTLEMENTS OF THE NORTH-AMERICAN COLONIES. Virginia

1607 North Carolina 1663 Massachusetts. 16201 South Carolina 1670 New Hampshire . 1623 New Jersey

1620 Maryland

1634 Pennsylvania 1643 Connecticut

1635
Delaware

1638 Rhode Island 1636 Georgia

1733 New York.

1614 These dates refer only to permanent and independent settlements.

* Originally called the Colony of Plymouth ; but afterwards united with Massachusetts proper, which was settled in 1630.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

.

CHAPTER III.

COMMON LAW IN THE COLONIES.

$1. Wuen territory is found uninhabited at the origin of new settlements therein, it is usual to adopt the laws of the nation from which the settlers have migrated, so far as they may be found ap plicable to the new condition of things.

Although this country was occupied by a wild, uncultivated, and savage population, without law or government in any civilized sense, the colonists chose to consider themselves as settling an uninhabited territory. As a large proportion of the new settlers of these Colonies were from England, they would naturally lean to the jurisprudence of that country.

§ 2. It must be remembered, also, that the Colonies were nearly all settled under the patronage and favor of Great Britain. Those that were not, soon came under the jurisdiction of the British Crown.

§ 3. These are the principal circumstances that led to the adoption of the English common law among the North-American Colonies, and which constitutes to a great extent, at the present time, the system of jurisprudence in this country.

CHAPTER IV.

COLONIAL GOVERNMENTS.

The Colonial Governments may properly be divided into three classes :

1. PROVINCIAL
2. PROPRIETARY, and

3. CHARTER. 1. Provincial Governments.

§ 1. The Provincial Governments were wholly under the control of the sovereign of Great Britain. They emanated froun his

authority, and had no fixed constitution of government. The king issued his commissions to the royal governors from time to time, accompanied with specific instructions which were to be obeyed.

§ 2. The governors were, under these governments, regarded as the representatives or deputies of the king. The king also appointed a council, having limited legislative authority, who were to assist the governor in the discharge of his official duties. Both governor and council held their offices during the royal pleasure.

§ 3. The governor had authority to convene a general assembly of the representatives of the freeholders and planters of the Province. The governor, council, and representatives constituted the Provincial Assembly. § 4. Provincial Assembly, constituted of, 1st. THE REPRESENTATIVES,

- Lower House; 2d. THE COUNCIL, — Upper House ;

3d. THE GOVERNOR, having a veto on all the proceedings of the two houses, with

power also to prorogue and dissolve them. These constituted the local law-making power, subject to the approval or disapproval of the Crown.

$ 5. The governor appointed the judges and magistrates.

Under this form of government were included the Colonies of New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia.

2. Proprietary Governments.

$ 6. The meaning of the word proprietary is owner, or proprietor. The proprietor, or proprietary, derived not only the title to the soil, but also the general powers of government, from the king. The powers of government extended over the whole territory so granted, which became a kind of dependent royalty.

§ 7. Under these governments, the governors were appointed by the proprietary or proprietaries. The legislature was convened and organized according to the will of the proprietary. He also had the appointment of officers of every grade.

$ 8. Lord Baltimore held Maryland, and William Penn held Pennsylvania and Delaware, under this form of government, and as proprietaries.

cessors.

3. Charter Governments.

§ 9. These were, in many respects, not unlike our State Governments. They were created by letters patent, or grants of the Crown, which conferred the soil within the limits defined, and all the powers of government, on the grantees and their associates and suc

These charters were similar to some of our State Constitutions, distributing the powers of government into three departments,

legislative, executive, and judicial.

§ 10. They defined the powers of the different branches of the government, and secured to the inbabitants certain political privileges and rights. “The appointment and authority of the governor, , the formation and structure of the legislature, and the establishment of courts of justice, were specially provided for; and generally the powers appropriate to each were defined.”

Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut had charter governments.

CHAPTER V.

CAUSES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

§ 1. The Colonies were not sovereignties in any political sense, not being endowed with power to enter into alliances or treaties with each other or with foreign nations. They were merely dependencies on the British Crown ; but the citizens of each Colony enjoyed the full rights of British subjects in all the Colonies, and were at liberty to move from one Colony to another, and to become inbabitants and citizens thereof.

§ 2. The growth of the Colonies was slow and gradual, running along through a period of from one hundred to one hundred and fifty years. The prerogatives of the Crown and the rights of the people had not been clearly defined on the one side, nor accepted on

the other. During the latter part of this period, therefore, the relative rights of sovereign and subject became a matter of serious and earnest contention.

§ 3. The Colonial Legislatures claimed entire and exclusive authority in all matters relating to their own domestic and internal affairs. They denied all power of taxation, except under laws passed by themselves; not admitting that even the British Parliament and Crown combined had any such power. They insisted that a free people could not be taxed without their consent in person, or through their accredited representatives.

§ 4. On the other hand, the British Parliament, by express declaration, claimed that the Colonies and Plantations in America have been, are, and of right ought to be, subordinate unto, and dependent upon, the imperial Crown and Parliament of Great Britain ; that the king, with the advice and consent of Parliament, “bad, hath, and of right ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the Colonies and people of America in all cases whatsoever.”

§ 5. The theory that Great Britain had the right to tax the Colonies, together with the attempt to carry that doctrine into practice on the part of the Crown and Parliament, and its denial on the part of the Colonies, united with the determination on their part to carry that denial to open, practical resistance, led to final separation from Great Britain.

$ 6. Hoping to prevent this result, Parliament passed an act intended to conciliate the Colonies, which declared that Parliament would not impose any duty or tax on the Colonies, except for the regulation of commerce; and that the net produce of such duty or tax should be applied to the use of the Colony in which it was levied.” But this did not satisfy the disaffected colonists. They claimed to be sole judges of what should be done, even for their own good.

§ 7. The spirit of liberty was thus aroused; and a sense of future danger inspired them to take the onward steps that finally led to the Declaration of Independence on the fourth day of July, 1776.

« 이전계속 »