Message of the Pennsylvania Assembly

November 25, 1755

… we cannot admit of Amendments to a Money Bill like this; Amendments
not founded in Reason, Justice or Equity, but in the arbitrary Pleasure of a
Governor, without betraying the Trust reposed in us by our
Constituents, and giving up their just Rights as Freeborn Subjects of
England.

The Governor is pleased to tell us, “The Constitution of this Province is
founded on “certain Royal and Proprietary Charters.” It is true, and one of
those Charters expressly says, “That the Assemblies of this Province shall have
Power to chuse a Speaker, and other their Officers; and shall be Judges of the
Qualifications and Elections of their own Members; sit upon their own
Adjournments; appoint Committees; prepare Bills, in order to pass into Laws;
impeach Criminals, and redress Grievances; and shall have OLL OTHER
Powers and Privileges of an Assembly, according to the Rights of the Freeborn
Subjects of England, and as is usual in ANY of the King’s Plantations in
America. “These very Words are also to be found in a Law of the Province,
enacted in the Fourth of QUEEN ANNE, and to this Day in Force. That the
“Freeborn Subjects of England” have a Right to grant Money by their
Representatives in Parliament, in Bills that shall suffer no Amendment, the
Governor does not deny; nor that it is usual in any of the King’s Plantations in
America: If therefore the Freeborn Subjects of England have this Right, we
have it by our Charter, and our Laws. And if we had it not by our Charter and
Laws, we should nevertheless have it; for the Freeborn Subjects of England do
not lose their essential Rights by removing into the King’s Plantations,
extending the British Dominions at the Hazard of their Lives and Fortunes,
and en-creasing the Power, Wealth and Commerce of their Mother Country;
they have, on the contrary, particular Privileges justly granted and added to
their native Rights, for their Encouragement in so useful and meritorious an
Undertaking.

In the Governor’s Message of August 12, to the late Assembly, he him-self
says, that by the Royal Charter the Powers of an Assembly were to be
consonant to the Laws and Constitution of England, and would have them
confined to that; but now he tells us, that our Constitution is no way similar to
that of England. We think, however, that it will appear by the expressed as
well as implied Powers of an Assembly in the above Extract from our Charter
and Laws, that our House of Representatives is far from being no way similar
to a British House of Commons in its Form and Constitution, whatever it may
be in the Knowledge, Abilities and Dignity of its Members. In one Thing,
indeed, it is our Misfortune, that our Constitution differs from that of England.
The King has a natural Connection with his Subjects. The Crown descends to
his Posterity; and the more his People prosper and flourish, the greater is the
Power, Wealth, Strength and Security of his Family and Descendants. But
Plantation Governors are frequently transient Persons, of broken Fortunes,
greedy of Money, with-out any Regard to the People, or natural Concern for
their Interests, often their Enemies, and endeavouring not only to oppress but
defame them, and render them obnoxious to their Sovereign, and odious to
their Fellow-Subjects.-Our present Governor not only denies us the Privileges
of an English Constitution, but would, as far as in his Power, introduce a
French
one, by reducing our Assemblies to the Insignificance of their
Parliaments, incapable of making Laws, but by Direction, or of qualifying their
own Gifts and Grants, and only allowed to register his Edicts. He would even
introduce a worse; he requires us to defend our Country, but will not permit
us to raise the Means, unless we will give up some of those Liberties that make
the Country worth defending; this is demanding Brick without Straw, and is
so far similar to the Egyptian Constitution. He has got us indeed into similar
Circumstances with the poor Egyptians, and takes the same Advantage of our
Distress; for as they were to perish by Famine, so he tells us we must by the
Sword, unless we will become Servants to our Pharoah, and make him an
absolute Lord, as he is pleased to stile himself absolute Proprietary….

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