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Now this declaration, even if the crown previously possessed a right to establish what laws it pleased over the territory, as a conquest from the natives, being a fundamental rule of the original settlement of the colonies, and before the emigrations thither, was conclusive, and could not afterwards be abrogated by the crown. It was an irrevocable annexation of the colonies to the mother country, as dependencies governed by the same laws, and entitled to the same rights.
§ 79. And so has been the uniform doctrine in America ever since the settlement of the colonies. The universal principle (and the practice has conformed to it) has been, that the common law is our birthright and inheritance, and that our ancestors brought hither with them upon their emigration all of it, which was applicable to their situation. The whole structure of our present jurisprudence stands upon the original foundations of the common law.
§ 80. We thus see in a very clear light the mode, in which the common law was first introduced into the colonies; as well as the true reason of the exceptions to it to be found in our colonial usages and laws. It was not introduced, as of original and universal obligation in its utmost latitude; but the limitations contained in the bosom of the common law itself, and indeed constituting a part of the law of nations, were affirmatively settled and recognised in the respective charters of settlement. Thus limited and defined, it has become the guardian of our political and civil rights; it has protected our infant liberties; it has watched over our maturer growth; it has expanded with our wants; it has nurtured that spirit of independence, which checked the first approaches of arbitrary power; it has enabled us to triumph in the midst of difficulties and dangers
threatening our political existence; and by the goodness of God, we are now enjoying, under its bold and manly principles, the blessings of a free, independent, and united government.
GENERAL REVIEW OF THE COLONIES.
§ 81. In respect to their interior polity, the colonies have been very properly divided by Mr. Justice Blackstone into three sorts; viz. Provincial, Proprietary, and Charter Governments. First, Provincial Establishments. The constitutions of these depended on the respective commissions issued by the crown to the governors, and the instructions, which usually accompanied those commissions. These commissions were usually in one form, appointing a governor as the king's representative or deputy, who was to be governed by the royal instructions, and styling him Captain General and Governor-in-Chief over the Province, and Chancellor, Vice-Admiral, and Ordinary of the same. The crown also appointed a council, who, besides their legislative authority, were to assist the governor in the discharge of his official duties; and power was given him to suspend them from office, and, in case of vacancies, to appoint others, until the pleasure of the crown should be known. The commissions also contained authority to convene a general assembly of representatives of the freeholders and planters; and under this authority provincial assemblies, composed of the governor, the council, and the representatives, were constituted; (the council being a separate branch or upper house, and the governor having a negative upon all their proceedings, and also the right of proroguing and dissolving them;) which assemblies had the power of making local laws and ordinances, not repugnant to the laws of England, but
as near as may be agreeable thereto, subject to the ratification and disapproval of the crown. The governors also had power, with advice of council, to establish courts, and to appoint judges and other magistrates, and officers for the province; to pardon offences, and to remit fines and forfeitures; to collate to churches and benefices; to levy military forces for defence; and to execute martial law in time of invasion, war, and rebellion. Appeals lay to the king in council from the decisions of the highest courts of judicature of the province, as indeed they did from all others of the colonies. Under this form of government the provinces of New-Hampshire, New-York, New-Jersey, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, were governed (as we have seen) for a long period, and some of them from an early period after their settlement.
§ 82. Secondly, Proprietary Governments. These (as we have seen) were granted out by the crown to individuals, in the nature of feudatory principalities, with all the inferior royalties, and subordinate powers of legislation, which formerly belonged to the owners of counties palatine. Yet still there were these express conditions, that the ends, for which the grant was made, should be substantially pursued; and that nothing should be done or attempted, which might derogate from the sovereignty of the mother country. In the proprietary government the governors were appointed by the proprietaries, and legislative assemblies were assembled under their authority; and indeed all the usual prerogatives were exercised, which in provincial governments belonged to the crown. Three only existed at the period of the American Revolution; viz. the proprietary governments of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The former had this peculiarity in its
charter, that its laws were not subject to the supervision and control of the crown; whereas in both the latter such a supervision and control were expressly or impliedly provided for.
§ 83. Thirdly, Charter Governments. Mr. Justice Blackstone describes them, (1 Comm. 108,) as " in the nature of civil corporations with the power of making by-laws for their own internal regulation, not contrary to the laws of England; and with such rights and authorities as are specially given them in their several charters of incorporation. They have a governor named by the king, (or, in some proprietary colonies, by the proprietor,) who is his representative or deputy. They have courts of justice of their own, from whose decisions an appeal lies to the king and council here in England. Their general assemblies, which are their house of commons, together with their council of state, being their upper house, with the concurrence of the king, or his representative the governor, make laws suited to their own emergencies." This is by no means a just or accurate description of the charter governments. They could not be justly considered, as mere civil corporations of the realm, empowered to pass bylaws; but rather as great political establishments or colonies, possessing the general powers of government, and rights of sovereignty, dependent, indeed, and subject to the realm of England; but still possessing within their own territorial limits the general powers of legislation and taxation. The only charter governments existing at the period of the American Revolution were those of Massachusetts, Rhode-Island, and Connecticut. The first charter of Massachusetts might be open to the objection, that it provided only for a civil corporation within the realm, and did not justify the assumption