« PreviousContinue »
open arms. But this is an event of which there feems not to be the smallest glimpfe of hope. What then remains to be done but to acquiefce in the lofs of thefe provinces, which in truth we have loft beyond all poffibility of recovering them by a continuance of the war? And, to testify this acquiefcence, it will be neceffary to declare, in the most authentick manner, our readiness (in order to the restoration of peace) to acknowledge them as independent states, and to cultivate a friendly intercourfe with them, in that new character, for our mutual advantage, and more especially in matters of commerce, in which we are capable of becoming of most benefit to each other.
But here a difficulty arifes as to the manner of granting them Independence. It is faid, I obferve, by many people, (and, I believe, with truth,) that the king alone, without the concurrence of the parliament, cannot legally grant them Independence; for that he would thereby difmember the British empire, and alienate the hereditary dominions of the Crown, which they conceive to be beyond his power: "For, though," fay they, "the king may, by virtue of his prerogative of making peace or war, restore, at a peace, a "country newly conquered in the preceding war, of which "fuch peace is a termination, (as he did, in fact, restore the "iflands of Martinique and Guadaloupe to the French king "at the peace of Paris in February, 1763,) yet it does not "follow that he may grant away the fovereignty of a "country that has been anciently and permanently a part of "the poffeffions of the crown of Great Britain,”-I grant all this to be fo. But what then? Shall the thing, therefore, remain undone, notwithstanding the urgent importance of it to the welfare, or, rather, to the safety and prefervation, of the nation? Surely this cannot be a juft conclufion. But, fince the authority of parliament is neceffary in this bufinefs, let that authority be employed; yet, with
ás great regard as poffible to his Majefty's true and acknowledged prerogative of making war and peace, which is generally thought to be wifely lodged by the law, or conftitution, in the executive branch of our Government. And let this be done openly and clearly, and not by using loose and general words in an Act of Parliament that makes no exprefs mention of the Independence of the colonies, and by leaving the power of granting the faid Independence, conferred by the ftatute on the Crown, to be collected from those words by uncertain implications, as is the cafe with the Act of the laft feffion of Parliament, brought-in by Mr. Wallace, his Majefty's late Attorney-General. This indirect way of proceeding is not calculated to gain the confidence of the Americans, and to bring-about the defired reconciliation. The bufinefs fhould therefore be done in the fulleft and plainest manner, to the end that the Americans may no longer doubt of the entire concurrence of Parliament to the Act whereon their future Independence is to be founded, and may no longer complain, or have the fmalleft pretence to complain, that our proceedings in this important tranfaction are in any degree obfcure or infidious. And with this view I conceive it would be proper to pass an Act of Parliament to the following effect, namely, "To enable the King's Majefty, if "in his royal wifdom he fhall fo think fit, to abfolve from "their allegiance to himfelf, his heirs and fucceffors, all the "prefent inhabitants of the thirteen revolted provinces, to wit, "the province of Maffachufett's Bay, that of Connecticut, "that of Rhode Island, &c. (fpecifying them all with their
refpective boundaries, accurately fet-forth,) and to cede "unto the governing powers established in each of the faid "provinces, all his Majefty's right of fovereignty over the "whole of fuch province, together with his right of property "in the foil of all fuch parts of the faid provinces as have "not been legally granted-away under the
authority of the
"Crown before the month of July, in 1776, when the "vote of Independency was paffed in the Continental Con"grefs." All this is neceffary to be expreffed in fuch an Act of Parliament, in order to make the conceffion of Independence clear and compleat. For, if the inhabitants of the faid provinces were only to be abfolved from their alle giance, without alfo making them a grant of the king's right to the foil of the faid provinces, the king might be supposed to retain a right to the foil, and to be at liberty, at fome future time, to require the inhabitants of the faid provinces, who would have been abfolved from their allegiance, and would therefore be no longer fubjects of the Crown of Great Britain, to withdraw themfelves from his territories, and go and fettle themselves elsewhere, whereever they thought fit, out of the dominions of the Crown of Great Britain. And, if the foil were to be granted to the said inhabitants, in the manner proposed, but without specifying the limits of the provinces fo granted, difputes might afterwards arise concerning the extent of the territories of thefe new ftates, who, probably, would carry their claims as far as the South Sea, while Great Britain might be fup. pofed to have referved to herself her right to the lands about the river Ohio, and the five great lakes, Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior; and, in general, to all that extenfive country which, by the Act of Parliament of the year 1774, for regulating the government of the province of Quebec, was added to the former territory of that province. The limits, therefore, of the provinces, or territories, intended to be ceded to thefe new ftates, ought to be diftinctly specified, as well as the King's rights over the faid territories, to be exprefsly ceded to them.
Further, if the Act were made in the manner here fuggefted, that is, fo as not immediately to grant Independency to the Americans while they are yet in arms against
us, and we are not abfolutely certain that they will lay-down their arms in confequence of the conceffion, but only to enable the King to grant it to them, if be, in his royal wisdom, fball fo think fit, the parliament would avoid encroaching on the royal prerogative of making war and peace, and would only inveft the King with the fame compleat power of making peace with his revolted fubjects in North-America, which he already enjoys by the Law, or Conftitution, with respect to all the other ftates with whom we are at war; which power of making peace or war, it is generally thought, can be better exercised by the King alone, than by the King and Parliament conjointly. And, if his Majefty, after being thus enabled by his Parliament, fhould think fit to direct his minifter at Paris to make this important conceffion to the Americans, the Americans would not have the smalleft fcruple concerning either its extent or its validity, but would proceed with confidence to treat of the other articles that might be neceffary to a general peace with them and their allies.
Your most humble fervant,
FIRST ROYAL CHARTER
GRANTED TO THE
COLONY OF THE MASSACHUSETS BAY,
IN NORTH AMERICA,
IN THE FOURTH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF KING CHARLES THE FIRST; From the first Copy of it that was ever published in print, which was printed by the Direction of the late Mr. Israel Mauduit, about the year 1775*.
CHARLES, by the Grace of God, King of England,
To all to whom these Presents fhall come, Greeting. WHEREAS our most deare and royal Father, King Recital of James, of bleffed memory, by his Highnefs's letters James's patents beareing date at Westminster the third day of grant to the November, in the eighteenth year of his reign, hath Plymouth. given and granted unto the Councel established at 18 Jac. 1. Plymouth in the county of Devon, for the planting, ruling, ordering, and governing, of New-England in America, and to their heirs and fucceffours and affignes for ever: All that part of America lying and being, in Description breadth, from fourty degrees of northerly latitude from granted. the equinoctiall line, to fourty-eight degrees of the said northerly latitude inclufively, and, in length, of and
of the land
* This first Charter of the Massachusets Colony has never been printed. There are very few Manuscript Copies of it. Those are liable to so many accidents that it is thought proper to publish it as the most likely means of preventing it's being irrecoverably lost.-From Mr. Mauduit's printed copy of this Charter.