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III. Plan of a proposed Union of the several Colonies of Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nero York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, for their mutual Defence and Security, and for extending the British Settlements in North America, with the Reasons and Motives for
*■ each Article of the Plan [as far as could be remembered.]
It is proposed—That humble application be made for an act of parliament of Great Britain, by virtue of which one general government may be formed in America, including all the said colonies, within and under which government each colony may retain its present constitution, except in the particulars wherein a change may be directed by the said act, as hereafter follows.1
PRESIDENT GENERAL, AND GRAND COUNCIL.
That the said general government be administered by a president general, to be appointed and supported by the crown; and a grand council to be chosen by the representatives of the people of the several colonies met in their respective assemblies.
It was thought that it would be best the president general should be supported as well as ap
■ ■ —■ m *^ ———^—^**i ii . ■■ -— — ■*- —■-. .., — ■ ■—■
* The reader may perceive, by the difference of the Italic and Roman type, which is the text of the plan, and which the VOL. I. U
pointed by the crown; that so all disputes between him and the grand council concerning his salary might be prevented; as such disputes have been frequently of mischievous consequence in particular colonies, especially in time of public danger. The quit-rents of crown-lands in America might in a short time be sufficient for this purpose. The choice of members for the grand council is placed in the house of representatives of each government, in order to give the people a share in this new general government, as the crown has its share by the appointment of the president general.
But it being proposed by the gentlemen of the council of New York, and some other counsellors among the commissioners, to alter the plan in this particular, and to give the governors and council of the several provinces a share in the choice of the grand council, or at least a power of approving and confirming or of disallowing the choice made by the house of representatives, it was said:
"That the government or constitution proposed to be formed by the plan, consists of two branches; a president general appointed by the crown, and a council chosen by the people, or by the people's representatives, which is the same thing.
"That by a subsequent article, the council chosen by the people can effect nothing without the consent of the president general appointed by the crown; the crown possesses therefore full one half of the power of this constitution.
reasons and motives mentioned in the title. They are thus printed for perspicuity and for convenience.
"That in the British constitution, the crown is supposed to possess but one third, the lords having their share.
"That this constitution seemed rather more favorable for the crown.
"That this is essential to English liberty, [that] the subject should not be taxed but by his own consent, or the consent of his elected representatives.
"That taxes to be laid and levied by this proposed constitution will be proposed and agreed to by the representatives of the people, if the plan in this particular be preserved:
"But if the proposed alteration should take place, it seemed as if matters may be so managed, as that the crown shall finally have the appointment not only of the president general, but of a majority of the grand council; for seven out of eleven governors and councils are appointed by the crown:
"And so the people in all the colonies would in effect be taxed by their governors.
"It was therefore apprehended, that such alterations of the plan would give great dissatisfaction, and that the colonies could not be easy under such a power in governors, and such an infringement of what they take to be English liberty.
"Besides, the giving a share in the choice of the grand council would not be equal with respect to all the colonies, as their constitutions differ. In some, both governor and council are appointed by the crown. In others, they are both appointed by the proprietors. In some, the people have a share in the choice of the council; in others, both government and council are wholly chosen by the people. But the house of representatives is every where chosen by the people; and therefore, placing the right of choosing the grand council in the representatives is equal with respect to all.
"That the grand council is intended to represent all the several houses of representatives of the colonies, as a house of representatives doth the several towns or counties of a colony. Could all the people of a colony be consulted and unite in public measures, a house of representatives would be needless: and could all the assemblies conveniently consult and unite in general measures, the grand council would be unnecessary.
"That a house of commons or the house of representatives, and the grand council, are thus alike in their nature and intention. And as it would seem improper that the king or house of lords should have a power of disallowing or appointing members of the house of commons;—so likewise, that a governor and council appointed by the crown should have a power of disallowing or appointing members of the grand council, (who, in this constitution, are to be the representatives of the people.)
"If the governors and councils therefore were to have a share in the choice of any that are to conduct this general government, it should seem more proper that they chose the president general. But this being an office of great trust and importance to the nation, it was thought better to be filled by the immediate appointment of the crown.
"The power proposed to be given by the plan to the grand council is only a concentration of the powers of the several assemblies in certain points for the general welfare; as the power of the president general is of the powers of the several governors in the same points.
"And as the choice therefore of the grand council by the representatives of the people, neither gives the people any new powers, nor diminishes the power of the crown, it was thought and hoped the crown would not disapprove of it."
Upon the whole, the commissioners were of opinion, that the choice was most properly placed in the representatives of the people.
ELECTION OF MEMBERS.
That within months after the passing such act, the house of representatives, that happen to be sitting within that time, or that shall be especially for