« ZurückWeiter »
before it was signed-of Blackwell's actions against Lloyd, Richardson, and Eckley in opposition to the Councillors' wishes, and of the putting of a stop to legislation. These seven told Penn that Blackwell rather watched them for evil, taking down in short hand every word they said, and preparing, when they were gone, the minutes for his servant, a Frenchman, to transcribe, and, although in many things keeping “near to the truth,” frequently omitting or denying what was material, that he represented them and “the best people” as seditious &ct., for asserting in moderation their just rights, and appearing unanimous in choice of representatives, and standing together against their known enemies, and that Blackwell, instead of taking the advice of those previously intrusted with the government, consulted with Jones, Robinson, and Markham. The wish was earnestly expressed that Penn return to America. “We now see the difference between an affectionate and tender father whose children we know we are and a severe hard hearted father-in-law who hath no share nor lot nor portion among us.”
The Assemblymen met in no good humor. Not only were the excluded Councillors high in the estimation of some, in fact of most, of the Quakers attending, but John White, chosen a representative of New Castle County in the Assembly, had been committed to jail, and was detained there. Blackwell for several days telling the messenger of the House that there was no quorum of the Council, the House unanimously resolved that the exclusion of members of the Council from that body was a grievance of the country; and it also was unanimously resolved that the detention in prison of any person chosen to the Assembly during the time of its session was a breach of privilege, and that such person with the charge against him should be brought before the House, that the House could judge whether the charge amounted to treason or felony. Therefore the House issued a writ to the Sheriff of New Castle to bring before it the body of John White, and the cause of his detaining. Five members, however, Joseph Fisher, Edward Blake, Luke Watson, Jr., Samuel Gray, and James Sandelands, protested against such a writ.
On the 14th of 3rd month, Blackwell addressed the Assembly at length, reciting the Proprietary's direction to drop all laws except the fundamentals, the doubt whether laws already passed or to be passed could be valid without the great seal, the difficulty in getting Lloyd to affix the great seal-according to Blackwell, the Keeper “refusing to allow the use of it in any cases by my direction,”and the uncertainty of the Proprietary's position in the state of affairs in England, and the danger to him and the colonists of passing such laws as they wished, and the Proprietary's reservation of the confirmation or annulling of any laws passed in his absence, so that their execution must be postponed until his pleasure should be known; so Blackwell announced his intention of observing as Proprietary instructions what had been enacted while Penn was in the province, unless contrary to the laws of England, and of supplying any defect therein by the laws of England. The House, by Arthur Cooke, who had been elected Speaker, appears then to have presented its resolve as to the grievance of not admitting the three Councillors. Blackwell adjourned the Council to his lodgings, against the wishes of certain members, who set up a joint power to appoint the place of meeting. His answer was that by his commission and the charter and laws, they were to attend him; not he, them. One affirming that they were not dealt with fairly, Blackwell reproved him, saying that he, Blackwell, was sorry that the member did not understand things better. Three days later, he submitted to a quorum of the Councillors the question of issuing a declaration for continuing the laws formerly passed by the Proprietary himself until word should come from England. Simcock and Clark feared, that, even with such a declaration, justices would not feel safe in doing anything after the expiration of twenty days from the end of the Assembly's session. Blackwell said that all action by the justices would surely be confirmed by an act of indemnity and confirmation, as government was a necessity. Growdon suggested to keep the laws alive by agreeing to the Assembly taking a recess, while Stockdale and Carpenter said that the Assembly could, by its own power, take such a recess; but Blackwell said that this was in no way countenanced by the Charter, the instructions, or the laws. Bristow thought it would be well for the Governor and Council and the Assembly to join together in a declaration to the magistrates that the laws made and confirmed from the beginning and practised, continue in force until further order from the Proprietary. This pleased Blackwell, but was not followed by the Council.
The Assemblymen, adopting on the day of this debate in Council an answer to the Lieutenant-Governor's speech, said that they were credibly informed that William Penn had changed his mind about letting the laws drop, and, as far as they knew, all those passed since his departure had been sent for his refusal, and none had been declared void by him; no higher sanction was required than what had been accepted up to that time by the colony; it was hoped that no law would be imposed upon them as being made and published under the great seal by the Proprietary and Governor with the consent of the freemen, instead of as made in the stipulated way of the Charter and Act of Settlement;" the representatives conceived all laws not adjudged void by the King under his Privy Seal to remain in force; and they deemed inconsistent with the constitution the Deputy's expedient of governing, unless with the concurrence of the Council, by such laws made before the Proprietary returned to England as Blackwell should think not contrary to the laws of England, because how far the laws of England were to be the rules had been declared by the King's letters patent.
The Sheriff of New Castle did not obey the writ of habeas corpus issued by the House, but allowed White to escape. So he came to Philadelphia, and, on the 17th, took his seat. Yet Richard Reynolds of New Castle, perhaps under a warrant from Markham as Justice, rearrested White, while, it seems, in the Assembly room, and would not take bail, but left him when the House again unanimously resolved that the arrest of a member or attendant during the session except for treason or felony was a breach of privilege. At 10 o'clock that night, John Claypoole (James's son), Sheriff of Philadelphia County, under a warrant from Markham and Jones, broke into the room in Benjamin Chambers's house where White was going to bed, and took him away. The next morning, Joseph Fisher of Philadelphia, James Sandelands of Chester, and John Darby and Edward Blake and Richard Mankin of New Castle, and five of the six members from Sussex, the other member not having attended at all, refused to attend, apparently in expectation of the petition which their fellow members adopted asking the Governor for justice.
Two days later, there being less than the quorum of two thirds, the attending members of Assembly passed censures upon Markham, Jones, Claypoole, and Reynolds, and also upon Robert Turner, who was reported to have signed the last writ aforesaid, as violators of the privileges of the Assembly and betrayers of the liberties of the freemen. The members also ordered a writ, which, however, was never made out, to bring these censured persons before the House. A number of the Assemblymen went before the Governor and Council, and presented several papers, probably including the speech in reply to Blackwell's, one apparently being upon the non-admission of the three Councillors, and another being that as to White's imprisonment. Blackwell told the Assemblymen that they were not judges of the membership of the Council, and bade them take back their papers: Growdon told them not to. Blackwell then put the papers in his pocket to keep until he could be certain whether the Assembly was legally in being, inasmuch as it might be said to have fallen by the nonattendance of a quorum. After Growdon had whispered to his fellow Quakers, Yardley stood up, and said that it appeared to him that the Assembly had not ceased to be. Then, speaking of himself and a number of the Councillors, and saying that they were of a mean education, whose speech sometimes appeared very rude, and memory weak, he offered some views in a folded paper, which Blackwell, supposing it to have emanated from Thomas Lloyd, did not wish to receive. Some debate arising, Lloyd, Eckley, and Richardson came walking in. The Lieutenant-Governor rose, and asked what was their pleasure. Lloyd replied that they came to pay their respects to him, and to sit in the Council. Blackwell told them that they could not take their seats, until he and the Council were satisfied. Lloyd refused to withdraw, and, after some little hubbub, Blackwell declared the meeting adjourned. No further attempt to meet was made by the Assemblymen, whom Blackwell spoke of as felones de se, or suicides. On 3rd mo. (May) 23, the Councillors present except Carpenter agreed to the issuing of a declaration, which was drawn up by a committee consisting of Markham, Clark, and Yardley. Simcock and Growdon were absent. The declaration was adopted and signed by Blackwell and nine Councillors, Carpenter voting no, and not signing. Coppock, Clark, Jones, and Yardley, signers, were Quakers. It denied all intention of subverting the Frame and the laws, and declared the laws passed by