(A line by line historical analysis of the accusations of the Declaration of Independence.)

XXII. For suspending our own legislatures, and ring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

By the act described in the next preceding charge, entitled "For the better regulation of government in the province of Massachusetts Bay," the colonial legislature was virtually and actually" suspended; for, according to the charter under which the people had always lived and been governed, they recognised no legislature but one of their own free choice and election. By that act, the members of the council were chosen by the King, and a free legislature was in fact suspended, and a declaration virtually made that the King and Parliament were "invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever." In 1767 the powers of the Legislature of New York were suspended indefinitely, because the Assembly refused to furnish the soldiers, quartered among them, with certain articles mentioned in a clause in the Mutiny Act. In the language of the Declaration of Independence, by such an act of suspension of legislative functions, those "powers, incapable of annihilation, returned to the people at large for their exercise;" but the King and his council, by both word and deed, claimed that those powers returned to, and were vested in, the Crown, and thus asserted the principle, that it in connexion with the Council, was invested with power to legislate for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever."

Lord Dunmore, after dissolving the Assembly of Virginia about the beginning of 1775, assumed the same right, and issued proclamations to the people, calling upon them to perform certain duties, which had not been required of them by their own representatives in the House of Burgesses.

< Prev Page Next Page >