Page:American Archives, Series 4, Volume 1.djvu/127

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
129
130
BILL FOR ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE IN MASSACHUSETTS BAY.

vise, to obtain a fair trial there, for any who act under Government, the House is made virtually to acknowledge the British Government to be universally odious to the whole Province. By supposing the case that such trial may be equally impracticable in every other Province of America, Parliament does in effect admit, that its authority is, or probably may, become hateful to all the Colonies. This we apprehend is to publish to all the world, in terms the most emphatical, the little confidence the Supreme Legislature reposes in the affection of so large and so important a part of the British empire. If Parliament believed that any considerable number of the People in the Colonies were willing to act in support of British Government, it is evident that we might safely trust the persons so acting to their fellow Colonists, for a fair trial for acts done in consequence of such support. The Bill therefore amounts to a declaration that the House knows no means of retaining the Colonies in due obedience, but by an Army rendered independent of the ordinary course of law, in the place where they are employed.

3dly. Because we think, that a military force, sufficient for governing upon this plan, cannot be maintained without the inevitable ruin of the nation.

Lastly. Because this Bill seems to be one of the many experiments towards an introduction of essential innovations into the Government of this empire. The virtual indemnity provided by this Bill, for those who shall be indicted for murders committed under colour of office, can answer no other purpose. We consider that to be an indemnity which renders trial, and consequently punishment, impracticable; and trial is impracticable, when the very Governor, under whose authority acts of violence may be committed, is empowered to send the instruments of that violence to three thousand miles distance from the scene of their offence, the reach of their prosecutor, and the local evidence which may tend to their conviction. The authority given by this Bill, to compel the transportation from America to Great Britain of any number of witnesses, at the pleasure of the parties prosecuting and prosecuted, without any regard to their age, sex, health, circumstances, business, or duties, seems to us so extravagant in its principles, and so impracticable in its execution, as to confirm us further in our opinion of the spirit which animates the whole system of the present American regulations.

  Richmond,
Rockingham,
Leinster,
Fitzwilliam,
Portland,
Manchester,
Ponsonby,
Craven.

A Message was sent to the House of Commons by the former Messengers:

To acquaint them, that the Lords have agreed to the said Bill, without any amendment.

Friday, May 20, 1774.

His Majesty being seated on the Throne, and the Commons attending with their Speaker, the Royal assent to the Bill was pronounced by the Clerk's Assistant.




Anno Decimo Quarto Georgii III. Regis.

An Act for the Impartial Administration of Justice in the cases of Persons questioned for any Acts done by them in Execution of the Law, or for the Suppression of Riots and Tumults, in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England.

Whereas in his Majesty's Province of Massachusetts Bay, in New England, an attempt hath lately been made to throw off the authority of the Parliament of Great Britain over the said Province, and an actual and avowed resistance, by open force, to the execution of certain Acts of Parliament, hath been suffered to take place, uncontrouled and unpunished, in defiance of his Majesty's authority, and to the utter subversion of all lawful Government: and whereas, in the present disordered state of the said Province, it is of the utmost importance to the general welfare thereof, and to the re-establishment of lawful authority throughout the same, that neither the Magistrates acting in support of the laws, nor any of his Majesty's subjects aiding [130]and assisting them therein, or in the suppression of riots and tumults, raised in opposition to the execution of the laws and statutes of this realm, should be discouraged from the proper discharge of their duty, by an apprehension, that in case of their being questioned for any acts done therein, they may be liable to be brought to trial for the same before persons who do not acknowledge the validity of the laws, in the execution whereof, or the authority of the Magistrate in the support of whom, such acts had been done: in order therefore to remove every such discouragement from the minds of his Majesty's subjects, and to induce them, upon all proper occasions, to exert themselves in support of the public peace of the Province, and of the authority of the King and Parliament of Great Britain over the same; Be it enacted by the King's most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that if any inquisition or indictment shall be found, or if any appeal shall be sued or preferred against any person, for murder, or other capital offence, in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, and it shall appear, by information given upon oath to the Governor, or, in his absence, to the Lieutenant Governor of the said Province, that the fact was committed by the person against whom such inquisition or indictment shall be found, or against whom such appeal shall be sued or preferred, as aforesaid, either in the execution of his duty as a Magistrate, for the suppression of riots, or in the support of the Laws of Revenue, or in acting in his duty as an Officer of Revenue, or in acting under the direction and order of any Magistrate, for the suppression of riots, or for the carrying into effect the Laws of the Revenue, or in aiding and assisting in any of the cases aforesaid; and if it shall also appear, to the satisfaction of the said Governor, or Lieutenant Governor respectively, that an indifferent trial cannot be had within the said Province, in that case, it shall and may be lawful for the Governor, or Lieutenant Governor, to direct, with the advice and consent of the Council, that the inquisition, indictment, or appeal, shall be tried in some other of his Majesty's Colonies, or in Great Britain; and for that purpose to order the person against whom such inquisition or indictment shall be found, or against whom such appeal shall be sued or preferred, as aforesaid, to be sent, under sufficient custody, to the place appointed for his trial, or to admit such person to bail, taking a recognizance, (which the said Governor, or in his absence, the Lieutenant Governor, is hereby authorized to take,) from such person, with sufficient sureties, to be approved of by the said Governor, or, in his absence, the Lieutenant Governor, in such sums of money as the said Governor, or, in his absence, the Lieutenant Governor, shall deem reasonable, for the personal appearance of such person, if the trial shall be appointed to be had in any other Colony, before the Governor, or Lieutenant Governor, or Commander-in-Chief of such Colony; and if the trial shall be appointed to be had in Great Britain, then before his Majesty's Court of King's Bench, at a time to be mentioned in such recognizances; and the Governor, or Lieutenant Governor, or Commander-in-Chief of the Colony, where such trial shall be appointed to be had, or Court of King's Bench, where the trial is appointed to be had in Great Britain, upon the appearance of such person, according to such recognizance, or in custody, shall either commit such person, or admit him to bail, until such trial; and which the said Governor, or Lieutenant Governor, or Commander-in-Chief, and Court of King's Bench, are hereby authorized and empowered to do.

And, to prevent a failure of justice, from the want of evidence on the trial of any such inquisition, indictment, or appeal, Be it further enacted, that the Governor, or, in his absence, the Lieutenant Governor, shall, and he is hereby authorized and required, to bind in recognizances to his Majesty all such witnesses as the prosecutor or person against whom such inquisition or indictment shall be found, or appeal sued or preferred, shall desire to attend the trial of the said inquisition, indictment, or appeal, for their personal appearance, at the time and place of such trial, to give evidence: and the said Governor, or in his absence, the Lieutenant Governor, shall thereupon appoint a reasonable sum to be allowed for the expenses of every such witness,