Page:Democracy in America (Reeve, v. 1).djvu/82

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


In 1628[1] a charter of this kind was granted by Charles I. to the emigrants who went to form the colony of Massachusetts. But, in general, charters were not given to the colonies of New England till they had acquired a certain existence. Plymouth, Providence, New Haven, the State of Connecticut, and that of Rhode Island[2] were founded without the cooperation and almost without the knowledge of the mother-country. The new settlers did not derive their incorporation from the seat of the empire, although they did not deny its supremacy; they constituted a society of their own accord, and it was not till thirty or forty years afterwards, under Charles II., that their existence was legally recognised by a royal charter.

This frequently renders it difficult to detect the ink which connected the emigrants with the land of their forefathers, in studying the earliest historical and legislative records of New England. They exercised the rights of sovereignty; they named their magistrates, concluded peace or declared war, made police regulations, and enacted laws as if their allegiance was due only to God[3]. Nothing can be

    more fully acted upon in the North than in the South, but they existed everywhere.

  1. See Pitkin's History, p. 35. See the History of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, by Hutchinson, vol. i. p. 9.
  2. See Pitkin's History, pp. 42. 47.
  3. The inhabitants of Massachusetts had deviated from the forms which are preserved in the criminal and civil procedure of England; in 1650 the decrees of justice were not yet headed by the royal style. See Hutchinson, vol. i. p. 452.