The Colonial System During The Reign Of Anne
Cabinet development.—During the reign of Anne the cabinet system was gradually evolving. The privy council continued as the legal advisory body of the crown, but a small group of ministers, the forerunner of the modern cabinet, was in control Colonial affairs were placed definitely in the hands of the secretary of state for the southern department. The Board of Trade continued, but as the cabinet system developed, it became less important, the secretary of state for the southern department and parliament gradually encroaching upon the activities of the board. The union with Scotland in 1707 profoundly affected the commercial system, for after the union the Scots were no longer excluded from colonial commerce.
Commercial legislation.—In 1705 another important act of trade was passed which added rice, molasses, and various naval stores to the fist of enumerated articles which must be shipped to England. To offset these new restrictions, bounties were to be given on naval stores produced in the colonies and shipped to England and in 1707 colonial seamen were exempted from impressment in the royal navy. During the reign of William III the Bank of England was established and the financial system was completely renovated. No definite money system had been established in the colonies; Spanish coins were in common use, but they had no fixed value, a condition which greatly hampered commerce. In 1707 parliament passed an act which imposed penalties for taking foreign coins at a rate above the legal ratio. The colonial post-office was also reorganized. Before 1689 each colony had regulated its postal offices. In 1692 a patent for twenty-one years was issued to Thomas Neale to establish colonial post-offices; Neale's deputy, Andrew Hamilton of New Jersey, obtained the support of several of the colonial governments in establishing postal rates, but the arrangements were lacking in uniformity. In 1710 parliament passed an act reorganizing the post-office of the entire realm. In the colonies a post-office was to be established in New York and at other convenient points in each of the colonies on the continent and in each of the Leeward Isles.
Disallowance and appeals.—During the reigns of William III and Anne the crown was constantly seeking to harmonize the colonial and home governments, both in legislation and administration. The chief crown instrument for achieving harmony was the right of royal disallowance of colonial legislation. By 1692 it had been established in the royal provinces and in Pennsylvania. In 1702 it was extended to New Jersey, and at various times during the reign of Anne laws of chartered colonies were disallowed, although such action was of doubtful legality. The unity of the English court system was maintained by insistence that cases involving individuals in the colonies might be appealed to the privy council When the colonies attempted to restrict the right, colonial legislation was disallowed.
Causes of friction.—The constitutional development in England which followed the Revolution of 1688 was reflected in the colonies, where each lower house was a miniature house of commons representing the will of the enfranchised people, while the governors and proprietors were considered as representatives of the royal will. Struggles between the governor and assembly occurred in almost every colony, the most common causes of quarrel being the control of elections and of the purse, and appointments.
Control of elections and the purse.—In several of the colonies the popular control of elections was maintained either by specific statements in the charters or by legislative enactment. In Virginia the burgesses in 1692 declared themselves the sole judges of the qualifications of their members. The Massachusetts charter provided for annual elections, and the same right was given to Pennsylvania in 1701. Legislative acts in the Carolinas secured biennial elections. The most potent factor in limiting the power of governors was the control of taxation by the lower house. That money raised by direct taxation should be disbursed by the representatives of the people was a growing idea. The assemblies frequently fixed salaries, refused to provide for fixed civil lists, specified how much should be drawn and spent, and limited grants for governors to annual appropriations. Massachusetts was the most insistent on her rights, but each of the colonies in one way or another sought to curb the executive.
Appointments.—The appointment of administrative officers by the assemblies became more and more frequent. The theory that the representatives of the people should control taxation and disbursements naturally led to the assertion of the right to appoint financial officers, and by 1715 in most of the colonies the treasurer was appointed by the assembly. The colonies also maintained agents in England who guarded their interests.
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