The First Reorganization Of William Iii
The system as William found it.—When William III ascended the throne, the later Stuart colonial system had not been perfected. It had been characterized by the principles that the authority of the crown should be strengthened at the expense of the colonial legislatures, that commerce should be regulated by the imperial administration, and that larger governmental units should take the place of the multiplicity of colonies. The colonial governments had gradually evolved toward a common type, composed of governor and council representing the crown or proprietor, and a legislature in which the council acted as an upper house while the lower elective house represented the interests of the colony.
Committee on trade and plantations.—William III at first adopted the machinery of colonial administration as he found it, continuing the committee of the privy council on trade and plantations, but he appointed new members, including leading ministers from both the Whig and Tory parties. The navigation laws were continued in force, and Edward Randolph was retained as surveyor general of the customs.
Governmental changes in New England—-In the colonies several changes were introduced, the most striking being in New England. The idea of a consolidated New England was abandoned. The charters of Rhode Island and Connecticut were restored, and New Hampshire was established as a royal province. In 1691 Massachusetts, Plymouth, Maine, and Acadia were consolidated into the Province of Massachusetts Bay, but the immediate reconquest of Acadia by the French made the new charter inoperative in that region.
Massachusetts charter of 1691.—The form of government established in the Province of Massachusetts Bay was a compromise between the old independent form of earlier days and the type of the royal colony. The charter provided for a governor, deputy-governor, and secretary, to be appointed by the crown; a council of twenty-eight; and a lower house composed of freeholders, elected by the people. The general court composed of the governor, council, and lower house, was given the power, after the last Wednesday in May, 1693, of selecting annually the members of the council, at least eighteen of whom were to be from the old colony of Massachusetts, four from New Plymouth, and three from Maine. Legislation which met the approval of the governor was sent to the king in council, who within three years of the passage of the act, could disallow or nullify the colonial legislation. Laws not disallowed within three years remained in force.
New York.—The Leisler rebellion in New York complicated the problem of reorganization. Instead of Leisler being countenanced, New York, shorn of New Jersey, was again made a royal colony, with a government composed of governor, council, and elected assembly. Governor Henry Sloughter arrived on March 19, 1691, and the first assembly met on April 9. It promptly repealed the Duke's Laws, and voted that the revenues be made payable to the receiver-general, a crown appointee, and that issuance of funds be made by the governor's warrant, an action which made the governor for the time being independent and paved the way for future disputes. Sloughter died in July, 1691, and in August, 1692, Colonel Benjamin Fletcher arrived to assume the governorship, Richard Ingoldesby, an appointee of the council, having acted as governor in the interim.
Virginia.—In Virginia the revolution was effected without violence. Lord Howard of Effingham continued in the governorship but remained in England, Sir Francis Nicholson, who had been deposed in New York, being sent out as governor in 1690. Though he resisted the calling of an assembly, popular clamor forced his hand. A new capital city called Williamsburg was immediately laid out.
The Jerseys.—No settled policy regarding the proprietary governments was followed by William. Instead of attempting to readjust them after some formulated plan, each colony was dealt with as an individual unit with its own problem. In the Jerseys William restored the proprietors. Little authority was exercised by them, however, until 1692, when Andrew Hamilton was sent out as governor of both East and West New Jersey, a distinct step toward consolidation into a single province.
Pennsylvania.—The marked favor with which James II looked upon Penn placed the Pennsylvania proprietor under William's suspicion. Charges of misgovernment on the part of Penn's appointees, bickerings in the colony between the upper and lower counties, controversies among the Quakers, claims of religious intolerance, and the set attitude of the Quakers against war, made an accumulation of troubles for the proprietor. In 1692 he was deprived of his government, Benjamin Fletcher being sent over as governor. Fletcher introduced the royal colony type of government, selecting a council and summoning an elective assembly from both the upper and lower counties. When Fletcher demanded appropriations to assist in the war, the assembly proved factious, claiming that the governor was violating the chartered rights of the colony. Fletcher was unable to overcome the constitutional objections and withdrew to New York, sending a deputy to the colony to represent him. Penn in the meantime had been pressing his claims, and having succeeded in convincing the king of his loyalty, in 1694 was restored to his rights.
Maryland.—The Catholicism of Baltimore placed him under the ban of the government, in spite of the fact that he hastened to proclaim the new sovereigns. A rebellion against the proprietor gave ample excuse for the crown to take over the government of the colony. Baltimore was left in possession of his territorial rights, retaining the quit-rents, ownership of vacant lands, and his share of the customs, but the government was taken from him. In 1692 Sir Lionel Copley came over as royal governor, a council was selected from the anti-Baltimore party, and an assembly was convened. The assembly established the Episcopal church and divided the counties into parishes. Copley died in 1693, and for a brief period Sir Edmund Andros was governor, but Francis Nicholson soon succeeded him, and transferred the capital from St. Mary's to Annapolis.
The Carolinas.—The proprietors of the Carolinas fared better. Though there was much opposition to them in the colonies, they succeeded in ingratiating themselves with William and were left in undisturbed possession. In 1691 the Charleston and Albermarle districts were united under a single government, Philip Ludwell, who in 1689 had been appointed governor of the district north and east of Cape Fear, being made governor of the whole of Carolina.
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