they had previously exhibited, and from this point the intercourse with the Governor became less cordial.

It was at this period that dissension also for the first time ap. pears to have entered the Council. Previously, so far as the sen. timents of the members of that body have become public, they had, in the main, coincided with the Governor in his views. But in September of this year he felt called upon to suspend Lord Stirling, who was one of the members, in consequence of his acceptance of a military commission under the Provincial Congress, ani shortly after, the communications which passed between the Council and the Governor began to evince in no small degree the growing estrangement which soon put an end to all harmonions action and left the Governor, unsupported, to stem the ad. verse tide of popular prejudice. Writing about this period to the Earl of Dartmouth the Governor feelingly remarks, situation is indeed somewhat particular and not a little difficult, having no more than one or two among the principal officers of government, to whom I, even now, speak confidentially on public aft:irs."*

The despatch containing this passage was intercepted on the 6th of January, 1776, by Lord Stirling, and led to the adoption of measures by that officer to prevent the escape of Governor Franklin, although there is no evidence that he had formed any such intention. He had declared to the Assembly that, unless compelled by violence, he should not leave the Province, and he stated in a letter addressed to the officer having command of the guard placed at his gate that such an assurance on his part was certainly equal to any promise he could make. At the solicita. tion of the Chief Justice of the Province, however, he was in. duced to give his parole; and for some months continued, amid all the excitement and increasing difficulties of the time, to occupy his house in Amboy, and to exercise nominally the duties of his station.t But having issued a proclamation convening the Assembly on the 20th of June-having received despatches from the Ministry which he was anxious to lay before them-the Provincial Convention or Congress on the 14th of June pronoun. ced the proceedings a direct contempt of the order of the Con. tinental Congress which abrogated all foreign jurisdiction, and, in a series of resolutions which they adoptel, expressed au opin

* Princeton Review, July 1817. + Duer's Life of Lord Sterting, pp. 119, 121. Force's Doc. Hist, C. 3.-Vol. IV. Princeton Review, July 1817.

ion that the proclamation ought not to be obeyed, and that there. after no payments should be made to Gov. F. on account of sal. ary; and three days thereafter he was arrested at Amboy by a detachment of militia under Colonel (afterwards General) IIeard, of Woodbridge, accompanied by Major Deare of Amboy, whose authority for so doing was as follows: - To Colonel NATHANIEL HEARD

The Provincial Congress of New Jersey reposing great contidence in your zeal and prudence, have thought fit to intrust to your care the execution of the enclosed Resolves. It is the de. sire of Congress that this necessary business be conducted with all the delicacy and tenderness which the nature of the service can possibly admit of.

For this end, you will find among the papers the form of a written parole, in which there is left a blank space for


to fill up, at the house of Mr. Franklin, with the name of Princeton, Bordentown or his own farm at Rancocus. When he shall have signed the parole, the Congress will rely upon his honor for the faithful performance of his engagements; but should he refuse to sign it, you are desired to put him under a strong guard, and keep him in close custody until further orders. Whatever expenses may be necessary will be cheerfully defrayed by the Congress. We refer to your discretion what means to use for that purpose, and you have full power and authority to take to your

, aid whatever force you may require.” “By order of Congress,

SAMUEL TUCKER, President. “In Provincial Congress, New Jersey, Burlington, June 15th 1776."

Governor Franklin indignantly refused to sign the parole, and he was therefore placed under guard. A report of their pro. ceedings being made by the Provincial Convention to the Continental Congress, that body on the 19th June passed the followresolution

"A letter from the Convention of New Jersey of the 18th, enclosing sundry papers, together with their proceedings in apprehending William Franklin, Esq., Governor of that Colony, was laid before Congress. Whereupon Resolved that it be recommended to the Convention of New Jersey to proceed on the examination of Mr. Franklin, and if, upon such examination, they shall be of opinion that he should be confined, to report such cpinion to Congress, and then the Congress will direct the place

of his confinement: they concurring in sentiment with the Convention of New Jersey that it would be improper to confine him in that Colony."

A guard of sixty men had remained around the Governor's residence until communication could be bad with the Convention. That body ordered him to be taken to Burlington, where, on the receipt of the above resolution, he was examined touching such points of his conduct as were deemed prejudicial to the interests of America. His royalty, firmness and self-posession remained upshaken under the ordeal. Conceiving that the Convention had usurped the authority it exercised, he denied the right of that body to interrogate him, and refused to answer any ques. tions propounded. He was therefore declared an enemy to the country, and Lieut. Col. Bowes Reed was directed to keep him safely guarded until the pleasure of the continental Gongress should be known.

[ocr errors]

As has been stated, the arrest of Governor Franklin was based upon an alleged infraction or implied contempt of the resolution of the Continental Congress adopted 15th May preceding ; but it is probable the proclamation referred to was only adopted as an available excuse for doing what had loubtless been for some time determined on.

It has been advanced as a reason for the interference at that precise time, that the object of the Governor was to create confusion in the administration of the public affairs by arraying the Assembly against the Convention. But it must be remembered that for more than a year, during which these two bodies had existed, there had been no conflicting action between them, More than one third of the members of the Convention in 1775 were also members of the Assembly, and there were many others of the latter body equally as well affected to the colonial cause; and although in the Convention of 1776, the number of the members of the Assembly in the Convention' was reduced to seven, yet the political character of the Assembly remained unchanged, and I have failed to discover any documents that indicate a probability that the Governor could have moulded that body to any sinister views he may have entertained.

The Governor, however, in a long communication addressed to the Council and Assembly, which was written on the day of his arrest, reviews the plea of his opponents in the following warm and emphatic language.

“ The fact alledged is false, and must appear glaringly

[ocr errors]

so to every man who has read the resolve alluded to, and is capable of understanding it. The Continental Congress, after a preamble declaring their opinion “ that the exercise of every kind of authority under the Crown should be totally suppressed,” do then resolve that it be recommended to the respective Assemblies and Conventions of the united Colonies where no governments sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs have been hitherto established, to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.” How any persons can construe and represent my call. ing a meeting of the Assembly at the very time when such an important matter was recommended by the Continental Congress to the consideration of the Representatives of the people, to be a “ direct contempt and violation” of the above Resolve, is difficult to conceive, supposing them possessed of common sense and common honesty. The Assembly of Pennsylvania have met since that resolve, and I believe are still sitting, under an authority derived from the Crown. They, no doubt, have had the resolve under their consideration, nor can any good reason be given why the Assembly of New Jersey should not likewise be permitted the opportunity of giving their sentiments (if they should think it necessary or expedient) on a matter of such infinite importance to them and their constituents. If when you met, you had thought it proper to adopt or comply with the resolve, either in whole or in part, it is well known that I could not have prevented it, whatever my inclination might have been. In other colonies where a change of government has been made, one of the reasons assigned in excuse for such measure has been, that the Governor has either abdicated his government, appeared in arms against the people, or neglected to call a meeting of their representatives. But I do not recollect an instance where neither of these circumstances existed, and government could be carried on in the usual way, in such essential points as meetings of the Legislature, passing of Laws and holding Courts of Justice, that any material alteration has been made in such governinent by a convention ; nor that any convention has before presumed to attempt a busi. ness of that importance where an isscmbly existed and were not hindered from meeting. Most probably had I not called the Assembly I should have been much blamed by those very men for the omission (especially as matters of such consequence were in agitation) and accused of'not exercising the prerogative vested in me for the good of the people, as I ought to have done. But however that may be, sure I am, that it is the evident meaning of the resolve of the Continental Congress that when assemblies can meet they are to consider the propriety of the measure recommended, and not Conventions.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

In a postscript, added after his arrival at Burlington, June 22d, 1776, he fortifies his position with further references to the course of the Delaware Assembly and Maryland Convention. He says:

“Since writing the above, I have seen a Pennsylvania news. paper of June 19th, in which it appears that Mr. McKean laid before the Assembly of the three lower counties a certified copy of the resolution of Congress of the 15th May last, which being taken in consideration by that house on the 15th instant, they resolved, among other things, that “the representatives of the people in this ASSEMBLY met, ALONE can and ought AT THIS TIME to establish such temporary authority-meaning the authority they had before determined to be expedient in the present exigency of affairs—until a new government can be formed." This As. senibly met, as well as that of Pennsylvania, under an authority derived from the Crown, and so far from considering such a meeting as a contempt or violation of the resolve of the Conti. nental Congress, they resolved they were the only proper persons to take that resolve into consideration, and to establish such authority as was deemed adequate to the occasion. The Assembly of New Jersey might certainly with equal propriety have done the same, had they been allowed to meet.

“It likewise appears by the newspapers that the Governor of Maryland on the 12th instant, had “issued a proclamation for dissolving the General Assembly of that Province, and to order writs of election to be issued to call a new Assembly returnable the 25th day of July next.” But there is not the least surmise that the Provincial Convention of that Province have taken any offence at such proclamation, or so much as pretended to think the Governor had thereby acted in direct contempt and violation of the resolve of the Continental Congress, and was therefore such an enemy to the liberties of this country as that he ought to be tricd and imprisoned. Yet the Maryland Convention have shewn as much spirit and regard for the liberties of America as any body of men on the continent. But they, it seems, are for peace, reconciliation and union with Great Britain on Konstitutional terms, and have too much sense and virtue to declare a Governor an enemy to the liberties of this country merely be

[ocr errors]
« 前へ次へ »