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Pennsylvania Politics 1746-1770: The Movement for Royal Government and Its Consequences

Pennsylvania Politics 1746-1770: The Movement for Royal Government and Its Consequences

James H. Hutson
Copyright Date: 1972
Pages: 278
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  • Book Info
    Pennsylvania Politics 1746-1770: The Movement for Royal Government and Its Consequences
    Book Description:

    The Quaker Party's campaign in 1764 to replace Pennsylvania's proprietary government with royal government prefigures, in some ways, the colonies' struggle against George III. This is the key, in James Hutson's analysis, to Pennsylvania politics in the decades before the Revolution. In a lucidly written narrative, he follows the efforts of the Quaker dominated Assembly-outraged by Thomas Penn's inflexible government and representing a society that had matured economically, politically, and socially-to bring about royal government, on Benjamin Franklin's advice, as a less restrictive alternative.

    Mr. Hutson's interpretation clarifies the major realignment of political parties (Quaker, Presbyterian, and Proprietary) that the movement occasioned, the impact of the frontiersmen (notably the Paxton Boys) on provincial politics, and the role played by important political figures like Franklin.

    Originally published in 1972.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6956-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-5)

    This book attempts to describe the contours of Pennsylvania politics between 1746 and 1770. While it professes to comprehend the principal drifts and movements of provincial politics during these years, it does not pretend to be comprehensive in the sense that every prominent provincial politician is introduced and every passing political episode is inventoried and explained. The book’s focus is on the year 1764 and on the campaign for royal government which, from only the faintest adumbration at Thomas Penn’s accession as proprietor eighteen years earlier, reached its crescendo in that year. The attempt of the Quaker Party of Pennsylvania...

  5. CHAPTER I Troubles with Thomas Penn
    (pp. 6-40)

    Thomas Penn, a forty-five-year-old ex-mercer who became the principal proprietor of Pennsylvania in 1746, was a reformer who aspired to restructure the government of his province. Specifically, he wanted to reduce the power and privileges which the Assembly had acquired under his predecessors and thereby end what he considered its intolerable preponderance in Pennsylvania’s public affairs. Concurrently, he wanted to increase his own power so that it would at least match that of the House and produce a “balanced government” in which each branch possessed sufficient power to check the arbitrary designs of the other in the interest of the...

  6. CHAPTER II The Decision to Request Royal Government
    (pp. 41-121)

    Benjamin Franklin, the Assembly’s commissioner to England, arrived at Falmouth on 17 July 1757 after a smooth, swift voyage of twenty-seven days. His passage was a poor portent of his mission, which was long, tedious, exasperating, and ultimately a failure. For this result Franklin was not responsible, because the Assembly had set him an impossible task, nothing less than persuading Penn to give up the substance of his power in the province. Franklin defined his objective in the Heads of Complaint, an informal paper which he drafted and handed to Penn at their first business meeting on 20 August 1757....

  7. CHAPTER III The Campaign for Royal Government
    (pp. 122-177)

    Although the members of the Pennsylvania Assembly knew the moment they read John Penn’s message of 8 March that they would be compelled to capitulate to his assessment demand, they decided to stiffen their backs momentarily in the hope that a streak of obstinacy would assist the royal government campaign. Consequently, they returned the £55,000 supply bill to Penn on 14 March (why £5,000 was added in the interim is not clear) without agreeing to his terms. By rebuffing him, they hoped to force him to be candid with them, for although everybody in the province knew the interpretation he...

  8. CHAPTER IV The Mirage of Royal Government
    (pp. 178-243)

    Because the people of Pennsylvania, by petition and by ballot, had rejected royal government, many politicians expected the Assembly to repudiate it officially, when it convened on 15 October. The issue was raised on 20 October, when a member asked what the House proposed to do with the royal government petitions it had sent to agent Richard Jackson in June. After “considerable Debate” a motion to recall them was made and rejected. Then a motion, sponsored by Speaker Isaac Norris (who had been reelected in October), that the House put “an entire Prohibition on the Agent’s presenting the said Petitions,...

  9. CONCLUSION The Implications of the Royal Government Movement
    (pp. 244-258)

    We have demonstrated that the advocates of royal government were concentrated in Philadelphia and, almost monolithically, in the Pennsylvania Assembly (27 of 30 members present voted to support it on 23 May 1764). We have also demonstrated that, as in most human decisions, there were plural, rather than singular, reasons for the preference for royal government: many Philadelphians believed that it would restore law and order to the province; some Assemblymen were beguiled by Franklin’s arguments on its behalf, while others saw it as a source of office and personal profit. But we have insisted that one principal factor prompted...

  10. Index
    (pp. 259-264)