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‘ [433] It may withstand any authority from thence to its
Chap X.} 1644
hurt.’1 Massachusetts called itself ‘a perfect republic.’2 Nor was the expression a vain boast. The commonwealth, by force of arms, preserved in its harbors a neutrality between the ships of the opposing English factions; and the law which placed death as the penalty on any ‘attempt at the alteration of the frame of polity fundamentally,’3 was well understood to be aimed at those who should assert the absolute supremacy of the English parliament. The establishment of a mint, in 1652, was a further exercise of sovereignty.

Whilst the public mind was agitated with discussions on liberty of conscience and independence of English jurisdiction, the community, in this infancy of popular government, was disturbed with a third ‘great question about the authority of the magistrates and the liberty of the people.’4

A democratic party had for many years been acquiring a control of public opinion. The oldest dispute

in the colony related to the grounds and limits of the authority of the governor. In Boston, on occasion of
dividing the town lands, ‘men of the inferior sort were chosen.’ Eliot, the apostle of the Indians, maintained that treaties should not be made without consulting the commons. The doctrine of rotation in office was
asserted, even to the neglect of Winthrop, ‘lest there should be a governor for life.’ When one of the elders proposed that the place of governor should be held for life, the deputies immediately resolved that no magistrate of any kind should be elected for more than a
1639 to 1644
year. The magistrates once, assembling in a sort of

1 Winthrop, II. 176. 183.

2 Respublica perfecta.

3 Colony Laws.

4 Winthrop, II. 228.

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