without any public charge to the parent state;” and
their imports and exports were freed from all taxation, ‘until the house of commons should take order to the contrary.’
The general court of Massachusetts
received the ordinance hardly as a boon from a sovereign, but rather as a courtesy and a benefit from a friendly state, and while they entered it on their records as a memorial for posterity, they sought to requite the kindness by reciprocity of legislation.
The security, thus enjoyed by New England
, presented the long desired opportunity of establishing a ‘body of liberties’ as a written constitution of government.
In the absence of a code of laws, the people had for several years been uneasy at the extent of power that rested in the discretion of the magistrates.
On the other hand, most of the magistrates, and some of the elders, thinking that the fittest laws would arise upon occasions, and gain validity as customs, and moreover fearing that their usages, if established as regular statutes, might be censured by their enemies as repugnant to the laws of England
, had not been very forward to adopt the model which Cotton had elaborately prepared and justified in all its parts by apposite texts of scripture.
Now that the causes of apprehension were suspended, the great work of constitutional legislation was resumed; and in December, 1641, a session of three weeks was employed in considering a system which had been prepared by Nathaniel Ward
, of Ipswich
As the author of the fundamental code, he is the most remarkable among all the early legislators of Massachusetts
; he had been formerly a student and practiser in the courts of common law in England
, but became a nonconforming