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[16] the forms of civil government of which they had ever
chap. I.} 1748.
heard or read, no one appeared to them so well calculated to preserve liberty, and to secure all the most valuable advantages of civil society as the English;1 and of this happy constitution of the mother country, which it was usual to represent, and almost to adore, as designed to approach perfection,2 they held their own to be a copy, or rather an improvement, with additional privileges not enjoyed by the common people there.3 The elective franchise was more equally diffused; there were no decayed boroughs, or unrepresented towns; representation, which was universal, conformed more nearly to population; in colonies which contained more than half the inhabitants, the legislative assembly was chosen annually and by ballot, and the time for convening the legislature was fixed by a fundamental law; the civil list in every colony but one was voted annually, and annually subjected to scrutiny; appropriations of money often, for greater security against corruption and waste, included the nomination and appointment of the agents who were to direct the expenditures; municipal liberties were more independent and more extensive; in none of the colonies was there an ecclesiastical court, and in most of them there was no established church or religious test of capacity for office; the cultivator of the soil was for the most part a freeholder; in all the continent the people possessed arms, and the able-bodied men were enrolled and trained to their use; so that in America there was more of personal independence and far more of popular power than in England.

1 Writings of Samuel Adams in 1748.

2 Compare Blackstone's Commentaries, book i. c. i. ยง v. Note 12.

3 Writings of Samuel Adams in 1748.

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