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This colonial superiority, which had grown from

chap. I.} 1748.
sufferance and from circumstances, was a subject of in cessant complaint on the part of the officers of the crown, upon whose struggles the metropolis might cease to look with indifference; the relations of the colonies to Great Britain, whether to the king or to the parliament, were still more vague and undefined. They were planted under grants from the crown, and, to the last, the king in council was their highest court of appeal; yet, while the court lawyers of the seventeenth century asserted for the king unlimited legislative authority in the plantations, the colonies set bounds to the royal prerogative, either through the charters which the crown was induced to grant, or by the traditionary principles of English liberty, or by the innate energy, which, aided by distance, fearlessly assumed self-direction.

The method adopted in England for superintending American affairs, by means of a Board of Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, who had neither a voice in the deliberation of the cabinet nor access to the king, tended to involve the colonies in everincreasing confusion. The Board framed instructions without power to enforce them, or to propose measures for their efficiency. It took cognizance of all events, and might investigate, give information, or advise;1 but it had no authority to form an ultimate decision on any political question whatever. In those days there were two secretaries of state charged with the management of the foreign relations of Great Britain. The executive power with regard to the colonies was reserved to the Secretary of State, who had the

1 Chalmers's Political Annals of the United Colonies. Book II., chap. III. 236. Opinions of Eminent Lawyers; Preface VIII., IX.

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