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[84] those whom it was to oppress. To complete the sys-
chap. V.} 1763. Feb.
tem, the navigation acts were to be strictly enforced. It would seem that the execution of so momentous a design must have engaged the attention of the whole people of England, and of the civilized world. But so entirely was the British government of that day in the hands of the few, and so much was their curiosity engrossed by what would give influence at court, or secure votes in the House of Commons, that the most eventful measures ever adopted in that country were entered upon without any observation on the part of the historians and writers of memoirs at the time. The ministry itself was not aware of what it was doing. And had some seer risen up to foretell that the charter of Rhode Island derived from its popular character a vitality that would outlast the unreformed House of Commons, the faithful prophet would have been scoffed at as a visionary madman.

The first memorable opposition came from the General Assembly of New-York. In the spirit of loyalty and the language of reverence they pleaded with the king1 concerning the colonial court of judicature, which exercised the ample authorities of the two great courts of King's Bench and Common Pleas, and also of the Barons of the Exchequer. They represented that this plenitude of uncontrolled power in persons who could not be impeached in the colony, and who, holding their offices during pleasure, were

1 The Representation of the General Assembly at New-York to the King, concerning the Administration of Justice in that Province, 11th Dec. 1762. In Lansdowne House Mss.

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