code; by those who had written best in English on
CHAP. Lxviii} 1776.
government and public freedom; but most of all by the great example of the English
constitution, which was an aristocratic republic with a permanent executive.
They passed by monarchy and hereditary aristocracy as unessential forms, and looked behind them for the self-subsistent elements of English liberty.
The principles of the Virginia
declaration of rights remained to her people as a perpetual possession and a pledge of indefinite progress in happier and more tranquil days; but for the moment internal reforms were postponed; the elective franchise was not extended; nor was anything done to abolish slavery beyond the prohibition of the slave trade.
The king of England
possessed the crown by birth and for life; the chief executive of Virginia
owed his place to an election by the general assembly, and retained it for one year.
The king was intrusted with a veto power, limited within Britain, extravagant and even retrospective in the colonies; the recollection that ‘by an inhuman use of his negative he had refused them permission to exclude negroes by law,’ misled the Virginians to withhold the veto power from the governor of their own choice.
The governor like the king had at his side an elective privy council; and in the construction of this body of eight men, the desire of some permanent element of government is conspicuous.
, in the scheme which he forwarded from congress, wishing to come as near as possible to the forms of monarchy, would have had the governor continue in authority during good behavior, the council of state hold their places for life, in order that they might