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[444] of the wise throughout the world by its respect
CHAP. Lxviii} 1776. June.
for religious and civil liberty, had kept itself free from the suspicion of having instigated or approved the obnoxious measures of the British ministry, and had maintained the attitude of a mediator between parliament and America. When the obstinacy of the king left no room for reconciliation, its career was run, and it came naturally to its end. Such of the members of the assembly as remained in their places, confessed in a formal vote their ‘despair’ of again bringing together a quorum; and when, according to the charter, they could only have kept their body alive by adjourning from day to day, they made an illegal adjournment to a day nearly two months later than that appointed for the vote of congress on independence, leaving the measures of defence unattended to. The adjournment was an abdication; and the people prepared promptly and somewhat roughly to supersede the expiring system. Nor were the proposed changes restricted only to forms; a fierce demand broke out for an immediate extension of the right of suffrage to those ‘whom,’ it was held, ‘the resolve of congress had now rendered electors.’

The provincial conference was necessarily composed of men who had hitherto not been concerned in the government; the old members of the assembly were most of them bound by their opinions and all of them by their oaths to keep aloof; Franklin, who, by never taking his place in that body, had preserved his freedom, would not place himself glaringly in contrast with his colleagues, and stayed away; while Reed, observing ‘that the province would be in the summer a great scene of party and contention,’ withdrew

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Joseph Reed (1)
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