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Lastly, this perpetual confederation, and the several articles and agreements thereof, being read and seriously considered, both by the General Court for the Massachusetts, and by the commissioners for Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven, were presently and fully allowed and confirmed by three of the forenamed confederates, namely, the Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Haven; in testimony whereof, the General Court of the Massachusetts by their secretary, and the commissioners for Connecticut and New Haven subscribed them the 19th day of the third month, commonly called May, Anno Domini, 1643.
Only the commissioners from Plymouth, having brought no commission to conclude, desired respite to advise with their General Court, which was granted, and at the second meeting of the commissioners for the confederation, held at Boston in September following, the commissioners for the jurisdiction of Plymouth delivered in an order of their General Court, dated the 29th [day] of August, 1643, by which it appeared that these Articles of Confederation were read, approved, and confirmed by the said court and all their townships, and their commissioners authorized to ratify them by their subscriptions, which they accordingly did, the 7th day of September, 1643.
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6. INSTRUMENT OF GOVERNMENT, 1653 1 This document was drawn up by some of Cromwell's army officers, and with his sanction, to provide a constitutional framework for the Protectorate. Under it Cromwell served as Lord Protector for life, but his authority was to be limited by Parliament and a Council of State, and his acts could be reviewed by the courts. The members of the first Parliament of the Protectorate, meeting in 1654, refused to accept the Instrument and insisted upon their right to prepare a constitution. In spite of this rebuff, Cromwell for some time tried to rule in accordance with the Instrument, until the growing difficulties of his position led him to adopt a more arbitrary policy. The document is notable as the only written constitution which Great Britain has ever had in actual operation. It is also of extreme interest as the first example of a constitution which attempts to mark off strictly the powers of the legislative and executive departments. In this respect the Instrument may be regarded as the forerunner of our own and all later constitutions. Articles I-VIII, XXII-XXIV, XXVII, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXV, XXXVI, and XLI-XLII contain the most essential provisions.
INSTRUMENT OF GOVERNMENT, 1653
and Ireland, and the Dominions thereunto belonging
II. That the exercise of the chief magistracy and the administration of the government over the said countries and dominions,
1 Cobbett's Parliamentary History of England, vol. iii, pp. 1417-1426. London, 1806-1820.
and the people thereof, shall be in the Lord Protector, assisted with a council, the number whereof shall not exceed twenty-one nor be less than thirteen.
III. That all writs, processes, commissions, patents, grants, and other things, which now run in the name and style of the “Keepers of the Liberty of England by Authority of Parliament,” shall run in the name and style of the Lord Protector, from whom, for the future, shall be derived all magistracy and honors in these three nations; and have the power of pardons (except in case of murders and treason) and benefit of all forfeitures for the public use; and shall govern the said countries and dominions in all things by the advice of the council, and according to these presents and the laws.
IV. That the Lord Protector, the Parliament sitting, shall dispose and order the militia and forces, both by sea and land, for the peace and good of the three nations, by consent of Parliament; and that the Lord Protector, with the advice and consent of the major part of the council, shall dispose and order the militia for the ends aforesaid in the intervals of Parliament.
V. That the Lord Protector, by the advice aforesaid, shall direct in all things concerning the keeping and holding of a good correspondency with foreign kings, princes, and states; and also, with the consent of the major part of the council, have the power of war and peace.
VI. That the laws shall not be altered, suspended, abrogated, or repealed, nor any new law made, nor any tax, charge, or imposition laid upon the people, but by common consent in Parliament, save only as is expressed in the thirtieth article.
VII. That there shall be a Parliament summoned to meet at Westminster upon the third day of September, 1654, and that successively a Parliament shall be summoned once in every third year, to be accounted from the dissolution of the present Parliament.
VIII. That neither the Parliament to be next summoned, nor any successive Parliaments, shall, during the time of five months, to be accounted from the day of their first meeting, be adjourned, prorogued, or dissolved, without their own consent.
IX. That as well the next as all other successive Parliaments shall be summoned and elected in manner hereafter expressed; that is to say, the persons to be chosen within England, Wales, the isles of Jersey [and] Guernsey, and the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, to sit and serve in Parliament, shall be, and not exceed, the number of four hundred. The persons to be chosen within Scotland, to sit and serve in Parliament, shall be, and not exceed, the number of thirty; and the persons to be chosen to sit in Parliament for Ireland shall be, and not exceed, the number of thirty.
X. That the persons to be elected to sit in Parliament from time to time, for the several counties of England, Wales, the isles of Jersey and Guernsey, and the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and all places within the same respectively, shall be according to the proportions and numbers hereafter expressed; that is to say.' ...
The distribution of the persons to be chosen for Scotland and Ireland, and the several counties, cities, and places therein, shall be according to such proportions and number as shall be agreed upon and declared by the Lord Protector and the major part of the council, before the sending forth writs of summons for the next Parliament.
XI. That the summons to Parliament shall be by writ under the Great Seal of England, directed to the sheriffs of the several and respective counties, with such alteration as may suit with the present government, to be made by the Lord Protector and his council, which the Chancellor, Keeper, or Commissioners of the Great Seal shall seal, issue, and send abroad by warrant from the Lord Protector. If the Lord Protector shall not give warrant for issuing of writs of summons for the next Parliament, before the first of June, 1654, or for the triennial Parliaments, before the first day of August in every third year, to be accounted as aforesaid; that then the Chancellor, Keeper, or Commissioners of the Great Seal for the time being, shall, without any warrant or direction, within seven days after the said first day of June, 1654, seal, issue, and send abroad writs of summons, (changing therein what is to be changed as aforesaid) to the several and respective sheriffs of England, Scotland, and Ireland, for summoning the Parliament to meet at Westminster, the third day of September next; and shall likewise, within seven days after the said first day of August, in every third year, to be accounted from the dissolution of the precedent Parliament, seal, issue, and send forth abroad several writs of summons (changing therein what is to be changed) as aforesaid, for summoning the Parliament to meet at Westminster the sixth of November in that third year. That the said several and respective sheriffs shall, within ten days after the receipt of such writ as aforesaid, cause the same to be proclaimed and published in every market town within his county upon the market days thereof, between twelve and three of the clock; and shall then also publish and declare the certain day of the week and month for choosing members to serve in Parliament for the body of the said county, according to the tenor of the said writ, which shall be upon Wednesday five weeks after the date of the writ; and shall likewise declare the place where the election shall be made: for which purpose he shall appoint the most convenient place of the whole county to meet in; and shall send precepts for elections to be made in all and every city, town, borough, or place within his county where elections are to be made by virtue of these presents, to the mayor, sheriff, or other head officer of such city, town, borough, or place, within three days after the receipt of such writ and writs; which the said mayors, sheriffs, and officers respectively are to make publication of, and of the certain day for such elections to be made in the said city, town, or place aforesaid, and to cause elections to be made accordingly.
i Here follows the apportionment.
XII. That at the day and place of elections the sheriff of each county, and the said mayors, sheriffs, bailiffs, and other head officers, within their cities, towns, boroughs, and places respectively, shall take view of the said elections, and shall make return into the chancery, within twenty days after the said elections, of the persons elected by the greater number of electors, under their hands and seals, between him on the one part and the electors on the other part; wherein shall be contained, that the persons elected shall not have power to alter the government as it is hereby settled in one single person and a Parliament.
XIII. That the sheriff, who shall wittingly and willingly make any false return, or neglect his duty, shall incur the penalty of two thousand marks of lawful English money; the one moiety to the Lord Protector, and the other moiety to such person as will sue for the same.
XIV. That all and every person and persons, who have aided, advised, assisted, or abetted in any war against the Parliament, since the first day of January, 1641 (unless they have been since in the service of the Parliament and given signal testimony of their good affection thereunto), shall be disabled and incapable to be elected, or to give any vote in the election of any members to serve in the next Parliament, or in the three succeeding triennial Parliaments.
XV. That all such, who have advised, assisted, or abetted the rebellion of Ireland, shall be disabled and incapable forever to be elected, or give any vote in the election of any member to serve in