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SELECTED AND ARRANGED
FROM ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS
IN THE OFFICE OF THE
SECRETARY OF THE COMMONWEALTH,
CONFORMABLY TO ACTS
FEBRUARY 15, 1851, & MARCH 1, 1852.
SAMUEL H A Z A RD.
ANNUAL MESSAGE OF THE GOVERNOR,
TRANSMITTED TO THE
SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
READ JANUARY 8T, 1851.
My attention has been called to the large body of original papers in the State Department, connected with the colonial and revolutionary history of the State, and their extremely exposed and perishing condition. These records are worth preservation, as containing authentic information of the action of our fathers in the struggle for national existence. In the Capital of Pennsylvania, and with the sympathies of her patriotic people, was independence matured and declared. Her soldiers were most numerous around the standard of the nation, and there were more battle fields on her soil than in the same area elsewhere. Every memorial of those days of devotion and trial should be faithfully preserved. There exists a single copy in manuscript of the minutes of the Revolutionary Executive Council, a document by far too valuable to remain longer within the reach of accident or mutilation. It would be gratifying to a large body of our constituents if the Assembly would authorize the cmployment of a competent gentleman to select and arrange for publication these memorials of an interesting epoch in the history of the Commonwealth.
REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE OF THE
Mr. H. A. Muhlenberg, from the Select Committee to which was referred so much of the annual message of the Governor as recommends the publication of the minutes of the Proprietary Government of Pennsylvania, and the original records and papers in the Secretary's office, relating to the Colonial and Revolutionary history of this Commonwealth, made a report which was read as follows, viz. :
That they have cxamined the subject referred to them with that attention which its importance requires, and concur entirely with the recommendation of the Executive; in support of which and as an explanation of the provisions of the bill accompanying this report, they beg leave to lay the following facts and arguments before the Senate :
The importance of the subject to which the attention of your committee has been directed, can scarcely be exaggerated. In it is involved the decision of the question, whether the history of Pennsylvania shall be preserved and made public, or whether it shall remain liable to all the accidents and risks incident to the preservation of manuscripts, which may at any moment be destroyed, and which the hand of time is slowly, but surely effacing. Should that prove to be the case, the early authentic history of this great State will be irrevocably gone, and our descendants, at some future day, will bitterly execrate the parsimony of their ancestors, who, to spare a trifling expense, which could easily have been borne, have condemned them to remain in ignorance of the authentic history of their native State.
In the official records of a State only, can be found its true bistory. Historians may have been careless and inexact, they may have been influenced by prejudice, or some preconceived theory, or they may have wilfully perverted the truth of history, and from any of these causes may have arisen opinions most opposite to truth, but which, from constant repetition, have become so indelibly impressed upon the public mind that nothing can remove them. But from all these objections the official records of a country are free. They are, as it were, the daily records of the government, written down at a time when there is no temptation to make false entries, the desire to do which invariably springs from subsequent transactions. They are free from prejudice and the influence of false theories, and from the very necessity of the case, they must be as nearly in accordance with the truth as it is possible for fallible human nature to make them. Hence arises the great value which has at all times been placed upon records such as those now under consideration.
The States of this Union are peculiarly fortunate in this respect, that their history commenced at a period at which the doctrines of public liberty and the rights of the governed had already made such progress, that some form of a representative government was necessary, and that the wishes of the people should, in some degree at least, be consulted. A representative government necessarily implied a record of the transactions of that government; and hence while the early history of most other nations is lost, either from great antiquity, or from the fact that where the will of one man is law, there is no necessity for any record or precedent, the history of the various States of the American Union is preserved in the most authentic of all shapes, the minutes of the acts and transactions of their government made at the time to which they refer. As, therefore, the wisdom and love of liberty of our ancestors have preserved for us the early history of our country, does not a sense of duty to