How should this passage from the Declaration of Independence be paraphrased?He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation...
How should this passage from the Declaration of Independence be paraphrased?
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
It is perhaps easier to explain its meaning rather than paraphrasing such a short passage. This passage specifically references several incidents in which King George ordered royal governors not to give their assent, or sign into law, certain bills without his permission. This was, it was argued, a unjustifiable imposition on the power of colonial legislatures to exercise their powers. This happened very frequently in almost every colony, with questionable bills, especially for the issue of paper money before the French and Indian War, usually being reported to the Board of Trade or Privy Council for final approval. But the issue was particularly serious in colonies, like Massachusetts, which had charters. The king's actions, it was charged, violated these charters, and in the process denied much-needed legislation. Usually, King George issued these orders to his governors under the influence of the lobbying of placemen, or royal appointees. In 1770 in Massachusetts, for example, governor Thomas Hutchinson was ordered not to approve bills that would have taxed royal customs officials. The Assembly would not yield, and Hutchinson, acting with royal approval, prorogued, or dismissed the assembly, "utterly neglecting" to attend to important business. So if we had to paraphrase it, it might be best to say that the King had refused to allow his governors to approve necessary laws without his permission, leaving legislatures hanging until news of his approval arrived.