Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Exclusion Crisis

In Search of the Republic--22

Conflict between the newly restored monarchy and Parliament soon arose again.

The religious restrictions placed upon the Puritans opened to door to religious controversy from another quarter. First, Charles issued a Royal Proclamation of Indulgence in 1672 which suspended some of the laws against religious dissenters. Parliament forced its withdrawal based upon the declaration's unconstitutionality. Moreover, it became public knowledge that the King's brother and presumed heir, James, Duke of York, had converted to Catholicism. In 1673, when James refused to take the oath prescribed by the Test Act and resigned his position as Lord High Admiral, his conversion became public knowledge. Many feared the return of a Roman Catholic monarch. A movement began to find a way to prevent James from inheriting the throne.

One of the leader of this group of opponent was Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury and member of the House of Lords. He denounced the prospect of James inheriting the throne and urged legislation excluding James from the throne.

In May 1679, William Russell, one of Shaftesbury's allies in the House of Commons, introduced a bill to exclude James from inheriting the throne. Instead, succession would fall to the nearest Protestant relative, James' Protestant daughter Mary, who had married William of Orange of the Netherlands. The bill passed, so Charles dissolved parliament before the House of Lords could adopt it.

The following year Parliament reassembled. With even stronger support for Shaftsbury, Charles delayed assembly of Parliament to allow passions to subside. Petitioners appealed to Charles to recall parliament to vote on the measures became known as Whigs, a pejorative term for Scottish (presumably Presbyterian) cattle drivers. Supporters of the king became known as Tories, a negative term of Irish (presumably Catholic) bandits.

When the new Parliament finally convened, an exclusion bill was again introduced and passed by the Commons. Despite Shaftsbury's impassioned speeches in the House of Lords, however, the Lords voted it down in October 1680.

Shaftsbury continued his denunciations of Charles in the House of Lords. Charles eventually dissolved Parliament again in January 1681.

A new Parliament met in March 1681. Parliament again was filled with speeches on the future of the monarchy. When yet another exclusion bill was introduced, Charles dissolved Parliament and declared his intention to rule without it.

Later that year, Shaftsbury was arrested for treason. After a long delayed trial, a jury acquitted him. Aware that the royal authorities were organizing a second trial, he fled to the Netherlands. He died a few months later in 1683.

He left behind in England a personal physician named John Locke. While in England, Locke continued his work on a treatise that laid the philosophical foundations for legitimate governments and justified popular revolution against illegitimate ones.

He soon fled England as well. In 1683, authorities uncovered the so-called Rye House plot, in which several members of Parliament and others planned to assassinate both King Charles II and his brother. Eventually William Russell, sponsor of the original Exclusion Act, and several others were executed.

Although not part of the plot, Locke fled for the Netherlands, leaving behind and losing part of his manuscript. He spent his time in the Netherlands reworking and updating his manuscript. Before completing and publishing his treatises, however, the revolution he hoped for had occurred. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 overthrew the Stuart dynasty and established the supremacy of Parliament. Only then did Locke return to England, a traveling companion of the new Queen.

Earl of Shaftesbury


Mrs. AL (Always Learning) said...

Fascinating series. You are inspiring me to do additional research. Will check back for more and thank you for posting this.

V.L.Ewell said...

Glad you find it interesting. It is turning into a larger project than I intended. I began the series really for the readers at Townhall, where I read so many people making a fuss because someone else called the US a democracy instead of a republic. I wanted to show that it is a little more complicated. (Unfortunately, the TH editors pulled the plug on my blog and refused all my inquiries at to why.)

I planned on tracing some of the ideas about "republicanism" through history. But adding historical context, however minimal, has turned my little project into something longer. Hopefully, its length will not turn off readers.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Mrs. AL (Always Learning) said...

I am probably one of those people who decried using the term "democracy" instead of "republic." Most interesting here. You remind me of my husband person who tends to take objectivity to the max, no matter the fallout.

Oh, thanx for stopping by my place at wordpress. Will be adding your place here to my blogroll shortly. Have a family issue that requires much prayer and am slow on posting right not ... guess I have been 'right detour'ed. (Ok, it's lame but at least I tried.)

I left TH because it was just getting to darned icky b/c we could not control discussion.