Source: Observation of the American Colonies, Peter Kalm, 1751
The governor of the province of New York resides in this city and has a palace in the fort. Among those who have been entrusted with this post, William Burnet deserves to be had in perpetual memory. His great diligence in promoting the welfare of this province is what makes the principal merit of his character. The people of New York therefore still reckon him the best governor they ever had, and think that they cannot praise his services too much.
An assembly of deputies, from all the particular districts of the province of New York, is held at New York once or twice every year. It may be looked upon as a parliament in miniature. Everything relating to the good of the province is here debated. The governor calls the assembly and dissolves it at his pleasure.
The king appoints the governor according to his royal pleasure; but the inhabitants of the province make up the governor's salary. Therefore, a man entrusted with this job has greater or lesser income, according as he knows how to gain the confidence of the inhabitants. There are examples of governors, in this and other provinces of North America, who, by their disagreements with the inhabitants of their respective governments, have lost their whole salary, his Majesty having no power to make them pay it.
At the assembly, the old laws are reviewed and amended, and new ones were made, and the regulation and circulation of currency, together with all other affairs of that kind, are determined. For each English colony in North America is independent of the other, and has its proper laws and currency, and may be looked upon in several lights as a state by itself. Consequently, in time of war, things go on very slowly and irregularly here; for not only the sense of one province is sometimes directly opposite to that of another; but frequently the views of the governor, and those of the assembly of the same province are quite different. So that it is easy to see, that while the people are quarreling about the best and cheapest manner of carrying on the war, an enemy has it in his power to take one place after another.
It is of great advantage to the crown of England that the North American colonies are near a country under the government of the French, like Canada. For the English colonies in this part of the world have increased so much in their number of inhabitants, and in their riches, that they almost compete with Old England. Now in order to keep up the authority and trade of their mother country, and to answer several other purposes, they are forbidden to establish new manufactures, which would turn to the disadvantage of the British commerce. They are not allowed to dig for gold or silver, unless they send them to England immediately; they have not the liberty of trading to any parts that do not belong to the British dominions. These and some other restrictions cause the inhabitants of the English colonies to grow less tender for their mother country. This coldness is kept up by the many foreigners, such as Germans, Dutch, and French, settled here, and living among the English, who commonly have no particular attachment to Old England.
I have been told by Englishmen, and not only by such as were born in America, but even by such as carne from Europe, that the English colonies in North America, in the space of thirty or fifty years, would be able to form a state by themselves, entirely independent of Old England. But as the whole country which lies along the seashore is unguarded, and on the land side is harassed by the French in times of war, these dangerous neighbors are sufficient to prevent the connection of the colonies with their mother country from being quite broken off. The English government has therefore sufficient reason to consider the French in North America as the best means of keeping the colonies in their due submission.