298 EURAMERICA strength. The crown was the head of the executive and appointed all holders of important public office; the House of Lords provided the crown with most of its senior executive, judicial and ecclesiastical officers and acted as the highest court of appeal in any judicial dispute; while the House of Commons was regarded as the representative of the people, the principal defender of their civil liberties and initiated and had the prime role in deciding what revenue should be raised to support the objectives of the executive (Dickinson, 1977: 64-65, 101-103, 143-159, 272-280). Although only a minority of adult males, owning particular forms or amounts of property or paying particular taxes, could vote for the people’s representatives in the House of Commons, it was widely believed, even by most Britons and by many of those elected, that they virtually represented all the crown’s subjects. The people’s willingness to support the raising of large loans and to pay high taxes was secured by ensuring that they benefited from living under the rule of law and enjoyed greater civil liberties than any other people in Europe (and indeed, beyond). The British people might be subjects of a monarch, but they prided themselves on being freeborn Britons. They enjoyed freedom of speech, an uncensored press, freedom of movement, the right to petition crown or parliament for the redress of grievances, and the freedom of association to keep themselves informed of the actions of parliament and to express their demands peacefully should their representatives not defend their liberties. They could not be imprisoned without charge, they could not be subjected to judicial torture, and they could not be convicted of a serious criminal offence without a trial by a jury made up of ordinary fellow-subjects (Dickinson, 1995: 161-189). Most British colonists in North America believed that they were also free-born subjects of the English crown. They had migrated across the Atlantic to improve their economic fortunes or to safeguard their religious liberties. The crown had permitted them to leave the country and had granted them royal charters, which gave them the right to establish legislative and judicial institutions to