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DECLARATION OF RIGHTS—1765.
The New York Congress, “the Day Star of the American Union,” summoned by the Massachusetts legislature, met at the City Hall in New York, Oct. 7, 1765. It consisted of twenty-eight delegates from nine colonies, Virginia, New Hampshire, Georgia, and North Carolina being unrepresented. It was much debated whether to found American liberties on natural rights or on royal charters, but the former ground was finally taken. On the 25th the delegates who were so authorized (viz., those from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland), signed the Declaration of Rights, and the Congress adjourned. “Perhaps the best general summary of the rights and liberties asserted by all the colonies, is contained in the celebrated declaration drawn up by the Congress of the nine colonies assembled at New York, October, 1765." (Judge Story.)
Consult Bancroft's U. S., ist ed., V., 342; cen. ed., III., 508 ; last, III., 154 ; Hildreth's U. S., II., 530 ; Story's Constitution, I., 175; Frothingham's Rise, 186; Bryant and Gay's U. S., II., 340; Greene's Historical View, 72 ; Pitkin's U. S., I., 178.
RESOLVES OF THE CONVENTION OF THE
ENGLISH COLONIES AT NEW YORK, OCTO-. BER 19, 1765.
The Congress upon mature deliberation, agreed to the following declarations of the rights and grievances of the colonists in America :
The members of this congress, sincerely devoted, with the warmest sentiments of affection and duty, to His Majesty's person and government, inviolably attached to the present happy establishment of the Protestant succession, and with minds deeply impressed by a sense of the present and impending misfortunes of the British colonies on this continent; having considered as maturely as time will permit, the circumstances of the said colonies, esteem it our indispensable duty to make the following declarations of our humble opinion respecting the most essential rights and liberties of the colonists and of the grievances under which they labor by reason of the several late acts of Parliament.
1. That His Majesty's subjects in these colonies, owe the same allegiance to the crown of Great Britain, that is owing from his subjects born within the realm ; and all due subordination to that august body, the Parliament of Great Britain.
2. That His Majesty's liege subjects, in these colonies, are entitled to all the inherent rights and liberties of his natural born subjects within the kingdom of Great Britain.
3. That it is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people, and the undoubted right of Englishmen, that no taxes be imposed on them but with their own consent, given personally, or by their representatives.
4. That the people of these colonies are not, and from their local circumstances cannot be, represented in the House of Commons, in Great Britain.
5. That the only representatives of the people of these colonies, are persons chosen therein by themselves; and that no taxes ever have been, or can be constitutionally imposed on them, but by their respective legislatures.
6. That all supplies to the crown, being the free gifts of the people, it is unreasonable and inconsistent with the principles and spirit of the British constitution, for the people of Great Britain to grant to His Majesty, the
property of the colonists. 1.7. That trial by jury is the inherent and invaluable right of every British subject in these colonies.
8. That the late act of Parliament, entitled “An act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, and other duties in the British colonies and plantations, in America, etc.," by imposing taxes on the inhabitants of these colonies, and the said act, and several other acts, by extending the jurisdiction of the courts of admiralty beyond its ancient limits, have a manifest tendency to subvert the rights and liberties of the colonists.
9. That the duties imposed by several late acts of Parliament, from the peculiar circumstances of these colonies, will be extremely burthensome and grievous, and from the scarcity of specie, the payment of them absolutely impracticable.
10. That as the profits of the trade of these colonies ultimately centre in Great Britain, to pay for the manufactures which they are obliged to take from thence, they eventually contribute very largely to all supplies granted there to the crown.
II. That the restrictions imposed by several late acts of Parliament on the trade of these colonies, will render them unable to purchase the manufactures of Great Britain.
12. That the increase, prosperity, and happiness of these colonies depend on the full and free enjoyments of their rights and liberties, and an intercourse with Great Britain, mutually affectionate and advantageous.
13. That it is the right of the British subjects in these colonies to petition the King, or either house of Parliament.
Lastly. That it is the indispensable duty of these colonies, to the best of sovereigns, to the mother country, and to themselves, to endeavour by a loyal and dutiful address to His Majesty, and humble applications to both houses of Parliament, to procure the repeal of the act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, of all clauses of any other acts of Parliament, whereby the jurisdiction of the admiralty is extended, as aforesaid, and of the other late acts for the restriction of American commerce.
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS AND NON
The congress of 1774 met at Philadelphia, Sept. 5th. On the second day of the session, it was “ Resolved, unanimously that a committee be appointed to state the rights of the colonies in general, the several instances in which these rights are violated or infringed, and the means most proper to be pursued for obtaining a restoration of them.” The report of the committee (presented Sept. 21) provoked much discussion, and it was not till Congress had limited the field to rights infringed by acts of parliament since 1763, previous violations having been considered by the Congress of 1765, that the Declaration was agreed upon,
Congress also decided on commercial non-intercourse with England, thus returning to the policy first adopted in opposition to the Stamp Act in 1765, and revived in the early days of the republic by the embargoes of Washington and Jefferson. This non-importation agreement was signed Oct. 20, by fifty members, who thus formed what John Adams called, “ the memorable league of the continent in 1774, which first expressed the sovereign will of a free nation in America.” Equally emphatic is the verdict of Hildreth : “the signature of the association by the members of congress may