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DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
OF THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, OCTOBER 14, 1774.
WHEREAS, since the close of the last war, the British Parliament, claiming a power of right, to bind the people of America by Statutes in all cases whatsoever, hath in some Acts expressly imposed taxes on them, and in others, under various pretences, but in fact for the purpose of raising a revenue, hath imposed rates and duties payable in these Colonies, established a Board of Commissioners, with unconstitutional powers, and extended the jurisdiction of Courts of Admiralty, not only for collecting the saic duties, but for the trial of causes merely arising within the body of a county :
And whereas, in consequence of other Statutes, judges, who before held only estates at will in their offices, have been made dependent on the Crown alone, for their salaries, and standing armies kept in times of peace; and whereas, it has lately been resolved in Parliament, that by force of a Statute, made in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of King Henry the VIII., Colonists may be transported to England, and trieu there, upon accusations for treasons and misprisions, or concealments, of treasons committed in the Colonies, and by a late Statute, such trials have been directed in cases therein mentioned :
And whereas, in the last session of Parliament, three Statutes were made ; one entitled, “An Act to discontinue, in such manner, and for such time, as are therein mentioned, the landing and discharging, lading, or shipping of goods, wares, and merchandize, at the town, and within the harbor, of Boston, in the Province of Massa
chusetts Bay in North America ;' another entitled, 'An Act for the better regulating the government of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in New England,’and another entitled, “An Act for the impartial administration of justtice, in the cases of persons questioned for any act done by them in the execution of the law, or for the suppression of riots and tumults, in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England : And another Statute was then made, “ for making more effectual provision for the government of the Province of Quebec,” &c. All which Statutes are impolitic, unjust, and cruel, as well as unconstitutional, and most dangerous and destructive of American rights :
And whereas, Assemblies have been frequently dissolved, contrary to the rights of the People, when they attempted to deliberate on grievances; and their dutiful, humble, loyal, and reasonable, petitions to the Crown for redress, have been repeatedly treated with contempt, by bis Majesty's ministers of state :
The good People of the several Colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Newcastle, Kent, a:d Sussex, on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, justly alarmed at these arbitrary proceedings of Parliament and Administration, have severally elected, constituted, and appointed Deputies to meet and sit in General Congress, in the city of Philadelphia, in order to obtain such establishment, as that their religion, laws and liberties, may not be subverted; whereupon the Dep. nities so appointed being now assembled, in a full and free representation of these Colonies, taking into their inost serious consideration, the best means of attaining the ends aforesaid, do, in the first place, as Englishmen their ancestors in like cases have usually done, for asserting and vindicating their rights and liberties, DECLARE,
That the inhabitants of the English Colonies in North America, by the immutable laws of Nature, the principles of the English Constitution, and the several Charters or Compacts, have the following RIGHTS.
Resolved, N. C. D.* 1. That they are entitled to life, liberty, and property ; and they have never ceded to any Sovereign power whatever, a right to dispose of either, without their consent.
Resolved, N. C. D. 2. That our ancestors, who Grst settled these Colonies, were, at the time of their cmigration from the mother Country, entitled to all the rights, liberties, and immunities, of free and natural-born subjects, within the realm of England.
Resolved, N. C. D. 3. That, by such emigration, they by no means forfeited, surrendered, or lost, any of those rights, but that they were, and their descendants now are, entitled to the exercise and enjoyment of all such of them, as their local and other circumstances enable them to exercise and enjoy.
Resolved, 4. That the foundation of English liberty, and of all free government, is, a right in the People to participate in their legislative council ; and as the English Colonists are not represented, and, from their local and other circumstances, cannot properly be represented, in the British Parliament, they are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several provincial legislatures, where their right of representation can alone be preserved, in all cases of taxation and internal polity, subject only to the negative of their Sovereign, in such manner as has been heretofore used and accustomed ; but, from the necessity of the case, and a regard to the mutual interests of both Countries, we cheerfully consent to the operation of such Acts of the British Parliament, as are, bona fide, restrained to the regulation of our external commerce, for the purpose of securing the commercial advantages of the whole empire to the mother Country, and the commercial benefits of its respective members i excluding every idea of taxation, internal or external, for raising a revenue on the subjects in America, without their consent.
Resolved, N. C. D. 5. That the respective Colonies are entitled to the common law of England, and more es.
* Nemine contradicente, no person opposing, or disagreeing.
per ally to the great and inestimable privilege of being triel by their peers of the vicinage, according to the course of that law.
Resolved, 6. That they are entitled to the benefit of such of the English Statutes, as existed at the time of their colonization ; and which they have, by experience, respectively found to be applicable to their several local and other circumstances.
Resolved, N. C. D. 7. That these, his Majesty's Colonies, are likewise entitled to all the immunities and privileges, granted and confirmed to them by royal Charters, or secured by their several codes of provincial laws.
Resolved, N. C. D. 8. That they have a right peaceably to assemble, consider of their grievances, and petition the King; and that all prosecutions, prohibitory proclamations, and commitments for the same, are illegal.
Resolved, N. C. D. 9. That the keeping a standing army in these Colonies, in times of peace, without the consent of the legislature of that Colony in which such army is kept, is against law.
Resolved, N. Č. D: 10. It is indispensably necessary to good government, and rendered essential by the English Constitution, that the constituent branches of the legislature be independent of each other; that, therefore, the exercise of legislative power, in several Colonies, by a Council appointed, during pleasure, by the Crown, is unconstitutional, dangerous, and destructive to the freedom of American legislation.
All and each of which, the aforesaid Deputies, in be half of themselves, and their Constituents, do claim, demand, and insist on, as their indubitable rights and liberties; which cannot be legally taken from them, altered, or abridged, by any power whatever, without their own consent, by their representatives, in their several provin. cial Legislatures.
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
A DECLARATION by the Representatives of the Uniteà States of America, in Congress assembled.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature, and of nature's God, entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires, that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident : that all men are created equal ; that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights ; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that governments, long established, should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves, by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies ; and such is now the necessity which constraips them to alter their former systems of governinent