Declaration of Colonial Rights


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Declaration of Colonial Rights. Prior to the Declaration of Independence, the first Continental Congress (1774)  framed and reported, in the form of a series of ten resolves, a declaration of the rights of the colonies: 1. Their natural rights; 2. That from their ancestry they were entitled to all the rights, liberties, and immunities of free and natural-born subjects of England; 3. That by the emigration to America by their ancestors they never lost any of those rights, and that their descendants were entitled to the exercise of those rights; 4. That the foundation of all free governments is in the right of the people to participate in their legislative council; and as the American colonists could not exercise such right in the British Parliament, they were entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several provincial legislatures, where the right of representation could alone be preserved. (They conceded the right of Parliament to regulate external commerce, but denied its right to tax them in any way, without their consent, for raising an internal or external revenue.) 5. That they were entitled to the common law of England, and more especially the great privilege of being tried by their peers of the vicinage according to the course of law ; 6. That they were entitled to the benefit of English statutes at the time of the emigration of their ancestors; 7. That they were entitled to all the immunities and privileges conferred upon them by royal charters or secured to them by provincial laws; 8. That they had a right peaceably to assemble, state their grievances, and petition the King without interference of ministers; 9. That the keeping of a standing army in any colony, without the consent of the legislature, was unlawful; 10. That the exercise of legislative power in several colonies by a council appointed during pleasure by the crown was unconstitutional, dangerous, and destructive to the freedom of American legislation. The report of the committee designated the various acts of Parliament which were infringements and violations of the rights of the colonists, and declared that the repeal of them was essentially necessary in order to restore harmony between Great Britain and the American colonies. The acts enumerated were eleven in number - namely, Sugar act, stamp act, two quartering acts, tea act, act suspending the New York legislature, two acts for the trial in Great Britain of offences committed in America, Boston Port bill, the act for regulating [subverting] the government of Massachusetts, and the Quebec act.



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