- Alphabetical List of Authors
- Note On the Texts
- Part One: Colonial Settlements and Societies
- Virginia Articles, Laws, and Orders I610–11
- The Mayflower Compact November 11, 1620
- Fundamental Orders of Connecticut January 14, 1639
- The Massachusetts Body of Liberties December 1641
- Charter of Liberties and Frame of Government of the Province of Pennsylvania In America May 5, 1682
- Dorchester Agreement October 8, 1633
- Maryland Act For Swearing Allegiance 1638: Plymouth Oath of Allegiance and Fidelity 1625
- Little Speech On Liberty
- Copy of a Letter From Mr. Cotton to Lord Say and Seal
- Part Two: Religious Society and Religious Liberty In Early America
- The Bloody Tenent, of Persecution, For Cause of Conscience
- A Platform of Church Discipline
- Providence Agreement August 20, 1637: Maryland Act For Church Liberties 1638: Pennsylvania Act For Freedom of Conscience December 7, 1682
- Worcestriensis 1776
- Thanksgiving Proclamation and Letters to Religious Associations
- Farewell Address
- The Rights of Conscience Inalienable
- Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association
- Part Three: Defending the Charters
- Magna Charta 1215
- Petition of Right 1628
- An Account of the Late Revolution In New England and Boston Declaration of Grievances: Boston Declaration of Grievances
- The English Bill of Rights 1689
- The Stamp Act March 22, 1765
- Braintree Instructions
- Resolutions of the Virginia House of Burgesses June 1765: Declarations of the Stamp Act Congress October 24, 1765
- The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved
- The Act Repealing the Stamp Act March 18, 1766; the Declaratory Act, 1766
- Part Four: the War For Independence
- A Discourse At the Dedication of the Tree of Liberty
- Letters From a Farmer In Pennsylvania, Letters V and Ix
- Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress October 14, 1774
- Virginia Bill of Rights June 12, 1776
- On Civil Liberty, Passive Obedience, and Non-resistance
- Common Sense
- The Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776
- Part Five: a New Constitution
- Thoughts On Government
- Articles of Confederation 1778
- The Essex Result April 29, 1778
- Northwest Ordinance 1787
- Albany Plan of Union July 10, 1754
- Virginia and New Jersey Plans 1787
- The Constitution of the United States of America 1787
- The Federalist , Papers 1, 9, 10, 39, 47–51, 78
- Address of the Minority of the Pennsylvania Convention December 12, 1787
- An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution
- Part Six: the Bill of Rights
- The Federalist , Papers 84 and 85
- Letter I
- Essay I
- Letter Iii
- Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments: Virginia Bill For Establishing Religious Freedom
- Speech Introducing Proposed Constitutional Amendments: Debate Over First Amendment Language August 15, 1789: The First Ten Amendments to the Constitution, Or the Bill of Rights 1789
- Commentaries On the Constitution of the United States
- The People V. Ruggles
- Marbury V. Madison
- Barron V. The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore
- Part Seven: State Versus Federal Authority
- Essay V: “brutus” 1787
- Chisholm V. Georgia: U.s. Constitution, Eleventh Amendment 1787
- The Alien and Sedition Acts June 25, 1798: Virginia Resolutions December 21, 1798: Kentucky Resolutions November 10, 1798: Counter-resolutions of Other States 1799: Report of Virginia House of Delegates 1799
- The Duty of Americans, At the Present Crisis
- Report of the Hartford Convention 1815
- Commentaries On the Constitution of the United States: a Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States
- Part Eight: Forging a Nation
- Opinion Against the Constitutionality of a National Bank: Opinion As to the Constitutionality of the Bank of the United States
- Veto Message
- Veto Message
- Commentaries On the Constitution of the United States
- Address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois: Address to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Newspaper Editorials: “direct Taxation” April 22, 1834: “chief Justice Marshall” July 28, 1835: “the Despotism of the Majority” March 25, 1837: “morals of Legislation” April 15, 1837: “the Morals of Politics” June 3, 1837
- Speech On Electioneering
- Speech Before the U.s. Senate (webster): Speech Before the U.s. Senate (hayne)
- Fort Hill Address
- Part Nine: Prelude to War
- Laws Regulating Servants and Slaves, 1630–1852
- “slavery” “agriculture and the Militia”
- The Missouri Compromise 1820–21
- Newspaper Editorials: “governor Mcduffie’s Message” February 10, 1835: “the Question of Slavery Narrowed to a Point” April 15, 1837: “‘abolition Insolence’” July 29, 1837
- Senate Speeches On the Compromise of 1850 Speech On the Slavery Question
- Second Fugitive Slave Law September 18, 1850: Ableman V. Booth (62 Us 506)
- Scott V. Sandford
- The Relative Position and Treatment of the Negroes the Abolitionists—consistency of Their Labors
- What Is Slavery? Slavery Is Despotism
- Kansas-nebraska Act 1856: Fifth Lincoln-douglas Debate October 7, 1858
An Account of the Late Revolution in New England and Boston Declaration of Grievances
April 18, 1689
James II was the younger son of the beheaded Charles I. In 1685, James succeeded his brother, Charles II, who had been restored to the throne in 1660. Unlike his brother, James did not believe it necessary to limit his claims to unchecked power in the light of parliamentary power and authority. In England, James set about legislating without parliamentary consent and withdrawing the charters by which townships traditionally had governed their own affairs. In America, he revoked colonial charters in an attempt to consolidate royal power and administration. Throughout the empire, James’s opponents were subjected to arbitrary imprisonment. In England, the result was the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which brought William of Orange and his army to London, causing James to flee the country and his throne. Unrest also erupted in America, bringing down numerous governments imposed on the colonists from London. Blyfield, an English merchant, provides a narrative of the insurrection in Boston, which was part of a more general revolt throughout the colonies, as well as a copy of the Declaration of Boston’s prominent citizens, which set forth their reasons for revolt.
An Account of the Late Revolution In New-England
Written by Mr. Nathanael Byfield, to his Friends, &c.
Here being an opportunity of sending for London, by a Vessel that loaded at Long-Island, and for want of a Wind put in here; and not knowing that there will be the like from this Country suddenly, I am willing to give you some brief Account of the most remarkable things that have happened here within this Fortnight last past; concluding that till about that time, you will have received per Carter, a full Account of the management of Affairs here. Upon the Eighteenth Instant, about Eight of the Clock in the Morning, in Boston, it was reported at the South end of the Town, That at the North end they were all in Arms; and the like Report was at the North end, respecting the South end: Whereupon Captain John George was immediately seized, and about nine of the clock the Drums beat thorough the Town; and an Ensign was set up upon the Beacon. Then Mr. Bradstreet, Mr. Dantforth, Major Richards, Dr. Cooke, and Mr. Addington & c. were brought to the Council-house by a Company of Soldiers under the Command of Captain Hill. The mean while the People in Arms, did take up and put in to Gaol, Justice Bullivant, Justice Foxcroft, Mr. Randolf, Sheriff Sherlock, Captain Ravenscroft, Captain White, Farewel, Broadbent, Crafford, Larkin, Smith, and many more, as also Mercey the then Goal-keeper, and put Scates the Bricklayer in his place. About Noon, in the Gallery at the Council-house, was read the Declaration here inclosed. Then a Message was sent to the Fort to Sir Edmund Andros, By Mr. Oliver and Mr. Eyres, signed by the Gentlemen then in the Council-Chamber, (which is here also inclosed); to inform him how unsafe he was like to be if he did not deliver up himself, and Fort and Government forthwith, which he was loath to do. By this time, being about two of the Clock (the Lecture being put by) the Town was generally in Arms, and so many of the Countrey came in, that there was Twenty Companies in Boston, besides a great many that appeared at Charles Town that could not get over (some say Fifteen Hundred). There then came information to the Soldiers, That a Boat was come from the Frigat that made towards the Fort, which made them haste thither, and come to the Sconce soon after the Boat got thither; and ’tis said that Governor Andros, and about half a score Gentlemen, were coming down out of the Fort; but the Boat being seized, wherein were small Arms, Hand-Granadoes, and a quantity of Match, the Governour and the rest went in again; whereupon Mr. John Nelson, who was at the head of the Soldiers, did demand the Fort and the Governor, who was loath to submit to them; but at length did come down, and was with the Gentlemen that were with him, conveyed to the Council-house, where Mr. Bradstreet and the rest of the Gentlemen waited to receive him; to whom Mr. Stoughton first spake, telling him, He might thank himself for the present disaster that had befallen him, &c. He was then confined for that night to Mr. John Usher’s house under strong Guards, and the next day conveyed to the Fort, (where he yet remains, and with him Lieutenant Collonel Ledget) which is under the Command of Mr. John Nelson; and at the Castle, which is under the Command of Mr. John Fairweather, is Mr. West, Mr. Graham, Mr. Palmer, and Captaine Tryfroye. At that time Mr. Dudley was out upon the Circuit, and was holding a Court at Southold on Long-Island. And on the 21st. Instant he arrived at Newport, where he heard the News. The next day Letters came to him, advising him not to come home; he thereupon went over privately to MajorSmith’s at Naraganzett, and advice is this day come hither, that yesterday about a dozen young men, most of their own heads, went thither to demand him; and are gone with him down to Boston. We have also advice, that on Fryday last towards evening, Sir Edmond Andross did attempt to make an escape in Womans Apparel, and pass’d two Guards, and was stopped at the third, being discovered by his Shoes, not having changed them. We are here ready to blame you sometimes, that we have not to this day received advice concerning the great Changes in England, and in particular how it is like to fair with us here; who do hope and believe that all these things will work for our Good; and that you will not be wanting to promote the Good of a Country that stands in such need as New-England does at this day. The first day of May, according to former Usage, is the Election-day at Road Island; and many do say they intend their choice there then. I have not farther to trouble you with at present, but recommending you, and all our affairs with you, to the Direction and Blessing of our most Gracious God: I remain
Your Most Humble Servant at Command,
Through the Goodness of God, there hath been no Blood shed. Nath. Clark is in Plymouth Gaol, and John Smith in Gaol here, all waiting for News from England.
Boston Declaration of Grievances
The Declaration of the Gentlemen, Merchants, and Inhabitants of Boston, and the Country Adjacent. April 18. 1689
§.I. We have seen more than a decad of Years rolled away, since the English World had the Discovery of an horrid Popish Plot; wherein the bloody Devotoes of Rome had in their Design and Prospect no less than the extinction of the Protestant Religion: which mighty work they called the uttersubduing of a Pestilent Hersey; wherein (they said) there never were such hopes of Success since the Death of Queen Mary, as now in our days. And we were of all men the most insensible, if we should apprehend a Countrey so remarkable for the true Profession and pure Exercise of the Protestant Religion as New-England is, wholly unconcerned in the Infamous Plot. To crush and break a Countrey so entirely and signally made up of Reformed Churches, and at length to involve it in the miseries of an utter Extirpation, must needs carry even a Supererogation of merit with it among such as were intoxicated with a Bigotry inspired into them by the great Scarlet Whore.
§.II. To get us within the reach of the desolation desired for us, it was no improper thing that we should first have our Charter Vacated, and the hedge which kept us from the wild Beasts of the field, effectually broken down. The accomplishment of this was hastened by the unwearied sollicitations, and slanderous accusations of a man, for his Malice and Falshood, well known unto us all. Our Charter was with a most injurious pretence (and scarce that) of Law, condemned before it was possible for us to appear at Westminster in the legal defence of it; and without a fair leave to answer for our selves, concerning the Crimes falsly laid to our charge, we were put under a President and Council, without any liberty for an Assembly, which the other AmericanPlantations have, by a Commission from His Majesty.
§.III. The Commission was as Illegal for the form of it, as the way of obtaining it was Malicious and unreasonable: yet we made no Resistance thereunto as we could easily have done; but chose to give all Mankind a Demonstration of our being a people sufficiently dutiful and loyal to our King: and this with yet more Satisfaction, because we took pains to make our selves believe as much as ever we could of the Whedle then offer’d unto us; That his Magesty’s desire was no other than the happy encrease and advance of these Provinces by their more immediate Dependance on the Crown of England. And we were convinced of it by the courses immediately taken to damp and spoyl our Trade; whereof decayes and complaints presently filled all the Country; while in the mean time neither the Honour nor the Treasure of the King was at all advanced by this new Model of our Affairs, but a considerable Charge added unto the Crown.
§.IV. In little more than half a Year we saw this Commission superseded by another, yet more Absolute and Arbitrary, with which Sir EdmondAndross arrived as our Governour: who besides his Power, with the Advice and Consent of his Council, to make Laws and raise Taxes as he pleased; had also Authority by himself to Muster and Imploy all Persons residing in the Territory as occasion shall serve; and to transfer such Forces to any English Plantation in America, as occasion shall require. And several Companies of Souldiers were now brought from Europe, to support what was to be imposed upon us, not without repeated Menaces that some hundreds more were intented for us.
§.V. The Government was no sooner in these Hands, but care was taken to load Preferments principally upon such Men as were strangers to, and haters of the People: and every ones Observation hath noted, what Qualifications recommended a Man to publick Offices and Employments, only here and there a good Man was used, where others could not easily be had; the Governour himself, with Assertions now and then falling from him, made us jealous that it would be thought for his Majesties Interest, if this People were removed and another succeeded in their room: And his far-fetch’d Instruments that were growing rich among us, would gravely inform us, that it was not for his Majesties Interest that we should thrive. But of all our oppressors we were chiefly squeez’d by a crew of abject Persons, fetched from New-York, to be the Tools of the Adversary, standing at our right hand; by these were extraor-dinary and intollerable Fees extorted from every one upon all occasions, without any Rules but those of their own insatiable Avarice and Beggary; and even the probate of a Will must now cost as many Pounds perhaps as it did Shillings heretofore; nor could a small Volume contain the other Illegalities done by these Horse-Leeches in the two or three Years that they have been sucking of us; and what Laws they made it was as impossible for us to know, as dangerous for us to break; but we shall leave the Men of Ipswich and of Plimouth (among others) to tell the story of the kindness which has been shown them upon this account. Doubtless a Land so ruled as once New-England was, has not without many fears and sighs beheld the wicked walking on every side, and the vilest Men exalted.
§.VI. It was now plainly affirmed, both by some in open Council, and by the same in private converse, that the people in New-England were all Slaves, and the only difference between them and Slaves is their not being bought and sold; and it was a maxim delivered in open Court unto us by one of the Council, that we must not think the Priviledges of Englishmen would follow us to the end of the World: Accordingly we have been treated with multiplied contradictions to Magna Charta, the rights of which we laid claim unto. Persons who did but peaceably object against the raising of Taxes without an Assembly, have been for it fined, some twenty, some thirty, and others fifty Pounds. Packt and pickt Juries have been very common things among us, when, under a pretended form of Law, the trouble of some honest and worthy Men has been aimed at: but when some of this Gang have been brought upon the Stage, for the most detestable Enormities that ever the Sun beheld, all Men have with Admiration seen what methods have been taken that they might not be treated according to their Crimes. Without a Verdict, yea, without a Jury sometimes have People been fined most unrighteously; and some not of the meanest Quality have been kept in long and close Imprisonment without any the least Information appearing against them, or an Habeas Corpus allowed unto them. In short, when our Oppressors have been a little out of Mony, ’twas but pretending some Offence to be enquired into, and the most innocent of Men were continually put into no small Expence to answer the Demands of the Officers, who must have Mony of them, or a prison for them tho none could accuse them of any Misdemeanour.
§.VII. To plunge the poor People every where into deeper Incapacities, there was one very comprehensive Abuse given to us; Multitudes of pious and sober Men through the Land, scrupled the Mode of Swearing on the Book, desiring that they might Swear with an uplifted Hand, agreeable to the ancient Custom of the Colony; and though we think we can prove that the Common Law amongst us (as well as in some other places under the English Crown) not only indulges, but even commands and enjoins the Rite of lifting the Hand in Swearing; yet they that had this Doubt, were still put by from serving upon any Juries; and many of them were most unaccountably Fined and Imprisoned. Thus one Grievance is a Trojan Horse, in the Belly of which it is not easy to recount how many insufferable Vexations have been contained.
§.VIII. Because these things could not make us miserable fast enough, there was a notable Discovery made of we know not what flaw in all our Titles to our Lands; and, tho besides our purchase of them from the Natives; and, besides our actual peaceable unquestioned possession of them for near threescore Years, and besides the Promise of K. Charles II. in his Proclamation sent over to us in the Year 1683, That no Man here shall receive any Prejudice in his Free-hold or Estate: We had the Grant of our Lands, under the Seal of the Council of Plimouth: which Grant was Renewed and Confirmed unto us by King Charles I. under the Great Seal of England; and the General Court which consisted of the Patentees and their Associates, had made particular Grants hereof to the several Towns (though ’twas now deny’d by the Governour, that there was any such Thing as a Town) among us; to all which Grants the General Court annexed for the further securing of them, A GeneralAct, published under the Seal of the Colony, in the Year 1684. Yet we were every day told, That no man was owner of a Foot of Land in all the Colony. Accordingly, Writs of Intrusion began every where to be served on People, that after all their Sweat and their Cost upon their formerly purchased Lands, thought themselves Free-holders of what they had. And the Governor caused the Lands pertaining to these and those particular Men, to be measured out for his Creatures to take possession of; and the Right Owners, for pulling up the Stakes, have passed through Molestations enough to tire all the patience in the World. They are more than a few, that were by Terrors driven to take Patents for their Lands at excessive rates, to save them from the next that might petition for them: and we fear that the forcing of the People at the Eastward hereunto, gave too much Rise to the late unhappy Invasion made by the Indians on them. Blanck Patents were got ready for the rest of us, to be sold at a Price, that all the Mony and Moveables in the Territory could scarce have paid. And several Towns in the Country had their Commons begg’d by Persons (even by some of the Council themselves) who have been privately encouraged thereunto, by those that sought for Occasions to impoverish a Land already Peeled, Meeted out and Trodden down.
§.IX. All the Council were not ingaged in these ill Actions, but those of them which were true Lovers of their Country, were seldom admitted to, and seldomer consulted at the Debates which produced these unrighteous Things: Care was taken to keep them under Disadvantages; and the Governor, with five or six more, did what they would. We bore all these, and many more such Things, without making any attempt for any Relief; only Mr. Mather, purely out of respect unto the Good of his Afflicted Country, undertook a Voyage into England; which when these Men suspected him to be preparing for, they used all manner of Craft and Rage, not only to interrupt his Voyage, but to ruin his Person too. God having through many Difficulties given him to arrive at White-hall, the King, more than once or twice, promised him a certain MagnaCharta for a speedy Redress of many things which we were groaning under: and in the mean time said, That our Governor should be written unto, to forbear the Measures that he was upon. However, after this, we were injured in those very Things which were complained of; and besides what Wrong hath been done in our Civil Concerns, we suppose the Ministers, and the Churches every where have seen our Sacred Concerns apace going after them: How they have been Discountenanced, has had a room in the reflections of every man, that is not a stranger in our Israel.
§.X. And yet that our Calamity might not be terminated here, we are again Briar’d in the Perplexities of another Indian War; how, or why, is a mystery too deep for us to unfold. And tho’ ’tis judged that our Indian Enemies are not above 100. in number, yet an Army of Onethousand English hath been raised for the Conquering of them; which Army of our poor Friends and Brethren now under Popish Commanders (for in the Army as well as in the Council, Papists are in Commission) has been under such a conduct, that not one Indian hath been kill’d, but more English are supposed to have died through sickness and hardship, than we have adversaries there alive; and the whole War hath been so managed, that we cannot but suspect in it, a branch of the Plot to bring us low; which we leave to be further enquir’d into in due time.
§.XI. We did nothing against these Proceedings, but only cry to our God; they have caused the cry of the Poor to come unto him, and he hears the cry of the Afflicted. We have been quiet hitherto, and so still we should have been, had not the Great God at this time laid us under a double engagement to do something for our security: besides, what we have in the strangely unanimous inclination, which our Countrymen by extreamest necessities are driven unto. For first, we are informed that the rest of the English America is Alarmed with just and great fears, that they may be attaqu’d by the French, who have lately (’tis said) already treated many of the English with worse then Turkish Cruelties; and while we are in equal danger of being surprised by them, it is high time we should be better guarded, than we are like to be while the Government remains in the hands by which it hath been held of late. Moreover, we have understood, (though the Governour has taken all imaginable care to keep us all ignorant thereof) that the Almighty God hath been pleased to prosper the noble undertaking of the Prince of Orange, to preserve the three Kingdoms from the horrible brinks of Popery and Slavery, and to bring to a Condign punishment those worst of men, by whom English Liberties have been destroy’d; in compliance with which Glorious Action, we ought surely to follow the Patterns which the Nobility, Gentry and Commonalty in several parts of those Kingdoms have set before us, though they therein chiefly proposed to prevent what we already endure.
§.XII. We do therefore seize upon the Persons of those few Illmen which have been (next to our Sins) the grand Authors of our Miseries; resolving to secure them, for what Justice, Orders from his Highness, with the English Parliament shall direct, lest, ere we are aware, we find (what we may fear, being on all sides in danger) our selves to be by them given away to a Forreign Power, before such Orders can reach unto us; for which Orders we now humbly wait. In the mean time firmly believing, that we have endeavoured nothing but what meer Duty to God and our Country calls for at our Hands: We commit our Enterprise unto the Blessing of Him, who hears the cry of the Oppressed, and advise all our Neighbours, for whom we have thus ventured our selves, to joyn with us in Prayers and all just Actions, for the Defence of the Land.