Friday, January 15, 2010

The Declaration of Arbroath - 1320

(English Translation)

Although the author is unknown; it has been assumed that Bernard de Linton was the author and composer of this magnificent plea in Latin for the liberty of man. Bernard de Linton was the Abbot of Arbroath and Chancellor of Scotland. The plea asks for the Pope's intervention between the quarreling English and Scots. Below the appeal to the Pope are the seals of forty-five barons and eight earls. The preamble of the document provides a brief history in order that the Pope might understand the differences between the disputing factions.

The men who affixed their seals upon the document believed the contents of declaration with passionate sincerity. These men placed an importance upon the growing tree of nationalism above the feudal obligations which divided their loyalties.

The Declaration of Arbroath, a mixture of supplication and defiance, is the most important document in the history of Scotland. It set the will and desire of the people of Scotland above the King. Although they were bound to the king by 'both by law and by his merits'; they deemed it was so to protect and maintain their freedom. The relationship between subject and king was seen as a contractual agreement. If he betrayed his responsibilities to them he could be removed and replaced by a king chosen by his subects.

Robert the Bruce was a heather king to several of the Scots which explains the obligation placed upon a feudal monarch by his subjects. Celtic tradition was invoked in the memory of the Seven Earls, the Seven Sons of Cruithne the Pict for the roots of kingship was Celtic. It is believed that Cruithne the Pict rested the ancient right of tanistry. Tanistry is the elevation of a king by the selection of his subjects. Hence, the relationship of king and his people influenced the history of the Scots hereafter. This tradition would reach its climax in the Reformation of Western Europe beginning with Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, and Knox. After the Reformation, a people's loyal to God was declared to be superior over the rule of earthly sovereigns.

Scotland's national independence was affirmed through this document in a manner in which no battle could succeed. The national independence of Scotland was justified through truth that is beyond race and nation. Mankind has a right to freedom which is given by God and to defend it with his life. The qualifications which are placed upon the baron are unimportant; truth once declared cannot be abrogated and stifled. God given liberty secured to each man will grow.

To the most Holy Father and Lord in Christ, the Lord John, by divine providence Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Roman and Universal Church, his humble and devout sons Duncan, Earl of Fife, Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, Lord of Man and of Annandale, Patrick Dunbar, Earl of March, Malise, Earl of Strathearn, Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, William, Earl of Ross, Magnus, Earl of Caithness and Orkney, and William, Earl of Sutherland; Walter, Steward of Scotland, William Soules, Butler of Scotland, James, Lord of Douglas, Roger Mowbray, David, Lord of Brechin, David Graham, Ingram Umfraville, John Menteith, guardian of the earldom of Menteith, Alexander Fraser, Gilbert Hay, Constable of Scotland, Robert Keith, Marischal of Scotland, Henry St Clair, John Graham, David Lindsay, William Oliphant, Patrick Graham, John Fenton, William Abernethy, David Wemyss, William Mushet, Fergus of Ardrossan, Eustace Maxwell, William Ramsay, William Mowat, Alan Murray, Donald Campbell, John Cameron, Reginald Cheyne, Alexander Seton, Andrew Leslie, and Alexander Straiton, and the other barons and freeholders and the whole community of the realm of Scotland send all manner of filial reverence, with devout kisses of his blessed feet.

Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today. The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since. In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal stock, the line unbroken a single foreigner. The high qualities and deserts of these people, were they not otherwise manifest, gain glory enough from this: that the King of kings and Lord of lords, our Lord Jesus Christ, after His Passion and Resurrection, called them, even though settled in the uttermost parts of the earth, almost the first to His most holy faith. Nor would He have them confirmed in that faith by merely anyone but by the first of His Apostles — by calling, though second or third in rank — the most gentle Saint Andrew, the Blessed Peter's brother, and desired him to keep them under his protection as their patron forever.

The Most Holy Fathers your predecessors gave careful heed to these things and bestowed many favours and numerous privileges on this same kingdom and people, as being the special charge of the Blessed Peter's brother. Thus our nation under their protection did indeed live in freedom and peace up to the time when that mighty prince the King of the English, Edward, the father of the one who reigns today, when our kingdom had no head and our people harboured no malice or treachery and were then unused to wars or invasions, came in the guise of a friend and ally to harass them as an enemy. The deeds of cruelty, massacre, violence, pillage, arson, imprisoning prelates, burning down monasteries, robbing and killing monks and nuns, and yet other outrages without number which he committed against our people, sparing neither age nor sex, religion nor rank, no one could describe nor fully imagine unless he had seen them with his own eyes.

But from these countless evils we have been set free, by the help of Him Who though He afflicts yet heals and restores, by our most tireless Prince, King and Lord, the Lord Robert. He, that his people and his heritage might be delivered out of the hands of our enemies, met toil and fatigue, hunger and peril, like another Macabaeus or Joshua and bore them cheerfully. Him, too, divine providence, his right of succession according to or laws and customs which we shall maintain to the death, and the due consent and assent of us all have made our Prince and King. To him, as to the man by whom salvation has been wrought unto our people, we are bound both by law and by his merits that our freedom may be still maintained, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand. Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

Therefore it is, Reverend Father and Lord, that we beseech your Holiness with our most earnest prayers and suppliant hearts, inasmuch as you will in your sincerity and goodness consider all this, that, since with Him Whose vice-gerent on earth you are there is neither weighing nor distinction of Jew and Greek, Scotsman or Englishman, you will look with the eyes of a father on the troubles and privation brought by the English upon us and upon the Church of God. May it please you to admonish and exhort the King of the English, who ought to be satisfied with what belongs to him since England used once to be enough for seven kings or more, to leave us Scots in peace, who live in this poor little Scotland, beyond which there is no dwelling-place at all, and covet nothing but our own. We are sincerely willing to do anything for him, having regard to our condition, that we can, to win peace for ourselves. This truly concerns you, Holy Father, since you see the savagery of the heathen raging against the Christians, as the sins of Christians have indeed deserved, and the frontiers of Christendom being pressed inward every day; and how much it will tarnish your Holiness's memory if (which God forbid) the Church suffers eclipse or scandal in any branch of it during your time, you must perceive. Then rouse the Christian princes who for false reasons pretend that they cannot go to help of the Holy Land because of wars they have on hand with their neighbours. The real reason that prevents them is that in making war on their smaller neighbours they find quicker profit and weaker resistance. But how cheerfully our Lord the King and we too would go there if the King of the English would leave us in peace, He from Whom nothing is hidden well knows; and we profess and declare it to you as the Vicar of Christ and to all Christendom. But if your Holiness puts too much faith in the tales the English tell and will not give sincere belief to all this, nor refrain from favouring them to our prejudice, then the slaughter of bodies, the perdition of souls, and all the other misfortunes that will follow, inflicted by them on us and by us on them, will, we believe, be surely laid by the Most High to your charge.

To conclude, we are and shall ever be, as far as duty calls us, ready to do your will in all things, as obedient sons to you as His Vicar; and to Him as the Supreme King and Judge we commit the maintenance of our cause, casting our cares upon Him and firmly trusting that He will inspire us with courage and bring our enemies to nought. May the Most High preserve you to his Holy Church in holiness and health and grant you length of days.

Given at the monastery of Arbroath in Scotland on the sixth day of the month of April in the year of grace thirteen hundred and twenty and the fifteenth year of the reign of our King aforesaid.

Endorsed: Letter directed to our Lord the Supreme Pontiff by the community of Scotland.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Petition of Right - 1628

The Petition of Right is a declaration of the objectives of the 1628 movement towards English legal reform. It eventually led to the English Civil War in which King Charles I was deposed in 1649 following his defeat. Many of the ideals expressed in the Petition of Right were held by the American Founders. The Petition of Right influenced their world view which eventually lead to the American War for Independence.

The Petition of Right 1628

The Petition exhibited to his Majesty by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, concerning divers Rights and Liberties of the Subjects, with the King's Majesty's royal answer thereunto in full Parliament.

To the King's Most Excellent Majesty,

Humbly show unto our Sovereign Lord the King, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons in Parliament assembles, that whereas it is declared and enacted by a statute made in the time of the reign of King Edward I, commonly called Stratutum de Tellagio non Concedendo, that no tallage or aid shall be laid or levied by the king or his heirs in this realm, without the good will and assent of the archbishops, bishops, earls, barons, knights, burgesses, and other the freemen of the commonalty of this realm; and by authority of parliament holden in the five-and-twentieth year of the reign of King Edward III, it is declared and enacted, that from thenceforth no person should be compelled to make any loans to the king against his will, because such loans were against reason and the franchise of the land; and by other laws of this realm it is provided, that none should be charged by any charge or imposition called a benevolence, nor by such like charge; by which statutes before mentioned, and other the good laws and statutes of this realm, your subjects have inherited this freedom, that they should not be compelled to contribute to any tax, tallage, aid, or other like charge not set by common consent, in parliament.

II. Yet nevertheless of late divers commissions directed to sundry commissioners in several counties, with instructions, have issued; by means whereof your people have been in divers places assembled, and required to lend certain sums of money unto your Majesty, and many of them, upon their refusal so to do, have had an oath administered unto them not warrantable by the laws or statutes of this realm, and have been constrained to become bound and make appearance and give utterance before your Privy Council and in other places, and others of them have been therefore imprisoned, confined, and sundry other ways molested and disquieted; and divers other charges have been laid and levied upon your people in several counties by lord lieutenants, deputy lieutenants, commissioners for musters, justices of peace and others, by command or direction from your Majesty, or your Privy Council, against the laws and free custom of the realm.

III. And whereas also by the statute called 'The Great Charter of the Liberties of England,' it is declared and enacted, that no freeman may be taken or imprisoned or be disseized of his freehold or liberties, or his free customs, or be outlawed or exiled, or in any manner destroyed, but by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land.

IV. And in the eight-and-twentieth year of the reign of King Edward III, it was declared and enacted by authority of parliament, that no man, of what estate or condition that he be, should be put out of his land or tenements, nor taken, nor imprisoned, nor disinherited nor put to death without being brought to answer by due process of law.

V. Nevertheless, against the tenor of the said statutes, and other the good laws and statutes of your realm to that end provided, divers of your subjects have of late been imprisoned without any cause showed; and when for their deliverance they were brought before your justices by your Majesty's writs of habeas corpus, there to undergo and receive as the court should order, and their keepers commanded to certify the causes of their detainer, no cause was certified, but that they were detained by your Majesty's special command, signified by the lords of your Privy Council, and yet were returned back to several prisons, without being
charged with anything to which they might make answer according to the law.

VI. And whereas of late great companies of soldiers and mariners have been dispersed into divers counties of the realm, and the inhabitants against their wills have been compelled to receive them into their houses, and there to suffer them to sojourn against the laws and customs of this realm, and to the great grievance and vexation of the people.

VII. And whereas also by authority of parliament, in the five-and-twentieth year of the reign of King Edward III, it is declared and enacted, that no man shall be forejudged of life or limb against the form of the Great Charter and the law of the land; and by the said Great Charter and other the laws and statutes of this your realm, no man ought to be adjudged to death but by the laws established in this your realm, either by the customs of the same realm, or by acts of parliament: and whereas no offender of what kind soever is exempted from the proceedings to be used, and punishments to be inflicted by the laws and statutes of this your realm; nevertheless of late time divers commissions under your Majesty's great seal have issued forth, by which certain persons have been assigned and appointed commissioners with power and authority to proceed within the land, according to the justice of martial law, against such soldiers or mariners, or other dissolute persons joining with them, as should commit any murder, robbery, felony, mutiny, or other outrage or misdemeanor whatsoever, and by such summary course and order as is agreeable to martial law, and is used in armies in time of war, to proceed to the trial and condemnation of such offenders, and them to cause to be executed and put to death according to the law martial.

VIII. By pretext whereof some of your Majesty's subjects have been by some of the said commissioners put to death, when and where, if by the laws and statutes of the land they had deserved death, by the same laws and statutes also they might, and by no other ought to have been judged and executed.

IX. And also sundry grievous offenders, by color thereof claiming an exemption, have escaped the punishments due to them by the laws and statutes of this your realm, by reason that divers of your officers and ministers of justice have unjustly refused or forborne to proceed against such offenders according to the same laws and statutes, upon pretense that the said offenders were punishable only by martial law, and by authority of such commissions as aforesaid; which commissions, and all other of like nature, are wholly and directly contrary to the said laws and statutes of this your realm.

X. They do therefore humbly pray your most excellent Majesty, that no man hereafter be compelled to make or yield any gift, loan, benevolence, tax, or such like charge, without common consent by act of parliament; and that none be called to make answer, or take such oath, or to give attendance, or be confined, or otherwise molested or disquieted concerning the same or for refusal thereof; and that no freeman, in any such manner as is before mentioned, be imprisoned or detained; and that your Majesty would be pleased to remove the said soldiers and mariners, and that your people may not be so burdened in time to come; and that the aforesaid commissions, for proceeding by martial law, may be revoked and annulled; and that hereafter no commissions of like nature may issue forth to any person or persons whatsoever to be executed as aforesaid, lest by color of them any of your Majesty's subjects be destroyed or put to death contrary to the laws and franchise of the land.

XI. All which they most humbly pray of your most excellent Majesty as their rights and liberties, according to the laws and statutes of this realm; and that your Majesty would also vouchsafe to declare, that the awards, doings, and proceedings, to the prejudice of your people in any of the premises, shall not be drawn hereafter into consequence or example; and that your Majesty would be also graciously pleased, for the further comfort and safety of your people, to declare your royal will and pleasure, that in the things aforesaid all your officers and ministers shall serve you according to the laws and statutes of this realm, as they tender the honor of your Majesty, and the prosperity of this kingdom.

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

The citizens of Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield, Connecticut chose representatives in the spring of 1638 and convened a general court in Hartford, Connecticut. Reverend Thomas Hooker opened the session by preaching a profound sermon based on the text "the foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people." On January 14th of the Julian calendar (January 24, 1639 according to the Gregorian calendar) a constitution was adopted by the freemen of Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield who had assembled in Hartford. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut is the name of the constitution the freemen adopted. This document did not limit the vote to members of the Puritan congregations. One neither finds in this great document any reference to "our gracious Lord the King" nor to "our dread Sovereign." Nor is any power of any government outside of Connecticut mentioned. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut is considered to be the first written constitution in America which created a government. It is seen as the prototype to the Federal Constitution of the United States which was ratified one hundred and fifty years later. One must also consider the Mayflower Compact and the Iroquois Constitution which were enacted in an earlier period.

January 14, 1639

For as much as it hath pleased Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and upon the River of Connectecotte and the lands thereunto adjoining; and well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth; and do for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also, the discipline of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said Gospel is now practiced amongst us; as also in our civil affairs to be guided and governed according to such Laws, Rules, Orders and Decrees as shall be made, ordered, and decreed as followeth:

1. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that there shall be yearly two General Assemblies or Courts, the one the second Thursday in April, the other the second Thursday in September following; the first shall be called the Court of Election, wherein shall be yearly chosen from time to time, so many Magistrates and other public Officers as shall be found requisite: Whereof one to be chosen Governor for the year ensuing and until another be chosen, and no other Magistrate to be chosen for more than one year: provided always there be six chosen besides the Governor, which being chosen and sworn according to an Oath recorded for that purpose, shall have the power to administer justice according to the Laws here established, and for want thereof, according to the Rule of the Word of God; which choice shall be made by all that are admitted freemen and have taken the Oath of Fidelity, and do cohabit within this Jurisdiction having been admitted Inhabitants by the major part of the Town wherein they live or the major part of such as shall be then present.

2. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the election of the aforesaid Magistrates shall be in this manner: every person present and qualified for choice shall bring in (to the person debuted to receive them) one single paper with the name of him written in it whom he desires to have Governor, and that he that hath the greatest number of papers shall be Governor for that year. And the rest of the Magistrates or public officers to be chosen in this manner: the Secretary for the time being shall first read the names of all that are to be put to choice and then shall severally nominate them distinctly, and every one that would have the person nominated to be chosen shall bring in one single paper written upon, and he that would not have him chosen shall bring in a blank; and every one that hath more written papers than blanks shall be a Magistrate for that year; which papers shall be received and told by one or more that shall be then chosen by the court and sworn to be faithful therein; but in case there should not be six chosen as aforesaid, besides the Governor, out of those which are nominated, than he or they which have the most written papers shall be a Magistrate or Magistrates for the ensuing year, to make up the aforesaid number.

3. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the Secretary shall not nominate any person, nor shall any person be chosen newly into the Magistracy which was not propounded in some General Court before, to be nominated the next election; and to that end it shall be lawful for each of the Towns aforesaid by their deputies to nominate any two whom they conceive fit to be put to election; and the Court may add so many more as they judge requisite.

4. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that no person be chosen Governor above once in two years, and that the Governor be always a member of some approved Congregation, and formerly of the Magistracy within this Jurisdiction; and that all the Magistrates, Freemen of this Commonwealth; and that no Magistrate or other public officer shall execute any part of his or their office before they are severally sworn, which shall be done in the face of the court if they be present, and in case of absence by some deputed for that purpose.

5. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that to the aforesaid Court of Election the several Towns shall send their deputies, and when the Elections are ended they may proceed in any public service as at other Courts. Also the other General Court in September shall be for making of laws, and any other public occasion, which concerns the good of the Commonwealth.

6. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the Governor shall, either by himself or by the Secretary, send out summons to the Constables of every Town for the calling of these two standing Courts one month at least before their several times: And also if the Governor and the greatest part of the Magistrates see cause upon any special occasion to call a General Court, they may give order to the Secretary so to do within fourteen days' warning: And if urgent necessity so required, upon a shorter notice, giving sufficient grounds for it to the deputies when they meet, or else be questioned for the same; And if the Governor and major part of Magistrates shall either neglect or refuse to call the two General standing Courts or either of them, as also at other times when the occasions of the Commonwealth require, the Freemen thereof, or the major part of them, shall petition to them so to do; if then it be either denied or neglected, the said Freemen, or the major part of them, shall have the power to give order to the Constables of the several Towns to do the same, and so may meet together, and choose to themselves a Moderator, and may proceed to do any act of power which any other General Courts may.

7. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that after there are warrants given out for any of the said General Courts, the Constable or Constables of each Town, shall forthwith give notice distinctly to the inhabitants of the same, in some public assembly or by going or sending from house to house, that at a place and time by him or them limited and set, they meet and assemble themselves together to elect and choose certain deputies to be at the General Court then following to agitate the affairs of the Commonwealth; which said deputies shall be chosen by all that are admitted Inhabitants in the several Towns and have taken the oath of fidelity; provided that none be chosen a Deputy for any General Court which is not a Freeman of this Commonwealth.

The aforesaid deputies shall be chosen in manner following: every person that is present and qualified as before expressed, shall bring the names of such, written in several papers, as they desire to have chosen for that employment, and these three or four, more or less, being the number agreed on to be chosen for that time, that have the greatest number of papers written for them shall be deputies for that Court; whose names shall be endorsed on the back side of the warrant and returned into the Court, with the Constable or Constables' hand unto the same.

8. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield shall have power, each Town, to send four of their Freemen as their deputies to every General Court; and Whatsoever other Town shall be hereafter added to this Jurisdiction, they shall send so many deputies as the Court shall judge meet, a reasonable proportion to the number of Freemen that are in the said Towns being to be attended therein; which deputies shall have the power of the whole Town to give their votes and allowance to all such laws and orders as may be for the public good, and unto which the said Towns are to be bound.

9. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the deputies thus chosen shall have power and liberty to appoint a time and a place of meeting together before any General Court, to advise and consult of all such things as may concern the good of the public, as also to examine their own Elections, whether according to the order, and if they or the greatest part of them find any election to be illegal they may seclude such for present from their meeting, and return the same and their reasons to the Court; and if it be proved true, the Court may fine the party or parties so intruding, and the Town, if they see cause, and give out a warrant to go to a new election in a legal way, either in part or in whole. Also the said deputies shall have power to fine any that shall be disorderly at their meetings, or for not coming in due time or place according to appointment; and they may return the said fines into the Court if it be refused to be paid, and the Treasurer to take notice of it, and to escheat or levy the same as he does other fines.

10. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that every General Court, except such as through neglect of the Governor and the greatest part of the Magistrates the Freemen themselves do call, shall consist of the Governor, or some one chosen to moderate the Court, and four other Magistrates at least, with the major part of the deputies of the several Towns legally chosen; and in case the Freemen, or major part of them, through neglect or refusal of the Governor and major part of the Magistrates, shall call a Court, it shall consist of the major part of Freemen that are present or their deputies, with a Moderator chosen by them: In which said General Courts shall consist the supreme power of the Commonwealth, and they only shall have power to make laws or repeal them, to grant levies, to admit of Freemen, dispose of lands undisposed of, to several Towns or persons, and also shall have power to call either Court or Magistrate or any other person whatsoever into question for any misdemeanor, and may for just causes displace or deal otherwise according to the nature of the offense; and also may deal in any other matter that concerns the good of this Commonwealth, except election of Magistrates, which shall be done by the whole body of Freemen.

In which Court the Governor or Moderator shall have power to order the Court, to give liberty of speech, and silence unseasonable and disorderly speakings, to put all things to vote, and in case the vote be equal to have the casting voice. But none of these Courts shall be adjourned or dissolved without the consent of the major part of the Court.

11. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that when any General Court upon the occasions of the Commonwealth have agreed upon any sum, or sums of money to be levied upon the several Towns within this Jurisdiction, that a committee be chosen to set out and appoint what shall be the proportion of every Town to pay of the said levy, provided the committee be made up of an equal number out of each Town.

14th January 1639 the 11 Orders above said are voted.

The year recorded in the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut is 1638. The British calendar began their new year on March 25th and not January 1st as we celebrate the new year according to the Gregorian calendar. Great Britain adopted the use of the Gregorian calendar in 1751. Hence, eleven days were added to their calendar to align with the Gregorian dating system. Consequently, they were ten days behind the Gregorian calendar in 1639.

The Northwest Ordinance

July 13, 1787

An Ordinance for the government of the Territory of the United States northwest of the River Ohio.

Be it ordained by the United States in Congress assembled, That the said territory, for the purposes of temporary government, be one district, subject, however, to be divided into two districts, as future circumstances may, in the opinion of Congress, make it expedient. Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the estates, both of resident and nonresident proprietors in the said territory, dying intestate, shall descent to, and be distributed among their children, and the descendants of a deceased child, in equal parts; the descendants of a deceased child or grandchild to take the share of their deceased parent in equal parts among them: And where there shall be no children or descendants, then in equal parts to the next of kin in equal degree; and among collaterals, the children of a deceased brother or sister of the intestate shall have, in equal parts among them, their deceased parents' share; and there shall in no case be a distinction between kindred of the whole and half blood; saving, in all cases, to the widow of the intestate her third part of the real estate for life, and one third part of the personal estate; and this law relative to descents and dower, shall remain in full force until altered by the legislature of the district. And until the governor and judges shall adopt laws as hereinafter mentioned, estates in the said territory may be devised or bequeathed by wills in writing, signed and sealed by him or her in whom the estate may be (being of full age), and attested by three witnesses; and real estates may be conveyed by lease and release, or bargain and sale, signed, sealed and delivered by the person being of full age, in whom the estate may be, and attested by two witnesses, provided such wills be duly proved, and such conveyances be acknowledged, or the execution thereof duly proved, and be recorded within one year after proper magistrates, courts, and registers shall be appointed for that purpose; and personal property may be transferred by delivery; saving, however to the French and Canadian inhabitants, and other settlers of the Kaskaskies, St. Vincents and the neighboring villages who have heretofore professed themselves citizens of Virginia, their laws and customs now in force among them, relative to the descent and conveyance, of property.

Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That there shall be appointed from time to time by Congress, a governor, whose commission shall continue in force for the term of three years, unless sooner revoked by Congress; he shall reside in the district, and have a freehold estate therein in 1,000 acres of land, while in the exercise of his office.

There shall be appointed from time to time by Congress, a secretary, whose commission shall continue in force for four years unless sooner revoked; he shall reside in the district, and have a freehold estate therein in 500 acres of land, while in the exercise of his office. It shall be his duty to keep and preserve the acts and laws passed by the legislature, and the public records of the district, and the proceedings of the governor in his executive department, and transmit authentic copies of such acts and proceedings, every six months, to the Secretary of Congress: There shall also be appointed a court to consist of three judges, any two of whom to form a court, who shall have a common law jurisdiction, and reside in the district, and have each therein a freehold estate in 500 acres of land while in the exercise of their offices; and their commissions shall continue in force during good behavior.

The governor and judges, or a majority of them, shall adopt and publish in the district such laws of the original States, criminal and civil, as may be necessary and best suited to the circumstances of the district, and report them to Congress from time to time: which laws shall be in force in the district until the organization of the General Assembly therein, unless disapproved of by Congress; but afterwards the Legislature shall have authority to alter them as they shall think fit.

The governor, for the time being, shall be commander in chief of the militia, appoint and commission all officers in the same below the rank of general officers; all general officers shall be appointed and commissioned by Congress.

Previous to the organization of the general assembly, the governor shall appoint such magistrates and other civil officers in each county or township, as he shall find necessary for the preservation of the peace and good order in the same: After the general assembly shall be organized, the powers and duties of the magistrates and other civil officers shall be regulated and defined by the said assembly; but all magistrates and other civil officers not herein otherwise directed, shall during the continuance of this temporary government, be appointed by the governor.

For the prevention of crimes and injuries, the laws to be adopted or made shall have force in all parts of the district, and for the execution of process, criminal and civil, the governor shall make proper divisions thereof; and he shall proceed from time to time as circumstances may require, to lay out the parts of the district in whichthe Indian titles shall have been extinguished, into counties and townships, subject, however, to such alterations as may thereafter be made by the legislature.

So soon as there shall be five thousand free male inhabitants of full age in the district, upon giving proof thereof to the governor, they shall receive authority, with time and place, to elect a representative from their counties or townships to represent them in the general assembly: Provided, That, for every five hundred free male inhabitants, there shall be one representative, and so on progressively with the number of free male inhabitants shall the right of representation increase, until the number of representatives shall amount to twenty five; after which, the number and proportion of representatives shall be regulated by the legislature: Provided, That no person be eligible or qualified to act as a representative unless he shall have been a citizen of one of the United States three years, and be a resident in the district, or unless he shall have resided in the district three years; and, in either case, shall likewise hold in his own right, in fee simple, two hundred acres of land within the same; Provided, also, That a freehold in fifty acres of land in the district, having been a citizen of one of the states, and being resident in the district, or the like freehold and two years residence in the district, shall be necessary to qualify a man as an elector of a representative.

The representatives thus elected, shall serve for the term of two years; and, in case of the death of a representative, or removal from office, the governor shall issue a writ to the county or township for which he was a member, to elect another in his stead, to serve for the residue of the term.

The general assembly or legislature shall consist of the governor, legislative council, and a house of representatives. The Legislative Council shall consist of five members, to continue in office five years, unless sooner removed by Congress; any three of whom to be a quorum: and the members of the Council shall be nominated and appointed in the following manner, to wit: As soon as representatives shall be elected, the Governor shall appoint a time and place for them to meet together; and, when met, they shall nominate ten persons, residents in the district, and each possessed of a freehold in five hundred acres of land, and return their names to Congress; five of whom Congress shall appoint and commission to serve as aforesaid; and, whenever a vacancy shall happen in the council, by death or removal from office, the house of representatives shall nominate two persons, qualified as aforesaid, for each vacancy, and return their names to Congress; one of whom congress shall appoint and commission for the residue of the term. And every five years, four months at least before the expiration of the time of service of the members of council, the said house shall nominate ten persons, qualified as aforesaid, and return their names to Congress; five of whom Congress shall appoint and commission to serve as members of the council five years, unless sooner removed. And the governor, legislative council, and house of representatives, shall have authority to make laws in all cases, for the good government of the district, not repugnant to the principles and articles in this ordinance established and declared. And all bills, having passed by a majority in the house, and by a majority in the council, shall be referred to the governor for his assent; but no bill, or legislative act whatever, shall be of any force without his assent. The governor shall have power to convene, prorogue, and dissolve the general assembly, when, in his opinion, it shall be expedient.

The governor, judges, legislative council, secretary, and such other officers as Congress shall appoint in the district, shall take an oath or affirmation of fidelity and of office; the governor before the president of congress, and all other officers before the Governor. As soon as a legislature shall be formed in the district, the council and house assembled in one room, shall have authority, by joint ballot, to elect a delegate to Congress, who shall have a seat in Congress, with a right of debating but not voting during this temporary government.

And, for extending the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty, which form the basis whereon these republics, their laws and constitutions are erected; to fix and establish those principles as the basis of all laws, constitutions, and governments, which forever hereafter shall be formed in the said territory: to provide also for the establishment of States, and permanent government therein, and for their admission to a share in the federal councils on an equal footing with the original States, at as early periods as may be consistent with the general interest:

It is hereby ordained and declared by the authority aforesaid, That the following articles shall be considered as articles of compact between the original States and the people and States in the said territory and forever remain unalterable, unless by common consent, to wit:

Art. 1. No person, demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner, shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship or religious sentiments, in the said territory.

Art. 2. The inhabitants of the said territory shall always be entitled to the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus, and of the trial by jury; of a proportionate representation of the people in the legislature; and of judicial proceedings according to the course of the common law. All persons shall be bailable, unless for capital offenses, where the proof shall be evident or the presumption great. All fines shall be moderate; and no cruel or unusual punishments shall be inflicted. No man shall be deprived of his liberty or property, but by the judgment of his peers or the law of the land; and, should the public exigencies make it necessary, for the common preservation, to take any person's property, or to demand his particular services, full compensation shall be made for the same. And, in the just preservation of rights and property, it is understood and declared, that no law ought ever to be made, or have force in the said territory, that shall, in any manner whatever, interfere with or affect private contracts or engagements, bona fide, and without fraud, previously formed.

Art. 3. Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and, in their property, rights, and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws founded in justice and humanity, shall from time to time be made for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them.

Art. 4. The said territory, and the States which may be formed therein, shall forever remain a part of this Confederacy of the United States of America, subject to the Articles of Confederation, and to such alterations therein as shall be constitutionally made; and to all the acts and ordinances of the United States in Congress assembled, conformable thereto. The inhabitants and settlers in the said territory shall be subject to pay a part of the federal debts contracted or to be contracted, and a proportional part of the expenses of government, to be apportioned on them by Congress according to the same common rule and measure by which apportionments thereof shall be made on the other States; and the taxes for paying their proportion shall be laid and levied by the authority and direction of the legislatures of the district or districts, or new States, as in the original States, within the time agreed upon by the United States in Congress assembled. The legislatures of those districts or new States, shall never interfere with the primary disposal of the soil by the United States in Congress assembled, nor with any regulations Congress may find necessary for securing the title in such soil to the bona fide purchasers. No tax shall be imposed on lands the property of the United States; and, in no case, shall nonresident proprietors be taxed higher than residents. The navigable waters leading into the Mississippi and St. Lawrence, and the carrying places between the same, shall be common highways and forever free, as well to the inhabitants of the said territory as to the citizens of the United States, and those of any other States that may be admitted into the confederacy, without any tax, impost, or duty therefor.

Art. 5. There shall be formed in the said territory, not less than three nor more than five States; and the boundaries of the States, as soon as Virginia shall alter her act of cession, and consent to the same, shall become fixed and established as follows, to wit: The western State in the said territory, shall be bounded by the Mississippi, the Ohio, and Wabash Rivers; a direct line drawn from the Wabash and Post Vincents, due North, to the territorial line between the United States and Canada; and, by the said territorial line, to the Lake of the Woods and Mississippi. The middle State shall be bounded by the said direct line, the Wabash from Post Vincents to the Ohio, by the Ohio, by a direct line, drawn due north from the mouth of the Great Miami, to the said territorial line, and by the said territorial line. The eastern State shall be bounded by the last mentioned direct line, the Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the said territorial line: Provided, however, and it is further understood and declared, that the boundaries of these three States shall be subject so far to be altered, that, if Congress shall hereafter find it expedient, they shall have authority to form one or two States in that part of the said territory which lies north of an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan. And, whenever any of the said States shall have sixty thousand free inhabitants therein, such State shall be admitted, by its delegates, into the Congress of the United States, on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever, and shall be at liberty to form a permanent constitution and State government: Provided, the constitution and government so to be formed, shall be republican, and in conformity to the principles contained in these articles; and, so far as it can be consistent with the general interest of the confederacy, such admission shall be allowed at an earlier period, and when there may be a less number of free inhabitants in the State than sixty thousand.

Art. 6. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: Provided, always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid.

Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the resolutions of the 23rd of April, 1784, relative to the subject of this ordinance, be, and the same are hereby repealed and declared null and void.

Habeas Corpus Act - 1679

The English Parliament responded to the pressure of the citizens of Great Britain by adopting this act. Parliament responded to the abusive detention of persons without legal authority by passing into law the right of Habeas Corpus. Eventually, this critical piece of legislation was written into the United States Constitution.

Habeas Corpus Act 1679
An act for the better securing the liberty of the subject, and for
prevention of imprisonments beyond the seas.

WHEREAS great delays have been used by sheriffs, gaolers and other
officers, to whose custody, any of the King's subjects have been
committed for criminal or supposed criminal matters, in making returns
of writs of habeas corpus to them directed, by standing out an alias and
pluries habeas corpus, and sometimes more, and by other shifts to avoid
their yielding obedience to such writs, contrary to their duty and the
known laws of the land, whereby many of the King's subjects have been
and hereafter may be long detained in prison, in such cases where by law
they are bailable, to their great charges and vexation.

II. For the prevention whereof, and the more speedy relief of all
persons imprisoned for any such criminal or supposed criminal matters;

(2) be it enacted by the King's most excellent majesty, by and with the
advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in
this present parliament assembled, and by the authority thereof. That
whensoever any person or persons shall bring any habeas corpus directed
unto any sheriff or sheriffs, gaoler, minister or other person
whatsoever, for any person in his or their custody, and the said writ
shall be served upon the said officer, or left at the gaol or prison
with any of the under-officers, under-keepers or deputy of the said
officers or keepers, that the said officer or officers, his or their
under-officers, under-keepers or deputies, shall within three days after
the service thereof as aforesaid (unless the commitment aforesaid were
for treason or felony, plainly and specially expressed in the warrant of
commitment) upon payment or tender of the charges of bringing the said
prisoner, to be ascertained by the judge or court that awarded the same,
and endorsed upon the said writ, not exceeding twelve pence per mile,
and upon security given by his own bond to pay the charges of carrying
back the prisoner, if he shall be remanded by the court or judge to
which he shall be brought according to the true intent of this present
act, and that he will not make any escape by the way, make return of
such writ;

(3) and bring or cause to be brought the body of the party so
committed or restrained, unto or before the lord chancellor, or lord
keeper of the great seal of England for the time being, or the judges or
barons of the said court from which the said writ shall issue, or unto
and before such other person or persons before whom the said writ is
made returnable, according to the command thereof;

(4) and shall then likewise certify the true causes of his detainer or imprisonment,unless the commitment of the said party be in any place beyond the distance of twenty miles from the place or places where such court or person is or shall be residing; and if beyond the distance of twenty miles, and not above one hundred miles, then within the space of ten days, and if beyond the distance of one hundred miles, then within the space of twenty days, after such delivery aforesaid, and not longer.

III. And to the intent that no sheriff, gaoler or other officer may pretend ignorance of the import of such writ.

(2) be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all such writs shall be marked in this manner,Per statutum tricesimo primo Caroli secundi Regis, and shall be signed by the person that awards the same;

(3) and if any person or persons shall be or stand committed or detained
as aforesaid, for any crime, unless for felony or treason plainly expressed
in the warrant of commitment, in the vacation-time, and out of term,
it shall and may be lawful to and for the person or persons so committed
or detained (other than persons convict or in execution of legal process)
or any one on his or their behalf, to appeal or complain to the lord chancellor or lord keeper, or any one of his Majesty's justices, either of the one bench or of the other, or the barons of the exchequer of the degree of the coif;

(4) and the said lord chancellor, lord keeper, justices or barons or any
of them, upon view of the copy or copies of the warrant or warrants of
commitment and detainer, or otherwise upon oath made that such copy or
copies were denied to be given by such person or persons in whose
custody the prisoner or prisoners is or are detained, are hereby
authorized and required, upon request made in writing by such person or
persons, or any on his, her, or their behalf, attested and subscribed by
two witnesses who were present at the delivery of the same, to award and
grant an habeas corpus under the seal of such court whereof he shall
then be one of the judges,

(5) to be directed to the officer or officers in whose custody the party so committed or detained shall be, returnable immediate before the said lord chancellor or lord keeper or such justice, baron or any other justice or baron of the degree of the coif of any of the said courts;

(6) and upon service thereof as aforesaid, the officer or officers,
his or their under-officer or under-officers, under-keeper or under-keepers, or their deputy in whose custody the party is so committed or detained, shall within the times respectively before limited, bring such prisoner or prisoners before the said lord chancellor or lord keeper, or such justices, barons or one of them, before whom the said writ is made returnable, and in case of his absence before any other of them, with the return of such writ, and the true causes of the commitment and detainer;

(7) and thereupon within two days after the party shall be brought before them, the said lord chancellor or lord keeper, or such justice or baron before whom the prisoner shall be brought as aforesaid, shall discharge the said prisoner from his imprisonment, taking his or their recognizance, with one or more surety or sureties, in any sum according to their discretions, having regard to the quality of the prisoner and nature of the offense, for his or their appearance in the court of the King's bench the term following, or at the next assizes, sessions or general gaol-delivery of and for such county, city or place where the commitment was, or where the offense was committed, or in such other court where the said offense is properly cognizable, as the case shall require, and then shall certify the said writ with the return thereof, and the said recognizance or recognizances unto the said court where such appearance is to be made;

(8) unless it shall appear unto the said lord chancellor or lord keeper or justice or justices, or baron or barons, that the party so committed is detained upon a legal process, order or warrant, out of some court that hath jurisdiction of criminal matters, or by some warrant signed and sealed with the hand and seal of any of the said justices or barons, or some justice or justices of the peace, for such matters or offenses for the which by the law the prisoner is not bailable.

The English Bill of Rights 1689

An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling
the Succession of the Crown

Whereas the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons assembled at
Westminster, lawfully, fully and freely representing all the estates of
the people of this realm, did upon the thirteenth day of February in the
year of our Lord one thousand six hundred eighty-eight [old style date]
present unto their Majesties, then called and known by the names and
style of William and Mary, prince and princess of Orange, being present
in their proper persons, a certain declaration in writing made by the
said Lords and Commons in the words following, viz.:

Whereas the late King James the Second, by the assistance of divers evil
counsellors, judges and ministers employed by him, did endeavour to
subvert and extirpate the Protestant religion and the laws and liberties
of this kingdom;

By assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and suspending of
laws and the execution of laws without consent of Parliament;

By committing and prosecuting divers worthy prelates for humbly
petitioning to be excused from concurring to the said assumed power;

By issuing and causing to be executed a commission under the great seal
for erecting a court called the Court of Commissioners for
Ecclesiastical Causes;

By levying money for and to the use of the Crown by pretence of
prerogative for other time and in other manner than the same was granted
by Parliament;

By raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of
peace without consent of Parliament, and quartering soldiers contrary to

By causing several good subjects being Protestants to be disarmed at the
same time when papists were both armed and employed contrary to law;

By violating the freedom of election of members to serve in Parliament;

By prosecutions in the Court of King's Bench for matters and causes
cognizable only in Parliament, and by divers other arbitrary and illegal

And whereas of late years partial corrupt and unqualified persons have
been returned and served on juries in trials, and particularly divers
jurors in trials for high treason which were not freeholders;

And excessive bail hath been required of persons committed in criminal
cases to elude the benefit of the laws made for the liberty of the

And excessive fines have been imposed;

And illegal and cruel punishments inflicted;

And several grants and promises made of fines and forfeitures before any
conviction or judgment against the persons upon whom the same were to be

All which are utterly and directly contrary to the known laws and
statutes and freedom of this realm;

And whereas the said late King James the Second having abdicated the
government and the throne being thereby vacant, his Highness the prince
of Orange (whom it hath pleased Almighty God to make the glorious
instrument of delivering this kingdom from popery and arbitrary power)
did (by the advice of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and divers
principal persons of the Commons) cause letters to be written to the
Lords Spiritual and Temporal being Protestants, and other letters to the
several counties, cities, universities, boroughs and cinque ports, for
the choosing of such persons to represent them as were of right to be
sent to Parliament, to meet and sit at Westminster upon the two and
twentieth day of January in this year one thousand six hundred eighty
and eight [old style date], in order to such an establishment as that
their religion, laws and liberties might not again be in danger of being
subverted, upon which letters elections having been accordingly made;

And thereupon the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons,
pursuant to their respective letters and elections, being now assembled
in a full and free representative of this nation, taking into their most
serious consideration the best means for attaining the ends aforesaid,
do in the first place (as their ancestors in like case have usually
done) for the vindicating and asserting their ancient rights and
liberties declare:

That the pretended power of suspending the laws or the execution of laws
by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal;

That the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of
laws by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late,
is illegal;

That the commission for erecting the late Court of Commissioners for
Ecclesiastical Causes, and all other commissions and courts of like
nature, are illegal and pernicious;

That levying money for or to the use of the Crown by pretence of
prerogative, without grant of Parliament, for longer time, or in other
manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal;

That it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and all
commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal;

That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time
of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law;

That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence
suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law;

That election of members of Parliament ought to be free;

That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament
ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of

That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines
imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted;

That jurors ought to be duly impanelled and returned, and jurors which
pass upon men in trials for high treason ought to be freeholders;

That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular
persons before conviction are illegal and void;

And that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending,
strengthening and preserving of the laws, Parliaments ought to be held

And they do claim, demand and insist upon all and singular the premises
as their undoubted rights and liberties, and that no declarations,
judgments, doings or proceedings to the prejudice of the people in any
of the said premises ought in any wise to be drawn hereafter into
consequence or example; to which demand of their rights they are
particularly encouraged by the declaration of his Highness the prince of
Orange as being the only means for obtaining a full redress and remedy

Having therefore an entire confidence that his said Highness the prince
of Orange will perfect the deliverance so far advanced by him, and will
still preserve them from the violation of their rights which they have
here asserted, and from all other attempts upon their religion, rights
and liberties, the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons
assembled at Westminster do resolve that William and Mary, prince and
princess of Orange, be and be declared king and queen of England, France
and Ireland and the dominions thereunto belonging, to hold the crown and
royal dignity of the said kingdoms and dominions to them, the said
prince and princess, during their lives and the life of the survivor to
them, and that the sole and full exercise of the regal power be only in
and executed by the said prince of Orange in the names of the said
prince and princess during their joint lives, and after their deceases
the said crown and royal dignity of the same kingdoms and dominions to
be to the heirs of the body of the said princess, and for default of
such issue to the Princess Anne of Denmark and the heirs of her body,
and for default of such issue to the heirs of the body of the said
prince of Orange. And the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons do
pray the said prince and princess to accept the same accordingly.

And that the oaths hereafter mentioned be taken by all persons of whom
the oaths have allegiance and supremacy might be required by law,
instead of them; and that the said oaths of allegiance and supremacy be

"I, A.B., do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and
bear true allegiance to their Majesties King William and Queen Mary. So
help me God."

"I, A.B., do swear that I do from my heart abhor, detest and abjure as
impious and heretical this damnable doctrine and position, that princes
excommunicated or deprived by the Pope or any authority of the see of
Rome may be deposed or murdered by their subjects or any other
whatsoever. And I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate,
state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power,
superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual,
within this realm. So help me God."

Upon which their said Majesties did accept the crown and royal dignity
of the kingdoms of England, France and Ireland, and the dominions
thereunto belonging, according to the resolution and desire of the said
Lords and Commons contained in the said declaration.

And thereupon their Majesties were pleased that the said Lords Spiritual
and Temporal and Commons, being the two Houses of Parliament, should
continue to sit, and with their Majesties' royal concurrence make
effectual provision for the settlement of the religion, laws and
liberties of this kingdom, so that the same for the future might not be
in danger again of being subverted, to which the said Lords Spiritual
and Temporal and Commons did agree, and proceed to act accordingly.

Now in pursuance of the premises the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal
and Commons in Parliament assembled, for the ratifying, confirming and
establishing the said declaration and the articles, clauses, matters and
things therein contained by the force of law made in due form by
authority of Parliament, do pray that it may be declared and enacted
that all and singular the rights and liberties asserted and claimed in
the said declaration are the true, ancient and indubitable rights and
liberties of the people of this kingdom, and so shall be esteemed,
allowed, adjudged, deemed and taken to be; and that all and every the
particulars aforesaid shall be firmly and strictly holden and observed
as they are expressed in the said declaration, and all officers and
ministers whatsoever shall serve their Majesties and their successors
according to the same in all time to come.

And the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons, seriously considering how it hath pleased Almighty God in his marvellous providence and merciful goodness to this nation to provide and preserve their said Majesties' royal persons most happily to reign over us upon the throne of their ancestors, for which they render unto him from the bottom of their hearts their humblest thanks and praises, do truly, firmly, assuredly and in the sincerity of their hearts think, and do hereby recognize, acknowledge and declare, that King James the Second having abdicated the government, and their Majesties having accepted the crown and royal dignity as aforesaid, their said Majesties did become, were, are and of right ought to be by the laws of this realm our sovereign liege lord and lady, king and queen of England, France and Ireland and the dominions thereunto belonging, in and to whose princely persons the royal state, crown and dignity of the said realms with all honours, styles, titles, regalities, prerogatives, powers, jurisdictions and authorities to the same belonging and appertaining are most fully, rightfully and entirely invested and incorporated, united and annexed. And for preventing all questions and divisions in this realm by reason of any pretended titles to the crown, and for preserving a certainty in the succession thereof, in and upon which the unity, peace, tranquility and safety of this nation doth under God wholly consist and depend, the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons do beseech their Majesties that it may be enacted, established and declared, that the crown and regal government of the said kingdoms and dominions, with all and singular the premises thereunto belonging and appertaining, shall be and continue to their said Majesties and the survivor of them during their lives and the life of the survivor of them, and that the entire, perfect and full exercise of the regal power and government be only in and executed by his Majesty in the names of both their Majesties during their joint lives; and after their deceases the said crown and premises shall be and remain to the heirs of the body of her Majesty, and for default of such issue to her Royal Highness the Princess Anne of Denmark and the heirs of the body of his said Majesty; and thereunto the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons do in the name of all the people aforesaid most humbly and faithfully submit themselves, their heirs and posterities for ever, and do faithfully promise that they will stand to, maintain and defend their said Majesties, and also the limitation and succession of the crown herein specified and contained, to the utmost of their powers with their lives and estates against all persons whatsoever that shall attempt anything to the contrary.

And whereas it hath been found by experience that it is inconsistent
with the safety and welfare of this Protestant kingdom to be governed by
a popish prince, or by any king or queen marrying a papist, the said
Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons do further pray that it may be
enacted, that all and every person and persons that is, are or shall be
reconciled to or shall hold communion with the see or Church of Rome, or
shall profess the popish religion, or shall marry a papist, shall be
excluded and be for ever incapable to inherit, possess or enjoy the
crown and government of this realm and Ireland and the dominions
thereunto belonging or any part of the same, or to have, use or exercise
any regal power, authority or jurisdiction within the same; and in all
and every such case or cases the people of these realms shall be and are
hereby absolved of their allegiance; and the said crown and government
shall from time to time descend to and be enjoyed by such person or
persons being Protestants as should have inherited and enjoyed the same
in case the said person or persons so reconciled, holding communion or
professing or marrying as aforesaid were naturally dead; and that every
king and queen of this realm who at any time hereafter shall come to and
succeed in the imperial crown of this kingdom shall on the first day of
the meeting of the first Parliament next after his or her coming to the
crown, sitting in his or her throne in the House of Peers in the
presence of the Lords and Commons therein assembled, or at his or her
coronation before such person or persons who shall administer the
coronation oath to him or her at the time of his or her taking the said
oath (which shall first happen), make, subscribe and audibly repeat the
declaration mentioned in the statute made in the thirtieth year of the
reign of King Charles the Second entitled, _An Act for the more
effectual preserving the king's person and government by disabling
papists from sitting in either House of Parliament._ But if it shall
happen that such king or queen upon his or her succession to the crown
of this realm shall be under the age of twelve years, then every such
king or queen shall make, subscribe and audibly repeat the same
declaration at his or her coronation or the first day of the meeting of
the first Parliament as aforesaid which shall first happen after such
king or queen shall have attained the said age of twelve years.

All which their Majesties are contented and pleased shall be declared, enacted and established by authority of this present Parliament, and shall stand, remain and be the law of this realm for ever; and the same are by their said Majesties, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons in Parliament assembled and by the authority of the same, declared, enacted and established accordingly.

II. And be it further declared and enacted by the authority aforesaid,
that from and after this present session of Parliament no dispensation
by _non obstante_ of or to any statute or any part thereof shall be
allowed, but that the same shall be held void and of no effect, except a
dispensation be allowed of in such statute, and except in such cases as
shall be specially provided for by one or more bill or bills to be
passed during this present session of Parliament.

III. Provided that no charter or grant or pardon granted before the
three and twentieth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand
six hundred eighty-nine shall be any ways impeached or invalidated by
this Act, but that the same shall be and remain of the same force and
effect in law and no other than as if this Act had never been made.

The Charlotte Town Resolves

MAY 31, 1775

Charlotte Town, Mecklenburg County, May 31.
This Day the Committee met, and passed the following


Whereas by an Address presented to his Majesty by both
Houses of Parliament in February last, the American Colonies
are declared to be in a State of actual Rebelion, we conceive
that all Laws and Commissions confirmed by, or derived from the
Authority of the King or Parliament, are annulled and vacated,
and the former civil Constitution of these Colinies for the
present wholly suspended. To provide in some Degree for the
Exigencies of the County in the present alarming Period, we
deem it proper and necessary to pass the following Resolves,

1. That all Commissions, civil and military, heretofore
granted by the Crown, to be exercised in these Colonies, are
null and void, and the Constitution of each particular Colony
wholly suspended.

2. That the Provincial Congress of each Province, under
the Direction of the Great Continental Congress, is invested
with all legislative and executive Powers within their
respective Provinces; and that no other Legislative or
Executive does or can exist, at this time, in any of these

3. As all former Laws are now suspended in this Province,
and the Congress have not yet provided others, we judge it
necessary, for the better Preservation of good Order, to form
certain Rules and Regulations for the internal Government of
this County, until Laws shall be provided for us by the

4. That the Inhabitants of this County do meet on a
certain Day appointed by this Committee, and having formed
themselves into nine Companies, to wit, eight for the County,
and one for the Town of Charlotte, do choose a Colonel and
other military Officers, who shall hold and exercise their
several Powers by Virtue of this Choice, and independent of
Great-Britain, and former Constitution of this Province.

5. That for the better Preservation of the Peace, and
Administration of Justice, each of these Companies do choose
from their own Body two discreet Freeholders, who shall be
impowered each by himself, and singly, to decide and determine
all Matters of Controversy arising within the said Company
under the Sum of Twenty Shillings, and jointly and together all
Controversies under the Sum of Forty Shillings, yet so as their
Decisions may admit of Appeals to the Convention of the Select
Men of the whole County; and also, that any one of these shall
have Power to examine, and commit to Confinement, Persons
accused of Petit Larceny.

6. That those two Select Men, thus chosen, do, jointly
and together, choose from the Body of their particular Company
two Persons, properly qualified to serve as Constables, who may
assist them in the Execution of their Office.

7. That upon the Complaint of any Person to either of
these Select Men, he do issue his Warrant, directed to the
Constable, commanding him to bring the Aggressor before him or
them to answer the said Complaint.

8. That these eighteen Select Men, thus appointed, do
meet every third Tuesday in January, April, July, and October,
at the Court-House, in Charlotte, to hear and determine all
Matters of Controversy for Sums exceeding Forty Shillings;
also Appeals: And in Cases of Felony, to commit the Person or
Persons convicted thereof to close Confinement, until the
Provincial Congress shall provide and establish Laws and Modes
of Proceeding in all such Cases.

9. That these Eighteen Select Men, thus convened, do
choose a Clerk to record the Transactions of said Convention;
and that the said Clerk, upon the Application of any Person or
Persons aggrieved, do issue his Warrant to one of the
Constables, to summon and warn said Offender to appear before
the Convention at their next sittinbg, to answer the aforesaid

10. That any Person making Complaint upon Oath to the
Clerk, or any Member of the Convention, that he has Reason to
suspect that any Person or Persons indebted to him in a Sum
above Forty Shillings, do intend clandestinely to withdraw from
the County without paying such Debt; the Clerk, or such Member,
shall issue his Warrant to the Constable, commanding him to
take the said Person or Persons into safe Custody, until the
next sitting of the Convention.

11. That when a Debtor for a Sum below Forty Shillings
shall abscond and leave the County, the Warrant granted as
aforesaid shall extend to any Goods or Chattels of the said
Debtor as may be found, and such Goods or Chattels be seized
and held in Custody by the Constable for the Space of Thirty
Days; in which Term if the Debtor fails to return and discharge
the Debt, the Constable shall return the Warrant to one of the
Select Men of the Company where the Goods and Chattels are
found, who shall issue Orders to the Constable to sell such a
Part of the said Goods as shall amount to the Sum due; that
when the Debt exceeds Forty Shillings, the Return shall be made
to the Convention, who shall issue the Orders for Sale.

12. That all Receivers and Collectors of Quitrents, Public
and County Taxes, do pay the same into the Hands of the
Chairman of this Committee, to be by them disbursed as the
public Exigencies may require. And that such Receivers and
Collectors proceed no farther in their Office until they be
approved of by, and have given to this Committee good and
sufficient Security for a faithful Return of such Monies when

13. That the Committee be accountable to the County for
the Application of all Monies received from such public

14. That all these Officers hold their Commissions during
the Pleasure of their respective Constituents.

15. That this Commission will sustain all Damages that may
ever hereafter accrue to all or any of these Officers thus
appointed, and thus acting, on Account of their Obedience and
Conformity to these Resolves.

16. That whatever Person shall hereafter receive a
Commission from the Crown, or attempt to exercise any such
Commission heretofore received, shall be deemed an Enemy to
his Country; and upon Information being made to the Captain of
the Company where he resides, the said Captain shall cause him
to be apprehended, and conveyed before the two Select Men of
the said Company, who, upon Proof of the Fact, shall commit him
the said Offender, into safe Custody, until the next setting of
the Convention, who shall deal with him as Prudence may direct.

17. That any Person refusing to yield Obedience to the
above Resolves shall be deemed equally criminal, and liable to
the same Punishments as the Offenders above last mentioned.

18. That these Resolves be in full Force and Virtue, until
Instructions from the General Congress of this Province,
regulating the Jurisprudence of this Province, shall provide
otherwise, or the legislative Body of Great-Britain resign its
unjust and arbitrary Pretentions with Respect to America.

19. That the several Militia Companies in this county do
provide themselves with proper Arms and Accoutrements, and hold
themselves in Readiness to execute the commands and Directions
of the Provincial Congress, and of this committee.

20. That this committee do appoint Colonel Thomas Polk, and
Doctor Joseph Kennedy, to purchase 300 lb. of Powder, 600 lb.
of Lead, and 1000 Flints, and deposit the same in some safe
Place, hereafter to be appointed by the committee.

Signed by Order of the Commitee.
EPH. BREVARD, Clerk of the Committee