THE DECLARATION OF RIGHTS OF THE STAMP ACT CONGRESS
OCTOBER 19, 1765 1
[On the motion of James Otis, on June 8, the
Massachusetts legislature sent a circular inviting all the colonies to
send delegates to a congress at New York in October, 1765. Representatives
from only nine colonies appeared. Virginia, New Hampshire, North Carolina,
and Georgia were not represented. The Congress agreed upon the Declaration
of Rights reproduced here and, further, petitioned the king and
Parliament. Because the credentials of certain delegates authorized them
merely to consult and not to take action, the petition was signed by the
members of only six colonies.]
Saturday, Oct. 19th, 1765, A.M. -- The congress
met according to adjournment, and resumed, etc., as yesterday; and upon
mature deliberation, agreed to the following declaration of the rights and
grievances of the colonists in America, which were ordered to be inserted.
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
The members of this congress, sincerely devoted, with
the warmest sentiments of affection and duty to His Majesty's person and
government, inviolably attached to the present happy establishment of the
Protestant succession, and with minds deeply impressed by a sense of the
present and impending misfortunes of the British colonies on this
continent; having considered as maturely as time would permit, the
circumstances of said colonies, esteem it our indispensable duty to make
the following declarations, of our humble opinions, respecting the most
essential rights and liberties of the colonists, and of the grievances
under which they labor, by reason of several late acts of Parliament.
1st. That His Majesty's subjects in these colonies owe
the same allegiance to the crown of Great Britain that is owing from his
subjects born within the realm, and all due subordination to that august
body, the Parliament of Great Britain.
2d. That His Majesty's liege subjects in these colonies
are entitled to all the inherent rights and privileges of his natural born
subjects within the kingdom of Great Britain.
3d. That it is inseparably essential to the freedom of a
people, and the undoubted rights of Englishmen, that no taxes should be
imposed on them, but with their own consent, given personally, or by their
4th. That the people of these colonies are not, and from
their local circumstances cannot be, represented in the House of Commons
in Great Britain.
5th. That the only representatives of the people of
these colonies are persons chosen therein, by themselves; and that no
taxes ever have been or can be constitutionally imposed on them but by
their respective legislatures.
6th. That all supplies to the crown, being free gifts of
the people, it is unreasonable and inconsistent with the principles and
spirit of the British constitution for the people of Great Britain to
grant to His Majesty the property of the colonists.
7th. That trial by jury is the inherent and invaluable
right of every British subject in these colonies.
8th. That the late act of Parliament entitled, "An
act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, and other duties in
the British colonies and plantations in America, etc.," by imposing
taxes on the inhabitants of these colonies, and the said act, and several
other acts, by extending the jurisdiction of the courts of admiralty
beyond its ancient limits, have a manifest tendency to subvert the rights
and liberties of the colonists.
9th. That the duties imposed by several late acts of
Parliament, from the peculiar circumstances of these colonies, will be
extremely burthensome and grievous, and, from the scarcity of specie, the
payment of them absolutely impracticable.
10th. That as the profits of the trade of these colonies
ultimately center in Great Britain, to pay for the manufactures which they
are obliged to take from thence, they eventually contribute very largely
to all supplies granted there to the crown.
11th. That the restrictions imposed by several late acts
of Parliament on the trade of these colonies will render them unable to
purchase the manufactures of Great Britain.
12th. That the increase, prosperity, and happiness of
these colonies depend on the full and free enjoyment of their rights and
liberties, and an intercourse, with Great Britain, mutually affectionate
13th. That it is the right of the British subjects in
these colonies to petition the king or either house of Parliament.
Lastly, That it is the indispensable duty of these
colonies to the best of sovereigns, to the mother-country, and to
themselves, to endeavor, by a loyal and dutiful address to His Majesty,
and humble application to both houses of Parliament, to procure the repeal
of the act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, of all clauses
of any other acts of Parliament whereby the jurisdiction of the admiralty
is extended as aforesaid, and of the other late acts for the restriction
of the American commerce.
1. Journal of
the First Congress of the American Colonies, in Opposition to the
Tyrannical Acts of the British Parliament. Held at New York, October
7, 1765 (New York, 1845), pp. 27-29.
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