« PreviousContinue »
to take a full and comprehensive view of the relative strength and confidence with which each amendment was adopted, and of analogous plans and propositions, out of which a choice was made.
Should the constitution, which has been recommended for the ratification of the people, be approved, this volume, it is conceived, will be a valuable historical memorial, embracing all the official documents connected with the Convention, and furnishing the best interpretation and exposition of the spirit of the constitution, by explaining the views and intentions of its framers.
To those who look upon the Convention and the events connected with it, as ordinary occurrences, and who do not reflect on the nature and extent of this revolution, and its remote bearing on the future character and history of the state, a volume of seven hundred pages may appear disproportionate to the subject to which it relates. But the compilers are among those who believe, that the last year will form a memorable period in the annals of the state; and that events which may now seem unimportant, from our familiarity with them, will hereafter assume a different character, and be sought for with avidity. Circumstantial records wbich now pass unheeded, may in time become valuable to the jurist, in deciding upon the construction of the constitution ; to the historian, in delineating the character of the age; or at least to the antiquary, by enriching his library, without the labour of searching for documents, scattered amidst the rubbish and ruins of years.
These are some of the considerations, by which the reporters have been actuated in incurring the labour and expense of compiling and publishing this volume. No pains have been spared to render it in all respects as complete as possible, and to present it in a dress, and style of execution, which may recommend it to public patronage.
Albany, 15th November, 1821.
State of New-York.
In Convention of the Representatives of the State of New-York.
KINGSTON, 2012 APRIL, 1777.
AND WEEKBAs the congress of the colony of New York did, on the thirty-first day of May, now last pasi, resolve as follows, viz:
“ WHEREAS, the present government of his colony, by congress Its object term and committees, was instituted while the former government, under porary. the crown of Great Britain, existed in full force ;-and was eslablished for the sole purpose of opposing the usurpation of the British parliament, and was intended to expire on a reconciliation with Great-Britain, which it was then app: ehended would soon take place, but is now considered as remote and sinceriain.
" AND WHEREAS many and great inconveniences attend the said fus inconvenienmode of government by congress and commitees, as of necessity, in cts. many instances, legislative, judicial and executive powers bave been vested therein, especially since the dissolution of the former govern. ment, by the abdication of the la’e governor, and the exclusion of this colony from the protection of the king of Great-Britain.
“ AND WHEREAS the continental congress did resolve as followeth, co wit :
“Whentas bis Britannic Majesty, in conjunction with the lords and Recital, and commons of Great-Bri'ain, hias by a late act of parliament, excluded the inhabitants of these united colonies, from the protection of his crown : And whereas no answers whatever, to the humble petition of the colonies for redress of grievances and reconcilia :on with Great. Britain, has been, or is likely to be given, but the whole force of that kingdom, aided by foreign mercenaries, is to be exeried for the destruction of te good people of these colonies : And whereas it appears absolutely irreconcileable to reason and good conscience, for che people of these colonies, now to take the oaths and affirmations necessary for the support of any government under the crown of Great Britain ; and it is necessary ihat the exercise of every kind of authority under the said crown, should be totally suppressed, and all the powers of government exerted under the authority of the peo. ple of the colonies, for the preservation of internal peace, virtue, and good order, as well as for the defence of our lives, liberties, and properties against the hostile invasions and cruel depredations of our enemies : Therefore,
Resolation of "RESOLVED, That it be recommended to the respective assemblies Congress, re.
and conventions of the united colonies, where no government suffi. commending cient to the exigencies of their affairs has been hitherto established, the institution to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the represenof new govern
tatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of
their constituents in particular, and America in general.” Powers of the “And WIEREAS doubts have arisen, whether this congress are Provincial Congress inade invested with sufficient power and authority to deliberate and deterquate. mine on so important a subject as the necessity of erecting and con
stituting a new form of government and internal police, to the ex. clusion of all foreign jurisdiction, dominion, and control whatever. And whereas it appertains of righit solely to the people of this co
lony to determine the said doubts : Therefore, Recommenda- • RESOLVEN, That it be recommended to the electors in the sev. Lion to elect de- eral counties in this colony, by election in the manner and form puiee willende prescribed for the election of the present congress, either to authorquate powers.
ize (in addition to the power vested in this congress) their present deputies, or others in the stead of their present deputies, or either of them, to take into consideration the necessity and propriety of in. stituting such new government as in and by the said resolution of the continental congress is described and recommended : And, if the majority of the counties, by their deputies in provincial congress, shall be of opinion that such new government ought to be insituted and established, then to institute and establish such a government as they shall deem best calculated to secure the rights, liberties, and happiness of the good people of this colony; and to continue in force until a future peace wiili Gilla Britain shall render the same
unnecessary. And Time and place of meeting.
“ REBolven, That the said election in the several counties ought to be had on such day, and at such place or places, as, by the committee of each county respectively shall be determined. And it is recommended to the said committees, to fix such early days for the said elections, as that all the deputies to be elected have sufficient time to repair to the city of New.York by the second Monday in July next; on which day all the said deputies ought punctually to give their aliendance.
" AND Wieneas the object of the aforegoing resolution is of the utmost importance to the good people of ihis colony :
“ RESOLVED, That it be, and it is hereby earnestly recommended to the committees, freeholders, and other electors, in the different
counties in this colony, diligently to carry the same into execution." Appointment of Ann Wheutas the good people of the said colony, in pursuance this Convention of the said resolution, and reposing special trust and confidence in
the members of this convention, have appointed, authorized, and
Asp wlkneas the delegates of the United American States, in
pasi, solemnly publish and declare in the words following, viz:
O'le people to dissolve the political bands wbich have connected them
ated equal; Ibat they are endowed by their Creator with certain un. alienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the go. verned ; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the riglic of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new governmeni, laying its foundation on sych princi
ples, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that governments long established should not be change ed for light and transient causes ; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are suf. ferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usur. pations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colo. nies; and such now is the necessitywhich constrains them to alter their former system of government. The history of the present king of Great Britain, is a bistory of repeated injuries and usurpa'ions, all having in direct object the establishment of an absoluie iyranny over these states. To prove this let facts be submitted to a candid world,
"He has refused his assent to Jaws the most who lesome and ne. Grievancer. cessary for the public good.
“He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation, till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly ne. glected to attend to them.
“He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature ; a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
"He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, un. comfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his
“ He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.
“ He has refused for a long time after such dissolutions to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large, for their exercise ; the state remaining in the mean time, exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
“ He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these states ; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners ; refusing to pass others, to encoarage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
“He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
“ He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
“ He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
“He has kep: among us, in times of peace, standing armies, with. out the consent of our legislatures.
“ He has affected to render the military independent of, and supe. rior to the civil power.
“ He has combined with others, to subject us to a jurisdiction, foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation.
“For quartering large bodies of troops among us ;
“ For protecting them by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders they should commit on the inhabitants of these states :
“ For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world :
"For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighbouring provisce, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging
its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instra. ment for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies :
“For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments :
“ For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power, to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
“ He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection, and waging war against us.
“He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
“He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercena. ries, to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun, with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civi. lized nation.
“ He has constrained our fellow citizens, taken captive on the bigh Seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
“He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endea. voured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfire is an undistinguished de. struction fall ages, sexes, and conditions.
" In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for redress, in the most bumble terms: our repealed petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince whose character is thu marked, by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
“Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time, of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and set. tlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magna. nimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kin. dred, to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably inter. rupt our connexion, and correspondence. They, too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind-enemies in war; in
peace, friends. Declaration of
“We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of Ame. fodependence. rica, in general congress assembled, appealing to the supreme judge
of the world, for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly pub. lish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right onight to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are ab. solved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all politie cal connexion between them and the state of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved ; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes,
and our sacred honour." Approvell.
AND WIEREAS this convention, having taken this declaration into their most serious consideration, did, on the ninth day of Jily last past, unanimously resolve that i he reasons assigned by the conti. nental congress, for declaring the united colonies free and indepen. dent slales, are cogent, and conclusive ; and that, wyle we lament the cruel necessiry which has rendered that measure unavoidable, we approve the same, and will, at the risk of our lives and fortunes,
join with the other colonies in supporung it. flower of the
By virtue of which several acis, declarations, and proceedings, thention. mentioned and contained in the afore-recited resolves or resolutions of