Representatives of twelve of the thirteen colonies met in Philadelphia in September and October of 1774 to develop a common response to the Coercive (Intolerable) Acts. Play close attention to the grievances that the Congress cites. Also note the tone of the document and the relationship it outlines between the American colonies and Great Britain.
Whereas, since the close of the [French and Indian] war, the British Parliament, claiming a power to bind the people of America, by statute in all cases whatsoever, hath, in some acts expressly imposed taxes on them, and in others, under various pretenses, but in fact for the purpose of raising a revenue, hath imposed rates and duties payable in these colonies, established a board of commissioners with unconstitutional powers, and extended the jurisdiction of the courts of admiralty, not only for collecting the said duties, but for the trial of causes merely arising within the body of a county.... [and] colonists may be transported to England, and there be tried upon accusations....
And whereas, in the last session of Parliament, three statutes were made [The Boston Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act and the Administration of Justice Act] and another statute was then made [The Quebec Act].... All of which statutes are impolitic, unjust and cruel, as well as unconstitutional, and most dangerous and destructive of American rights.
And whereas [colonial] Assemblies have been frequently resolved, contrary to the rights of the people, when they attempt to deliberate on their grievances; and their dutiful, humble, loyal and reasonable petitions to the court for redress, have been repeatedly treated with contempt...
The good people of the several colonies... justly alarmed at these arbitrary proceedings of Parliament and administration, have... appointed deputies [to this Congress] in order to obtain such establishment, as that their religion, laws and liberties, may not be subverted:
Whereupon the deputies [to this Congress]... in a full and free representation of these Colonies, taking into their most serious consideration, the best means of attaining the aforesaid, do, as Englishmen, their ancestors in like cases have usually done, for asserting and vindicating their rights and liberties, declare,
That the inhabitants of the English Colonies in North America, by the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English Constitution, have the following rights:
1. That there are entitled to life, liberty and property, and they have never ceded to any sovereign power whatever, a right to dispose of either without their consent.
2. That our ancestors, who first settled these colonies, were at the time of their emigration from their mother country, entitled to all the rights, liberties and immunities of free and natural-born subjects, within the realm of England.
3. That by such emigration they by no means forfeited, surrendered or lost any of those rights... and their descendants now are, entitled to the exercise and enjoyment of all of them.
4. That the foundation of English liberty, and of all free government, is a right in the people to participate in their legislative council: and as the English colonists are not represented, and from their local circumstances cannot be properly represented in the British Parliament, they are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several [Colonial] Legislatures.... But, from the necessity of the case, and a regard to the mutual interest of both countries, we cheerfully consent to the operation of such acts of British Parliament, as are bona fide, restrained to the regulation of our external commerce, for the purposes of securing the commercial advantages of the whole empire to the mother country.... excluding every idea of taxation, internal or external, for the purposes of raising a revenue on the subjects of America, without their consent.
5. That the respective colonies are entitled to the common law of England, and more especially to the great... privilege of being tried by their peers, according to... that law....
8. That they have the right peaceably to assemble, consider of their grievances, and petition the King and that all prosecutions... and comments for the same, are illegal....
9. That the keeping of a
standing army in these colonies, in times of peace, without the consent
of the legislature of that colony, is against the law....
All... in behalf of themselves and their constituents, do claim, demand, and insist on, [each of the aforesaid] as their indubitable rights and liberties, which cannot be legally taken away from them, altered or abridged by any power whatever, without their consent....
In the course of our inquiry, we find many infringements and violations of the foregoing rights, which, from an ardent desire that harmony and mutual intercourse of affection and interest may be restored... that the repeal of them is essentially necessary in order to restore harmony between Great Britain and the American colonies....
To these grievous acts and measures Americans cannot submit, but in
hopes that their fellow subjects in Great Britain will, on a revision of
them, restore us to a state in which both countries found happiness and
prosperity, we have for the present only resolved to pursue the following
measures: First, To enter into a non-importation, non-consumption, and
non-exportation agreement or association; Second, To prepare an address
to the people of Great Britain... Third, To prepare a loyal address to
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