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Full text of "The Rhode Island declaration of independence"

63 

R4LS 



The Rhode Island 
Declaration of Independence 

May 4, 



LIPPITT 



THE 

RHODE ISLAND 
Declaration of Independence 



CHARLES WARREN LIPPITT 

IN 
GOVERNOR OF RHODE ISLAND 



1895-1897 



AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BEFORE THE 

Rhode Island Citizen s Historical Association 

ON THE I30TH ANNIVERSARY 

OF THE 

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE BY THE COLONY OF RHODE ISLAND 

MAY 4, 1906 



THE RHODE ISLAND DECLARATION 
OF INDEPENDENCE. 



This celebration to-day is undoubtedly the first formal 
public recognition of the anniversary of the Rhode Island 
Declaration of Independence. In the northern part of 
the State the efforts of a single citizen, James S. Slater, 
have annually for several years directed attention to this 
important occasion. The National Society of Colonial 
Dames of America in Rhode Island, and the Bristol 
Chapter of the Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the 
American Revolution, have also held their annual meet 
ings on May fourth, for a number of years, in honor of 
this anniversary. 

The adjustment of this question is not between our 
selves and our enemies. On the contrary, we now en 
gage in friendly examination of official records to ascer 
tain which colony was foremost in such formal action 
against the encroachments of parliament as to constitute 
separation from Great Britain. If any other colony 
substantiates, by unquestionable facts, claims prior to 
ours, however sad it may be to yield our position, let us 
remember it is relinquished to our friends and fellow 
countrymen. 

It is our duty to determine if the honor of the first 
colonial declaration of independence rightfully belongs 



to the people who occupied these Plantations in Revo 
lutionary times. We would indeed be recreant descend 
ants if we did not claim, substantiate, and perpetuate, 
the rightful honor of our ancestors. 

May 31, 1775, a committee of the county of Mecklen 
burg met at Charlottestown and passed a preamble and 
twenty resolutions. They are entirely concerned with 
the affairs of that county and do not declare themselves 
in favor of independence, or renounce allegiance to Great 
Britain. They represent a commendable effort to main 
tain order and preserve the peace of their community 
during the interval between the failure of the representa 
tives of Great Britain to conduct the government and 
satisfactory arrangements for some other acceptable 
authority to accomplish that object, as the following 
resolution declares: 

" XVIII. That these Resolves be in full force and vir 
tue, until instructions from the Provincial Congress, 
regulating the jurisprudence of the province, shall pro 
vide otherwise, or the legislative body of Great Britain, 
resign its unjust and arbitrary pretentious with respect 
to America. 7 

The resolutions of a county do not control a state, and 
the provisions arranged for Mecklenburg applied only to 
that county, and were not binding on any other. 

After these resolutions had been adopted, published 
in several newspapers, and copies forwarded to the au 
thorities in Great Britain, by some unfortunate circum 
stances they were entirely overlooked and forgotten. 
It was not until Mr. Peter Force, the compiler of the 



" American Archives/ announced in the National In 
telligencer of Dec. 18, 1838, over sixty-three years later, 
his discovery in the "New York Journal/ June 29, 1775, 
and subsequently in the "Massachusetts Spy/ of July 12, 
of that year, partial copies of these resolutions, that they 
again came to light. A copy of the entire series was sub 
sequently found in the year 1847 in a copy of the 
" South Carolina Gazette/ June 13, 1775. Later Mr. 
Bancroft, Minister of the United States at London, found 
an entire series of the Mecklenburg Resolutions of May 
31st, 1775, in the British State Paper Office, as published 
in the South Carolina Gazette of June 13, 1775. The 
copy of this paper was forwarded to the British Secretary 
of State by the colonial governor of Georgia in 1775, that 
"His Lordship might see the extraordinary resolves of 
the people of Charlottestown in Mecklenburg County." 

On the 30th of June, 1775, Governor Martin of North 
Carolina also forwarded a copy to the British Secretary 
of State. 

On Friday, April 30, 1819, a little short of 44 years 
after these events in Mecklenburg County, the "Raleigh 
Register and North Carolina Gazette" published an article 
calling attention to a Declaration of Independence made 
by citizens of Mecklenburg County in North Carolina on 
May 20, 1775, eleven days before the meeting of May 31st 
referred to above. This document claims that the cit 
izens of Mecklenburg, which then included the present 
county of Gabarrus, inspired by the occurrences in 
Massachusetts, organized themselves to protect their in 
alienable rights and liberties. On May 19, 1775, a meet- 



ing was held composed of two delegates from each mili 
tary company in the county. They were vested with 
unlimited powers. The news of the battle of Lexington 
arrived on the day the meeting assembled. After a 
long discussion of the objects for which they had con 
vened, a series of resolutions was unanimously enacted. 
The declaration, which has attracted so much attention, 
is contained in the second and third of these resolutions, 
as follows : 

U 2. Resolved, That we the citizens of Mecklenburg 
County, do hereby dissolve the political bonds which 
have connected us to the Mother Country, and hereby 
absolve ourselves from our allegiance to the British 
Crown, and abjure all political connection, contract or 
association with that Nation, who have wantonly tramp 
led on our rights and liberties and inhumanely shed the 
innocent blood of American patriots at Lexington." 

"3. Resolved, that we do hereby declare ourselves a 
free and independent People, are and of right ought to 
be, a sovereign and self governing Association, under the 
control of no power other than that of our God and the 
General Government of the Congress; to the mainte 
nance of which independence, we solemnly pledge to each 
other our mutual co-operation, our lives, our fortunes, and 
our most sacred honor. " 

These resolutions from time to time have attracted 
considerable attention. No contemporary evidence of 
their authenticity has yet been discovered. The action 
of the supposed meeting of May 19th and 20th, 1775, 
rests upon the memory of certain citizens of Mecklen 
burg County who put them in writing, after the long 



period of time referred to, from their recollection of the 
proceedings of the meeting. 

Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were alive in 
1819, at the time the Mecklenburg Resolutions of May 
20, 1775, were published in the " Raleigh Register and 
North Carolina Gazette/ Their intimate acquaintance 
with the circumstances attending the formation of the 
American nation in 1775 developed a keen interest in 
the subject. A copy of the Mecklenburg Resolutions 
was forwarded to Mr. Jefferson by Mr. Adams in a letter 
dated June 22, 1819. Mr. Jefferson replied in a com 
munication to Mr. Adams dated July 9, 1819, in which 
he refers -to many of the actors and the events of the time 
when these supposed resolutions first appeared, and dis 
credits their authenticity from his general knowledge of 
all the circumstances. Mr. Adams in two letters to the 
Rev. William Bentley, one dated the 15th of July and 
one the 21st of August, 1819, unqualifiedly joined in the 
position taken by Mr. Jefferson. In the last of the two 
letters, Mr. Adams states: 

"4. Is it possible that such resolutions should have 
escaped the vigilant attention of the scrutinizing, pene 
trating minds of Patrick Henry, R. H. Lee, Mr. Jefferson, 
Mr. Gadsden, Mr. Rutledge, Mr. Jay, Mr. Sherman, Mr. 
Samuel Adams, Hand credo. I can not believe that they 
were known to one member of Congress on the fourth of 
July, 1776." 

It has also been possible to secure two letters of Mr. 
John Adams, not heretofore published, expressing in 
most emphatic terms his condemnation of the Mecklen- 



10 

burg Resolutions of May 20, 1775 (Exhibit A). It is 
evident that neither Mr. Jefferson nor Mr. Adams had 
any faith in the correctness of the Mecklenburg Declara 
tion of Independence of May 20, 1775. 

Four of the reputed signers of the Mecklenburg De 
claration of May 20, 1775, were Thomas Polk, John Mc- 
Ivnitt Alexander, John Pfifer, and Waightstill Avery. 
These gentlemen, with two others, represented the county 
of Mecklenburg in the Third Provincial Congress of 
North Carolina, that met on the 21st of August, 1775. 
On the 23rd of August, a committee of the Congress 
reported a so-called test, to substantiate the loyalty and 
patriotism of the members of the Congress, which reads 
as follows: 

"We, the subscribers, PROFESSING OUR ALLEGIANCE 

TO THE KlNG, AND ACKNOWLEDGING THE CONSTITUTIONAL 

EXECUTIVE POWER OF GOVERNMENT, do solemnly pro 
fess, testify, and declare that we do absolutely believe 
that neither the Parliament of Great Britain nor any 
member or constituent branch thereof have a right to 
impose taxes upon these Colonies to regulate the internal 
policy thereof: and that all attempts by fraud or force 
to establish and exercise such claims and powers are 
violations of the peace and security of the people, and 
ought to be resisted to the utmost," etc. 

"In testimony whereof we have hereto set our hands, 
this 23rd of August, 1775." 

Gentlemen of courage, honor and integrity, willing to 
risk their lives and their property in the cause of American 
liberty, could not on the 20th of May, 1775, have pledged 



11 

themselves to the so-called Mecklenburg Declaration of 
Independence, and a little over three months afterward 
in the presence of the delegates of North Carolina as 
sembled in the Third Provincial Congress have willingly 
subscribed to the above test, which was signed by the 
four delegates from Mecklenburg County, as well as by 
all of the other members of said Congress. 

In addition the delegates from Mecklenburg County 
joined with the other members of the Congress in unani 
mously adopting an address to the Inhabitants of Great 
Britain, pledging themselves in most vehement language 
as loyal subjects of His Majesty, King George the Third. 
(Exhibit D.) It is equally impossible to believe that 
these gentlemen could have joined in enacting the sup 
posed Mecklenburg Resolutions of May 20, 1775, and on 
September 8, 1775, have formally bound themselves by 
the unusually explicit protestations and statements of the 
address to the Inhabitants of Great Britain. Such 
action is entirely irreconcilable with the approval of the 
supposed Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence of 
May 20, 1775, but is not incompatible with the authentic 
Mecklenburg Resolutions of May 31, 1775. 

The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence has 
been most completely and critically examined and dis 
cussed in an article in the North American Review for 
April, 1874, by Mr. James C. Welling, that abundantly 
proves from the official records of North Carolina, and 
other equally authoritative sources, that the supposed 
Mecklenburg meeting of May 20, 1775, and the resolu 
tions claimed to have been adopted thereat, never oc- 



12 

curred, but that these circumstances were confused with 
the authentic resolutions passed at the meeting actually 
held on May 31 , 1775. 

James Fiske, in the American Revolution, character 
ises the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence as a 
"legend." Frothingham, after a careful investigation, 
states that he has not met with any contemporary refer 
ence in manuscript or in print to prove the existence of 
the convention or the public meeting which is said to have 
passed these resolutions. 

Some recent claims in behalf of the "Mecklenburg meet 
ing of May 20th, 1775, have been carefully investigated 
by A. S. Salley, Jr., in a pamphlet published in Columbia, 
South Carolina, 1905, conclusively proving that the 
supposed declaration of independence of May 20th, 1775, 
has been undoubtedly mistaken for the authentic Meck 
lenburg resolutions on May 31st, 1775, which are not 
claimed to be a declaration of independence. 

Notwithstanding the active warfare existing during 
the greater part of 1775, the colonists still entertained a 
strong feeling of dependence upon the mother country. 
It was apparently expected that after a short conflict 
Great Britain would recognize their rights and enable 
them to continue as English colonists, in the enjoyment 
of liberties they were not willing to relinquish. Ul 
timate independence had not been favorably considered 
by the mass of the colonists. The fear that it might be 
attempted induced several colonial governments to pro 
test against such action. 

Pennsylvania was one of the most conservative of the 



13 

colonies. Her people were unable to contemplate final 
separation from Great Britain. To prevent such a pos 
sibility, her General Assembly, November 9, 1775, in 
structed the State delegation in Continental Congress, as 
follows : 

" Though the oppressive Measures of the British Parlia 
ment and Administration have compelled us to resist 
their violence by Force of Arms, yet we strictly enjoin 
you that you in behalf of this Colony dissent from, and 
utterly reject, any Propositions, should such be made, 
that may cause or lead to, a Separation from our Mother 
Country or a change of the Form of this Government. 
You are directed to make Report of your Proceedings to 
this House. 7 . 

The sentiment of Pennsylvania naturally reflected 
itself in New Jersey, and the Provincial Congress and 
Council of Safety of the Colony, on the 28th of Novem 
ber, 1775, took the following action in relation to inde 
pendence. 

"The House took into consideration the inquiry had 
yesterday, touching the Petitions presented to this 
House; and it appearing from the Petitioners of the City 
of Burlington, who were called in and heard, that they 
signed the same from reports that some men affected in 
dependency, and being alarmed at such sentiments, they 
were induced to present the Petition, hoping that the 
House would discourage such sentiments by their Reso 
lutions; whereupon, the several Petitions being read the 
second time, 

"1. Resolved, That reports of Independency, in the 
apprehension of this House, are groundless. 



14 

"2. Resolved, That it be recommended to the Dele 
gates of the Colony to use their utmost endeavors for the 
obtaining a redress of American grievances, and for restor 
ing the union between the Colonies and Great Britain, 
upon constitutional principles. 

"3. Resolved, That the said Delegates be directed not 
to give their assent to, but utterly to reject any proposi 
tions, if such should be made, that may separate this 
Colony from the Mother Country, or change the form of 
Government thereof. 7 

Maryland entertained similar conservative sentiments. 
The convention of the state assembled December 7, 1775. 
Undoubtedly reflecting the opinion of a considerable 
majority of her people, it placed upon its journal a de 
claration 

" That the people of this province, strongly attached 
to the English constitution, and truly sensible of the 
blessings they have derived from it, warmly impressed 
with sentiments of affection for, and loyalty to, the 
house of Hanover, connected with the British nation by 
the ties of blood and interest, and being thoroughly con 
vinced, that to be free subjects of the king of Great Bri 
tain, with all its consequences, is to be the freest members 
of any civil society in the known world, never did, nor 
do entertain any views or desires of independency. 

"That as they consider their union with the mother 
country upon terms that may insure to them a permanent 
freedom, as their highest felicity, so would they view the 
fatal necessity of separating from her, as a misfortune 
next to the greatest that can befal them." (Exhibit B.) 

Intimately associated with these commonwealths by 
proximity and business connections, New York took a 



15 

similar position. Her provincial congress on the 14th, 
of December, 1775, "Resolved, That it is the opinion of 
this Congress that none of the people of this colony have 
withdrawn their allegiance from His Majesty. That the 
turbulent state of this colony arises not from a desire to 
become independent of the British Crown, but solely 
from the oppressive Acts of the British Parliament, de 
vised for enslaving His Majesty s liege subjects in the 
American colonies, and the hostile attempts of the minis 
try to carry these Acts into execution." 

Delaware joined her neighbors in the opposition to 
independence and instructed its delegates in the Conti 
nental Congress to promote reconciliation. (Exhibit C.) 
North Carolina took a stronger position. Her third 
Provincial Congress unanimously adopted, September 
8th, 1775, an " Address to the Inhabitants of the British 
Empire" containing the following clauses: 

"We have been told that Independance is our object; 
that we seek to shake off connection with the parent 
State. Cruel Suggestion! Do not all our professions, 
all our actions, uniformly contradict this?" 

"We again declare, and we invoke that Almighty 
Being who searches the Recesses of the human heart, 
and knows our most secret Intentions, that it is our most 
earnest wish and prayer to be restored with the other 
United Colonies, to the State in which we and they were 
placed before the year 1763, disposed to glance over any 
Regulations which Britain had made previous to this, 
and which seem to be injurious and oppressive to these 
Colonies, hoping that at some future day she will be- 



16 

nignly interpose and remove from us every cause of com 
plaint/ 7 (Exhibit D.) 

Even in New England such ideas prevailed. Ports 
mouth, New Hampshire, December 25, 1775, instructed 
its delegates in the State Provincial Congress against the 
formation of a local government, fearing that such action 
would provide their enemies "with arguments to per 
suade the good people that we are aiming at independ 
ence, which we decidedly disavow." 

The necessity of providing for those portions of the 
country not in actual control of the English forms of 
government to maintain public order forced action of a 
temporary character in some of the colonies. January 5, 
1776, the Provincial Congress of New Hampshire en 
acted a form of government to continue during the pres 
ent unhappy and unnatural contest with Great Britain. 
The preamble makes the usual recital, and closes as 
follows : 

" Protesting and Declaring that we never sought 
to throw off our Dependency upon Great Britain, but 
felt ourselves happy under her Protection, while we 
could enjoy our Constitutional Rights and Privileges. 
And that we shall rejoice if such a reconciliation between 
us and our Parent State can be effected as shall be ap 
proved by the Continental Congress, in whose prudence 
and Wisdom we confide. 7 

Seven colonies, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, 
New Jersey, and New York, compactly situated in the 
centre of the country, North Carolina in the south and 
New Hampshire in the north, all protested against in- 



17 

dependence. A majority of the thirteen colonies, there 
fore, as late as March, 1776, stood opposed to any separa 
tion from the mother country. 

The fourth Provincial Congress of North Carolina met 
at Halifax, April 4th, 1776, and was in session until 
May 14th, 1776. A committee reported to the congress, 
on April 12th, a suitable preamble reciting the prevailing 
conditions between the colonies and the mother country, 
and one resolution, as follows : 

"Resolved: That the delegates for this Colony in the 
Continental Congress be empowered to concur with the 
delegates of the other Colonies in declaring independence, 
and forming foreign alliances, reserving to this Colony 
the sole and exclusive right of forming a constitution 
arid laws for this Colony, and of appointing delegates 
from time to time (under, the direction of a general re 
presentation thereof), to meet the delegates of the other 
Colonies for such purposes as shall be hereafter pointed 
out." (Exhibit E.) 

After consideration the report Was unanimously adopted 
by the congress. The delegates attending the congress 
represented about three-fourths of the colony. The res 
olution confines itself entirely to instructions to the del 
egates of North Carolina in the Continental Congress. 
It does not decree that on and after its passage the col 
ony of North Carolina shall be free and independent of 
the Kingdom of Great Britain. The legal and actual 
condition of North Carolina was precisely the same after 
this resolution was passed as before it was offered. As 
an indication of the patriotic sentiments and intentions 



18 

of a portion of the people of North Carolina, it is un 
questionably commendable. It can not in any way be 
regarded as severing the connection, between England 
and the colony of North Carolina. 

The North Carolina resolution does not stand in the 
same degree with the action of the Rhode Island General 
Assembly in September, 1765, over ten years prior to 
the passage of said resolution. At that time, the Rhode 
Island Assembly passed a series of resolutions as follows : 

RHODE ISLAND RESOLVES ON THE STAMP ACT, 
SEPTEMBER 16, 1765. 

" This Assembly, taking into the most serious considera 
tion, an act passed by the Parliament of Great Britain, 
at their last session, for levying stamp duties, and other 
internal duties, in North America, do resolve, 

"1. That the first adventurers, settlers of this, His 
Majesty s colony and dominion of Rhode Island and 
Providence Plantations, brought with them and trans 
mitted to their posterity, and all other His Majesty s 
subjects since inhabiting this, His Majesty s colony, all 
the privileges and immunities that have at any time been 
held, enjoyed, and possessed by the people of Great 
Britain. 

"2. That by a charter granted by King Charles the 
Second, in the fifteenth year of his reign, the colony, afore 
said, is declared and entitled to all the privileges and 
immunities of natural born subjects, to all intents and 
purposes, as if they had been abiding and born within 
the realm of England. 

" 3. That His Majesty s liege people of this colony have 
enjoyed the right of being governed by their own Assem- 



19 

bly, in the article of taxes and internal police; and that 
the same hath never been forfeited, or any other way 
yielded up; but hath been constantly recognized by the 
King and people of Britain. 

"4. That, therefore, the General Assembly of this col 
ony have, in their representative capacity, the only exclu 
sive right to levy taxes and imposts upon the inhabitants 
of this colony; and that every attempt to vest such 
power in any person or persons, whatever, other than the 
General Assembly, aforesaid, is unconstitutional, and 
hath a manifest tendency to destroy the liberties of the 
people of this colony. 

U 5. That His Majesty s liege people, the inhabitants of 
this colony, are not bound to yield obedience to any law 
or ordinance designed to impose any internal taxation 
whatsoever upon them, other than the laws or ordinances 
of the General Assembly, aforesaid. 

"6. That all the officers in this colony, appointed by 
the authority thereof, be, and they are hereby, directed 
to proceed in the execution of their respective offices in 
the same manner as usual; and that this Assembly will 
indemnify and save harmless all the said officers on account 
of their conduct, agreeably to this resolution."- (Rhode 
Island Colonial Records, 1757-1769, v. 6, pp. 451-452.) 

These Rhode Island resolutions were characterized by 
Judge Staples as " little short of a declaration of entire 
independence of the British government." 

Prof. Gammell states: "These resolutions, taken as a 
whole, are nearly equivalent to a declaration of inde 
pendence." 

The action of the Rhode Island legislature, taking 
effect from and after its passage, placed the colony in 



20 

a position, in defense of the liberties and rights of its 
people, entirely different from the action of North Caro 
lina. Rhode Island enacted a law not dependent upon 
the action of any future body, not postponing the time in 
which its action should become effective to a distant 
period, or permitting it to rest upon the contingency of 
the action of another legislative body; but then and 
there, in plain, unmistakable language, the colony refused 
to abide by the act of the English Parliament, denied the 
right of that body to impose such taxes, and authorized 
its official representatives to ignore all laws in relation to 
the vexed question of the Stamp Act except those en 
acted by the Rhode Island legislature. It also assumed, 
without equivocation, the antagonistic and, so to speak, 
rebellious position of protecting its own officers against 
the power of England in consequence of any action they 
might take in executing the mandates of the colony of 
Rhode Island. 

May 1st, 1776, the province of Massachusetts Bay, 
passed 

" AN ACT FOR ESTABLISHING THE STILE OF COMMISSIONS WHICH 
SHALL HEREAFTER BE ISSUED, AND FOR ALTERING THE STILE 
OF WRITS, PROCESSES, AND ALL LAW PROCEEDINGS, WITHIN 
THIS COLONY ; AND FOR DIRECTING HOW RECOGNIZANC(E)S 
TO THE USE OF THIS GOVERNMENT, SHALL, FOR THE FUTURE, 
BE TAKEN AND PROSECUTED." (Exhibit F.) 

The preamble recites the grievances of the colony 
against the King of Great Britain. 

The bill provides that certain changes shall be made in 
the legal papers named, as follows: 



21 

First, That the name and style of the King of Great 
Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc., 
shall be changed to the name and style of the Govern 
ment and People of the Massachusetts Bay in New Eng 
land. 

Second, That they shall be dated in the year of the 
Christian era, and shall not bear the date of the year of 
the reign of any king or queen of Great Britain. 

Third, That the money recovered and levied upon 
recognizances or any suits upon recognizances, shall be 
paid into the treasury of the colony for the use and bene 
fit thereof. 

Fourth, Three sections of the act, the 2d, 5th, and 6th, 
particularly specify that they shall not take effect until 
June first, 1776, thirty days after the bill was passed. 

At the close of the second section, which is perhaps the 
most important of all in the act, the following limita 
tions of the enactments therein contained are incorpor 
ated : 

First, "Until some recommendation of the American 
congress," 

Second, "Or act, order, or resolve, of a general Ameri 
can legislature," 

Third, "Or of the legislature of this colony," 
shall be made and passed, otherwise directing and pre 
scribing. 

Certain commissions, civil and military, previously 
issued, are continued in force by section 3, until Sep 
tember 19, 1776, and section 4 provides that said com- 



22 

missions may be made conformable to the style and 
date of this act. 

The bill does not repeal any of the acts of allegiance 
then existing in the statutes of Massachusetts, nor in 
any way abrogate the provisions regarding allegiance in 
the charter of Massachusetts, the fundamental law of 
the colony. The limitation clauses clearly anticipate 
that the act was not to be permanent and that it almost 
inevitably would be superseded by acts of legislative 
bodies then in existence or likely to be formed. Noth 
ing it contains justifies the claim that by the passage of 
this act the colony of Massachusetts had severed her 
connection with Great Britain to take effect on and after 
its passage, or on June first, 1776. 

This act was under consideration by the Massachusetts 
general legislature for the greater part of the month of 
April, and was discussed, amended, and otherwise con 
sidered by a conference of the two houses before it was 
passed on May first, 1776. 

Contemporary evidence clearly indicates that this bill 
was not considered even in spirit to formally renounce 
all allegiance. 

John Winthrop, a prominent member of the Massachu 
setts Provincial Congress, in a letter, dated Watertown, 
April 1776, to John Adams, states: 

...... . "Our people are impatiently waiting for the 

Congress to declare off from Great Britain. If they 
should not do it pretty soon, I am not sure but this 
colony will do it for themselves. Pray, how would such 
a step be relished by the Congress? Would they ap- 



23 

prove of it? or would they think it too precipitate? 
Would it endanger the breaking the union of the colonies? 
These are very important questions, and I shall be ex 
tremely glad to know your sentiments upon them.". . . 

Mr. Adams replies as follows, on May 6th, 1776: 

. . . . "Our people, you say, are impatiently wait 
ing for the Congress to declare off from Great Britain. 
What my own sentiments are upon the question is not 
material. But others ask to what purpose should we 
declare off. Our privateers are at liberty, our trade is 
open, the colonies are sliding into new governments, a 
confederation may be formed; but why should we de 
clare we never will be reconciled to Great Britain again 
upon any terms whatsoever? 

"You ask how it could be relished by the Congress, if 
our colony should declare off. I am happy to hear that 
our colony is disusing a certain name in all commissions, 
acts, and law processes, and I should like very well if 
they would choose a governor, or at least ask leave of 
Congress to do it; but I can not advise them to make 
any public declarations separate from our sister col 
onies." . . 

On June first, 1776, when three sections of the act in 
question became a law, Dr. Winthrop replies to Mr. 
Adams, after treating of several other matters, as fol 
lows: 

"The style of commissions, law processes, etc., is altered 
by an act, and instead of George the Third, it is to be 
The Government and People of the Massachusetts 
Bay. " 



24 

The Boston newspapers naturally gave much space to 
the proceedings of the Massachusetts legislature and 
printed many acts in full, yet neither the New England 
Chronicle in either of its five editions for May, 1776, nor 
the Continental Journal of May 30th, 1776, the first num 
ber issued, makes any reference to this act of May first, 
1776. Each of these newspapers is on file in the Boston 
Athena3um. Neither of the four editions of the Boston 
Gazette for May, 1776, which was printed at Watertown, 
where the Massachusetts assembly was in session, makes 
any reference to this act. 

The colonial newspapers at that time did not deem the 
act of sufficient importance to print. An examination 
of the files of some prominent English newspapers of 
1776 indicates that it was not noticed in those publica 
tions. 

Bancroft states, "On the first day of May, 1776, Mas 
sachusetts expunged the regal style from all public pro 
ceedings, and substituted the name of her government 
and people." That was all the act accomplished. 

The sentiments of Rhode Island in relation to taxa 
tion and independence were much more decided than 
those of the other colonies. In 1732-33 the colony pe 
titioned the House of Commons against the Sugar Act, 
then pending before that body, and therein Rhode Island 
first proclaimed the principle that afterward became the 
war-cry of the Revolution: "No Taxation without Rep 
resentation." Her people unquestionably committed 
the first overt acts in connection with the Revolution. 
The attack upon the St. John in 1764, followed soon 



25 

after by the burning of the Maidstone s boat on the com 
mon at Newport, in 1765, and the capture and destruc 
tion in Newport Harbor in 1769 of the King s armed sloop 
Liberty, indicated the feeling of the people concerning 
the oppressive measures of Great Britain. The State was 
fortunate in her leaders. Governor Ward, years before 
the question of independence was generally discussed, 
had foreseen the probabilities, and as early as 1766, in 
writing to his son, said: " These colonies are destined to 
an early independence, and you will live to see my words 
verified." 

In the troubled times of the Stamp Act, Bancroft 
states : "The Rhode Island Governor stood alone among 
the governors in his refusal to take the oath to support 
the Stamp Act." 

Governor Ward had unusual influence with the people 
of the State, and his personal views undoubtedly contrib 
uted to Rhode Island s prominent position in colonial 
affairs. His rival in the politics of the State, Governor 
Stephen Hopkins, was equally clear in his anticipations 
of coming events. Without hesitation his opinions were 
freely expressed. 

In October, 1774, Colonel Paul Revere was in Phila 
delphia. During his visit he chanced to be in conversa 
tion with several of the congressional delegates at a time 
when Hopkins was present. The probability of England s 
repealing the obnoxious acts was the subject of discussion. 
Suddenly turning and facing the company, he said : 

" Gentlemen, those of you who indulge this opinion, I 
think, deceive yourselves. Powder and ball will decide 



26 

this question. The gun and bayonet alone will finish the 
contest in which we are engaged, and any of you who 
can not bring your mind to this mode of adjusting the 
question had better retire in time, as it will not, perhaps, 
be in your power after the first blood shall have been 
shed/ 

The Rhode Island Assembly met May 1st, 1776, at 
the State house on Benefit street, in Providence. On 
May fourth the act separating the colony from Great 
Britain was passed unanimously in the upper house, 
and with sixty members of the lower house present all 
but six voted in favor of the bill and it became a law. 

AN ACT REPEALING AN ACT, INTITLED " AN ACT FOR THE MORE, 
EFFECTUALLY FECURING TO HIS MAJEFTY THE ALLEGIANCE 
OF HIS SUBJECTS, IN THIS HIS COLONY AND DOMINION OF 
RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS;" AND 
ALTERING THE FORMS OF COMMIFFIONS, OF ALL WRITS AND 
PROCEFFES IN THE COURTS, AND OF THE OATHS PREFCRIBED 
BY LAW. (Exhibit H.) 

The preamble states in concise and pertinent language 
the cause of the colony against the king. Its first clause : 

" Whereas, in all states, existing by compact, protec 
tion and allegiance are reciprocal, the latter being due 
only in consequence of the former/ 

testifies to the world a fundamental principle of allegi 
ance and government. The remainder of the preamble 
charges George III with a total failure to protect, and 
with such positive acts of oppression that no other course 
is open to the colony except self-protection by force. 



27 

The first enactment logically follows and repeals al 
legiance in the colony and dominion of Rhode Island to 
the Kingdom of Great Britain. 

The second enactment follows with equal propriety. 
All legal forms heretofore in use, by which the people of 
the State indicated their dependence upon the sovereign 
of Great Britain, were forever swept away. The name 
of the king upon all public papers was abolished, and 
there was substituted, "The Governor and Company of 
the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence 
Plantations." 

From that time Rhode Island became a free and inde 
pendent State. 

Immediately upon the passage of the act it was printed 
on a suitable broadside, duly signed by the authority of 
the colony, and distributed. It was at once noticed in 
the local papers. The next morning the Providence 
Gazette forever removed from the head of its columns 
the arms of Great Britain and substituted therefor the 
arms of Rhode Island. The proclamation was forwarded 
to the assemblies of other colonies and was prominently 
noticed in newspapers of the day. 

The Boston Gazette of May 20, 1776, mentioned the 
act by title as having been passed. 

The Continental Journal of May 30, 1776, prints the 
Rhode Island act of May 4th in full. 

The New England Chronicle of May 23, 1776, prints the 
Rhode Island act of May 4th in full, giving it the im 
portant place of nearly all the first column of the first 
page. 



28 

The Remembrancer for 1776, a magazine published in 

r 

London and entitled an Impartial Repository of Public 
Events, prints the Rhode Island act of May 4, 1776, al 
most entire. 

The Rhode Island declaration was published in promi 
nent English papers. The London Chronicle for August 
3, 1776, printed the whole of the Rhode Island act, 
giving it nearly a column. It is indexed in the news 
paper: " Rhode Island, all Allegiance to the Crown of 
Britain Renounced by the General Assembly." 

The national Declaration of Independence of July 4, 
1776, was printed in the London Chronicle of August 17th, 
of the same year. 

The Rhode Island act was also printed in the following 
London papers: 

The Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, No. 
2249, August 5th, 1776. 

The Daily Advertiser, August 5th, 1776. 

The Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, August 5th, 
1776. 

The Morning Post and Daily Advertiser, August 6th, 
1776. 

No mention was found in any of these papers of the 
Massachusetts act of May first, 1776. 

Governor Cooke wrote to General Washington, on May 
6, 1776, as follows: "I also enclose a copy of an Act dis 
charging the inhabitants of this Colony from allegiance 
to the King of Great Britain, which was carried in the 
House of Deputies, after a debate, with but six dissen- 



29 

tient voices; there being upwards of sixty members 
present." 

Not only in the daily publications, but in many his 
tories recognized as authorities upon American affairs, 
the Rhode Island act is prominently noticed. 

E. Benjamin Andrews, in his History of the United 
States, says: "May 4 (1776), Rhode Island formally de 
clared her independence of Great Britain, by a solemn 
act, abjuring her allegiance to the British crown. . . . 
It constitutes Rhode Island as the oldest independent 
state in America." 

Bancroft, in his History of the United States, says: 
"The despondency and hesitation of the assembly of 
Pennsylvania was in marked contrast with the fortitude 
of Rhode Island, whose general assembly, on the fourth 
day of May (1776), passed an act, discharging the in 
habitants of that colony from allegiance to the king of 
Great Britain. . . . The overturn was complete ; the 
act was at once a declaration of independence, and an 
organization of a self-constituted republic." 

Bryant and Gay, History of the United States, after 
referring to the act of May fourth, 1776, and quoting 
largely from it, then states: "Thus the first colony to 
declare her absolute independence of the crown, was 
Rhode Island." 

Chief Justice Job Durfee states: "She was the first 
to enact and declare independence. In May, preceding 
the declaration of the fourth of July by the Continental 
Congress, the general assembly of this state repealed the 
act more effectually to secure allegiance to the king, and 



30 

enacted an oath of allegiance to the state, and required 
that all judicial processes should be in the name of the 
state, and no longer in His Majesty s name; whereby, 
Rhode Island, from that moment, became, and is at this 
day, the oldest sovereign and independent state in the 
western world. 77 

Green, History of Rhode Island: "The last colonial 
assembly of Rhode Island met on the first day of May 
(1776). On the fourth, two months before the congres 
sional declaration of independence, it solemnly renounced 
its allegiance to the British crown, no longer closing its 
session with God Save the King! but taking in its stead, 
as expressive of their new relations, God Save the United 
Colonies! " 

Mo wry, History of the United States: "The first state 
actually to declare herself independent of Great Britain 
was Rhode Island. This act was passed May 4, 1776." 

Smith, The Thirteen Colonies: "In this wise, in May, 
1776, the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, before 
any other colony declared their absolute independence of 
the British crown." 

Judge Staples, in Rhode Island in the Continental Con 
gress, referring to the act of May 4, 1776, states: " It is 
believed to be the earliest vote of the kind passed by any 
of the colonies. It severed the connection between Rhode 
Island and the British crown, and the English colony of 
Rhode Island became henceforth a sovereign state." 

These authorities unquestionably confer on Rhode 
Island priority in declaring independence. 

The Connecticut Assembly convened May 9, 1776, and 



31 

during the session passed an act repealing an act of 
this colony, entitled, "An Act Against High Treason." 
It was also enacted that all writs and processes in "law 
or equity shall issue in the name of the Governor and 
Company of the Colony of Connecticut, instead of his 
Majesty VName." . . . and "that no writ or process 
shall have or bear any date save the year of our Lord 
Christ only." The oaths of allegiance and supremacy 
were repealed and new forms of oaths in harmony with 
the above acts were prescribed. 

At a convention of the colony of Virginia on Wed 
nesday, May 15, 1776, a preamble and two resolutions 
were unanimously passed. The principal resolution is 
as follows : 

"Resolved unanimously, that the delegates appointed 
to represent this colony in General Congress, be instructed 
to propose to that respectable body to declare the United 
Colonies free and independent states, absolved from all 
allegiance to, or dependence upon, the crown or parlia 
ment of Great Britain ; and that they give the assent of 
this colony to such declaration, and to whatever measures 
may be thought proper and necessary by the Congress 
for forming foreign alliances,, and a confederation of the 
colonies at such time and in the manner as to them shall 
seem best: Provided, that the power of forming govern 
ment for, and the regulations of the internal concerns of 
each colony, be left to the respective colonial legislatures." 

In response to the advice of the Continental Congress, 
the colony of New Jersey on July 2, 1776, agreed upon a 
set of charter rights and the form of the constitution, 
which contained this clause : 



32 

" Provided always, and it is the true Intent and Mean 
ing of this Congress, That if a Reconciliation between 
Great Britain and these Colonies should take Place, and 
the latter be again taken under the Protection and Gov 
ernment of the Crown of Great Britain, this Charter shall 
be null and void, otherwise to remain firm and inviolable." 

After a diligent search in the published acts of the 
colonies of New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, 
South Carolina, and Georgia, no act in any way sepa 
rating these colonies from Great Britain has been dis 
covered. 

South Carolina, Feb. 13, 1777, established an oath of 
abjuration and allegiance to the state. 

The legislative body that enacted the Rhode Island 
Declaration of Independence was established by the 
charter of the colony granted in 1663 by King Charles 
the Second. It had been since then the duly recognized 
government of Rhode Island. It was not elected for a 
special purpose, but for the general government of the 
colony. It was not a provincial assemblage, created in 
the emergency caused by the failure of Great Britain s 
authorities to maintain order and before the formation 
of another staple government. It did not vehemently 
protest that it had no thought of independence and 
legislated only to cover the interval until the authority 
of Great Britain should be. restored. It did not disavow 
nor seek to explain its own acts tending toward independ 
ence. Rhode Island understood and appreciated her 
rights. She made no apologies. The period of dignified 
petition for the recognition of her liberties had passed. 



83 

Without hesitation or undue debate, with the courage of 
conviction and the determination to be free, the authority 
that had governed the colony for nearly one hundred and 
thirteen years forever terminated its allegiance to Great 
Britain. 

The act was in entire harmony with the past history 
of the colony. Its repeated overt acts against the 
authority of England, extending from 1764 to 1772, had 
placed it far in advance of the other colonies in the 
entirely unofficial popular uprisings against Great Brit 
ain. They were followed as a legitimate consequence 
by the first unofficial suggestion for a permanent Congress 
of the American colonies, published in the " Providence 
Gazette" for May 14, 1774: 

"It seems to be the universal opinion in America, that 
the Union of the Colonies is of the greatest Importance to 
their Security, and therefore ought to be pursued by 
every good Man in this Country. It is hoped that the 
Wisdom of this great People will ever be exerted to make 
the Union perpetual ; and for this Purpose it is proposed 
that there be an Assembly of the AMERICAN STATES, 
consisting of Deputies from the Representative Body in 
each Colony, to form a League and COVENANT for the 
Colonies to enter into, and fix the UNION upon a basis 
which may, by the Blessing of Heaven, be durable as the 
World, and lay a foundation for Freedom and Happiness 
in America to all future Ages." (Exhibit K.) 

The official acts of Rhode Island in some respects ante 
dated the irrepressible popular efforts of her people in 
behalf of liberty. As early as 1732-33 the colony, 
through its agent in London, officially petitioned and 



34 

protested against the passage of the Sugar Act by the 
English House of Commons. It proclaimed the then 
novel principle that the people of Rhode Island could not 
rightfully be taxed by the House of Commons, as they 
were not represented in that body. This official claim 
of the Revolutionary contention "No Taxation without 
Representation " was emphatically rejected. 

Rhode Island in her Stamp Act Resolutions, Sept. 
16, 1765, was the only colony to direct her colonial offi 
cers to defy the power of Great Britain and to execute 
the laws of the colony. 

The first official call for the Continental Congress was 
voted at the Providence town meeting held May 17, 
1774. 

"That the deputies of this town be requested to use 
their influence at the approaching session of the General 
Assembly of this colony, for permitting a congress, as 
soon as may be, of the representatives of the General 
Assemblies of the several colonies and provinces of North 
America, for establishing the firmest union; and adopt 
ing such measures as to them shall appear the most 
effectual to answer that important purpose; and to 
agree upon proper methods for executing the same." 

Rhode Island was the first to elect congressional dele 
gates. On June 15, 1774, less than a month after the 
passage of the Providence resolutions, her General Assem 
bly elected Stephen Hopkins and Samuel Ward to repre 
sent the colony in the Continental Congress. 

April 25, 1775, the Rhode Island Assembly authorized 
an army of observation of fifteen hundred men. 



35 

June 15th, 1775, the Rhode Island legislature authorized 
the first Colonial Navy, and placed it under the command 
of Commodore Abraham Whipple. The day he received 
his commission, after a sharp action, he defeated the 
tender of the Rose frigate, drove her upon the Conani- 
cut shore, and captured her stores and outfit. This was 
the first action between an official vessel, duly commis 
sioned by any of the colonies, and any vessel in the ser 
vice of the King. To Commodore Whipple, therefore, 
belongs the honor of firing the first cannon upon the seas 
in the defense of American liberty against any portion 
of the King s navy. 

Rhode Island s energetic action on the sea in her own 
behalf was followed, August 26, 1775, by the formal in 
structions of her General Assembly to the colony s Con 
gressional delegates 

"to use their whole influence, at the ensuing Congress, 
for building at the Continental expense, a fleet of suffi 
cient force, for the protection of these colonies, and for 
employing them in such manner and places as will most 
effectually annoy our enemies, and contribute to the 
common defense of these colonies" 

Bancroft states, after citing these circumstances, 
"This was the origin of our navy." 

In May, 1775, it became evident that Governor Wanton 
was not in harmony with the people of the colony. He 
had just been elected for the seventh time. In various 
ways he had exhibited decided opposition to the cause 
of colonial defense, and had even refused to sign the 
commissions for the officers of the new army. 



36 

"By all which he hath manifested his intentions to 
defeat the good people of these colonies in their present 
glorious struggle to transmit inviolate to posterity, those 
sacred rights they have received from their ancestors. " 

With the decision and courage that usually marked 
the action of the colony he was disqualified by the As 
sembly. Nov. 7, 1775, Governor Wanton, having con 
tinued his opposition to the cause of liberty, -was for 
merly deposed, the office of Governor declared vacant, 
and the Deputy-Governor, Nicholas Cooke, elected to fill 
the vacancy. 

By such successive steps Rhode Island approached 
independence, and the colony became, by enactment, May 
4th, 1776, a free and independent republic. Her people, 
inspired with ardent patriotism, hesitated at no sacrifice 
to maintain their position. 

On sea as on land, the armed forces of the colony strove 
valorously for the colonial cause. In privateering, the 
State was particularly successful, and secured large 
profits from these enterprises. The activity and success 
of the State s private armed vessels gained wide repu 
tation, and caused Providence to be known as the " Hor 
net s Nest." 

At Trenton, in 1777, a considerable portion of Washing 
ton s army consisted of Col. Hitchcock s brigade, formed 
in greater part of three Rhode Island regiments, Hitch 
cock s, Varnum s, and Lippitt s. These men participated 
in the action at Assunpink Creek, joined in the fateful 
march the following night, and fought at Princeton in 
the morning. After the contest, and on the field of bat- 



37 

tie, Gen. Washington, taking Col. Hitchcock by the hand, 
expressed high admiration of his conduct and that of 
his troops and desired him to convey his thanks to the 
brigade. 

At Springfield, in 1780, a portion of Col. AngelFs 
regiment, consisting of 170 men, in checking for forty 
minutes the advance of 1,500 of the enemy, rendered sig 
nal service to the Continental cause. Washington highly 
complimented this regiment in general orders, and wrote 
to Gov. Greene, as follows: 

"The gallant behavior of Col. AngelFs, on the 23d 
instant at Springfield, reflects the highest honor upon the 
officers and men. They disputed an important pass 
with so obstinate a bravery that they lost upwards of 
forty in killed, wounded, and missing, before they gave up 
their ground to a vast superiority of force." . . . He 
adds, in conclusion: "The ready and ample manner in 
which your State has complied with the requisitions of 
the Committee of co-operation, both as to men and sup 
plies, entitle her to the thanks of the public, and affords 
the highest satisfaction to your Excellency s most obe 
dient servant George Washington." 

Rhode Island was equally marked for her financial 
support of the patriot cause, as stated by the late Judge 
Horatio Rogers. 

"In 1783, the Continental Loan Office accounts show 
that only four states had contributed more to the pub 
lic treasury than Rhode Island, diminutive as she was, 
and in proportion to population none could compare 
with her. With less than a quarter of the inhabitants 



38 

of Maryland she held half again as much of the public 
debt. Though only one-eighth as populous as Virginia, 
she was a public creditor in more than double the amount 
of that great state; and while North Carolina and South 
Carolina each possessed more than three times the num 
ber of inhabitants of Rhode Island, yet this state held 
upwards of six times more of the public debt than the 
former, and upwards of seven times more than the latter." 

In proclaiming the action of Rhode Island and her peo 
ple in the conflict for American liberty, and in submitting 
evidence of their services in the Continental cause, it is 
never to be forgotten that each of the thirteen colonies 
was inspired with similar patriotism and an equal deter 
mination to achieve Independence. Each furnished its 
quota of ennobling sacrifices and heroic deeds. In grate 
ful recognition thereof we confidently maintain the claims 
of Rhode Island. 



AUTHORITIES EXAMINED. 



1. Affaires cle 1 Angleterre et de 1 Amerique. 

2. ALLEN, History of the American Revolution. 

3. ANDREWS, History of the U. S., 1894, Vol. 2. 

4. ARNOLD, History of Rhode Island, Vol. 2. 

5. ARNOLD, Spirit of Rhode Island History, 1853. 

6. BANCROFT, History of the U. S., 1860. Ed. Vol. 8. 

7. BOUCHER, View of the American Revolution. 

8. British Annual Register, History of the War in America. 

9. BRYANT AND GAY, History of the U. S., 1879, Vol. 3. 

10. CHALMERS, Revolt of the American Colonies. 

11. CHAMBERLAIN, John Adams and other Essays. 

12. DuBuissoN, Abrege de la Revolution. 

13. DURFEE, Discourse before the R. I. Historical Society, 1847. 

14. FERGUS, History of the U. S. 

15. FISKE, American Revolution, 1891, Vol. 1. 

16. FRIEDENWALD, The Declaration of Independence. 

17. FROST, History of the U. S. 

18. FROTHINGHAM, Rise of the Republic, 1872. 

19. GOODRICH, History of the U. S. 

20. GORDON, History of the Independence of the U. S. 

21. GRAHAME, History of the U. S. 

22. GREENE, Historical view of the American Revolution. 

23. GREENE, History of Rhode Island, 1877. 

24. GREG, History of the U. S. 

25. HALL, History of the War in America. 

26. HART, Formation of the Union. 

27. HIGGINSON, History of the U. S. 

28. HILDRETH, History of the U. S., 1849, Vol. 3. 



11 

29. HINTON, History of the U. S. 

30. HOLMES, American Annals. 

31. HUNTER, Oration at Providence, 1826. 

32. Impartial History of the War. 

33. JOHNSTON, The United States. 

34. LA BOULAYE, Histoire des Etats-Unis. 

35. LECKY, American Revolution. 

36. LODGE, Short History of the English Colonies. 

37. LODGE, Story of the Revolution. 

38. LUDLOW, War of Independence. 

39. MORSE, Annals of the American Revolution. 

40. MOWRY, W. A. and A. M., History of the U. S., 1896. 

41. MURRAY, History of the War in America. 

42. NEUMANN, Geschichte der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika. 

43. NILES, Principles and Acts of the Revolution. 

44. PECK, History of the Great Republic. 

45. PITKIN, Political and Civil History of the U. S., 1828, Vol. 1. 

46. POWNALL, Administration of the American Colonies. 

47. RAMSEY, History of the American Revolution. 

48. RAMSEY, History of the U. S. 

49. RAYNAL, The Revolution of America. 

50. Remembrancer, for 1776. 

51. ROCHELLE, Etats-Unis d Amerique. 

52. SANFORD, History of the U. S. 

53. SLOANE, The French War and the Revolution. 

54. SMITH, G., The United States. 

55. SMITH, The Thirteen Colonies, 1901, Vol. 2. 

56. SOULE, Histoire des Troubles de PAmerique. 

57. STAPLES, Annals of Providence, 1843. 

58. STAPLES, Rhode Island in the Continental Congress, 1870. 

59. STEDMAN, History of the American War. 

60. STEFFENS, " Rhode Island," in McClure s Magazine for Febru 

ary, 1905. 

61. THORPE, Constitutional History of the American People, 1898, 

Vol. 1. 



Ill 



62. TREVELYAN, The American Revolution. 

63. VON HOLST, Constitutional History of the U. S. 

64. WARDEN, United States of North America. 

65. WARREN, History of the American Revolution. 

66. WILLSON, American History. 

67. WILSON, History of the American Revolution. 

68. WINTERBOTHAM, History of the U. S. 

69. Acts and Resolves of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 

Vol. 5 (Reprint), 1769-1780. 

70. Rhode Island Acts and Resolves. May Session, 1776. 

71. Connecticut Acts and Laws. Folio, 1784. October, 1776. 

72. New Jersey Laws. Folio, 1784 (Peter Wilson). 

73. Virginia Laws, 1776-1794 Folio. 

74. North Carolina Laws. Folio, 1791 (James Iredell). 

75. South Carolina, Statutes at Large, Vol. 1. 

76. Rhode Island Public Laws, 1767. 1756-1766. 

77. Massachusetts Colonial Laws. Folio, 1672 (Whit more). 

78. Acts and Resolves of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 

Vol. 5 (Reprint), 1769-1780. 

79. (Anno Regni Gulielmi et Mariae, Regis et Regina?. Quarto.) 

Acts and Laws of Massachusetts. Folio, 1714. 

80. Massachusetts. Acts and Laws of Massachusetts, 1726. 

Added Laws, 1726-1737. 

81. Rhode Island. R. I. Schedules. May Session, 1776. 

82. Rhode Island. Schedules of R. I., April, 1775. 

83. The True Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, A. S. 

Salley, Jr. 

84. JOHN FISKE, American Revolution. (Riverside Pi-ess, 1898.) 

85. Rise of the Republic of the United States, Frothingham. 

(Little, Brown & Co.) 

86. LARNED, History for Ready Reference, Vol. 4. 

87. The Historical Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 3, March, 1862. 

88. " Vol. 6, No. 5, May, 1862. 



IV 

89. American Commonwealth, Hon. James Bryce (1891 ed.), 

Vol. 1. 

90. Montcalm and Wolfe, Francis Parkman Vol. 1. 

91. Stone s Life of Rowland. 

92. Narrative and Critical History, Justin Winsor, Vol. 6. 

93. Rhode Island Colonial Records, Vol. 7. 

94. Life of Ward, Gammell. 

95. North Carolina Colonial Records, Vols. 9, 10. 

96. Original Schedules of the Rhode Island Assembly, 1770-1776. 

97. Life and Correspondence of George Read, W. T. Read. 

98. Proceedings of the Convention of the Province of Maryland, 

1774-1776. 

99. Journal of the New York Provincial Congress, 1775-1777. 

100. Minutes of the Provincial Congress and Council of Safety of 

the State of New Jersey. 

101. Provincial Papers of New Hampshire, Vol. 7. 

102. State Papers of New Hampshire, Vol. 8. 

103. Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives of the 

Province of Pennsylvania, 1682-1776, Vol. 6. 

104. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Vol. 4, 

5th Series. 

105. Connecticut Colonial Records, Vol. 14, 15. 

106. Massachusetts Provincial Congress, 1774-1775. 

107. Lincoln Revolutionary Movement in Pennsylvania. 

108. History of Maryland, Scharf, Vol. 1. 

109. Connecticut Colonial Records, Vol. 12. 

110. History of Massachusetts, Hutchinson, Vol. 3. 

111. South Carolina under Royal Governors, McCrady. 

112. New Jersey Archives, Vol. 24. 

113. English Liberties or the Freeborn Subjects Inheritance, Henry 

Care. 

114. Magazine of History, October and November, 1906. 

115. Pennsylvania s Votes and Proceedings, Vols. 5 and 6. 

116. Original letters, John Adams, July 20th and July 28th, 1819. 



117. Magazine of American History, Vol. 2. 

CONNECTICUT. 

118. Journal of Proceedings of Constitutional Convention, 1818. 

8vo. . Hartford, 1873. 

119. The Three Constitutions of Connecticut, 1638-39; 1662-1818. 

8vo. Hartford, 1901. 

120. Historical Notes, Constitutions of Connecticut, 1639-1818. 

8vo. Hartford, 1901. 

121. Journal Constitutional Convention, 1902. 8vo. Hartford, 

1902. 

122. Acts and Laws, 1786. 8vo. 

MASSACHUSETTS. 

123. Acts and Laws. July, 1775. 

124. May, 1776. 

RHODE ISLAND. 

125. Rhode Island Colonial Records. 10 vols. 1636-1792. 

126. Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, 1747-1777. 

127. Acts and Laws. Folio. 1705. 

128. " " 1719. 

129. " " 1730. 

130. " " 1730-36. 

131. " " 1745. 

132. 1745-52. 

133. " " 1772. 

NEW JERSEY. 

134. Nevill s Laws. Folio, 2 vols. 1761. 

NEW YORK. 

135. Laws. 1774-1775. Reprint. 

136. Van Schaak s Laws. Folio. 1774. 



VI 

137, Laws. Folio 1777. 

138. Jones and Varick s Laws. " 1789. 



PENNSYLVANIA. 



139. Bailey s Laws. 

140. Dallas s Laws. 



141. Kilty s Laws. 

142. Maxcy s Laws. 



143. Public Laws. 

144. Laws. 



Folio. 1775-1781. 

1700-1801. 4 vols. 



MARYLAND. 



4to. 1692-1800. 2 vols. 
8vo. 1692-1800. 3 vols. 



VIRGINIA. 



Folio. 1769-1783. 
1769. 



NORTH CAROLINA. 

145. Martin s Laws. 4to. 1715-1803. 2 vols. 

SOUTH CAROLINA. 

146. Statutes at Large. 8vo. Vol. 4 (1752-1786). 

147. Grimke s Laws. 4to. 1790. 

GEORGIA. 

148. Marbury and Crawford s Digest of Laws. 4to. 1755-1800. 

149. Watkin s Digest of Laws. 4to. 1800. 



EXHIBITS. 



Exhibit A. 



Copy of the letter from John Adams to the Rev. 
William Bentley, never before published, made by Mr. 
Clarence S. Brigham, from the original manuscript in 
the library of the American Antiquarian Society, Wor 
cester, Massachusetts. 

QUINCY July 20th 1819. 
dear Sir 

I thank you for myself, and for Mr Marston for the 
kindness you did us by your letter of the 17th Which 
I received this morning. And at the same time I 
received the letter from Mr Jefferson, of which my Son 
has made the inclosed Copy at my desire for your use. 

This letter is to me inestimable for the most material 
facts in it, I certainly know to be correct and exact. It 
has convinced me that the Mecklengburg resolutions are 
mere fictions. I wish I could request you to publish 
this letter entire; but I cannot, because I have not the 
writers consent you may make such discreet use of 
it as you think proper. I have wrote to Mr Jefferson 
inclosing the Essex Register, and have received this 
answer which to me is entirely satisfactory in all its parts. 
It will be difficult for Posterity to detect the Multitudi 
nous falsehoods which were published from day to day 
during the Revolution, and ever since, but fictions of this 
kind, five and forty years after the pretended fact, ought 



Vlll 



to be discountenanced by every man of honor, and this 
in particular ought to be hunted from the dark Cavern 
from which it originated, the more ingenious the inven 
tion the more detestable 

I am Sir your greatly obliged Friend and 

Humble Servant 
Revnd William Bentley 

(Signed) JOHN ADAMS 

Copy of a letter from John Adams to the Rev. William 
Bentley, never before published, made by Mr. Clarence 
S. Brigham, from the original manuscript in the library 
of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massa 
chusetts. 

QUINCY July 28th 1819 

MY INESTIMABLE FRIEND. 

The Essex Register, its Editors, and Printers are not 
only Innocent but meritorious for Publishing the pre 
tended Mecklengburg Resolutions. I have transmitted 
to Mr Jefferson the National Register, for his satisfaction. 
Such imposters, which our Polished English friends call 
Hoaxes, and boares, I am impolite enough to think, 
ought to be called forgerys, and Villanys, and the Authors 
of them ought to be exposed to public Resentment, for 
their tendency is to produce confusion and uncertainty 
in the minds of the present generation, and in all History. 

I hope the author of the second North Carolina vol 
cano will be detected and brought to shame. 

I will now add, that I am greatly obliged to the proprie 
tors of the Essex Register; for kindly sending me that 
paper, but as it is an expence and trouble to them, it 
hurts my feelings, because the necessitys of my Family 



IX 



must prevent me from subscribing for it, though I think 
it is the best paper amongst the many that I receive, and 
cannot read. 

I am Sir, with great Esteem, and sincere affection, your 
obliged Friend and humble Sernt 

JOHN ADAMS 
Revnd William Bentley 



Exhibit B. 



MARYLAND CONVENTION, 



January 18, 1776. 

Resolved unanimously, That the following declara 
tion be entered on their journals: 

" We, the delegates of the freemen of Maryland in 
convention, affected with the deepest concern by the 
opinion declared in the king s speech to parliament on 
the 27th day of October last, and expressed in the 
address of the lords spiritual and temporal to his majesty 
in answer thereto, that the necessary preparations for 
defence made by these colonies, are carried on for the 
purpose of establishing an independent empire, and being 
desirous to remove from the mind of the king, an opinion 
which we feel to be highly injurious to the people of this 
province, and to declare and manifest to his majesty, to 
the parliament, the people of Great Britain, and to the 



whole world, the rectitude and purity of our intentions 
in the present opposition to the measures of the British 
ministry and parliament, do declare : 

" That the people of this province, strongly attached 
to the English constitution, and truly sensible of the 
blessings they have derived from it, warmly impressed 
with sentiments of affection for, and loyalty to, the 
house of Hanover, connected with the British nation by 
the ties of blood and interest, and being thoroughly con 
vinced, that to be free subjects of the king of Great Bri 
tain, with all its consequences, is to be the freest members 
of any civil society in the known world, never did, nor 
do entertain any views or desires of independency. 

" That as they consider their union with the mother 
country upon terms that may insure to them a perma 
nent freedom, as their highest felicity, so would they 
view the fatal necessity of separating from her, as a mis 
fortune next to the greatest that can befal them. 

" Descended from Britons, entitled to the privileges of 
Englishmen, and inheriting the spirit of their ancestors, 
they have seen with the most extreme anxiety the at 
tempts of parliament to deprive them of those privileges, 
by raising a revenue upon them, and assuming a power to 
alter the charters, constitutions, and internal polity of 
the colonies without their consent. The endeavors of 
the British ministry to carry those attempts into execu 
tion by military force have been their only motive for 
taking up arms, and to defend themselves against those 
endeavors is the only use they mean to make of them, 



XI 



entitled to freedom, they are determined to maintain it 
at the hazard of their lives and fortunes. " (Proceed 
ings of the Conventions of the Province of Maryland, 
1774, 1775, and 1776, p. 120-121.) 



Exhibit C. 



DELAWARE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 



March 22, 1776. 

" To the delegates of the Three Lower Counties on 
Delaware the following instructions were at this time 
given : 

" In the House of Representatives for the Counties of 
New Castle, Kent, and Sussex, upon Delaware. At New 
Castle, Friday, March 22. P.M.: 

" Instructions to the Deputies appointed by this 
Government to meet in General Congress: 

" 1st. That you embrace every favorable opportunity 
to effect a reconciliation with Great Britain, on such 
principles as may secure to your constituents a full and 
lasting enjoyment of all their just rights and privileges; 
and, as the most probable means of obtaining such 
desirable ends, you are to cultivate with the greatest care 
the union which so happily prevails throughout the 
United Colonies, and consequently to avoid and dis 
courage any separate treaty. 



Xll 



" 2d. Notwithstanding our earnest desire of peace 
with Great Britain, upon the terms aforesaid, you are 
nevertheless to join with the other colonies in all such 
military operations as may be judged proper and neces 
sary for the common defence, until such a peace can be 
happily obtained. 

u 3d. On every necessary occasion you are decently, 
but firmly, to urge the right of this government to an 
equal voice in Congress with any other Province on this 
continent, as the inhabitants thereof have their all at 
stake as well as others. 

" Extract from the minutes. 

" JAMES BOOTH, 
" Clerk of the Assembly. 7 

(W. T. Read s " Life and Correspondence of George 
Read," p. 148, 149.) 



Exhibit D. 



THE COLONIAL RECORDS OF NORTH CAROLINA, 



Vol. X. 1775-1770. Pages 201-203. 



THIRD PROVINCIAL CONGRESS. 



EXTRACT FROM "THE JOURNAL OF PROCEEDINGS" OF THE 

PROVINCIAL CONGRESS OF NORTH CAROLINA, HELD 

AT HILLSBOROUGH FROM AUGUST 20th TO 

SEPTEMBER 10, A. D. 1775. 



"FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 1775. 

"Mr. Hooper laid before the house an Address to the 
Inhabitants of the British Empire; and the same being 
read, was unanimously received, and is as follows, viz, 

"FRIENDS AND FELLOW CITIZENS, 

"The fate of the contest which at present subsists 
between these American Colonies and the British Minis 
ters who now sit at the helm of public affairs, will be one 



XIV 



of the most important Epochs which can mark the An 
nals of the British history. Foreign Nations with anxious 
expectation wait the result, and see with amazement 
the blind infatuated Policy which the present Adminis 
tration pursues to subjugate these Colonies, and reduce 
them from being loyal and useful Subjects to an abso 
lute dependance and abject Slavery, as if the descend 
ants of those Ancestors, who have shed Rivers of Blood, 
and expended Millions of Treasure, in fixing upon a 
lasting foundation the Liberties of the British Consti 
tution, saw with envy the once happy state of this West 
ern Region, and strove to exterminate the patterns of 
those Virtues which shone with a Lustre which bid fair 
to Rival and Eclipse their own. 

"To enjoy the Fruits of our own honest Industry; to 
call that our own which we earn with the labour of our 
hands and the sweat of our Brows; to regulate that in 
ternal policy by which we and not they are to be affected ; 
these are the mighty Boons we ask. And Traitors, 
Rebels, and every harsh appellation that Malice can dic 
tate or the Virulence of language express, are the returns 
which we receive to the most humble Petitions and earnest 
supplications. We have been told that Independance 
is our object; that we seek to shake off connection with 
the parent State. Cruel Suggestion! Do not all our 
professions, all our actions, uniformly contradict this? 

"We again declare, and we invoke that Almighty 
Being who searches the Recesses of the human heart and 
knows our most secret Intentions, that it is our most 
earnest wish and prayer to be restored with the other 
United Colonies, to the State in which we and they were 
placed before the year 1763, disposed to glance over any 
Regulations which Britain had made previous to this, 
and which seem to be injurious and oppressive to these 



XT 



Colonies, hoping that at some future day she will be 
nignly interpose and remove from us every cause of com 
plaint. 

Whenever we have departed from the forms of the 
Constitution, our own safety and self preservation have 
dictated the expedient ; and if in any Instances we have 
assumed powers which the laws invest in the Sovereign 
or his representatives, it has been only in defence of our 
persons, properties and those rights which God and the 
Constitution have made Unalienably ours. As soon as 
the cause of our Fears and Apprehensions are removed, 
with joy will we return these powers to their regular 
channels; and such Institutions formed from mere ne 
cessity, shall end with that necessity that created them. 

11 These expressions flow from an affection bordering 
upon devotion to the succession of the house of Hanover 
as by law established, from Subjects who view it as a 
Monument that does honor to human nature; a Monu 
ment capable of teaching Kings how glorious it is to 
reign over a free People. These are the heart felt ef 
fusions of Men ever ready to spend their Blood and 
Treasure when constitutionally called upon, in support 
of the succession of His Majesty King George the third, 
his Crown and dignity, and who fervently wish to Trans 
mit his Reign to future ages as the Ord of common happi 
ness to his people. Could these our Sentiments reach 
the Throne, surely our Sovereign would forbid the hor 
rors of War and desolation to intrude into this once 
peaceful and happy Land, and would stop that deluge of 
human Blood which now threatens to overflow this 
Colony, Blood too precious to be shed but in a common 
cause against the common enemy of Great Britain and 
her sons. 

"This declaration we hold forth as a Testimony of 



XVI 



Loyalty to our Sovereign, and Affection to our parent 
State, and as a sincere earnest of our present and future 
intentions. 

"We hope hereby to remove those impressions which 
have been made by the representations of weak and 
wicked men to the prejudice of this Colony, who thereby 
intended that the rectitude of our designs might be 
brought into distrust; and sedition, Anarchy, and con 
fusion, spread through this loyal province. 

"We have discharged a duty which we owe to the 
world, to ourselves and posterity ; and may the Almighty 
God give success to the means we make use of so far as 
they are aimed to produce just, lawful, and good pur 
poses, and the Salvation and happiness of the whole 
British Empire." 



Exhibit E. 



THE COLONIAL RECORDS OF NORTH CAROLINA, 



Vol. X. 1775-177G. Page 512. 



FOURTH PROVINCIAL CONGRESS. 



EXTRACT FROM " THE JOURNAL OF THE PROVINCIAL CON 
GRESS, HELD AT HALIFAX, NORTH CAROLINA, 
FROM APRIL 4th TO MAY 14, 1776. 



FRIDAY, APRIL 12, 1776. 

The select committee to take into consideration the 
usurpations and violences attempted and committed by 
the King and Parliament of Britain against America, 
and the further measures to be taken for frustrating the 
same, and for the better defence of this Province, re 
ported as follows, to wit : 

"It appears to your committee, that pursuant to the 
plan concerted by the British Ministry for subjugating 
America, the King and Parliament of Great Britain have 
usurped a power over the persons and properties of the 
people unlimited and uncontrolled; and disregarding 



XV111 



their humble petitions for peace, liberty and safety, have 
made divers legislative acts, denouncing war, famine, 
and every species of calamity, against the Continent in 
general. The British fleets and armies have been, and 
still are daily employed in destroying the people, and 
committing the most horrid devestations on the country. 
That Governors in different Colonies have declared pro 
tection to slaves, who should imbrue their hands in the 
blood of their masters. That the ships belonging to 
America are declared prizes of war, and many of them 
have been violently seized and confiscated. In conse 
quence of all which multitudes of the people have been 
destroyed, or from easy circumstances reduced to the 
most lamentable distress. 

And whereas the moderation hitherto manifested by 
the United Colonies and their sincere desire to be recon 
ciled to the mother country on constitutional principles, 
have procured no mitigation of the aforesaid wrongs and 
usurpations, and no hopes remain of obtaining redress by 
those means alone which have been hitherto tried, your 
committee are of opinion that the House should enter 
into the following resolve, to wit : 

" Resolved, That the delegates for this Colony in the 
Continental Congress be impowered to concur with the 
delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independ 
ency, and forming foreign alliances, reserving to this 
Colony the sole and exclusive right of forming a Con 
stitution and laws for this Colony, and of appointing 
delegates from time to time (under the direction of a 
general representation thereof), to meet the delegates of 
the other Colonies- for such purposes as shall be hereafter 
pointed out. 

"The Congress taking the same into consideration, 
unanimously concurred therewith." 



Exhibit F. 

ACTS AND RESOLVES 

OF THE 

PROVINCE OF MASSACHUSETTS BAY 

VOL. 5, PAGE 484. 

(REPRINT.) 
1709-1T8O. 



CHAPTER 22. 

" AN ACT FOR ESTABLISHING THE STILE OF COMMISSIONS WHICH 
SHALL HEREAFTER BE ISSUED, AND FOR ALTERING THE STILE 
OF WRITS, PROCESSES, AND ALL LAW PROCEEDINGS, WITHIN 
THIS COLONY ; AND FOR DIRECTING HOW RECOGNIZANC(E)S 
TO THE USE OF THIS GOVERNMENT, SHALL, FOR THE FUTURE, 
BE TAKEN AND PROSECUTED." 

WHEREAS the petitions of the United Colonies, to 
George the Third, king of Great Brit(t)ain, for the re 
dress of great and manifest gr(i)ev(e)ances, have not 
only been rejected but treated with scorn and contempt, 
and their opposition to designs evidently formed to re 
duce them to a state of servile subjection, and their 
necessary defence against hostile forces actually employed 
to subdue them, have been declar(e) d rebellion; and 



XX 



whereas an unjust war has been commenc(e) d against 
them, which the commanders of Brit(t)ish fleets and 
armies have prosecuted, and still continue to prosecute, 
with their utmost vigour, in cruel manners, and have di 
rected their veng(e)ance principally against this colony, 
wasting, spoiling and destroying the country, burning 
houses and defenceless towns, and exposing the helpless 
inhabitants to every mis (s)ery, by which inhumane and 
barbarous treatment, by the commandment of George the 
Third, king of Great Brit (t) am, &c., the people of this col 
ony consider themselves greatly injur(e)d, and have been 
obli(d)ged to have recourse to arms to repel such injuries; 
and whereas, under such circumstances, the absurdity of 
issuing commissions, writs, processes and other procd- 
ings in law, and in the courts of justice within this colony, 
in the name and stile of the king of Great Brit(t)ain, is 
very apparent, and the tendency it has to keep up ideas 
inconsistent with the saf(e)ty of this government has 
given the good people of this colony great uneasiness, 

Be it therefore enacted by the Council and House of 
Represent (i) (a) tives in General Court assembled, and 
by the authority of the same, 

(SECT. 1.) That all civil commissions, writs and pre 
cepts for conven(e)ing the general court or assembly, 
which shall hereafter be made out in this colony, shall 
be in the stile and name of the Government and People 
of the Mass(e)(a)chusetts Bay, in New England; and 
all commissions, both civil and military, shall be dated in 
the year of the Christian (a) era, and shall not bear the 



XXI 



date of the year of the reign of any king or queen of 
Great Brit(t)ain. 

(SECT. 2.) And that all writs, processes and pro 
ceedings in law, and in any of the courts of justice in this 
colony, which have been used (and) (or) accust(u)(o)- 
med, or, by any of the laws of this colony, are required 
to be issued, used or practiced in law, and in any of the 
courts of justice in this colony, in the name and stile of 
the king of Great Brit(t)ain, France and Ireland, Defender 
of the Faith, &c., or in any other words implying or in 
tending the same, shall, from and after the first day of 
June, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, be 
made, issued, used and practiced, in the name and stile* 
of the Government and People of the Mass(e)(a)chusetts 
Bay, in New England, and no other; and shall bear the 
date of the year of the Christian aera, and shall not 
bear the date of the year of the reign of any king or queen 
of Great Brit(t)ain, until (1) some (recommendation) 
(accommodation) of the American Congress, or act, 
order, or resolve, of a general American legislature, or 
of the legislature of this colony, shall be made and passed, 
otherwise directing and prescribing. 

And be it enacted, 

(SECT. 3.) That all commissions, civil and military, 
which have been issued by the major part of the council 
of this colony s(e)(i)ince the nineteenth day of September, 
one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, shall have 
the same force and effect as if this act had not been made, 
the stile and date therein notwithstanding, until (1) the 



XX11 



nineteenth day of September, one thousand seven hun 
dred and seventy-six, and no longer. 

Provided, nevertheless, 

(SECT. 4.) That when any such commissions shall be 
brought to the council of this colony, to be made con 
formable to the stile and date by this act required for 
is(s)uing commissions hereafter, the council are hereby 
impowered and directed to cause the same to be done. 

And be it further enacted, 

(SECT. 5.) That all recogni(s)(z)ances that hereto 
fore have been used and accustomed to be taken to the 
king of Great Brit(t)ain, by the stile and title of our 
sovereign lord the king, shall, from and after the first day 
of June, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, 
be taken to the government and people of the Mass(e)- 
(a)chusetts Bay, in New England; and when a scire 
facias, or other legal process shall be issued thereon 
against the recognizor or recogni(s)(z)ors, they shall be 
in the name and behalf of the said government and peo 
ple; and when judgment shall be rendered thereon^ the 
money recovered and levied shall be paid into the treas 
ury of this colony, for the use of the same. 

And be it further enacted, 

(SECT. 6.) That all suits upon recogn(z)(in)an(c)es 
which have been heretofore taken within this colony to 
the king of Great Brit(t)ain, under any name, character 
or form of words, whatsoever, that have been or that 
may be hereafter forfeited (if any suits should be brought 
thereon) shall, from and after the said first day of June, 



XX111 

be commenced and prosecuted in the name and behalf 
of the government and people of the Mass(e)(a)chusetts 
Bay, in New England, and not in the name of the said 
king; and the money recovered and levied on such suits 
shall be likewise paid into the treasury of this colony, 
for the use and benefit of the said people. (Passed May 
1, 1776. 

A true Copy, Carefully compared with the original, and found correct. 
(Signed) J. HARRY BONGARTZ, 

Librarian of the State of R. I. Law Library. 



Exhibit H. 



RHODE ISLAND ACTS AND RESOLVES, 



MAY SESSION, 1776, PAGE 22. 

AN ACT REPEALING AN ACT, INTITLED, " AN ACT FOR THE MORE 
EFFECTUALLY FECURING TO HIS MAJEFTY THE ALLEGIANCE 
OF HIS SUBJECTS, IN THIS HIS COLONY AND DOMINION OF 
RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS ; " AND 
ALTERING THE FORMS OF COMMIFFIONS, OF ALL WRITS AND 
PROCEFFES IN THE COURTS, AND OF THE OATHS PREFCRIBED 
BY LAW. 

WHEREAS in all States, exifting by Compact, Protection 
and Allegiance are reciprocal, the latter being only due 
in Confequence of the former; And whereas GEORGE 
the Third, King of Great-Britain, forgetting his Dignity, 



XXIV 



regardlefs of the Compact moft folemnly entered into, rati 
fied and confirmed, to the Inhabitants of this Colony, by 
his illuftrious Anceftors, and till of late fully recognized 
by Him and entirely departing from the Duties and 
Character of a good King, inftead of protecting, is en 
deavoring to deftroy the good People of this Colony, and 
of all the United Colonies, by fending Fleets and Armies to 
America, to confiscate our Property, and fpread Fire, 
Sword and Def olation, throughout our Country, in orcler to 
compel us to fubmit to the moft debafing and deteftable 
Tyranny; whereby we are obliged by Neceffity, and it 
becomes our higheft Duty, to ufe every Means, with 
which God and Nature have furnifhed us, in Support of 
our invaluable Rights and Privileges; to oppofe that 
Power which is exerted only for our Deftruction. 

BE it therefore Enacted by this General Affembly, and 
by the Authority thereof it is Enacted, That an Act in 
tituled, "An Act for the more effectual fecuring to his 
Majefty the Allegiance of his Subjects in this his Colony 
and Dominion of Rhode-Ifland and Providence Planta 
tions," be, and the fame is hereby, repealed. 

AND be it further Enacted by this General Affembly, 
and by the Authority thereof it is Enacted, That in all 
Commiffions for Offices, civil and military, and in all 
Writs and Proceffes in Law, whether original, judicial or 
executory, civil or criminal, wherever the Name and 
Authority of the faid King is made Ufe of, the fame fhall 
be omitted, and in the Room thereof the Name and Au 
thority of the Governor and Company of this Colony 
fhall be Fubftituted, in the following Words, to wit: 



XXV 



"The Governor and Company of the English Colony of 
Rhode-Ifland and Providence Plantations:" That all 
Fuch Commiffions, Writs and Proceffes, fhall be other- 
wife of the fame Form and Tenure as they heretofore were : 
That the Courts of Law be no longer entitled nor con- 
fidered as the King s Courts : And that no Inftrument in 
Writing, of any Nature or Kind, whether public or pri 
vate, fhall in the Date thereof mention the Year of the 
faid King s Reign: Provided neverthelefs That nothing 
in this Act contained fhall render void or vitiate any 
Commiffion, Writ, Procefs or Inftrument, heretofore 
made or executed, on Account of the Name and Author 
ity of the faid King being therein inferted. 

AND be it further Enacted by the Authority aforefaid, 
That the Oaths or Engagements to be administered to 
the Officers appointed in this Colony fhall be as follow, to 
wit: 

GENERAL OFFICERS. 

"You being by the free Vote of the Freemen of 

this Colony of Rhode-Ifland and Providence Plantations 
elected unto the Place of do folemnly engage to be 

true and faithful unto this faid Colony, and in your faid 
Office equal Juftice to do unto all Perfons, poor and rich, 
within this Jurifdiction, to the utmoft of your Skill and 
Ability, without Partiality, according to the Laws ef- 
tablifhed, or that may be eftablifhed, by the General 
Affembly of this Colony, as well in matters military as 
civil: And this Engagement you make and give upon the 
Peril of the Penalty of Perjury. 



XXVI 



DEPUTIES. 

"You being chofen to the Place of a Deputy, to 

fit in the General Affembly, do solemnly engage, that you 
will be true and faithful to this Colony of Rhode-Ifland 
and Providence Plantations; and that you will do equal 
Right and Juftice to all perfons who fhall appeal unto you 
for your Judgment in their refpective Cafes, according 
to the Laws eftablifhed or that may be eftablifhed, by 
the General AfTembly of this faid Colony; And this En 
gagement you make and give upon the Peril of the Pen 
alty of Perjury. 

JUDGES OF THE SUPERIOR COURT. 
s 

"You being by the General Affembly of this 

Colony chofen to the Place of a Juftice of the Superior 
Court of Judicature, Court of Affize, and General Gaol 
Delivery, in and throughout the Colony, do folemnly 
engage to be true and faithful to this faid Colony, and to 
execute the Office unto which you are chofen as afore- 
faid with fidelity, to the beft of your Skill and Knowl 
edge, according to the Laws eftablifhed, or that may be 
eftablifhed, by the General Affembly of this faid Colony : 
and this Engagement you make and give upon the Peril 
of the Penalty of Perjury. 7 

(Public Notaries, Clerks of the Superior and Inferior 
Courts, Juftices of the Inferior Courts, and Sheriffs, to 
take the fame Oaths as the Juftices of the Superior 
Court, mutatis mutandis.) 



XXV11 
GRAND JURORS. 

" You A. B. being of the Grand Inqueft, on the Behalf 
of the Governor and Company of the English Colony of 
Rhode-Ifland and Providence Plantations, do hereby 
promife and engage to make a true Return to this Court 
of all fuch Bills as fhall be prefented to you, or fuch 
Breakers of Law as fhall come to your Knowledge : And 
this Engagement you make and give upon the Peril of 
the Penalty of Perjury." 

PETIT JURORS IN CIVIL CAUFES. 

" You A. B. being of this Jury of Trials, fhall well and 
truly try the Iffue of this Cafe, and all Cafes that fhall 
be committed unto you from this Court, between the 
Parties, Plaintiff and Defendant, according to Law and 
Evidence; and to keep together until you agree of a 
Verdict in the Cafe or Cafes committed to you, and make 
true Return of the Verdict or Verdicts unto this Court; 
and to keep your own and Fellow s Secrets: And this 
Engagement you make and give upon the Peril of the 
Penalty of Perjury." 

PETIT JURORS IN CRIMINAL CAUFES. 

"You A. B. being of this Jury of Trials, fhall well and 
truly try, and true Deliverance make, between the Gov 
ernor and Company of the English Colony of Rhode-Ifl 
and and Providence Plantations, and the Prifoner at 
the Bar, according to Law and Evidence; and to keep 
together until you are agreed of a Verdict or Verdicts, 
in the Cafe or Cafes that fhall be committed to you from 



XXV111 



this Court, and to keep your own and Fellow s Secrets: 
And this Engagement you make and give upon the Peril 
of the Penalty of Perjury." 

TOWN OFFICERS. 

" You A. B. do hereby folemnly engage to be true and 
faithful unto this Colony of Rhode-Ifland and Providence 
Plantations, and that you will well and truly, according 
to the Laws eftablifhed, or that may be eftablifhed by 
the. General Affembly of faid Colony, execute the Office 
of for the enfuing Year or until another be en 

gaged in your Room, or you be legally dif charged there 
from : And this Engagement you make and give upon the 
Peril of the Penalty of Perjury." 

MILITARY COMMIFFIONED OFFICERS. 

" You A. B. being by the General Affembly chofen and 
elected unto the Place and Office of do solemnly 

fwear to be true and faithful unto this Colony of Rhode- 
Ifland and Providence Plantations, and to the Authority 
therein eftablifhed by the General Affembly: And you 
do alfo further engage well and truly to execute the Office 
of to which you are elected according to your Com 

mission : and to perform and obf erve all the laws made 
and provided for the Support and well ordering the Mili 
tia, without Partiality; and that you will observe and 
follow fuch orders and Inftructions as you fhall from 
Time to Time receive from Your Superiors. 
So help you God." 



XXIX 

CLERK OF A COMPANY OF MILITIA. 

"You A. B. do solemnly swear well and truly to per 
form and execute the Office of Clerk of the Company, or 
Trained Band, under the Command of C. D. to the utmost 
of your Skill and Ability, without Partiality, according 
to the Laws of this Colony which relate to your office. 
So help you God." 

A True Copy, carefully compared with the original and found correct. 
(Signed) J. HARRY BONGARTZ, 

Librarian, State of Rhode Island Law Library. 



Exhibit K. 



EARLIEST SUGGESTION FOR A PERPETUAL CONGRESS OF 
THE AMERICAN STATES. 

Providence Gazette, May 14th, 1774. (Signed) NEW ENGLAND. 



"It seems to be the universal opinion in America, that 
the Union of the Colonies is of the greatest Importance 
to their Security, and therefore ought to be pursued by 
every good Man in this Country. It is hoped that the 
Wisdom of this great People will ever be exerted to make 
the Union perpetual; and for this Purpose it is proposed 
that there be an Assembly of the AMERICAN STATES, con 
sisting of Deputies from the Representative Body in each 
Colony, to form a League and COVENANT for the Colonies 



XXX 



to enter into, and fix the UNION upon a basis which may, 
by the Blessing of Heaven, be durable as the World, and 
lay a foundation for Freedom and Happiness in America 
to all future Ages. 

"The American will undoubtedly, in future Time, make 
the most grand and noble Figure that ever was exhibited 
by any People under Heaven, and their Conduct, at this 
important Era, will be of infinite Moment to their future 
Glory and Happiness; therefore we may justly expect 
the greatest Exertions of our Patriots to compleat the 
Freedom of America, for which they have long and glori 
ously contended. Then will they reap the full Harvest 
of Fame, and when their Praise is echoed from Tongue to 
Tongue, all the People will say, Amen. Britain will also 
unite her voice (for she will soon be sensible that the 
LIBERTY of America is Life to her) and sound their fame 
to distant Nations. The Glory of American Freedom will 
startle Europe, alarm the World, rouse up the Spirit of 
Liberty in despotic Regions, and kindle the heaventy 
Fire in the Bosoms of Slaves. Tyrants will be bound in 
Fetters of Iron, and their insulted People will resume their 
native Majesty; the Nations will be drest in new Colours 
and appear in the new Dignity of human Nature. But 
we forbear; if the one Half should be told, the World 
would not contain the Pages that must be written. 

"It is proposed that the constitutional Toast to be 
drank forever hereafter, be THE UNION OF THE COLON 
IES, AND THE FREEDOM OF AMERICA/ ; 

NEW ENGLAND. 



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APR 3 1959 




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THE UNIVERSITY OF CAUFORNIA LIBRARY