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1780, that is, about eighteen months ago, an order was iffued by the Congress for printing correct copies of the above pieces. Why the Congrefs directed a small number to be published, is not faid; only two hundred copies are expreffed in their order, which were diftributed, fome months ago, to the principal men in America, and a few were fent over to Europe. One of thefe copies having fallen into the Editor's hands, he thinks the reprinting of it will not prove unacceptable to the public, as the Collection here mentioned may be confidered as the Magna Charta of the United American States, as the code of their fundamental laws, and in fhort, the book which the oppofite parties among them will at all times claim in fome fhape or other, and the knowledge of which is therefore neceffary to fuch perfons as wish to understand the prefent or future internal American politics.
In framing their respective Constitutions, each Colony has followed its own particular views; from which it has refulted that their Governments are all different from one another. In the Colony of Pennsylvania, for inftance, they have efpecially directed their endeavours, not only towards establishing public frugality, but alfo towards preventing too much power of any kind falling into the hands of any individual while the Colony of Maffachusetts have fhewn in that refpect much greater confidence, and have allowed the Governor of their Commonwealth a degree of power at least equal to that poffeffed by the Stadtholder, in the Dutch Government: only; he is to be chofen annually.. In regard to the
State of Rhode-Ifland, as they already formed, before the American Revolution, a kind of independent Republic, through the ceffion that had been made by Charles the Second to their Governor and Company, of all powers legislative, executive, and judicial, they have continued to ad- · mit their original Charter as the rule of their Government; and it has accordingly been inferted among the Conftitutions of the other United States.
It may be remarked, in refpect to the American Republican Governments; that they differ in two very effential points from the ancient Grecian and Italian Commonwealths, as well as from the modern European ones, which were all framed on the model of thefe: One, is the circumstance of the People being reprefented, in the new American Republics; and the other, is the divifion of the Legislature into two diftinct feparate bodies, that takes place in them, and which they have adopted, as well as many other effential regulations, from the British form of Government.
The precedency among the different American States, like that which obtains among the Helvetian Cantons and the Dutch Provinces, has not been fettled from their refpective degrees of power and importance, but from the time of their existence, and the dates of their charter. The Treaty of perpetual Confederation between them, which is inferted in this book, may be confidered as the law, or code, by which the United States are intended to be confolidated into one common Republic; and as the different par
ticular Conftitutions are to govern the different refpective States, fo the Treaty is the Conftitution, or mode of Government, for the collective North-American Commonwealth. The copy of this Treaty, which is the most interesting part of the Collection, has accordingly been placed at the beginning of this new edition, together with the Declaration of Independence, which may be confidered as the ground-work of the whole prefent American political fyftem. This difpofition, which is that expreffed in the order iffued by the Congrefs, is alfo the most natural; and it has been rather improperly that the Committee appointed to form the Collection, have inferted these two pieces at the end of the book.
June 15, 1782.
IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED.
THEN, in the courfe of human events, it becomes neceffary for one people to diffolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to affume among the powers of the earth the feparate and equal ftation to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent .refpect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the feparation.
We hold these truths to be felf-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happinefs; that to fecure thefe rights governments are inftituted among men, deriving their juft powers from the confent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes deftructive of thefe ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on fuch principles, and organizing its powers in fuch form, as to them fhall feem moft likely to effect their fafety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established fhould not be changed for light and tranfient causes; and accordingly all experience hath fhewn, that mankind are more difpofed to fuffer while evils are fufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abufes and ufurpations, pursuing inva
riably the fame object, evinces a defign to reduce them under abfolute defpotifm, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off fuch government, and to provide new guards for their future fecurity. Such has been the patient fufferance of these Colonies; and fuch is now the neceffity which constrains them to alter their former fyftems of government. The hiftory of the prefent king of Great-Britain is a hiftory of repeated injuries and ufurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an abfolute tyranny over thefe ftates. To prove this, let facts be fubmitted to a candid world.
He has refufed his affent to laws the most wholesome and neceffary for the public good.
He has forbidden his governors to pafs laws of immediate and preffing importance, unlefs fufpended in their operation till his affent fhould be obtained; and when fo fufpended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large diftricts of people, unless thofe people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right ineftimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and diftant from the depofitory of their public records, for the fole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has diffolved reprefentative houfes repeatedly, for oppofing with manly firmnefs his invafions on the rights of the people.
He has refused, for a long time after fuch diffolutions, to caufe others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercife; the state remaining in the mean time exposed to all the danger of invafion from without, and convulfions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these states; for that purpofe obftructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refufing to pafs others to encourage their migrations hither; and raifing the conditions of new appropriations of lands. He has obftructed the adminiftration of juftice, by refusing his affent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
He has made judges dependent on his will alone for the tenure of their offices and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of new offices, and fent hither swarms of officers to harrafs our people and eat out their fubstance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, ftanding armies, without the confent of our legiflatures.
He has affected to render the military independent of, and fuperior to, the civil power.
He has combined with others to fubject us to a jurifdiction` foreign to our conftitution, and un-acknowledged by our laws; giving his affent to their acts of pretended legislation: