The Declaration and Resolves (1774)


In October 1774 the first Continental Congress closed after passing its Declaration and Resolves, a summary of resolutions with regard to British policy in the colonies:


“Since the close of the last war, the British parliament, claiming a power of right to bind the people of America by statutes in all cases whatsoever, hath in some acts expressly imposed taxes on them… for the purpose of raising a revenue; hath imposed rates and duties payable in these colonies; established a board of commissioners with unconstitutional powers; and extended the jurisdiction of courts of admiralty…

In the last session of parliament three statutes were made [the Boston Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act and the Administration of Justice Act]… and another statute was then made, “for making more effectual provision for the government of the province of Quebec”. All these statutes are impolitic, unjust and cruel, as well as unconstitutional and most dangerous and destructive of American rights…

Assemblies have been frequently dissolved, contrary to the rights of the people, when they attempted to deliberate on grievances; and their dutiful, humble, loyal, and reasonable petitions to the crown for redress have been repeatedly treated with contempt by his Majesty’s ministers of state…

The good people of the colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, justly alarmed at these arbitrary proceedings of parliament and administration, have elected, constituted, and appointed deputies to meet, and sit in general Congress, in the city of Philadelphia, in order to obtain such establishment as that their religion, laws, and liberties may not be subverted…

[They] declare that the inhabitants of the English colonies in North America, by the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English constitution, and the several charters or compacts, have the following rights:

Resolved: that they are entitled to life, liberty and property, and they have never ceded to any foreign power whatever a right to dispose of either without their consent.

Resolved: that our ancestors, who first settled these colonies, were at the time of their emigration from the mother country, entitled to all the rights, liberties, and immunities of free and natural- born subjects, within the realm of England.

Resolved: that by such emigration they by no means forfeited, surrendered, or lost any of those rights, but that they were, and their descendants now are, entitled to the exercise and enjoyment of all such of them, as their local and other circumstances enable them to exercise and enjoy.

Resolved: that the foundation of English liberty, and of all free government, is a right in the people to participate in their legislative council, and as the English colonists are not represented, and… cannot properly be represented in the British parliament, they are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several provincial legislatures…

Resolved: that the respective colonies are entitled to the common law of England, and more especially to the great and inestimable privilege of being tried by their peers of the vicinage, according to the course of that law.

Resolved: that they are entitled to the benefit of such of the English statutes, as existed at the time of their colonisation…

Resolved: that these, his Majesty’s colonies, are likewise entitled to all the immunities and privileges granted and confirmed to them by royal charters, or secured by their several codes of provincial laws.

Resolved: that they have a right peaceably to assemble, consider of their grievances, and petition the king; and that all prosecutions, prohibitory proclamations, and commitments for the same, are illegal.

Resolved: that the keeping a standing army in these colonies, in times of peace, without the consent of the legislature of that colony in which such army is kept, is against law…

To these grievous acts and measures Americans cannot submit, but in hopes their fellow subjects in Great Britain will, on a revision of them, restore us to that state in which both countries found happiness and prosperity, we have for the present, only resolved to pursue the following peaceable measures:

1. To enter into a non-importation, non-consumption and non-exportation agreement or association.

2. To prepare an address to the people of Great-Britain, and a memorial to the inhabitants of British America.

3. To prepare a loyal address to his majesty, agreeable to resolutions already entered into.”


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