Extracts from the Sheffield Declaration (1773)


Extracts from the Sheffield Declaration, a series of resolves adopted by the town of Sheffield, Massachusetts on January 12th 1773:


“At a meeting of the freeholders and other inhabitants of the Town of Sheffield…

Resolved: that mankind in a state of nature are equal, free, and independent of each other, and have a right to the undisturbed enjoyment of their lives, their liberty and property.

Resolved: that the great end of political society is to secure in a more effectual manner those rights and privileges wherewith God and nature have made us free…

Resolved: that affixing a stipend to the office of the governor of this province, to be paid by money taken from the people without their consent, creates in him an interest separate from and independent of, the interest of the people in general…

Resolved: that if salaries are affixed to the offices of the Judges of the Superior Court, rendering them independent of the people and dependant of the crown for their support; (which we have too much reason to think is the case) it is a precedent that may hereafter [bring] fatal consequences, to the good people of this province.

Resolved: that Americans in general, and his Majesty’s subjects the inhabitants of this province in particular, by their charter are entitled to all the liberties, privileges and immunities of natural born British subjects.

Resolved: that is a well known and undoubted privilege of the British constitution that every subject, hath not only a right to the free and uncontrolled enjoyment, use and improvement of this estate or property, so long as he shall continue in possession of it, but that he shall not in any manner be deprived thereof, in the whole or in part, until his consent is given…

Resolved: that the late acts of the parliament of Great Britain, for the express purpose of raising and regulating the collecting a revenue in the colonies, are unconstitutional, as the just earnings of our labour and industry, without any regard to our consent, are by mere power ravished from us…

Resolved: that the introduction, of civil officers, unknown in the charter of this province, with powers which render the property, domestic security and enjoyment of the inhabitants, altogether insecure, is a very great grievance.

Resolved: that it is the right of every subject of Great Britain, to be tried by the power of the vicinity when charged with any crime; that any act of the parliament of Great Britain, for destroying this privilege and tearing away subjects from their connections, friends, business and the possibility of evincing their innocence… is an intolerable grievance…

Resolved: that any determination or adjudication of the King in Council with regard to the limits of provinces in America, whereby private property is or may be affected, is a great grievance already very severely felt by great numbers, who after purchasing lands of the only persons, whom they could suppose had any right to convey, have on a sudden, by such an adjudications, been deprived of their whole property, and from a state of affluence reduced to a state of beggary…”

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