Excerpts from Resolves of the (1st) Continental Congress,
14 October 1774
This is essentially a summary statement of position held by the leaders of the American
resistance in the wake of the Coercive Acts. It is perhaps most notable for its
basic conservatism. The basic argument is that the colonists still retain their English
liberties and rights. Strong sentiment for independence or a strong sense of
American identity are absent. The sweepingly egalitarian and accusatory rhetoric of
1776 is still a long way away.
1. That they are entitled to life, liberty, and property, & they have never
ceded to any sovereign power whatever, a right to dispose of either without their consent.
2. That our ancestors, who first settled these colonies, were at the time of their
emigration from the mother country, entitled to all the rights, liberties, and immunities
of free and natural-born subjects within the realm of England.
3. That by such emigration they by no means forfeited, surrendered, or lost any of those
rights, 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.
4. That the foundation of English liberty, and of all free government, is a right in the
people to participate in their legislative council; and as the English colonists are not
represented, and from their local and other circumstances, cannot properly be represented
in the British parliament, they are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation
in their several provincial legislatures, where their right of representation can alone be
preserved, in all cases of taxation and internal polity, subject only to the negative of
their sovereign, in such manner as has been heretofore used and accustomed. But, from the
necessity of the case, and a regard to the mutual interest of both countries, we
cheerfully consent to the operation of such acts of the British parliament, as are bona
fide restrained to the regulation of our external commerce, for the purpose of securing
the commercial advantages of the whole empire to the mother country, and the commercial
benefits of its respective members excluding every idea of taxation, internal or external,
for raising a revenue on the subjects in America without their consent.
5. 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.
6. That they are entitled to the benefit of such of the English statutes, as existed at
the time of their colonization; and which they have, by experience, respectively found to
be applicable to their several local and other circumstances.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. It is indispensably necessary to good government, and rendered essential by the
English constitution, that the constituent branches of the legislature be independent of
each other; that, therefore, the exercise of legislative power in several colonies, by a
council appointed during pleasure, by the crown, is unconstitutional, dangerous, and
destructive to the freedom of American legislation.
All and each of which the aforesaid deputies, in behalf of themselves, and their
constituents, do claim, demand, and insist on, as their indubitable rights and liberties;
which cannot be legally taken from them, altered or abridged by any power whatever,
without their own consent, by their representatives in their several provincial
In the course of our inquiry, we find many infringements and violations of the foregoing
rights, which, from an ardent desire that harmony and mutual intercourse of affection and
interest may be restored, we pass over for the present, and proceed to state such acts and
measures as have been adopted since the last war, which demonstrate a system formed to