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The rights of Englishmen are the perceived traditional rights of citizens of England. In the 18th century, some of the colonists who objected to British rule in the British colonies in North America argued that their traditionalrights as Englishmen were being violated. The colonists wanted and expected the rights that they (or their forebears) had previously enjoyed in England: a local, representative government, with regards to judicial matters (some colonists were being sent back to England for trials) and particularly with regards to taxation. Belief in these rights subsequently became a widely-accepted justification for the American Revolution.
Patriots were those colonists of the Thirteen Colonies who rejected British rule during the American Revolution and declared the United States of America as an independent nation in July 1776. Their decision was based on the political philosophy of republicanism as expressed by spokesmen such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine. They were opposed by the Loyalists who supported continued British rule.
The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries. They declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America. The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems and were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. They were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included colonies in Canada, the Caribbean, and the Floridas.
The American Revolution was a colonial revolt that took place between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain, becoming the United States of America. They defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) in alliance with France.
The American colonies had since the 17th century been fertile ground for liberalism within the center of European political discourse.However, as the ratification of the Declaration of Independence approached, the issue among the colonists of which particular rights were significant became divisive. George Mason, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, stated that "We claim nothing but the liberty and privileges of Englishmen in the same degree, as if we had continued among our brethren in Great Britain."
The United States Declaration of Independence is the statement adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1776. The Declaration announced that the Thirteen Colonies at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain would regard themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. With the Declaration, these new states took a collective first step toward forming the United States of America. The declaration was signed by representatives from New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
George Mason IV was an American planter, politician and delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, one of three delegates who refused to sign the Constitution. His writings, including substantial portions of the Fairfax Resolves of 1774, the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776, and his Objections to this Constitution of Government (1787) in opposition to ratification, have exercised a significant influence on American political thought and events. The Virginia Declaration of Rights, which Mason principally authored, served as a basis for the United States Bill of Rights, of which he has been deemed the father.
The Founding Fathers of the United States, were a group of leaders who united the Thirteen Colonies, led the war for independence from Great Britain and built a Frame of Government for the new United States of America upon republican principles during the latter decades of the 18th century. Most Founding Fathers at one point considered themselves British subjects; but they came to understand themselves more as patriotic Americans who possessed a spirit distinct from that of their motherland. The group was composed of businessmen, philosophers, politicians, plantation owners and writers from a variety of social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds.
In the tradition of Whig history, Judge William Blackstone called them "The absolute rights of every Englishman", and explained how they had been established slowly over centuries of English history, in his book on Fundamental Laws of England , which was the first part of his influential Commentaries on the Laws of England .They were certain basic rights that all subjects of the English monarch were understood to be entitled to, such as those expressed in Magna Carta since 1215, the Petition of Right in 1628, the Habeas Corpus Act 1679 and the Bill of Rights 1689.
Whig history is an approach to historiography that presents the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in modern forms of liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy.
Sir William Blackstone was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England. Born into a middle-class family in London, Blackstone was educated at Charterhouse School before matriculating at Pembroke College, Oxford in 1738. After switching to and completing a Bachelor of Civil Law degree, he was made a Fellow of All Souls, Oxford on 2 November 1743, admitted to Middle Temple, and called to the Bar there in 1746. Following a slow start to his career as a barrister, Blackstone became heavily involved in university administration, becoming accountant, treasurer and bursar on 28 November 1746 and Senior Bursar in 1750. Blackstone is considered responsible for completing the Codrington Library and Warton Building, and simplifying the complex accounting system used by the college. On 3 July 1753 he formally gave up his practice as a barrister and instead embarked on a series of lectures on English law, the first of their kind. These were massively successful, earning him a total of £453, and led to the publication of An Analysis of the Laws of England in 1756, which repeatedly sold out and was used to preface his later works.
In the 1760s William Blackstone described the Fundamental Laws of England in Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book the First – Chapter the First : Of the Absolute Rights of Individuals as "the absolute rights of every Englishman" and traced their basis and evolution as follows:
In a legal case in 1608 that came to be known as Calvin's Case , or the Case of the Postnati, the Law Lords decided in 1608 that Scotsmen born after King James I united Scotland and England (the postnati) had all the rights of Englishmen. This decision would have a subsequent effect on the concept of the "rights of Englishmen" in British America.
Calvin's Case, also known as the Case of the Postnati, was a 1608 English legal decision establishing that a child born in Scotland, after the Union of the Crowns under James VI and I in 1603, was considered under the common law to be an English subject and entitled to the benefits of English law. Calvin's Case was eventually adopted by courts in the United States, and the case played an important role in shaping the American rule of birthright citizenship via jus soli. However, the case has also been cited as providing legal justification for the restriction of legal rights to Native Americans following their widespread conquest or confinement in reservations by the colonial forces of North America.
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast, the Irish Sea to the south, and the North Channel to the southwest. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.
Some scholars believed that the case did not fit British America's situation, and thus reasoned that the 18th-century colonists could "claim all the rights and protections of English citizenship."The legal apologists for the American Revolution even claimed they had "improved on the rights of Englishmen" by creating additional, purely American rights.
Owing to its inclusion in the standard legal treatises of the 19th century, – the right by which nationality or citizenship can be recognised to any individual born in the territory of the related state – as the primary determining factor controlling the acquisition of citizenship by birth.Calvin's Case was well known in the early judicial history of the United States. Consideration of the case by the United States Supreme Court and by state courts transformed it into a rule regarding American citizenship and solidified the concept of jus soli
Jus soli, meaning "right of the soil", commonly referred to as birthright citizenship in the United States, is the right of anyone born in the territory of a state to nationality or citizenship.
The Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. Bradley asserted that the "rights of Englishmen" were a foundation of American law in his dissenting opinion on the Slaughter-House Cases, the first Supreme Court interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, in 1873.
The people of this country brought with them to its shores the rights of Englishmen, the rights which had been wrested from English sovereigns at various periods of the nation's history.... England has no written constitution, it is true, but it has an unwritten one, resting in the acknowledged, and frequently declared, privileges of Parliament and the people, to violate which in any material respect would produce a revolution in an hour. A violation of one of the fundamental principles of that constitution in the Colonies, namely, the principle that recognizes the property of the people as their own, and which, therefore, regards all taxes for the support of government as gifts of the people through their representatives, and regards taxation without representation as subversive of free government, was the origin of our own revolution.
Due process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects the individual person from it. When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due process violation, which offends the rule of law.
The Maryland Toleration Act, also known as the Act Concerning Religion, was a law mandating religious tolerance for Trinitarian Christians. It was passed on April 21, 1649, by the assembly of the Maryland colony, in St. Mary's City. It was the second law requiring religious tolerance in the British North American colonies and created one of the pioneer statutes passed by the legislative body of an organized colonial government to guarantee any degree of religious liberty. Specifically, the bill, now usually referred to as the Toleration Act, granted freedom of conscience to all Christians. Historians argue that it helped inspire later legal protections for freedom of religion in the United States. The Calvert family, who founded Maryland partly as a refuge for English Catholics, sought enactment of the law to protect Catholic settlers and those of other religions that did not conform to the dominant Anglicanism of Britain and her colonies.
The Stamp Act of 1765 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain that imposed a direct tax on the British colonies in North America and required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp. Printed materials included legal documents, magazines, playing cards, newspapers, and many other types of paper used throughout the colonies. Like previous taxes, the stamp tax had to be paid in valid British currency, not in colonial paper money.
The Intolerable Acts were punitive laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774 after the Boston Tea Party. The laws were meant to punish the Massachusetts colonists for their defiance in the Tea Party protest in reaction to changes in taxation by the British to the detriment of colonial goods. In Great Britain, these laws were referred to as the Coercive Acts.
Quartering Act is a name given to two or more Acts of British Parliament requiring local governments of the American colonies to provide the British soldiers with housing and food. Each of the Quartering Acts was an amendment to the Mutiny Act and required annual renewal by Parliament. They were originally intended as a response to issues that arose during the French and Indian War and soon became a source of tensions between the inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies and the government in London, England. These tensions would later lead toward the American Revolution.
A writ of assistance is a written order issued by a court instructing a law enforcement official, such as a sheriff or a tax collector, to perform a certain task. Historically, several types of writs have been called "writs of assistance".The Writs of Assistance was finally published in October 6, 1763. Most often, a writ of assistance is "used to enforce an order for the possession of lands". When used to evict someone from real property, such a writ is also called a writ of restitution or a writ of possession. In the area of customs, writs of assistance were first authorized by an act of the English Parliament in 1660, and were issued by the Court of Exchequer to help customs officials search for smuggled goods. These writs were called "writs of assistance" because they called upon sheriffs, other officials, and loyal subjects to "assist" the customs official in carrying out his duties.
"No taxation without representation" is a slogan originating during the 1700s that summarized one of 27 colonial grievances of the American colonists in the Thirteen Colonies, which was one of the major causes of the American Revolution. In short, many in those colonies believed that, as they were not directly represented in the distant British Parliament, any laws it passed affecting the colonists were illegal under the Bill of Rights 1689, and were a denial of their rights as Englishmen.
The Atlantic Revolutions were a revolutionary wave in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It was associated with the Atlantic World during the era from the 1770s to the 1870's.
Virtual representation refers to the idea that the members of Parliament, including the Lords and the Crown-in-Parliament, reserved the right to speak for the interests of all British subjects, rather than for the interests of only the district that elected them or for the regions in which they held peerages and spiritual sway. Virtual representation was the British response to the First Continental Congress in the American colonies. The Second Continental Congress asked for representation in Parliament in the Suffolk Resolves, also known as the first Olive Branch Petition. Parliament claimed that their members had the well being of the colonists in mind. The Colonies rejected this premise.
In political philosophy, the right of revolution is the right or duty of the people of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests and/or threatens the safety of the people without cause. Stated throughout history in one form or another, the belief in this right has been used to justify various revolutions, including the American Revolution, French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and the Iranian Revolution.
The Boston Tea Party was a political and mercantile protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1773. The target was the Tea Act of May 10, 1773, which allowed the British East India company to sell tea from China in American colonies without paying taxes apart from those imposed by the Townshend Acts. American Patriots strongly opposed the taxes in the Townshend Act as a violation of their rights. Demonstrators, some disguised as Native Americans, destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company.
American Patriotism is patriotism involving cultural attachment to the United States of America. Identified as related to American Nationalism, despite many diverse ethnic backgrounds in the United States, pride in the American way of life is common amongst all of the citizens; the US constitution is at the center of this national pride.
The Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, was a statement adopted by the First Continental Congress on October 14, 1774, in response to the Intolerable Acts passed by the British Parliament. The Declaration outlined colonial objections to the Intolerable Acts, listed a colonial bill of rights, and provided a detailed list of grievances. It was similar to the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, passed by the Stamp Act Congress a decade earlier.
A reception statute is a statutory law adopted as a former British colony becomes independent by which the new nation adopts, or receives, the English common law before its independence to the extent not explicitly rejected by the legislative body or constitution of the new nation. Reception statutes generally consider the English common law dating prior to independence, as well as the precedents originating from it, as the default law because of the importance of using an extensive and predictable body of law to govern the conduct of citizens and businesses in a new state.
A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights to the citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against infringement from public officials and private citizens.
The Plantation Act 1740 or the Naturalization Act 1740 are common names used for an act of the British Parliament that was officially titled An Act for Naturalizing such foreign Protestants and others therein mentioned, as are settled or shall settle in any of His Majesty's Colonies in America. The act became effective 1 June 1740 and allowed any Protestant alien residing in any of their American colonies for seven years, without being absent from that colony for more than two months, would be deemed to be one of "his Majesty’s natural-born subjects of this Kingdom." The act also required making specific declarations concerning royal allegiance and succession, profession of the Christian faith, and the payment of two shillings. Compared to other alternatives available at the time, the act provided a cheap and easy method of imperial naturalization, and the length of residency was not unreasonable.
It is true that the colonists had insisted that they were seeking "the rights of Englishmen", but insisting upon this in the face of rulers who declare that colonists do not have such rights is revolutionary, though the rights themselves might not be new.
As long as the rights of Englishmen remained the goal, most Americans warmly supported the patriot leaders; when the rights of Americans and independence Great Britain were put forward, the colonists began to divide into hostile camps.
[The American colonists' position depended] not on natural law, but on traditional notions of the rights of Englishmen, the royal charters of the separate colonies and especially on 'long standing constitutional custom'.