Archived Story

American Heritage: The right to ‘life, liberty and property’

Published 10:39pm Wednesday, June 13, 2012

“Patriotism — n. Love of one’s country; the passion which aims to serve one’s country, either in defending it from invasion, or protecting its rights and maintaining its laws and institutions in vigor and purity.” (Noah Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828)

On Sept. 5, 1774, 56 delegates met together in what came to be known as the First Continental Congress.

The colonists had a big decision to make. Do they make a clean break from England or do they try to resolve their differences and yield to the pressures that had been placed on them by the English government? Do they reject the taxes or do they accept them as a part of life? Do they demand to have their rights respected, or do they go on with seeing their rights taken away by this tyrannical government in England?

Paul Revere rode into town bearing a resolution known as “The Suffolk Resolves,” which was introduced to the delegates. It called for the colonies to defy the suppressive acts of the English Parliament. Those delegates who represented Massachusetts initiated this act. Congress approved it Sept. 17. This document called for the forming of a Colonial militia.

The delegates from Pennsylvania wanted to resolve the differences with England. They wanted to pass a resolution that would try to do just that. Their resolution was defeated on Sept. 28.

A great lesson can be learned by what took place in this vote.

Had Georgia been represented, their vote could have made a difference. The vote failed by one vote, and Georgia did not want to break away from England and wanted to patch up the colonies rift with their home country.

On Oct. 14, the Declarations And Resolves was passed. This Declaration condemned Parliament and the King of England because of their interference in the business of the Colonies. The Declaration also granted all of the Colonies the right to a Colonial Treasury and legislative process.

Following this, the Continental Association was adopted. This established a total boycott on products coming from England and their companies.

A petition was issued to King George III, called the “Declaration of Rights and Grievances.” This document is the document that preceded the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted only 1 1/2 years later.

This document stated the complaints that the Colonists had with the English government concerning their treatment by the English government.

It was, in this document, stated that the colonists had certain rights. In those rights were included those of “life, liberty and property.” They pointed out that they “have never ceded to any sovereign power whatever a right to dispose of either without their consent.”

Finally, a vote passed to set their next meeting for May 10, 1775, again in Philadelphia.  The Congress was dismissed and the delegates returned to their homes.

This meeting set the stage for uniting the Colonies and making it possible for a new country to be formed in the near future.

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