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Donald S Lutz - Colonial Origins of the American Constitution

Donald S Lutz - Colonial Origins of the American Constitution

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Published by Juan del Sur
A collection of eighty documents which demonstrate how local government in colonial America was the seedbed of American constitutionalism. Most of these documents, commencing with the Agreement of the Settlers at Exeter in New Hampshire, July 5, 1639, and concluding with Joseph Galloway’s Plan of Union, 1774—”the immediate precursor to the Articles of Confederation”—have never before been accessible to the general reader or available in a single volume.
A collection of eighty documents which demonstrate how local government in colonial America was the seedbed of American constitutionalism. Most of these documents, commencing with the Agreement of the Settlers at Exeter in New Hampshire, July 5, 1639, and concluding with Joseph Galloway’s Plan of Union, 1774—”the immediate precursor to the Articles of Confederation”—have never before been accessible to the general reader or available in a single volume.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Juan del Sur on Apr 04, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/18/2014

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Taken from E. S. Morgan, ed.,The Founding of Massachusetts: The Historians and
Their Sources
(Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1964), 406. The spelling is
Morgan’s.

May 18, 1631

Although elections had been held in a number of colonies prior to this date, the
Massachusetts Election Agreement is probably the oldest formal colonial provision
defining an election process. The “commons” referred to here included all freemen,
as clarified by an agreement on May 9, 1632. A “freeman” was one who held town
privileges, one of which was the right to live in that town. A “freeholder,” on the
other hand, was a freeman who owned a certain amount of land, usually forty or fifty
acres. The use of “freeman,” therefore, essentially included all adult males in
elections, without any property holding requirement, and established popular
sovereignty, representation, political equality, and majority rule.

For explanation of an order made the last general court, held the 19th of October last,
it was ordered now, with full consent of all the commons then present, that once in
every year, at least, a general court shall be held, at which court it shall be lawful for
the commons to propound any person or persons whom they shall desire to be chosen
assistants, and if it be doubtful whether it be the greater part of the commons or not, it
shall be put to the poll. The like course to be held when they, the said commons, shall
see cause for any defect or misbehavior to remove any one or more of the assistants.
And to the end the body of the commons may be preserved of honest and good men, it
was likewise ordered and agreed that for time to come no man shall be admitted to the
freedom of this body politic but such as are members of some of the churches within
the limits of the same.

Online Library of Liberty: Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History

PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010)

58

http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/694

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