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the court for the purpose of determining whether he was legally imprisoned. This did not apply in cases of arrest by the Royal Council, and as a result many persons had been illegally and arbitrarily imprisoned. To check this abuse, Parliament, in 1679, passed the Habeas Corpus Act, by which it was provided that no judge should refuse the writ to any prisoner, or to order his release from confinement if such confinement was illegal.
Bill of Rights. The other important measure is the Bill of Rights. When James II. was deposed, and William and Mary were called to the throne, there was annexed to the Act, which determined the future succession, a statement of rights which definitely fixed the limits of royal power and stated the principles of English constitutional government. After a recital of complaints
the Bill continues:
That the pretended power of suspending of laws, or the execu tion of laws by regal authority, without consent of parliament, is illegal.
That it is the right of the subject to petition the king; and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal.
That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with the consent of parliament, is against law.
That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of parliament.
That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
DATES OF PRINCIPAL EVENTS IN RISE OF AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS.
449-455 Conquest of Britain by the Saxons and Angles. 1050-65 Laws of Edward the Confessor.
1066 Norman Invasion of England.
1101 Charter of Liberties.
1215 Magna Charta.
1265 First House of Commons.
1295 House of Commons made Permanent.
1297 Confirmation of the Charter by Edward I.
1606 Charter of the Plymouth and London Companies. 1679 The Habeas Corpus Act.
1689 Bill of Rights.
GROWTH OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE.
Cause of American Revolution.-The American Revolution is traceable to one cause the violation of the rights and liberties of Englishmen, inherited by and guaranteed to the colonists. Until the cession of Canada to England the colonists had been allowed to exercise all the rights of Englishmen, for the menace of the French on the north and west was sufficient to warn the British ministry that any trouble or irritation would weaken its power in the New World. But with the fall of Quebec three measures were proposed which were intended to give the British Government more complete control over the colonists. These were the enforcement of the Acts of Trade, the taxation of the colonies and the quartering of troops in America.
Acts of Trade; Writs of Assistance.-The Acts of Trade were statutes which, first enacted during the reign of Richard II., had been so extended that at this time they practically prohibited the colonists from exporting their produce in any other than English ships, from importing goods from any other than English ports, or from manufacturing goods which could be made in England. While the original purpose of these measures was to destroy the Dutch trade with the colonists, it had developed into a
scheme to make of the colonies sources of supply for the markets of England and consumers of her products; and the colonists, appreciating this, continued their foreign trade by smuggling.
To detect and punish smugglers, recourse was had to Writs of Assistance, which were warrants issued by a court empowering officers to enter and search any prem ises for the purpose of finding smuggled goods. This action of the Government produced violent opposition throughout the colonies. James Otis declared that it was an invasion of private liberty such as had "cost one king of England his head and another his throne." He argued that the colonists were not bound to obey laws in the making of which they had no voice, and that the forcing of the colonists to pay exorbitant duties upon goods not imported from England was "taxation by a foreign legislature without our consent."
Quartering of Troops; Stamp Act. The excitement over the Writs of Assistance had not ceased before the ministry determined to station permanently in the colonies a force of ten thousand soldiers to aid the colonial governors in the enforcement of the laws. For the purpose of partially defraying the expense of these garrisons it was further proposed to levy a tax in the form of a stamp duty, and in 1765 the Stamp Act was passed. Its enactment was the signal for violent popular demonstrations in the colonies, and as a result a congress of delegates from Massachusetts, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York met at the city of New York, October 7, 1765. This meeting, known as the "Stamp Act Con
"lasted two weeks.
It drew up a Petition to tho
gress, English people, and a Declaration of Rights and Grievances, in which were set forth the rights of the colonists to the liberties of Englishmen, among which was the right to tax themselves; it complained of the Stamp Act and asked for a repeal of the Acts of Trade. But there was no suggestion of revolution. The determination of the colonists to protect their rights, and the support of a strong party in Parliament, compelled the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766, but the obnoxious principle underlying it was preserved; for with the Act of Repeal was passed the "Declaratory Act," whereby it was asserted that the colonies were
subordinate unto and dependent upon the Imperial Crown and Parliament of Great Britain, and that Parliament hath, and of right ought to have, full power to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects to the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever.
Townshend Acts of 1767.- It was not long before the threat implied in this declaration was carried out. In 1767 Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was opposed to a conciliatory policy, obtained the passage of Acts which placed duties on wine, oil, fruit, glass, paper
*There had been prior meetings for common purposes. In 1643 Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, Plymouth and New Haven had joined under the name of the "United Colonies of New England " in "a firm and perpetual league of friendship and amity for offense and defense..." Again, during the French and Indian War, representatives from the New England Colonies, and from New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland met at New York to devise plans of union and defense.