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FTER the Colonies of North America had completely renounced their allegiance to the Mother-Country, by their folemn Declaration of Independence, in the month of July 1776, each of the States into which they were then divided, adopted different forms of independent governments, befides entering into a general treaty of confederation and union. Thefe plans of new governments were completed at different times by the different States; a final fanction having been given fooner by some to that form which they chose to adopt, and later by others: thus, the constitution of the Colony of Maffachusetts was not finally fettled till the month of March 1780. The fame difference in point of time alfo took place in regard to the respective acceffions of the new American States to the general treaty of confederation; the Colony of Maryland, for instance, having only acceded to it in the fame month of March 1780, that is, about four years after the Declaration of Independence. To thefe circumstances it is very probably owing, that no Collection containing the above new Conftitutions, together, with the general treaty between the United States of North America, was for a long time published. At last, on the 29th of December


I 1780, that is, about eighteen months ago, an order was iffued by the Congrefs for printing correct copies of the above pieces. Why the Congrefs directed a small number to be published, is not faid; only two hundred copies are expreffed in their order, which were diftributed, fome months ago, to the principal men in America, and a few were fent over to Europe. One of thefe copies having fallen into the Editor's hands, he thinks the reprinting of it will not prove unacceptable to the Public, as the Collection here mentioned may be confidered as the Magna Charta of the United American States, as the code of their fundamental laws, and, in short, the book which the oppofite parties among them will at all times claim in fome fhape or other, and the knowledge of which is therefore neceffary to fuch perfons as wish to understand the prefent or future internal American politics.


In framing their refpective Conftitutions, each Colony has followed its own particular views from which it has refulted that their Governments are all different from one another. In the Colony of Pennsylvania, for inftance, they have especially directed their endeavours, not only towards eftablishing public frugality, but alfo towards preventing too much power of any kind falling into the hands of any individual; while the Colony of Maffachusetts have fhewn in that refpect much greater confidence, and have allowed the Governor of their • Commonwealth a degree of power at least equal to that poffeffed by the Stadtholder, in the Dutch Government only, he is to be chofen annually. In regard to the State of Rhode Island, as they already formed, before the American Revolution, a kind of independent

independent Republic, through the ceffion that had been made by Charles the Second to their Governor and Company, of all powers legislative, executive, and judicial, they have continued to admit their original Charter as the rule of their Government; and it has accordingly been inferted among the Conftitutions of the other United States.

It may be remarked, in refpect to the American Republican Governments, that they differ in two very effential points from the ancient Grecian and Italian Commonwealths, as well as from the modern European ones, which were all framed on the model of these: One, is the circumftance of the People being reprefented, in the new American Republicks; and the other, is the divifion of the Legiflature into two diftinct feparate bodies, that takes place in them, and which they have adopted, as well as many other effential regulations, from the British form of Government.

The precedency among the different American States, like that which obtains among the Helvetian Cantons and the Dutch Provinces, has not been settled from their refpective degrees of power and importance, but from the time of their existence, and the dates of their charter. The Treaty of perpetual Confederation between them, which is inferted in this book, may be confidered as the law, or code, by which the United States are intended to be confolidated into one common Republic; and as the different particular Conftitutions are to govern the different refpective States, fo the Treaty is the Conftitution, or mode of Government, for the collective North - American Commonwealth. The



copy of this Treaty, which is the most interesting part of the Collection, has accordingly been placed at the beginning of this new edition, together with the Declaration of Independence, which may be confidered as the ground-work of the whole prefent American political fyftem. This difpofition, which is that expreffed in the order iffued by the Congrefs, is also the most natural; and it has been rather improperly that the Committee appointed to form the Collection, have inferted these two pieces at the end of the book.

June 15, 1782.

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HEN, in the courfe of human events, it becomes necef

W fary for one people to diffolve the political bands which

have connected them with another, and to affume among the powers of the earth the feparate and equal ftation to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the feparation.

We hold these truths to be felf-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and.. the pursuit of happiness; that to fecure these rights governments are inftituted among men, deriving their juft powers from the confent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes deftructive of thefe ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to inftitutę new government, laying its foundation on fuch principles, and organizing its powers in fuch form, as to them fhall feem most likely to effect their fafety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long eftablished fhould not be changed for light and tranfient caufes; and accordingly all experience hath fhewn, that mankind are more difpofed to fuffer while evils are fufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abufes and ufurpations, purfuing inva



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