Essays Of Brutus To The Citizens Of New York

I need say no more, I presume, to an American, than that this principle is a fundamental one in all the constitutions of our own states; there is not one of them but what is either founded on a declaration or bill of rights or has certain express reservation of rights interwoven in the body of them.

From this it appears that, at a time when the pulse of liberty beat high and when an appeal was made to the people to form constitutions for the government of themselves, it was their universal sense that such declarations should make a part of their frames of government.

The same reasons which at first induced mankind to associate and institute government will operate to influence them to observe this precaution.

If they had been disposed to conform themselves to the rule of immutable righteousness, government would not have been requisite.

To effect this end, it was necessary that a certain portion of natural liberty should be surrendered, in order that what remained should be preserved.

How great a proportion of natural freedom is necessary to be yielded by individuals, when they submit to government, I shall not now inquire.

To set this matter in a clear light, permit me to instance some of the articles of the bills of rights of the individual states, and apply them to the case in question.

For the security of life, in criminal prosecutions, the bills of rights of most of the states have declared that no man shall be held to answer for a crime until he is made fully acquainted with the charge brought against him; he shall not be compelled to accuse or furnish evidence against himself—The witnesses against him shall be brought face to face, and he shall be fully heard by himself or counsel.

It is therefore as proper that bounds should be set to their authority as that government should have at first been instituted to restrain private injuries.

This principle, which seems so evidently founded in the reason and nature of things, is confirmed by universal experience.


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