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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Declaration of Rights, 1776
North Carolina. Provincial Congress
December 17, 1776
Volume 23, Pages 977-979

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At a Congress of the Representatives of the Freemen of the State of North Carolina, Assembled at Halifax, the Seventh Day of December, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Six, for the Purpose of establishing a Constitution or Form of Government for the said State.

A Declaration of Rights made by the Representatives of the Freemen of the State of North Carolina.

Section I. That all political Power is vested in and derived from the People only.

Section II. That the people of this State ought to have the sole and exclusive Right of regulating the internal Government and Police thereof.

Section III. That no Man or set of Men are entitled to exclusive or separate Emoluments or Privileges from the Community, but in Consideration of Public Services.

Section IV. That the Legislative, Executive and Supreme Judicial Powers of Government ought to be forever separate and distinct from each other.

Section V. That all Power of Suspending Laws, or the Execution of Laws, by any Authority without Consent of the Representatives of People, is injurious to their rights and ought not to be exercised.

Section VI. That Elections of Members to serve as Representatives in General Assembly, ought to be free.

Section VII. That in all criminal Prosecutions every Man has a Right to be informed of the Accusation against him, and to confront the Accusers and Witnesses with other Testimony, and shall not be compelled to give Evidence against himself.

Section VIII. That no Freeman shall be put to answer any criminal Charge, but by Indictment, Presentment, Impeachment.

Section IX. That no Freeman shall be convicted of any Crime, but by the unanimous verdict of a Jury of good and lawful Men, in open Court as heretofore used.

Section X. That excessive Bail should not be required, nor excessive Fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishment inflicted.

Section XI. That General Warrants whereby any Officer or Messenger may be commanded to search suspected Places, without Evidence of the Fact committed, or to seize any Person or Persons not named, whose offence is not particularly described and supported by Evidence, are dangerous to Liberty, and ought not to be granted.

Section XII. That no Freeman ought to be taken, imprisoned or disseissed of his Freehold, Liberties or Privileges, or outlawed or exiled, or in any Manner destroyed or deprived of his Life, Liberty or Property, but by the Law of the Land.

Section XIII. That every Freeman restrained of his Liberty is entitled to a Remedy to enquire into the Lawfulness thereof, and to remove the same if unlawful, and that such Remedy ought not to be denied or delayed.

Section XIV. That in all Controversies at Law respecting Property, the ancient Mode of Trial by Jury is one of the best Securities of the Rights of the People, and ought to remain sacred and inviolable.

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Section XVI. That the Freedom of the Press is one of the great Bulwarks of Liberty, and therefore ought never to be restrained.

Section XVI. That the People of this State ought not to be taxed or made subject to the Payment of any Impost or Duty, without the Consent of themselves or their Representatives in General Assembly freely given.

Section XVII. That the People have a right to bear Arms for the Defence of the State; and as standing Armies in Time of Peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil Power.

Section XVIII. That the People have a right to Assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their Representatives, and to apply to the Legislature for Redress of Grievances.

Section XIX. That all Men have a natural and unalienable Right to worship Almighty God according to the Dictates of their own Conscience.

Section XX. That for redress of Grievances and for amending and strengthening the Laws, Elections ought to be often held.

Section XXI. That a frequent Recurrence to fundamental Principles is absolutely necessary to preserve the Blessings of Liberty.

Section XXII. That no Hereditary Emoluments, Privileges or Honours ought to be granted or conferred in this State.

Section XXIII. That Perpetuities and Monopolies are contrary to the Genius of a free State, and ought not to be allowed.

Section XXIV. That retrospective Laws, punishing Facts committed before the Existence of such Laws, and by them only declared criminal, are oppressive, unjust, and incompatible with Liberty, wherefore no Ex post Facto Law ought to be made.

Section XXV. The Property of the Soil in a free Government, being one of the essential Rights of the collective Body of the People, it is necessary in order to avoid future Disputes, that the Limits of the State should be ascertained with Precision; and as the former temporary Line between North and South-Carolina was confirmed and extended by Commissioners appointed by the Legislatures of the two States, agreeable to the Order of the late King George the Second, in Council, that Line, and that only, should be esteemed the Southern Boundary of this State, as follows; that is to say, Beginning on the sea side, at a Cedar Stake at or near the Mouth of Little River, being the Southern extremity of Brunswick County, and runs from thence a North-West Course through the Boundary House, which stands in thirty-three Degrees fifty-six Minutes to thirty-five Degrees North Latitude; and from thence a West Course so far as is mentioned in the Charter of King Charles the Second, to the late Proprietors of Carolina: Therefore all the Territories, Seas, Waters, and Harbours, with their Appurtenances, lying between the Line above described and the Southern Line of the State of Virginia, which begins on the Sea Shore in thirty-six Degrees thirty Minutes North Latitude, and from thence runs West, agreeable to the said Charter of King Charles, are the Right and Property of the People of this State, to be held by them in Sovereignty, any partial Line without the Consent of the Legislature of this State, at any Time thereafter directed or laid out, in any wise notwithstanding. Provided always, That this Declaration of Right shall not prejudice any Nation or Nations of Indians, from enjoying such Hunting Grounds as may have been, or hereafter shall be secured to them by any former or future Legislature of this State. And provided also, That it shall not be construed so as to prevent the establishment of one or more Governments Westward of this State, by consent of the Legislature. And provided further, That nothing herein contained,

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shall affect the Titles or Possessions of Individuals, holding or claiming under the Laws heretofore in Force, or Grants heretofore made by the late King George the Third, or his Predecessors, or the late Lords Proprietors, or any of them.

December the 17th Day, A. D. 1776, read the Third Time, and ratified in open Congress. Copy Test

R. CASWELL, President.
J. GLASGOW, Secretary.