Popular Basis of Political Authority

CHAPTER 2 | Document 8

Instructions to the Delegates from Mecklenburg, North Carolina, to the Provincial Congress at Halifax

1 Nov. 1776Colonial Records 10:870a--b

Gentlemen: You are chosen by the inhabitants of this county to serve them in Congress or General Assembly for one year and they have agreed to the following Instructions which you are to observe with the strictest regard viz.: You are instructed:

1. That you shall consent to and approve the Declaration of the Continental Congress declaring the thirteen United Colonies free and independent States.

2. That you shall endeavor to establish a free government under the authority of the people of the State of North Carolina and that the Government be a simple Democracy or as near it as possible.

3. That in fixing the fundamental principles of Government you shall oppose everything that leans to aristocracy or power in the hands of the rich and chief men exercised to the oppression of the poor.

4. That you shall endeavor that the form of Government shall set forth a bill of rights containing the rights of the people and of individuals which shall never be infringed in any future time by the law-making power or other derived powers in the State.

5. That you shall endeavour that the following maxims be substantially acknowledged in the Bills of Rights (viz.):

1st. Political power is of two kinds, one principal and superior, the other derived and inferior.

2d. The principal supreme power is possessed by the people at large, the derived and inferior power by the servants which they employ.

3d. Whatever persons are delegated, chosen, employed and intrusted by the people are their servants and can possess only derived inferior power.

4th. Whatever is constituted and ordained by the principal supreme power can not be altered, suspended or abrogated by any other power, but the same power that ordained may alter, suspend and abrogate its own ordinances.

5th. The rules whereby the inferior power is to be exercised are to be constituted by the principal supreme power, and can be altered, suspended and abrogated by the same and no other.

6th. No authority can exist or be exercised but what shall appear to be ordained and created by the principal supreme power or by derived inferior power which the principal supreme power hath authorized to create such authority.

7th. That the derived inferior power can by no construction or pretence assume or exercise a power to subvert the principal supreme power.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 2, Document 8
The University of Chicago Press

The Colonial Records of North Carolina. Edited by William L. Saunders. 10 vols. Raleigh: Josephus Daniels, 1886--90.

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