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CHAPTER 14|Document 17
Return of Beverly, Massachusetts1 June 1778Handlin 295
These being the sentiments of the town, in conformity thereto, you are hereby instructed to oppose the ratification of the Plan proposed by the State Convention, and should it be voted in, when it appears a considerable part of the People are not in favor of it, to enter your Protest explicitly against it. But, should the same be set aside, we expect that some other Body, distinct from the General Court, be delegated from among the people for the sole and entire purpose of forming a Bill of Rights and Constitution of Government; the 1st of which, we conceive, ought to describe the Natural Rights of Man pure as he inherits them from the Great Parent of Nature, distinguishing those, the Controul of which he may part with to Society for Social Benefits, from those He cannot: and the 2nd Mark out, with perspicuity and plainness what portion of them, and on what Conditions, they are parted with, clearly defining all the Restrictions and Limitations of Government, so as to admit of no Prevarication. It should also contain a full and fixed assurance of the Equivalent to be received in return.
Handlin, Oscar, and Handlin, Mary, eds. The Popular Sources of Political Authority: Documents on the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1966.
© 1987 by The University of Chicago