Positions of Loyalist and Pro-Independence in Terms of Rights
- Pages: 4
- Word count: 964
- Category: Democracy
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The Loyalists believe that “there are no rights by nature” (Seabury, p. 54). Seabury says “We (Britains) have also rights! But no natural rights!” So the rights are given by the governing authority or man but not by nature. Furthermore, those who can’t defend themselves don’t have rights. In nature the lion eats the zebra and in man’s world you only get protection rights by the structure of the government and its enforcing entities. Why does one have rights? Rights come second, after given by the government.
Having a set up government in the right way then provides one with rights. One is protected what he is and owns by access to political power. The British Parliament had controlled colonial trade and taxed imports and exports since 1660. By the 1760s the Americans were being deprived of a historic right. The English Bill of Rights 1689 had forbidden the imposition of taxes without the consent of Parliament. Since the colonists had no representation in Parliament the taxes violated the guaranteed Rights of Englishmen. Parliament contended that the colonists had virtual representation.
The government should represent the people. The government should be based on the people, there should be consent of the people: so called “virtual” representation. You do not need a vote so there is no democratic process involved. You do not need to be there and you do not need an official representative. You are nevertheless being represented by the government (royalty) and therefore obligated to obey and follow instructions.
As long as the representatives of the nations agree everything is in order and “ok”, and that is the mix among the rule of one (the monarch), the few (aristocracy) and many (a merely representative parliament and the House of Commons). The house of common is constituted by the rising upper classes/bourgeoisie. The Loyalists also thought that they solved the problem of Plato by their mixed government structure and saw the legitimate authority of the government given by heredity and god himself. It is a divine right.
The internal structure of the government can be seen as “whig” mixed. In other words in Loyalist opinion you get the best mix of monarchy, aristocracy and bourgeoisie. This kind of structure is seen to be balanced and properly mixed as it presents a good mix of rule of one, a few and the many. One does get the best out of each element which constitutes the government.
Other forms of government give one the worst of each element: the one and only (a dictatorship) for example. In British and colonial society there are different estates of people, therefore there are three different types or parts which constitute government. Seabury also states that the Pro-independence people have become unbalanced and “suggest the rule of the mob”. Puritanists like Williams hold similar opinions. Many colonialists did not have a problem with feudalism and a ruling king per se. Hamilton for example would have supported a king in America.
Pro-independence people believe that they are free in the absence of a external ruler (the king). So you are free as long gas there is no external government. One believes in the right of independence from Britain’s monarchy and that those liberties come with certain restrictions. The representation needs to be “direct” and “individual” (p. 75) and there needs to be a frequent interchange between making the rules and being ruled. As long as that is given, everything is “ok”. Representation is an exception (Paine), because in their view not all elements of democracy are good. However, there is no restriction without a voice/vote.
The structure of government should be constituted by the rule of the many, as Jefferson argues. Britain should only be dealing with external matters but not internal matters such as taxes. Britain broke a former deal that the monarchy get to control Britain and the American settlers would get to control their local affairs. And Britain stepped over with any consent. “Britain devours its own young. It has no interest besides Britain. They will devour us.” (Paine). Williams makes arguments about religion and favors the seperation of state and church, freedom of thought, religion and that one is not pressured top down in those matters.
It is not the government’s job to enforce god’s will. Williams also breaks with the puritans which foreshadows the argument of the Pro-independence people. He sees wrong in imposing your own will on others by force. “You are not commanded by god. God does not command uniformity of opinion. If your actions are disturbing the general peace, you can be punished.”
In Paine’s view, also those independent ideas were not “sufficiently fashionable (p. 81), “Britain has become corrupt, the king himself bought the power.” Britain has become a man created empire and is corrupted by greed. He argues, that the power of the church come from the bottoms and goes to the top. So according to him does the power in government. Additionally, Langdon pushes it to the limits and calls Britain a “dictatorship”. John Adams is directly responding to this: “The only thing that justifies authority of one person over another or justifies one person to obey is consent.
Of course and that goes without saying, only the white men consented, the slaved did not (after the definition of a free man). The colonies had the previous deal with Britain that they would govern themselves. That was the consent/agreement. And indeed colonies had a wide range of sovereignty. But as mentioned before Britain broke the agreement without consent. Britain is imposing its will on the colonies and the British want to live a luxurious lifestyle on the back and hard work of the colonies.