The American Legal System

Topics: United States Constitution, Law, Separation of powers Pages: 6 (2063 words) Published: December 2, 2012
When settlers arrived to the nation which would become the United States of America, colonies were governed by British colonial rule, which was carried out by governors for each colony appointed by the English crown. By 1774, each colony had established a Provincial Congress, or an equivalent governmental institution, to govern itself, but the colonies still abided under crown rule. The Kingdom of Great Britain was one of the major participants in the Seven Years' War which lasted between 1756 and 1763. Britain emerged from the war as the world's leading colonial power of that period. The Seven Year war was massively expensive for Great Britain and had drained the economic resources of the kingdom. In 1774, to raise revenue, the British Parliament enacted a series of measures to increase the amount of tax collected from the colonies. These measures, which we refer to today as the Intolerable Acts, angered the colonists. The first of the Intolerable Acts was the Boston Port Act, which closed the port of Boston to all colonists until damages from the Boston Tea Party were paid. The second, the Massachusetts Government Act, gave the British government total control of town meetings, taking all decisions out of the hands of the colonists. The third, the Administration of Justice Act, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America and the fourth, the Quartering Act required colonists to house and quarter British troops on demand. Many colonists viewed the acts as an iniquitous violation of their rights, and in 1774 at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania they organized the First Continental Congress to coordinate a protest. It is historically accurate to point out that the Congress was attended by 56 members appointed by the legislatures of twelve of the Thirteen Colonies, the exception being the Province of Georgia, which was hoping for British assistance with Indian problems on its frontier. [1] The congress met to discuss what their options were and to draft a petition to King George III. This petition (which would become known as the Olive Branch Petition) appealed directly to the king and expressed hope for reconciliation between the colonies and Great Britain. The petition was undermined however, due to a confiscated letter of John Adams. John Adams wrote a letter to a friend expressing his discontent with the Olive Branch Petition. He wrote war was inevitable and he thought the Colonies should have already raised a navy and captured British officials. This confiscated letter arrived in Great Britain at about the same time as the Olive Branch petition. The British used Adams' letter to claim that the Olive Branch Petition was insincere.[2] In August 1775 the colonies were formally declared in rebellion by the Proclamation of Rebellion, and the petition was rejected de facto, although not having been received by the king before declaring the colonists traitors.[3] Richard Penn and Arthur Lee were dispatched by Congress to carry the petition to London, where, on August 21, they provided Lord Dartmouth, Secretary of State for the Colonies, with a copy. However, the King refused to see Penn and Lee or to look at the petition, which in his view originated from an illegal and illegitimate assembly of rebellious colonists [4] On August 23rd 1775, King George III having grown tired of the discontent of the colonists issued a Proclamation for Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition, declaring the colonies to be in a state of rebellion and ordering "all our officers . . . and all our obedient and loyal subjects, to use their utmost endeavors to withstand and suppress such rebellion."[5] The proclamation issued by the king brought forth the American Revolutionary War The first Continental Congress had already established that a second Congress be formed in the event that the Olive branch Petition failed and thus on May 10, 1775 delegates from the thirteen colonies met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania....
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