Declaration of Rights
Drawn up by Dr. Moses Jacques
Adopted by the Equal Rights Party in January or August, 1836, as Its Ofﬁcial Platform
- We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created free and equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent inalienable rights; among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
- That the true foundation of Republican Government is the Equal Rights of every citizen, in his person and property, and in their management.
- That the idea is quite unfounded, that on entering into society we give up any natural right. The rightful power of all legislation is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us. No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the law ought to restrain him. Every man is under the natural duty of contributing to the necessities of society; and this is all the law should enforce on him. When the laws have declared and enforced all this, they have fulﬁlled their functions.
- We declare unqualiﬁed hostility to bank notes and paper money as a circulating medium, because gold and silver is the only safe and constitutional currency.
- Hostility to any and all monopolies by legislation because they are violations of the equal rights of the people.
- Hostility to the dangerous and unconstitutional creation of vested rights, or prerogatives by legislation, because they are usurpations of the people’s sovereign rights.
- That no legislative or other authority in the body politic can rightfully, by charter or otherwise, exempt any man or body of men, in any case whatever, from trial by jury and the jurisdiction or operation of the laws which govern the community.
- We hold that each and every law, or act of incorporation, passed by preceding legislatures, can be rightfully altered or repealed by their successors; and that they should be altered or repealed, when necessary for the public good, or when required by a majority of the people.
The Equal Rights Party were called the “Locofoco Party” by the Whigs and by conservative elements within the Democratic Party.
The ﬁrst three planks of this platform are lifted directly from Thomas Jefferson. The ﬁrst plank is lifted directly from the United States Declaration of Independence.
The sixth article of the constitution of the Equal Rights Party read as follows:
No person shall be considered eligible for nomination who has not signed the declaration of rights.
Each candidate for ofﬁce shall be required to sign such written pledge as the equal rights party may frame, enumerating particular measures he is to advocate or oppose.
See also The Plaindealer (1836–1837), edited by William Leggett.