The dissolution of assemblies, the destruction of charters, and the use of troops produced in the colonies a new phase in the struggle. In the early days of the contest with the British ministry, the Americans spoke of their "rights as Englishmen" and condemned the acts of Parliament as unlawful, as violating the principles of the English constitution under which they all lived. When they saw that such arguments had no effect on Parliament, they turned for support to their "natural rights." The latter doctrine, in the form in which the colonists employed it, was as English as the constitutional argument. John Locke had used it with good effect in defense of the English revolution in the seventeenth century. American leaders, familiar with the writings of Locke, also took up his thesis in the hour of their distress. They openly declared that their rights did not rest after all upon the English constitution or a charter from the crown. "Old Magna Carta was not the beginning of all things," retorted Otis when the constitutional argument failed. "A time may come when Parliament shall declare every American charter void, but the natural, inherent, and inseparable rights of the colonists as men and as citizens would remain and whatever became of charters can never be abolished until the general conflagration." Of the same opinion was the young and impetuous Alexander Hamilton. "The sacred rights of mankind," he exclaimed, "are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written as with a sunbeam in the whole volume of human destiny by the hand of divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power."
Firm as the American leaders were in the statement and defense of their rights, there is every reason for believing that in the beginning they hoped to confine the conflict to the realm of opinion. They constantly avowed that they were loyal to the king when protesting in the strongest language against his policies. Even Otis, regarded by the loyalists as a firebrand, was in fact attempting to avert revolution by winning concessions from England. "I argue this cause with the greater pleasure," he solemnly urged in his speech against the writs of assistance, "as it is in favor of British liberty and as it is in opposition to a kind of power, the exercise of which in former periods cost one king of England his head and another his throne."
A.Their rights as Englishmen were violated by the acts of Parliament whereas their natural rights were not
B.Natural rights were part of the English constitution, which governed the Americans and Englishmen as well
C.Their rights as Englishmen were defined by the constitution of Britain whereas their natural rights were the rights of all human beings in the world which could not be altered by other men
D.Their natural rights were their rights as colonists applicable in America whereas their rights under the English constitution were applicable only in Britain
E.The Americans demanded their natural rights when their demand for their rights under the English constitution fell on the deaf ears of the Parliament
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