THE SEEDS OF LIBERTY
The rights of the proprietors in East Hampton and Montauk cannot be properly understood without a brief presentation of the history surrounding the settlement of these lands by families of Puritan belief in the early 1600s.
1625 - Charles I takes throne
Charles I takes throne upon the death of James I. King and Parliament quarrel continuously; King claims divine right to govern.
1628 - Petition of Right issued
United opposition of Puritans, lawyers and members of the House of Commons are successful in obtaining a guarantee on the limitation of Royal powers.
1629 - Parliament dissolved / Puritans receive Royal charter for a self-governing colony.
King Charles dissolves Parliament (not to reconvene until 1640).
Demand for religious and political liberty among the Puritans increases. The charter of the Massachusetts Bay colony granted such liberties to the settler/proprietors in the form of a self-governing colony (see portrait of Samuel Adams pointing to 1629 charter).
1635 - Colony of Connecticut settled
A group headed by Lord Saye and Sele authorized John Winthrop the Younger (1606-76), son of the Bay Colony's Governor, to take control at the mouth of the Connecticut River. The settlers accepted Winthrop as Governor (before Mar. 1636) and the Massachusetts General Court laid down a plan of government (13 Mar.) And placed final authority in the hands of the "inhabitants."
1639 - Fundamental Orders of Connecticut adopted.
After the arrival of Rev. Thomas Shepard(Oct. 1635), who settled his followers at Newtown, Rev. Thomas Hooker departed with the remainder of his followers. Rev. Hooker made his democratic views known in a sermon (31 May 1638) in which he declared that authority should rest upon the free consent of the "people." His views, as well as those of his associates, John Haynes and Roger Ludlow (founded Fairfield and Stratford, 1638), were reflected in the Fundamental Orders (24 Jan. 1639) a frame of government adopted by Hartford, Windsor, and Wethersfield in Connecticut, and later Southampton, Easthampton and other towns on eastern Long Island. The Fundamental Orders are considered the first constitution of democratic government and are why Connecticut is known to this day as the “Constitution State.”
1642 - English civil war begins
Open war begins between Parliamentary forces and the King. Puritan farmer and Parliamentarian Oliver Cromwell proves effective as a military leader.
1648 - East Hampton purchased, English civil war ends
The land comprising East Hampton was purchased from the Indians up to the Montauk line at Napeague in 1648 by Theophilus Eaton, Governor of the Colony of New Haven, and Edward Hopkins, Governor of the Colony of Connecticut in 1648, for the benefit of the settlers. These Governors assigned the lands of East Hampton to the settlers by deed dated April 16th, 1651.
The English Civil war ended with Puritan army victorious. The English Assembly (Parliament) unites to protect England from without and King Charles I is found guilty at trial of High Treason. A Warrant of Execution is issued and in January,1649, the king is executed by decapitation. The Commonwealth of England is established and England is governed by the Puritans. Parliament disbanded twice for corruption and failure to represent the rights and interests of the people. Cromwell unsuccessfully attempts different models of representative government and serves as Lord Protector until his death in 1659.
1650 - First international boundary in America is established on Long Island.
An agreement between the Dutch at New Amsterdam and the independent colony of Connecticut (Commonwealth of England) established the current western boundary of Suffolk County.
1654 - Town of East Hampton independently established.
The original democratic constitution of the Town of Easthampton was adopted according to the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut which established a government by confederation of widespread Towns. Easthampton remained an independent settlement or plantation from 1648 until 1657, when it was admitted with equal privileges to the General Court (Assembly) at Hartford. Southampton was an earlier member of the "Connecticut Combination". The Fundamental Orders specified that four representatives would be sent by each township twice a year to the General Court at Hartford. The East End, therefore, sent eight members of its much smaller community. Southhold was a part of the religiously more cloistered colony of New Haven and descriminated in the allowance of citizens to equal rights and privileges.
1660 - Crown restored to King Charles II
Upon the restoration of King Charles II, the Anglican church was restored as the official Church of England. Parliament then passed many laws against the Puritans. Their worship was severly resticted and their political rights limited. A trial is held in England of the judges who, together with Oliver Cromwell, had issued the Order of Execution of Charles I in 1639. From the the strict morality of the Puritans with its emphasis on integrity and wisdom, the government of England returns to immorality and despotism.
The Puritans of New England were sympathetic with the cause of the Commonwealth. New Haven harbored the regicide judges Whalley and Goffe (1661). First to proclaim Charles II was Rhode Island (18 Oct. 1660), followed by Connecticut (14 Mar. 1661), New Haven (5 June), and Massachusetts (7 Aug.).
1664 - Duke of York gets Charter / Stuyvesant cedes New Amsterdam
On 22 Mar. 1664 Charles II granted his brother, James, Duke of York, all of Maine between the Ste. Croix and Kennebec Rivers and from the coast to the St Lawrence, all islands between Cape Cod and the Narrows, and all land from the western boundary of Connecticut to the eastern shore of Delaware Bay, with power to govern, subject to the reservation that judicial appeals might be taken to the crown.
On 2 Apr. the Duke appointed Col Richard Nicolls (1624-72) as chief of a commission to capture New Netherland and settle disputes in the New England colonies. A task force of 4 frigates reached New York Harbor (29 Aug), and on 7 Sept. Dutch Governor Stuyvesant, lacking support from the inhabitants, capitulated to Nicolls. In the context of Puritan repression in England, it is interesting that England was not at war with Holland at that time.
Connecticut and eastern Long Island (Suffolk) resisted the Duke’s claims. After a review by a commission, Suffolk was ceded to the Duke.
1665 - Meeting at Hempstead, “Duke’s Laws” established
Long Island, Staten Island, and Westchester, were constituted as "Yorkshire," with three ridings (East, Suffolk Co..; West, Staten Island, Brooklyn and northwest Queens; and North, Westchester and central Long Island). A meeting at Hempstead (11 Mar. 1665) of 34 deputies from 17 towns from Westchester and Long Island (13 English and 4 Dutch) approved th Duke's Laws (compilation by Matthias Nicolls), which contained a civil and criminal code, based in part on New England codes, provided for the election of overseers and a constable in each town, set up a general provincial organization of the courts and the militia, and assured freedom of conscience. No provision for a legislative assembly was made; Suffolk had lost its coveted New England liberties to elect their officers and levy the taxes.
1666 - East Hampton gets its first patent.
The 1666 patent was issued in the middle of the second Anglo Dutch war while Suffolk was still unsettled by the imposition of the Dukes Laws in 1665. Governor Richard Nicolls went to the Towns of Suffolk (then the "East Riding of Yorkshire") and issued land "patents" which recognized the Puritan settlers' ownership of the land and their Townships previously established outside of royal authority. The 1666 Town Patent for the Town of East Hampton was the first legal recognition of its township under royal authority.
What is eminently clear thoughout this history is that the Puritan men were adept at quickly taking advantage of opportunities to better establish protections of their liberties from royal encroachment. The significance of the early patents is that they legally guaranteed the settlers that the Duke of York could make no claims to their lands and also recognized their townships. Without the patents it is possible that they could have been subjected to unbridled tyranny.
1673-74 Dutch reoccupation of New York
Following the outbreak of the Third Anglo-Dutch War (Mar. 1672), a Dutch fleet arrived at New York Harbor (7 Aug.), and after a brief exchange of fire (8 Aug.) The fort surrendered to the Dutch land force under Capt. Anthony Colve, designated Governor General (12 Aug.). Esopus an Albany were speediliy occupied (15 Aug.) and Dutch officials appointed for both the province and the city of New Orange (New York, 17 Aug.). Western Long Island and settlements in New Jersey submitted, but the five towns of the East Riding (Suffolk) resisted. The province was restored to England by the Treaty of Westminster (19 Feb. 1674) and formally surrendered (10 Nov.) to Sir Edmund Andros, the deputy of the Duke of York to whom the province had been regranted by the king.
June, 1682 - East Hampton delivers grievance and petition of liberty of a “Generall and free Assembly of our Representatives”
Petitions to the Duke of York for an assembly were made after the Duke’s charter was restored in 1674. The most formidable of these was drawn up at a General Training of the Militia of the settlers of East Hampton in June, 1682. This formidable document, which evidences their knowledge of their appeal right to King Charles II, was delivered to Anthony Brockholst, the then Governor of the colony of New York.
Sept. 30, 1682 - Dongan appointed Governor
Thomas Dongan appointed governor of the proprietary province of New York.
Jan. 27, 1683 - Instructions issued to Governor Dongan
Instructions were issued to Governor Dongan concerning his administration. These instructions mark the dawn of a new era in the colony. After forty-two years of agitation and struggle for representative government since Director Kieft asked the advice of the people in the Smits case, and after many haltings, fluctuations, and defeats, the people of the colony had won their cause; and the Duke, evidently deeming it futile longer to resist the progress of reform in his colony, yielded to the popular demand, and directed the new Governor to call an assembly of the people.
Governor Dongan, by these instructions, was directed, with the advice of the council, in the name of the Duke, to issue writs for the election of a general assembly, and to state in such writs that the Duke “had thought fit that there shall be a general assembly of the freeholders the persons who they shall choose to represent them in order to consulting with themselves and the said council what laws are fit and necessary to be made and established for the good weal and government of the said colony and its dependencies and of all the inhabitants thereof.” The writs were to be issued at least thirty days before the time fixed for the meeting, which was to be in New York.
The Duke, by these instructions, also directed the Governor to inform the assembly at its first meeting that “for the future it is my resolution that tile said general assembly shall have free liberty to consult and debate among themselves all matters as shall be apprehended proper to be established for laws for the good government of the said colony of. New York and its dependencies."
This grant conferred ample power on the assembly, and vested it with full legislative authority, subject to a veto by the Governor and the Duke. The Duke also promised by the instructions “If such laws shall be propounded as shall appear to me to be for the manifest good of the country in general, and not prejudicial to me, I will assent unto and confirm
The instructions also gave to the Governor an absolute veto, for each law must have received his approval before being transmitted to the Duke for his confirmation. This made a double veto on the laws passed by the general assembly, and the assembly had no power to pass a bill over the veto. In this respect the assembly differed widely from the modem’ legislature, which, under the Constitution, has the absolute power Of legislation, even against an executive veto, if two thirds of the members of each house favor the passage of the law. By these instructions the assembly had full power to pass such laws as deemed best, but the laws, to be effectual, must have been, approved by the Governor and also by the Duke.
The instructions contained the further provision that a law passed by the assembly and approved by the Governor should be “good and binding” until the Duke should notify the Governor of his disapproval, after which time such laws ”shall cease and be null and void to all intents."
The instructions also gave the Governor power to adjourn and dissolve an assembly and call a new one at any time. The instructions contained provisions relative to revenue bills, the time a law should be in force, and the tenure of office, but without involving any question of principle now under consideration, and also the following important provision, which states, in substance, the rights conferred by the famous 39th Article of Magna Charta:
“And I doe hereby require and command you that noe mans life, member, freehold, or goods, be taken away or harmed in any of the places under your government but by established and knowne laws not repugnant to, but as nigh as may be agreeable to, the laws of the Kingdome of England.”
The importance of these instructions in the development of our constitutional history can scarcely be overestimated. The seeds of liberty had been planted in the colony long before the Duke of York became its owner, and it was inevitable that an absolute personal government must soon come to an end in a colony composed of such heterogeneous people, and working out a new destiny on the free soil, and breathing the free air of a new world. It was a place and a time eminently congenial to the development of free institutions, and the Duke could not hope to keep in subjection, either to his own will or the will of any governor, the political opinions, conduct, and personal rights - of the people in colony with a population that already numbered 15,000 and was rapidly increasing in political and commerce importance.
A proprietary government could not long be maintained in a colony with such a history and with such future, and against the popular unrest necessarily produced by the form of the existing government and method of administration, and also by the fact that its neighbors enjoyed the right of representative government.
Oct. 17, 1683 - New York’s first general assembly convenes
The first general assembly - Seventeen of the eighteen delegates chosen under governors writ assembled at Fort James in the New York and organized the first assembly in accordance- with the instructions issued by the Duke of York. It is greatly to be regretted that the journals of this assemblies, are lost. The names of all the delegates are gone, and while we cannot accord to them here the fame they deserve by preserving their names in our history, their work, nevertheless., remains and will endure. From the laws passed. by this assembly we learn that Mathias Nicolls speaker, and John Spragge, who was also a member of the council was clerk The governor’s council was a constituent part of the legislature, sustaining the relation to that body which the senate sustains to the modern legislature. The following were members of the council at this time: Anthony Brockholls, Frederick Flypsen, Stephen Van Courtland, Lucas Santen, John Spragge, and John Youngs.
It is said that the majority of the delegates to the assembly were Dutchmen, but both Dutch and English had long been familiar with the principles of popular government. It is a noteworthy fact that the great principles enunciated in the Charter of Liberties are drawn from the immortal Magna Charta, which had for nearly five centuries been the source and strength of English free institutions; yet these Dutchmen, no less zealous for liberty than their English neighbors, were willing to accept, adopt, and assert as their own, the rights of citizens as defined by the Great Charter.
The first assembly was not slow to appreciate its opportunity. The new l a colonial parliament, differing from its great original
In name and somewhat in organization; but it asserted and exercised the same general powers which had so long been possessed by its English prototype. It should not be forgotten as an item in our constitutional history that the first act of the first legislature was a charter intended to declare the principles that ought to be applied in the government of the colony, and these principles were to be applied to a proprietary government the same as in a royal province. The Duke of York was recognized as the proprietor, but his government was to be subject to the laws with which Englishmen had long been familiar. This charter, closely resembling our modern constitutions in form and substance, and containing many provisions which have been continued in those instruments, might properly be called the original constitution of New York. It established free parliamentary government in the colony a century before the independence of the new nation was acknowledged by England. This instrument is entitled “The Charter of Libertyes and priviledges granted by his Royall Highnesse to the Inhabitants of New Yorke and its dependencyes.”
The assurances contained in the instructions to Governor Dongan led the assembly confidently to expect the approval of this law by the Duke, and if it had received his final confirmation it would have become the general charter of the colony as a result of the joint action of the Duke, the Governor, the council, and the assembly, thus combining and representing all departments of government under the new policy.
This charter was passed by the assembly on 30th of October, 1683. This day must forever remembered as one of the golden days in the history of New York. and marked a new departure in constitutional government, and it deserves to rank with that other famous day, almost a century later, when on April 20, 1777, the colony became a state, and adopted a new Charter of Liberties and Privileges which we call the Constitution.
Feb. 6th, 1685 - Duke of York ascends throne as King James II.
The Charter and fourteen other laws passed by the assembly were formally published in front of the City Hall on the 7th of November, and were carried by Captain Mark Talbot to England for the Duke’s confirmation. The Duke actually signed the charter October 4, 1684, but, while it was awaiting some technical formality, Charles II., on the 6th of February, 1685, died, and the Duke thereupon became King James II. of England. His accession to the throne changed his point of view, and he then concluded that the charter was too broad. His title of proprietor had become merged in his higher title as King. The experience of his immediate predecessors evidently led him to the conclusion that a colonial legislature, like the English Parliament,, would be an inconvenient adjunct of government, and might interfere with the exercise of the royal prerogative.
Besides, the charter was drawn with reference to the proprietorship of proprietor. By becoming King he had ceased to be proprietor, and thecharter was therefore inaccurate in form. This of itself was deemed a sufficient objection to its approval by the King. But in disposing of the matter the King made the significant observation that the words “The People met in General Assembly” were not in any other Constitution in America. This charter, therefore, stands as the pioneer among charters, or constitutions conferring on the people the right of Representative government. This charter was vetoed by the King on the 3d of March, 1685. The assembly held another session in October, 1684. At the conclusion of this session it adjourned to meet in September, 1685.
Aug. 13, 1685 - Dongan proclaims dissolution of assembly.
Governor Dongan issued a proclamation dissolving the assembly. This action was deemed necessary in consequence of the death of Charles. The question was raised whether by his death the assembly was not, ipso facto, dissolved; and whether it could sit again as a legally constituted legislative body. The Governor and council, after mature consideration, concluded to remove any doubt by formally dissolving the assembly, and issuing writs for the election of another.
Oct. 20, 1685 - Second general assembly begins.
The second general assembly began its sessions. It passed six laws. At the close of the session this assembly adjourned to meet September 25, 1686; but on the 4th of September, 1686, Governor Dongan prorogued the assembly until March 25, 1687. But the assembly never met again, for on the 20th of January, 1687, it was dissolved by proclamation of the Governor.
June 10, 1686 - King James issues new commision to Gov. Dongan
King James issued a new commission to Governor Dongan appointing, him Captain General and Governor in Chief of the province of New York. The commission conferred on the Governor power, “with the advice and consent of the council, or the major part of them, to make, constitute, and ordain for the colony laws, statutes, and ordinances,” which should conform as nearly as practicable to the laws and statutes of England.
Such laws were to be sent to England within three months for the King’s approbation. The council was to be composed of seven members.
The Governor and council were given power to impose taxes, raise revenue establish courts, appoint officers, and, generally, to administer the affairs of the colony. No provision was made for an assembly, but the legislative power was vested in the Governor and council, subject to the King’s approval. Here the King receded from his policy of a representative government, which he had inaugurated while Duke of York, and retained in his own hands the control of colonial affairs.
Dec. 9, 1686 - First meeting of Gov. Dongan with his council under his new commission - East Hampton Town Patent issued.
Governor Dongan and his council held their first meeting under the new commission. They ordered that “all the branches of revenue, and all other laws that have been made since the year 1683, except such as His Majesty has repealed, remain and continue as they now are till further consideration.”
The Governor and council constituted the only legislative body in the colony, and proceeded substantially according to the practice then observed in parliamentary bodies. The Governor presided, and a bill was read three times before final passage.
The Town Pattent of East Hampton was issued for ,200 incorporating the freeholders and commonalty as a proprietary township under the laws of England. Four of the initial trustees of the municipal corporation established were Puritan men of military rank.
April 7, 1688 - New York annexed to New England.
The province of New York was annexed to New England by a commission issued by the King to Sir Edmund Andros, who was appointed Captain General and Governor in Chief. The powers of government and administration were substantially the same as those conferred on Governor Dongan by his commission of June 10, 1686.
Dec. 11, 1688 - James II abandons throne
James II. fled from Whitehall and abandoned his throne.
Feb. 13, 1689 - Crown tendered to William and Mary
The English Crown was tendered to William and Mary and accepted by them. The executive power was vested in the King. “Thus for the third time a Dutchman reigned in New York.”
Nov. 14, 1689 - Sloughter appointed Governor of New York
Henry Sloughter was appointed captain General and Governor in Chief of the province New York, by a commission, substantially in the form used on the appointment of Governor Dongan. Governor Sloughter was authorized, with the advice and consent the council, to call a general assembly, to be chosen constituted substantially like the earlier assemblies.
The Governor “by and with the advice and consent of the council and assembly, or the major part of them,” as authorized to enact for the colony “laws, statutes, and ordinances” which should conform as nearly as practicable to the laws and statutes of England. The Governor was given a veto of all laws, and they were also subject to final. confirmation by the Crown. Here we have a revival of the policy of representative assemblies, which had been inaugurated by the Duke of York in 1683, but which had been abandoned when the Duke became King.
April 24, 1690 - First Leisler assembly
An assembly was held under a call issued by Jacob Leisler, who had taken possession of the government of the province after the abdication of King James. This assembly was doubtless an unauthorized body, for the right to hold assemblies had been in effect revoked by the second commission to Governor Dongan, and by the commission to Governor Andros on the annexation of the colony to New England. These vested legislative power in the Governor and council. Besides, a new commission had been issued by the new English government to Henry Sloughter, as Governor of New York. He, alone, was authorized to call an assembly. The Leisler assembly passed one law at its first session.
Sept. 15, 1690 - Second Leisler assembly
The Leisler assembly held another session and passed two laws.
March 19, 1691 - Sloughter arrives in New York
Governor Sloughter arrived in New York, and immediately published his commission and proclaimed his authority. He ordered an election. Of a new assembly to meet on the 9th of April, 1691.
April 9, 1691 - A new assembly is had under the authority of William and Mary
A new assembly, called under the authority of the new English monarchy, met in the city of New York, and resumed the functions of representative government by the people, which had been interrupted during the reign of King James II.
Thenceforth the assembly was a regular department of colonial government until the Revolution, when the assembly, without being regularly dissolved, ceased to exist, or, at least, to exercise its functions, after April 3, 1775. Its successor was the assembly which met at Kingston September 10, 1777, under the founding constitution of the new State of New York.
May 13, 1691 - The new Charter of Liberties
The first Charter of Liberties, passed October 30, 1683, had been at first approved by James as Duke of York, but later was disapproved by him as King. Under the reorganized English government of William and Mary the new colonial assembly, which seemed now to promise permanency, deemed it important to reassert the principles contained in the original charter. The change of the government and the new status of the colony towards the home government were indicated in the titles of the two statutes The first, i683, is “The Charter of Libertyes and priviledges granted by His Royall Highnesse to the Inhabitants of New Yorke and its dependencyes. This, though in form a statute enacted by the colonial legislature, is really a grant of constitutional powers and privileges by the proprietor and lord of the colony. When the new statute of 1691 was passed the title of the proprietor had become merged in the Crown; so here we have ”An Act Declaring What are the Rights and Privileges of Their Majestyes Subjects Inhabiting within Their Province of New York." This indicated a new relation, which was continued until the Revolution.
New York, from its condition as a Dutch commercial settlement under the jurisdiction and control of a foreign corporation, and then as a colony under an English lord proprietor, had become in the process of evolution a province of the English government; and the people of the province could exercise for themselves only such powers of local government and possessed only such privileges as were conferred on them by the Crown.
The bill for a new charter was introduced on the 27th of April, 1691, by the speaker, James Graham, one of the most distinguished men of the colony, was passed on the 8th of May, and sent to the council. On the 12th the council, Governor Sloughter presiding, amended the bill, reducing the required quorum in the council from seven to five, defining a freeholder, and adding the provision against Catholics. The bill in its final form was passed on the 13th of May.
The new charter is in many respects quite like its earlier prototype. The preamble to the act states that the representatives are “deeply sensible of their Matys most gratious favor in restoring to them the undoubted rights and privileges of Englishmen,” by providing for “assemblies of the inhabitants, being freeholders,” and vesting them with powers of local government, which is declared to be a “most excellent constitution,” and one “much esteemed by our ancestors."
The act then recites that the “supreme legislative power and authority” shall be and reside in a governor and council appointed by the Crown, “and the people by their representatives, mett and convened in general assembly.” The act provided for annual sessions of the assembly; it conferred the right to vote for representatives on “every freeholder within this province and any freeman in any corporation;” a freeholder was defined to be one who “fourty shillings P. Annum in freehold;” it contained an apportionment of members of future assemblies; it made the assembly the judge of the election and qualifications of its members; it exempted members from arrest during the session, and while going to and returning from the same; it provided for elections to fill vacancies in the office of representatives; it fixed the quorum in the council at five; it reasserted substantially the rights of citizens stated in the 39th and 40th Articles of Magna Charta, and also other provisions of that great instrument; it provided for a grand jury in criminal cases, and for a trial jury of twelve in all cases; it contained provisions against quartering soldiers, and also against commissions under martial law; it declared all lands “freehold and inheritance in free and common soccage according to the tenure of East Greenwich” in England; it made a conveyance by a married woman invalid, unless on a private examination she acknowledged that the conveyance was made “freely and without threats or compulsion of her husband;” it conferred religious liberty on those who “profess faith in God by Jesus Christ His only Son excepting ”persons of the Romish religion,” “who were prohibited from exercising their manner of worship contrary to the laws and statutes" of England.
On the 16th of May the Governor, council. and assembly met at the fort and proceeded in a “solemn, manner” to the City Hall, where the act, with others, was read and proclaimed.
Under Governor Sloughter’s commission, authorizing an assembly and providing for local government by the people through a colonial legislature, this act became effectual on its approval by the Governor and council, but subject to its disapproval or repeal by the home government. The act was’ committed to the Lords of Trade for their consideration, who, on the11th of May, 1697, reported adversely, objecting, among other things, that the act gave to the representatives “too great and unreasonable privileges during the sitting of the assembly” also that the exemption from quartering soldiers was too broad. They also objected that the act contained “ several large and doubtful expressions." (Perhaps these were the quotations from Magna Charta.) The Lords of Trade recommended that the act be repealed, and that a charter substantially like that recently granted to Virginia be proposed for New York and passed by the assembly.
While this act did not receive the royal assent, it was in force in the colony more than six years, and probably repeal by the Crown did not materially affect any principle declared in it.
July 4th, 1776 - the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence complains that the King has interfered with the liberties of the colonists established through this history. Perhaps most specific to the above rights is the grievance:
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering, fundamentally, the forms of our governments
1777 - New York adopts a sovereign constitution of democratic government.
Immediately following the adoption of the Declaration of Independence the State of New York adopted its first constitution as such. (This constitution is published in full in the next chapter.) This document, much of which has continued into modern times, at its most important section in re: the East Hampton Town Patent of 1686, states:
XXXVI. AND BE IT FURTHER ORDAINED, that all grants of land within this State, made by the King of Great-Britain, or persons acting under his authority, after the fourteenth day of October, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, shall be null and void: But that nothing in this constitution contained, shall be construed to affect any grants of land, within this State, made by the authority of the said King or his predecessors, or to annul any charters to bodies politic, by him or them or any of them, made prior to that day... [Emph. Added]
1791 - The Federal Union adopts the Bill of Rights
Governor George Clinton (born Clinton) and the assembly of the now soveign state of New York opposed the ratification of the federal constitution. Its adoption by a 30 to 27 vote was only due to the fact that failure to ratify meant succession from the United States of America which had previously existed under the Articles of Confederation. As the new constitution had no provisions for the protection of the liberties which had been gained as the result of New York’s long and honorable struggle, these chartered liberties were a hot focus of debate.
As a result, the representatives of the State of New York were focused on these rights and liberties and the manner in which they had been procured. The tenets and intent of the Bill of Rights, therefore, can only be fully understood in light of this history.
The sanctity of the rights established under the 1686 Patent of the Town of East Hampton under the Constitution of the United States of America appears well settled. (See U. S. Supreme Court decision in the great case of Dartmouth College vs. Woodward written by Chief Justice Alfred Marshall, 1819.) These rights continued for Montauk as spawned by the 1852 incorporation by the State Assembly at Albany (chapter 139).