Blacks born in colonial America were Englishmen, and native Africans could be nothing less than indentured servants under English law. White colonists did not legally own colonial blacks. They were crime victims under English law since colonial assemblies did not possess the power and authority to enact a “positive law” to legalize slavery during colonial times. Further, colonial slavery violated the Royal Assent by Commission Act of 1541 that required the King’s permission unto all statutes and laws enacted in the Kingdom and the Sedition Act of 1661 that criminalized a legislature and its member for purporting to enact a law without the King’s permission. British imperial policies were deliberate attacks upon colonial slavery and were contemplated to have adverse consequences for colonial slavery’s continuation.
Not surprisingly, significant slaveowners representatives and colonials immediately resisted varied imperial initiatives. The legal consequence of legislatively avoiding colonial statutes destroyed the underpinning of colonial slavery. Thus, when the 13 colonies issued their Declaration of Independence in 1776… the issue of whether “colonial statutes” created ownership title had been judicially resolved by the Somerset decision. In 1776… blacks born in colonial America were freeborn Englishmen, and kidnapped Africans were indentured servants under English law. Doubtlessly, colonial slave statutes and laws were legal nullities, having been legislatively avoided by the Parliament, and half of the 28 listed grievances are complaints about Parliament’s Declaratory Act of 1766.
The first nine grievances in the Declaration of Independence were:
(1) “He [King George III] has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good …”
(2) “He [King George III] has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them…”
(3) “He [King George III] has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.”
(4) “He [King George III] has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.”
(5) “He [King George III] has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with many firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.”
(6) “He [King George III] has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.”
(7) “He [King George III] has endeavoured to prevent the populations of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.”
(8) “He [King George III] has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.”
(9) “He [King George III] has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.”
Doubtlessly, it did not matter, as it was within the prerogative of King George III to withhold his assent to laws, forbid his governors from passing laws, dissolve Representative Houses, select judges, and everything else associated with Parliament’s Declaratory Act of 1766. Moreover, a collateral attack upon Parliament is highlighted in the thirteenth, twentieth, twenty-first, twenty-three, and twenty-eighth grievances in the Declaration of Independence. These grievances were:
(13) “He [King George III] has combined with others to subject us to jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.”
(20) “For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies.”
(21) “For taking our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments.”
(23) “For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in All cases whatsoever.”
(28) “He [King George III] has excited domestic insurrections amongst us and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.”
By the mid-eighteenth century, the English Crown had limited legal authority to govern in the colonies without Parliament’s acquiescence; therefore, the common grievance lodged by the 13 colonies was directed at England’s Parliament by way of the Declaratory Act of 1766. The Act legislatively abolished all colonial statutes and related regulations which were not lawfully promulgated, as well as… suspended legislative assemblies and, by so doing, returned colonial affairs to status quo ante. Nonetheless, the 13 colonies averred that King George III had altered colonial “Forms of our Governments.” These grievances, even if legitimate, did not retroactively repeal or otherwise rescind Parliament’s legislative power to avoid “colonial statutes.” Firstly, Parliament possessed the plenary power to abolish colonial statutes, and the Declaratory Act had the force of law. Secondly, these sophisticated, enlightened, and learned Americans allowed ten years to pass to surmount an objection to the Declaratory Act. Thirdly, the 13 colonial legislative assemblies were being penalized for flagrantly bypassing the King and enacting laws in violation of the colonial charter. Fourthly, concerning altering colonial “Forms of our Government,”… a wrong-doer could not benefit from his actions. Thus, the 13 colonies had no right to complain about losing something they were never lawfully entitled to possess.
The colonial slave statutes and related regulations were objective violations of colonial charters. The colonial legislative structure was bicameral, and any valid colonial statute, law, order, and regulations required England’s King’s permission to be deemed in accord with English law. The colonial legislative assemblies enacted and enforced statutes and laws which were “repugnant” to established English statutes and laws, and/or they failed to secure the permission of England’s King. None of the colonial slave statutes, laws, orders, and related regulations complied with both requirements. Thus, Parliament in 1766 had a legitimate reason to exercise its legislative supremacy powers and authority over the colonial legislative assemblies and avoid “colonial statutes” in colonial America legislatively. Moreover, Parliament possessed plenary power to avoid any colonial statute and did not need to have a legitimate reason to enact the Declaratory Act of 1766… based upon parliamentary sovereignty and the subordinate status of colonial legislative assemblies. This fact alone causes one to conclude that a daunting legislative hurdle was erected before the colonists in 1766 that could not be surmounted, absent Parliament’s repeal of the Declaratory Act, which did not occur.