Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament, 1774
About This Text
Author: James Wilson
Composed: c.1774 CE
Published in 1774, James Wilson’s essay “Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament” argues that British Parliament did not have the right to legislate for the colonies. The essay was first composed in 1768, during the crisis over the Townshend Acts, but was not published until 1774, when tensions had heightened between Britain and the colonies considerably. Wilson argues that legislative authority is only possible in a truly representative body and that Parliament could not be truly representative of the colonies, only their own assemblies could. Wilson notes that the colonies are united to Britain only by way of allegiance to the Crown. Despite maintaining his loyalty to the Monarchy in this pamphlet, Wilson would vote to sever ties with Britain in the Second Continental Congress just two years later, becoming one of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence.