The Sons of Liberty Constitution

This document was signed by 94 men probably early in 1766. It consists of a declaration of essential liberties and greviences, a list of signatories, and was occasioned by passage of the Stamp Act in 1765.

A photostat of the original document is in the collection of the Colonial Albany Social History Project. At this point, the provenance of the photostat is unclear. However, it is identical to the transcription published in 1876 in volume I of a Schenectady-based periodical entitled The American Historian and Quarterly Genealogical Record.

We believe this document could be of great value in understanding the processes by which colonists became revolutionaries. Over the past two decades, it has been studied closely by three graduate students associated with the project. While not yielding publishable results, those student exercises have shed a great deal of light on the lives of the signatories.

Especially with the names listed below, this web page will provide more insight on this important document in the future!

List of Signers

Thomas Young
Jer. V. Rensselaer
Henry J. Bogert
Nanning Visscher
David Edgar
John De Garmo
John Visscher
Wm. Benson
Barent Ten Eyck
John Van Allen
Thos. Lynott
Robt Henry
Harmanus Cuyler
Lucas Van Veghten
Cornelius Swits
Gysbert Fonda
John Ten Broeck
Peter Williams
Ari Lagrange
Nicholas Marselis
Abr. Ten Eyck
Matthew Watson
Henry B. Ten Eyck
Jacob G. Lansingh
Thos. Shipboy
Comfort Sever
David Smith
Isaac Dean
Jacob Cuyler
Peter Hansen
Corns. Wendells
B. Visscher   or [4101]
Garret A. Roseboom
William Pemberton
Jos. Young
Jacob B. Bogert
John F. Pruyn
Daniel Winne
Goose Van Schaick
Henry Ten Eyck Junr.
John G. Lansing
William J. Hilton
Richard Hilton   [7618 ]
Jacob ______ [possibly JK]
Anthony S. Van Schaick
John R. Hansen
Barnardus Halenbake
Gerrit Greverat
John J. Fisher
John E. Bratt
Peter W. Witbeck
Abraham Eight
Isaac Hogan
Jacob Fralick
Jacob Evertsen
John J. Hansen
Joseph French
Barent Bogert
Win___ Hallenb___
William Lottridge
Pieter Van Wie
Willem Van Wie
Casparus Van Wie
William Mc Intosh
John Scott
John Tillman, Jr.
John Cluet
Jacob Roseboom
John Hooghkerk
Thomas Lottridge
John Whitney
Jonathan Rumney
Danl Steel   [Daniel Steele]
J. Roorbach
Abram Lyle
Myndt. Roseboom
Bart. Roseboom
Dirick B.Van Schoonhoven
William Van Antwerp
Peter Yates
John Gansevoort
Ph. Lansing
Abram Schuyler
Barent Van Alen
W. Mancius
John G. Lansing
Saml. Pruyn
Dirck Roseboom
Dirk Swart
Isaac Deforeest
Rynier Van Yveren
Cornelis V. Veghten
John Cluet Junr.
John Marselis


Our interest in the Sons of Liberty in Albany first was aroused by reading Beverly McAnear, "The Albany Stamp Act Riots," published in the William and Mary Quarterly (1947), 86-98. He mentioned the so-called constitution and sought to identify the signers. He did a remarkable job for his time. However interesting, the article contains numerous errors - especially in his profiling of the signers!

The Document: After considering the printed version of the document as published in The American Historian, we initiated a search for the actual manuscript. Frustrated, we were astonished to be given what still appears to be a photostat of it by an unnamed friend during the early 1980s. We still have not been able to verify or trace its origins. We know nothing of it beyond what is printed on this page! It is, however, an intriguing resource that has attracted the attention of a number of students. Of course, we would welcome any enlightenment on the document.

The students were John Fullmer (SUNYA); Glenn Griffith (College of St. Rose); and Denis P. Brennan (SUNYA), who produced a statistical analysis of those who signed. We no longer have those papers.

The signature of Daniel Winne could refer to a number of individuals of the same name living at that time. Our candidate might be tanner Daniel K. Winne who lived in the city of Albany.

"John Marselis" probably is John G. Marselis and not his older cousin.


As in our present distressed condition, while under the greatest apprehensions of yet threatening Slavery, our surest refuges seem the mercies of God, and our own fixed and unanimous resolution to persevere to the last in the vindication of our dear bought Rights and Privileges, the very Essentials of our peerless Constitution, These, in the awful presence of the Righteous Jehovah, serve to bind us, the Subscribes and public Assentors hereto in the Articles following:

A 1. That we will choose from our Body a Committee of thirteen men, who are hereby empowered to choose their President and Clerk, to continue as the Committee during good behavior, or till a majority of the Subscribers think proper to call for a new choice; which, when moved, shall be signified to the Clerk for the time being, in writing, and signed by at least such number as may be reasonably taken to represent such majority, who shall thereupon give public notice for a new Election, with all convenient speed.

A 2. That in all matters relative to the Stamp act in particular, or other thing that shall be thought by us unconstitutional and oppressive, we will make known our grievance to some one or more of said Committee, who are hereby required and directed to meet together and consider the same, and whereinsoever they conceive it necessary too have our general advice and concurrence, to give us public notice thereof, or which occasions we solemnly engage and promise our attendance.

A 3. That we will countenance no step whatsoever to the disturbance of the public tranquility, nor private peace of any man, nor engage in any one matter or thing under color or pretence of the cause of Liberty, in a separate and detached manner, or without the advice and consent of the President and majority of the Committee, or some one or more person or persons by them publicly appointed to direct; and that in pursuance to all directions by them given, we will behave and deport in the most regular manner, aiming at nothing but the promotion and security of the General Cause.

A 4. That we will, to the utmost of our power, detect, oppose, and assist in bringing to condign punishment, any person or persons who, taking advantage of the public trouble, would make the same a pretext to injure any person in their Character or Property, or (without, such precaution as abovesaid) shall presume to meddle with or disturb tumultuously any pretence whatsoever.

A 5. That we will discourage, discountenance and oppose the mean practice of dropping Letters on the Streets, setting up scandalous Libels, Verse, or any other thing detractive of any person's Character thereby to draw on him or them the public Odium and put his person or property in danger; confiding that no legitimate Son of Liberty will be either ashamed or afraid to forward his commands by proper mission, where they may be duly considered and applied.

A 6. That all person to whom these Articles shall be proposed for their assent and concurrence to them, and who shall neglect or refuse giving the same or proper and satisfactory reasons for such neglect or refuse giving the same, or proper and satisfactory reasons for such neglect or refusal, shall be considered by us as cold Friends to Liberty, and treated accordingly.

A 7. That we have the highest esteem of his most sacred Majesty, King George the third, the Sovereign Protector of our Rights, and the succession by Law established, and will bear true Allegiance to him and his Royal house forever.

A 8. That if any person subscribing or publicly assenting and behaving agreeable to these Articles shall at any time hereafter for such behavior be arrested, taken, prosecuted by any forces civil or military, within our possible reach, that no notice of the same we will do the uttermost for their relief that our persons and fortunes enable; accounting the person are persons denying, refusing, or frivolously excusing himself therefrom after such subscription or assent, a perjured Traytor to Liberty, his King and his Country, for the defense of which and true performance of the above Articles. Help us God.

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first posted: 6/2/00; last updated 2/16/11