Friday, August 07, 2009

The Putney Debates

From an excellent web site on the English Civil war, a chapter on the Putney Debates:

The Putney Debates were a series of discussions between factions of the New Model Army and the Levellers concerning a new constitution for England. The debates were held at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Putney, Surrey, in October and November 1647.

“...for really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he; and therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not bound in a strict sense to that government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under...”

Extract from Colonel Rainsborough's famous appeal for democratic rights for all men.

“...I think that no person hath a right to an interest or share in the disposing of the affairs of the kingdom, and in determining or choosing those that shall determine what laws we shall be ruled by here — no person hath a right to this, that hath not a permanent fixed interest in this kingdom...”

Extract from Henry Ireton's response to Rainsborough.

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