Writs of Assistance

Tristan Atchison, Jason Brightman

Does anyone know about the Writs of Assistance? The Writs of Assistance was an everlasting court issued search warrent on somebody who smuggled goods or was suspected to have them. These were issued by the Court of Exhequer Writs of assistance were documents which served as a general search warrant, allowing officials to enter any ship or building that they suspected held smuggled goods. Many ships and buildings were searched and held smuggled goods. The sheriff would arrest the smuggler or the person with the smuggled goods. After the people were caught they would be imprisoned for life. The sheriff could investigate any premises at any time they liked. They needed no permison or anything that stated they could search. The sherif could walk straight into a house and search it. If the premises held smuggled goods than the sherif would evacuate the goods and arrest the subjects. These writs were called the writs of assistance because they called upon sheriffs, other officials, and loyal subjects to assist the customs official to carry out the duties

Kaitlyn and Dustin Period 9

British and Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Writs of Assisitance is a written order issued by a court instructing the law enforcement official such as a sheriff to perform a certain task. This writts of assistance took place in the late 1700's through the early 1800's. It took place in the colonial America's. This event occured because controversey over these general Writs of Assistance which forbids general search warrents in the America's. It occured by people getting ther property taken away and then they were on the streets. "I will to my dying day oppose, with all the powers and faculties God has given me, all such instruments of slavery on the one hand and villainly on the other, as this Writ of Assistance is."-James Otis

Ciera and Gage

Dear Editor:

The government in Britain has made a law that allowed the Writs of Assistance. This is a written order issued by a court instructing a law enforcement official (such as a sheriff) to perform a certain task. That task would be to go into a house and look for smuggled goods. If they find any smuggled goods then they would go to the court, plead their case, and maybe go to jail. The people are smuggling goods because the government in England made the other colonists' pay taxes. So now the prices on the food and goods are up and the people can't afford them. So they will go onto the ships and take the goods that were on board and hopefully won't get caught. That way they would be able to get food and goods without paying the taxes. In this case that isn't right. They shouldn't be able to just go onto the ships and take what they want. They should at least have to pay something. Most of the people don't want to get caught so they just pay the taxes and get the food and goods. So if someone is to tell the court that they saw someone smuggling goods, the court will send out someone to search their house. If they don't find anything then they will just go on with their day. However if they do get caught then they have to go to court.

This position will help us because this way as long as no one was breaking the law then there would have been no need for the Writs of Assistance, but since people were breaking the law they had to make one.

Jesse and Victoria p-6

Dear Editor:

The Writs of Assistance that the British have set up are causing major problems for the colonists. They are losing a ton of money due to the high taxes on many goods. Which have led many merchants to become master smugglers. The goods they brought back were from many other countries. Unfortunately, the British have already thought of this. The Writs of Assistance authorized officers to conduct general searches (meaning without a defined reason) in shops, warehouses and even private homes.

The taxes are due to England's need for money. I don't think it's fair that the colonies need to help pay for the debts when they, themselves, didn't do anything. Breaking into private homes to conduct general searches is against one of John Locke's three laws that the government has to protect: Life, Liberty and Property.

Kearstin Allison, Caitlin Fannin

Dear Editor,

The British have created a set of laws called the Writs of Assistance. This set of laws has been causing major problems among the colonies. The Writs of Assistance were created to strictly enforce Acts of Trade. Merchants in New England have become masters of smuggling. The Writs of Assistance allows general warrants to be issued which allow officials to search for smuggled material within any suspected primises.

The colonists, are against the Writs of Assistance. We all think it's an invasion of privacy. Privacy is a portion of our freedom here in the colonies and it is being violated. Plus, we are not being represented in Parliament, so we have no say in what laws and policies are created by the British government. In other words, the British government creates laws without our consent. As James Otis would say, "If we are not represented, we are slaves." Even though, it helps capture smugglers, it's an invasion of privacy for some innocent citizens. Therefore, the Writs of Assistance is unethical because it was created without the colonies consent and is an invasion of privacy.


Caitlin Fannin and Kearstin Allison

Urbana, Ohio