[Part 1 appears here.]
Gordon S. Wood continues:
The people's ancient rights and liberties were as much public as private, just as the king's rights--his prerogatives--were as much private as they were public. So-called public institutions had private rights, and private persons had public obligations. The king's prerogatives, or his premier rights to govern the realm, grew out of his private position as the wealthiest of the wealthy and the largest landowner in the society; his government had really begun as an extension of his royal household. But in a like manner all private households or families--'those small subdivisions of Government,' one colonist called them--had public responsibilities to help the king govern.
This helps us gain some understanding of the mindset the Founding generation had in relation to their own identity. Their experiences of the differences we see between public and private interests were not nearly as well developed then as ours is today. But, they were about to learn much.
Think of what Barry Alan Shain shows us in his Myth of American Individualism, how "localism" was so strong during the colonial years. They were a corporate people--maybe to the extent that we might call "groupthink" today. Now, with their parent-child relationship with Britain ended, they were thrown into the quandary of being forced to reconsider their ideas about private and public values.
As Wood reminds us,
"Governments in this premodern colonial society regulated all sorts of personal behavior, especially the moral and religious behavior of people, without any consciousness that they were depriving people of their private liberty or rights. Of the nearly 2,800 prosecutions in the Superior and General Sessions courts of Massachusetts bet wen 1760 and 1774, over half involved sexual and religious offenses, such as fornication and using profanity. Many of the other prosecutions involved drunkenness, slander, and various violations of decency and good manners. ... Royal governors did not have legislative policies, and assemblies did not enact legislative programs. .... The colonial assemblies still saw themselves more as courts making judgments rather than as legislatures making laws. ... In William Nelson's survey of the Massachusetts General Court in 1761, he could find 'only three acts that were arguably legislative in the sense that they changed law or made new law.'"The separation of powers was still little more than a vague concept at that early time. The idea that there was such a thing as individual rights was just as obscure.