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Whereas Our late Royal Predecessors William and Mary King and Queen of England &c Did by their letters Patents under their Great Seal of England bearing Date at Westminster the Seventh day of October in the Third year of their Reign for themselves their Heires and Successors Vnite Erect and Incorporate the Territories and Colonies commonly called or known by the Names of the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay and Colony of New Plymouth the Province of Main the Territory called Accada or Nova Scotia and all that Tract of land lying between the said Territorys of Nova Scotia and the said Province of Main into One Reall Province by the Name of Our Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England And Whereas their said late Majesties King William and Queen Mary did by the said recited letters Patents (amongst other things therein contained) for themselves their Heires and Successors Ordain and Grant that there should and might be Convened held and kept by the Governor for the time being upon every last Wednesday in the Month of May every year forever and at all such other times as the Governor of their said Province should think fitt and Appoint a Great and Generall Court or Assembly which said Great and Generall Court or Assembly should Consist of the Governour and Council or Assistants for the time being and of such Freeholders of their said Province or Territory as should be from time to time elected or deputed by the major part of the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of the respective Towns or places who should be present at such Eleccõns each of the said Towns and places being thereby impowered to Elect and Depute two Persons and no more to Serve for and represent them respectively in the said Great and Generall Court or Assembly and that the Governor for the time being should have full Power and Authority from time to time as he should Judge necessary to adjourn Prorogue and Dissolve all Great and General Courts or Assemblies met and Convened as aforesaid And did thereby also for themselves their Heires and Successors Provide Establish and Ordain that in the Framing and Passing of all Orders laws Statutes and Ordinances and in all Eleccons and Acts of Government whatsoever to be passed made or done by the said General Court or Assembly or in Council the Governor of the said Province or Territory of the Massachusetts Bay in New England for the time being should have the Negative Voice and that without his Consent or Approbacon Signified and Declared in writing no such Orders laws Statutes Ordinances Eleccons or other Acts of Government whatsoever so to be made passed or done by the said General Assembly or in Council should be of any force Effect or Validity any thing therein contained to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding as in and by the said letters Patents (relacon being therevnto had) may more fully and at large appeare And Whereas no provision is made by the said recited letters Patents touching the Nominacon and Eleccon of a Speaker of the Representatives Assembled in any Great and Generall Court of Our said Province nor any particular Reservacon made of the Right of Vs Our Heires and Successors to approve or disapprove of such Speaker by the Governor of the said Province appointed or to be appointed by Vs or them for the time being And no power is Granted by the said recited letters Patents to the said House of Representatives to adjourn themselves for any time whatsoever by means whereof divers Doubts and Controversies have Arisen within Our said Province to the Interrupcon of the Publick Business thereof and the obstruccon of Our Service Know Yee therefore that for removing the said Doubts and Controversies and preventing the like mischiefs for the future And also for the further Explanacon of the said recited letters Patents Wee of Our Especial Grace certain knowledge and meer mocon Have Granted Ordained and Appointed And by these Presents for Vs Our Heirs and Successors Do Will Grant Ordain and Appoint that for ever hereafter the Representatives Assembled in any Great or General Court of Our said Province to be hereafter Summoned shall upon the first day of their Assembling Elect a fit Person out of the said Representatives to be Speaker of the House of Representatives in such General Court and that the Person so Elected shall from time to time be presented to the Governor of Our said Province for the time being or in his absence to the lieutenant Governor or Comander in Chief of Our said Province for the time being for his Approbacon to which Governor lieutenant Governor and Coñander in Chief respectively Wee do hereby for Vs Our Heires and Successors Give full power and Authority
to approve or disapprove of the Person so Elected and presented which approbacon or disapprobacon shall be Signifyed by him by Message in writing under his Hand to the said House of Representatives And in Case such Governour lieutenant Governor or Comander in Chief shall disapprove of the Person so Elected and presented or the Person so Elected and presented being approved as aforesaid shall happen to dye or by Sickness or otherwise be disabled from Officiating as Speaker in every such Case the said Representatives so Assembled shall forthwith Elect an other Person to be Speaker of the House of Representatives to be presented and approved or disapproved in manner as aforesaid and so from time to time as often as the Person so Elected and presented shall be disapproved of or happen to dye or become disabled as aforesaid And Our further Will and Pleasure is and Wee do by these presents of Our more abundant Grace for Vs Our Heires and Successors Grant Ordain and Appoint that it shall and may be lawfull to and for the Representatives assembled in any Great or Generall Court of Our said Province for the time being for ever hereafter to Adjourn themselves from day to day (and if occasion shall require) for the space of two days but not for any longer time than for the space of two days without leave from the Governor or in his Absence (from) the lieutenant Governor or Comander in Chief of Our said Province for the time being first had and obtained in that behalfe any thing in the said recited letters Patents contained to the Contrary thereof in any wise Notwithstanding Provided always that nothing in these presents contained shall Extend or be Construed to Extend to revoke alter or prejudice the Power and Authority by the said recited letters Patents Granted to the Governor of the said Province for the time being to Adjourn Prorogue and Dissolve all Great and General Courts or Assemblies of Our said Province. And Lastly Wee do by these presents for Vs Our Heires and Successors Grant that these Our letters Patents or the Enrollment or Exemplificačon thereof shall be in and by all things good firm valid and Effectual in the law according to the true intent and meaning thereof notwithstanding the not rightly or fully reciting menconing or describing the said recited letters Patents or the Date thereof or any other Omission Imperfeccon Defect matter Cause or thing whatsoever to the Contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding In witness whereof Wee have Caused these Our letters to be made Patents Witness William Archbishop of Canterbury and the rest of the Guardians and Justices of the Kingdom at Westminster the Six and twentieth day of August in the twelfth year of Our Reign By Writ of Privy Seal
CONSTITUTION OF MASSACHUSETTS-1780.*
The end of the institution, maintenance, and administration of government is to secure the existence of the body-politic, to protect it, and to furnish the individuals who compose it with the power of enjoying, in safety and tranquillity, their natural rights and the blessings of life; and whenever these great objects are not obtained the people have a right to alter the government, and to take measures necessary for their safety, prosperity, and happiness.
The body-politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals ; it is a social compact by which the whole people covenants with each citizen and each citizen with
* This constitution (one adopted by the general court in 1778 having been rejected by the people). was framed by a convention which met at Boston September 1, 1779, and, after several adjournments, completed its labors March 2, 1780. It was submitted to the people, and ratified by more than two. thirds of those who voted.
The convention held in 1820–21 framed a number of amendments, which, with a number of amendments subsequently adopted by the legislature, at different times, were ratified by the people.
A new constitution, framed by a convention which met at Boston May 7, 1853, and completed its labors August 1, 1753, was not ratified by the people, receiving 63,222 votes against 68,150 votes.
the whole people that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good. It is the duty of the people, therefore, in framing a constitution of government, to provide for an equitable mode of making laws, as well as for an impartial interpretation and a faithful execution of them; that every man may, at all times, find his security in them.
We, therefore, the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the goodness of the great Legislator of the universe, in affording us, in the course of His providence, an opportunity, deliberately and peaceably, without fraud, violence, or surprise, of entering into an original, explicit, and solemn compact with each other, and of forming a new constitution of civil government for ourselves and posterity; and devoutly imploring His direction in so interesting a design, do agree upon, ordain, and establish the following declaration of rights and frame of government as the constitution of the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
PART THE FIRST.
A DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE INHABITANTS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF
ARTICLE I. All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.
Art. II. It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience, or for his religious profession or sentiments, provided he doth not disturb the public peace or obstruct others in their religious wo
worship. Art. III. As the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality, and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community but by the institution of the public worship of God and of public instructions in piety, religion, and morality : Therefore, To promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies-politic or religious societies to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.
And the people of this commonwealth have also a right to, and do, invest their legislature with authority to enjoin upon all the subjects an attendance upon the instructions of the public teachers aforesaid, at stated times and seasons, if there be any on whose instructions they can conscientiously and conveniently attend.
Provided, notwithstanding, That the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies-politic, or religious societies, shall at all times have the exclusive right of electing their public teachers and of contracting with them for their support and maintenance.
And all moneys paid by the subject to the support of public worship and of the public teachers aforesaid shall
, if he require it, be uniformly applied to the support of the public teacher or teachers of his own religious sect or denomination, provided there be any on whose instructions he attends; otherwise it may be paid toward the support of the teacher or teachers of the parish or precinct in which the said moneys are raised.
And every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably and as good subjects of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law; and no subordination of any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law.
Art. IV. The people of this commonwealth have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent State, and do, and forever hereafter shall, exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not, or may not hereafter be, by them expressly delegated to the United States of America in Congress assembled.
Art. V. All power residing originally in the people, and being derived from them, the several magistrates and officers of government vested with authority, whether legislative, executive, or judicial, are the substitutes and agents, and are at all times accountable to them.
Art. VI. No man nor corporation or association of men have any other title to obtain advantages, or particular and exclusive privileges distinct from those of the community, than what rises from the consideration of services rendered to the public, and this title being in nature neither hereditary nor transmissible to children or descendants or relations by blood; the idea of a man born a magistrate, law giver, or judge is absurd and unnatural.
Art. VII. Government is instituted for the common good, for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people, and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government, and to reform, alter, or totally change the same when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.
Art. VIII. In order to prevent those who are vested with authority from becoming oppressors, the people have a right at such periods and in such manner as they shall establish by their frame of government, to cause their public officers to return to private life; and to fill up vacant places by certain and regular elections and appointments.
Art. IX. All elections ought to be free; and all the inhabitants of this commonwealth, having such qualifications as they shall establish by their frame of government, have an equal right to elect officers, and to be elected, for public employments.
Art. X. Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property, according to standing laws. Heis obliged, consequently, to contribute his share to the expense of this protection; to give his personal service, or an equivalent, when necessary; but no part of the property of any individual can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of the representative body of the people. In fine, the people of this commonwealth are not controllable by any other laws than those to which their constitutional representative body have given their consent. And whenever the public exigencies require that the property of any individual should be appropriated to public uses, he shall receive a reasonable compensation therefor.
Art. XI. Every subject of the commonwealth ought to find a certain remedy, by having recourse to the laws, for all injuries or wrongs which he may receive in his person, property, or character. He ought to obtain right and justice freely, and without being obliged to purchase it; completely, and without any denial; promptly, and without delay, conformably to the laws.
Art. XII. No subject shall be held to answer for any crimes or no offence until the same is fully and plainly, substantially and formally, described to him; or be compelled to accuse, or furnish evidence against himself; and every subject shall have a right to produce all proofs that may be favorable to him; to meet the witnesses against him face to face, and to be fully heard in his defence by himself, or his counsel at his election. And no subject shall be arrested, imprisoned, despoiled,
deprived of his property, immunities, or privileges, put out of the protection of the law, exiled or deprived of his life, liberty, or estate, but by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land.
And the legislature shall not make any law that shall subject any person to a capital or infamous punishment, excepting for the government of the army and navy, without trial by jury.
ART. XIII. In criminal prosecutions, the verification of facts, in the vicinity where they happen, is one of the greatest securities of the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.
ART. XIV. Every subject has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches and seizures of his person, his houses, his papers, and all his possessions. All warrants, therefore, are contrary to this right, if the cause or foundation of them be not previously supported by oath or affirmation, and if the order in the warrant to a civil officer, to make search in suspected places, or to arrest one or more suspected persons, or to seize their property, be not accompanied with a special designation of the persons or objects of search, arrest, or seizure; and no warrant ought to be issued but in cases, and with the formalities, prescribed by the laws.
Art. XV. In all controversies concerning property, and in all suits between two or niore persons, except in cases in which it has heretofore been otherways used and practised, the parties have a right to a trial by jury; and this method of procedure shall be held sacred, unless, in causes arising on the high seas, and such as relate to mariners' wages, the legislature shall hereafter find it necessary to alter it.
ART. XVI. The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom in a State; it ought not, therefore, to be restrained in this commonwealth.
Art. XVII. The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military power shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority and be governed
Art. XVIII. A frequent recurrence to the fundamental principles of the constitution, and a constant adherence to those of piety, justice, moderation, temperance, industry, and frugality, are absolutely necessary to preserve the advantages of liberty and to maintain a free government. The people ought, consequently, to have a particular attention to all those principles, in the choice of their officers and representatives; and they have a right to require of their lawgivers and magistrates an exact and constant observance of them, in the formation and execution of the laws necessary for the good administration of the commonwealth.
ART. XIX. The people have a right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble to consult upon the common good; give instructions to their representatives, and to request of the legislative body, by the way of addresses, petitions, or remonstrances, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer.
Art. XX. The power of suspending the laws, or the execution of the laws, ought never to be exercised but by the legislature, or by authority derived from it, to be exercised in such particular cases only as the legislature shall expressly provide for.
Art. XXI. The freedom of deliberation, speech, and debate, in either house of the legislature, is so essential to the rights of the people, that it cannot be the foundation of any accusation or prosecution, action or complaint, in any other court or place whatsoever.
ART. XXII. The legislature ought frequently to assemble for the redress of grievances, for correcting, strengthening, and confirming the laws, and for making new laws, as the common good may require.
ART. XXIII. No subsidy, charge, tax, impost, or duties, ought to be established, fixed, laid, or levied, under any pretext whatsoever, without the consent of the people, or their representatives in the legislature.
ART. XXIV. Laws made to punish for actions done before the existence of such laws, and which have not been declared crimes by preceding laws, are unjust, oppressive, and inconsistent with the fundamental principles of a free government.
ART. XXV. No subject ought, in any case, or in any time, to be declared guilty of treason or felony by the legislature.
ART. XXVI. No magistrate or court of law shall demand excessive bail or sureties, impose excessive fines, or inflict cruel or unusual punishments.
ART. XXVII. In time of peace, no soldier ought to be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner; and in time of war, such quarters ought not to be made but by the civil magistrate, in a manner ordained by the legislature.