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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 Com
monwealth of Massachusetts. Equality and na Art. I. All men are born free and equal, and have certural rights of all
tain 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. Right and duty of II. It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, public religious
publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the SUPREME
BEING, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. Protection there. 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 worship.
[III.* As the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservaX1; substituted tion 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 instrucLegislature em. tions in piety, religion and morality; Therefore, to promote their happipowered to com: ness, and to secure the good order and preservation of their Government, pub Provision for the people of this Commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature
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 qwn 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.
* Note.—Articles of the original constitution and articles of amendment thereto which have become inoperative, by reason of subsequent amendments, are printed in smaller type and enclosed in brackets : obsolete portions of articles, in some instances confined to a sentence or single word, are covered by brackets, but allowed to stand in type uniform with the matter still in force.
one sect to anoth
And the people of this Commonwealth have also a right to, and do, and to enjoin at· 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, Exclusive right of and other bodies politic, or religious societies, shall at all times, have the electing religious 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, Option as and of the public teachers aforesaid, shall, if he require it, be uniformly taxes
whom parochial applied to the support of the public teacher or teachers of his own religious paid, unless, &c. 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 peace- All denominaably, and as good subjects of the Commonwealth, shall be equally under tipotec equally · the protection of the law: and no subordination of any one sect or denom- Subordination of ination to another shall ever be established by law.]
er prohibited. IV. The people of this Commonwealth have the sole and Right of self.gov. 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. V. All power residing originally in the people, and being Accountability of
all officers, &c. derived from them, the several magistrates and officers of government, vested with authority, whether legislative, executive or judicial, are their substitutes and agents, and are at all times accountable to them.
VI. No man, nor corporation or association of men, have Services rendered any other title to obtain advantages, or particular and exclu- ing the only title sive privileges, distinct from those of the community, than leges, hereditary what arises from the consideration of services rendered to offices are absurd 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, lawgiver or judge, is absurd and unnatural. . VII. Government is instituted for the common good; for Objects of gove the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people;
; of people to inand not for the profit, honor or private interest of any one
change it. 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.
VIII. In order to prevent those who are vested with Right of people authority from becoming oppressors, the people have a right tion in office. at such periods and in such manner as they shall establish
ed on consent.
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. All, having the IX. All elections ought to be free ; and all the inhabiprescribed,equal tants of this Commonwealth, having such qualifications as ly eligible to of
they shall establish by their 'frame of government, have an equal right to elect officers, and to be elected, for public
employments. Right of protec X. Each individual of the society has a right to be protion and duty of contribution cor- tected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty and property,
according to standing laws. He is obliged, consequently, to
contribute his share to the expense of this protection ; to give Taxation found. 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 Private property representative body have given their consent. And whenfor public uses ever the public exigencies require that the property of any without, &c.
individual should be appropriated to public uses, he shall receive a reasonable compensation therefor.
XI. Every subject of the Commonwealth ought to find to be free, com a certain remedy, by having recourse to the laws, for all plete and prompt. 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.
XII. No subject shall be held to answer for any crimes or 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 or 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. Right to trial by And the legislature shall not make any law that shall subcases, except, &c. ject any person to a capital or infamous punishment, except
ing for the government of the army and navy, without trial by jury.
Remedies by re
and seizure regu.
XIII. In criminal prosecutions, the verification of facts, Crimes to be in the vicinity where they happen, is one of the greatest Picinity." securities of the life, liberty and property of the citizen.
XIV. Every subject has a right to be secure from all Right of search unreasonable searches and seizures of his person, his houses, lated. 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.
XV. In all controversies concerning property, and in all Right to trial by suits between two or more persons, except in cases in which cept, &c. 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.
XVI. The liberty of the press is essential to the security Liberty of the of freedom in a State: it ought not, therefore, to be restrained Press. in this Commonwealth.
XVII. The people have a right to keep and to bear arms Right to keep for the common defence. And as, in time of
armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained dangerous. Mili. without the consent of the legislature; and the military ordinate to civil. power shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority, and be governed by it.
XVIII. A frequent recurrence to the fundamental prin- Moral qualificaciples of the constitution, and a constant adherence to those tions for office. 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 Moral obligations and magistrates, an exact and constant observance of them, magistrates. in the formation and execution of the laws necessary for the good administration of the Commonwealth.
XIX. The people have a right, in an orderly and peace- Right of people able manner, to assemble to consult upon the common good; give instructions to their representatives, and to request of petition legislathe legislative body, by the way of addresses, petitions or
and bear arms. Standing armies
to instruct representatives and
the laws or their execution.
Freedom of debate, &c., and reason thereof.
Taxation founded on consent.
remonstrances, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the
grievances they suffer. Power to suspend 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.
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 accusațion or prosecution, action or complaint, in any other court
or place whatsoever. Frequent ses XXII. The legislature ought frequently to assemble for sions, and objects thereof. the redress of grievances, for correcting, strengthening and
confirming the laws, and for making new laws, as the common good may require.
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. Ex post facto XXIV. Laws made to punish for actions done before the laws prohibited.
existence of such laws, and which have not been declared crimes by preceding laws, are unjust, oppressive and incon
sistent with the fundamental principles of a free government. Legislature not XXV. No subject ought, in any case, or in any time, to treason, &c.
be declared guilty of treason or felony by the legislature.
XXVI. No magistrate or court of law shall demand tines, and cruel
excessive bail or sureties, impose excessive fines, or inflict prohibited.
cruel or unusual punishments.
XXVII. In time of peace, no soldier ought to be quarhouse, uuless,&c. tered 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.
XXVIII. No person can in any case be subjected to lawtial, unless, &c. martial, or to any penalties or pains, by virtue of that law,
except those employed in the army or navy, and except the militia in actual service, but by authority of the legislature.
XXIX. It is essential to the preservation of the rights of preme judicial
every individual, his life, liberty, property and character, that there be an impartial interpretation of the laws, and administration of justice. It is the right of every citizen to
be tried by judges as free, impartial and independent as the Tenure of their lot of humanity will admit. It is, therefore, not only the
best policy, but for the security of the rights of the people, and of every citizen, that the judges of the supreme judicial court should hold their offices as long as they behave them
to convict of
Excessive bail or
No soldier to be quartered in any
Citizens exempt from law-mar
Judges of su.