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The end of the institution, maintenance and administra- Objects of gov tion 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 Body politic, individuals: it is a social compact, by which the whole people Its nature. covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with 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.
Equality and · natural rights of all men.
Right and duty of public reli
PART THE FIRST.
A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
ART. 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.
II. It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, gious worship. 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 worship.
Amendment, Art. XI., substituted for this.
Legislature empowered to compel pro
[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, vision for public the people of this Commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature worship; 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.
*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.
And the people of this Commonwealth have also a right to, and do, and to enjoin 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 and other bodies politic, or religious societies, shall at all times, have the of electing reexclusive right of electing their public teachers, and of contracting with ligious teachers them for their support and maintenance.
chial taxes may
And all moneys, paid by the subject, to the support of public worship, Option as to and of the public teachers aforesaid, shall, if he require it, be uniformly whom paroapplied to the support of the public teacher or teachers of his own religious be paid, unless, sect or denomination, provided there be any on whose instructions he &c. 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 tions equally the protection of the law and no subordination of any one sect or denom- Subordination ination to another shall ever be established by law.]
of one sect to another prohibited.
IV. The people of this Commonwealth have the sole and Right of selfexclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign secured. 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.
of all officers,
V. All power residing originally in the people, and being Accountability derived from them, the several magistrates and officers of &c. government, vested with authority, whether legislative, executive or judicial, are their substitutes and agents, and are at all times accountable to them.
dered to the
the only title to
tary offices are
VI. No man, nor corporation or association of men, have Services renany other title to obtain advantages, or particular and exclu- public being sive privileges, distinct from those of the community, than peculiar priviwhat arises from the consideration of services rendered to leges, heredithe public; and this title being in nature neither hereditary, absurd and 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.
ernment; right stitute and
VII. Government is instituted for the common good; for Objects of gov 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.
to secure rota
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
All, having the qualifications prescribed,
equally eligible to office.
Right of protec
tion and duty
founded 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.
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.
X. Each individual of the society has a right to be proof contribution 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 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 prop- 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.
erty not to be taken for pub
lic uses without, &c.
Remedies by re
course to the
complete and prompt.
XI. Every subject of the Commonwealth ought to find law, to be free, 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.
Right to trial by
jury, in crim
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.
And the legislature shall not make any law that shall subinal cases, ex- ject any person to a capital or infamous punishment, excepting for the government of the army and navy, without trial by jury.
proved in the
XIII. In criminal prosecutions, the verification of facts, Crimes to be in the vicinity where they happen, is one of the greatest vicinity. securities of the life, liberty and property of the citizen.
and seizure reg
XIV. Every subject has a right to be secure from all Right of search unreasonable searches and seizures of his person, his houses, ulated. 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.
jury sacred, ex
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 fined 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.
and bear arms.
dinate to civil.
tions for office.
XVII. The people have a right to keep and to bear arms Right to keep for the common defence. And as, in time of peace, armies Standing arare dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained mies dangerwithout the consent of the legislature; and the military power subor 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 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 obligaand magistrates, an exact and constant observance of them, givers and in the formation and execution of the laws necessary for the magistrates. good administration of the Commonwealth.
tions of law
to instruct repand petition
XIX. The people have a right, in an orderly and peace- Right of people able manner, to assemble to consult upon the common good; resentatives give instructions to their representatives, and to request of legislature. the legislative body, by the way of addresses, petitions or