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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.

Equality and natural rights of all men.

Right and duty of public relí

gious worship.

Protection therein.

Amendment, Art. XI., substituted for this.

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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, 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.

[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 instrucLegislature em- tions in piety, religion and morality; Therefore, to promote their happipowered to ness, and to secure the good order and preservation of their Government, compel provision for public 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.


*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.

attendance thereon.

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 gious teachers them for their support and maintenance.


whom paro

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 chial taxes may applied 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 protected. 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

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

change it.

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 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 protection 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.

Prosecutions regulated.

Right to trial by jury, in crim

inal cases, except, &c.

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 subject 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.

XV. In all controversies concerning property, and in all suits between two or more persons, except in cases in which if 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.

Right to trial by

jury sacred, ex

cept, &c.

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.

ous. Military

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 ar are 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 rep

and 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

Power to sus

pend the laws


remonstrances, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer.

XX. The power of suspending the laws, or the execution or their execu- 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.

Freedom of de

bate, &c., and

XXI. The freedom of deliberation, speech and debate, in reason thereof. 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.

Frequent sessions, and objects thereof.


founded on consent.

Ex post facto laws prohibited.

Legislature not to convict of treason, &c. Excessive bail or fines, and cruel punishments prohibited.

No soldier to be quartered in any house, unless, &c.

Citizens exempt from law-martial, unless, &c.

Judges of supreme judicial


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.

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.

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.

XXV. No subject ought, in any case, or in any time, to be declared guilty of treason or felony by the legislature.

XXVI. No magistrate or court of law shall demand excessive bail or sureties, impose excessive fines, or inflict cruel or unusual punishments.

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.

XXVIII. No person can in any case be subjected to lawmartial, 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 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


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