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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.


A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Com

monwealth of Massachusetts. Equality and Art. I. All men are born free and equal, and have cernatural rights of all men,

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 daty II. It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society,

. of public reli. gious worship. publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the SUPREME

Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. Protection And no subject shall be hurt, molested or restrained, in his therein.

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, [III.* As the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservaArt. XI., substituted for

tion of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion and this,

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 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.

whom paro.

of one sect to


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


thereon. 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.

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 the protection of the law: and no subordination of any one sect or denom- Subordination ination to another shall ever be established by law.]

another pro•

hibited. 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. V. All power residing originally in the people, and being Accountability

of all officers, derived from them, the several magistrates and officers of &C.

&c 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 renany other title to obtain advantages, or particular and excluderede to the

public being sive privileges, distinct from those of the community, than the only title to what arises from the consideration of services rendered to leges, heredi

tary offices are the public; and this title being in nature neither hereditary, absurd and nor transmissible to children or descendants, or relations by

unnatural, blood, the idea of a man born a magistrate, lawgiver or judge, is absurd and unnatural.

VIÍ. Government is instituted for the common good ; for Objects of gove the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; of people to in

ernment; and not for the profit, honor or private interest of any one stitute and

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

to secure rota

to .

founded on consent.

out, &c.

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 inhabiqualifications prescribed, tants of this Commonwealth, having such qualifications as equally eligible 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- Š. Each individual of the society has a right to be protion and duty of contribution tected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty and property, correlative.

according to standing laws. He is obliged, consequently, to

contribute his share to the expense of this protection; to give Taxation

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 prope

representative body have given their consent. And whento be taken for pub ever the public exigencies require that the property of any lic uses with

individual should be appropriated to public uses, he shall receive a reasonable compensation therefor.

XI. Every subject of the Commonwealth ought to find law, to be free, a certain remedy, by having recourse to the laws, for all complete and

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 XII. No subject shall be held to answer for any crimes regulated,

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 sub

, . inal cases, ex. ject any person to a capital or infamous punishment, exceptcept, &c.

ing for the government of the army and navy, without trial by jury.

Remedies by recourse to 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.

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 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 Cominonwealth.

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 danger without 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 qualifica ciples 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 representatires : 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.

XIX. The people have a right, in an orderly and peace- Right of people able manner, to assemble to consult upon the common good; Fesentatives give instructions to their representatives, and to request of and petition the legislative body, by the way of addresses, petitions or

and bear arms.

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ous. Military


for office


founded on con. sent.

laws pro


remonstrances, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the

grievances they suffer. Power to sug. XX. The power of suspending the laws, or the execution pend the laws or their execu• of the laws, ought never to be exercised but by the legislation,

ture, or by authority derived from it, to be exercised in such particular cases only as the legislature shall expressly pro

vide for. Freedom of de

XXI. The freedom of deliberation, speech and debate, in bate, &c., and 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 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 com

mon good may require. Taxation

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

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 cruel punish- excessive bail or sureties, impose excessive fines, or inflict ments prohib

cruel or unusual punishments.

XXVII. In time of peace, no soldier ought to be quarquartered in any house, un. tered in any house without the consent of the owner; and in less, &c.

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, unless, martial, or to any penalties or pains, by virtue of that law, &c.

except those employed in the army or navy, and except the

militia in actual service, but by authority of the legislature. Judges of su- 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

to convict of

Excessive bail or fines, and

No soldier to be

Citizens exempt from law.


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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