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General Court of Massachusetts,





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The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



The end of the institution, maintenance, and administra- Objects of 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.

how formed.

The body politic is formed by a voluntary association Body politic, of individuals: it is a social compact, by which the whole Its nature. people 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


A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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, possess ing, 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 gious worship. society, publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the



2 Cush. 104.

12 Allen, 129. See amendments, Arts. XLVI and XLVIII.


Art. XI, substi

Legislature empowered to

compel provision for public

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 tuted for this. 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.

to enjoin


And the people of this commonwealth have also a right Legislature to, and do, invest their legislature with authority to enjoin attendance 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.

of electing reli


Provided, notwithstanding, that the several towns, par- Exclusive right ishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or religious socie- gious teachers ties, shall, at all times, have the exclusive right of electing their public teachers, and of contracting with them for their support and maintenance.

whom parochial

paid, unless,

And all moneys paid by the subject to the support of Option as to public worship, and of the public teachers aforesaid, shall, taxes may be if he require it, be uniformly applied to the support of the etc. 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 towards the support of the teacher or teachers of the parish or precinct in which the said moneys are raised.

tions equally

And every denomination of Christians, demeaning them- All denominaselves peaceably, and as good subjects of the common- protected. wealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law: 8 Met. 162. and no subordination of any one sect or denomination to of one sect to another shall ever be established by law.]


another prohibited.

IV. The people of this commonwealth have the sole Right of self and exclusive right of governing themselves, as a free, government 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.

of all officers,

V. All power residing originally in the people, and Accountability being derived from them, the several magistrates and etc." officers of 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

VI. No man, nor corporation, or association of men, Services renhave any other title to obtain advantages, or particular public being and exclusive privileges, distinct from those of the com- peculiar privimunity, than what arises from the consideration of serv-tary offices are ices rendered to the public; and this title being in absurd and nature neither hereditary, nor transmissible to children,

leges, heredi


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