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The Commonwealth of Massachusetts


PRE A MBLE. 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.

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


natural rights of all men.

of public reli

2 Cush. 104.
12 Allen, 129.
See amend-
ments, Arts.
XLVI and

A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the

Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Equality and 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, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and

obtaining their safety and happiness. Right and duty

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

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. Amendments,

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 Legislature instructions in piety, religion, and morality: Therefore, empowered to com pel provi- 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

Art. XI, substi

sion for public worship.



of piety, religion, and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.

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.

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.

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

paid, unless, 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.

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.]

IV. The people of this commonwealth have the sole Right of self and 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 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.

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- leges, herediices rendered to the public; and this title being in absurd and nature neither hereditary, nor transmissible to children,


another prohibited.

government secured.

tary offices are


to secure rotation in office.

or descendants, or relations by blood, the idea of a man born

a magistrate, lawgiver, or judge, is absurd and unnatural. Objects of gov

VII. Government is instituted for the common good; ernment; right of people to for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the institute and change it. people; and 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. Right of people

VIII. In order to prevent those who are vested with authority from becoming oppressors, the people have a right, at such periods and in such manner as they shall establish 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 ap

pointments. All, having the

IX. All elections ought to be free; and all the inhabqualifications prescribed, itants of this commonwealth, having such qualifications as equally eligible to office. For they shall establish by their frame of government, have an "inhabitant, "o equal right to elect officers, and to be elected, for public Second, Ch. 1, employments. See amendments, Art. XLV. 122 Mass. 595, 596. Sect. 2, Art. II.

Freedom of elections, not to be the subject of an initiative or referendum petition. See amendments, Art. XLVIII, The initiative, II, sect. 2.

For compulsory voting, see amendments, Art. LXI. Right of protection and duty

X. Each individual of the society has a right to be of contribution protected 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, 12 Pick. 184, 467. when necessary: but no part of the property of any indi

vidual can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to

public uses, without his own consent, or that of the repre7 Gray, 363. sentative body of the people. In fine, the people of this 14 Gray, 154. 1 Allen, 150. commonwealth are not controllable by any other laws 4 Allen, 474.

than those to which their constitutional representative erty not to be in body have given their consent. And whenever the pub

lic exigencies require that the property of any individual

should be appropriated to public uses, he shall receive a XXXIX and reasonable compensation therefor. 6 Cush. 327.

founded on
16 Mass. 326.
1 Pick. 418.
7 Pick. 344.

16 Pick. 87.
23 Pick. 360.
7 Met. 388.
4 Gray, 474.

Private prop

uses without,
See amend-
ments, Arts.

12 Allen, 223, 230. 108 Mass. 202, 213. 126 Mass. 428, 441. 14 Gray, 155. 100 Mass. 544, 560. lil Mass. 130.

127 Mass. 50, 52, 16 Gray, 417, 431. 103 Mass. 120, 624. 113 Mass. 45.

358, 363, 410, 413. 1 Allen, 150. 106 Mass. 356, 362. 116 Mass. 463.

129 Mass. 559. 11 Allen, 530.

Right to receive compensation for private property appropriated to public use, not to be the subject of an initiative or referendum petition. See amendments, Art. XLVIII, The initiative, II, sect. 2.



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

complete and injuries or wrongs which he may receive in his person, prompt. 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 Prosecutions or offence, until the same is fully and plainly, substantially & Pick. 211. and formally, described to him; or be compelled to accuse, 18 Pick. 434. or furnish evidence against himself. And every subject 2 Met. 329. shall have a right to produce all proofs that may be favor- 12 Gush, 246. able to him; to meet the witnesses against him face to face, 5 Gray, 160. and to be fully heard in his defence by himself, or his 10 Gray, 11. counsel, at his election. And no subject shall be arrested, 2 Allen, 361. imprisoned, despoiled, or deprived of his property, immu- 240, 264,-439. nities, or privileges, put out of the protection of the law, 12 Allen, 170. exiled, or deprived of his life, liberty, or estate, but by the 97 Mass. 570, judgment of his peers, or the law of the land.

100 Mass. 287, 295. 108 Mass. 5, 6. 122 Mass. 332. 127 Mass. 550, 554. 103 Mass. 418.

118 Mass. 443, 451. 124 Mass. 464. 129 Mass. 559. 107 Mass. 172, 180. 120 Mass. 118, 120.

Right of access to and protection in courts of justice, not to be the subject of an initiative or referendum petition. See amendments, Art. XLVIII, The initiative, II, sect.

And the legislature shall not make any law that shall Right to trial subject any person to a capital or infamous punishment, criminal cases, excepting for the government of the army and navy, with- & Gray, 329, out trial by jury.

Right of trial by jury, not to be the subject of an initiative or referendum petition. See amendments, Art. XLVIII, The initiative, II, sect. 2.

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.

121 Mass. 61, 62. XIV. Every subject has a right to be secure from all Right of search unreasonable searches, and seizures, of his person, his regulated,

U. S., houses, his papers, and all his possessions. All warrants, Amend't IV. therefore, are contrary to this right, if the cause or founda- z Met, 320; tion of them be not previously supported by oath or affir- i Gray, 1. mation, and if the order in the warrant to a civil officer, 10 Allen, 403.

100 Mass. 136, to ke search suspected places, or to arrest one or 139.

126 Mass. 269, more suspected persons, or to seize their property, be not 273. 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.

Protection from unreasonable search, not to be the subject of an initiative or referendum petition. See amendments, Art. XLVIII, The initiative, II, sect. 2.

103 Mass. 418.

2 Pick. 550.

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