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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 government 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 peace



ably, 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 relig.

2 Cush. 104.

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 ious worship. society, publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the

SUPREME BEING, the great Creator and Preserver of the 12 Allen, 129 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 of 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 Legislature

instructions in piety, religion, and morality : Therefore, compel prowie 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

Amendments, Art. XI. substi. tuted for this.

empowered to

public worship;

the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers 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 attend to enjoin to, and do, invest their legislature with authority to enjoin thereon. 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- ious teachers ties, shall, at all times, have the exclusive right of electing secured. 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 commonwealth, protected. shall be equally under the protection of the law : and no subordination subordination of any one sect or denomination to another of one sect to 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, secured. 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 community, than what arises from the consideration of ser- leges, heredi. vices rendered to the public; and this title being in absurd and nature neither hereditary, nor transmissible to children,


the only title to peculiar privi.


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