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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, 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 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. 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.

of electing reli


taxes may be

paid, unless,

And all moneys paid by the subject to the support of Option as to whom parochial public worship, and of the public teachers aforesaid, shall, 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


another prohibited.

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, gourd. 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.

government secured.

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.

Services ren

dered to the

the only title to

VI. No man, nor corporation, or association of men, have 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,

tary offices are


Objects of government; right of people to institute and change it.

Right of people to secure rotation in office.

All, having the qualifications prescribed, equally eligible

to office. For

the definition of


see Part the

Second, Ch. 1.

Sect. 2, Art. II.

Right of protec

tion and duty

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

VII. Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the 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.

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 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.

See amendments, Art. XLV.

122 Mass. 595, 596.

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.

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,

correlative. Taxation founded on consent.

16 Mass. 326.

1 Pick. 418.

7 Pick. 344.

12 Pick. 184, 467. when necessary: but no part of the property of any indi

16 Pick. 87.

23 Pick. 360. 7 Met. 388.

4 Gray, 474. 7 Gray, 363. 14 Gray, 154.

1 Allen, 150.

4 Allen, 474.

vidual 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 representative erty not to be 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.

Private prop

taken for public uses without,


See amend-
ments, Arts.

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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.

recourse to the

complete and

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, 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.


10 Pick. 9.

21 Pick. 542.

1 Gray, 1.

8 Gray, 329.

XII. No subject shall be held to answer for any crimes Prosecutions or offence, until the same is fully and plainly, substantially 8 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 Cush. 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. 103 Mass. 418.

107 Mass. 172, 180.

108 Mass. 5, 6.

122 Mass. 332.

118 Mass. 443, 451. 124 Mass. 464.
120 Mass. 118, 120.

127 Mass. 550, 554.
129 Mass. 559.

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. 2.

11 Gray, 438.

11 Allen, 238



by jury in

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- 8 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.

except, etc.


103 Mass. 418.

proved in the

2 Pick. 550.
121 Mass. 61, 62.

and seizure

Const. of U. S..

5 Cush. 369.

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 regulated. houses, his papers, and all his possessions. All warrants, Amend't IV. therefore, are contrary to this right, if the cause or founda- 2 Met. 329, tion of them be not previously supported by oath or affir- 1 Gray, 1. mation, and if the order in the warrant to a civil officer, 10 Allen, 403. to make search in suspected places, or to arrest one or 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.

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Right to trial

by jury sacred,
except, etc.

Const. of U. S.,
Amend't VII.
2 Pick. 382.
7 Pick. 366.

XV. In all controversies concerning property, and in all suits between two or more persons, except in cases in which 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, 102 Mass. 45, 47. the legislature shall hereafter find it necessary to alter it.

5 Gray, 144. 8 Gray, 373.

11 Allen, 574, 577.

Liberty of the


Right to keep and bear arms.

Standing armies


Military power

subordinate to civil.

5 Gray, 121.

Moral qualifications for office.

Moral obligations of lawgivers and magistrates.

Right of people
to instruct rep-
and petition

pend the laws

114 Mass. 388, 390.

122 Mass. 505, 516.
123 Mass. 590, 593.

125 Mass. 182, 188.
128 Mass. 600.

120 Mass. 320, 321. 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.

XVI. The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom in a state: it ought not, therefore, to be restrained in this commonwealth.

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

XVII. The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military 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 principles 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 and magistrates an exact and constant observance of them, in the formation and execution of the laws necessary for the good administration of the commonwealth.

XIX. The people have a right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble to consult upon the common good; give instructions to their representatives, and to request of the legislative body, by the way of addresses, petitions, or remonstrances, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer.

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

Power to sus- XX. The power of suspending the laws, or the execuor their execution of the laws, ought never to be exercised but by the legislature, or by authority derived from it, to be exer


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