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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 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 secu

rity in them.

how formed.

We, therefore, the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the goodness of the great of His providence, an opportunity, deliberately and peaceLegislator of the universe, in affording us, in the course 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.

Equality and natural rights of all men.

Right and duty

of public reli



2 Cush. 104.

12 Allen, 129.


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 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 of sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship.

Amendment, Art. XI. substi tuted for this.

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 em instructions in piety, religion, and morality: Therefore, pel provision for to promote their happiness, and to secure the good order public worship; and preservation of their government, the people of this

powered to com.

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.


And the people of this commonwealth have also a right and 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.

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

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 paid, unless, 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

8 Met. 162.

another pro


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 selfand 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.


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 and agents, and are at all times accountable to them. legislative, executive, or judicial, are their substitutes

VI. No man, nor

dered to the

have any other title to obtain advantages, or particular public being the corporation, or association of men, Services ren

peculiar privi

and munity, than what arises from the consideration of ser- leges, heredivices rendered to the public; and this title being in absurd and

nature neither hereditary,

nor transmissible to


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

tary offices are


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