Imágenes de páginas

The judges of the supreme court were to hold their offices for seven years, removable for misbehavior by the general assembly -justices of the peace to be chosen by the freeholders of each city and county, two or more from certain districts to be ascertained by law, and presented to the president in council, who was to select and grant commissions to one or more, for seven years; but they were removable in the same manner as the judges of the supreme court. The freemen in each city and county were to elect two persons annually, to the offices of sheriff and coroner, and one was to be commissioned by the president for each office. The people of Pennsylvania were not inattentive to the important subject of education. One ararticle of the constitution made it the duty of the legislature to establish schools in each county for the instruction of youth, "with such salaries to the masters, paid by the public, as may enable them to instruct youth at low prices." The same article also declared, that all useful learning should be duly encouraged and promoted in one or more universities.

The constitution of this state contained one provision entirely new. Every seven years two persons from each county, were to be chosen, to constitute a council of censors. It was made the duty of this council, to inquire whether the constitution had been preserved inviolate in every part-whether the legislative and executive branches of the government had performed their duty as guardians of the people, or assumed or exercised greater powers than they were entitled to-whether the public taxes had been justly laid and collected, and whether the laws had been faithfully executed. For these purposes they had power to send for persons and papers; and they were authorized to pass censures, to order impeachments, to recommend the repealing such laws as appeared to them contrary to the principles of the constitution, and also to call a convention. The powers of the censors were to continue one year. On the subject of religious liberty, the bill of rights declared, that all men had a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences and understandings; and

that no man could be compelled to attend any religious worship, or maintain any ministry, contrary to his own free will and consent-nor could any person, who acknowledged the being of a God, be justly deprived of any civil right, on account of his religious sentiments or particular worship.

By the constitution of North Carolina, established in December, 1776, the legislative power was vested in two bodies, styled a senate and house of commons, both to be denominated the general assembly. One person was annually chosen from each county, to constitute the senate, and two from each county, and one from each of the towns of Edenton, Newbern, Wilmington, Salisbury, Hillsborough, and Halifax, to constitute the house of


The senate and house jointly elected a governor for one year; and the same person was not eligible to that office longer than three years, in six successive years.

The senate and house, also, annually, by joint ballot, elected seven persons to be a council of state, to advise the governor.

The appointment of judges of the supreme courts of law and equity, of judges of admiralty, and of the attorney general, was vested in the general assembly; these officers to be commissioned by the governor, and to continue during good behavior. The senate and house also, had power to appoint the generals, and field officers of the militia, and all officers of the regular army. Justices of the peace in the respective counties, on recommendation of the assembly, were to be commissioned by the governor, to hold their offices during good behavior, and were not removable, unless for misbehavior, absence, or inability. A difference was made in the qualifications of the electors of members of the senate and house. All freemen, who had been inhabitants of any county for twelve months immediately preceding the day of election, and had paid a public tax, could vote for members of the house of commons; but possession of a freehold of fifty acres of land, for six months next before and at the time of election, in addition to twelve months residence, was necessary to qualify a person to vote for senators. Each senator must have possessed for one year preceding his election, three hundred acres of land in fee; and every

member of the house, one hundred acres for six months. No person who denied the being of a God, or the truth of the protestant religion, or the divine authority of the old or new testament, or who should hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the state, was capable of holding any office, or place of trust or profit in the civil departments. The constitution provided there should be no establishment of any one religious church or denomination in preference to another-it also made it the duty of the legislature to establish schools for the convenient instruction of youth, with such salaries to the masters, paid by the public, as that they might instruct at a low price; and all useful learning was to be duly encouraged and promoted, in one or more universities.

On the 31st of May, 1776, the members of the convention of New York recommended to the electors of that state to authorize them, or such others as they might depute, to take into consideration the necessity and propriety of instituting a new system of government, agreeably to the advice of the general congress; and to direct that the representatives of a majority of the counties, if they should judge it necessary, should establish such government. New representatives were elected and met on the 9th of July, and assumed the name of the convention of the representatives of the state of New York.

The subject of forming a new government was postponed to the first of August, and in the mean time, all magistrates were directed to continue the exercise of their functions, and all processes were ordered to issue in the name of the people.

On the first of August a committee was appointed" to take into consideration and report a plan for instituting and framing a form of government, and to prepare and report at the same time, a bill ascertaining and declaring the essential rights and privileges of the good people of that state, as the foundation for such government."*

* Immediately after the battle at Lexington, for the purpose of securing their rights and preserving peace and order, associations were signed by the people of New York in the several counties, in the following form :

"A general association, agreed to and subscribed by the freeholders and inhabitants

Mr. Jay was placed at the head of this committee. In April, 1777, the convention completed and established a constitution, many respects more perfect than any previously instituted by any state.

The members of the assembly were distributed among the counties, and were to vary according to the number of electors in each; the number to be ascertained every seven years. The senate consisted of twenty four persons, to be chosen by the people for four years, and were divided into four classes, the seats of each class to be vacated at the end of each of the four years. For the choice of senators the state was divided into four great districts and the number assigned to each, to be afterwards varied in a certain ratio, according to the number of electors. The number of senators was never to exceed one hundred, nor the number of the assembly three hundred. The executive authority was vested in a governor, elected by the people once in three years. A lieutenant governor was also to be chosen for the same period, who was to preside in the senate. A council of revision and a council of appointment were established. The former, consisting of the governor, chancellor and judges of the supreme court, was to revise all bills about to be passed into laws by the legislature. These bills were to be presented to this coun

of the county of * * Persuaded that the salvation of the rights and liberties of America depends, under God, on the firm union of its inhabitants, in a vigorous prosecution of the measures necessary for its safety; convinced of the necessity of preventing the anarchy and confusion which attend a dissolution of the powers of government: We the freemen, freeholders and inhabitants of the county of ** being greatly alarmed at the avowed design of the ministry to raise a revenue in America, and shocked by the bloody scene now acting in Massachusetts Bay-do, in the most solemn manner resolve never to become slaves; and do associate, under all the ties of religion, honor and love to our country, to adopt and endeavor to carry into execution whatever measures may be recommended by the continental congress, or resolved upon by our provincial convention, for the purpose of preserving our constitution and opposing the execution of the several arbitrary and oppressive acts of the British parliament, until a reconciliation between Great Britain and America, on constitutional principles (which we most earnestly desire) can be obtained---and that we will, in all things follow the advice of our general committee, respecting the purposes aforesaid, the preservation of peace and good order, and the safety of individuals and private property.---State papers in the office of the secretary of the state of New York.

cil for their consideration; and if a majority thought it improper the bills should become laws, they were to return them to the legislature with their objections in writing; and unless repassed by two thirds of both houses, the same were rejected. Four senators, one from each of the senatorial districts, were annually to be appointed by the assembly, who with the governor, as president, were to constitute a council for the appointment of officers.

The chancellor, the judges of the supreme court, and the first judges of the county court, were to hold their offices during good behavior. The president of the senate, the senators, the chancellor and judges of the supreme court were constituted a court for the trial of impeachments and for the correction of errors-the chancellor, and judges in cases of error brought from their decisions, might give their reasons but not their votes.

An elector of members of the assembly, must possess a freehold estate of the value of twenty pounds, or have rented a tenament of the yearly value of forty shillings, and been rated and actually paid taxes to the state. No persons but those possessed

a freehold estate of the value of one hundred pounds over and above all debts charged on the same, could vote for senators or governor.

The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, was allowed to all -but no minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatsoever, was capable of holding any civil or military office or place.*

The people of Masschusetts did not form a constitution until 1780. A convention for that purpose met in September, 1779, and was continued by adjournments till March following, when a frame of government was submitted to the consideration of the people, and adopted by a large majority.

This constitution was amended in 1801, by providing that the members of the assembly should be one hundred, and never exceed one hundred and fifty, and that the number of senators should be thirty two. The council of appointment has lately been abolished, and executive appointments vested in the governor and senate, and the qualifications of electors have been varied, and placed upon an equal footing.

« AnteriorContinuar »