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It was more perfect, than any previously established. It commenced with a preamble, declaring, that the end of the institution, maintenance and administration of government was to secure the existence of the body politic, to protect it, and to furnish the individuals who composed it, with the power of enjoying in safety and tranquility their natural rights and the blessings of life; and that when these objects were not obtained, the people had a right to alter it-that the body politic was formed by a voluntary association of individuals—was a social compact, by which the whole people covenanted with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all should be governed by certain laws for the common good. With these views and principles, the people of Massachusetts solemnly formed themselves "into a free, sovereign, and independent body politic and state by the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."*
It was preceded by a bill of rights, containing thirty articles, the last of which declared, that the government should be divided into three departments, legislative, executive, and judicial, neither to exercise the powers of the other.
The legislative department, consisting of a senate and house of representatives, was styled the general court of Massachusetts; a name given to the legislature in the first settlement of the colony.
The senate was composed of forty persons chosen annually, from certain districts, into which the state from time to time was to be divided by the general court. In the formation of these districts, a new principle was established. In assigning the number of senators to each, the general court was to be governed by the proportion of the public taxes paid by them; but the number of districts was never to be less than thirteen, nor was any district to have more than six senators. The representatives were elected annually from the towns-every corporate town containing one hundred and fifty rateable polls, to send one representative; if a town contained three hundred and seventy-five, two; and if six hundred, three; and the number to be increased in the ratio of one for two hundred and twenty-five rateable polls. All mo
This constitution was drawn by a sub-committee, consisting of James Bowdoin, John Adams, and Samuel Adams.
ney bills were to originate in the house, but the senate might propose or concur with amendments.
The executive authority was lodged in a governor and council -the governor to be chosen annually by the people-the council consisted of nine persons, with the lieutenant governor, and were to be chosen out of those returned for senators, by the joint ballots of both houses; and if on the first choice, the whole number who would accept should not be elected, the residue were to be chosen from among the people at large, not more than two from any one district.
Judicial officers were to continue during good behavior, but removable on the address of both houses; commissions of justices, however, were to expire at the end of seven years.
All judicial officers, the attorney general, the solicitor general, all sheriffs, coroners, and registers of probate, were to be nominated and appointed by the governor, by and with the advice and consent of the council; and every nomination was to be made by the governor at least seven days prior to such appointment. The secretary, treasurer, receiver general, the commissary general, notaries public, and naval officers, were to be chosen annually, by joint ballot of both houses; and no person was eligible as treasurer and receiver general, more than five years successively. The captains and subalterns of the militia were to be chosen by the companies the field officers of regiments by the captains and subalterns, of their respective regiments-and the brigadiers to be elected by the field officers of their respective brigades—the major generals by the two houses, each having a negative on the
The governor had a partial negative on the acts of the legislature. Every bill or resolve of the senate and house, was to be submitted to the governor for his revisal; and if not approved by him, he was to return the same, with his objections in writing, and if not reconsidered and approved by two thirds of both branches, was not to have the force of a law.
The qualification of an elector was a freehold estate of the annual income of three pounds, or any estate of the value of sixty pounds.
After confirming the rights and immunities of Harvard college, the constitution made it the express duty of the legislature and magistrates, at all future periods, "to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them; especially the university of Cambridge, public schools, and grammar schools in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, by rewards and immunities for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country; to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty and punctuality in their dealings; sincerity, good humor, and all social affections and generous sentiments among the people."
The second and third articles of the bill of rights embraced the subject of religion and religious liberty. It was declared to be the duty of all men in society publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the Great Creator and Preserver of the universe. But that no one should be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God, in the manner and seasons, most agreeably to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious professions or sentiments.
The third article declared this great fundamental truth,' that the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depended upon piety, religion, and morality.' The same article, also, asserted, that as these could not be diffused throughout a community, but by the institution of the public worship of God, the people had a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require the several towns, parishes, &c., "to make suitable provision 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."
The people, however, were to have the exclusive right of selecting their public teachers, and of contracting with them for their support; and all monies paid by any person, for the support of public worship, and of public teachers, was to be applied if he
required it, to the support of the teacher of his own religious sect or denomination, if there was any, on whose instructions he attended, otherwise to be paid to the teachers of the parish, where the money was raised. And every denomination of christians was to be "equally under the protection of the law; and no subordination of any sect or denomination to another to be established by law."
Vermont did not become a member of the union until 1791. This state was originally settled under grants from New Hampshire, and principally by the hardy yeomanry of New England, who became acquainted with the country, in the war of 1756. It was a long time known by the name of " the New Hampshire Grants;" and its inhabitants were called "the Green Mountain boys." It was claimed by New York, under the old grant to the duke of York; and in 1764, on an ex parte application to the king and council, the country, as far east as Connecticut river, was placed under the jurisdiction of that province. This was done not only without the knowledge, but contrary to the wishes of the inhabitants; and they uniformly refused to submit to the jurisdiction of that state. The government of New York attempted to enforce obedience but in vain. Civil process was resisted by force, and the people at the revolution, declared themselves independent, and in 1777, established a temporary government. They afterwards requested to be admitted a member of the confederacy, but congress were unwilling to offend the states of New York and New Hampshire, who opposed it. July 4th, 1786, a frame of government was established, containing provisions taken principally from those of Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
The supreme legislative power was vested in a single body, consisting of representatives from the several counties, to be called the general assembly; and the supreme executive power in a governor and council. A governor, lieutenant governor, and twelve councillors, were to be chosen annually, by the people. All bills before they became laws, were to be laid before the governor and council for their revision and concurrence, or proposals of amendments. If the amendments proposed by the council were not agreed to by
the assembly, the governor and council had a right to suspend the passage of the bill until the next session of the legislature. The general assembly, in conjunction with the council, were annually to appoint judges and other principal officers, to be commissioned by the governor-every man of the age of twenty-one, having resided in the state one year, and of quiet and peaceable behavior, was an elector. No person could be compelled to attend any religious worship, or support any place of worship, or maintain any minister. Schools were to be maintained in the towns, and one or more grammar schools incorporated and properly supported in each county.
A council of censors was to be chosen every seven years, with the same powers as in Pennsylvania.
By the constitution of Georgia, established in May, 1789, the representatives were elected annually, and the senators every third year. The governor, in whom the executive power was lodged, was elected every two years in the following manner;-the house was to vote by ballot for three persons, and a list of the persons voted for sent to the senate, and out of the three persons having the highest number of votes, the senate was to elect a governor.
The state officers were to be oppointed as follows,-the house of representatives to vote for three persons; and a list of the three persons having the highest number of votes, was to be transmitted to the senate, from which the senate was to choose one. The governor, however, was to appoint military officers, and his secretary; and the legislature might vest the appointment of inferior officers in the governor, the courts of justic, or in such other manner as they might by law direct. The governor was to revise all bills passed by both houses, and without his assent, such bills could not become laws, unless re-passed by two thirds of both branches.
Electors must have resided in the county six months, and paid a tax for the year preceding the election. The judges of the supreme court and the attorney general, were to hold their offices three years; and all persons to have the free exercise of their religion, without being obliged to contribute to any religious profession but their own.