Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER II.

The first Constitution of Vermont-A copy of the first Con.

stitution of Pennsylvania, with some alterations and ad ditions.

It has been seen that the first Constitution of Vermont was framed by a convention holden at Windsor, on the 2d day of July, 1777. The convention had gone through with the constitution, section by section, when the unexpected and startling intelligence was received of the evacuation of Ticonderoga. The attention of all was instantly turned to the security of their families, and the convention broke up without making any provision for printing the Constitution. From this time, the attention of all was diverted from the Constitution to the defence of the country, until after the capture of Burgoyne. In December following, the convention met, revised the Constitution, and made preparation for organizing the government in March, 1778.

At that time, it was generally known that the first Constitution of Vermont was, in substance, a copy of the first Constitution of Pennsylvania, but this fact seems to have escaped the notice of historians. The address of Dr. Young, of Philadelphia, to the people of Vermont, has been preserved, in which is the following :-“I have recommended to your committee the Constitution of Pennsylvania, as a model, which, with a very little alteration, will, in my opinion, come as near perfection as any thing yet concocted by mankind. This Constitution has been sifted with all the criticism that a band of despots was master of, and has bid defiance to their united powers. No wonder there were some political enthusiasts in those piping times, and no wonder that the people of Vermont preferred the Constitution of Pennsylvania to any other, for it was supposed to be the work of Franklin.

As the Constitution of Vermont contained in Thompson's History is not the first Constitution of 1778, nor the Constitution as amended in 1786, but the Constitution as amended in 1793, and as it is believed that our firsi Constitution is no whers to be found, except in the Vermont State Papers, I have thought tiie reader would be pleased to have it inserted in this fork. And that he may see at a glance, how far it is a copy of the first · Constitucion of Pennsylvania, the additions to the latter, and the alterations in it, made in fiaming the Constitution of Vermont, are enclosed in brack. ets.

CHAPTER 1.

A DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE INHABIT

ANTS OF THE STATE OF VERMONT.

I. That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, pos. sessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. [Therefore, no male person, born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person, as a servant, slave, or apprentice, after he arrives to the age of twenty-one years, nor female, in like manner, after she arrives to the age of eighteen years, unless they are bound by their own consent, after they arrive to such age, or bound by law, for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.

II. That private property ought to be subservient to public uses, when necessity requires it ; nevertheless, whenever any particular man's property is taken for the use of the public, the owner ought to receive an equivalent in money.]

III. That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship ALMIGHTY God, according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding, regulated by the word of God; and that

no man ought, or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship, or erect, or support any place of worship, or maintain any minister, contrary to the dictates of his conscience ; [nor can any man who professes the protestant relig. ion] be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right, as a citizen, on account of his religious sentiment, or peculiar mode of religious worship, and that no authority can, or ought to be vested in, or assumed by, any power whatsoever, that shall, in any case, interfere with, or in any manner control, the rights of conscience, in the free exercise of religious worship ; [nevertheless, every sect or denomination of people ought to observe the Sabbath, or the Lord's day, and keep up, and support some sort of religious worship, which to them shall seem most agreeable to the revealed will of God.

IV. That the people of this State have the sole, exclusive, and inherent right of governing and regulating the internal police of the same.]

V. That all power being originally inherent in, and consequently derived from, the people ; therefore, all officers of government, whether legislative or executive, are their trustees and servants, and at all times accountable to them.

VI. That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation or community; and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single man, family or set of men, who are a part only of that community; and that the community hath an indubitable, unalienable and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish government, in such manner as shall be, by that community, judged most conducive to the public weal.

VII. That those who are employed in the leg. islative and executive business of the State, may be restrained from oppression, the people have a right, at such periods as they may think proper, to reduce their public officers to a private station, and supply the vacancies by certain and regular elections.

VIII. That all elections ought to be free; and that all freemen, having a sufficient, evident common interest with, and attachment to, the community, have a right to elect officers, or be elected into office.

IX. That every member of society hath a right to be protected in the enjoyment of life, liberty and property, and therefore, is bound to contribute his proportion towards the expense of that protection, and yield his personal service, when necessary, or an equivalent thereto; but no part of a man's property can be justly taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of his legal representatives ; nor can any man who is conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms, be justly compelled thereto, if he will pay such equivalent; nor are the people bound by any law, but such as they have, in like manner, assented to, for their common good.

X. That, in all prosecutions for criminal offences, a man hath a right to be heard, by himself and his counsel—to demand the cause and nature of his accusation to be confronted with the witnesses--to call for evidence in his favor, and a

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »