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COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, 1776,
AS ESTABLISHED BY THE GENERAL CONVENTION ELECTED) FOR THAT PURPOSE, AND HELD AT PHILADELPIII, JULY 15, 1776, AND CONTINUED BY ADJOURN
MEXT, TO'SEPTEMBER 29, 1776.
WHEREAS, All government ought to be instituted and supported for the security and protection of the community as such, and to enable the individuals who compose it, to enjoy their natural rights, anı the other blessings which the author of existence has bestowed upon man; and whenever these great ends of government are not obtained, the people have a right, by common consent, to change it, and take such measures as to them may appear necesSary, to promote their safety and happiness :
And whereas, The inhabitants of this commonwealth have, in consideration of protection only, heretofore acknowledged allegiance to the king of Cireat Britain, and the said king has not only withcirawn that protection, but commenced and still continues to carry on with unabated vengeance, il most cruel and unjust war against them, employe ing therein not only the troops of Great Britain, but foreign mercenaries, savages and slaves, for the avowed purpose of reducing them to total and ah. ject submission to the despotic domination of the British Parliament, (with many other acts of tyranny more fully set forth in the declaration of Congress,) whereby all allegiance and fealty to the said king and his successors are dissolved and at an end, and all power and authority derived from him ceased in these colonies:
<Ind whereas, It is absolutely necessary for the welfare and safety of the inhabitants of said colonies, that they be henceforth free and independent States, and that just, perrzanent and proper forms of government exist in every part of them, derived from, and founded on the authority of the people only, agreeable to the directions of the honorable Imerican Congress :
WE, the representatives of the freemen of Pennsylvania, in general convention met, for the express purpose of framing such a government, confessing the goodness of the Great Governor of the universe (who alone knows to what degree of earthly happiness mankind may attain by perfecting the arts of government) in permitting the people of this State, by common consent, and without violence, deliberately to form for themselves, such just rules as they shall think best for governing their future society; and being fully convinced that it is our in(lispensible duty to establish such original principles of government, as will best promote the gencral happiness of the people of the State and their posterity, and provide for future improvements, without partiality for, or prejudice against, any particular class, sect or denomination of men whatso. ever, do, by virtue of the authority vested in us by our constituents, ordain, declare and establish the following Declaration of Rights and Frcome of Gov
crnment, to be the Constitution of this ('ommonwealth, and to remain in force therein forever unaltered, except in such articles as shall hereafter, on experience, be found to require improvement, and which shall, by the same authority of the people, fairly delegated, as this frame of government directs, be annended or improved for the more effectual obtaining and securing the great end and design of all government, hereinbefore mentioned:
(ILAPTER I. Derlaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the common.
wealth or State of Pennsylvanis. 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, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
II. That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding, 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 ministry, contrary to, or against his own free will and consent; nor can any man who acknowledges the being of a God, be justily deprived or abridged of any civil right as a citizen, on account of his religious sentiments, or peculiar mode of religious worship; and that no authority can, or ought to be vested in, or assumed by any power whatever, that shali in any case interfere with, or in any manner control the right of conscience in the free exercise of religious worship,
III. That the people of this State have the sole, exclusive and inherent right of governing and regulating the internal police of the same.
IV. That all power being originally inherent in, and consequently derived from the people; therefore all officers of government, whether legislativo or executive, are their trustees and servants, and it all times accountable to them.
V. 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 bath 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.
VI. That those who are employed in the legislative 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.
VII. That all elections ought to be free, and that all free men, having a sufficient evident common interest with and attachment to the community, have a right to elect officers or to be elected into office.
VIII. That every member of society bath 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, ind vield his personal service when necessary, or au 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 laws but such as they have in like manner assented to, for their common good.
IX. 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 speedy public trial by an impartial jury of the country, without the unanimous consent of which jury he cannot be found guilty, nor can he be compelled to give evidence against himself, nor can any man be justly deprived of his liberty except by the laws of the land or the judgment of his peers.
X. That the people have a right to hold themselves, their houses, papers and possessions free from search and seizure, and therefore warrants, without oaths or affirmations first made affording a sufficient foundation for them, and whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded or required to search suspected places, or to seize any person or persons, his or their property not particularly described, are contrary to that right, and ought not to be granted.
XI. That in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the parties have a right to trial hy jury, which ought to be held sacred,