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ing. Committee chosen-Mr. Jona. Fassett, Mr. Joshua Webb and Mr. Wells.
Resolved, that a committee of three be appointed, to prepare a bill, respecting the freedom of slaves, agreeable to the bill of rights. Committee chosen-Mr. Harris, Mr. Rowley and Mr. Cooper.
Resolved, that the justices of the peace, whose names are returned to the Governor, or that shall be, hereafter, returned, shall be commissioned for the year ensuing.
A table of fees passed the House.
Resolved, that his Excellency the Governor's salary, for the year ensuing, be three hundred pounds, lawful money.
Assembly adjourned, until two o'clock, afternoon.
Assembly met, according to adjournment.
Resolved, that a committee of two, to join a committee from the Council, be appointed, to prepare the acts passed at the former sessions, and likewise the present session, for the press, and get them printed. Committee chosen-Capt. Ebenezer Curtiss and Col, John Barrett.
A resolve passed for to make a road from Wilmington to Bennington.
Resolved, that a committee of six be appointed to choose five hundred and ninety-six proprietors to share in a large tract of land, specified in a petition of Col. Ethan Allen, Col. Samuel Herrick and Jonas Fay, Esquire. Committee chosen—Col. Ethan Allen, Joseph Bradley, Esq., John Fassett, Esq. Doct. Reuben Jones, Major Thomas Chandler and Capt. John Throop.
Resolved, that Col. Ethan Allen be, and is hereby, an agent to go to the Honorable the Congress, when the Governor and Council shall judge necessary.
Resolved, that the next session of this Assembly be held on the second Thursday of February next, at Bennington meeting-house.
LAWS OF VERMONT.
PASSED AT THE SESSION OF ASSEMBLY
BENNINGTON, FEBRUARY 11,
A. D. 1779.*
AN ACT for securing the general privileges of the people, and estab
lishing common law and the constitution, as part of the laws of this State.
FORASMUCH as the free fruition of such liberties and privileges as humanity, civility, and christianity call for, as due to every man, in his place and proportion, without impeachment and infringement, hath been, and ever will be, the tranquility and stability of churches and commonwealths; and the denial or deprival thereof, the disturbance, if not ruin of both :
Be it enacted, and it is hereby enacted, by the representatives of the freemen of the State of Vermont, in General Assembly met, and by the authority of the same, that no man's life shall be taken away ; no man's
* Much exertion has been made to obtain a copy of the laws of 1778,-- but without effect. They were published towards the close of that year, in a pamphlet form, but were never recorded in the Secretary's office. No records appear to have been made in that office until the year 1779; when the Constitution, and the laws of that year were recorded. The laws of 1778, were probably declared to be temporary—as were the laws of several succeeding years--and ceased to have effect before any records were made. Some of them, indeed, were, obviously, designed to answer a temporary purpose only, such as the acts, epacting certain laws "as they stood on the Connecticut lan book ;'--and all appear, so far as we can learn from the journals of the legislature, to have possessed the character of mere temporary regulations, ratber than permanent laws. Some of them were probably se enacted, in substance, in the year 1779, and incorporated in the general code of that year. These considerations may explain the extraordipary fact that the recording of those laws was purposely omitted. It is indeed a subject of regret that any cause should have been thought sufficient to justify a neglect, by which the first essay at legislation, by the government of Verwront, has been lost to siceording generations,
honor or good name stained; no man's person shall be arrested, restrained, banished, dismembered, nor any ways punished; no man shall be deprived of his wife or children; no man's goods or estates shall be taken away from him, nor any ways indamaged, under colour of law, or countenance of authority; unless it be by virtue of some express law of this State, warranting the same, established by the General Assembly; or, in case of the defect of such law, in any particular case, by some plain rule, warranted by the Word of God.
That all the people of the American States, within this State, whether they be inhabitants or not, shall enjoy the same justice and law that is general for this State, in all cases proper for the cognizance of the civil authority and courts of judicature, in the same, and that without partiality or delay; and that no man's person shall be restrained or imprisoned, by any authority whatever, before the law hath sentenced him thereto, if he can and will put in sufficient security, bail, or mainprize, for his appearance, and good behaviour, in the mean time; unless it be for capital crimes, contempt in open court, or in such cases wherein some express law doth allow of, or order the same.
Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that common law, as it is generally practised and understood in the New-England States, be, and is hereby established as the common law of this State.
Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the constitution of this State, as established by general convention held at Windsor, July and December, 1777, together with, and agreeable to, such alterations and additions as shall be made in such constitution, agreeable to the 44th section in the plan of government, shall be forever considered, held, and maintained, as part of the laws of this State.*
AN ACT directing Justices of the Peace in their office and duty.
Be it enacted, and it is hereby eracted, by the representatives of the freemen of the State of Vermont, in General Assembly met, and by the authority of the same, that, on complaint made to any of the justices of the peace within this State, of any breach of law, committed in the county where such Justice lives, he shall grant out his writ, warrant, or summons (as the nature of the case may require) requiring the appearance of the person so complained of, before him; who shall duly examine into the matter, (the delinquent being present,) and if, upon examination, such Justice does find the matter in demand, or fine, to exceed twenty pounds, or corporal punishment due to the crime with which the party complained of, is charged, to exceed ten lashes; then such Justice shall bind such offender in recognizance, or send him, by mittimus, to goal, as he shall find convenient or necessary, to appear before the next superior or county court, and be dealt with as the law directs.
* The Constitution, if it was any thing, was, a!ready, the fundamental law of the State, possessing authority, necessarily paramount to any act of the legislature,-the very charter, indeed, of its existence, and by which alone, it was invested with power to legislate at all;-and yet we here find the legislature gravely attempting to give to this instrument the force of lum!
A recurrence to the history of the Constitution will explain this singular proceeding. We have before suggested, (see note, page 241,) that it was never sanctioned by the people, but went into operation as it came from the hands of the convention, and was suhmitted to, rather fron necessity than choice. The truth of that suggestion is fully confirmed by this attempt to legalize the Constitution; and we are irresistibly led to the conclusion that it was considered a nero nullity by the statesmen of that period,
That, in case the Justice shall, upon such examination, find the matter in demand, or fine, does not exceed twenty pounds, or corporal pun. ishment due for such offence as the offender is charged with, does not exceed ten lashes, and title of land is not concerned, such Justice, with the advice and assistance of one or two other assistants or Justices, shall proceed and try such action, and award sentence and execution accordingly.
And in case the Justice does find the matter in demand, or fine, does not exceed ten pounds, or corporal punishment as aforesaid, does not exceed ten lashes, and title of land is not concerned, as aforesaid, such Justice may and shall have a right to try such action, and award sentence and execution accordingly.
Always provided, that such cases shall be tried by jury, if either party require it; of which such Justice or Justices shall always give information to the parties, before they proceed to trial.
Which jury shall be six freemen of the neighborhood, qualified, impannelled and sworn, who shall find the matter in issue, with damages, according to law and evidence; and the Justice or Justices, thereon shall make and declare sentence.
AN ACT concerning abatement and amendment of Writs, Judg
ments, &c. Be it enacted, and it is hereby enacted, by ihe representatives of the freemen of the State of Vermont, in General Assembly met, and by the authority of the same, that all writs, processes, declarations, indictments, pleas, answers, replications, and entries in the several courts of justice within this State, shall be in the English tongue, and no other.
And that no summons, process, writ, warrant, or other proceedings in court or course of justice, shall be abated, arrested, or reversed, for any kind of circumstantial error or mistake, where the parties and the cause may be rightly understood and intended by the court; or through defect, or want of form only; and the judges, or justice, on motion made in court, may order aniendment thereof.