Page images

created, and such law shall be published in at least one newspaper in each judicial district, if one is published therein, throughout the State, for three months preceding the election at which it is subinitted to the people.

ARTICLE IX.-Incorporations. Sec. 1. No corporate body shall hereafter be created, renewed, or extended, with the privilege of making, issuing, or putting in circulation, any bill, check, ticket, certificate, promissory note, or other paper, or the paper of any bank, to circulate as money. The General Assembly of this State shall prohibit by law, any person or persons, association, company or corporation, from exercising the privileges of banking, or creating paper to circulate as money.

2. Corporations shall not be created in this State by special laws, except for political or municipal purposes, but the General Assembly shall provide, by general laws, for the organization of all other corporations, except corporations with banking privileges, the creation of which is prohibited. The stockholders shall be subject to such liabilities and restrictions as shall be provided by law. The State shall not, directly or indirectly, become a stockholder in any corporation.

ARTICLE X.--Education and School Lands. Sec. 1. The General Assembly shall provide for the election, by the people, of a superintendent of public instruction, who shall hold his office for three years, and whose duties shall be prescribed by law, and who shall receive such compensation as the General Assembly may direct.

2. The General Assembly shall encourage, by all suitable means, the promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral and agricultural improvement. The proceeds of all lands that have been or hereafter may be granted by the United States to this State, for the support of schools, which shall hereafter be sold or disposed of, and the five hundred thousand acres of land granted to the new States, under an act of Congress, distributing the proceeds of the public lands among the several States of the Union, approved A. D. 1841, and all estates of deceased persons, who may have died without leaving a will, or heir; and also such per cent. as may be granted by Congress on the sale of lands in this State, shall be and remain a perpetual tund, the interest of which, together with ali the rents of the unsold lands, and such other means as the General Assembly may provide, shall be inviolably appropriated to the support of common schools throughout the State.

3. The General Assembly shall provide for a system of common schools, by which a school shall be kept up and supported in each school district, at least three months in every year; and any school district neglecting to keep up and support such a school may be deprived of its proportion of the interest of the public fund during such neglect.

4. The money which shail be paid by persons as an equivalent for exemption from military duty, and the clear proceeds of all fines collected in the several counties for any breach of the penal laws, shall be exclusively applied, in the several counties in which such money is paid or fine collected, among the several school districts of said counties, in the proportion to the number of inhabitants in such districts, to the support of common schools, or the establishment of libraries, as the General Assembly shall, from time to time, provide by law.

5. The General Assembly shall take measures for the protection, improvement, or other disposition of such lands as have been or may hereafter be reserved or granted by the United States, or any person or persons, to this State, for the use of a university; and the funds accruing from the rents or sale of such lands, or from any other source, for the purpose aforesaid, shall be and remain a permanent fund, the interest of which shall be applied to the support of said university, with such branches as the public convenience may hereafter demand, for the promotion of literature, the arts and sciences, as may be authorized by the terms of such grant. And it shall be the duty of the General

Assembly, as soon as may be, to provide effectual means for the improvement and permanent security of the funds of said university.

ARTICLE XI.-Amendments of the Constitution. If, at any time, the General Assembly shall think it necessary to revise or amend this Constitution, they shall provide by law for a vote of the people for or against a convention, at the next ensuing election for members of the General Assembly; in case a majority of the people vote in favor of a convention, said General Assembly shall provide for an election of delegates to a convention, to be held within six months after the vote of the people in favor thereof.

ARTICLE XII.-Miscellaneous. Sec. 1. The jurisdiction of justices of the peace shall extend to all civil cases (except cases in chancery and cases where the question of title to any real estate may arise), where the amount in controversy does not exceed one hundred dollars, and by the consent of parties may be extended to any amount not exceeding five hundred dollars.

2. No new county shall be laid off hereafter, nor old county reduced, to less contents than four hundred and thirty-two square miles.

3. The General Assembly shall not locate any of the public lands, which have been or may be granted by Congress to this State, and the location of which may be given to the General Assembly, upon lands actually settled, without the consent of the occupant. The extent of the claim of such occupant so exempted shall not exceed three hundred and twenty acres.


The first settlement, in this state, was made at Green Bay, by the French, in the year 1670. In 1819, it was effectually explored by General Cass, then governor of the territory of Michigan. In 1838, the population was less than 10,000. In 1850, it was 304,226. About two-thirds of the inhabitants are from New England and New York, and the rest from different states of the Union, and different countries of Europe. They are well educated, industrious, order-loving, law-abiding, people, among whom idleness and want are unknown.

The territory was under the government of France till 1763 ; of Great Britain, till 1794 ; of Ohio, till 1800 ; of Indiana, till 1809; of Illinois, till 1818; of Michigan, till 1836; was under a territorial government till 1848, when, as a state, Wisconsin took her place in the confederacy of the states.

The state owes not a dollar ; and by her constitution, she is inhibited from ever owing at any time more than $100,000. At an expense of about $100,000 she is uniting Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River, giving her an uninterrupted internal navigation of about three hundred miles through the heart of the state. Then with a short canal, uniting the St. Croix River with Lake Superior, and with a canal around the Falls of St. Mary, (which must soon be made,) she will have navigable water on three sides, and through the middle of her territory. Then she can choose her market at New Orleans, Quebec or New York; and will very soon be ready to welcome, with one hand, the hardy immigrant, on the majestic steamers, from the east, and with the other, the China trader on the cars thundering from the Pacific to the Mississippi on the west.

In fertility of soil, exhaustless water-power, and salubrity of climate, this state is not surpassed; and for commercial, educational, religious, and social advantages, present, and prospective but sure, no state in the Union, no place in the world, to the settler, offers greater inducements than the new state of Wisconsin

It comprises about 57,000 square miles, or about 36,000,000 of acres. One thirty-sixth part of this, with an addition of 500,000 acres, is inviolably devoted to the cause of common schools. Besides this, the amount of 46,080 acres, to be selected by the state, is given for a permanent University fund.


PREAMBLE. We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings, form a more perfect government, ensure domestic tranquillity, and promote the general welfare, do establish this constitution.

ARTICLE I.—Declaration of Rights. Sec. 1. All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights: among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

2. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this state, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

3. Every person may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; and no laws shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press. In all criminal prosecutions or indictments for libel, the truth may be given in evidence; and if it shall appear to the jury that the matter charged as libellous be true, and was published with good motives and for justitiable ends, the party shall be acquitted; and the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the fact.

4. The right of the people peaceably to assemble to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.

5. The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate; and shall extend to all cases at law, without regard to the amount in controversy; but a jury trial may be waived by the parties in all cases, in the manner prescribed by law.

6. Excessive bail shall not be required; nor shall excessive fines be imposed; nor shall cruel and unusual punishments be inflicted.

7. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel; to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him; to meet the witnesses face to face; to have compulsory process to compel the attendance of witnesses in his behalf: and in prosecutions by indict. ment or information, to a speedy public trial by an impartial jury of the county or district wherein the offence shall have been committed, which county or district shall have been previously ascertained by law.

8. No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offence, unless on the presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases of impeachment, or in cases cognizable by justices of the peace, or arising in the army or navy, or in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger; and no person for the same offence shall be put twice in jeopardy of punishment, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. All persons shall before conviction be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offences, when the proof is evident or the presumption great; and the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless when, in case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require.

9. Every person is entitled to a certain remedy in the laws, for all injuries or wrongs which he may receive in his person, property, or character; he ought to obtain justice freely, and without being obliged to purchase it; completely and without denial, promptly and without delay, conformably to the laws.

10. Treason against the state shall consist only in levying war against the same, or in adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

11. The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

12. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, nor any law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall ever be passed; and no conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate.

13. The property of no person shall be taken for public use, without just compensation therefor.

14. All lands within the state are declared to be allodial; and feudal tenures are prohibited. Leases and grants of agricultural land, for a longer term than fifteen years, in which rent or service of any kind shall be reserved, and all fines and like restraints upon alienation, reserved in any grant of land, hereafter made, are declared to be void.

15. No distinction shall ever be made by law between resident aliens and citizens, in reference to the possession, enjoyment, or descent of property,

16. No person shall be imprisoned for debt arising out of or founded on a contract, expressed or implied.

17. The privilege of the debtor to enjoy the necessary comforts of life, shall be recognised by wholesome laws, exempting a reasonable amount of property from seizure or sale, for the payment of any debt or liability hereafter contracted.

18. The right of every man to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of his own conscience, shall never be infringed; nor shall any man be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, against his consent. Nor shall any control of, or interference with the rights of conscience, be permitted, or any preference be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship. Nor shall any money be drawn from the treasury for the benefit of religious societies, or religious or theological seminaries.

19. No religious tests shall ever be required as a qualification for any office of public trust under the state; and no person shall be rendered incompetent to give evidence in any court of law or equity, in consequence of his opinions on the subject of religion.

20. The military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power. 21. Writs of error shall never be prohibited by law. 22. The blessings of a free government can only be maintained by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

ARTICLE II.-Boundaries. Sec. 1. It is hereby ordained and declared, that the State of Wisconsin doth consent and accept of the boundaries prescribed in the act of congress entitled, “ An act to enable the people of Wisconsin territory to form a constitution and state government, and for the admission of such state into the Union," approved August sixth, one thousand eight hundred and forty-six, to wit: Beginning at the north-east corner of the state of Illinois, that is to say, at a point in the centre of lake Michigan where the line of forty-two degrees and thirty minutes of north latitude crosses the same; thence, running with the boundary line of the state of Michigan, through lake Michigan, Green Bay, to the mouth of Menomonee river; thence up the channel of the said river to the Brule river; thence up said last

mentioned river to lake Brule; thence along the southern shore of lake Brule, in a direct line, to the centre of the channel between Middle and South island, in the lake of the Desert; thence in a direct line to the head waters of the Montreal river, as marked upon the survey made by Captain Cram; thence

« PreviousContinue »