Page images

12. In Massachusetts and Maryland, the declaration of a belief in the Christian religion is required as a test of office. In New Jersey, no protestant can be denied any civil right on account of his religious principles. In Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Tennessee, the belief in a God, and a future state of rewards and punishments, is required as a qualification for office. In North Carolina, no person who denies the divine authority of the Old or New Testament is capable of holding office. In the other states no religious test is required. All the constitutions recognize affirmations excepting those of Virginia and North Carolina.

$ 13. Ministers of the gospel are not eligible as legislators in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. In South Carolina and Kentucky, they are not eligible either as governor or legislator. In New York, Delaware, and Louisiana, they are not eligible to any office whatever.

9 14. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maryland are the only states whose constitutions make provision for religious establishments. In New Hampshire, the legislature is empowered to authorize the several towns, parishes, &c. in the state to make adequate provision, at their own expence, for the support and maintenance of protestant ministers of the gospel. The towns have the exclusive right of electing and contracting with their minister ; but every person residing in the town is bound by the contract, and must contribute his share towards his support, unless within one month after the vote of settlement he enter his dissent with the town-clerk against contributing. Minors, who come of age after such settlement, inhabitants absent at the time of settlement, and persons moving into the town, are allowed three months after coming of age, returning, or moving into the town, to enter their dissent. Persons who change their religion after the settlement of the minister are likewise exempted.

In Massachusetts the legislature is enjoined to require the several towns, &c. to make suitable provision, at their own expence, for public worship, and for the maintenance of protestant ministers, and to enjoin on all the subjects” an attendance on the instructions of public teachers, if they conscientiously and conveniently can. The money paid by each person is to be applied to the support of the teachers of his own religious sect ; provided there be any on whose instructions he attends ; otherwise it may be applied to the support of the teacher of the parish in which the money is raised.

In Maryland, the legislature may lay a general and equal tax for the support of the christian religion ; leaving to each indi




vidual the power to direct that the money collected from him shall be paid over for the support of any particular place of worship or minister, or for the benefit of the poor of his own denomination, or the poor in general of any particular county: Every gift, sale, or devise of lands; every devise of goods and chattels; and every gift or sale of goods and chattels to take place after the death of the seller or donor, by any individual, for the support of any place of worship or minister, without the consent of the legislature, is void, excepting land not exceeding two acres for a church or burial ground, which can only be used for such

purpose. 15. In Pennsylvania, the legislature are enjoined to provide for schools throughout the state, in such a manner that the poor may be taught gratis. In North Carolina, the legislature are enjoined to establish a school or schools, with such salaries, paid by the public, as may enable the master to instruct at low prices. In New England, though no provision is made by the constitutions, there are free schools in every town*, which are generally supported by a public tax, and under the direction of a school committee. In Ohio, one thirty-sixth part of the lands in each township is reserved as a fund for the establishment of schools, and the constitution provides, that every association of persons for the support

of schools shall be entitled to letters of incorperation.

9 16. Imprisonment for debt, after the debtors have given up all their property to their creditors, is forbidden by the constitutions of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Vermont, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio.

$ 17. Massachusetts is the only state whose constitution appoints titles to the officers of government. The governor is entitled his excellency, the lieutenant-governor his honour.

918. The constitutions of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, North Carolina, and Ohio recognize a right in the people to instruct their representatives.

19. The constitutions of New Hampshire, Delaware, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Louisiana point out a mode for calling a convention to alter or amend them. That of Ohio, however, provides that no alteration shall ever take place, so as to introduce slavery or involuntary servitude into the state.

In Delaware, Maryland, South Carolina, and Georgia, the legislature may pass a bill amending the constitution, which, if confirmed at the first session of the next legislature, becomes a part of the instrument. In Massachusetts the sense of the people is directed to be taken in the year 1795, as to the propriety of calling a convention, but no future provision is made for that purpose. The constitution of Pennsylvania declares that the people have at all times a right to alter, reform, or abolish their government, in such manner as they think proper, but points out no mode of taking the sense of the people on the subject. The constitution of New York contains no provision for its amendment, but alterations have nevertheless been made. On the 6th of April, 1801, the legislature passed an act proposing to the citizens to elect delegates to meet in convention for amending some parts, and determining the true construction of other parts of the constitution. This proposition was acted upon. The delegates met at Albany, on the 27th of October, and made the alterations, and determined the construction, of those parts of the constitution which had been recommended to their notice by the legislature. The constitution of Vermont provides, “in order that the freedom of this commonwealth may be preserved inviolate for ever," that 13 persons shall be elected by the people once in 7 years, to be called the council of censors; who shall meet together on the first Wednesday in June next ensuing their election, the majority of whom shall be a quorum in every case, except as to calling a convention, in which two-thirds of the whole number elected shall agree, and whose duty it shall be to enquire, whether the constitution has been preserved inviolate in every part during the last septenary (including the year of their service); and whether the legislative and executive branches of government have performed their duty as guardians of the people, or assumed to themselves, or exercised, other or greater powers than they are entitled to by the constitution. They are also to enquire, whether the public taxes have been justly laid and collected in all parts of this commonwealth-in what manner the public monies have been disposed of_and whether the laws have been duly executed.For these purposes they shall have power to send for persons, papers, and records; they shall have authority to pass public censures, to order impeachments, and to recommend to the legislature the repealing such laws as shall appear to them to have been passed contrary to the principles of the constitution ; these powers they shall continue to have for and during the space of one year from the day of their election, and no longer. The said council of censors shall also have power to call a convention, to meet within two years after their sitting, if there appears to them an absolute necessity of amending any article of this conscitution, which may be defective; explaining such as may be thought not clearly expressed—and of adding such as are necessary for the preservation of the rights and happiness of the people; but the articles to be amended, and the amendments proposed, and such articles as are proposed to be added or abolished, shall be promulgated at least six months before the day appointed for the election of such convention, for the previous consideration of the people, that they may have an opportunity of instructing their delegates on the subject.” In conclusion it

* In New England the word town is not used in the common acceptation of the term, “a collection of houses larger than a village," but signifies a township, or the subdivision of a county.



proper to observe, that each of these 18 states is an independent sovereignty, and as such possesses every power not expressly delegated to the general government by the constitution of the United States.

$ 20. Besides the 18 states there are at present five territories included within the boundaries of the United States, namely, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi, and Missouri territories, the latter a part of the former province of Louisiana. By the ordinance for the government of the territory of the United States north-west of the river Ohio, passed by congress under the confederation, which has since been adapted to the present constitution, and extended to the other territories, two grades of territorial government were established. In the first grade, to have effect whilst the inhabitants are few in number, the legislative power is vested in a governor and three judges appointed by the president of the United States. In the second grade, the governor is still appointed by the president, but one branch of the legislature is elected by the people. The other branch is appointed as follows: the representatives nominate ten persons (in Missouri territory 18), one half of whom are appointed by the president to serve 5 years, unless by him sooner removed. The second grade has likewise the privilege of sending a delegate to congress, who has a right of debating, but not of voting. Territories are to be admitted to the second grade of government, as soon as they contain 5000 free male inhabitants, or whenever satisfactory evidence shall be given to the governor that such is the wish of a majority of the freeholders ; and whenever a territory has 60,000 free inhabitants, it shall be admitted into the union, on an equal footing with the other states, and, if consistent with the general interest, before that time. All the territorial governments are within the second grade, except that of Michigan.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

S 1. New England confederacy. 82. Articles of confederation. 83. Dis

solution. 4. Albany plan of union. § 5. Causes of its failure Ş 6. Congress of 1765. 87. Congress of 1774. $ 8. Mode of election. Ś 9. Powers of delegates. $ 10. Their transactions. $ 11. Congress of 1775. $ 12. Articles of confederation. § 13. Treaty of peace. § 14. Inefficacy of the articles of confederation. 15. Convention at Annapolis. $ 16. Convention at Philadelphia. $ 17. Formation of the federal constitution.

9 1. The first attempt at union among the English colonies, was made in New England, in 1643, a time when a general combination of the neighbouring Indians against the English settlements was apprehended, and symptoms of hostility betrayed by the Dutch at Manhadoes. A sense of impending danger suggested the policy of union, and after mature deliberation articles of confederation were digested and agreed upon, and in May, 1643, conclusively adopted, by the colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven. The preamble to these articles is strikingly characteristic both of the times and the place where it was written..

2. “Whereas wee all came into these parts of America with one and the same end and ayme namely to advaunce the kingdome of our Lord Jesus Christ and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospell in puritie with peace. And whereas in our settleinge (by a wise Providence of God) we are further dispersed upon the Sea Coasts and Riuers then was at first intended, so that we cannot according to our desire with convenience communicate in one Government and Juriddiccon: And whereas wee live encompassed with people of seuerall Nations and strang languages which hereafter may proue injurious to vs or our posteritie. And forasmuch as the natiues have formerly committed sondry insolences and outrages vpon seueral Plantacons of the English, and have of late combined themselues against vs. And seing by reason of those sad Distraccons in England which they have heard of, and by which they know wee are hindred from that humble way of seekinge advise, or reapeing those comfortable fruits of protection which at other tymes wee might well expect. Wee therefore doe conceiue it our bounden Dutye without delay to enter into a present Consotiation amongst our selues for mutuall help and strength in all our

« PreviousContinue »