Abbildungen der Seite
[blocks in formation]

did resolve unanimously, "that the said report, with the resolutions and letter accompanying the same, be transmitted to the several legislatures, in order to be submitted to a convention of delegates chosen in each state by the people thereof, in conformity to the resolves of the convention made and provided in that case:" and whereas the constitution so reported by the convention, and by congress transmitted to the several legislatures, has been ratified in the manner therein declared to be sufficient for the establishment of the same, and such ratifications duly authenticated have been received by congress, and are filed in the office of the secretary; therefore,

Resolved, That the first Wednesday in January next be the day for appointing electors in the several states, which before the said day shall have ratified the said constitution; that the first Wednesday in February next be the day for the electors to assemble in their respective states, and vote for a president; and that the first Wednesday in March next be the time, and the present seat of congress the place, for commencing proceedings under the said constitution.

Restrictions on the

powers of


[The following amendments were proposed at the first session of the first congress of the United States, which was begun and held in the city of New York, on the 4th of March, 1789, and were adopted by the requisite number of states. 1 vol., Laws U. S., p. 72.]

[The following preamble and resolution preceded the original proposition of the amendments, and as they have been supposed by a high equity judge, (8th Wendell's Reports, p. 100,) to have an important bearing on the construction of those amendments, they are here inserted. They will be found in the journals of the first session of the first congress.


Begun and held at the city of New York on Wednesday the 4th of March, 1789.

The conventions of a number of states having, at the time of their adopting the constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: and as extending the ground of public confidence in the government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution,

Resolved, By the senate and house of representatives of the United States of America in congress assembled, two-thirds of both houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the legislatures of the several states, as amendments to the constitution of the United States; all or any of which articles, when ratified by three-fourths of the said legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said constitution, namely:]


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of congress. speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Right of the people to


A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free keep arms, state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.



of soldiers,


No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house with&c. out the consent of the owner, nor in time of war but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

rants, &c.


Search war- The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants 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.


ings against


No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise Proceed infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand persons jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the with crimes militia, when in actual service, in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put Their rights in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.



In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to Further a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses againt him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.


trial by jury

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed Right of twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved; and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reëxamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.


bail, &c.

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


The enumeration in the constitution of certain rights, shall not Construcbe construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


tion of constitution.

served to the states.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the constitu- Powers retion, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

[The following amendment was proposed at the second session of the third congress. It is printed in the Laws of the United States, 1st vol., p. 73, as article 11]


of judicial

The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed Restriction to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted powers. against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.

[The three following sections were proposed as amendments at the first session of the eighth


They are printed in the Laws of the United States as article 12.]


electing the

1. The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by Mode of ballot for president and vice-president, one of whom, at least, shall president &

dent of


vice-presi- not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall the United name in their ballots the person voted for as president, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as vice-president; and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as president, and of all persons voted for as vice-president, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the president of the senate; the president of the senate shall, in the presence of the senate and house of representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted: the person having the greatest number of votes for president, shall be the president, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers, not exceeding three, on the list of those voted for as president, the house of representatives shall choose immediately, President. by ballot, the president. But in choosing the president, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the house of representatives shall not choose a president whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the vice-president shall act as president, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the president.



2. The person having the greatest number of votes as vice-president, shall be the vice-president, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the senate shall choose the vice-president: a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice.

3. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of president shall be eligible to that of vice-president of the United States.

[In the edition of the Laws of the U. S. before referred to, there is an amendment printed as article 13, prohibiting citizens from accepting titles of nobility or honor, or presents, offices, &c., from foreign nations. But, by a message of the president of the United States of the 4th of February, 1818, in answer to a resolution of the house of representatives, it appears that this amendment had been ratified only by 12 states, and therefore had not been adopted. See vol. iv. of the printed papers of the 1st session of the 15th congress, No. 76.]


In Convention of the Representatives of the State of New York. KINGSTON, 20TH APRIL, 1777. WHEREAS the many tyrannical and oppressive usurpations of the congresses king and parliament of Great Britain, on the rights and liberties of mittees. the people of the American colonies, had reduced them to the neces

Government by and com

sity of introducing a government by congresses and committees, as temporary expedients, and to exist no longer than the grievances of the people should remain without redress.


AND WHEREAS the congress of the colony of New York, did on the thirty-first day of May, now last past, resolve as follows, viz.: "Whereas the present government of this colony, by congress and com- Its object mittees, was instituted, while the former government, under the crown of Great Britain, existed in full force; and was established for the sole purpose of opposing the usurpation of the British parliament, and was intended to expire on a reconciliation with Great Britain, which it was then apprehended would soon take place, but is now considered as remote and uncertain. "And whereas many and great inconveniences attend the said mode of Its inconvegovernment by congress and committees, as of necessity, in many instances, legislative, judicial and executive powers have been vested therein, especially since the dissolution of the former government, by the abdication of the late governor, and the exclusion of this colony from the protection of the king of Great Britain.


And whereas the continental congress did resolve as followeth, to wit: “Whereas his Britannic majesty, in conjunction with the lords and com- Recital. mons of Great Britain, has by a late act of parliament, excluded the inhabitants of these united colonies from the protection of his crown. And whereas, no answers whatever, to the humble petition of the colonies for redress of grievances and reconciliation with Great Britain, has been, or is likely to be given, but the whole force of that kingdom, aided by foreign mercenaries, is to be exerted for the destruction of the good people of these colonies. And whereas it appears absolutely irreconcilable to reason and good conscience, for the people of these colonies now to take the oaths and affirmations necessary for the support of any government under the crown of Great Britain, and it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the said crown should be totally suppressed, and all the powers of government exerted under the authority of the people of the colonies for the preservation of internal peace, virtue and good order, as well as for the defense of our lives, liberties and properties, against the hostile invasions and cruel depredations of our enemies:


ral congress


"Resolved, That it be recommended to the respective assemblies and con- Resolution ventions of the united colonies, where no government sufficient to the of the gene exigencies of their affairs has been hitherto established, to adopt such recomgovernment as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, the institubest conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, tion of new and America in general.'




to elect de


"And whereas doubts have arisen, whether this congress are invested Powers of the provin with sufficient power and authority to deliberate and determine on so cial conimportant a subject as the necessity of erecting and constituting a new form gress inadeof government and internal police, to the exclusion of all foreign jurisdiction, dominion and control whatever. And whereas it appertains of right solely to the people of this colony to determine the said doubts: Therefore, Resolved, That it be recommended to the electors in the several counties Recomin this colony, by election in the manner and form prescribed for the election mendation of the present congress, either to authorize (in addition to the powers vested puties with in this congress) their present deputies, or others in the stead of their present powers. deputies, or either of them, to take into consideration the necessity and propriety of instituting such new government as in and by the said resolution of the continental congress is described and recommended: And if the majority of the counties, by their deputies in provincial congress, shall be of opinion that such new government ought to be instituted and established, then to institute and establish such a government as they shall deem best calculated to secure the rights, liberties and happiness of the good people of this colony and to continue in force until a future peace with Great Britain shall render the same unnecessary. And

Time and place of meeting.

Appointment of this

"Resolved, That the said elections in the several counties ought to be had on such day, and at such place or places, as by the committee of each county respectively shall be determined. And it is recommended to the said committees, to fix such early days for the said elections, as that all the deputies to be elected have sufficient time to repair to the city of New York by the second Monday in July next; on which day all the said deputies. ought punctually to give their attendance.

"And whereas the object of the aforegoing resolutions is of the utmost importance to the good people of this colony;

"Resolved, That it be and it is hereby earnestly recommended to the committees, freeholders and other electors in the different counties in this colony, diligently to carry the same into execution."

AND WHEREAS the good people of the said colony, in pursuance convention. of the said resolution, and reposing special trust and confidence in the members of this convention, have appointed, authorized and empowered them, for the purposes, and in the manner, and with the powers in and by the said resolve specified, declared and mentioned.

Proceedings of the


of indepen

AND WHEREAS the delegates of the United American States, in general con- general congress convened, did on the fourth day of July now last past, solemnly publish and declare, in the words following, viz.: Declaration "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one dence. people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Reasons thereof.


"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness: that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed: that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes, and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right. themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former system of government. The history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

"He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

"He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

"He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of

« ZurückWeiter »