Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1780)/Notes

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Note. — Soon after the Declaration of Independence, steps were taken in Massachusetts toward framing a Constitution or Form of Government. The Council and House of Representatives, or the General Court of 1777-78, in accordance with a recommendation of the General Court, of the previous year, met together as a Convention, and adopted a form of Constitution “for the State of Massachusetts Bay.” which was submitted to the people, and by them rejected. This attempt to form a Constitution having proved unsuccessful, the General Court on the 20th of February, 1779, passed a Resolve calling upon the qualified voters to give in their votes upon the questions — Whether they chose to have a new Constitution or Form of Government made, and, Whether they will empower their representatives to vote for calling a State Convention for that purpose. A large majority of the inhabitants having voted in the affirmative to both these questions, the General Court, on the 17th of June, 1779, passed a Resolve calling upon the inhabitants to meet and choose delegates to a Constitutional Convention, to be held at Cambridge, on the 1st of September, 1779. The Convention met at time and place appointed, and organized by choosing James Bowdoin, President, and Samuel Barrett, Secretary. On the 11th of November the Convention adjourned, to meet at the Representatives’ Chamber, in Boston, January 5th, 1780. On the 2d of March, of the same year, a form of Constitution having been agreed upon, a Resolve was passed by which the same was submitted to the people, and the Convention adjourned to meet at the Brattle Street Church, in Boston, June the 7th. At that time and place the Convention again met, and appointed a Committee to examine the returns of votes from the several towns. On the 14th of June the Committee reported, and on the 15th the Convention resolved, “That the people of the State of Massachusetts Bay have accepted the Constitution as it stands, in the printed form submitted to their revision.” A Resolve providing for carrying the new Constitution into effect was passed; and the Convention then, on the 16th of June, 1780, was finally dissolved. In accordance with the Resolves referred to, elections immediately took place in the several towns; and the first General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts met at the State House, in Boston, on Wednesday, October 25th, 1780.


The Constitution contained a provision providing for taking, in 1795, the sense of the people as to the expediency or necessity of revising the original instrument. But no such revision was deemed necessary at that time. On the 16th of June, 1820, an Act was passed by the General Court, calling upon the people to meet in their several towns, and give in their votes upon the question, “Is it expedient that delegates should be chosen to meet in Convention for the purpose of revising or altering the Constitution of Government of this Commonwealth?” A large majority of the people of the State having voted in favor of revision, the Governor issued a proclamation announcing the fact, and calling upon the people to vote, in accordance with the provisions of the aforesaid Act, for delegates to the proposed Convention. The delegates met at the State House, in Boston, November 15th, 1820, and organized by choosing John Adams, President, and Benjamin Pollard, Secretary. Mr. Adams, however, declined the appointment, and Isaac Parker was chosen in his stead. On the 9th of January, 1821, the Convention agreed to fourteen Articles of Amendment, and after passing a Resolve providing for submitting the same to the people, and appointing a committee to meet to count the votes upon the subject, was dissolved. The people voted on Monday, April 9th, 1821, and the Committee of the Convention met at the State House to count the votes, on Wednesday, May 24th. They made their return to the General Court; and at the request of the latter the Governor issued his proclamation on the 5th of June, 1821, announcing that nine of the fourteen Articles of Amendment had been adopted. These articles were numbered in the preceding pages from one to nine inclusive. The first Article was annulled by the ninetieth Article, the second Article by the eighty-ninth Article, the fifth Article by the fifty-third Article and the ninth Article by the forty-eighth Article.


The tenth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the political years 1829-30, and 1830-31, and was approved and ratified by the people May 11th, 1831.


The eleventh Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1832 and 1833, and was approved and ratified by the people November 11th, 1833.


The twelfth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1835 and 1836, and was approved and ratified by the people November 14th, 1836.


The thirteenth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1839 and 1840, and was approved and ratified by the people April 6th, 1840.


The General Court of the year 1851 passed an Act calling a third Convention to revise the Constitution. The Act was submitted to the people, and a majority voted against the proposed Convention. In 1852, on the 7th of May, another Act was passed calling upon the people to vote upon the question of calling a Constitutional Convention. A majority of the people having voted in favor of the proposed Convention, election for delegates thereto took place in March, 1853. The Convention met in the State House, in Boston, on the 4th day of May, 1853, and organized by choosing Nathaniel P. Banks, Jr., President, and William S. Robinson and James T. Robinson, Secretaries. On the 1st of August, this Convention agreed to a form of Constitution, and on the same day was dissolved, after having provided for submitting the same to the people, and appointed a committee to meet to count the votes, and to make a return thereof to the General Court. The Committee met at the time and place agreed upon, and found that the proposed Constitution had been rejected.


The fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1854 and 1855, and were approved and ratified by the people May 23d, 1855. The eighteenth Article was superseded by the forty-sixth Article.


The twentieth, twenty-first and twenty-second Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1856 and 1857, and were approved and ratified by the people May 1st, 1857. The twenty-first and twenty-second Articles were annulled and superseded by the seventy-first Article, which was subsequently annulled by the ninety-second Article.


The twenty-third Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1858 and 1859, and was approved and ratified by the people May 9th, 1859, and was annulled by the twenty-sixth Article.


The twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1859 and 1860, and were approved and ratified by the people May 7th, 1860.


The twenty-sixth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1862 and 1863, and was approved and ratified by the people April 6th, 1863.


The twenty-seventh Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1876 and 1877, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 6th day of November, 1877.


The twenty-eighth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1880 and 1881, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 8th day of November, 1881.


The twenty-ninth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1884 and 1885, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 3d day of November, 1885.


The thirtieth and thirty-first Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1889 and 1890, and were approved and ratified by the people on the 4th day of November, 1890.


The thirty-second and thirty-third Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1890 and 1891, and were approved and ratified by the people on the 3d day of November, 1891.


The thirty-fourth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1891 and 1892, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 8th day of November, 1892.


The thirty-fifth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1892 and 1893, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 7th day of November, 1893.


The thirty-sixth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1893 and 1894, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 6th day of November, 1894.


The thirty-seventh Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1906 and 1907, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 5th day of November, 1907.


The thirty-eighth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1909 and 1910, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 7th day of November, 1911.


The thirty-ninth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1910 and 1911, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 7th day of November, 1911.


The fortieth and forty-first Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1911 and 1912, and were approved and ratified by the people on the 5th day of November, 1912. The forty-first Article was annulled by the one hundred and tenth Article.


The forty-second Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1912 and 1913, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 4th day of November, 1913, and was annulled by the forty-eighth Article.


The forty-third and forty-fourth Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1914 and 1915, and were approved and ratified by the people on the 2d day of November, 1915.


In his inaugural address to the General Court of 1916, Governor McCall recommended that the question of revising the Constitution, through a Constitutional Convention, be submitted to the people; and the General Court passed a law (chapter 98 of the General Acts of 1916) to ascertain and carry out the will of the people relative thereto, the question to be submitted being “Shall there be a convention to revise, alter or amend the constitution of the Commonwealth?” The people voted on this question at the annual election, held on November 7, casting 217,293 votes in the affirmative and 120,979 votes in the negative; and accordingly the Governor on Dec. 19, 1916, made proclamation to that effect, and, by virtue of authority contained in the act, called upon the people to elect delegates at a special election to be held on the first Tuesday in May, 1917. The election was on May 1. In accordance with the provisions of the act, the delegates met at the State House on June 6, 1917, and organized by choosing John L. Bates, president, and James W. Kimball, secretary. After considering and acting adversely on numerous measures that had been brought before it, and after providing for submitting to the people the forty-fifth, forty-sixth, and forty-seventh Articles, at the state election of 1917, and the Article relative to the establishment of the popular initiative and referendum and the legislative initiative of specific amendments of the Constitution (Article forty-eight) at the state election of 1918, the Convention adjourned on November 28 “until called by the President or Secretary to meet not later than within ten days after the prorogation of the General Court of 1918.”


The forty-fifth, forty-sixth and forty-seventh Articles of Amendment, ordered by the convention to be submitted to the people, were so submitted and were approved and ratified on the 6th day of November, 1917. The forty-fifth Article was annulled and superseded by the seventy-sixth and one hundred and fifth Articles.


On Wednesday, June 12, 1918, the convention reassembled and resumed its work. Eighteen more articles (Articles forty-nine to sixty-six, inclusive) were approved by the convention and were ordered to be submitted to the people. On Wednesday, August 21, 1918, the convention adjourned, “to meet, subject to call by the President or Secretary, not later than within twenty days after the prorogation of the General Court of 1919, for the purpose of taking action on the report of the special committee on Rearrangement of the Constitution.”


The forty-eighth to the sixty-sixth (inclusive) Articles of Amendment, ordered by the convention to be submitted to the people, were so submitted and were approved and ratified on the 5th day of November, 1918. The forty-ninth Article was annulled by the ninety-seventh Article, the fifty-second Article by the one hundred and second Article, the fifty-sixth Article by the ninetieth Article, the fifty-eighth Article by the ninety-eighth Article, the sixty-fourth Article by the eighty-second Article and the sixty-sixth Article by the eighty-seventh Article. Section 2 of the sixty-third Article was annulled by the one hundred and eighth Article.


On Tuesday, August 12, 1919, pursuant to a call of its President, the Convention again convened. A rearrangement of the Constitution was adopted, and was ordered to be submitted to the people for their ratification. On the following day, a subcommittee of the Special Committee on Rearrangement of the Constitution was “empowered to correct clerical and typographical errors and establish the text of the rearrangement of the Constitution to be submitted to the people, in conformity with that adopted by the Convention.” On Wednesday, August 13, 1919, the Convention adjourned, sine die. On Tuesday, November 4, 1919, the rearrangement was approved and ratified by the people; but, as to the effect thereof, see Opinion of the Justices, 233 Mass. 603; and Loring v. Young, decided August 8, 1921 [see 239 Mass. 349]. [For text of the Rearrangement, see Manuals for the years 1920 to 1932, inclusive.]


The sixty-seventh Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1920 and 1921, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 7th day of November, 1922.


The sixty-eighth and sixty-ninth Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1921 and 1923, and were approved and ratified by the people on the 4th day of November, 1924.


The seventieth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1924 and 1925, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 2d day of November, 1926.


The seventy-first Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1928 and 1930, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 4th day of November, 1930. The seventy-first Article was annulled by the ninety-second Article.


The seventy-second Article of Amendment (introduced by initiative petition) was approved by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1936 and 1937, and by the people on the 8th day of November, 1938, and was annulled by the seventy-fifth Article.


The seventy-third, seventy-fourth, seventy-fifth and seventy-sixth Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1941 and 1943, and were approved and ratified by the people on the 7th day of November, 1944. The seventy-sixth Article was annulled by the one hundred and fifth Article.


The seventy-seventh Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1945 and 1947, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 2d day of November, 1948.


The seventy-eighth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1946 and 1947, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 2d day of November, 1948. The seventy-eighth Article was annulled by the one hundred and fourth Article.


The seventy-ninth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1946 and 1948, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 2d day of November, 1948.


The eightieth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1947 and 1949, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 7th day of November, 1950.


The eighty-first Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1948 and 1949, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 7th day of November, 1950.


The eighty-second Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1961 and 1963, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 3d day of November, 1964.


The eighty-third Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1962 and 1963, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 3d day of November, 1964.


The eighty-fourth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1961 and 1963, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 3d day of November, 1964.


The eighty-fifth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1962 and 1963, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 3d day of November, 1964.


The eighty-sixth, eighty-seventh, eighty-eighth and eighty-ninth Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1963 and 1965, and were approved and ratified by the people on the 8th day of November, 1966.


The ninetieth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1965 and 1967; the ninety-first Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1966 and 1967; and both Articles were approved and ratified by the people on the 5th day of November, 1968.


The ninety-second Article of Amendment was approved by the General Court during the sessions of 1968 and 1969; the ninety-third and ninety-fourth Articles of Amendment were approved by the General Court during the sessions of 1967 and 1969; and all three Articles were approved and ratified by the people on the 3d day of November, 1970. The ninety-second Article was annulled by the one hundred and first Article.


The ninety-fifth, ninety-sixth, ninety-seventh, ninety-eighth, ninety-ninth and one hundredth Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1969 and 1971, and all six Articles were approved and ratified by the people on the seventh day of November, 1972.


The one hundred and first and one hundred and second Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions 1971 and 1973, and both Articles were approved and ratified by the people on the fifth day of November, 1974.


The one hundred and third Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1972 and 1973, and was approved and ratified by the people on the fifth day of November, 1974.


The one hundred and fourth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1972 and 1974, and was approved and ratified by the people on the fifth day of November, 1974.


The one hundred and fifth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1973 and 1976, and was approved and ratified by the people on the second day of November, 1976.


The one hundred and sixth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1973 and 1975, and was approved and ratified by the people on the second day of November, 1976.


The one hundred and seventh Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1975 and 1977, and was approved and ratified by the people on the seventh day of November, 1978.


The one hundred and eighth and one hundred and ninth Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1976 and 1977, and were approved and ratified by the people on the seventh day of November, 1978.


The one hundred and tenth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1976 and 1978, and was approved and ratified by the people on the seventh day of November, 1978.


The one hundred and eleventh and one hundred and twelfth Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1975 and 1977, and were approved and ratified by the people on the seventh day of November, 1978.


The one hundred and thirteenth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1976 and 1977, and was approved and ratified by the people on the seventh day of November, 1978.


The one hundred and fourteenth and one hundred and fifteenth Articles of Amendment were adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1977 and 1980, and were approved and ratified by the people on the fourth day of November, 1980.


The one hundred and sixteenth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1980 and 1982, and was approved and ratified by the people on the second day of November, 1982.


The one hundred and seventeenth Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of 1987 and 1990, and was approved and ratified by the people on the sixth day of November, 1990.