« PreviousContinue »
Recognizing the importance of the work of revising the Constitution of the State of New York and the value to the Convention of having at hand the essential historical facts and fundamental principles of American government and also the results of Constitutional revision in our great Republic, the compiler presents in these volumes, in convenient form, the complete structure of the government of the United States and the Constitutions of the forty-four States of the union, together with the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation.
Fully realizing, also, the great need of data regarding the origin and development of constitutional government, together with the different lines along which it has progressed in sister States as well as our own, the compiler has endeavored to make this work as complete and, at the same time, as concise as the proper exemplification will permit.
The Constitutions herein were in force in the several States January 1, 1894, and all were approved as official by the Secretaries of State.
Many of the most valued provisions of the Constitutions of our States had their origins in the charters under which the English colonies were originally governed. In many cases these charters contained rights and privileges more liberal than those under which British subjects were governed at home. The attempts made by the crown to annul these charters, or to substitute others less favorable to the liberties and less congenial to the colonists' views of self-government, were the causes of the earliest grievances of which nearly all the colonies complained. The original charters were so admirably suited to the wants of State
government that Connecticut and Rhode Island retained them as their organic law for about forty and seventy years, respectively, after they had ceased to own allegiance to the British crown.
The more important of these fundamental laws which are interwoven throughout the fabric of our government are contained in the following charters:
Carolina.— The first charter granted by Charles II to the lords proprietors of Carolina, March 20, 1661, in the fifteenth year of his reign.
The second charter granted by Charles II to the lords proprietors of Carolina, June 30, 1664, in the eighteenth year of his reign.
Connecticut.- Charter granted by Charles II to the colony of Connecticut, April 20, 1662, in the sixteenth year of his reign. Retained until 1818.
Georgia. - Charter granted by George II to the colony of Georgia, June 9, 1732, in the fifth year of his reign.
Maryland.— Charter granted by Charles I to Caecilius, lord baron of Baltimore, for the colony of Maryland, June 28, 1632, in the seventeenth year of his reign.
Massachusetts.- Charter of the Plymouth company, November 3, 1620, granted by James I, in the eighteenth year of his reign. (By this instrument forty noblemen, knights and gentlemen were incorporated under the title of “The council established at Plymouth, in the county of Devon, for the planting, ruling, ordering and governing of New England in America.” It is the foundation of all the first grants of territory of New England.)
Charter granted by Charles I to the colony of Massachusetts Bay, March 19, 1633, in the eighteenth year of his reign.
Charter granted by William and Mary to the inhabitants of the province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England, October 7, 1691, in the third year of their reign.
New Jersey. - Duke of York's release to John, Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, June 24, 1664.
Concession and agreement of the lords proprietors of the Province Nova Casearea or New Jersey to and with all and every the adventurers and all such as shall settle or plant there, February 10, 1664.
New York.— Liberties or privileges granted by the Assembly of Nineteen of the authorized West India Company to all such as shall or may settle or plant any colony in New Netherlands, 1629.
Grant of New Netherlands to the Duke of York by Charles II, March 12, 1664, in the eighteenth year of his reign.
Pennsylvania.- Charter granted by Charles II to William Penn for the colony of Pennsylvania, February 28, 1661, in the fifteenth year of his reign.
The charter of privileges granted by William Penn, Esq., to the inhabitants of Pennsylvania and territories, October 28, 1701.
Rhode Island.— Charter granted by Charles II to the colony of Rhode Island and Providence plantations, July 8, 1663, in the seventeenth year of his reign. Retained until 1842.
Virginia.- Charter granted by James I to Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Somers and others for the several colonies and plantations to be made in Virginia and other parts and territories in America, April 10, 1606, in the fourth year of his reign.
Charter granted by James I to the treasurer and company for Virginia, erecting them into a corporation and body politic and for the further enlargement and explanation of the privileges of the said company and first colony of Virginia, March 23, 1609, in the seventh year of his reign.
The charter granted by James I to the treasurer and company of Virginia, March 12, 161 1-2.
JULY 4, 1776.
THE UNANIMOUS DECLARATION
Thirteen United States of America.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one 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.
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, and 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 these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute 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