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Massachusetts State Constitution
Massachusetts State Constitution
Published: 2014/09/18
Channel: Boston History
Massachusetts Must Use The Constitution
Massachusetts Must Use The Constitution
Published: 2016/12/16
Channel: Trump News, Truth Natasha
Ratifying the Constitution: Massachusetts
Ratifying the Constitution: Massachusetts
Published: 2016/07/07
Channel: OU IACH
Constitutional History Lecture 10: State Constitutions
Constitutional History Lecture 10: State Constitutions
Published: 2013/06/18
Channel: TomWoodsTV
Medford Ma. police vs us constitution
Medford Ma. police vs us constitution
Published: 2014/05/20
Channel: MrWtfchuck
Lesley to Harvard Square to the Massachusetts Constitution
Lesley to Harvard Square to the Massachusetts Constitution
Published: 2013/07/25
Channel: Elliot King
The Fugitive Slave Clause and the Constitution by Professor John P. Kaminski
The Fugitive Slave Clause and the Constitution by Professor John P. Kaminski
Published: 2016/01/07
Channel: American History Videos
Democrats Reversing The Constitution - Alan Dershowitz Massachusetts
Democrats Reversing The Constitution - Alan Dershowitz Massachusetts
Published: 2017/05/31
Channel: Trump News, Truth Natasha
Visiting the Massachusetts State Police HQ in Framingham
Visiting the Massachusetts State Police HQ in Framingham
Published: 2013/12/23
Channel: The Bay State Examiner
Carl Miller - Right to travel without a license pl
Carl Miller - Right to travel without a license pl
Published: 2013/01/10
Channel: John Pierce
The Fight to Ratify the Constitution
The Fight to Ratify the Constitution
Published: 2013/03/19
Channel: Historycentral
The U.S. Constitution on its 200th Birthday - A Teachable Moment
The U.S. Constitution on its 200th Birthday - A Teachable Moment
Published: 2016/05/11
Channel: VideoCollectables
Let
Let's Visit the USS Constitution Museum (Boston, MA)
Published: 2017/08/18
Channel: Scottman895 Travel
Lysander Spooner - No Treason  - The Constitution Of No Authority -
Lysander Spooner - No Treason - The Constitution Of No Authority -
Published: 2015/04/18
Channel: Anarcho Inside
Please Call Senator Elizabeth Warren & Tell Her To Use Constitution
Please Call Senator Elizabeth Warren & Tell Her To Use Constitution
Published: 2017/04/30
Channel: Trump News, Truth Natasha
Home Rule tips with Terra Friedrichs- The Massachusetts Constitution
Home Rule tips with Terra Friedrichs- The Massachusetts Constitution
Published: 2017/06/24
Channel: Warren Lynch
The Iroqouis Influence on the Constitution
The Iroqouis Influence on the Constitution
Published: 2011/01/27
Channel: Massachusetts School of Law at Andover
Ayer Massachusetts Court House Using Sharia Law - Not The Constitution
Ayer Massachusetts Court House Using Sharia Law - Not The Constitution
Published: 2016/12/15
Channel: Trump News, Truth Natasha
The Massachusetts Circular Letter: Samuel Adams & James Otis vs. a “Living, Breathing” Constitution
The Massachusetts Circular Letter: Samuel Adams & James Otis vs. a “Living, Breathing” Constitution
Published: 2016/03/28
Channel: Tenth Amendment Center
USA: MASSACHUSETTS: USS CONSTITUTION SAILS FOR 1ST TIME IN 116 YEARS
USA: MASSACHUSETTS: USS CONSTITUTION SAILS FOR 1ST TIME IN 116 YEARS
Published: 2015/07/21
Channel: AP Archive
Welcome to the Constitution Party of Massachusetts
Welcome to the Constitution Party of Massachusetts
Published: 2011/01/23
Channel: Bob Picard
Flag on the US Constitution, Boston, MA
Flag on the US Constitution, Boston, MA
Published: 2010/11/14
Channel: tjbrockett
Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Pdf
Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Pdf
Published: 2015/12/29
Channel: Lovela Lasker
constitution Beach Massachusetts Boston يوم جميل على البحر في بوسطن
constitution Beach Massachusetts Boston يوم جميل على البحر في بوسطن
Published: 2017/05/21
Channel: MO ALHabeeb
Constitution Inn, Boston Massachusetts, United States
Constitution Inn, Boston Massachusetts, United States
Published: 2017/02/26
Channel: Everything Travel
Camp Constitution Radio Show 40:  The Constitutional Convention Hearing in Massachusetts
Camp Constitution Radio Show 40: The Constitutional Convention Hearing in Massachusetts
Published: 2015/11/28
Channel: Camp Constitution
Camp Constitution at the Flag Day Parade Dedham, MA June 14, 2015
Camp Constitution at the Flag Day Parade Dedham, MA June 14, 2015
Published: 2015/06/16
Channel: Camp Constitution
Constitution Boston ma
Constitution Boston ma
Published: 2011/05/03
Channel: way2muchNFO
Video of 135 Constitution Blvd | Franklin, Massachusetts commercial real estate
Video of 135 Constitution Blvd | Franklin, Massachusetts commercial real estate
Published: 2011/07/05
Channel: Nashua Video Tours | Real Estate Video & Photography
USS Constitution, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
USS Constitution, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Published: 2013/06/19
Channel: Pietro Pecco
Please Call Marian Ryan, etc  to Enforce Constitution On Destroyed Evidence
Please Call Marian Ryan, etc to Enforce Constitution On Destroyed Evidence
Published: 2017/04/29
Channel: Trump News, Truth Natasha
Poland
Poland's Constitution (PAC - Eastern MA)
Published: 2015/04/10
Channel: PAC Boston
Boarding The USS Constitution in Dry Dock - Boston, MA
Boarding The USS Constitution in Dry Dock - Boston, MA
Published: 2015/06/18
Channel: gatorpics09
USS Constitution Boston Massachusetts
USS Constitution Boston Massachusetts
Published: 2012/08/14
Channel: FreeTravelWithUs
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What's Lurking Beneath the Massachusetts State House? - Fallout 4 Lore
Published: 2017/06/29
Channel: Oxhorn
7-12-12 Constitution Beach East Boston MA
7-12-12 Constitution Beach East Boston MA
Published: 2012/07/12
Channel: alfredojosuexavier
Driving Downtown - Boston Massachusetts
Driving Downtown - Boston Massachusetts
Published: 2014/12/21
Channel: J Utah
Urban Aspects Boston MA Constitution Beach.
Urban Aspects Boston MA Constitution Beach.
Published: 2014/04/10
Channel: Chris Rich
Movement to Bypass the Constitution in Presidential Elections
Movement to Bypass the Constitution in Presidential Elections
Published: 2010/07/28
Channel: Bigone5555J
M A Tafaka on Insuring Constitution
M A Tafaka on Insuring Constitution
Published: 2013/11/13
Channel: Serguei Khozine
Constitution Wharf
Constitution Wharf
Published: 2017/04/20
Channel: Tangram 3DS
Freedom Trail: USS Constitution - Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, MA
Freedom Trail: USS Constitution - Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, MA
Published: 2013/05/30
Channel: s34nVideos
1 Constitution Street Ashland Massachusetts
1 Constitution Street Ashland Massachusetts
Published: 2010/07/29
Channel: Bill Gassett
USS Constitution
USS Constitution
Published: 2017/01/12
Channel: Nautical PappyStu
Comparing Constitutions: Florida
Comparing Constitutions: Florida's State Constitution vs the U.S. Constitution
Published: 2016/02/21
Channel: Mr. Raymond's Civics and Social Studies Academy
USS Constitution reconditioned for the fourth time in Charlestown, Massachusetts. HD Stock Footage
USS Constitution reconditioned for the fourth time in Charlestown, Massachusetts. HD Stock Footage
Published: 2014/06/17
Channel: CriticalPast
SOLD - call us!147 Constitution Dr Fitchburg MA
SOLD - call us!147 Constitution Dr Fitchburg MA
Published: 2016/05/10
Channel: HomesJustForYouTeam
10 Constitution Drive - Unit 31 FITCHBURG, MA
10 Constitution Drive - Unit 31 FITCHBURG, MA
Published: 2014/07/23
Channel: Berman Property Solutions
The Last Flight of the U.S.S. Constitution - Fallout 4 Lore
The Last Flight of the U.S.S. Constitution - Fallout 4 Lore
Published: 2017/06/03
Channel: Oxhorn
Justice Stephen Breyer: A Few Words On The U.S. Constitution
Justice Stephen Breyer: A Few Words On The U.S. Constitution
Published: 2017/05/22
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WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

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The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the fundamental governing document of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one of the 50 individual state governments that make up the United States of America. As a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1779, John Adams was the document's principal author. Voters approved the document on June 15, 1780. It became effective on October 25, 1780, and remains the oldest functioning written constitution in continuous effect in the world.[1][2] It was also the first constitution anywhere to be created by a convention called for that purpose rather than by a legislative body.[1] Only the Constitution of San Marino has sections still in force that are older.[3]

The Massachusetts Constitution was written last of the original states' first constitutions. Rather than taking the form of a list of provisions, it was organized into a structure of chapters, sections, and articles. It served as a model for the Constitution of the United States of America, drafted seven years later, which used a similar structure. It also influenced later revisions of many other state constitutions. The Massachusetts Constitution has four parts: a preamble, a declaration of rights, a description of the framework of government, and articles of amendment.

It has been amended 120 times, most recently in 2000.

History[edit]

In the spring of 1775, Adams took the position that each state should call a special convention to write a constitution and then submit it to a popular vote. He told the Continental Congress that:[4]

We must realize the theories of the Wisest Writers and invite the People, to erect the whole Building with their own hands upon the broadest foundation. That this could be done only by conventions of representatives chosen by the People.... Congress ought now to recommend to the People of every Colony to call such Conventions immediately and set up Governments of their own, under their own Authority; for the People were the Source of all Authority and the Original of all Power.

The legislative body of Massachusetts, known as the Massachusetts General Court, instead drafted its own version of a constitution and submitted it to the voters, who rejected it in 1778. That version did not provide for the separation of powers, nor did it include a statement of individual rights.[5] The General Court then organized the election of delegates from each town to participate in a convention that would draft a constitution and submit their work to a popular vote with the understanding that its adoption would require approval by two-thirds of the voters.[5] The constitutional convention met in Cambridge in September 1779.[6]

The convention sat from September 1 to October 30, 1779. Its 312 members chose a committee of thirty members to prepare a new constitution and declaration of rights. That committee asked Adams to draft a declaration of rights. It appointed a subcommittee of James Bowdoin, Samuel Adams, and John Adams to draft the constitution and that trio delegated the drafting to John Adams alone. He later wrote that he constituted a "sub-sub committee of one".[7] An article on religion was referred to members of the clergy, which resulted in a form of religious establishment entirely unlike that later adopted at the federal level.[1] Adams advocated for an end to that establishment when revisions to the constitution were considered in 1820 and his views were adopted in 1832.[4]

Adams's draft declaration of rights read in part: "All men are born equally free and independent..." Before being adopted by the constitutional convention it was revised to read: "All men are born free and equal..."[6] At the insistence of Adams, the document referred to the state as a "commonwealth."[8]

Male voters 21 years or older ratified the constitution and declaration of rights that the convention on June 15, 1780, and it became effective on October 25, 1780.

Preamble[edit]

The preamble of the constitution bears some resemblance to the United States Constitution's in a few phrases near the end. It reads:

Declaration of Rights[edit]

"Part the First: A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts" consists of thirty articles. The first states:

This Article was the subject of a landmark case in 1781 before a Massachusetts court sitting in Great Barrington, Brom and Bett v. Ashley. Elizabeth Freeman (whose slave name was "Bett"), a black slave owned by Colonel John Ashley, sued for her freedom based on this article. The jury agreed that slavery was inconsistent with the Massachusetts Constitution and awarded Freeman £5 in damages and her freedom. A few years later, Quock Walker, a black slave, sued his master for false imprisonment; the jury found for Walker, and awarded him damages of £50. His master was then subject to criminal prosecution for assault and battery against Walker and was found guilty by a jury, which imposed a fine of 40/- (£2). In this manner, slavery lost any and all legal protection in Massachusetts, making it a tortious act under the law, effectively abolishing it within the Commonwealth.[citation needed]

This Article was also the basis for the 2003 Supreme Judicial Court's ruling in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that required the Commonwealth to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples on an equal basis with different-sex couples.

This article was later amended to change the word "men" to "people".

The next several Articles within the "Part the First" in the original 1780 Constitution of Massachusetts called upon the people of the Commonwealth as being their "right as well as the duty of all men" (Article II) to a strong religious conviction and belief.

Article III continued by noting that "the happiness of a people" and "preservation of civil government" is explicitly tied to religion and morality. This article established the possibility of "town religions" by allowing the state legislature, though Massachusetts cannot declare or recognize a state religion, to require towns to pay for the upkeep of a Protestant church out of local tax funds, with the town to determine by majority vote the denomination it would support as its parish church.

From 1780 to 1824 these democratically selected parish churches were considered the only churches with full legal rights, as "voluntary" churches ran against the Federalist ideal of a commonwealth. Until 1822 all residents of a town were required to belong to the parish church. In that year they were allowed to attend a neighboring town's church instead, and in 1824 full religious freedom was granted. However the parishes remained beneficiaries of local taxes and were unable to expel dissident parishioners, since as residents they were members of the parish until they declared otherwise. Soon both dissident churches and the majority Congregational Church increasingly recognized that this system was contrary to the voluntary nature of religious worship. This section of the constitution was amended by bipartisan consensus in 1834 at the same time that several blue laws were repealed.[9]

Frame of Government[edit]

Part II, Chapter I, Section I[10]

The opening of the "Part the Second" lays down the official name of the State of Massachusetts.

The first three articles in Chapter I, Section I,of the Massachusetts Constitution establishes the three primary branches of government; an executive, a bicameral legislature, and an independent judiciary. The design of this system, unique at the time, was created to ensure the proper separation of power between the different entities. The framers of the state constitution used this tool to prevent the abuse of power by any one branch.

Articles of Amendment[edit]

One hundred and twenty Articles of Amendment have been added to the Massachusetts Constitution. The most recent one disqualified incarcerated felons from voting and was approved by a vote of 60.3% to 33.9% in 2000.[11]

The amendment process is governed by the 48th Article of Amendment to the Constitution, which establishes an "indirect initiative" process that requires action by the state legislature followed by a referendum.

For an amendment to be placed before the voters as a referendum, a state constitutional convention, a joint meeting of both houses of the legislature sitting as one body, in each of two successive two-year legislative sessions, must provide the required number of votes. That number varies according to how the proposed amendment comes before the convention.

If it is a legislative amendment proposed by a legislator, the threshold is 50% of the members. If it is an initiative amendment put forward by petition, the threshold is 25% of the members. In both cases, the calculation of the votes is based on the number of seats in the constitutional convention, not members present or seated.

The number of certified signatures required on the petitions is 3% of the total vote cast for all candidates for governor (excluding blanks) at the immediately preceding state election.[12]

Constitutional conventions[edit]

The state has held four constitutional conventions:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Levy, Leonard (1995). Seasoned Judgments: The American Constitution, Rights, and History. p. 307. 
  2. ^ Murrin, John (2011). Liberty, Power, and Equality: A History. 
  3. ^ Slomp, Hans (2011). Europe, A Political Profile: An American Companion to European Politics. ABC-CLIO. p. 693. ISBN 978-0-313-39181-1. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Richard Samuelson, "John Adams and the Republic of Laws," in Bryan-Paul Frost and Jeffrey Sikkenga, eds., History of American Political Thought (Lexington Books, 2003), 120-1
  5. ^ a b "John Adams and the Massachusetts Constitution". Massachusetts Judicial Branch. Archived from the original on August 19, 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Moore, George (1866). Notes on the History of Slavery in Massachusetts. pp. 200–201. 
  7. ^ McCullough, David (2004). John Adams (First Paperback Edition). p. 220
  8. ^ Vile, John. The Constitutional Convention of 1787: a comprehensive encyclopedia of America's founding, Volume 1, page 467 (2005).
  9. ^ Neem, Johann. "The Elusive Common Good: Religion and Civil Society in Massachusetts, 1780-1833". Journal of the Early Republic. 24 (3). JSTOR 4141439. 
  10. ^ Massachusetts Legislature The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  11. ^ "Supreme Court won't hear challenge to Mass. bar on voting by felony inmates". Boston Globe. October 18, 2010. Archived from the original on November 28, 2011. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  12. ^ Massachusetts Legislature: Article XLVIII, accessed July 5, 2013

External links[edit]

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