Sidebilder
PDF
[merged small][graphic]

This is the smallest State in the union. Its resources are greater, in proportion to its inhabitants, than any other State. The first settlement was at Providence, in 1643, by Roger Williams, and his associates, who were banished from Massachusetts on account of their views of religious toleration. (See Gammel's Life of Roger Williams, published by Gould, Kendall $• Lincoln, Boston, 1846.) This State embraces what were once the Rhode Island and Providence plantations. In 1643, Mr. Williams went to England, and obtained a patent from the Plymouth Colony, by which the two plantations were united under one government. In 1663, upon the restoration of Charles II. to the throne, a new charter was granted, which formed the basis of government till 1842, when the present Constitution was adopted. Thus, for almost two centuries, was Rhode Island without a written Constitution—showing to the world what a self-governed people may do.

Area, 1,360 sq. m. Population, in 1840, 108,830.

CONSTITUTION

Ratified by the Vote of the People, Nov. 21, 22, and 23, 1842.

We, the people of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and to transmit the same, unimpaired, to succeeding generations, do ordain and establish this Constitution of Government.

[graphic][subsumed]

7. No person shall be held to answer for a capital or other infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment by a grand jury, except in cases of impeachment, or of such offences as are cognizable by a justice of the peace; or in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger. No person shall, after an acquittal, be tried for the same offence.

8. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel punishments inflicted; and all punishments ought to be proportioned to the offence.

9. All persons imprisoned ought to be bailed by sufficient surety, unless for offences punishable by death or by imprisonment for life, when the proof of guilt is evident, or the presumption great. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety shall require it; nor ever without the authority of the General Assembly.

10. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right • to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury; to be informed

of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining them in his favor, to have the assistance of counsel in his defence, and shall be at liberty to speak for himself; nor shall he be deprived of life, liberty, or property, unless by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land.

11. The person of a debtor, when there is not strong presumption of fraud, ought not to be continued in prison, after he shall have delivered up his property for the benefit of his creditors, in such manner as shall be prescribed by law.

12. No ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall be passed.

.13. No man in a court of common law shall be compelled to give evidence criminating himself.

14. Every man being presumed innocent, until he is pronounced guilty by the law, no act of severity which is not necessary to secure an accused person, shall be permitted.

15. The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.

.: 16. Private property shall not be taken for public uses, without just compensation.

17. The people shall continue to enjoy and freely exercise all the rights of fishery, and the privileges of the shore, to which they have been heretofore entitled under the charter and usages of this State. But no new right is intended to be granted, nor any existing right impaired by this declaration.

. 18. The military shall be held in strict subordination to the civil authority. And the law martial shall be used and exercised in such oases only as occasion shall necessarily require.

19. No soldier shall be quartered in any house, in time of peace,

[graphic]
[graphic][subsumed]
« ForrigeFortsett »