« ForrigeFortsett »
and the assistance of counsel for his defence; and should not be compelled to give evidence against himself.
“That the trial by jury, in the extent it obtained by the com. mon law of England, is one of the greatest securities to the rights of a free people, and ought to remain inviolate.
“That every freeman has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches and seizures of his person, his papers, or his prop erty; and therefore, that all warrants to search suspected places, or seize any freeman, his papers, or property, without information, upon oath or affirmation, of sufficient cause, are grievous and oppressive; and that all general warrants (or such in which the place or person suspected are not particularly designated) are dangerous, and ought not to be granted.
“That the people have a right peaceably to assemble together to consult for their common good, or to instruct their representatives, and that every person has a right to petition or apply to the legislature for redress of grievances.
“ That the freedom of the press ought not to be violated or restrained."
RHODE ISLAND. « That those clauses in the Constitution which declare that Congress shall not have or exercise certain powers,
do not imply that Congress is entitled to any powers not given by the said Constitution ; but such clauses are to be construed as exceptions to certain specified powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution.
“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, and not by force and violence; and therefore all men have a natural, equal, and inalienable right to the exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience; and that no particular religious sect or society ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.
“That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority without the consent of the representatives of the people in the legislature, is injurious to their rights, and ought not to be exercised.
" That, in all capital and criminal prosecutions, a man hath the right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation, to be confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence, and be allowed counsel in his favor, and to a fair and speedy trial by an impartial jury in his vicinage, without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty (except in the government of the land and naval forces), nor can he be compelled to give evidence against himself.
“That no freeman ought to be taken, imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties, privileges, or franchises, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner destroyed or deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by the trial by jury, or by the law of the land.
“ That every freeman restrained of his liberty is entitled to a remedy, to inquire into the lawfulness thereof, and to remove the same if unlawful, and that such remedy ought not to be denied or delayed.
“That in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury, as hath been exercised by us and our ancestors from the time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary, is one of the greatest securities to the rights of the people, and ought to remain sacred and inviolable.
"That every freeman ought to obtain right and justice, freely and without sale, completely and without denial, promptly and without delay; and that all establishments or regulations contravening these rights, are oppressive and unjust.
" That exessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
That every person has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches and seizures of his person, his papers, or his property; and therefore, that all warrants to search suspected places, to seize any person,
papers, or his property, without information upon oath or affirmation of sufficient cause, are grievous and oppressive; and that all general warrants (or such in which the place or person suspected are not particularly designated) are dangerous, and ought not to be granted.
"That the people have a right to freedom of speech, and of writing and publishing their sentiments. That freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and ought not to be violated.
“ That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; and that at all times, the military should be under strict subordination to the civil power."
The consequence of these earnest and firm representations of the States was that at the first session of the first Congress under the Constitution the following resolution was adopted :
" CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES; “Begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday, the 4th of March, 1789.
The conventions of a number of the States having, at the time of their adopting of 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 legislatures, to be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, namely,—
“Articles in Addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the Fifth Article of the original Constitution."
Here follow twelve articles, of which all but the first two will be found among the amendments appended to the Constitution at the end of this chapter, where they are numbered from I. to X. included. The first two articles, which were not ratified by the legislatures of the States, were intended to restrict the number of members of the House of Representatives, and to prevent the compensation of members from being varied during the term of the members who might alter it. The importance of the amendments adopted is beyond expression. Overridden and despised as they have been by the present Adminstration, they stand still upon the record, an imperishable monument of the wisdom of the framers of the Constitution, and the perjury of those who, having sworn to support, maintain, and defend them, have presumed to trample their inestimable articles under the foot of factious tyranny. The Constitution, as originally made, formed a framework of free government. The amendments to it aimed to hinder its perversion to the purposes of arbitrary power. It is to the amendments we must look for our guarantee of the enjoyment of religious liberty; freedom of speech and of the press; the right of peaceable assembly, of petitioning the Government for the redress of grievances, of keeping and bearing arms; immunity from the quartering of soldiers in private houses in time of peace; the right of freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, under any warrant issued otherwise than upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized; the right, before imprisonment or trial for crime, of open indictment by a grand jury, and of trial once only for the same offence, by due process of law; the right, in all criminal prosecutions, of trial by jury in the State and district where the crime may have been committed, with all the safeguards to innocence afforded by the common law; the right of jury trial in all civil suits where the value in controversy is more than twenty dollars, and to claim the inestimable privileges of the common law in every court of the United States; the right to the accused of freedom from excessive bail, and even to the convict of immunity from excessive fines and cruel or unusual punishments. These blessed provisions of the amendments to the Constitution are beyond price to the private citizen. The States are under no less obligation to them. For the ninth and tenth amendments look to their security, providing that the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or to disparage others retained by the people, and that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people.
At the first session of the third Congress, assembled in 1793, what stands as the eleventh amendment of the Constitution was proposed by Congress, but from various delays on the part of the State legislatures, it was not ratified until the end of the year 1797.
At the first session of the eighth Congress, in 1803, the twelfth amendment was proposed, and became part of the Constitution in 1804.
We must here conclude our hasty and imperfect outline of the history of free government in England and of its establishment in the United States. We have traced the long and doubtful battle of the manly spirit of the Saxon race against a haughty subjugating power. We have seen it groaning under the yoke of feudal despotism. We have seen the Norman masters joining with their Saxon subjects in resisting the abominable tyrannies of regal power. We have traced the rise of a free representative assembly of the commons as an equal, in the English Parliament, with the House of Peers, and even with the crown.
We have contrasted the opposite and hostile institutions of trial by jury and the king's court of Star Chamber. We have seen the folly of an idle and unwise attempt at summary and forced emancipation, in the natural extinction of Saxon slavery in England. We have witnessed the tremendous struggle of prerogative with freedom in the Stuart reigns, and the complete and permanent establishment of English liberty by the revolution which dethroned that most unhappy race.
In all this survey of the steps by which the English Constitution has been brought into its present noble form, we have set up conspicuously the landmarks of our English forefathers Magna Charta, the Petition of Right, the Bill of Rights, and Act of Settlement—those glorious monuments of the determined progress of a generous race, which are our boast no less than the glory of our brethren on the other side of the Atlantic-we have set up as beacon lights to point the
way of safety or destruction. We have shown the earnestness with which their guarantees were claimed by our colonial ancestors in their controversy with the mother country, and that the denial of them by the Parliament was the sole cause of the American Revolution. We have traced the progress of the Union from the first assembling of colonial delegates in Philadelphia to the final ratification of the Constitution by the legislatures of thirteen