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Slaves. SEC. 1. The General Assembly shall have no power to pass laws for the emancipation of slaves without the consent of their owners, or without paying their owners, previous to such emancipation, a full equivalent in money for the slaves so emancipated. They shall have no power to prevent emigrants to this State from bringing with them such persons as are deemed slaves by the laws of any one of the United States, so long as any person of the same age or description shall be continued in slavery by the laws of this State: provided, that such person or slave be the bona fide property of such emigrants : and provided, also, that laws may be passed to prohibit the introduction into this State of slaves who have committed high crimes in other states or territories. They shall have power to pass laws to permit the owners of slaves to emancipate them, saving the rights of creditors, and preventing them from becoming a public charge. They shall have full power to prevent slaves from being brought into this State as merchandise, and also to oblige the owners of slaves to treat them with humanity, to provide for them necessary food and clothing, to abstain from all injuries to them extending to life or limb; and in case of their neglect or refusal to comply with the directions of such laws, to have such slave or slaves sold for the benefit of the owner or owners.
2. In the prosecution of slaves for crimes of higher grade than petit larceny, the General Assembly shall have no power to deprive them of an impartial trial by a petit jury.
3. Any person who shall maliciously dismember or deprive a slave of life, shall suffer such punishment as would be inflict d in case the like offence had been committed on a free white person, and on the like proof, except in case of insurrection of such slave.
Mode of Amending and Revising the Constitution. The General Assembly, whenever two-thirds of each house shall deem it necessary, may propose amendments to this Constitution ; which proposed amendments shall be duly published in print, at least three months before the next general election of representatives, for the consideration of the people; and it shall be the duty of the several returning officers, at the next general election which shall be held for representatives, to open a poll for, and make a return to the Secretary of the State for the time being, of the names of all those voting for representatives, who have voted on such proposed amendments; and if thereupon it shall appear that a majority of all the citizens of this State voting for representatives, have voted in favor of such proposed amendments, and two-thirds of each house of the next General Assembly shall, after such an election, and before another, ratify the same amendments by yeas and nays, they shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as parts of this Constitution : provided, that the said proposed amendments shall, at each of the said sessions, have been read three times, on three several days in each house.
In 1716 the French formed a settlement at Natchez, and claimed the terrilory as belonging to Louisiana. This colony was massacred by the Indians in 1729. In 1763 it was ceded to the British, and north of the 31st degree of north latitude, was in the chartered limits of Georgia; south of that belonged to West Florida. This part was ceded to the United States by Spain, in 1798. In 1800 this State, with Alabama, was constituted a territory. In 1817 Mississippi was separated from Alabama, and became an independent State. It adopted its first Constitution in 1817, which was revised in 1832.
Area, 45,760 sq. miles. Pop. in 1840, 375,651, of whom 195,211 were slaves. Free negroes, 1,370.
ARTICLE I.- Declaration of Rights. That the general, great and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established, we declare :
SEC. 1. That all freemen, when they form a social compact, are equal in rights; and that no man, or set of men, are entitled to exclusive, separate public emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public services.
2. That all political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and established for their benefit; and, therefore, they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter or abolish their form of government, in such manner as they may think expedient.
3. The exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination, shall forever be free to all persons in this State : Provided, that the right hereby declared and established shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the State.
4. No preference shall ever be given by law to any religious sect, or mode of worship.
5. That no person shall be molested for his opinions on any subject whatever, nor suffer any civil or political incapacity, or acquire any civil or political advantage, in consequence of such opinions, except in cases provided for in this Constitution.
6. Every citizen may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects; being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.
7. No law shall ever be passed to curtail or restrain the liberty of speech, or of the press.
8. In all prosecutions or indictments for libel, the truth may be given in evidence; and if it shall appear to the jury that the matter charged as libellous is true, and was published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the party shall be acquitted ; and the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts. 9. That the people shall be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and possessions from unreasonable seizures and searches ; and that no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or thing, shall issue without describing the place to be searched, and the person or thing to be seized, as nearly as may be, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation.
10. That in all criminal prosecutions, the accused hath a right to be heard, by himself or counsel, or both; to demand the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted by the witnesses against him ; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and in all prosecutions by indictment or information a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the county where the offence was committed ; that he cannot be compelled to give evidence against himself, nor can he be deprived of his life, liberty or property, but by due course of law.
11. No person shall be accused, arrested or detained, except in cases ascertained by law, and according to the form which the same has prescribed; and no person shall be punished but in virtue of a law established and promulgated prior to the offence, and legally applied.
12. That no person shall, for any indictable offence, be proceeded agair st criminally by information : except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia when in actual service, or by leave of the court, for misdemeanor in office.
13. No person shall, for the same offence, be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall any person's property be taken or applied to public use without the consent of the Legislature, and without just compensation being first made therefor.
14. That all courts shall be open, and every person for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice administered without sale, denial or delay.
15. That no power of suspending laws shall be exercised, except by the Legislature, or its authority.
16. That excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel punishments inflicted.
17. That all prisoners shall before conviction be bailable by sufficient securities, except for capital offences, where the proof is evident, or the presumption great; and the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless, when in case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.
18. That the person of a debtor, when there is not strong presumption of fraud, shall not be detained in prison, after delivering up his estate for the benefit of his creditors, in such manner as shall be prescribed by law.
19. No conviction for any offence shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate : The Legislature shall pass no bill of attain. der, ex post facto law, nor law impairing the obligation of contracts.
20. No property qualification for eligibility to office, or for the right of suffrage, shall ever be required by law in this State.
21. That the estates of suicides shall descend or vest as in cases of natural death : and if any person shall be killed by casualty, there shall be no forfeiture by reason thereof.
22. That the citizens have a right in a peaceable manner, to assemble together for their common good, and to apply to those vested with the powers of government for redress of grievances, or other proper purposes, by petition, address or remonstrance.
23. Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and of the State.
24. No standing army shall be kept up without the consent of the Legislature; and the military shall in all cases, and at all times, be in strict subordination to the civil power.
25. That no soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, or in time of war, but in manner to be prescribed by law.
26. That no hereditary emoluments, privileges or honors shall ever be granted or conferred in this State.
27. Emigration from this State shall not be prohibited, nor shall any free white citizen of this State ever be exiled under any pretence whatever.
28. The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.
29. No person shall be debarred from prosecuting or defending any civil cause for or against him or herself before any tribunal in this State, by him or herself, or counsel or both.
30. No person shall ever be appointed or elected to any office in this State for life or during good behavior; but the tenure of all offices shall be for some limited period of time, if the person appointed or elected thereto shall so long behave well.
Conclusion. To guard against transgressions of the high powers herein delegated, we declare, that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate; and that all laws contrary thereto or to the following provisions, shall be void.
ARTICLE II.—Distribution of Powers. SEC. 1. The powers of the government of the State of Mississippi, shall be divided into three distinct departments, and each of them confided to a separate body of magistracy; to wit: those which are legislative to one, those which are judicial to another, and those which are executive to another.
2. No person, or collection of persons, being of one of these departments, shall exercise any power properly belonging to either of the others, except in the instances hereinafter expressly directed or permitted.
ARTICLE III.-Legislative Department. Sec. 1. Every free white male person of the age of twenty-one years or upwards, who shall be a citizen of the United States, and shall have resided in this State one year next preceding an election, and the last four months within the county, city or town in which he offers to vote, shall be deemed a qualified elector. And any
such qualified elector who may happen to be in any county, city or town other than that of his residence at the time of an election, or who shall have removed to any county, city or town within four months preceding the election, from any county, city or town, in which he would have been a qualified elector had he not so removed, may vote for any State or district officer or member of Congress, for whom he could have voted in the county of his residence, or the county, city or town, from which he
have so removed. 2. Electors shall, in all cases, except in those of treason, felony or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest, during their attendance on elections, and going to and returning from the same.
3. The first election shall be by ballot, and all future elections, by the people, shall be regulated by law.
4. The legislative power of this state shall be vested in two distinct branches; the one to be styled “ the Senate,” the other the