Chapter I, Vermont Constitution

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Chapter I of the Vermont Constitution is entitled A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the State of Vermont. It is divided into 21 articles. The Preamble was deleted by action of the Constitutional Convention of 1793.[1]

Article 1st

Text of Article 1st:

All persons born free; their natural rights; slavery prohibited

That all persons are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety; therefore no person born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person as a servant, slave or apprentice, after arriving to the age of twenty-one years, unless bound by the person's own consent, after arriving to such age, or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.[1]

Article 2nd

Text of Article 2nd:

Private property subject to public use; owner to be paid

That private property ought to be subservient to public uses when necessity requires it, nevertheless, whenever any person's property is taken for the use of the public, the owner ought to receive an equivalent in money.[1]

Article 3rd

Text of Article 3rd:

Freedom in religion; right and duty of religious worship

That all persons have a natural and unalienable right, to worship Almighty God, according to the dictates of their own consciences and understandings, as in their opinion shall be regulated by the word of God; and that no person ought to, or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship, or erect or support any place of worship, or maintain any minister, contrary to the dictates of conscience, nor can any person be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right as a citizen, on account of religious sentiments, or peculia[r] mode of religious worship; and that no authority can, or ought to be vested in, or assumed by, any power whatever, that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner control the rights of conscience, in the free exercise of religious worship. Nevertheless, every sect or denomination of christians ought to observe the sabbath or Lord's day, and keep up some sort of religious worship, which to them shall seem most agreeable to the revealed will of God.[1]

Article 4th

Text of Article 4th:

Remedy at law secured to all

Every person within this state ought to find a certain remedy, by having recourse to the laws, for all injuries or wrongs which one may receive in person, property or character; every person ought to obtain right and justice, freely, and without being obliged to purchase it; completely and without any denial; promptly and without delay; comformably to the laws.[1]

Article 5th

Text of Article 5th:

Internal police

That the people of this state by their legal representatives, have the sole, inherent, and exclusive right of governing and regulating the internal police of the same.[1]

Article 6th

Text of Article 6th:

Officers servants of the people

That all power being originally inherent in and co[n]sequently derived from the people, therefore, all officers of government, whether legislative or executive, are their trustees and servants; and at all times, in a legal way, accountable to them.[1]

Article 7th

Text of Article 7th:

Government for the people; they may change it

That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or set of persons, who are a part only of that community; and that the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right, to reform or alter government, in such manner as shall be, by that community, judged most conducive to the public weal.[1]

Article 8th

Text of Article 8th:

Elections to be free and pure; rights of voters therein

That all elections ought to be free and without corruption, and that all voters, having a sufficient, evident, common interest with, and attachment to the community, have a right to elect officers, and be elected into office, agreeably to the regulations made in this constitution.[1]

Article 9th

Text of Article 9th:

Citizens' rights and duties in the state; bearing arms; taxation

That every member of society hath a right to be protected in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and therefore is bound to contribute the member's proportion towards the expence of that protection, and yield personal service, when necessary, or an equivalent thereto, but no part of any person's property can be justly taken, or applied to public uses, without the person's own consent, or that of the Representative Body, nor can any person who is conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms, be justly compelled thereto, if such person will pay such equivalent; nor are the people bound by any law but such as they have in like manner assented to, for their common good: and previous to any law being made to raise a tax, the purpose for which it is to be raised ought to appear evident to the Legislature to be of more service to community than the money would be if not collected.[1]

Article 10th

Text of Article 10th:

Rights of persons accused of crime; personal liberty; waiver of jury trial

That in all prosecutions for criminal offenses, a person hath a right to be heard by oneself and by counsel; to demand the cause and nature of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses; to call for evidence in the person's favor, and a speedy public trial by an impartial jury of the country; without the unanimous consent of which jury, the person cannot be found guilty; nor can a person be compelled to give evidence against oneself; nor can any person be justly deprived of liberty, except by the laws of the land, or the judgment of the person's peers; provided, nevertheless, in criminal prosecutions for offenses not punishable by death, the accused, with the consent of the prosecuting officer entered of record, may in open court or by a writing signed by the accused and filed with the court, waive the right to a jury trial and submit the issue of the accused's guilt to the determination and judgment of the court without a jury.[1]

Article 11th

Text of Article 11th:

Search and seizure regulated

That the people have a right to hold themselves, their houses, papers, and possessions, free from search or seizure; and therefore warrants, without oath or affirmation first made, affording sufficient foundation for them, and whereby by any officer or messenger may be commanded or required to search suspected places, or to seize any person or persons, his, her or their property, not particularly described, are contrary to that right, and ought not to be granted.[1]

Article 12th

Text of Article 12th:

Trial by jury to be held sacred

That when any issue in fact, proper for the cognizance of a jury is joined in a court of law, the parties have a right to trial by jury, which ought to be held sacred.[1]

Article 13th

Text of Article 13th:

Freedom of speech and of the press

That the people have a right to freedom of speech, and of writing and publishing their sentiments, concerning the transactions of government, and therefore the freedom of the press ought not to be restrained.[1]

Article 14th

Text of Article 14th:

Immunity for words spoken in legislative debate

The freedom of deliberation, speech, and debate, in the Legislature, is so essential to the rights of the people, that it cannot be the foundation of any accusation or prosecution, action or complaint, in any other court or place whatsoever.[1]

Article 15th

Text of Article 15th:

Legislature only may suspend laws

The power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, ought never to be exercised but by the Legislature, or by authority derived from it, to be exercised in such particular cases, as this constitution, or the Legislature shall provide for.[1]

Article 16th

Text of Article 16th:

Right to bear arms; standing armies; military power subordinate to civil

That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State--and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.[1]

Article 17th

Text of Article 17th:

Martial law restricted

That no person in this state can in any case be subjected to law martial, or to any penalties or pains by virtue of that law except those employed in the army, and the militia in actual service.[1]

Article 18th

Text of Article 18th:

Regard to fundamental principles and virtues necessary to preserve liberty

That frequent recurrence to fundamental principles, and a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, industry, and frugality, are absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty, and keep government free; the people ought, therefore to pay particular attention to these points, in the choice of officers and representatives, and have a right, in a legal way, to exact a due and constant regard to them, from their legislators and magistrates, in making and executing such laws as are necessary for the good government of the State.[1]

Article 19th

Text of Article 19th:

Right to emigrate

That all people have a natural and inherent right to emigrate from one state to another that will receive them.[1]

Article 20th

Text of Article 20th:

Right to assemble, instruct and petition

That the people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good--to instruct their Representatives--and to apply to the Legislature for redress of grievances, by address, petition or remonstrance.[1]

Article 21st

Text of Article 21st:

No transportation for trial

That no person shall be liable to be transported out of this state for trial for any offence committed within the same.[1]

See also

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