Massachusetts Approves A Constitution ~ June 16, 1780
By 1774 it was clear that the people of the Massachusetts Bay Colony could no longer tolerate the tightened contol imposed by England on the citzenry. Attempts were made by committees and town governements to create a constitution for all in the Colony to live by… the final document was soundly defeated as too contolling, too powerful for the governor and without a bill of rights. John Adams – one of the state of Massachusetts’ most talented and successful lawyers – was well versed in English law and philosophy and a respected authority on constitutional law. To him fell the task of crafting a document on which the people could agree. He had a brilliant mind and an elegant prose style. The document he produced in the fall of 1779 and ratified by the towns has endured, with subsequent amendments, for over 230 years.
…in 1780, the Massachusetts constitution was declared ratified. The previous fall, the world’s first constitutional convention had met in Cambridge. A committee was chosen to write a constitution for the new state; the group delegated the task to John Adams, a fortunate choice. A well-read lawyer who wrote with clarity and elegance, he completed his draft on October 30, 1779. The convention approved it with minimal changes and submitted it to the people. Town meetings all over Massachusetts debated its merits. When the votes were counted on June 15th, more than two-thirds were in favor. A fractious citizenry had approved the constitution.The document became a model for other states and nations. It is the oldest written constitution in the world still in use.
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“The body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals: it is a social compact, by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good.”
My favorite part is the section on public education:
“Wisdom, and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties; and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people, it shall be the duty of legislatures and magistrates, in all future periods of this commonwealth, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them; especially the university at Cambridge, public schools and grammar schools in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, rewards and immunities, for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country; to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty and punctuality in their dealings; sincerity, good humor, and all social affections, and generous sentiments among the people.”