1682: Charter of the Liberties and Frame of Government of Pennsylvania
- Collections: The American Revolution and Constitution
- William Penn
Source: Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History, ed. Donald S. Lutz (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1998).
59 Charter of Liberties and Frame of Government of the Province of Pennsylvania in America
Taken from Votes and Proceedings, vol. 1, xxvii–xxviii. The complete text retains the original spelling.
May 5, 1682
It is an understatement to term the following document impressive. The preface clearly and efficiently lays out its underlying theory, which blends biblical principles with contemporary political theory. Although it is his colony, Penn establishes the principle of popular sovereignty. Innovations abound, including term limits and separation of powers. The large upper house of the bicameral legislature, the Provincial Council, has staggered three-year terms so that one-third of its members are elected each year. The Council sits continuously. Aside from representing the people rather than states, the Charter of Liberties is the most direct precursor to the U.S. Senate in its institutional characteristics. The Council had four standing committees at a time when specialized, standing committees did not exist anywhere else in the colonies or in the British Parliament. The General Assembly, initially consisting of all the freemen (the town meeting writ large), started with as many as two hundred members and could grow to five hundred as the population grew. Article xxxix created the first formal amendment process in history. Before composing his bill of rights, Penn consulted the Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia constitutions. He synthesized these lists and highlighted religious freedom for anyone who believed in a deity. With these constitutional roots and the principle of free economic development outlined in the previous document , Pennsylvania developed into a prosperous, highly diverse constitutional democracy.
The frame of the government of the province of Pensilvania, in America: together with certain laws agreed upon in England, by the Governor and divers freemen of the aforesaid province. To be further explained and confirmed there, by the first provincial Council that shall be held, if they see meet.
When the great and wise God had made the world, of all his creatures, it pleased him to chuse man his Deputy to rule it: and to fit him for so great a charge and trust, he did not only qualify him with skill and power, but with integrity to use them justly. This native goodness was equally his honour and his happiness; and whilst he stood here, all went well; there was no need of coercive or compulsive means; the precept of divine love and truth, in his bosom, was the guide and keeper of his innocency. But lust prevailing against duty, made a lamentable breach upon it; and the law, that before had no power over him, took place upon him, and his disobedient posterity, that such as would not live comformable to the holy law within, should fall under the reproof and correction of the just law without, in a judicial administration.
This the Apostle teaches in divers of his epistles: “The law (says he) was added because of transgression,” In another place, “Knowing that the law was not made for the righteous man, but for the disobedient and ungodly, for sinners, for unholy and prophane, for murderers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, and for man-stealers, for lyers, for perjured persons,” &c., but this is not all, he opens and carries the matter of government a little further: “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers; for there is no power but of God. The powers that be are ordained of God: whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil: wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.” “He is the minister of God to thee for good.” “Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but for conscience sake.”
This settles the divine right of government beyond exception, and that for two ends: first, to terrify evil doers: secondly, to cherish those that do well; which gives government a life beyond corruption, and makes it as durable in the world, as good men shall be. So that government seems to me a part of religion itself, a thing sacred in its institution and end. For, if it does not directly remove the cause, it crushes the effects of evil, and is as such, (though a lower, yet) an emanation of the same Divine Power, that is both author and object of pure religion; the difference lying here, that the one is more free and mental, the other more corporal and compulsive in its operations: but that is only to evil doers; government itself being otherwise as capable of kindness, goodness and charity, as a more private society. They weakly err, that think there is no other use of government, than correction, which is the coarsest part of it: daily experience tells us, that the care and regulation of many other affairs, more soft, and daily necessary, makeup much of the greatest part of government; and which must have followed the peopling of the world, had Adam never fell, and will continue among men, on earth, under the highest attainments they may arrive at, by the coming of the blessed Second Adam, the Lord from heaven. Thus much of government in general, as to its rise and end.
For particualar frames and models it will become me to say little; and comparatively I will say nothing. My reasons are:
First. That the age is too nice and difficult for it; there being nothing the wits of men are more busy and divided upon. It is true, they seem to agree to the end, to wit, happiness; but, in the means, they differ, as to divine, so to this human felicity; and the cause is much the same, not always want of light and knowledge, but want of using them rightly. Men side with their passions against their reason, and their sinister interests have so strong a bias upon their minds, that they lean to them gainst the good of the things they know.
Secondly. I do not find a model in the world, that time, place, and some singular emergences have not necessarily altered; nor is it easy to frame a civil government, that shall serve all places alike.
Thirdly. I know what is said by the several admirers of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, which are the rule of one, a few, and many, and are the three common ideas of government, when men discourse on the subject. But I chuse to solve the controversy with this small distinction, and it belongs to all three: Any government is free to the people under it (whatever be the frame) where the laws rule, and the people are a party to those laws, and more than this is tyranny, oligarchy, or confusion.
But, lastly, when all is said, there is hardly one frame of government in the world so ill designed by its first founders, that, in good hands, would not do well enough; and [hi]story tells us, the best, in ill ones, can do nothing that is great or good; witness the said states. Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them; and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. Wherefore governments rather depend upon men, than men upon governments. Let men be good, and the government cannot be bad; if it be ill, they will cure it. But, if men be bad, let the government be never so good, they will endeavor to warp and spoil it to their turn.
I know some say, let us have good laws, and no matter for the men that execute them: but let them consider, that though good laws do well, good men do better: for good laws may want good men, and be abolished or evaded1 by ill men; but good men will never want good laws, nor suffer ill ones. It is true, good laws have some awe upon ill ministers, but that is where they have not power to escape or abolish them, and the people are generally wise and good: but a loose and depraved people (which is the question) love laws and an administration like themselves. That, therefore, which makes a good constitution, must keep it, viz: men of wisdom and virtue, qualities, that because they descend not with worldly inheritances, must be carefully propagated by a virtuous education of youth; for which after ages will owe more to the care and prudence of founders, and the successive magistracy, than to their parents, for their private patrimonies.
These considerations of the weight of government, and the nice and various opinions about it, made it uneasy to me to think of publishing the ensuing frame and conditional laws, foreseeing both the censures, they will meet with, from men of differing humours and engagements, and the occasion they may give of discourse beyond my design.
But, next to the power of necessity, (which is a solicitor, that will take no denial) this induced me to a compliance, that we have (with reverence to God, and good conscience to men) to the best of our skill, contrived and composed the frame and laws of this government, to the great end of all government, viz: To support power in reverence with the people, and to secure the people from the abuse of power; that they may be free by their just obedience, and the magistrates honourable, for their just adminstration: for liberty, without obedience is confusion, and obedience without liberty is slavery. To carry this evenness is partly owing to the constitution, and partly to the magistracy: where either of these fail, government will be subject to convulsions; but where both are wanting, it must be totally subverted; then where both meet, the government is like to endure.
Which I humbly pray and hope God will please to make the lot of this Pensilvania. Amen.
the frame, &c—april 25, 1682
To all Persons, to whom these presents may come. whereas king Charles the Second, by his letters patents, under the great seal of England bearing date the fourth day of March in the Thirty and Third Year of the King, for divers consideration therein mentioned, hath been graciously pleased to give and grant unto me William Penn, by the name of William Penn, Esquire, son and heir of Sir William Penn, deceased, and to my heirs and assigns forever, all that tract of land, or Province called Pennsylvania, in America, with divers great powers, preheminences, royalties, jurisdictions, and authorities, necessary for the well-being and government thereof: Now know ye, that for the well-being and government of the said province, and for the encouragement of all the freemen and planters that may be therein concerned, in pursuance of the powers aforementioned, I, the said William Penn have declared, granted, and confirmed, and by these presents, for me, my heirs and assigns, do declare, grant, and confirm unto all the freemen, planters and adventurers of, in and to the said province, these liberties, franchise, and properties, to be held, enjoyed and kept by the freemen, planters, and inhabitants of the said province of Pennsylvania for ever.
Imprimis. That the government of this province shall, according to the powers of the patent, consist of the Governor and freemen of the said province, in form of a provincial Council and General Assembly, by whom all laws shall be made, officers chosen, and public affairs transacted, as is hereafter respectively declared, that is to say—
ii. That the freemen of the said province shall, on the twentieth day of the twelfth month, which shall be in the present year one thousand six hundred eighty and two, meet and assemble in some fit place, of which timely notice shall be before hand given by the Governor or his Deputy; and then, and there, shall chuse out of themselves seventy-two persons of most note for their wisdom, virtue and ability, who shall meet, on the tenth day of the first month next ensuing, and always be called, and act as, the provincial Council of the said province.
iii. That, at the first choice of such provincial Council, one-third part of the said provincial Council shall be chosen to serve for three years, then next ensuing; one-third party, for two years then next ensuing; and one-third party, for one year then next ensuing each election, and no longer; and that the said third part shall go out accordingly; and on the twentieth day of the twelfth month, as aforesaid, yearly for ever afterwards, the freemen of the said province shall, in like manner, meet and assemble together, and then chuse twenty-four persons, being one-third of the said number, to serve in provincial Council for three years: it being intended, that one-third part of the whole provincial Council (always consisting, and to consist, of seventy-two persons, as aforesaid) falling off yearly, it shall be yearly supplied by such new yearly elections, as aforesaid; and that no one person shall continue therein longer than three years: and, in case any member shall decease before the last election during his time, that then at the next election ensuing his decease, another shall be chosen to supply his place, for the remaining time, he has to have served, and no longer.
iv. That, after the first seven years, every one of the said third parts, that goeth yearly off, shall be uncapable of being chosen again for one whole year following: that so all may be fitted for government and have experience of the care and burden of it.
v. That the provincial Council, in all cases and matters of moment, as their arguing upon bills to be passed into laws, erecting courts of justice, giving judgment upon criminals impeached, and choice of officers, in such manner as is hereinafter mentioned, not less than two-thirds of the whole provincial Council shall make a quorum and that the consent and approbation of two-thirds of such quorum shall be had in all such cases and matters of moment. And moreover that, in all cases and matters of lesser moment, twenty-four Members of the said provincial Council shall make a quorum the majority of which twenty-four shall, and may, always determine in such cases and causes of lesser moment.
vi. That, in this provincial Council, the Governor or his Deputy, shall or may, always preside, and have a treble voice; and the said provincial Council shall always continue, and sit upon its own adjournments and committees.
vii. That the Governor and provincial Council shall prepare and propose to the General Assembly, herafter mentioned, all bills, which they shall, at any time, think fit to be passed into laws, within the said province; which bills shall be published and affixed to the most noted places, in the inhabited parts thereof, thirty days before the meeting of the General Assembly, in order to the passing them into laws or rejecting of them, as the General Assembly shall see meet.
viii. That the Governor and provincial Council shall take care, that all laws, statutes and ordinances, which shall at any time be made within the said province, be duly and diligently executed.
ix. That the Governor and provincial Council shall, at all times, have the care of the peace and safety of the province, and that nothing be by any person attempted to the subversion of this frame of government.
x. That the Governor and provincial Council shall, at all times, settle and order the situation of all cities, ports, and market towns in every county, modelling therein all public buildings, streets, and market places, and shall appoint all necessary roads, and high-ways in the province.
xi. That the Governor and provincial Councill shall, at all times, have power to inspect the management of the public treasury, and punish those who shall convert any part thereof to any other use, than what hath been agreed upon by the Governor, provincial Council, and General Assembly.
xii. That the Governor and provincial Council, shall erect and order all public schools, and encourage and reward the authors of useful sciences and laudable inventions in the said province.
xiii. That, for the better management of the power and trust aforesaid, the provincial Council shall, from time to time, divide itself into four distinct and proper committees, for the more easy administration of the affairs of the Province, which divides the seventy-two into four eighteens, every one of which eighteens shall consist of six out of each of the three orders, or yearly elections, each of which shall have a distinct portion of business, as followeth: First, a committee of plantations, to situate and settle cities, ports, and market towns, and high-ways, and to hear and decide all suits and controversies relating to plantations. Secondly, a committee of justice and safety, to secure the peace of the Province, and punish the mal-administration of those who subvert justice to the prejudice of the public, or private, interest. Thirdly, a committee of trade and treasury, who shall regulate all trade and commerce, according to law, encourage manufacture and country growth, and defray the public charge of the Province. And, Fourthly, a committee of manners, education, and arts, that all wicked and scandalous living may be prevented, and that youth may be successively trained up in virtue and useful knowledge and arts: the quorum of each of which committees being six, that is, two out of each of the three orders, or yearly elections, as aforesaid, make a constant and standing Council of twenty-four which will have the power of the provincial Council, being the quorum of it, in all cases not excepted in the fifth article; and in the said committees, and standing Council of the Province, the Governor, or his Deputy, shall, or may preside, as aforesaid; and in the absence of the Governor, or his Deputy, if no one is by either of them appointed, the said committees or Council shall appoint a President for that time, and not otherwise; and what shall be resolved at such committees, shall be reported to the said Council of the province, and shall be by them resolved and confirmed before the same shall be put in execution; and that these respective committees shall not sit at one and the same time, except in cases of necessity.
xiv. And, to the end that all laws prepared by the Governor and provincial Council aforesaid, may yet have the more full concurrence of the freemen of the province, it is declared, granted and confirmed, that, at the time and place or places, for the choices of a provincial council, as aforesaid, the said freemen shall yearly chuse Members to serve in a General Assembly, as their representatives, not exceeding two hundred persons, who shall yearly meet on the twentieth day of the second month, which shall be in the year one thousand six hundred eighty and three following, in the capital town, or city, of the said province, where, during eight days, the several Members may freely confer with one another; and, if any of them see meet, with a committee of the provincial Council (consisting of three out of each of the four committees aforesaid, being twelve in all) which shall be, at that time, purposely appointed to receive from any of them proposals, for the alterations or amendment of any of the said proposed and promulgated bills: and on the ninth day from their so meeting, the said General Assembly, after reading over the proposed bills by the Clerk of the provincial Council, and the occasions and motives for them being opened by the Governor or his Deputy, shall give their affirmative or negative, which to them seemeth best, in such manner as hereinafter is expressed. But not less than two-thirds shall make a quorum in the passing of laws, and choice of such officers as are by them to be chosen.
xv. That the laws so prepared and proposed, as aforesaid, that are assented to by the General Assembly, shall be enrolled as laws of the Province, with this stile: By the Governor, with the assent and approbation of the freemen in provincial Council and General Assembly.
xvi. That, for the establishment of the government and laws of this province, and to the end there may be an universal satisfaction in the laying of the fundamentals thereof: the General Assembly shall, or may, for the first year, consist of all the freemen of and in the said province; and ever after it shall be yearly chosen, as aforesaid; which number of two hundred shall be enlarged as the country shall increase in people, so as it do not exceed five hundred, at any time; the appointment and proportioning of which, as also the laying and methodizing of the choice of the provincial Council and General Assembly, in future times most equally to the divisions of the hundreds and counties, which the country shall hereafter be divided into, shall be in the power of the provincial Council to propose, and the General Assembly to resolve.
xvii. That the Governor and the provincial Council shall erect, from time to time, standing courts of justice, in such places and number as they shall judge convenient for the good government of the said province. And that the provincial Council shall, on the thirteenth day of the first month, yearly, elect and present to the Governor, or his Deputy, a double number of persons, to serve for Judges, Treasurers, Masters of Rolls, within the said province, for the year next ensuing; and the freemen of the said province, in the county courts, when they shall be erected, and till then, in the General Assembly, shall, on the three and twentieth day of the second month, yearly, elect and present to the Governor, or his Deputy, a double number of persons, to serve for Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, and Coroners, for the year next ensuing; out of which respective elections and presentments, the Governor or his Deputy shall nominate and commissionate the proper number for each office, the third day after the said presentments, or else the first named in such presentment, for each office, shall stand and serve for that office the year ensuing.
xviii. But forasmuch as the present condition of the province requires some immediate settlement, and admits not of so quick a revolution of officers; and to the end the said Province may, with all convenient speed, be well ordered and settled, I, William Penn, do therefore think fit to nominate and appoint such persons for Judges, Treasurers, Masters of the Rolls, Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, and Coroners, as are most fitly qualified for those employments; to whom I shall make and grant commissions for the said offices, respectively, to hold to them, to whom the same shall be granted, for so long time as every such person shall well behave himself in the office, or place, to him respectively granted, and no longer. And upon the decease or displacing of any of the said officers, the succeeding officer, or officers, shall be chosen, as aforesaid.
xix. That the General Assembly shall continue so long as may be needful to impeach criminals, fit to be there impeached, to pass bills into laws, that they shall think fit to pass into laws, and till such time as the Governor and provincial Council shall declare that they have nothing further to propose unto them, for their assent and approbation: and that declaration shall be a dismiss to the General Assembly for that time; which General Assembly shall be, notwithstanding, capable of assembling together into laws, and till such time as the Governor and provincial Council shall declare that they have nothing further to propose unto them, for their assent and approbation: and that declaration shall be a dismiss to the General Assembly for that time; which General Assembly shall be, notwithstanding, capable of assembling together upon the summons of the provincial Council, at any time during that year, if the said provincial Council shall see occasion for their so assembling.
xx. That all the elections of members, or representatives of the people, to serve in provincial Council and General Assembly, and all questions to be determined by both, or either of them, that relate to passing of bills into laws, to the choice of officers, to impeachments by the General Assembly, and judgment of criminals upon such impeachments by the provincial Council, and to all other cases by them respectively judged of importance, shall be resolved and determined by the ballot, and unless on sudden and indispensible occasions, no business in provincial Council, or its respective committees, shall be finally determined the same day that it is moved.
xxi. That at all times when, and so often as it shall happen that the Governor shall or may be an infant, under the age of one and twenty years, and no guardians or commissioners are appointed in writing, by the father of the said infant, or that such guardians or commissioners shall be deceased; that during such minority, the provincial Council shall, from time to time, as they shall see meet, constitute and appoint guardians or commissioners, not exceeding three, one of which three shall preside as deputy and chief guardian, during such minority, and shall have and execute, with the consent of the other two, all the power of a Governor, in all the public affairs and concerns of the said province.
xxii. That, as often as any day of the month, mentioned in any article of this charter, shall fall upon the first day of the week, commonly called the Lord’s Day, the business appointed for that day shall be deferred till the next day, unless in case of emergency.
xxiii. That no act, law, or ordinance whatsoever, shall at any time hereafter, be made or done by the Governor of this province, his heirs or assigns, or by the freemen in the provincial Council, or the General Assembly, to alter, change, or diminish the form, or effect, of this charter, or any part, or clause thereof, without the consent of the Governor, his heirs, or assigns, and six parts of seven of the said freemen in provincial Council and General Assembly.
xxiv. And lastly, that I, the said for myself, my heirs and assigns, have solemnly declared, granted and confirmed, and do hereby solemnly declare, grant and confirm, that neither I, my heirs, nor assigns, shall procure to do any thing or things, whereby the liberties, in this charter contained and expressed, shall be infringed or broken; and if any thing be procured by any person or persons contrary to these premises, it shall be held of no force or effect. In witness whereof, I, the said William Penn, have unto this present character of liberties set my hand and broad seal, this five and twentieth day of the second month, vulgarly called April, in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and eighty-two.
laws agreed upon in england, &c.
i. That the charter of liberties, declared, granted and confirmed the five and twentieth day of the second month, called April, 1682, before divers witnesses, by William Penn, Governor and chief Proprietor of Pennsylvania, to all the freemen and planters of the said province, is hereby declared and approved, and shall be for ever held for fundamental in the government thereof, according to the limitations mentioned in the said charter.
ii. That every inhabitant in the said province, that is or shall be, a purchaser of one hundred acres of land, or upwards, his heirs and assigns, and every persons who shall have paid his passage, and taken up one hundred acres of land, at one penny an acre, and have cultivated ten acres threof, and every person, that hath been a servant, or bondsman, and is free by his service, that shall have taken up his fifty acres of land, and cultivated twenty thereof, and every inhabitant, artificer, or other resident in the said province, that pays scot and lot to the government; shall be deemed and accounted a freeman of the said province: and every such person shall, and may, be capable of electing, or being elected, representatives of the people, in provincial Council, or General Assembly, in the said province.
iii. That all elections of members, or representatives of the people and freemen of the province of Pennsylvania, to serve in provincial Council, or General Assembly, to be held within the said province, shall be free and voluntary: and that the elector, that shall receive any reward or gift, in meat, drink, monies, or otherwise, shall forfeit his right to elect: and such person as shall directly or indirectly give, promise, or bestow any such reward as aforesaid, to be elected, shall forfeit his election, and be thereby incapable to serve as aforesaid: and the provincial Council and General Assembly shall be the sole judges of the regularity, or irregularity of the elections of their own respective Members.
iv. That no money or goods shall be raised upon, or paid by, any of the people of this province by way of public tax, custom or contribution, but by a law, for that purpose made; and whoever shall levy, collect, or pay any money or goods contrary thereunto, shall be held a public enemy to the province and a betrayer of the liberties of the people thereof.
v. That all courts shall be open, and justice shall neither be sold, denied or delayed.
vi. That, in all courts all persons of all persuasions may freely appear in their own way, and acording to their own manner, and there personally plead their own cause themselves; or, if unable, by their friends: and the first process shall be the exhibition of the complaint in court, fourteen days before the trial; and that the party, complained against, may be fitted for the same, he or she shall be summoned, no less than ten days before, and a copy of the complaint delivered him or her, at his or her dwelling house. But before the complaint of any person be received, he shall solemnly declare in court that he believes, in his conscience, his cause is just.
vii. That all pleadings, processes and records in courts, shall be short, and in English, and in an ordinary and plain character, that they may be understood, and justice speedily administered.
viii. That all trials shall be by twelve men, and as near as may be, peers or equals, and of the neighborhood, and men without just exception; in cases of life, there shall be first twenty-four returned by the sheriffs, for a grand inquest, of whom twelve, at least, shall find the complaint to be true; and then the twelve men, or peers, to be likewise returned by the sheriff, shall have the final judgment. But reasonable challenges shall be always admitted against the said twelve men, or any of them.
ix. That all fees in all cases shall be moderate, and settled by the provincial Council, and General Assembly, and be hung up in a table in every respective court; and whosoever, shall be convicted of taking more, shall pay twofold, and be dismissed his employment; one moiety of which shall go to the party wronged.
x. That all prisons shall be work-houses, for felons, vagrants, and loose and idle persons; whereof one shall be in every county.
xi. That all prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offences, where the proof is evident, or the presumption great.
xii. That all persons wrongfully imprisoned, or prosecuted at law, shall have double damages against the informer, or prosecutor.
xiii. That all prisons shall be free, as to fees, food, and lodging.
xiv. That all lands and goods shall be liable to pay debts, except where there is legal issue, and then all the goods, and one-third of the land only.
xv. That all wills, in writing, attested by two witnesses, shall be of the same force as to lands, as other conveyances, being legally proved within forty days, either within or without the said province.
xvi. That seven years quiet possession shall give an unquestionable right, except in cases of infants, lunatics, married women, or persons beyond the seas.
xvii. That all briberies and extortion whatsoever shall be severely punished.
xviii. That all fines shall be moderate, and saving men’s contenements, merchandize, or wainage.
xix. That all marriages (not forbidden by the law of God, as to nearness of blood and affinity by marriage) shall be encouraged; but the parents, or guardians, shall be first consulted, and the marriage shall be published before it be solemnized; and it shall be solemnized by taking one another as husband and wife, before credible witnesses; and a certificate of the whole, under the hands of parties and witnesses, shall be brought to the proper register of that county, and shall be registered in his office.
xx. And, to prevent frauds and vexatious suits within the said province, that all charters, gifts, grants, and conveyances (except leases for a year or under) and all bills, bonds, and specialties above five pounds, and not under three months, made in the said province, shall be enrolled, or registered in the public enrolment office of the said province, within the space of two months next after the making thereof, else to be void in law, and all deeds, grants, and conveyances of land (except as aforesaid) within the said province, and made out of the said province, shall be enrolled or registered, as aforesaid, within six months next after the making thereof, and settling and constituting an enrolment office or registry within the said province, else to be void in law against all persons whatsoever.
xxi. That all defacers or corrupters of charters, gifts, grants, bonds, bills, wills, contracts, and conveyances, or that shall deface or falsify any enrolment, registry or record, within this province, shall make double satisfaction for the same; half whereof shall go to the party wronged, and they shall be dismissed of all places of trust, and be publicly disgraced as false men.
xxii. That there shall be a register for births, marriages, burials, wills, and letters of administration, distinct from the other registry.
xxiii. That there shall be a register for all servants, where their names, time, wages, and days of payment shall be registered.
xxiv. That all lands and goods of felons shall be liable, to make satisfaction to the party wronged twice the value; and for want of lands or goods, the felons shall be bondmen to work in the common prison, or work-house, or otherwise, till the party injured be satisfied.
xxv. That the estates of capital offenders, as traitors and murderers, shall go, one-third to the next of kin to the sufferer, and the remainder to the next of kin to the criminal.
xxvi. That all witnesses, coming, or called, to testify their knowledge in or to any matter or thing, in any court, or before any lawful authority, within the said province, shall there give or delivery in their evidence, or testimony, by solemnly promising to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, to the matter, or thing in question. And in case any person so called to evidence, shall be convicted of wilful falsehood, such person shall suffer and undergo such damage or penalty, as the person, or persons, against whom he or she bore false witness, did, or should, undergo; and shall also make satisfaction to the party wronged, and be publicly exposed as a false witness, never to be credited in any court, or before any Magistrate, in the said province.
xxvii. And, to the end that all officers chosen to serve within this province, may, with more care and dilligence, answer the trust reposed in them, it is agreed, that no such person shall enjoy more than one public office, at one time.
xxviii. That all children, within this province, of the age of twelve years, shall be taught some useful trade or skill, to the end none may be idle, but the poor may work to live, and the rich, if they become poor may not want.
xxix. That servants be not kept longer than their time, and such as are careful, be both justly and kindly used in their service, and put in fitting equipage at the expiration thereof, according to custom.
xxx. That all scandalous and malicious reporters, backbiters, defamers and spreaders of false news, whether against Magistrates, or private persons, shall be accordingly severely punished, as enemies to the peace and concord of this province.
xxxi. That for the encouragement of the planters and traders in this province, who are incorporated into a society, the patent granted to them by William Penn, Governor of the said province, is hereby ratified and confirmed.
xxxii. * * *
xxxiii. That all factors or correspondents in the said province, wronging their employers, shall make satisfaction, and one-third over, to their said employers: and in case of the death of any such factor or correspondent, the committee of trade shall take care to secure so much of the deceased party’s estate as belongs to his said respective employers.
xxxiv. That all Treasurers, Judges, Masters of the Rolls, Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, and other officers and persons whatsoever, relating to courts, or trials of causes, or any other service in the government; and all Members elected to serve in provincial Council and General Assembly, and all that have right to elect such Members, shall be such as possess faith in Jesus Christ, and that are not convicted of ill fame, or unsober and dishonest conversation, and that are of one and twenty years of age, at least; and that all such so qualified, shall be capable of the said several employments and privileges, as aforesaid.
xxxv. That all persons living in this province, who confess and acknowledge the one Almighty and eternal God, to be the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the world; and that hold themselves obliged in conscience to live peaceable and justly in civil society, shall, in no ways, be molested or prejudiced for their religious persuasion, or practice, in matters of faith and worship, nor shall they be compelled, at any time, to frequent or maintain any religious worship, place or ministry whatever.
xxxvi. That, according to the good example of the primitive Christians, and the case of the creation, every first day of the week, called the Lord’s day, people shall abstain from their common daily labour, that they may better dispose themselves to worship God according to their understandings.
xxxvii. That as a careless and corrupt administration of justice draws the wrath of God upon magistrates, so the wildness and looseness of the people provoke the indignation of God against a country: therefore, that all such offences against God, as swearing, cursing, lying, prophane talking, drunkenness, drinking of healths, obscene words, incest, sodomy, rapes, whoredom, fornication, and other uncleanness (not to be repeated) all treasons, misprisions, murders, duels, felony, seditions, maims, forcible entries, and other violences, to the persons and estates of the inhabitants within this province; all prizes, stage-plays, cards, dice, May-games, gamesters, masques, revels, bull-baitings, cock-fightings, bear-baitings, and the like, which excite the people to rudeness, cruelty, looseness, and irreligion, shall be respectively discouraged, and severely punished, according to the appointment of the Governor and freemen in provincial Council and General Assembly; as also all proceedings contrary to these laws, that are not here made expressly penal.
xxxviii. That a copy of these laws shall be hung up in the provincial Council, and in public courts of justice: and that they shall be read yearly at the opening of every provincial Council and General Assembly, and court of justice; and their assent shall be testified, by their standing up after the reading thereof.
xxxix. That there shall be, at no time, any alteration of any of these laws, without the consent of the Governor, his heirs, or assigns, and six parts of seven of the freemen, met in provincial Council and General Assembly.
xl. That all other matters and things not herein provided for, which shall, and may, concern the public justice, peace, or safety of the said province; and the raising and imposing taxes, customs, duties, or other charges whatsoever, shall be, and are, hereby referred to the order, prudence and determination of the Governor and freemen, in Provincial Council and General Assembly, to be held, from time to time, in the said province.
Signed and sealed by the Governor and freemen aforesaid, the fifth day of the third month, called one thousand six hundred and eighty-two.
[1. ]Invaded in Franklin’s print.
Key Documents of Liberty
- -1750: The Code of Hammurabi (Johns translation)
- -1750: The Code of Hammurabi (King translation)
- 1117: Articles of the Communal Charter of Amiens
- 1215: Magna Carta
- 1215: Magna Carta (Latin and English)
- 1602: Coke, Preface to the 2nd Part of the Reports (Pamphlet)
- 1619: Laws enacted by the First General Assembly of Virginia
- 1620: The Mayflower Compact
- 1621: Constitution for the Council and Assembly in Virginia
- 1628: Petition of Right
- 1629: Agreement of the Massachusetts Bay Company
- 1637: Providence Agreement
- 1638: Act for Church Liberties (Maryland)
- 1638: Act for the Liberties of the People (Maryland)
- 1639: Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
- 1640/1: The Triennial Act
- 1641: Massachusetts Body of Liberties
- 1641: The Act for the Abolition of the Court of Star Chamber
- 1641: The Act for the Abolition of the Court of High Commission
- 1641: The Tonnage and Poundage Act
- 1642: Organization of the Government of Rhode Island
- 1642: Propositions made by Parliament and Charles I’s Answer
- 1644: Williams, Bloody Tenet, of Persecution (Letter)
- 1647: Acts and Orders (Rhode Island)
- 1647: Laws and Liberties of Massachusetts
- 1647: The Agreement of the People, as presented to the Council of the Army
- 1647: The Putney Debates
- 1648/9: The Agreement of the People
- 1649: A Declaration of Parliament
- 1649: Ball, Rule of a Free-Born People (Pamphlet)
- 1649: Maryland Toleration Act
- 1649: Rous, Lawfulness of Obeying the Present Government (Pamphlet)
- 1658: Coke, Prohibitions del Roy (Pamphlet)
- 1660: Milton, A Free Commonwealth (Pamphlet)
- 1661: Act of the General Court (of Mass.)
- 1675: Shaftesbury, Letter from a Person of Quality (Pamphlet)
- 1675: Shaftesbury, Speech in Parliament (Pamphlet)
- 1679: Habeas Corpus Act
- 1682: Act for Freedom of Conscience (Penn.)
- 1682: Charter of the Liberties and Frame of Government of Pennsylvania
- 1683: Charter of Liberties and Privileges (New York)
- 1689: English Bill of Rights
- 1692: Shower, Reasons for a New Bill of Rights (Pamphlet)
- 1701: Pennsylvania Charter of Liberties
- 1736: Brief Narrative of the Trial of Peter Zenger
- 1744: Williams, Rights and Liberties of Protestants (Sermon)
- 1763: Otis, Rights of British Colonies Asserted (Pamphlet)
- 1765: Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress
- 1766: Mayhew, The Snare Broken (Sermon)
- 1774: Declaration and Resolves of the 1st Continental Congress
- 1776: Declaration of Independence (various drafts)
- 1776: Hutchinson, Strictures upon the Declaration of Independence
- 1776: Paine, Common Sense (Pamphlet)
- 1776: Virginia Declaration of Rights
- 1776: Witherspoon, Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men (Sermon)
- 1778: Articles of Confederation
- 1785: Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments
- 1786: Jefferson, Virginia Bill Establishing Religious Freedom
- 1787: Brutus, Essay II (Pamphlet)
- 1787: Brutus, Essay V (Pamphlet)
- 1787: Brutus, Letter I (Pamphlet)
- 1787: Centinel, Letter I (Pamphlet)
- 1787: Jay, Address to the People of N.Y. (Pamphlet)
- 1787: Letters from the Federal Farmer, Letter No. III
- 1787: Letters from the Federal Farmer, No. VII (Pamphlet)
- 1787: Madison’s Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention
- 1787: Mason: Objections to the Proposed Constitution (Letter)
- 1787: Northwest Ordinance
- 1787: P. Webster, The Weakness of Brutus (Pamphlet)
- 1787: Ramsay, Address to the Freemen of Sth. Carolina (Speech)
- 1787: Selections from the Federalist (Pamphlets)
- 1787: US Constitution
- 1787: Virginia and New Jersey Plans
- 1787: Wilson, Address to the People of Philadelphia (Speech)
- 1788: Amendments recommended by the Several State Conventions
- 1789: French Declaration of the Rights of Man
- 1789: Madison, Speech Introducing Proposed Amendments to the Constitution
- 1790: Hamilton, First Report on Public Credit
- 1790: Jefferson, Memorandum on the Compromise of 1790
- 1790: Price, Discourse on the Love of Our Country (Sermon)
- 1791: Hamilton, Opinion as to the Constitutionality of the Bank of the US
- 1791: Jefferson, Opinion against the Constitutionality of a National Bank
- 1791: Madison, Speech on the Bank Bill
- 1791: US Bill of Rights (1st 10 Amendments) - with commentary
- 1793: French Republic Constitution of 1793
- 1793: Helvidius (Madison), No. 1 (Pamphlet)
- 1793: Pacificus (Hamilton), No. 1 (Pamphlet)
- 1796: George Washington’s “Farewell Address” (Speech)
- 1798-1992: US Bill of Rights Amendments (XI-XXVII)
- 1798: Alien and Sedition Acts
- 1798: Counter-resolutions of Other States
- 1798: Kentucky Resolutions
- 1798: Kentucky Resolutions (Jefferson’s Draft)
- 1798: Virginia Resolutions
- 1799: Report of the Virginia House of Delegates
- 1801: Jefferson, 1st Annual Message
- 1801: Jefferson, 1st Inaugural Address
- 1802: Jefferson, Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association (Letter)
- 1830: French Charter of 1830
- 1863: Emancipation Proclamation
- 1863: The Gettysburg Address
- 1865: U.S. Constitution, Thirteenth Amendment
- Pocket Guide to Political and Civic Rights