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Declaration of Rights, as reported from the Committee of the Whole


The Convention took into consideration the Report of the Declaration of Rights, from the Committee of the Whole, which follows in these words, to wit:


"The Parliament of Great Britain, by a declaratory


act, having assumed a right to make laws to bind the Colonies in all cases whatsoever, and in pursuance of such claim endeavoured by force of arms to subjugate the United Colonies to an unconditional submission to their will and power, and having at length constrained them to declare themselves Independent States, and to assume government under the authority of the People; Therefore we, the Delegates of Maryland, in free and full Convention assembled, taking into our most serious consideration the best means of establishing a good Constitution in this State, for the surer foundation and more permanent security thereof, Declare,

"1˙ That all Government of right originates from the people, is founded in compact only, and instituted solely for the good of the whole.

"2˙ That the people of this State ought to have the sole and exclusive right of regulating the internal government and police thereof.

"3˙ That the inhabitants of Maryland are entitled to the common law of England, and the trial by jury, according to the course of that law, and to the benefit of such of the English statutes as existed at the time of their first emigration, and which by experience have been found applicable to their local and other, circumstances, and of such others as have been since made in England or Great Britain, and have been introduced, used, and practised by the courts of law or equity; and also to all acts of Assembly in force on the first of June, seventeen hundred and seventy-four, except such as may have since expired, or have been, or may be altered by acts of Convention, or this Declaration of Rights; subject nevertheless to the revision of, and amendment or repeal by, the Legislature of this State; and the inhabitants of Maryland are also entitled to all property derived to them from or under the charter granted by his Majesty Charles the First, to Caecilius Calvert, Baron of Baltimore.

"4˙ That all persons entrusted with the Legislative or Executive powers of Government, are the trustees and servants of the publick, and as such accountable for their conduct; wherefore, whenever the ends of Government are perverted, and publick liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new Government; the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.

"5˙ That the right in the people to participate in the Legislature is the best security of liberty, and the foundation of all free Government; for this purpose elections ought to be free and frequent, and every man having property in, a common interest with, and an attachment to, the community, ought to have a right of suffrage.

"6˙ That the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial powers of Government, ought to be forever separate and distinct from each other.

"7˙ That no power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, unless derived from the Legislature, ought to be exercised or allowed.

"8˙ That freedom of speech, and debates, or proceedings in the Legislature, ought not to be impeached in any other court or judicature.

"9˙ That a place for the meeting of the Legislature ought to be fixed, the most convenient to the members thereof, and to the depository of the publick records, and the Legislature ought not to be convened or held at any other place but from evident necessity.

"10˙ That for the redress of grievances, and for amending, strengthening, and preserving the laws, the Legislature ought to be frequently convened.

"11˙ That every man hath a right to petition the Legislature for the redress of grievances, in a peaceable and orderly manner.

"12˙ That no aid, charge, tax, burthen, fee, or fees, ought to be set, rated, or levied, under any pretence, without the consent of the Legislature.

"13˙ That the levying taxes by the poll is grievous and oppressive, and ought to be abolished; that paupers whose estates do not exceed thirty pounds currency value ought not to be assessed for the support of Government, but every other person in the State ought to contribute his proportion of publick taxes for the support of Government according to his actual worth in real or personal property within this


State; yet fines, duties, or taxes, may properly and justly be imposed or laid with a political view for the good government and benefit of the community.

"14˙ That sanguinary laws ought to be avoided, as far as is consistent with the safety of the State; and no law to inflict cruel and unusual pains and penalties ought to be made, in any case; or at any time hereafter.

"15˙ That retrospective laws, punishing facts committed before the existence of such laws, and by them only declared criminal, are oppressive, unjust, and incompatible with liberty; wherefore no ex post facto law ought to be made.

"16˙ That no law to attaint particular persons of treason or felony, ought to be made in any case, or at any time hereafter.

"17˙ That every freeman for every injury done to him in his goods, lands, or person, ought to have remedy by the course of the law of the land, and ought to have justice and right, freely without sale, fully without any denial, and speedily without delay, according to the law of the land.

"18˙ That the trial of facts where they arise is one of the greatest securities of the lives, liberties, and estate of the people.

"19˙ That in all criminal prosecutions, every man hath a right to be informed of the accusation against him, to have a copy of the indictment or charge in due time (if required) to prepare for his defence, to be allowed counsel, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have process for his witnesses, to examine the witnesses for and against him on oath, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury, without whose unanimous consent he ought not to be found guilty.

"20˙ That no man ought to be compelled to give evidence against himself in a court of common law, or in any other court, but in such cases only as have been usually practised in this State.

"21˙ That no freeman ought to be taken, or imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties, or privileges, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner destroyed, or deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land.

"22˙ That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishments inflicted by the courts of law.

" 23˙ That all warrants without oath, or affirmation of a person conscientiously scrupulous of taking an oath, to search suspected places, or to seize any person, or his property, are grievous and oppressive; and all general warrants to search suspected places, or to apprehend all persons suspected, without naming or describing the place, or any person in special, are illegal, and ought not to be granted.

"24˙ That there ought to be no forfeiture of any part of the estate of any person for any crime except murder or treason against the State, and then only on conviction and attainder.

"25˙ That a well-regulated militia is the proper and natural defence of a free Government.

"26˙ That standing armies are dangerous to liberty, and ought not to be raised or kept up without consent of the Legislature.

"27˙ That in all cases and at all times the military ought to be under strict subordination to, and control of, the civil power.

"28˙ That no soldier ought to be quartered in any house in time of peace without the consent of the owner, and in time of war in such manner only as the Legislature shall direct.

"29˙ That no person except regular soldiers, mariners, and marines in the service of this State, or militia when in actual service, ought in any case to be subject to, or punishable by, martial law.

"30˙ That the independency and uprightness of Judges are essential to the impartial administration of justice, and a great security to the rights and liberties of the people; wherefore the Chancellor and all Judges and Justices ought to hold commissions during good behaviour, removable only for misbehaviour, on conviction in a court of law, or by a vote of the Legislature. That salaries liberal, but not profuse, ought to be secured to the Chancellor and the Judges, during the continuance of their commissions, and reasonable salaries, or fees, allowed to the officers: no Chancellor or Judge ought to hold any other office, civil or military, or receive fees or perquisites of any kind.


"31˙ That a long continuance in the first executive departments of power or trust is dangerous to liberty; a rotation, therefore, in those departments is one of the best securities of permanent freedom.

"32˙ That no person holdings place of profit, or receiving any part of the profits thereof, or receiving the profits or any part of the profits arising on any agency for the supply of clothing or provisions for the Army Or Navy, or holding any office under the United States or any of them, or a minister of preacher of the Gospel of any denomination, or any person employed in the regular land service, or marine, of this or the United States, Ought to have a seat in the Legislature or the Council of this State.

"33˙ That no person ought to hold at the same time more than one office of profit, nor ought any person in publick trust to receive any present from any foreign Prince or State, or from the United States, or any of them, without the approbation of this State.

"34˙ That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to him, all persons professing the Christian religion are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore no person ought by any law to be molested in his person or estate on account of his religious persuasion or profession, or for his religious practice, unless under colour of religion any man shall disturb the good order, peace, or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality, or injure others in their natural, civil, or religious rights; nor ought any person to be compelled to frequent or maintain, or contribute, unless on contract, to maintain any place of worship, or ministry; but the churches, chapels, glebes, and all other property now belonging to the Church of England, ought to remain to the Church of England forever. And all acts of Assembly lately passed for collecting moneys for building or repairing particular churches or chapels of ease, shall continue in force and be executed, unless the Legislature shall by act supersede or repeal the same; but no County Court shall assess any quantity of tobacco or sum of money hereafter, on the application of any vestrymen or church-wardens; and every incumbent of the Church of England who hath remained in his parish and performed his duty shall be entitled to receive the provision and support established by the act entitled ‘An act for the support of the clergy of the Church of England in this Province,’ till the next November court to be held for the County in which his parish shall lie, or partly lie, or for such time as he hath remained in his parish and performed his duty.

"35˙ That every gift, sale, or devise of lands to any minister, publick teacher, or preacher of the Gospel, as such, or any religious sect, order, or denomination, or to or for the support, use, or benefit of, or in trust for, any minister, publick teacher, or preacher of the Gospel, as such, of any religious sect, order, or denomination; and every gift or sale of goods or chattels, to go in succession, or to take place after the death of the seller or donor, to or for such support, use, or benefit; and also every devise of goods or chattels to, or to or for the support, use, or benefit of, any minister, publick teacher, or preacher of the Gospel, as such, or any religious sect, order, or denomination, without the leave of the Legislature, shall be void; except always any sale, gift, lease, or devise of any quantity of land not exceeding two acres, for a church, meeting, or other house of worship, and for a burying-ground, which shall be improved, enjoyed, or used only for such purpose, or such sale, gift, lease, or devise shall be void.

"36˙ That no other test or qualification ought to be required on admission to any office of trust or profit, than such oath of support and fidelity to this State, and such oath of office as shall be directed by this Convention or the Legislature of this State, and a declaration of a belief in the Christian religion.

"37˙ That the City of Annapolis ought to have all its rights, privileges, and benefits, agreeable to its charter and the acts of Assembly confirming and regulating the same; subject, nevertheless, to such alterations as may be made by this Convention or any future Legislature.

"38˙ That the liberty of the press ought to be inviolably preserved.

"39˙ That monopolies are odious, contrary to the spirit of a free Government, and the principles of commerce, and ought not to be suffered.


"40˙ That no title of nobility or hereditary honours ought to be granted in this State.

"41˙ That the subsisting resolves of this and the several Conventions held for this Colony ought to be in force as laws, unless altered by this Convention or the Legislature of this State.

"42˙ That this Declaration of Rights, or the form of Government to be established by this Convention, or any part of either of them, ought not to be altered, changed or abolished by the Legislature o/ this State, but in such manner as this Convention shall prescribe and direct."