Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The Topeka [Kansas] Constitution, "Sec. 4. The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security...", Oct. 23, 1855

Constitution of the State of Kansas.


   We, the people of the Territory of Kansas, by our delegates in Convention assembled at Topeka, on the 23d day of October, A.D. 1855, and of the Independence of the United States the eightieth year, having the right of admission into the Union as one of the United States of America, consistent with the Federal Constitution, and by virtue of the treaty of cession by France to the United States of the Province of Louisiana, in order to secure to ourselves and our posterity the enjoyment of all the rights of life, liberty and property, and the free pursuit of happiness, do mutually agree with each other to form ourselves into a free and independent State, by the name and style of the Sate of Kansas, bounded as follows, to wit: Beginning at a point on the western boundary of the State of Missouri where the thirty-seventh parallel of north latitude crosses the same; thence west on said parallel to the eastern boundary of New Mexico; thence north on said boundary to latitude thirty-eight; thence following said boundary westward to the eastern boundary of the Territory of Utah, on the summit of the Rocky Mountains; thence northward on said summit to the fortieth parallel of said latitude; thence east on said parallel to the western boundary of the State of Missouri; thence south with the western boundary of said State to the place of beginning; and do ordain and establish the following Constitution and Bill of Rights for the government thereof.

Bill of Rights. Article I.

   Sec. 1. All men are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and seeking and obtaining happiness and safety.

   Sec. 2. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal protection and benefit; and they have the right to alter, reform or abolish the same whenever they may deem it necessary; and no special privileges or immunities shall ever be granted that may not be altered, revoked, or repealed by the General Assembly.

   Sec. 3. The people have the right to assemble together, in a peaceable manner, to consult, for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to petition the General Assembly for the redress of grievances.

   Sec. 4. The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security, but standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power.

   Sec. 5. The right of trial by jury shall be inviolate.

   Sec. 6. There shall be no slavery in this state, nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime.

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   Sec. 7. All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience. No person shall be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or maintain any form of worship, against his consent; and no preference shall be given by law to any religious society; nor shall any interference with the rights of conscience be permitted. No religious test shall be required as a qualification for office, nor shall any person be incompetent to be a witness on account of his religious belief; but nothing herein shall be construed to dispense with oaths and affirmations. Religion, morality, and knowledge, however, being essential to good government, it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to pass suitable laws to protect every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship, and to encourage schools and the means of instruction.

   Sec. 8. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless in case of rebellion or invasion the public safety requires it.

   Sec. 9. All persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offenses where the proof is evident, or the presumption great. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.

   Sec. 10. Except in cases of impeachment, and cases arising in the army and navy, or in the militia, when in actual service, in time of war or public danger, and in cases of petit larceny and other inferior offenses, no person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on presentment or indictment of a grand jury. In any trial, in any court, the party accused shall be allowed to appear and defend in person, and with counsel; to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him, and to have a copy thereof; to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to procure the attendance of witnesses in his behalf, and a speedy public trial by an impartial jury of the county or district in which the offense is alleged to have been committed; nor shall any person be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, or be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense.

   Sec. 11. Every citizen may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of the right; and no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press. In all criminal prosecutions or indictments for libel, the truth may be given in evidence to the jury; and if it shall appear to the jury that the matter charged as libelous is true, and was published with good motives, and for justifiable ends, the party shall be acquitted.

   Sec. 12. No person shall be transported out of the State for any offense committed within the same, and no conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate.

   Sec. 13. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war, except in a manner prescribed by law.

   Sec. 14. The right of the people to be sure in their persons, houses, papers, and possessions, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons and things to be seized.

   Sec. 15. No person shall be imprisoned for debt in any civil action, on mesne or final process, unless in case of fraud.
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   Sec. 16. All courts shall be open; and every person for an injury done him in his land, goods, person, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and justice administered without denial or delay.

   Sec. 17. No hereditary emoluments, honors, or privileges, shall ever be granted or conferred by this State.

   Sec. 18. No power of suspending laws shall ever be exercised, except by the General Assembly.

   Sec. 19. The payment of a tax shall not be a qualification for exercising the right of suffrage.

   Sec. 20. Private property shall ever be held inviolate, but subservient to the public welfare. When taken in time of war, or other public exigency imperatively requiring its immediate seizure, or for the purpose of making or repairing roads which shall be open to the public use without toll or other charge therefor, a compensation shall be made to the owner in money; an in all other cases where private property shall be taken for public use, a compensation therefor shall first be made in money, or first secured by a deposit of money; and such compensation shall be assessed by a jury, without deduction for benefits to any property of the owner.

   Sec. 21. No indenture of any negro or mulatto, made and executed out of the bounds of the State, shall be valid within the State.

   Sec. 22. This enumeration of rights shall not be construed to impair or deny others retained by the people; and all powers not herein delegated shall remain with the people. . . .

   [The Topeka Constitution, the first constitution written for Kansas Territory, was drafted by free state supporters in reaction to contested elections that gave the proslavery party initial control of Kansas' territorial government. Free-staters gathered in convention at Lawrence on August 14 and Big Spring on September 5, 1855 and delegates assembled at Topeka on October 23, 1855, to draft a constitution. The document was approved on December 15 by a vote of 1,731 to 46. The Topeka Constitution prohibited slavery and limited suffrage to white males and "every civilized male Indian who has adopted the habits of the white man." Congress rejected this constitution and the accompanying request for Kansas to be admitted to the Union. While the first original was "filed in the office of the Executive Committee of Kansas Territory" in 1855, the location or existence of that original is not known. The convention made this copy of the original for submission to Congress and the signers verified that "it is a true copy and transcript of the original adopted at Topeka, Kansas Territory on the 12th day of November, 1855." The National Archives located this copy in the records of the U.S. Senate in the Fall of 2013. Citation: Constitution of the State of Kansas (Topeka Constitution), October 23, 1855, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

Date: November 12, 1855]

   “Sec. 16. And be it further enacted . . . And the people of said Territory shall be entitled to the right to keep and bear arms, to the liberty of speech and of the press, as defined in the constitution of the United States, and all other rights of person or property thereby declared and as thereby defined."

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