The Constitution of the State of Tennessee
June 2, 1796
|Table of Contents
|Section 1st||Legislative authority|
|Section 2nd||Enumeration of the taxable inhabitants and number of representatives apportioned|
|Section 3rd||Apportionment of Senators|
|Section 4th||Method of choosing Senators|
|Section 5th||Setting the date for election of senators and representatives|
|Section 6th||Setting the date for commencement of first session|
|Section 7th||Residency requirements|
|Section 8th||Responsibility of senate and house of representatives|
|Section 9th||Rules of proceedings|
|Section 10th||Privileged from arrest while traveling to, during, and from Session|
|Section 11th||Authority within the Senate and the House|
|Section 12th||Governor to Issue of Writs of election for vacancies, for the time being|
|Section 13th||Senate and House agreement for adjournment|
|Section 14th||Regardless of origin, either Senate or House may amend the other’s bills|
|Section 15th||Three readings requirement of bills and signature of respective speakers|
|Section 16th||After issue rejection, no repeat in same session|
|Section 17th||Statement of style of laws|
|Section 18th||Journal of proceedings required at the request of two with exceptions|
|Section 19th||Open door policy|
|Section 20th||Salary limits|
|Section 21st||Withdrawal of monies|
|Section 22nd||Veracity of individuals occupying either house with regard to money|
|Section 23rd||Individual positions only to be held|
|Section 24th||Senate or House members eligibility with regard to apportionment of funds|
|Section 25th||Liberty of dissent from and protest against, journal record of same|
|Section 26th||Equality of taxation of lands|
|Section 27th||No taxation on manufactured good of State|
|Section 1st||Executive power of this State shall be vested in a governor.|
|Section 2nd||Method of choosing Governor|
|Section 3rd||Requirements of Governor candidate to run|
|Section 4th||Requirements of Terms of Governor|
|Section 5th||Governor to be State’s commander -in-chief|
|Section 6th||Governor’s authority to grant reprieves and pardons|
|Section 7th||Governor’s compensation|
|Section 8th||Governor’s authority to require information|
Governor’s authority to convene and purpose the general assembly
|Section 10th||Governor’s oath of faithful execution of laws|
|Section 11th||Governor’s privilege to address general assembly on matters the Governor thinks pressing|
|Section 12th||2nd in command in case of the death of the Governor|
|Section 13th||Governor shall hold no other office, State or Federal, concurrently|
|Section 14th||Governor’s power to fill vacancies during recess|
|Section 15th||Governor’s official seal and use thereof|
|Section 16th||Purpose of Seal|
|Secretary of State term and responsibilities
Electors privileged from arrest while traveling to, during, and from
Elections by ballot
|Section 1st||Power of impeachment|
|Section 2nd||Impeachments trials by Senate|
|Section 3rd||Impeachment conviction by 2/3 of whole house|
|Section 4th||Impeachment limits- Governor and all civil officers liable for misdemeanors; civil law beyond|
|Section 1st||Establishment of Superior and Inferior courts|
|Section 2nd||Appointment of judges and state attorneys|
|Section 3rd||Compensation and limits of Superior Court Judges|
|Section 4th||Judges responsibility for “to hear and to determine” cases and process adjudicants through the system|
|Section 5th||Judge’s limits to state testimony and declare the law|
|Section 6th||Superior Courts Judges authority in civil cases to acquire lower court documents on the case|
|Section 7th||Inferior Court Judges’ authority over lower jurisdiction in civil cases. If all are affected, Governor to appoint three others as remedy.|
|Section 8th||Prohibition of authority due to conflicts of interest|
|Section 9th||Terminology for writs and other processes, signatories|
|Section 10th||Court’s appointment of clerk|
|Section 11th||Limits of fines and exceptions|
|Section 12th||Appointment for county Justices of Peace|
|Section 1st||Appointment and terms -by county of sheriff, coroner, trustee, constables, and rangers. Governor to commission sheriff and coroner|
|Section 2nd||Appointment of treasurer(s) and terms|
|Section 3rd||Appointment by Legislatures, officers not directed by Constitution|
|Section 1st||Citizens election of Officers subject to military duty|
|Section 2nd||Citizens’ election of all field-officers of militia|
|Section 3rd||Citizens’ election of Brigadiers-general|
|Section 4th||Citizens’ election of Majors-general|
|Section 5th||Appointment of Adjutant-general and other commanding officers|
|Section 6th||Structure of authority within Calvary and personnel replacements|
|Section 7th||Legislature to enact laws to protect religious conscientious objectors|
|Section 1st||No eligibility of ministers for Senate or House due to higher responsibility|
|Section 2nd||No atheist shall hold office
|Section 1st||Oath of office to support constitution of state|
|Section 2nd||Oath or affirmation of Senate and house members|
|Section 3rd||Penalty of offering “pay to play” or of “paying to play” as elector|
|Section 4th||Limits as to size of counties and methods of origination of same
|Section 1st||Knoxville as capitol until 1802|
|Section 2nd||Life of laws and ordinances and how terminated|
|Section 3rd||Method of Convention to amend Constitution|
|Section 4th||Authority of Declaration of Rights
|Declaration of Rights|
|Section 1st||Power inherent in people, to found and abolish governments|
|Section 2nd||Dispelling doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression|
|Section 3rd||Rights of worship and conscience, or not and non-preferential treatment to any religious establishment|
|Section 4th||No religious test as qualification of office or public trust|
|Section 5th||Free and equal elections
Right of trial by jury
|Section 7th||Right against unreasonable search and seizure|
|Section 8th||Right of trial by judgment of peers and law of the land|
|Section 9th||Right to hear and face accused and not incriminate oneself|
|Section 10th||No double jeopardy|
|Section 11th||No conviction of past actions based on new laws|
|Section 12th||Refuting English law of “blood corruption” to protect descendants|
|Section 13th||Humane treatment of prisoners|
|Section 14th||Right to trial to answer any criminal charge|
|Section 15th||Right to pay release on bail, except for capital offences|
|Section 16th||Right to not be held indefinitely, excessively fined and limits to punishments|
|Section 17th||Sunshine law for courts, right of state citizens to sue State|
|Section 18th||Release from prison if estate is sold to pay debts unless further fraud suspected|
|Section 19th||Freedom of the Press|
|Section 20th||No retrospective law, or laws made to impair existing contracts|
|Section 21st||Right of representation and or just compensation for services and property taken in eminent domain|
|Section 22nd||Right of peaceable assembly|
|Section 23rd||Perpetuities and monopolies prohibited|
|Section 24th||Civil authority over militia, acknowledgment of danger to freedom, a standing army in times of peace|
|Section 25th||Only those in military service subject to corporal punishment under martial law|
|Section 26th||Free men of State to keep and bear arms for common defense|
|Section 27th||Quartering of soldiers in a time of peace not a requirement nor war but prescribed by law|
|Section 28th||Citizens not compelled to bear arms provided he will pay, according to the law for someone else to take his place|
|Section 29th||Right of free navigation of Mississippi River|
|Section 30th||Prohibition of granting status to elector’s descendants|
|Section 31st||Right of residents in certain areas to maintain ownership of lands|
|Section 32nd||Establishment of State’s boundaries|
|Section 1st||Avoiding disruption moving from temporary to permanent Government|
|Section 2nd||Transference of monies to newly established State of Tennessee|
|Section 3rd||Individual’s appointment continuation until officers are superseded under authority of Constitution.|
|Section 4th||Successors in office appointments under new Constitution beginning second Monday in June, (1796)|
|Section 5th||Governor to use private seal until state seal is provided|
|Section 6th||Temporary entitlement of counties to have one Senator and two Representatives until first census|
|Section 7th||Location of 1st election at house of William Miles|
|Section 8th||Requirement of opening Land Office|
Convention completed at Knoxville February 6, 1796, as the twentieth state
This, the first Constitution of the State of Tennessee, was adopted on 6 February 1796, and became effective 1 June 1796 upon Tennessee’s admission by Congress to statehood:
We the People of the territory of the United States south of the river Ohio, having the right of admission into the General Government as a member State thereof, consistent with the Constitution of the United States and the act of cession of the State of North Carolina, recognizing the ordinance for the government of the territory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio, do ordain and establish the following constitution or form of government, and do mutually agree with each other to form ourselves into a free and independent State by the name of the State of Tennessee.
Section 1st The legislative authority of this State shall be vested in a general assembly, which shall consist of a senate and house of representatives, both dependent on the people.
Section 2nd Within three years after the first meeting of the general assembly, and within every subsequent term of seven years, an enumeration of the taxable inhabitants shall be made in such manner as shall be directed by law; the number of representatives shall, at the several periods of making such enumeration, be fixed by the legislature, and apportioned among the several counties according to the number of taxable inhabitants in each, and shall never be less than twenty-two nor greater than twenty-six until the number of taxable inhabitants shall be forty thousand, and after that event at such ratio that the whole number of representatives shall never exceed forty.
Section 3rd The number of senators shall, at the several periods of making the enumeration before mentioned, be fixed by the legislature and apportioned among the districts formed as hereinafter directed, according to the number of taxable inhabitants in each, and shall never be less than one-third nor more than one-half of the number of representatives.
Section 4th The senators shall be chosen by districts, to be formed by the legislature, each district containing such a number of taxable inhabitants as shall be entitled to elect not more than three senators. When a district shall be composed of two or more counties they shall be adjoining, and no county shall be divided in forming a district.
Section 5th The first election for senators and representatives shall commence on the second Thursday of March next, and shall continue for that and the succeeding day, and the next election shall commence on the first Thursday of August, 1797, and shall continue on that and the succeeding day; and forever after election shall be held once in two years, commencing on the first Thursday in August and terminating the succeeding day.
Section 6th The first session of the general assembly shall commence on the last Monday of March next; the second on the third Monday of September, 1797, and forever after the general assembly shall meet on the third Monday of September next ensuing the then election, and at no other period, unless as provided for by this constitution.
Section 7th That no person shall be eligible to a seat in the general assembly unless he shall have resided three years in the State and one year in the county immediately preceding the election, and shall possess in his own right in the county which he represents not less than two hundred acres of land, and shall have attained to the age of twenty-one years.
Section 8th The senate and house of representatives, when assembled, shall each choose a speaker and its other officers, be judges of the qualifications and elections of its members, and sit upon its own adjournments from day to day. Two-thirds of each house shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized by law to compel the attendance of absent members.
Section 9th Each house may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds expel a member, but not a second time for the same offence, and shall have all other powers necessary for the legislature of a free State.
Section 10th Senators and representatives shall, in all cases, except treason, felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during the session of the general assembly, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either house, they shall not be questioned in any other place.
Section 11th each house may punish, by imprisonment, during their session, any person, not a member, who shall be guilty of disrespect to the house, by any disorderly or contemptuous behavior in their presence.
Section 12th when vacancies happen in either house, the governor, for the time being, shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.
Section 13th Neither house shall, during their session, adjourn without consent of the other, for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the two houses shall be sitting.
Section 14th Bills may originate in either house, but may be amended, altered, or rejected by the other.
Section 15th Every bill shall be read three times, on three different days, in each house, and be signed by the respective speakers, before it becomes a law.
Section 16th After a bill has been rejected, no bill containing the same substance shall be passed into a law during the same session.
Section 17th The style of the laws of this state shall be, “Be it enacted by the general assembly of the State of Tennessee.”
Section 18th Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and publish them, except such parts as the welfare of the State may require to be kept secret. And the yeas and nays of the members on any question shall, at the request of any two of them, be entered on the journals.
Section 19th The doors of each house, and committees of the whole, shall be kept open, unless when the business shall be such as ought to be kept secret.
Section 20th The legislature of this State shall not allow the following officers of government greater annual salaries than as follows, until the year 1804, to wit:
The governor not more than seven hundred and fifty dollars.
The judges of the superior courts not more than six hundred dollars each.
The secretary not more than four hundred dollars.
The treasurer or treasurers not more than 4 per cent. for receiving and paying out all moneys.
The attorney or attorneys for the State shall receive a compensation for their services, not exceeding fifty dollars for each superior court which he shall attend.
No member of the legislature shall receive more than one dollar and seventy-five cents per day, nor more for every twenty-five miles he shall travel in going to and returning from the general assembly.
Section 21st No money shall be drawn from the treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law.
Section 22nd No person who heretofore hath been, or hereafter may be, a collector or holder of public moneys shall have a seat in either house of the general assembly, until such person shall have accounted for, and paid into the treasury, all sums for which he may be accountable or liable.
Section 23rd No judge of any court of law or equity, secretary of state, attorney-general, register, clerk of any court of record, or person holding any office under the authority of the United States shall have a seat in the general assembly; nor shall any person in this state hold more than one lucrative office at one and the same time: Provided, That no appointment in the militia, or to the office of justice of the peace, shall be considered a lucrative office.
Section 24th No member of the general assembly shall be eligible to any office or place of trust, except to the office of a justice of the peace, or trustee of any literary institution, where the power of appointment to such office or place of trust is vested in their own body.
Section 25th Any member of either house of the general assembly shall have liberty to dissent from and protest against any act or resolve which he may think injurious to the public, or any individual, and have the reasons of his dissent entered on the journals.
Section 26th All lands liable to taxation in this State, held by deed, grant, or entry, shall be taxed equal and uniform, in such manner that no one hundred acres shall be taxed higher than another, except town-lots, which shall not be taxed higher than two hundred acres of land each; no free man shall be taxed higher than one hundred acres, and no slave higher than two hundred acres on each pole.
Section 27th No article manufactured of the produce of this State shall be taxed otherwise than to pay inspection fees.
Section 1st The supreme executive power of this State shall be vested in a governor.
Section 2nd The governor shall be chosen by the electors of the members of the general assembly, at the times and places where they shall respectively vote for the members thereof. The returns of every election for governor shall be sealed up, and transmitted to the seat of government by the returning officers, directed to the speaker of the senate, who shall open and publish them in the presence of a majority of the members of each house of the general assembly. The person having the highest number of votes shall be governor; but if two or more shall be equal and highest in votes, one of them shall be chosen governor by joint ballot of both houses of the general assembly. Contested elections for governor shall be determined by houses of the general assembly, in such manner as shall be prescribed by law.
Section 3rd He shall be at least twenty-five years of age, and possess a freehold estate of five hundred acres of land, and have been a citizen or inhabitant of this State four years next before his election, unless he shall have been absent on the public business of the United States or of this State.
Section 4th The first governor shall hold his office until the fourth Tuesday of September, 1797, and until another governor shall be elected and qualified to office; and forever after the governor shall hold his office for the term of two years, and until another governor shall be elected and qualified; but shall not be eligible more than six years in any term of eight.
Section 5th He shall be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of this State, and of the militia, except when they shall be called into the service of the United States.
Section 6th He shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons, after conviction, except in cases of impeachment.
Section 7th He shall, at stated times, receive a compensation for this services, which shall not be increased or diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected.
Section 8th He may require information, in writing, from the officers in the executive department, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices.
Section 9th He may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the general assembly by proclamation, and shall state to them, when assembled, the purpose for which they shall have been convened.
Section 10th He shall take care that the laws shall be faithfully executed.
Section 11th He shall, from time to time, give to the general assembly information of the state of the government, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge expedient.
Section 12th In case of his death, or resignation, or removal from office, the speaker of the senate shall exercise the office of governor until another governor shall be duly qualified.
Section 13th No member of Congress or person holding any office under the United States, or this State, shall execute the office of governor.
Section 14th When any officer, the right of whose appointment is by this constitution vested in the general assembly, shall, during the recess, die, or his office by other means become vacant, the governor shall have power to fill up such vacancy by granting a temporary commission, which shall expire at the end of the next session of the legislature.
Section 15th There shall be a seal of this State, which shall be kept by the governor, and used by him officially, and shall be called, “The Great Seal of the State of Tennessee.”
Section 16th All grants and commissions shall be in the name and by the authority of the State of Tennessee, be sealed with the State seal, and signed by the governor.
Section 17th A secretary of this State shall be appointed and commissioned during the term of four years. He shall keep a fair register of all the official acts and proceedings of the governor; and shall, when required, lay the same, and all papers, minutes, and vouchers relative thereto, before the general assembly, and shall perform such other duties as shall be enjoined him by law.
Section 1st Every free man of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, possessing a freehold in the county wherein he may vote, and being an inhabitant of this State, and every free man, being an inhabitant of any one county in the State six months immediately preceding the day of election, shall be entitled to vote for members of the general assembly, for the county in which he shall reside.
Section 2nd Electors shall in all cases, except treason, felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at elections, and in going to and returning from them.
Section 3rd All elections shall be by ballot.
Section 1st The house of representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment.
Section 2nd All impeachments shall be tried by the senate. When sitting for that purpose, the senators shall be upon oath or affirmation.
Section 3rd No person shall be convicted, without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the whole house.
Section 4th The governor, and all civil officers under this State, shall be liable to impeachment for any misdemeanor in office; but judgment, in such cases, shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold any office of honor, trust, or profit under this State. The party shall, nevertheless, in all cases be liable to indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment, according to law.
Section 1st The judicial power of the State shall be vested in such superior and inferior courts of law and equity as the legislature shall, from time to time, direct and establish.
Section 2nd The general assembly shall, by joint ballot of both houses, appoint judges of the several courts of law and equity, also an attorney or attorneys for the State, who shall hold their respective offices during good behavior.
Section 3rd The judges of the superior court shall, at stated times, receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law; but shall not be allowed any fees or perquisites of office, nor shall they hold any other office of trust or profit under this State or the United States.
Section 4th The judges of the superior courts shall be justices of Oyer and Terminer and general jail-delivery throughout the State.
Section 5th The judges of the superior and inferior courts shall not charge juries with respect to matters of fact, but may state the testimony and declare the law.
Section 6th The judges of the superior courts shall have power, in all civil cases, to issue writs of certiorari, to remove any cause, or a transcript thereof, from any inferior court of record into the superior, on sufficient cause, supported by oath or affirmation.
Section 7th The judges or justices of the inferior courts of law shall have power, in all civil cases, to issue writs of certiorari, to remove any cause, or a transcript thereof, from any inferior jurisdiction into their court, on sufficient cause, supported by oath or affirmation.
Section 8th No judge shall sit on the trial of any cause where the parties shall be connected with him by affinity or consanguinity, except by consent of parties. In case all the judges of the superior court shall be interested in the event of any cause, or related to all or either of the parties, the governor of the State shall in such case specially commission three men of law knowledge for the determination thereof.
Section 9th All writs and other process shall run in the name of the State of Tennessee, and bear test and be signed by the respective clerks. Indictments shall conclude, “against the peace and dignity of the State.”
Section 10th Each court shall appoint its own clerk, who may hold his office during good behavior.
Section 11th No fine shall be laid on any citizen of this State that shall exceed fifty dollars, unless it shall be assessed by a jury of his peers, who shall assess the fine at the time they find the fact, if they think the fine ought to be more than fifty dollars.
Section 12th There shall be justices of the peace appointed for each county, not exceeding two for each captain’s company, except for the company which includes the county town, which shall not exceed three, who shall hold their offices during good behavior.
Section 1st There shall be appointed in each county, by the county court, one sheriff, one coroner, one trustee, and a sufficient number of constables, who shall hold their offices for two years. They shall also have power to appoint one register and ranger for the county, who shall hold their offices during good behavior. The sheriff and coroner shall be commissioned by the governor.
Section 2nd There shall be a treasurer or treasurers appointed for the State, who shall hold his or their offices for two years.
Section 3rd The appointment of all officers, not otherwise directed by this constitution, shall be vested in the legislature.
Section 1st Captains, subalterns, and non-commissioned officers shall be elected by those citizens, in their respective districts, who are subject to military duty.
Section 2nd All field-officers of the militia shall be elected by those citizens in their respective counties who are subject to military duty.
Section 3rd Brigadiers-general shall be elected by the field-officers of the respective brigades.
Section 4th Majors-general shall be elected by the brigadiers and field-officers of the respective divisions.
Section 5th The governor shall appoint the adjutant-general; the majors-general shall appoint their aids; the brigadiers-general shall appoint their brigade-majors, and the commanding officers of regiments their adjutants and quartermasters.
Section 6th The captains and the subalterns of the cavalry shall be appointed by the troops enrolled in their respective companies, and the field-officers of the district shall be appointed by the said captains and subalterns: Provided, That, whenever any new county is laid off, that the field-officers of the said cavalry shall appoint the captain and other officers therein pro tempore, until the company is filled up and completed, at which time the election of the captains and subalterns shall take place as aforesaid.
Section 7th The legislature shall pass laws exempting citizens, belonging to any sect or denomination of religion the tenets of which are known to be opposed to the bearing of arms, from attending private and general musters.
Section 1st Whereas the ministers of the gospel are, by their professions, dedicated to God and the case of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their functions; therefore no minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatever, shall be eligible to a seat in either house of the legislature.
Section 2nd No person who denies the being of god, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this State.
Section 1st That every person who shall be chosen or appointed to any office of trust or profit shall, before entering on the execution thereof, take an oath to support the constitution of this State, and also an oath of office.
Section 2nd That each member of the senate and house of representatives shall, before they proceed to business, take an oath or affirmation to support the constitution of this State, and also the following oath:
“I, A.B., do solemnly swear or affirm that, as a member of this general assembly, I will in all appointments vote without favor, affection, partiality, or prejudice, and that I will not propose or assent to any bill, vote, or resolution which shall appear to me injurious to the people, or consent to any act or thing whatever that shall have a tendency to lessen or abridge their rights and privileges, as declared by the constitution of this State.’
Section 3rd Any elector who shall receive any gift or reward for his vote, in meat, drink, money, or otherwise, shall suffer such punishment as the laws shall direct. And any person who shall directly or indirectly give, promise, or bestow any such reward to be elected, shall thereby be rendered incapable, for two years, to serve in the office for which he was elected, and be subject to such further punishment as the legislature shall direct.
Section 4th No new county shall be established by the general assembly which shall reduce the county or counties, or either of them, from which it shall be taken to a less content than six hundred and twenty-five square miles; nor shall any new county be laid off of less contents. All new counties, as to the right of suffrage and representation, shall be considered as a part of the county or counties from which it was taken, until entitled by numbers to the right of representation. No bill shall be passed into a law for the establishment of a new county except upon a petition to the general assembly for that purpose, signed by two hundred of the free male inhabitants within the limits or bounds of such new county prayed to be laid off.
Section 1st Knoxville shall be the seat of government until the year 1802.
Section 2nd All laws and ordinances now in force and use in this Territory, not inconsistent with this constitution, shall continue to be in force and use in this State, until they shall expire, be altered, or repealed by the legislature.
Section 3rd That whenever two-thirds of the general assembly shall think it necessary to amend or change this constitution, they shall recommend to the electors, at the next election for members to the general assembly, to vote for or against a convention; and if it shall appear that a majority of all the citizens of the State, voting for representatives, have voted for a convention, the general assembly shall, at their next session, call a convention, to consist of as many members as there be in the general assembly, to be chosen in the same manner, at the same place, and by the same electors that chose the general assembly, who shall meet within three months after the said election, for the purpose of revising, amending, or changing the constitution.
Section 4th The declaration of rights hereto annexed is declared to be a part of the constitution of this State, and shall never be violated on any pretence whatever. And to guard against transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in the bill of rights contained, and every other right not hereby delegated, is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate.
Declaration of Rights
Section 1st That all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; for the advancement of those ends, they have at all times an unalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.
Section 2nd That, government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive to the good and happiness of mankind.
Section 3rd That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; that no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent; that no human authority can in any case whatever control or interfere with the rights of conscience; and that no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship.
Section 4th That no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this State.
Section 5th That elections shall be free and equal.
Section 6th That the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.
Section 7th That the people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and possessions, from unreasonable searches and seizures, and that general warrants, whereby an officer may be commanded to search suspected places, without evidence of the fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, whose offences are not particularly described and supported by evidence, and dangerous to liberty, and ought not to be granted.
Section 8th That no free man shall 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 judgment of his peers or the law of the land.
Section 9th That in all criminal prosecutions the accused hath a right to be heard by himself and his 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; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and in prosecutions by indictment or presentment a speedy public trial, by an impartial jury of the county or district in which the crime shall have been committed; and shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself.
Section 10th That no person shall, for the same offence, be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.
Section 11th That laws made for the punishment of facts committed previous to the existence of such laws, and by them declared criminal, are contrary to the principles of a free government; wherefore no ex post facto law shall be made.
Section 12th That no conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate. The estate of such persons as shall destroy their own lives shall descend or vest as in case of natural death. If any person be killed by casualty, there shall be no forfeiture in consequence thereof.
Section 13th That no person arrested, or confined to jail, shall be treated with unnecessary rigor.
Section 14th That no free man shall be put to answer any criminal charge, but by presentment, indictment, or impeachment.
Section 15th That all prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offences, when the proof is evident or the presumption great. And the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Section 16th That excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Section 17th That all courts shall be open; and every man, for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice administered without sale, denial, or delay. Suits may be brought against the State in such manner and in such courts as the legislature may by law direct: Provided, The right of bringing suit be limited to the citizens of this State.
Section 18th That the person of a debtor, where there is not strong presumption of fraud, shall not be continued in prison after delivering up his estate for the benefit of his creditor or creditors, in such manner as shall be prescribed by law.
Section 19th That the printing-presses shall be free to every person who undertakes to examine the proceedings of the legislature, or of any branch or officer of government; and no law shall ever be made to restrain the right thereof. The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man; and every citizen may freely speak, write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty. But in prosecutions for the publication of papers investigating the official conduct of officers or men in public capacity, the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and in all indictments for libels, the jury shall have a right to determine the law and the facts, under the direction of the court, as in other cases.
Section 20th That no retrospective law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall be made.
Section 21st That no man’s particular services shall be demanded or property taken, or applied to public use, without the consent of his representatives, or without just compensation being made therefor.
Section 22nd That the citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble together for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances, or other proper purposes, by address or remonstrance.
Section 23rd That perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free State, and shall not be allowed.
Section 24th That the sure and certain defence of a free people is a well-regulated militia; and as standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to freedom, they ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and safety of the community will admit, and that in all cases the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil authority.
Section 25th That no citizen in this State, except such as are employed in the Army of the United States or militia in actual service, shall be subject to corporal punishment under the martial law.
Section 26th That the free men of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defence.
Section 27th That no soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without consent of the owner, nor in time of war but in a manner prescribed by law.
Section 28th That no citizen of this State shall be compelled to bear arms, provided he will pay an equivalent, to be ascertained by law.
Section 29th That an equal participation of the free navigation of the Mississippi is one of the inherent rights of the citizens of this State; it cannot, therefore, be conceded to any prince, potentate, power, person, or persons whatever.
Section 30th That no hereditary emoluments, privileges, or honors shall ever be granted or conferred in this State.
Section 31st That the people residing south of French Broad and Holston, between the rivers Tennessee and the Big Pigeon, are entitled to the right of preemption and occupancy of that tract.
Section 32nd That the limits and boundaries of this State be ascertained, it is declared they are as hereafter mentioned; that is to say: Beginning on the extreme height of the Stone Mountain, at the place where the line of Virginia intersects it, in latitude thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north; running thence along the extreme height of the said mountain to the place where Watauga River breaks through it; thence a direct course to the top of the Yellow Mountain, where Bright’s road crosses the same; thence along the ridge of said mountain, between the waters of Doe River and the waters of Rock Creek, to the place where the road crosses the Iron Mountain; from thence along the extreme height of said mountain to where Nolichucky River runs through the same; thence to the top of the Bald Mountain; thence along the extreme height of said mountain to the Painted Rock, on French Broad River; thence along the highest ridge of said mountain to the place where it is called Great Iron or Smoky Mountain; thence along the extreme height of said mountain to the place where it is called Unicoi or Unaka Mountain, between the Indian towns of Cowee and Old Chota; thence along the main ridge of the said mountains to the southern boundary of this State, as described in the act of cession of North Carolina to the United States of America, and that all the territory, lands, and waters lying west of the said line, as before mentioned, and contained within the chartered limits of this State, over which the people have the right of exercising sovereignty and right of soil so far as is consistent with the Constitution of the United States, recognizing the Articles of Confederation, the Bill of Rights, and constitution of North Carolina, the cession act of the said State, and the ordinance of the late Congress for the government of the territory northwest of the Ohio; provided nothing herein contained shall extend to affect the claim or claims of individuals to any part of the soil which is recognized to them by the aforesaid cession act.
Section 1st That no inconvenience may arise from a change of the temporary to a permanent State government, it is declared that all rights, actions, prosecutions, claims, and contracts, as well of individuals as of bodies-corporate, shall continue as if no change had taken place in the administration of government.
Section 2nd All fines, penalties, and forfeitures, due and owing to the territory of the United States of America south of the river Ohio, shall inure to the use of the State. All bonds for performance, executed to the governor of the said territory, shall be and pass over to the governor of this State, and his successors in office, for the use of the State, or by him or them respectively to be assigned over to the use of those concerned, as the case may be.
Section 3rd The governor, secretary, judges, and brigadiers-general have a right, by virtue of their appointments, under the authority of the United States, to continue in the exercise of the duties of their respective offices in their several departments until the said officers are superseded under the authority of this constitution.
Section 4th All officers, civil and military, who have been appointed by the governor, shall continue to exercise their respective offices until the second Monday in June, and until successors in office shall be appointed under the authority of this constitution and duly qualified.
Section 5th The governor shall make use of his private seal until a State seal shall be provided.
Section 6th Until the first enumeration shall be made, as directed in the second section of the first article of this constitution, the several counties shall be respectively entitled to elect one senator and two representatives: Provided, That no new county shall be entitled to separate representation previous to taking the enumeration.
Section 7th That the next election for representatives and other officers to be held for the county of Tennessee shall be held at the house of William Miles.
Section 8th Until a land-office shall be opened, so as to enable the citizens south of French Broad and Holston, between the rivers Tennessee and Big Pigeon, to obtain titles upon their claims of occupancy and preemption, those who hold land by virtue of such claims shall be eligible to serve in all capacities where a freehold is by this constitution made a requisite qualification.
Done in convention at Knoxville, by unanimous consent, on the sixth day of February, in the year of our Lord 1796, and of the Independence of the United States of America the twentieth. In testimony whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names.
William Blount, President
Blount County. David Craig, James Greenaway, Jo Black, James Houston, Samuel Glass.
Davidson County. John M’Nairy, Andrew Jackson, Jas Robertson, Thomas Hardiman, Joel Lewis.
Greene County. Samuel Frazier, Stephen Brooks, William Rankin, Elisha Baker, John Galbreath.
Hawkins County. James Berry, Joseph M’Minn, Thomas Henderson, W Cocke, Rich. Mitchell.
Jefferson County. A. Outlaw, Jos. Anderson, Ge Doherty, James Roddye, Archibald Roane.
Knox County. James White, Charles Mc Clung, John Crawford, John Adair.
Sullivan County. George Rutledge, William Charles Cole Claiborne, Rich Gammon, John Shelby, Jr., John Rhea.
Sumner County. David Shelby, Isaac Walton, W. Douglass, Edward Douglass, Dan Smith.
Sevier County. Peter Bryan, Samuel Wier, Spencer Clack, John Clack, Thomas Buckenham.
Tennessee County. Tho Johnston, James Ford, Wm Fort, Wm Prince, Rob Prince.
Washington County. John Tipton, Samuel Handly, Leeroy Taylor, Landon Carter, James Stuart.
William Maclin, Secretary.