Solemn League and Covenant (Document)
BE IT RESOLVED that henceforth unto the ending of the world, WE THE PEOPLES of the divers colonies of North America do hold these truths to be self-evident: That All men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life and Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, that to insure these Rights governments ought to be and are instituted among men. Towards this end, and as an insurance against tyranny, the voices of the governed ought to be and forever should be a direct part of any legitimate system of laws, so that the maintenance of colonies lacking such voices in their own governance ought to and cannot but lack authority in the just eyes of men and nations.
Be it thus resolved that here in North America the supposed Colonies are, and of right ought to be, Free and mutually Dependent States with all the powers, privileges and responsibilities contained therein, saving always the Faith and Allegiance owed to our Sovereign.
And so, in order to form a more perfect confederation, establish justice, ensure domestic welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty and civilization to ourselves and our posterity, we herein assembled do ordain and establish these articles of Solemn League and Covenant.
ARTICLE ONE (the legislative powers)
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Great Convention of the North American League, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Delegates.
The House of Delegates shall be composed of members chosen no later than every fifth year, or upon the authorization of each General Election by the People of the several Provinces, and the Electors in each Province shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the Provincial Legislature.
No Person shall be a Delegate who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the Solemn League and Covenant, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that Province in which he shall be chosen.
Delegates and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several Provinces which may be included within this League, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons.
The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Convention, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of Delegates shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each Province shall have at least one Delegate; and until such enumeration shall be made Alba Nuadh shall be entitled to choose two, the Province of New Hampshire three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, Castreleon New six, Kent two, Oxbridge two, Pennsylvaania eight, Delaware one, Ter Mair six, Virginia ten, Carolina ten, Jacobia three, Ontario five, Bahamas one, West Florida one, Aquanishuonigy five and East Florida one.
When vacancies happen in the Representation from any Province, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.
The House of Delegates shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
The Senate of the Solemn League shall be composed of three Senators from each Province, in a manner determined by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into two Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the third Year.
No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the Solemn League, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that Province for which he shall be chosen.
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. The Chief Justicar of the High Court shall preside: And no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.
Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, trust or profit under the Solemn League: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
The Convention shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different day.
Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties as each house may provide.
Each House may choose its own officers, determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.
Each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the members of either House on any question shall, at the desire of one fifth of those present, be entered on the Journal.
Neither House, during the session of Convention, shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.
The Senators and Delegates shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the Solemn League. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, 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.
No Senator or Delegate shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the authority of the Solemn League which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no person holding any office under the Solemn League, shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office, save membership in the Cabinet.
All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Delegates; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Delegates and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the General Moderator of the Solemn League; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the General Moderator within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a Law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Convention by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Delegates may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the General Moderator of the Solemn League; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Delegates, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.
The Convention shall have Power to:
· To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the Solemn League; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the Solemn League;
· To borrow money on the credit of the Solemn League;
· To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several Provinces;
· To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the Solemn League;
· To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
· To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the Solemn League;
· To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;
· To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
· To constitute Tribunals inferior to the High Court;
· To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
· To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
· To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
· To provide and maintain a Navy;
· To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
· To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the League, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
· To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the Solemn League, reserving to the Provinces respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Convention;
· To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Covenant in the Government of the Solemn League, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the Provinces now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Convention prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and ten, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten pounds for each Person.
The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any Province.
No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one Province over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one Province, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
No Province shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts.
No Province shall, without the Consent of the Convention, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any Province on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the Solemn League; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Control of the Convention.
No Province shall, without the Consent of Convention, lay any duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another Province, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
At such times as when both the Senate and House of Delegates shall convene together, the presiding officer shall be the President of the Solemn League and Covenant.
The President of the Solemn League and Covenant shall be elected by a majority vote of both houses of the Great Convention every fifth year.
No person shall be President of the Solemn League and Covenant who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Citizen of the Solemn League.
ARTICLE TWO (the executive powers)
The executive power shall be vested in a General Moderator of the Solemn League of America and in the Cabinet. The General Moderator shall hold his Office during the term of ten Years.
Election to the office of General Moderator shall take place every tenth year, in conjunction with and following a General Election of both Houses of the Convention.
No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the Solemn League, at the time of the Adoption of this Covenant, shall be eligible to the Office of General Moderator; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the Solemn League.
In Case of the removal of the General Moderator from Office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the President of the Solemn League and Covenant, and the Convention may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the General Moderator and the President, declaring what Officer shall then act as General Moderator, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a General Moderator shall be elected.
The General Moderator shall, at Stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the Solemn League, or any of them.
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of General Moderator, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Solemn League and Covenant of North America."
The General Moderator shall act as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the Solemn League, and of the Militia of the several Provinces, when called into the actual Service of the Solemn League; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the Solemn League, except in Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the High Court, and all other Officers of the Solemn League, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Convention may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the General Moderator alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The General Moderator shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may occur during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the end of their next Session.
He shall from time to time give to the Convention information of the State of the League, and recommend for their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the Solemn League.
The General Moderator, the President and all civil Officers of the Solemn League, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
The General Moderator shall nominate from among the members of the Great Convention officers to head the departments that shall comprise the Cabinet of the Solemn League and Covenant.
Membership in the Cabinet shall be subject to approval by majority vote by both the Senate and House of Delegates. A majority vote from both houses shall be sufficient to remove any such officer from a position in the Cabinet.
A General Election of both houses of the Great Convention may be authorized by a two-thirds’ majority vote of the Cabinet, upon the nomination of such an authorization by the General Moderator.
ARTICLE THREE (the judicial powers)
The judicial Power of the Solemn League, shall be vested in one High Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Convention may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the high and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at Stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Covenant, the Laws of the Solemn League, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies to which the Solemn League shall be a Party; to Controversies between two or more Provinces; between a Province and Citizens of another Province; between Citizens of different Provinces; between Citizens of the same Province claiming Lands under Grants of different Provinces, and between a Province, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign Provinces, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a Province shall be Party, the High Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the High Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Convention shall make.
The Trial of all crimes, except in cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such trial shall be held in the Province where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any Province, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Convention may by law have directed.
Treason against the Solemn League, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Convention shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
ARTICLE FOUR (credit and mutual rights)
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each Province to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other Province. And the Convention may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
The Citizens of each Province shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several Provinces.
A Person charged in any Province with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another Province, shall on demand of the executive Authority of the Province from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the Province having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
No Person held to Service or Labor in one Province, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labor, But shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labor may be due.
New Provinces may be admitted by the Convention into this League; but no new Provinces shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other Province; nor any Province be formed by the Junction of two or more Provinces, or parts of Provinces, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the Provinces concerned as well as of the Convention.
The Convention shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the Solemn League; and nothing in this Covenant shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the Solemn League, or of any particular Province.
The Solemn League shall guarantee to every Province in this League a representative form of government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
ARTICLE FIVE (amendments)
The Convention, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Covenant, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several Provinces, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Covenant, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several Provinces, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Convention; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no Province, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
ACTICLE SIX (legal supremecy)
This Covenant, and the Laws of the Solemn League which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the Solemn League, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every Province shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Covenant or Laws of any Province to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Delegates before mentioned, and the Members of the several Province Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the Solemn League and of the several Provinces, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Covenant; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the Solemn League.
ARTICLE SEVEN (rights before the covenant)
No sovereign or official shall interfere with the law, nor establish personal courts.
No taxation shall be authorized save from the legislature.
No official or sovereign shall interfere with any election within the Solemn League and Covenant.
The right of petition to the sovereign, the executive and the legislature shall not be abridged.
The right of citizens to bear arms shall not be abridged.
The freedom of speech in the Legislature, in that proceedings in the Legislature were not to be questioned in the courts or in any body outside the Legislature itself, shall be inviolate.
The freedom of speech for citizens, the freedom of the press, the freedom from cruel and unusual punishments, from excessive bail or fines, and from fines or forfeitures without trial by jury shall not be abridged.
The freedom of exercise of religion shall not be abridged, nor shall the Great Convention pass any law respecting the establishment of an official religion.
The freedom of trade shall be respected, and the seizure of property shall not take place save by due process of law.
The security of property without authorized warrants shall not be abridged, nor the right to confront witnesses and to legal representation be abridged.
ARTICLE EIGHT (ratification)
The Ratification of the Covenant by thirteen Provinces, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Covenant between the Provinces so ratifying the Same.
Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the Provinces present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and three.