The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 is the oldest written, still-governing constitution in the world. Yet it was the last of the original thirteen states to be adopted. It took four years to forge a document to satisfy the people of Massachusetts.The process of constitution-making in Massachusetts gave life to what was then the revolutionary concept of “We the People,” a phrase traceable to the Preamble of the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 and, later, made famous as the inspirational first words of the United States Constitution.
In accordance with a recommendation of the General Court adopted a form of Constitution “for the State of Massachusetts Bay.” which was submitted to the people, and by them rejected. This attempt to form a Constitution having proved unsuccessful, the General Court on the 20th of February, 1779, passed a Resolve calling upon the qualified voters to give in their votes upon the questions — Whether they chose to have a new Constitution or Form of Government made, and, Whether they will empower their representatives to vote for calling a State Convention for that purpose. A large majority of the inhabitants having voted in the affirmative to both these questions, the General Court, on the 17th of June, 1779, passed a Resolve calling upon the inhabitants to meet and choose delegates to a Constitutional Convention, to be held at Cambridge, on the 1st of September, 1779. The Convention met at time and place appointed, and organized by choosing James Bowdoin, President, and Samuel Barrett, Secretary. On the 11th of November the Convention adjourned, to meet at the Representatives’ Chamber, in Boston, January 5th, 1780. On the 2d of March, of the same year, a form of Constitution having been agreed upon, a Resolve was passed by which the same was submitted to the people, and the Convention adjourned to meet at the Brattle Street Church, in Boston, June the 7th. At that time and place the Convention again met, and appointed a Committee to examine the returns of votes from the several towns. On the 14th of June the Committee reported, and on the 15th the Convention resolved, “That the people of the State of Massachusetts Bay have accepted the Constitution as it stands, in the printed form submitted to their revision.” A Resolve providing for carrying the new Constitution into effect was passed; and the Convention then, on the 16th of June, 1780, was finally dissolved. In accordance with the Resolves referred to, elections immediately took place in the several towns; and the first General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts met at the State House, in Boston, on Wednesday, October 25th, 1780.
The General Court of the year 1851 passed an Act calling a third Convention to revise the Constitution. The Act was submitted to the people, and a majority voted against the proposed Convention. In 1852, on the 7th of May, another Act was passed calling upon the people to vote upon the question of calling a Constitutional Convention. A majority of the people having voted in favor of the proposed Convention, election for delegates thereto took place in March, 1853. The Convention met in the State House, in Boston, on the 4th day of May, 1853, and organized by choosing Nathaniel P. Banks, Jr., President, and William S. Robinson and James T. Robinson, Secretaries. On the 1st of August, this Convention agreed to a form of Constitution, and on the same day was dissolved, after having provided for submitting the same to the people, and appointed a committee to meet to count the votes, and to make a return thereof to the General Court. The Committee met at the time and place agreed upon, and found that the proposed Constitution had been rejected.
In his inaugural address to the General Court of 1916, Governor McCall recommended that the question of revising the Constitution, through a Constitutional Convention, be submitted to the people; and the General Court passed a law (chapter 98 of the General Acts of 1916) to ascertain and carry out the will of the people relative thereto, the question to be submitted being “Shall there be a convention to revise, alter or amend the constitution of the Commonwealth?” The people voted on this question at the annual election, held on November 7, casting 217,293 votes in the affirmative and 120,979 votes in the negative; and accordingly the Governor on Dec. 19, 1916, made proclamation to that effect, and, by virtue of authority contained in the act, called upon the people to elect delegates at a special election to be held on the first Tuesday in May, 1917. The election was on May 1. In accordance with the provisions of the act, the delegates met at the State House on June 6, 1917, and organized by choosing John L. Bates, president, and James W. Kimball, secretary. After considering and acting adversely on numerous measures that had been brought before it, and after providing for submitting to the people the forty-fifth, forty-sixth, and forty-seventh Articles, at the state election of 1917, and the Article relative to the establishment of the popular initiative and referendum and the legislative initiative of specific amendments of the Constitution (Article forty-eight) at the state election of 1918, the Convention adjourned on November 28 “until called by the President or Secretary to meet not later than within ten days after the prorogation of the General Court of 1918.”
On Wednesday, June 12, 1918, the convention reassembled and resumed its work. Eighteen more articles (Articles forty-nine to sixty-six, inclusive) were approved by the convention and were ordered to be submitted to the people. On Wednesday, August 21, 1918, the convention adjourned, “to meet, subject to call by the President or Secretary, not later than within twenty days after the prorogation of the General Court of 1919, for the purpose of taking action on the report of the special committee on Rearrangement of the Constitution.”
On Tuesday, August 12, 1919, pursuant to a call of its President, the Convention again convened. A rearrangement of the Constitution was adopted, and was ordered to be submitted to the people for their ratification. On the following day, a subcommittee of the Special Committee on Rearrangement of the Constitution was “empowered to correct clerical and typographical errors and establish the text of the rearrangement of the Constitution to be submitted to the people, in conformity with that adopted by the Convention.” On Wednesday, August 13, 1919, the Convention adjourned, sine die. On Tuesday, November 4, 1919, the rearrangement was approved and ratified by the people.
The sixty-seventh Article of Amendment was adopted by the General Court during the sessions of the years 1920 and 1921, and was approved and ratified by the people on the 7th day of November, 1922.
Law of enforcement:
Effective law enforcement executives lead both by example and by setting clear expectations for the behavior of those who serve under them. The first step in establishing an effective intradepartmental response to domestic violence involves the leader demonstrating intolerance for such behavior, speaking out against it, and standing as an advocate for those who are harmed by it. Leaders’ public policies, established for enforcement by the officers in their communities, must remain consistent with those that they establish for their law enforcement personnel.
Keeping all of this in mind, law enforcement administrators must explore ways of helping their employees avoid violence in their personal relationships. To have an effective approach to officer-involved domestic violence, managers must begin with—
a good understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and the magnitude of the problem, a commitment to addressing the problem and the support of other top members in doing so, an ability to create a culture of disapproval of abusive behavior and the means to communicate that position; and the resources to follow through on the commitment.
The law enforcement community must unite in an effort to eradicate such behavior from its ranks not only to restore the public’s faith and trust in the profession but, more important, to show that it will not tolerate such actions by any individual, regardless of position or authority. Law enforcement agencies can implement several strategies to combat domestic violence in their ranks. Most require a comprehensive approach that includes effective leadership, recruitment screening, straightforward policies and procedures, appropriate training, and efficient violation investigation and response. By incorporating such actions into their daily efforts, agencies can safeguard its members and their families from the toll that domestic violence takes on the law enforcement community and the citizens it serves. Differences in the size, type, and location of law enforcement agencies allow for only general recommendations and guidelines regarding the safe use of vehicles in law enforcement. Therefore, agencies should research and analyze what is occurring within their own departments. Agencies of any size might benefit from developing a working relationship with local colleges, universities, and technical institutes to collect and analyze various aspects of the complex phenomenon of accidental deaths in law enforcement. Such institutions may have fresh and innovative insights into this problem. The more information gathered and analyzed, the greater the likelihood that appropriate and applicable answers may be found and, ultimately, result in lives saved.
When law enforcement officers die in the performance of their duties, their agencies, their families and fellow officers, and the communities they serve suffer greatly. While those deaths attributed to criminals represent truly tragic occurrences, those caused by accidents, especially vehicle accidents, often create the additional heartache of unresolved issues about the reasons for these incidents. In the former, agencies capture the offenders and the court system renders justice. In the latter, who resolves an “accident?” The officer is just as dead; the family is just as devastated; the loss is just as tragic, perhaps even more so because it may have been preventable.
Everyone within the law enforcement community hopes that the day will arrive when felonious killings, serious assaults, and accidental deaths are only a part of law enforcement’s history. However, realistically, the profession accepts the sad, but inevitable, reality that deaths and assaults will continue to occur. Although they may continue, law enforcement agencies, local governments, civic groups, and academic institutions can work toward reducing their number by analyzing past incidents, developing new training procedures, and reminding officers of the dangers inherent in the profession. The dedicated men and women of law enforcement who tirelessly serve and protect the public deserve no less.