Concord Town Meeting Resolutions (October 21, 1776)

Author:Leonard W. Levy

Page 483

The people of Concord, Massachusetts, at a town meeting in 1776, were the first to recommend a CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION as the only proper body to frame a CONSTITUTION. Earlier that year the provisional legislature of Massachusetts had requested permission from the people of the state to draw up a constitution. The legislature had recommended that the free males of voting age assemble in all the towns to determine that issue and also to decide whether the constitution should be made public for the towns to consider before the legislature ratified it. Nine towns objected to the recommended procedure on the grounds that a legislature was not competent for the purpose. Among the nine, Concord best described the procedure that should be followed.

Concord's resolutions declared that the legislature was not competent for three reasons: a constitution is intended to secure the people in their rights against the government; the body that forms a constitution has the power to alter it; a constitution alterable by the legislature is "no security at all" against the government's encroachment on the rights of the people. Accordingly, Concord resolved, a convention representing the towns should be chosen by all the free male voters. The sole task of the convention should be to frame the constitution. Having completed its task, the convention should...

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