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MASSACHUSETTS. One of the original states of the United States of America.
The colony or province of Massachusetts was included in a charter granted by
James the First, by which its territories were extended in breadth from the
40th to the 48th degree of north latitude, and in length by all the breadth
aforesaid throughout the mainland from sea to sea. This charter continued
until 1684. Holmes' Annals, 412; 1 Story, Const. Sec. 71. In 1691 William
and Mary granted a new charter to the colony, and henceforth it became known
as a province, and continued to act under this charter till after the
Revolution. 1 Story, Const. Sec. 71.
2. The constitution of Massachusetts was adopted by a convention begun and held at Cambridge, on the first of September, 1779, and continued, by adjournment, to the second of March, 1780.
3. The style and name of the state is The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The government is distributed into a legislative, executive and judicial power.
4.-1st. The department of legislation is formed by two branches, a senate and house of representatives, each of which has a negative on the other, and both are styled The General Court of Massachusetts. Part 2, c. 1, s. 1.
5.-1. The senate is elected by the qualified electors, and is composed of forty persons to be counsellors and senators for the year ensuing their election. Part 2, c. 1, s. 2, art. 1.
6.-2. The House of representatives is composed of an indefinite number of persons elected by the towns in proportion to their population. Part 2, c. 1, s. 3, art. 2.
7.-2d. The executive power is vested in a governor, lieutenant governor and council.
8.-1. The supreme executive magistrate is styled The Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is elected yearly by the qualified electors. Part 2, c. 2, s. 1. He is invested with the veto power. Part 2, c. 1, s. 1, art. 2.
9.-2. The electors are required to elect annually a lieutenant governor. When the office of governor happens to be vacant he acts as governor, and at other times he is a member of the council. Part 2, c. 2, s. 2, art. 2 and 3.
10.-3. The council consists of nine persons chosen annually by the general court; they mast be taken from those returned for counsellors and senators, unless they will not accept the said office, when they shall be chosen from the people at large. The council shall advise the governor in the executive part of the government. Part 2, c. 2, s. 3, art. 1 and 2.
11.-3d. The judicial power. The third chapter of part second of the constitution makes the following provisions in relation to the judiciary:
Art. 1. The tenure that all commissioned officers shall, by law, have in their office, shall be expressed in their respective commissions; all judicial officers, duly appointed, commissioned, and sworn, shall hold their offices during good behaviour; excepting such concerning whom there is different provision made in this constitution; Provided, nevertheless, the governor, with consent of the council, may remove them upon the address of both houses of the legislature.
12.-2. Each branch of the legislature, as well as the governor and council, shall have authority to require the opinions of the justices of the supreme judicial court, upon important questions of law, and upon solemn occasions.
13.-3. In order that the people may not suffer from the long continuance in place of any justice of the peace, who shall fail of discharging the important duties of his office with ability or fidelity, all commissions of justices of the peace shall expire and become void in the term of seven years from their respective dates; and upon the expiration of any commission, the same may, if necessary, be renewed, or another person appointed, as shall most conduce to the well-being of the commonwealth.
14.-4. The judges of probates of wills, and for granting letters of administration, shall hold their courts at such place or places, on fixed days, as the convenience of the people may require; and the legislature shall, from time to time hereafter, appoint such times and places: until which appointments, the said courts shall be holden at the times and places which the respective judges shall direct.
15.-5. All causes of marriage, divorce, and alimony, and all appeals from the judges of probate, shall be heard and determined by the governor and council, until the legislature shall, by law, make other provision.