Bill of Rights

Document 4

Delaware Declaration of Rights

11 Sept. 1776Sources 338--40

Section 1. That all government of right originates from the people, is founded in compact only, and instituted solely for the good of the whole.

Sect. 2. That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences and understandings; and that no man ought or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship or maintain any ministry contrary to or against his own free will and consent, and that no authority can or ought to be vested in, or assumed by any power whatever that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner controul the right of conscience in the free exercise of religious worship.

Sect. 3. That all persons professing the Christian religion ought forever to enjoy equal rights and privileges in this state, unless, under colour of religion, any man disturb the peace, the happiness or safety of society.

Sect. 4. That people of this state have the sole exclusive and inherent right of governing and regulating the internal police of the same.

Sect. 5. That persons intrusted with the Legislative and Executive Powers are the Trustees and Servants of the public, and as such accountable for their conduct; wherefore whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered by the Legislative singly, or a treacherous combination of both, the people may, and of right ought to establish a new, or reform the old government.

Sect. 6. That the right in the people to participate in the Legislature, is the foundation of liberty and of all free government, and for this end all elections ought to be free and frequent, and every freeman, having sufficient evidence of a permanent common interest with, and attachment to the community, hath a right of suffrage.

Sect. 7. That no power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, ought to be exercised unless by the Legislature.

Sect. 8. That for redress of grievances, and for amending and strengthening of the laws, the Legislature ought to be frequently convened.

Sect. 9. That every man hath a right to petition the Legislature for the redress of grievances in a peaceable and orderly manner.

Sect. 10. That every member of society hath a right to be protected in the enjoyment of life, liberty and property, and therefore is bound to contribute his proportion towards the expense of that protection, and yield his personal service when necessary, or an equivalent thereto; but no part of a man's property can be justly taken from him or applied to public uses without his own consent or that of his legal Representatives: Nor can any man that is conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms in any case be justly compelled thereto if he will pay such equivalent.

Sect. 11. That retrospective laws, punishing offences committed before the existence of such laws, are oppressive and unjust, and ought not to be made.

Sect. 12. That every freeman for every injury done him in his goods, lands or person, by any other person, ought to have remedy by the course of the law of the land, and ought to have justice and right for the injury done to him freely without sale, fully without any denial, and speedily without delay, according to the law of the land.

Sect. 13. That trial by jury of facts where they arise is one of the greatest securities of the lives, liberties and estates of the people.

Sect. 14. That in all prosecutions for criminal offences, every man hath a right to be informed of the accusation against him, to be allowed counsel, to be confronted with the accusers or witnesses, to examine evidence on oath in his favour, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury, without whose unanimous consent he ought not to be found guilty.

Sect. 15. That no man in the Courts of Common Law ought to be compelled to give evidence against himself.

Sect. 16. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishments inflicted.

Sect. 17. That all warrants without oath to search suspected places, or to seize any person or his property, are grievous and oppressive; and all general warrants to search suspected places, or to apprehend all persons suspected, without naming or describing the place or any person in special, are illegal and ought not to be granted.

Sect. 18. That a well regulated militia is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free government.

Sect. 19. That standing armies are dangerous to liberty, and ought not to be raised or kept up without the consent of the Legislature.

Sect. 20. That in all cases and at all times the military ought to be under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.

Sect. 21. That no soldier ought to be quartered in any house in time of peace without the consent of the owner; and in time of war in such manner only as the Legislature shall direct.

Sect. 22. That the independency and uprightness of judges are essential to the impartial administration of justice, and a great security to the rights and liberties of the people.

Sect. 23. That the liberty of the press ought to be inviolably preserved.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 5, Bill of Rights, Document 4
The University of Chicago Press

Sources of Our Liberties. Edited by Richard L. Perry under the general supervision of John C. Cooper. [Chicago:] American Bar Foundation, 1952.

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