Printed Material

Resolve Calling on Towns to Vote on Creating a New Constitution

Date: February 20, 1779
Creator: General Court of Massachusetts
About this artifact

In the midst of the American Revolution, the Massachusetts Legislature crafted a new Constitution to replace the old charter granted by the Crown. When voters in towns throughout the Commonwealth rejected the proposed document, the General Court had to begin again. In February, 1779, it issued this resolve calling upon selectmen of every town to call town meetings where voters could choose whether or not the state should create another constitution "at this time." The same resolve introduced a brand new process for creating a constitution: the Constitutional Convention. The document the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention produced stands today as the oldest continuously operating democratic constitution in the world. That same Constitution proved to be a lightening rod for controversy in the 1780s. Towns that opposed the document, or were not present at the vote to accept the document, criticized it for what they perceived as aristocratic tendencies and its unrepresentative character.

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Courtesy Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield, MA