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The first settlement, in this state, was made at Green Bay, by the French, in the year 1670. In 1819, it was effectually explored by General Cass, then governor of the territory of Michigan. In 1838, the population was less than 10,000. In 1850, it was 304,226. About two-thirds of the inhabitants are from New England and New York, and the rest from different states of the Union, and different countries of Europe. They are well educated, industrious, order-loving, law-abiding, people, among whom idleness and want are unknown.
The territory was under the government of France till 1763 ; of Great Britain, till 1794; of Ohio, till 1800; of Indiana, till 1809; of Illinois, till 1818; of Michigan, till 1836; was under a territorial government till 1848, when, as a state, Wisconsin took her place in the confederacy of the states.
The state owes not a dollar ; and by her constitution, she is inhibited from ever owing at any time more than $100,000. At an expense of about $100,000 she is uniting Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River, giving her an uninterrupted internal navigation of about three hundred miles through the heart of the state. Then with a short canal, uniting the St. Croix River with Lake Superior, and with a canal around the Falls of St. Mary, (which must soon be made,) she will have navigable water on three sides, and through the middle of her territory. Then she can choose her market at New Orleans, Quebec or New York; and will very soon be ready to welcome, with one hand, the hardy immigrant, on the majestic steamers, from the east, and with the other, the China trader on the cars thundering from the Pacific to the Mississippi on the west.
In fertility of soil, exhaustless water-power, and salubrity of climate, this state is not surpassed; and for commercial, educational, religious, and social advantages, present, and prospective but sure, no state in the Union, no place in the world, to the settler, offers greater inducements than the new state of Wisconsin
It comprises about 57,000 square miles, or about 36,000,000 of acres. One thirty-sixth part of this, with an addition of 500,000 acres, is inviolably devoted to the cause of common schools. Besides this, the amount of 46,080 acres, to be selected by the state, is given for a permanent University fund.
PREAMBLE. We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings, form a more perfect government, ensure domestic tranquillity, and promote the general welfare, do establish this constitution.
ARTICLE I.—Declaration of Rights. Sec. 1. All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights: among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
2. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this state, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.
3. Every person may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; and no laws shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press. In all criminal prosecutions or indictments for libel, the truth may be given in evidence; and if it shall appear to the jury that the matter charged as libellous be true, and was published with good motives and for justitiable ends, the party shall be acquitted; and the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the fact.
4. The right of the people peaceably to assemble to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.
5. The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate; and shall extend to all cases at law, without regard to the amount in controversy; but a jury trial may be waived by the parties in all cases, in the manner prescribed by law.
6. Excessive bail shall not be required; nor shall excessive fines be imposed; nor shall cruel and unusual punishments be inflicted.
7. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel; to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him; to meet the witnesses face to face; to have compulsory process to compel the attendance of witnesses in his behalf: and in prosecutions by indict. ment or information, to a speedy public trial by an impartial jury of the county or district wherein the offence shall have been committed, which county or district shall have been previously ascertained by law.
8. No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offence, unless on the presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases of impeachment, or in cases cognizable by justices of the peace, or arising in the army or navy, or in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger; and no person for the same offence shall be put twice in jeopardy of punishment, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. All persons shall before conviction be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offences, when the proof is evident or the presumption great; and the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless when, in case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require.
9. Every person is entitled to a certain remedy in the laws, for all injuries or wrongs which he may receive in his person, property, or character; he ought to obtain justice freely, and without being obliged to purchase it; completely and without denial, promptly and without delay, conformably to the laws.
10. Treason against the state shall consist only in levying war against the same, or in adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
11. The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
12. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, nor any law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall ever be passed; and no conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate.
13. The property of no person shall be taken for public use, without just compensation therefor.
14. All lands within the state are declared to be allodial; and feudal tenures are prohibited. Leases and grants of agricultural land, for a longer term than fifteen years, in which rent or service of any kind shall be reserved, and all fines and like restraints upon alienation, reserved in any grant of land, hereafter made, are declared to be void.
15. No distinction shall ever be made by law between resident aliens and citizens, in reference to the possession, enjoyment, or descent of property.
16. No person shall be imprisoned for debt arising out of or founded on a contract, expressed or implied.
17. The privilege of the debtor to enjoy the necessary comforts of life, shall be recognised by wholesome laws, exempting a reasonable amount of property from seizure or sale, for the payment of any debt or liability hereafter contracted.
18. The right of every man to worship Almighty God according to the dietates of his own conscience, shall never be infringed; nor sball any man be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, against his consent. Nor shall any control of, or interference with the rights of conscience, be permitted, or any preference be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship. Nor shall any money be drawn from the treasury for the benefit of religious societies, or religious or theological seminaries.
19. No religious tests shall ever be required as a qualification for any office of public trust under the state; and no person shall be rendered incompetent to give evidence in any court of law or equity, in consequence of his opinions on the subject of religion.
20. The military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power. 21. Writs of error shall never be prohibited by law.
22. The blessings of a free government can only be maintained by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.
ARTICLE II.-Boundaries. Sec. 1. It is hereby ordained and declared, that the State of Wisconsin doth consent and accept of the boundaries prescribed in the act of congress entitled, "An act to enable the people of Wisconsin territory to form a constitution and state government, and for the admission of such state into the Union," approved August sixth, one thousand eight hundred and forty-six, to wit: Beginning at the north-east corner of the state of Ilinois, that is to say, at a point in the centre of lake Michigan where the line of forty-two degrees and thirty minutes of north latitude crosses the same; thence, running with the boundary line of the state of Michigan, through lake Michigan, Green Bay, to the mouth of Menomonee river; thence up the channel of the said river to the Brule river; thence up said last-mentioned river to lake Brule; thence along the southern shore of lake Brule, in a direct line, to the centre of the channel between Middle and South island, in the lake of the Desert; thence in a direct line to the head waters of the Montreal river, as marked upon the survey made by Captain Cram; thence
down the main channel of the Montreal river to the middle of lake Superior; thence through the centre of lake Superior to the mouth of the St. Louis river; thence up the main channel of said river, to the first rapids in the same, above the Indian village, according to Nicollet's map; thence due south to the main branch of the river St. Croix; thence down the main channel of said river to the Mississippi; thence down the centre of the main channel of that river to the north-west corner of the state of Illinois; thence due east with the northern boundary of the state of Illinois, to the place of beginning, as established by " an act to enable the people of the Illinois territory to form a constitution and state government, and for the admission of such state into the Union on an equal footing with the original states," approved April 18th, 1818. Provided, however, That the following alteration of the aforesaid boundary be, and hereby is, proposed to the congress of the United States as the preference of the state of Wisconsin; and if the same shall be assented and agreed to by the congress of the United States, then the same shall be and for ever remain obligatory on the state of Wisconsin, viz: Leaving the aforesaid boundary line at the foot of the rapids of the St. Louis river; thence in a direct line, bearing south-westerly to the mouth of the Iskodewabo, or Rum river, where the same empties into the Mississippi river; thence down the main channel of the said Mississippi river, as prescribed in the aforesaid boundary.
2. The propositions contained in the act of congress are hereby accepted, ratified, and confirmed, and shall remain irrevocable without the consent of the United States; and it is hereby ordained, that this state shall never interfere with the primary disposal of the soil within the same, by the United States, nor with any regulations congress may find necessary for securing the title in such soil to bona fide purchasers thereof; and no tax shall be imposed on land, the property of the United States; and in no case shall non-resident proprietors be taxed higher than residents. Provided, That nothing in this constitution, or in the act of congress aforesaid, shall in any manner prejudice or affect the right of the state of Wisconsin to five hundred thousand acres of land granted to said state, and to be hereafter selected and located, by, and under the act of congress, entitled, “an act to appropriate the proceeds of the sales of the public lands, and grant pre-emption rights," approved September fourth, one thousand eight hundred and forty-one.
ARTICLE III.—Suffrage. Sec. 1. Every male person of the age of twenty-one years or upwards, belonging to either of the following classes, who shall have resided in the state for one year next preceding any election, shall be deemed a qualified elector at such election :
1st. White citizens of the United States.
2d. White persons of foreign birth, who shall have declared their intention to become citizens, conformably to the laws of the United States on the subject of naturalization.
3d. Persons of Indian blood, who have once been declared by law of congress to be citizens of the United States, any subsequent law of congress to the contrary notwithstanding.
4th. Civilized persons of Indian descent, not members of any tribe. Provided, That the legislature may at any time extend by law the right of suffrage to persons not herein enumerated; but no such law shall be in force until the same shall have been submitted to a vote of the people at a general election, and approved by a majority of all the votes cast at such election.
2. No person under guardianship, non compos mentis, or insane, shall be qualified to vote at any election; nor shall any person convicted of treason or felony, be qualified to vote at any election, unless restored to civil rights.
3. All votes shall be given by ballot, except for such township officers as may by law be directed or allowed to be otherwise chosen.
4. No person shall be deemed to have lost his residence in this state by reason of his absence on business of the United States or of this state.
5. No soldier, seaman, or marine, in the army or navy of the United States, shall be deemed a resident of this state in consequence of being stationed within the same.
6. Laws may be passed excluding from the right of suffrage all persons who have been or may be convicted of bribery or larceny, or of any infamous crime, and depriving every person who shall make, or become directly or indirectly interested in any bet or wager depending upon the result of any election, from the right to vote at such election.
2. The number of the members of the assembly shall never be less than fifty-four, nor more than one hundred. The senate shall consist of a number not more than one-third, nor less than one-fourth of the number of the members of the assembly:
3. The legislature shall provide by law for an enumeration of the inhabitants of the state, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five, and at the end of every ten years thereafter; and at their first session after such enumeration, and also after each enumeration made by the authority of the United States, the legislature shall apportion and district anew the members of the senate and assembly, according to the number of inhabitants, excluding Indians not taxed, and soldiers and officers of the United States army and navy.
4. The members of the assembly shall be chosen annually by single districts on the Tuesday succeeding the first Monday of November, by the qualified electors of the several districts
, such districts to be bounded by county, precinct, town, or ward lines, to consist of contiguous territory, and be in as compact form as practicable.
6. The senators shall be chosen by single districts of convenient contiguous territory, at the same time and in the same manner as members of the assembly are required to be chosen, and no assembly district shall be divided in the formation of a senate district. The senate districts shall be numbered in regular series, and the senators chosen by the odd numbered districts shall go out of office at the expiration of the first year, and the senators chosen by the even numbered districts shall go out of office at the expiration of the second year, and thereafter the senators shall be chosen for the term of two years.
6. No person shall be eligible to the legislature who shall not have resided one year within the state, and be a qualified elector in the district which he may be chosen to represent.
7. Each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as each house may provide.
8. Each house may determine the rules of its own proceedings, punish for contempt and disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members elected, expel a member ; but no member shall be expelled a second time for the same cause.
9. Each house shall choose its own officers, and the senate shall choose a temporary president, when the lieutenant-governor shall not attend as president, or shall act as governor.
10. Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and publish the same, except such parts as require secrecy. The doors of each house shall be kept open except when the public welfare shall require secrecy. Neither house shall, without consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days.
11. The legislature shall meet at the seat of government, at such time as