TENNESSEE STATE CONSTITUTION
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
Sec. 1. That all power is inherent in the people, and all free gov-
ernments are founded on their authority, and instituted for
their peace, safety, and happiness; for the advancement of
those ends they have at all times, an unalienable and inde-
feasible right to alter, reform, or abolish the government
in such manner as they may think proper.
Sec. 2. That government bring [probably should read "being"] insti-
tuted for the common benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance
against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish,
and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.
Sec. 3. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to wor-
ship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own
conscience; that no man can of right be compelled to attend,
erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any
minister against his consent; that no human authority can,
in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights
of conscience; and that no preference shall ever be given,
by law to any religious establishment or mode of worship.
Sec. 4. That no political or religious test, other than an oath to
support the Constitution of the United States and of this
State, shall ever be required as a qualification to any
office or public trust under this state.
Sec. 5. That elections shall be free and equal, and the right of
suffrage, as hereinafter declared, shall never be denied to
any person entitled thereto, except upon a conviction by a
jury of some infamous crime, previously ascertained and
declared by law, and judgement thereon by court of competent
Sec. 6. That the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate, and
no religious or political test shall ever be required as a
qualification for jurors.
Sec. 7. That the people shall be secure in their persons, houses,
papers and possessions from unreasonable searches and
seizures; and that general warrants, whereby an officer may
be commanded to search suspected places, without evidence of
the act committed, to seize any person or persons not named,
whose offenses are not particularly described and supported
by evidence, are dangerous to liberty and ought not to be
Sec. 8. That no man shall be taken or imprisoned, or disseized of
his freehold, liberties or privileges, or outlawed, or
exiled, or in any manner destroyed or deprived of his life,
liberty or property, but by the judgement of his peers or
the law of the land.
Sec. 9. That in all criminal prosecutions, the accused hath the
right to be heard by himself and his counsel; to demand the
nature and cause of the accusation against him, and to have
a copy thereof, to meet the witnesses face to face, to have
compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and
in prosecutions by indictment of presentment, a speedy pub-
lic trial, by an impartial jury of the County in which the
crime shall have been committed, and shall not be compelled
to give evidence against himself.
Sec. 10. That no person shall, for the same offense, be twice put in
jeopardy of life or limb.
Sec. 11. That laws made for the punishment of acts committed previous
to the existence of such laws, and by them only declared
criminal, are contrary to the principles of a free Govern-
ment, wherefore no Ex post facto law shall be made.
Sec. 12. That no conviction shall work corruption of blood or for-
feiture of estate. The estate of such persons as shall
destroy their own lives shall descend of [probably should
read "or"] vest as in case of natural death. If any person
be killed by casualty, there shall be no forfeiture in
Sec. 13. That no person arrested and confined in jail shall be
treated with unnecessary rigor.
Sec. 14. That no person shall be put to answer any criminal charge
but by presentment, indictment or impeachment.
Sec. 15. That all prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient sureties,
unless for capital offenses, 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 General Assembly shall declare
the public safety requires it.
Sec. 16. That excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive
fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.
Sec. 17. That all courts shall be open; and every man, for an injury
done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall
have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice
administered without sale, denial, or delay. Suits may be
brought against the State in such manner and in such courts
as the legislature may by law direct.
Sec. 18. The legislature shall pass no law authorizing imprisonment
for debt in civil cases.
Sec. 19. That the printing presses shall be free to every person to
examine the proceedings of the legislature; or of any branch
or officer of the government, and no law shall ever be made
to restrain the right thereof. The free communication of
thoughts and opinions, is one of the invaluable rights of
man, and every citizen may freely speak, write, and print on
any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liber-
ty. But in prosecutions for the publication of papers inves-
tigating the official conduct of officers, or men in public
capacity, the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and in
all indictments for libel, the jury shall have a right to
determine the law and the facts, under the direction of the
court, as in other criminal cases.
Sec. 20. That no retrospective law, or law impairing the obligation
of contracts, shall be made.
Sec. 21. That no man's particular services shall be demanded, or
property taken, or applied to public use, without the con-
sent of his representatives, or without just compensation
being made therefor.
Sec. 22. That perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius
of a free State, and shall not be altered.
Sec. 23. That the citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to
assemble together for their common good, to instruct their
representatives, and to apply to those invested with the
powers of government for redress of grievances, or other
purposes, by address or remonstrance.
Sec. 24. That the sure and certain defense of a free people, is a
well regulated militia; and, as standing armies in time of
peace are dangerous to freedom, they ought to be avoided as
far as the circumstances and safety of the community will
admit; and that in all cases the military shall be kept in
strict subordination to the civil authority.
Sec. 25. That no citizen of this state, except such as are employed
in the army of the United States, or militia in actual ser-
vices, shall be subjected to punishment under the martial or
military law. That martial law, in the sense of the unre-
stricted power of military officers, or others, to dispose
of the person, liberties, or property of the citizen, is
inconsistent with the principles of free government, and is
not confided to any department of the government of this
Sec. 26. That the citizens of this State have a right to keep and to
bear arms for the common defense; but the legislature shall
have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a
view to prevent crime.
Sec. 27. That no soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any
house without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war,
but in a manner prescribed by law.
Sec. 28. That no citizen of this State shall be compelled to bear
arms, provided he will pay an equivalent, to be ascertained
Sec. 29. That an equal participation in the free navigation of the
Mississippi, is one of the inherent rights of the citizen of
this State; it cannot, therefore, be conceded to any prince,
potentate, power, person or persons whatever.
Sec. 30 That no hereditary emoluments, privileges, or honors, shall
ever be granted or conferred in this State.
Sec. 31. [Deals with the boundaries of the State.]
Sec. 32. That the erection of safe and comfortable prisons, the in-
spection of prisons, and the humane treatment of prisoners,
shall be provided for.
Sec. 33. That slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment
for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,
are forever prohibited in this State.
Sec. 34. The General Assembly shall make no law recognizing the right
of property in man.