1776: The Pennsylvania Constitution

First page of the Pennsylvania Constitution (Public Domain)


Pennsylvania is the first state in America to declare freedom of speech, press and religion to constitutional rights. The Pennsylvania Constitution of September 1776 states:


“II. That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding … 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.”


“XII. That the people have a right to freedom of speech, and of writing, and publishing their sentiments; therefore the freedom of the press ought not to be restrained.”

– The Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776


Read the full constitution here.