Draft Provisional Constitution for the State of Chile
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Illustrated paperback ISBN: 9788499539478
After the Battle of Chacabuco (1817) Bernardo O’Higgins ruled. To secure his mandate, he assembled seven men who formed a commission and wrote a Provisional Constitution. There it was determined that the nation of Chile can establish its government and dictate its own laws, and the separation of the three powers was officially recognized: the Executive Power (Supreme Director), the Legislative Power (Senate) and the Judicial Power (Supreme Court), very similar to what exists in Chile today. That Constitution was approved in a plebiscite in 1818, but only people who lived between Copiapó and Cauquenes voted.
The constitutional charter regulated in its title the rights and duties of man in society, freedom, equality and the right of property, enshrined the social principles advanced for the time from the political point of view. The principle of national sovereignty and representative rule is expressly enshrined.
Published on August 10, 1818, sanctioned and solemnly sworn on October 23, 1818
The Supreme Director of Chile: The obligation to correspond worthily to the confidence of my fellow citizens, who placed me in the supreme command, and the desire to promote in any case the general happiness of Chile, dictated to me the decree of May 18, in which I appointed a commission, composed of the subjects most accredited for their literature and patriotism, so that they could present me with a draft provisional Constitution, which would be in force until the meeting of the National Congress. I would have celebrated with the greatest rejoicing, to be able to convene that constituent body, instead of giving the commission referred to; But not allowing the present circumstances, I was forced to settle for doing the good possible. A National Congress can only be composed of the deputies of all the peoples, and for now it would be a delirium to send those peoples to elect their deputies, when the province of Penco, which has half the population of Chile, is still under the influence of enemies. Nullity would be the most notable character of that constituent body, which was formed on a foundation of grievances inferred to half the nation. The rivalry of the provinces would be followed by the sole result of the sessions of the Congress. The disorder, in short, and the civil war, perhaps, would be the fruits of an extemporaneous congregation. We still have in our sight the fatal results of the division which the previous Congress engendered among the provinces, even though its members were appointed in the midst of a delightful peace.
My object in the formation of this draft provisional Constitution has not been to present it to the peoples as a constitutional law, but as a project, which must be approved or rejected by the general will. If the plurality of votes of free Chileans so wishes, this project will be kept as a provisional Constitution; and if that plurality is contrary, the Constitution will have no value. It will never be said of Chile, that in forming the bases of its Government, it broke the just limits of equity; that it laid its foundations on injustice; nor that it sought to constitute on the grievances of one-half of its inhabitants.
I do not approve of the method of sanction proposed in the warning of this project, because no corporation, neither court nor Head of State, has so far received from the people the right to represent them; rather, since they are all employed in the public service, they must be regarded as passive rather than active parties, in the present case. I wish to examine the general will on the business that most interests the nation; And for this it is necessary to know differently the will of each of the inhabitants. Therefore, and in order to succeed with the soonest, most liberal and fairest means, of consulting the votes of all the free peoples of the State, on whether or not the present provisional Constitution should govern, the following regulations shall be observed:
Article 1. After the Project is printed, it will be published by side in all cities, towns and villages of the State.
Article 2. Within four days of publication, the subscriptions of the inhabitants will be received in two different books, of which one will be entitled: Book of subscriptions in favor of the constitutional project; and the other, Book of subscriptions against the constitutional project. In the first, those who want to be governed by this provisional Constitution will sign, and in the second, those who do not.
Article 3. In all the parishes of all the towns there will be a book of each class of the two expressed, where the neighbors of the town will attend to subscribe, in the presence of the priest, the judge of the neighborhood and the notary, if any.
Article 4. Where there is no notary, a neighbor appointed for the purpose by the priest and the judge will perform his functions, who must witness the subscription.
Article 5. All the inhabitants, who are parents or who have some capital, or who exercise some office, and who are not with pending cause of infidence or sedition, will be able to subscribe. All those who seek to seduce others, making parties, or trying to violate or divide the will of others will be disqualified.
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