The 1780 Massachusetts Constitution provides for the people to hold a vote on whether they wanted a special constitutional convention in 1795, which the people voted against. Another special convention was held in 1820 and the first nine amendments to the constitution passed. One was held in 1853 and the voters rejected all the amendments which were brought forth. A Special Constitutional Convention was held in 1917, 1918 and in 1919. In 1917 and 1918 Article 48 was passed which got rid of the provision for special constitutional conventions.
Another way to pass an amendment to the state constitution is to have the legislature propose constitutional amendments in a constitutional convention. State constitutional conventions are held yearly. The legislature must pass an amendment in two consecutive sessions and then have the voters approve the amendment in the form of a ballot question in order to become law. All amendments to the constitution must be ratified or approved by the voters. Some amendments passed by the legislature include:
- Amending Article 18 Free exercise of religion; support of public schools; use of public money or credit for schools and institutions. 1855
- Amending Article 64 Gubernatorial succession prior to inauguration. 1950
- Amending Article 69 Enabling women to hold any state, county or municipal office. 1924
- Amending Article 120 Prohibiting the right to vote for persons incarcerated due to a felony conviction. 2000
- Amending Article 101 Apportionment of senatorial, representative and councilor districts. 1930
- Amending Article 106 Equal Rights amendment. 1976
- Amending Article 114 Prohibit discrimination against handicapped persons. 1980
Mum Bett (1781) and the Quock Walker (1781-1783) cases essentially got rid of slavery in Massachusetts but the Massachusetts Constitution was not changed until 1869 when the federal constitution changed.