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17. 6.66... art:1.d.a. port c. 13:

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At a GENERAL CONVENTION of Delegates and Representatives, from the several Counties and Corporatio:s of VIRGINIA, held at the Capitol, in the City of WILLIAMSBURG, ON MONDAY, the 6th of May, 1776.




A Declaration of Rights made by the Ripresentatives of the good People of Vir-

GINIA, allembled in full and free Convention ; which rights do pertain to

them, and their pofterity, as the basis and Foundation of Government. t 1.

*HAT all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have

certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a flate of fociety, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or diveft their pofterity ; nainely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and pofleilirg property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

II. THAT all power is vested in, and confcquently derived from, the people ; that Magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.

III. THAT government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection and security, of the people, nation, or community. Of all the various modes and forms of government, that is beit, which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is molt etfeetually secured against the danger of mal-administration; and that when any government shals be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right, to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.

IV. THAT no man, or set of men, are entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges from the community, but in confideration of public services; which not being descendible, neither ought the offices of Magiitrate, Legislator, or Judge, to be hereditary.

V. THAT the Legislative, and Executive powers of the state should be separate and distinct from the Judiciary; and that the members of the two first may be restrained from oppression, by feeling and participating the burthens of the people, they should, at fixed periods, be reduced to a private ftation, return into that body from which they were originally taken, and the vacancies be fupplied by frequent, certain, and regular elections, in which all, or any part of the former members, to be again eligible, or ineligible, as the laws shall direct.

VI. THAT elections of members to serve as representatives of the people, in Assembly, ought to be free ; and that all men, having fufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to, the community, have the right of fuffrage, and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for public uses, without their own consent, or that of their representatives fo elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not, in like manner, alsented, for the public good.

VII. THAT all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority without consent of the representatives of the people, is injurious to their rights, and ought not to be exercised.

VIII. THAT in all capital or criminal prosecutions, a man hath a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation, to be confronted with the accufers and witnesses, to call for evidence in his favor, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury of his vicinage, without whose unanimous content he cannot be found guilty, nor can he be compelled to give evidence against himself; that no man be deprived of his liberty except by the law of the land, or the judgment of his peers.

IX. THAT excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual puniihinents infli&cd.

X. THAT general warrants, whereby an officer or messenger may be commanded to search fufpected places without evidence of a fact committed, or


to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offence is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive, and ought not to be granted

XI. THÁT in controversies respecting property, and in faits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury is preferable to any other, and ought to be held sacred.

XII. THAT the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of li. berty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.

XIII. THAT a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free state ; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided, as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military thould be under strict fubordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

XIV. THAT the people have a right to uniform government; and there. fore, that no government feparate from, or independent of, the government of Virginia, ought to be erected or established within the limits thereof.

ŠV. THAT no free government, or the blessing of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

XVI. THAT religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reafon and conviction, not by force or violence, and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practise Chriftian forbearance, love, and charity, towards each other.

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The Constitution or Form of Government, agreed to and resolved upon by the Delegates

and Representatives of the several Counties and Corporations of Virginia. Preamble. 1. W

THEREAS George the third, King of Great-Britain and Ireland, and Enumerating instances office in this government, hath endeavored to pervert the fame into a detellavi royal mirrule. ble and insupportable tyranny, by putting his negative on laws the most whole.

fome and neceffary for the public good. By denying his Governors permisfion to pass laws of immediate and presling importance, unless suspended in their operation for his assent, and, when to suipended, neglecting to attend to them for many years: By refusing to pass certain other laws, unless the persons to be benefited by them would relinquith the inestimable right of reprefentation in the Legislature : By diffolving Legislative Allemblies repeatedly and continually, for oppofing with manly frmness his invasions of the rights of the people : When dissolved, by refusing to call others for a long space of time, thereby leaving the political fystem without any Legislative head: By endeavoring to prevent the population of our country, and, for that purpose, ob. ftructing the laws for the naturalization of foreigners: By keeping among us in time of peace, ftanding armies and thips of war: By afecting to render the military independent of, and superior in, the civil power: By combining with others to subject us to a foreign jurifdiction, giving his assent to their pretended acts of Legislation : For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For cutting off oar trade with all parts of the world: For imposing taxes on us without our consent: For depriving us of the benefits of the trial by jury: For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offences : For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever : By plundering our seas, ravaging our coalts, burning our towns, and destroying the lives of our people : By inciting insurrections of our fellow subjects, with the allurements of forfeiture and confiscation : By prompting our negroes to rise in arms among us, those very negroes, whom, by an inhuman use of his negative, he hath refused us permission to exclude by law : By endeavoring to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian favages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions of exiftence : By transporting at this time, a large army of foreign mercenaries, to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy, unworthy the head of a civilized nation: By answering our repeated petitions for redress with a repetition of inju. ries : And finally, by abandoning the helm of government, and declaripg us

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ik Port c. no. c. 246. amendo 6. u. S. art. 3.

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