pose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners ; by keeping among us, in time of peace, standing armies and ships of war; by affecting to render the military independent of and superior to the civil power ; by combining with others to subject us to a foreign jurisdiction, giving his assent to their pretended acts of legislation, for quartering large bodies of armed troops among us, for cutting off our trade with all parts of the world, for imposing taxes on us without our consent, for depriving us of the benefit of the trial by jury, for transporting us beyond the seas for trial for pretended offences, for suspending our own legislators, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever ; by plundering our seas, ravaging our coasts, burning our towns, and destroying the lives of our people; by inciting insurrection 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 had refused us permission to exclude by law; by endeavoring to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions of existence ; by transporting hither a large army of foreign mercenaries to complete the work of death, desolation and tyranny, then 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 injuries ; and finally, by abandoning the helm of government and declaring us out of bis allegiance and protection ; by which several acts of misrule the government of this country, as before exercised under the Crown of Great Britain, was totally dissolved—did, therefore, having maturely considered the premises, and viewing with great concern the deplorable condition to which this once happy country would be reduced unless some regular, adequate mode of civil policy should be speedily adopted, and in compliance with the recommendation of the General Congress, ordain and declare a form of Government of Virginia.

And whereas, a Convention held on the first Monday in October, in the year one thousand eight hundred and twenty-nine, did propose to the people of this Commonwealth an amended Constitution, or form of government, which was ratified by them :

And whereas, the General Assembly of Virginia, by an act passed on the fourth of March, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty, did provide for the election, by the people, of delegates to meet in general Convention, to consider, discuss and propose a new Constitution, or alterations and amendments to the existing Constitution of this Commonwealth ; and by an act passed on the thirteenth of March, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fiftyone, did further provide for submitting the same to the people for ratification or rejection ; and the same having been submitted accordingly, was ratified by them :

And whereas, the General Assembly of Virginia, by an act passed on the twenty-first day of December, in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, did provide for the election, by the people, of delegates to meet'in general Convention to consider, discuss and adopt alterations and amendments to the existing Constitution of this Commonwealth, the delegates so assembled, did, therefore, having maturely considered the premises, adopt a revised and amended Constitution as the form of government of Virginia:

And whereas, the Congress of the United States did, by an act passed on the second day of March, in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven, and entitled, “ An act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel States," and by acts supplementary thereto, passed on the twenty-third day of March, and the nineteenth day of July in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven, provide for the election, by the people of Virginia, qualified to vote under the provisions of said acts, of delegates to meet in Convention to frame a Constitution, or form of gov. ernment for Virginia, in conformity with said acts ; and by the same acts did further provide for the submitting of such Constitution to the qualified voters for ratification or rejection :


We, therefore, the delegates of the good people of Virginia, elected, and in Convention assembled, in pursuance of said acts, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do propose to the people the following Constitution and form of goverument for this Commonwealth :

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A DECLARATION OF Rights, made by the Representatives of the

good people of Virginia, assembled in full and free Convention, which rights do pertain to them and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of Government.

1. That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity ; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

2. That this State shall ever remain a member of the United States of America, and that the people thereof are part of the American nation, and that all a:tempts, from whatever source or upon whatever pretext, to dissolve said Union or to sever said nation, are unauthorized, and ought to be resisted with the whole power of the State.

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3. That the Constitution of the United States, and the laws of Congress passed in pursuance thereof, constitute the supreme law of the land, to which paramount allegiance and obedience are due from every citizen, anything in the Constitution, ordinances or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding

4. That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people ; that magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.

5. 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 best which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration ; and that when any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to the purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable and indefeasible right to reform, alter or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.

6. That no man, or set of men, are entitled to exclusive or separa:e emoluments or privileges from the community but in consideration of public services ; which, not being descendible, neither ought the offices of magistrates, legis{ator or judge to be hereditary.

7. That the legislative, executive and judicial powers should be separate and distinct; and that the members théreof may be restrained from oppression, by feeling and participating the burthens of the people, they should, at fixed periods, be reduced to a private station, return into that body from which they were originally taken, and the vacancies be supplied 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.

8. That all electious ought to be free, and that all men, having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest

with, and attachment to, the community, have the right of suffrage, and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for public uses, without their own consent, or that of their representatives so elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not in like manner assented, for the public good.

9. 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.

10. That, in all capital or criminal prosecutions, a man hath a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusations, to be confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence in his favor, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury of his vicinage, without whose unanimous consent 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.

11. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.

12. That general warrants, whereby an officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected 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.

13. That in controversies respecting property, and in suits. between man and man, the trial by jury is preferable to any other, and ought to be held sacred.

14. That the freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and can 'never be restrained but by despotic governments, and any citizen may speak, write and publish bis sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.

15. That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body


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