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BILL OF RIGHTS. A Declaration of Rights made by the Representatives of the good Peo
ple of VIRGINIA, assembled in full and free Convention ; which Rights do pertain to them and their Posterity, as the basis and foundation of Government. Unanimously adopted, June 12th, 1776.
Sec. 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 all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and servants, anel at all times amenable to them.
3. 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 these 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.
4. That no man, or set of men, are entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public services; which not being descendible, neither ought the offices
of magistrate, legislator, or judge to be hereditary. 5. 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 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 lays shall direct.
6. That elections of members to serve as representatives of the people, in assembly, 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.
7. 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.
8. 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 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,
9. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
10. 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.
11. That in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury is preferable to any other, and ought to be held sacred.
12. That the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.
13. That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense 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 should be under strict subordination to, and governed by the civil power.
14. That the people have a right to uniform government; and, therefore, that no government separate from, or independent of the government of Virginia, ought to be erected or established within the limits thereof.
15. That no free government, or the blessings 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.
16. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason 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 Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.
ARTICLE I. The Declaration of Rights made on the 12th of June, 1776, by the representatives of the good people of Virginia, assembled in full and free convention, which pertained to them and their posterity, as the bases and foundation of government; requiring in the opinion of this convention no amendment, shall be prefixed to this Constitution, and have the same relation thereto as it had to the former Constitution of this commonwealth.
ARTICLE II. The legislative, executive, and judicary departments shall be separate and distinct, so that neither exercise the powers properly belonging to either of the other; nor shall any person exercise the powers of more than one of them at the same time, except that the justices of the county courts shall be eligible to either house of Assembly.
ARTICLE III. SEC. 1. The Legislature shall be formed of two distinct branches, which together shall be a complete Legislature, and shall be called the General Assembly of Virginia.
2. One of these shall be called the House of Delegates, and shall consist of one hundred and thirty-four members, to be chosen, annually, for and by the several counties, cities, towns, and boroughs of the commonwealth; whereof thirty-one delegates shall be chosen for and by the twenty-six counties lying west of the Alleghany mountains; twenty-five, for and by the fourteen counties lying between the Alleghany and Blue Ridge of mountains: forty-two for and by the twenty-nine counties lying east of the Blue Ridge of mountains and above tide water, and thirty-six, for and by the counties, cities, towns, and boroughs lying upon the tide-water, that is to say: Of the twenty-six counties lying west of the Alleghany, the counties of Harrison, Montgomery, Monongalia, Ohio, and Washington, shall each elect two delegates ; and the counties of Brook, Cabell, Grayson, Greenbrier, Giles, Kanawha, Lee, Lewis, Logan, Mason, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, Tyler, Wood, and Wythe, shall each elect one delegate. Of the fourteen counties lying between the Alleghany and Blue Ridge, the counties of Frederick and Shenandoah, shall each elect three delegates; the counties of Augusta, Berkely, Botetourt, Hampshire, Jefferson, Rockingham, and Rockbridge, shall each elect two dele. gates; and the counties of Alleghany, Bath, Hardy, Morgan, and Pendleton, shall each elect one delegate. Of the twenty-nine counties lying east of the Blue Ridge and above tide-water, the county of Loudoun shall elect three delegates; the counties of Albermarle, Bedford, Brunswick, Buckingham, Campbell, Culpeper, Fauquier, Franklin, Halifax, Mecklenburg, and Pittsylvania, shall each elect two delegates; and the counties of Amelia, Amherst, Charlotte, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Fluvanna, Goochland, Henry, Louisa, Lunenburg, Madison, Nelson, Nottoway, Orange, Patrick, Powhatan, and Prince Edward, shall each elect one delegate. And of the counties, cities, towns, and boroughs lying on tide-water, the counties of Accomack and Norfolk shall each elect two delegates; the counties of Caroline, Chesterfield, Essex, Fairfax, Greensville, Gloucester, Hanover, Henrico, Isle of Wight, King and Queen, King William, King George, Nansemond, Northumberland, Northampton, Princess Anne, Prince George, Prince William, Southampton, Spottsylvania, Stafford, Sussex, Surry, and Westmoreland, and the city of Richmond, the borough of Norfolk, and the town of Petersburg, sball each elect one delegate; the counties of Lancaster and Richmond shall together elect one delegate; the counties of Matthews and Middlessex shall together elect one delegate; the counties of Elizabeth City, and Warwick shall together elect one delegate; the counties of James City and York, and the city of Williamsburg, shall together elect one delegate; and the counties of New Kent and Charles City shall together elect one delegate.
3. The other house of the General Assembly shall be called the Senate, and shall consist of thirty-two members, of whom thirteen shall be chosen for and by the counties lying west of the Blue Ridge of mountains, and nineteen for and by the counties, cities, towns, and boroughs lying east thereof; and for the election of whom, the counties, cities, townis, and boroughs
shall be divided into thirty-two districts, as hereinafter provided. Each county of the respective districts, at the time of the first election of its delegate or delegates under this Constitution, shall vote for one senator; and the sheriffs or other officers holding the election for each county, city, town or borough, within five days at farthest after the last county, city, town, or borough election in the district, shall meet at some convenient place, and from the polls so taken in their respective counties, cities, towns, or boroughs, return as a senator the person who shall have the greatest number of votes in the whole district. To keep up this Assembly by rotation, the districts shall be equally divided into four classes, and numbered by lot. At the end of one year after the first general election, the eight members elected by the first division shall be displaced, and the vacancies thereby occasioned, suppplied from such class or division by new election in the manner aforesaid. This rotation shall be applied to each division according to its number, and continue in due order annually. And for the election of senators, the counties of Brooke, Ohio, and Tyler, shall form one district; the counties of Monongalia, Preston, and Randolph, shall form another district: the counties of Harrison, Lewis, and Wood, shall form another district: the counties of Kanawha, Mason, Cabell, Logan, and Nicholas, shall form another district: the counties of Greenbrier, Monroe, Giles, and Montgomery, shall form another district: the counties of Tazewell, Wythe, and Grayson, shall form another district: the counties of Washington, Russell, Scott, and Lee, shall form another district : the counties of Berkeley, Morgan, and Hampshire, shall form another district : the counties of Frederick and Jefferson shall form another district: the counties of Shenandoah and Hardy shall form another district :
the counties of Rockingham and Pendleton shall form another district: the counties of Augusta and Rockbridge shall form another district: the counties of Alleghany, Bath, Pocahontas, and Botetourt, shall form another district: the counties of Loudoun and Fairfax shall form another district: the counties of Fauquier and Prince William shall form another district : the counties of Stafford, King George, Westmoreland, Richmond, Lancaster, and Northum. berland, shall form another district: the counties of Culpeper, Madison, and Orange, shall form another district: the counties of Albemarle, Nelson, and Amherst, shall form another district: the counties of Fluvanna, Goochland, Louisa, and Hanover, shall form another district: the counties of Spottsylvania, Caroline, and Essex, shall form another district: the counties of King and Queen, King William, Gloucester, Matthews, and Middlesex, shall form another district : the counties of Accomack, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, and Warwick, and the city of Williamsburg, shall form another district: the counties of Charles City, James City, New Kent, and Henrico, and the city of Richmond, shall form another district: the counties of Bedford and Franklin shall form another district: the counties of Buckingham, Campbell, and Cumberland, shall form another district : the counties of Patrick, Henry, and Pittsylvania, shall form another district: the counties of Halifax and Mecklenburg, shall form another district: the counties of Charlotte, Lunenburgh, Nottoway, and Prince Edward, shall form another district: the counties of Amelia, Powhattan, and Chesterfield, and the town of Petersburg, shall form another district : the counties of Brunswick, Dinwiddie, and Greensville, shall form another district: the counties of Ísle of Wight, Prince George, Southampton, Surry, and Sussex, shall form another district : and the counties of Norfolk, Nensemond, and Princess Anne, and the borough of Norfolk, shall form another district.
4. It shall be the duty of the Legislature, to re-apportion, once in ten years, to wit: in the year 1841, and every ten years thereafter, the representation of the counties, cities, towns, and boroughs, of this commonwealth, in both of the legislative bodies: Provided, however, that the number of delegates from the aforesaid great districts, and the number of senators from the aforesaid two great divisions, respectively, shall neither be increased or diminished by such re-apportionment. And when a new county shall hereafter be created, or any city, town, or borough, not now entitled to separate representation in the House of Delegates, shall have so increased in population as to be entitled, in the opinion of the General Assembly, to such representation, it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to make provision by law for securing to the people of such new county, or such city, town or borough, an adequate representation. And if the object cannot otherwise be effected, it shall be competent to the General Assembly to re-apportion the whole representation of the great district containing such new county, or