Sunday, June 12, 2011

June 12, 1776: Virginia Declaration of Rights

On June 12, 1776, the Virginia Convention ratified the Declaration of Rights, a preamble to the state’s new constitution (ratified June 29). Article One reads, “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.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights served as a pattern for other state constitutions. In drafting a Bill of Rights or Declaration of Rights, Americans drew inspiration from the Bill of Rights England’s Parliament required of incoming monarchs, William and Mary in 1689.
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