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Virginia Declaration of Rights

Virginia Declaration Of Rights

The VIRGINIA DECLARATION OF RIGHTS was adopted by the Virginia colonial constitutional convention on June 12, 1776. Its sixteen sections enumerated specific civil liberties that could not be legitimately taken away by government.

Most of the Declaration of Rights was written by GEORGE MASON, a plantation owner, real estate speculator, and neighbor of GEORGE WASHINGTON. A strong believer in human liberty and limited government, Mason crafted a document that guaranteed the citizens of Virginia, upon achieving independence from Great Britain, all the civil liberties they had lost under British rule.

The Declaration of Rights enumerates specific civil liberties, including freedom of the press, the free exercise of religion, and the injunction that "no man be deprived of his liberty, except by the law of the land or the judgement of his peers." Other provisions prohibited excessive bail or cruel and unusual punishments, required authorities to have evidence and good cause before obtaining a search warrant to enter a place, guaranteed the right to trial by jury, and said that a "well regulated militia" should be "under strict subordination" to the civilian government. Many of these provisions were later incorporated into the Bill of Rights.

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