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1. Virginia Bill of Rights. 1776 June 12.
B. P. Poore, The Federal and State Constitutions . . . of the United States (1877) II, 1908 f.
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.
Section 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.
Sect. 2. 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.
Sect. 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.
Sect. 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.
Sect. 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 burdens 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.
Altmann, Urkk. z. ausserdeutsch. Verf.-Gesch. seit 1776.
Sect. 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.
Sect. 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.
Sect. 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 twelve men 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.
Sect. 9. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Sect. 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.
Sect. 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.
Sect. 12. That the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.
Sect. 13. 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 should be under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.
Sect. 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.
Sect. 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.
Sect. 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.
2. Constitution of Pennsylvania. 1776 Sept. 28.
B. P. Poore, The Federal and State Constitutions . . . of the United States (1877) II, 1540-1548.
Whereas all government ought to be instituted and supported for the security and protection of the community as such, and to enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights and the other blessings, which the Author of existence has bestowed upon man; and whenever these great ends of government are not obtained, the people have a right, by common consent to change it and take such measures, as to them may appear necessary to promote their safety and happiness. And whereas the inhabitants of this commonwealth have in consideration of protection only, heretofore acknowledged allegiance to the king of Great Britain; and the said king has not only withdrawn that protection, but commenced and still continues to carry on, with unabated vengeance, a most cruel and unjust war against them, employing therein, not only the troops of Great Britain, but foreign mercenaries, savages and slaves, for the avowed purpose of reducing them to a total and abject submission to the despotic domination of the British parliament, with many other acts of tyranny, (more fully set forth in the declaration of Congress) whereby all allegiance and fealty to the said king and his successors are dissolved and at an end, and all power and authority derived from him ceased in these colonies. And whereas it is absolutely necessary for the welfare and safety of the inhabitants of said colonies, that they be henceforth free and independent States and that just, permanent and proper forms of government exist in every part of them, derived from and founded on the authority of the people only, agreeably to the directions of the honourable American Congress. We, the representatives of the freemen of Pennsylvania, in general convention met, for the express purpose of framing such a government, confessing the goodness of the great Governor of the universe (who alone knows to what degree of earthly happiness mankind may attain, by perfecting the arts of government) in permitting the people of this State, by common consent and without violence, deliberately to form for themselves such just rules, as they shall think best, for governing their future society; and being fully convinced, that it is our indispensable duty to establish such original