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The Ratification of Virginia to the Constitution of the United States.
We, the delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected, in pursuance of a recommendation of the General Assembly, and now met in convenhaving fully and fairly investigated and discussed the proceedings of the federal convention, and being prepared as well as the most mature deliberation will enable us, to decide thereon, Do, in the name and behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known, that the powers granted under the constitution being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby, remains with them and at their will: that therefore no right, of any denomination, can be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by the Congress, by the Senate, or House of Representatives, acting in any capacity, by the president, or any department or officer of the United States, except in those instances where power is given by the constitution for those purposes : that among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience and of the press, cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by any authority of the United States :
With these impressions, with a solemn appeal to the Searcher of hearts for the purity of our intentions, and under the conviction, that, whatsoever imperfections may exist in the constitution, ought rather to be examined in the mode prescribed therein, than to bring the union into danger by delay, with a hope of obtaining amendments previous to the ratification :
We, the said delegates, in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, do, by these presents, assent to and ratify the constitution, recommend. ed on the 17th day of September, 1787, by the federal convention for the government of the United States; hereby announcing to all those whom it may concern, that the said constitution is binding upon the said people, according to an authentic copy hereto annexed, in the words following >
A Declaration of Rights made by the Representatives of the People of
Virginia, assembled and hell at the Capitol in the City of Williamsburg, in full and free Convention—which rights do pertain to them and their posterity as a basis and foundation of Government.
(Agreed te nem con June, 12th, 1776.). I. That there are certain natural rights, of which men, when they form a social compact, cannot deprive or divest their posterity ; among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety
II. That all power is naturally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; thai magistrates, therefore, are their trustees and agents, and at all times amenable to them.
IļI. That government ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people ; and that the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive to the good and happiness of mankind.
Ik That no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive or separate pubilic emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of
public services; which not being descendable, neither ought the offices of magistrate, legislator, judge or any other public offices to be hereditary.
V. That the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers of government should be separate and distinct: and, that the members of the two first may be restrained from oppression by feeling and participating the public burdens, they should at fixed periods be reduced to a private station-return into the mass of the people; and the vacancies supplied by certain and regular elections: in which all or any part of the members to be eligible or ineligible, as the rules of the constitution of government, and the laws shall direct.
VI. That elections of representatives in the legislaiure ought to be free and frequent: and all men, having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to, the community, ought to have the right of suffrage; and no aid, charge, tax, or fee can be set, rated or levied upon the people, without their own consent, or that of their representatives so elected, nor can they be bound by any law, to which they have not in like manner assented for the public good.
VII. That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority without the consent of the representatives of the people, in the legislature, is injurious to their rights, and ought not to be exercised.
VIII. That in all capital and 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, and be allowed counsel in his favor; and to a fair and speedy trial, by an impartial jury of bis vicinage, without whose unanimous consent, he cannot be found guilty (except in the government of the land and naval forces); nor can he be compelled to give evidence against himself.
IX. That no freeman ought to be taken, imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties, privileges, or franchises, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner destroyed or deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by the law of the land.
X. That every freeman, restrained of his liberty, is entitled to a remedy, to enquire into the lawfulness thereof, and to remove the same, if unlawful; and that such remedy ought not to be denied or delayed.
XI. That in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury is one of the greatest securities to the rights of the people, and ought to remain sacred and inviolable.
XII. That every freemen ought to find a certain remedy of recourse to the laws for all injuries and wrongs he may receive in his person, property, or character. He ought to obtain right and justice freely without sale, completely and without denial, promptly and without delay, and that all establishments or regulations, contravening these rights, are oppressive and unjust.
XIII. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
XIV. That every freeman has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches, and seizures of his person, his papers, and property; all warrants, therefore, to search suspected places, or seize any freeman, his papers, or property, without information upon oath (or affirmation of a person religiously scrupulous of taking an oath) of legal and sufficient cause, are grievous and oppressive, and all general warrants to search suspected places, or to apprehend any suspected person without specially naming or describing the place or person, are dangerous and ought not to be granted.
AMENDMENTS TO FEDERAL CONSTITUTION.
XV. That the people have a right peaceably to assemble together to consult for the common good, or to instruct their representatives : and that every freeman has a right to petition, or apply to the legislature for redress of grievances.
XVI. That the people have a right to freedom of speech, and of writing, and publishing their sentiments; that the freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and ought not to be violated
XVII. That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; 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 are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.
XVIII. That no soldier in time of peace ought to be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, and in time of war in such manner only as the laws direct.
XIX. That any person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, ought to be exempted upon payment of an equivalent to employ another to bear arms in his stead.
XX. 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 have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience, and that no particular religious sect or society ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.
Amendments to the Federal Constitution recommended by Virginia.
I. That each State in the Union shall respectively retain every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this constitution delegated to the congress of the United States, or to the departments of the federal government.
II. That there shall be one representative for every thirty thousand inhabitants, according to the enumeration or census mentioned in the constitution, until the whole number of representatives amounts to two hundred; after which, that number shall be continued or increased as congress shall direct, upon the principles fixed in the constitution, by apportioning the representatives of each state to some greater number of people from time to time, as population increases.
III. When congress shall lay direct taxes or excises, they shall immediately inform the executive power of each state, of the quota of such state, according to the census herein directed, which is proposed to be thereby raised; and if the legislature of any state shall pass a law, which shall be effectual for raising such quota, at the time required by congress the taxes and excises laid by congress shall not be collected in such state.
IV. That the members of the senate and house of representatives shallbe ineligible to, and incapable of holding any civil office under the author. ity of the United States during the time for which they shall respectively be elected
V. That the journals of the prodeedings of the senate and house of representatives shall be published at least once in every year, except such parts thereof, relating to treaties, alliances, or military operation, as, in their judgment, require secrecy.
Vl. That a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published at least once in every year.
VII. That no commercial treaty shall be ratified without the concurrence of two-thirds of the whole number of the members of the senate; and no treaty, ceding, contracting, or restraining, or suspending the territorial rights or claims of the United States, or any of them-or their, or any of their rights or claims to fishing in the American seas, or navigating the American rivers, shall be made, but in cases of the most urgent and ex. treme necessity; nor shall any such treaty be ratified without the concurrence of three-fourths of the whole number of members of both houses respectively.
VIII. That no navigation laws or law, regulating commerce, shall be passed without the consent of two-thirds of the members present in both houses.
IX. That no standing army, or regular troops, shall be raised or kept up in time of peace, without the consent of two-thirds of the members present in both houses.
X. That no soldier shall be enlisted for any longer term than four years, except in time of war, and then for no longer a term than the continuance of the war.
XI. That each state respectively shall bave the power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining its own militia, whensoever congress shall omit or neglect to provide for the same. That the militia shall not be subject to martial law, except when in actual service, in time of war, invasion or rebellion : and when not in the actual service of the United States, shall be subject only to such fines, penalties, and punishments as shall be directed or inflicted by the laws of its own state.
XII. That the exclusive power of legislation given to congress over the federal town and its adjacent district, and other places, purchased or to be purchased by congress, of any of the states, shall extend only to such regulations as respect the police and good government thereof.
XIII. That no person shall be capable of being President of the United States for more than eight years in any term of sixteen years.
XIV. That the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme court, and in such courts of admiralty, as congress may, from time to time, ordain and establish in any of the different states: the judicial power shall extend to all cases in law and equity, arising under treaties, made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States ; to all cases affecting ambassadors, other foreign ministers and consuls ; to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; to controversies between two or more states, and between parties claiming lands under the grants of different states. In all cases affecting ambassadors, other foreign ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be a party, the supreme court shall have original jurisdiction; in all other cases before mentioned, the supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction, as to matters of law only: except in cases of equity, and of adiniralty and maritime jurisdiction; in which the supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction both as to law and fact,
with such exceptions and under such regulations as the congress shall make: but the judicial power of the United States shall extend to no case where the cause of action shall have originated before the ratification of this constitution; except in disputes between states about their territory; disputes between persons claiming lands under the grants of different states; and suits for debts due to the United States.
XV. That in criminal prosecutions, no man shall be restrained in the exercise of the usual and accustomed right of challenging or excepting to the jury.
XVI. That congress shall not alter, modify, or interfere in the times, places, or manner of holding elections for senators and representatives, or either of them, except when the legislature of any state shall neglect, refuse, or be disabled by invasion or rebellion to prescribe the same.
XVII. That those clauses which declare that congress shall not exercise certain powers, be not interpreted in any manner whatsover to extend the power of congress; but that they be construed either as making exceptions to the specified powers where this shall be the case, or otherwise as inserted merely for greater caution.
XVIII. That the laws ascertaining the compensation of senators and representatives for their services, be postponed in their operation, until after the election of representatives immediately succeeding the passing thereof; that excepted, which shall first be passed on the subject
. XIX. That some tribunal other than the senate be provided for trying impeachments of senators.
XX. That the salary of a judge shall not be increased or diminished during his continuance in office, otherwise than by general regulations of salary, which may take place on a revision of the subject at stated periods of not less than seven years, 10 commence from the time such salaries shall be first ascertained by congress.
And the convention do, in the name and behalf of the people of this commonwealth, enjoin it upon their representatives in congress, to exert all their influence, and use all reasonable and legal methods to obtain a ratification of the foregoing alterations and provisions in the manner provided by the fifth article of the said constitution; and in all congressional laws to be passed in the mean time, to conform to the spirit of these amendments as far as the said constitution will adınit.
Extract from the journal,
John BECKLEY, Clerk of Convention.