By: Liz McArdle

Where and When?

The Virginia Constitution was written at a convention in Virginia and was adopted by the Virginia House of Delegates at Williamsburg in June of 1776.


Being one of the first founding states of the US, they needed a beginning form of documented government. Primarily, it's purpose was to establish a basic system of rights and laws. It addressed what George Mason, the primary draftsman of said document, considered constitutional rights. For example, "All men are created equal and man has inherent rights that cannot be divested." In simpler terms, men have the right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.


Due to it being the first documentation of government within the United States, the Constitution of Virginia had a huge impact on future government documents. The real Constitution and Jame Madison's Bill of Rights were the most heavily influenced by the Constitution of Virginia. Basic rights such as freedom of the press were the ideas reused within these documents. More specifically, the Fourth through the Eighth Amendments to the Constitution were directly inspired by the Virginia Constitution.

Fourth Amendment: Originally enforced as, "each man's home is his castle." In modern terms, it means everyone is protected unreasonable searches. It is regarded as the privacy law.

Fifth Amendment: Regarding certain rights available to you during both criminal and civil legal procedures. Guaranteed right to a grand jury, protects against self-incrimination, forbids double jeopardy, and requires due process of law to be reasonable for said person. The government must also compensate for certain citizens when they overtake private property and utilize it for public use.

Sixth Amendment: Guaranteed the right to a speedy trial and public trial with a unbiased jury. It also ensures the accused has access to a lawyer.

Seventh Amendment: Only applicable with federal civil courts, not ones established by state governments. It establishes that certain civil cases can be heard from solely a judge themselves, they do not need a jury.

Eighth Amendment: Cruel and unusual punishment is prohibited as well as excessive bail and fines that the convicted will have no way of paying.

Works Cited

Bill of Rights. 2014. California Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.

“Constitution.” Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School, n.d. Web 25 Sept. 2015.

"The Constitution of Virginia." Who We Are the Story of America's Constitution. National Humanities Institute, n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.

Granger. Virginia Constitution, 1776. 2014. Fine Art America. Fine Art America. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.

Lingley, Charles R. 1910 The Transition of Virginia from Colony to Commonwealth. New York: Columbia University Press.