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Virginia Constitution, 1830

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Virginia signed its first constitution in 1776 upon the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Since that time, there have been frequent amendments and six major revisions to the constitution: 1830, 1851, 1864, 1870, 1902, and 1971. Our current constitution is an amended version of the 1971 constitution. These revisions to the Virginia constitution are representative of the political, social, regional, and racial climate of the times.

The 1830 constitution was the first revision to the state constitution, and helped adapt the 1776 framework to the logistics of running a government. For example, the new constitution eliminated the Privy Council. Another development in the new constitution was a formal definition of citizenship and the  naturalization of citizens (Article III Sec. 14; Article IV Sec. 2).

In addition, the 1830 constitution was part of an ongoing debate between western Virginia and the rest of the state. The 1776 constitution stipulated that voters must be property owners in order to vote. Many residents in western Virginia did not qualify for suffrage because of the property requirement, and wanted to change the system. As a result of the constitutional debates in 1829-1830, the property ownership requirements remained, but in an adapted form. For example, renting a property of at least a twenty-five dollar value could qualify one to vote (Article III, Sec. 14). The debate over property ownership would continue to cause friction between western Virginia and the rest of the state.

Source: Constitution of Virginia, 1830, in Proceedings and debates of the Virginia State Convention of 1829-1830 (Samuel Shepherd Co., 1830): 895-902.