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Virginia Constitution, 1776


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.

As the 1776 constitution was written when the colonies had newly declared their independence, much of the first part of the document mirrors anti-monarchy sentiment expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

The current document also provides a "first glimpse" of what the original framers of the Virginia constitution hoped the new state would become. The constitution outlined procedures for a legislative branch, executive branch, judiciary, voting, and a "privy council." These created the structure and mechanisms for a new government. Notably missing were the mentions of "rights" and the abolishment of slavery present in the draft constitution. Readers may want to explore other differences between the draft and final version of the 1776 constitution.

Source: Constitution of Virginia, 1776.

How to Cite This Source
George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and others, "Virginia Constitution, 1776," in Virginia Civics, Item #515, (accessed February 26, 2022).
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