The Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1830, by George Catlin
The Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1830, by George Catlin
Wikipedia
License: Public Domain

The First Virginia Constitution

The preparation of the first Virginia Constitution began in early 1776, in the midst of the early events of the American Revolution. Among those who drafted the 1776 Constitution were George Mason, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Jefferson was also Virginia's representative to the Second Continental Congress, and his drafts of the Virginia constitution were direct precursors to his work on the United States Declaration of Independence. Likewise, Madison's work on the Virginia Constitution helped him develop the ideas and skills that he would later use as one of the main architects of the United States Constitution.

The 1776 Constitution declared the dissolution of the rule of Great Britain over Virginia and accused England's King George III of establishing a "detestable and insupportable tyranny". It also established separation of governmental powers, with the creation of the bicameral Virginia General Assembly as the legislative body of the state and the Governor of Virginia as the "chief magistrate" or executive. The accompanying Virginia Declaration of Rights, written primarily by Mason, focuses on guarantees of basic human rights and freedoms and the fundamental purpose of government. It, in turn, served as a model for a number of other historic documents, including the United States Bill of Rights.

By which several acts of misrule, the government of this country, as formerly exercised under the crown of Great Britain, is TOTALLY DISSOLVED.

— First Viginia Constitution