The U.S. Constitution: Continuity and Change in the Governing of the United States
Richmond, state of Virginia...
Richmond, State of Virginia
Richmond, State of Virginia. In convention, Wednesday, the 25th of June, 1788 : The convention, according to the order of the day, resolved itself into a committee of the whole convention, to take into farther consideration, the proposed Constitution of government for the United States.
RICHMOND, State of VIRGINIA
Wednesday,the 25th of June, 1788
THEConvention, according to the order of the day, resolved itself into a Committee of the whole Convention, to take into farther consideration, the proposed Constitution of Government for the United States; and after sometime spent therein, Mr. President resumed the chair, and Mr. Mathews reported, that the Committee had, according to order, again had the said proposed Constitution under their consideration, and had gone through the same, and come to several resolutions thereupon, which he read in his place, and afterwards delivered in at the clerk's table, where the same were again read, and are as followeth;
WHEREAS the powers granted under the proposed Constitution are the gift of the people, and every power not granted thereby, remains with them, and at their will; No right therefore 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 in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes: And among other essential rights liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by any authority of the United States;
AND WHEREAS any imperfections which may exist in the said Constitution ought rather to be examined in the mode prescribed therein for obtaining amendments, than by a delay with a hope of obtaining previous amendments, to bring the Union into danger;
Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee, That the said Constitution be ratified.
But in order to relieve the apprehensions of those, who may be solicitous for amendments, Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee, That whatsoever amendments may be deemed necessary be recommended to the consideration of the Congress, which shall first assemble under the said Constitution, to be acted upon according to the mode prescribed in the fifth article thereof.
The first resolution being read a second time, a motion was made, and the question being put to amend the same by substituting in lieu of the said resolution and its preamble, the following resolution;
Resolved, That previous to the ratification of the new Constitution of Government recommended by the late Federal Convention, a declaration of rights asserting and securing from encroachment the great principles of civil and religious liberty, and the unalienable rights of the people, together with amendments to the most exceptionable parts of the said Constitution of Government, ought to be referred by this Convention to the other states in the American confederacy for their consideration;
It passed in the negative---Ayes 80---Noes 88.
NOTE: Some text has been deleted for the purpose of this discussion.
The second resolution being then read a second time, a motion was made and the question being put to amend the same by striking out the preamble thereto;
It was resolved in the affirmative,
And then the main question being put that the Convention do agree with the Committee in the second resolution so amended;
It was resolved in the affirmative.
On motion, Ordered, That a Committee be appointed to prepare and report a form of ratification, pursuant to the first resolution; and that his Excellency Governor Randolph, Mr. Nicholas, Mr. Madison, Mr. Marshall, and Mr. Corbin, compose the said Committee.
On motion, Ordered, That a Committee be appointed to prepare and report such amendments as shall by them be deemed necessary to be recommended, pursuant to the second resolution; and that the Honorable George Wythe, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Mathews, Mr. Henry, His Excellency Governor Randolph, Mr. George Mason, Mr. Nicholas, Mr. Grayson, Mr. Madison, Mr. Tyler, Mr. John Marshall, Mr. Monroe, Mr. Ronald, Mr. Bland, Mr. Meriwether Smith, the Honorable Paul Carrington, Mr. Innes, Mr. Hopkins, the Honorable John Blair, and Mr. Simms, compose the said Committee.
His Excellency Governor Randolph reported, from the Committee appointed, according to order, a form of ratification, which was read and agreed to by the Convention, in the words following:
VIRGINIA TO WIT:
WE the Delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected in pursuance of a recommendation from the General Assembly, and now met in Convention, having fully and freely investigated and discussed the proceedings of the Federal Convention, and being prepared as well as the most mature deliberation hath enabled us, to decide thereon, DO in the name and in 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 in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes: and 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 a 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 recommended on the sevententh day of September, one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven, by the Foederal 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:
[Here follows the Constitution at large, which is omitted, having been so often printed.]
On motion, Ordered, That the Secretary of this Convention cause to be engrossed, forthwith, two fair copies of the form of ratification, and of the proposed Constitution of Government, as recommended by the Foederal Convention on the seventeenth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven.
And then the Convention adjourned until to-morrow morning, twelve o'clock.
FRIDAY, the 27th of JUNE, 1788.
MR. Wythe reported, from the Committee appointed, such amendments to the proposed Constitution of Government for the United States, as were by them deemed necessary to be recommended to the consideration of the Congress which shall first assemble under the said Constitution, to be acted upon according to the mode prescribed in the fifth article thereof; and he read the same in his place, and afterwards delivered them in at the clerk's table, where the same were again read, and are as followeth:
That there be a Declaration or Bill of Rights asserting and securing from encroachment the essential and unalienable rights of the people in some such manner as the following:
1st. 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.
2d. That all power is naturally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates therefore are their trustees, and agents, and at all times amenable to them.
3d. That the 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.
4th. That no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive or separate public emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public services; which not being descendible, neither ought the offices of magistrate, legislator or judge, or any other public office to be hereditary.
5th. 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 burthens, they should at fixed periods be reduced to a private station, return into the mass of the people; and the vacancies be supplied by certain and regular elections, in which all or any part of the former members to be eligible or ineligible, as the rules of the Constitution of Government, and the laws shall direct.
6th. That elections of Representatives in the legislature 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.
7th. 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.
8th. That in all capital and criminal prosecutions, a man hath a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation, 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 his 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.
9th. 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.
10th. 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 nor delayed.
11th. 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.
12th. That every freeman ought to find a certain remedy by 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.
13th. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
14th. 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 serupulous of taking an oath) of legal and sufficient cause, are greivous 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.
15th. 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.
16th. 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.
17th. 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.
18th. 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.
19th. 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.
20th. 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 [?] exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience, and that no particular sect or society ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.
NOTE: Some text has been deleted for the purpose of this discussion.