What Two Virginia Documents Influenced the Bill of Rights
George Mason was the man responsible for this important and historic task. His notes on this project are considered the first draft of the Virginia Bill of Rights. Before being completed, the document was presented to the Virginia Convention, where discussions and changes took place. For example, the committee added legislation banning bills, which means that citizens have the right to a fair trial. The completed Virginia Bill of Rights influenced important American documents that followed, such as the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The Virginia Bill of Rights was unanimously adopted by the Virginia Delegates Convention on June 12, 1776. The Declaration had a particular influence on subsequent state constitutions, as it represented the first protection of individual human rights under the state constitutions of the American revolutionary period. It also represented the transition from colonial charters to state constitutions as the nation moved towards independence from Britain. The declaration consists of sixteen articles on the subject, which includes rights “[the people of Virginia].
as the basis and foundation of government.”  The Declaration not only reaffirms the inherent nature of the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit and realization of happiness and security, but also describes a vision of government as a servant of the people and lists its separation of powers in the administration, legislature, and judiciary. Therefore, the document is unusual in that it not only prescribes legal rights, but also describes the moral principles by which a government should be directed.  The new United States of America affirmed the fundamental rights of its citizens and, on December 15, 1791, adopted the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. One of the many points of contention between federalists, who advocated a strong national government, and anti-federalists who wanted power to remain in the hands of state and local governments, was the absence of a bill of rights in the Constitution that would set specific limits on government power. Federalists argued that the Constitution did not need a Bill of Rights because the people and the states retained all the powers that were not given to the federal government. Antifederalists considered that a bill of rights was necessary to protect individual freedom. Directions: Tell students to use their research to create a way to introduce their class to how the previous 6 historical documents impacted the creation of the United States Constitution. Examples of how the student can create a presentation can be a poster, a slide presentation (e.B. PowerPoint), a flipchart, or a video.
The Virginia Bill of Rights was one of the first documents that emphasized the protection of individual rights, rather than simply protecting members of the House or consisting of simple laws that can be amended as easily as passed. For example, it was the first Bill of Rights to call for a free press.  Article 1. That all human beings are equally free and independent by nature and that they have certain inherent rights which, when they enter a state of society, they cannot deprive or dispose of their descendants by any covenant; namely, the joy of living and freedom, with the means to acquire and possess goods and to seek and obtain happiness and security. Sections 1 to 3 deal with the issue of rights and the relationship between the government and the government. Article 1 states that “all human beings are inherently equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, including .. they cannot steal or dispose of their descendants; namely, the joy of living and freedom, by the means of acquiring and owning property and seeking and obtaining happiness and security,” a statement that later became internationally famous in the second paragraph of the United States Declaration of Independence, since “we take these truths for granted, that all human beings are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights by their Creator, that it includes life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. A BILL OF RIGHTS issued by the representatives of the good people of Virginia, united in a comprehensive and free convention on the rights to which they and their descendants are entitled, as the basis and foundation of government. The Virginia Bill of Rights was drafted in 1776 to proclaim the inherent rights of the people, including the right to reform or abolish an “inappropriate” government.  It influenced a number of later documents, including the United States Declaration of Independence (1776) and the United States Bill of Rights (1789).
 Mason based his original conception on the rights of citizens described in earlier works such as the English Bill of Rights (1689) and the writings of John Locke. The Declaration can be considered the first modern constitutional protection of the individual rights of North American citizens. He rejected the idea of privileged political classes or hereditary offices as described in the English Bill of Rights. [Citation needed] Examines the unlisted rights reserved for individuals in relation to the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments, with an emphasis on rights such as travel, political affiliation, and privacy. Considers how the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments have been used to assert rights to individual liberty. In response to anti-federalist demands for amendments that guaranteed individual rights, James Madison (1751-1836) drafted these twelve amendments. These changes, seen here in one of only two known copies of the preliminary print, were closely aligned with Mason`s Virginia Bill of Rights. James Madison proposed the United States Bill of Rights. He largely responded to influential opponents of the Constitution, including prominent Founding Fathers, who argued that the Constitution should not be ratified because it did not protect the fundamental principles of human freedom. The United States Bill of Rights was influenced by George Mason`s Virginia Bill of Rights of 1776, the English Bill of Rights of 1689, Enlightenment works on natural rights, and earlier English political documents such as the Magna Carta (1215).
Following contemporary language, Mason had originally formulated this statement as “tolerance” for all, but in accordance with the teachings of John Witherspoon, the president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton), with whom he had studied, Madison insisted that religious practice was not a matter of majority grace, but of natural rights. Madison`s phraseology is similar to that which appears later in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and in his “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” to defend the law. It is a graphic organizer of 2 of the earlier historical documents that influenced the creation of the United States Constitution. These are the articles of the Confederacy and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. The 6 documents influenced the Constitution of the United States, including the Bill of Rights. At least two of these rights are similar to those contained in the First Amendment. Article 12 proclaimed that “freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of freedom and can never be restricted except by despotic governments.” Although the Virginia Declaration does not contain a provision on freedom of speech, its provision on religious freedom is actually broader than that contained in the First Amendment. Article 16 of the Declaration states: “This religion or the duty we owe to our Creator and the way in which we carry it out can only be guided by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men have equal right to the free exercise of religion according to the commandment of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian tolerance, love and charity for one another. This lesson and the graphic organizers associated with it will explain to the student the influence that previous historical documents have had on the Constitution of the United States. The student learns how U.S. constitutional government is based on concepts from the magna carta, the charters of the Virginia Company of London, the Virginia Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Virginia Religious Freedom Statute. This graphic organizer shows 4 earlier historical documents that influenced the creation of the United States Constitution.
These are the Magna Carta, the charters of the Virginia Company of London, the Virginia Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, students must use their device to research the context of the 6 documents, their context with the time they were written and the concepts that can be applied to the Constitution. After their research, students should be prepared to explain to their class what they found. Another resource for students are short videos that give concise explanations of the documents. Links to these videos are: Covers searches and seizures, rights of the accused, due process, jury trials, and protection from cruel and unusual punishment guaranteed by the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments. .