Virginia Declaration of Rights

Virginia Declaration of Rights American Revolution Law and Politics Ethics American History

George Mason, one of America's Founding Fathers, was a strong believer in individual rights. So important were such rights to Mason that he refused to sign America's new constitution unless it contained a Bill of Rights.

This image depicts George Mason's handwritten "Virginia Declaration of Rights" which Mason drafted in May, 1776.

The Library of Congress tells us about the importance of this Revolutionary-Era document:

A call for American independence from Britain, the Virginia Declaration of Rights was drafted by George Mason in May 1776 and amended by Thomas Ludwell Lee and the Virginia Convention. Thomas Jefferson drew heavily from it when he drafted the Declaration of Independence one month later.

This uniquely influential document was also used by James Madison in drawing up the Bill of Rights (1789) and by the Marquis de Lafayette in drafting the French Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789).

When it was time for a new country called "The United States of America" to draft a Constitution, this document was instrumental in creating the first Ten Amendments (known, collectively, as "The U.S. Bill of Rights").

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5183stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Nov 18, 2019

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy the Library of Congress.



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