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CHAPTER IV.: VIRGINIA’S BILL OF RIGHTS AND THOSE OF THE OTHER NORTH AMERICAN STATES. - Georg Jellinek, The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens: A Contribution to Modern Constitutional History 
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens: A Contribution to Modern Constitutional History, by Georg Jellinek. Authorized translation from the German by Max Farrand, revised by the Author (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1901).
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VIRGINIA’S BILL OF RIGHTS AND THOSE OF THE OTHER NORTH AMERICAN STATES.
The Congress of the colonies, which were already resolved upon separation from the mother country, while sitting in Philadelphia issued on May 15, 1776, an appeal to its constituents to give themselves constitutions. Of the thirteen states that originally made up the Union, eleven had responded to this appeal before the outbreak of the French Revolution. Two retained the colonial charters that had been granted them by the English crown, and invested these documents with the character of constitutions, namely, Connecticut the charter of 1662, and Rhode Island that of 1663, so that these charters are the oldest written constitutions in the modern sense.1
Of the other states Virginia was the first to enact a constitution in the convention which met at Williamsburg from May 6 to June 29, 1776. It was prefaced with a formal “bill of rights”,2 which had been adopted by the convention on the twelfth of June. The author of this document was George Mason, although Madison exercised a decided influence upon the form that was finally adopted.3 This declaration of Virginia’s served as a pattern for all the others, even for that of the Congress of the United States, which was issued three weeks later, and, as is well known, was drawn up by Jefferson, a citizen of Virginia. In the other declarations there were many stipulations formulated somewhat differently, and also many new particulars were added.4
Express declarations of rights had been formulated after Virginia’s before 1789 in the constitutions of
In the oldest constitutions of New Jersey, South Carolina, New York and Georgia special bills of rights are wanting, although they contain many provisions which belong in that category.6 The French translation of the American Constitutions of 1778 includes a déclaration expositive des droits by Delaware that is lacking in Poore’s collection.7
In the following section the separate articles of the French Declaration are placed in comparison with the corresponding articles from the American declarations. Among the latter, however, I have sought out only those that most nearly approach the form of expression in the French text. But it must be once more strongly emphasized that the fundamental ideas of the American declarations generally duplicate each other, so that the same stipulation reappears in different form in the greater number of the bills of rights.
We shall leave out the introduction with which the Constituent Assembly prefaced its declaration, and begin at once with the enumeration of the rights themselves. But even the introduction, in which the National Assembly “en présence et sous les auspices de l’Être suprême“ solemnly proclaims the recognition and declaration of the rights of man and of citizens, and also sets forth the significance of the same, is inspired by the declaration of Congress and by those of many of the individual states with which the Americans sought to justify their separation from the mother country.
[1.]Connecticut in 1818, and Rhode Island first in 1842, put new constitutions in the place of the old Colonial Charters.
[2.]Poore, II, pp. 1908, 1909.
[3.]On the origin of Virginia’s bill of rights, cf. Bancroft, History of the United States, London, 1861, VII, chap. 64.
[4.]Virginia’s declaration has 16, that of Massachusetts 30, and Maryland’s 42 articles, Virginia’s declaration does not include the right of emigration, which was first enacted in Article XV of Pennsylvania’s; the rights of assembling and petition are also lacking, which were first found in the Pennsylvania bill of rights (Article XVI).
[5.]Vermont’s statehood was contested until 1790, and it was first recognized February 18, 1791, as an independent member of the United States.
[6.]Religious liberty is recognized by New York in an especially emphatic manner, Constitution of April 20, 1777, Art. XXXVIII. Poore, II, p. 1338.
[7.]Pp. 151 et seq.