Virginia Declaration of Rights -
June 12, 1776
That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when
they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the
enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and
obtaining happiness and safety.
II That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and
servants, and at all times amenable to them.
III That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people,
nation or community; of all the various modes and forms of government that is best, which is capable of
producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety and is most effectually secured against the danger of
maladministration; and that, whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these
purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform,
alter or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.
IV That no man, or set of men, are entitled to exclusive or separate 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 be hereditary.
V That the legislative and executive powers of the state should be separate and distinct from the judicative; and,
that the members of the two first may be restrained from oppression by feeling and participating the
burthens of the people, they should, at fixed periods, be reduced to a private station, return into that body