The Virginia Declaration of Rights
[Final Draft,12 June 1776]
A DECLARATION OF RIGHTS made by the Representatives of the good people of VIRGINIA, assembled in full and free Convention;
which rights do pertain to them and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of Government.
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.
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.
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.