Virginia, June 27, 1788

The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (Elliot’s Debates)

Vol. III

VIRGINIA

Friday, June 27, 1788.

Seven states ratifying the Constitution proposed no amendments. Four of the six states proposing amendments requested provisions dealing with religion. Virginia and North Carolina endorsed the same principle set forth below on pg. 659. New York and New Hampshire also proposed amendments.

Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie Religious Institutions Group

Pg. 656

His excellency, Governor RANDOLPH, reported, from the committee appointed, according to order, a form of ratification, which was read and agreed to by the Convention, in the words following: VIRGINIA, TO WIT:

“We, the delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected in pursuance of a recommendation from the General Assembly, and now met in Convention, having fully and freely investigated and discussed the proceeding of the federal Convention, and being prepared, as well as the most mature deliberation hath enabled us, to decide thereon, Do, in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known, that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, be resumed by them whensoever the same shah be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power, not granted thereby, remains with them, and at their will; that, therefore, no right, of any denomination, can be cancelled, abridged, restrained, or modified, by the Congress, by the Senate or House of Representatives, acting in any capacity, by the President, or any department or officer of the United States, except in those instances in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes; and that, among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained, or modified, by any authority of the United States.

“With these impressions, with a solemn appeal to the Searcher of hearts for the purity of our intentions, and under the conviction that whatsoever imperfections may exist in the Constitution ought rather to be examined m the mode prescribed therein, than to bring the Union into danger by delay, with a hope of obtaining amendments previous to the ratifications,– “We, the said delegates, in the name and behalf of the people of Virginia, do by these presents, assent to and ratify the Constitution, recommended on the seventeenth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, by the federal Convention, for the government of the United States; hereby announcing to all those whom it may concern, that the said Constitution is binding upon the said people, according to an authentic copy hereto annexed, in the words following.” [For the Constitution, see the commencement of Vol. I.] Thursday, June 26, 1788

An engrossed form of the ratification agreed to yesterday, containing the proposed Constitution of government, as recommended by the federal Convention on the seventeenth day of September, one thousand seven

Pg. 657

hundred and eighty-seven, being prepared by the secretary, was read and signed by the president, in behalf of the Convention.

On motion, Ordered, That the said ratification be transmitted by the president, in the name of this Convention, to the United States in Congress assembled.

On motion, Ordered, That there be allowed to the president of this Convention, for his services, the sum of forty shillings per day, including his daily pay as a member; to the secretary, the sum of forty pounds; to the chaplain, the sum of thirty-two pounds; to the serjeant, the sum of twenty-four pounds; to the clerk of the committee of privileges, the sum of twenty pounds; and to each of the door-keepers, the sum of fifteen pounds, for their respective services.

Friday, June 27, 1788

Another engrossed form of the ratification, agreed to on Wednesday last, containing the proposed Constitution of government, as recommended by the federal Convention on the seventeenth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, being prepared by the secretary, was read and signed by the president, in behalf of the Convention

On motion, Ordered, That the said ratification be deposited by the secretary of this Convention in the archives of the General Assembly of this state.

Mr. WYTHE reported, from the committee appointed, such amendments to the proposed Constitution of government for the United States as were by them deemed necessary to be recommended to the consideration of the Congress which shall first assemble under the said Constitution, to be acted upon according to the mode prescribed in the 5th article thereof; and he read the same in his place, and afterwards delivered them in at the clerk’s table, where the same were again read, and are as follows:–

“That there be a declaration or bill of rights asserting, and securing from encroachment, the essential and unalienable rights of the people, in some such manner as the following:–

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Pg. 659

“19th. That any person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms ought to be exempted, upon payment of an equivalent to employ another to bear arms in his stead. “20th. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men have an equal, natural, and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience, and that no particular religious sect or society ought to be favored or established, by law, in preference to others.”

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Pg. 661

And the Convention do, in the name and behalf of the people of this commonwealth, enjoin it upon their representatives in Congress to exert all their influence, and use all reasonable and legal methods, to obtain a ratification of the foregoing alterations and provisions, in the manner provided by the 5th article of the said Constitution; and, in all congressional laws to be passed in the mean time, to conform to the spirit of these amendments, as far as the said Constitution will admit.

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