Virginia Declaration of Rights

This is my summary/interpretation of the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights
Version 1, Draft 1

1. All mankind are equally due the right to safely enjoy their lives, and each is due his share of resources in his pursuit of happiness.
2. The government is comprised not of rulers, but servants of the people.
3. The goal of government should be for the common benefit and protection of the people it serves, and it should take whatever form produces the greatest happiness, safety, and resistance to corruption. When any government fails to provide such benefit to its people, it should be altered until it does so.
4. No individual or group is due privilege separate from the community, nor should anyone inherit positions in government.
5. The branches of government should be independent of one another. And so they do not become oppressive, lawmakers must return to their communities after a period of time, with vacancies filled through periodic elections.
6. All those within a community are due the right to vote. Money and property are taken by the government only through the consent of the people.
7. Only the body of lawmakers has the power to oversee the suspension and execution of laws.
8. Those accused of crimes have the right of defense at a trial not long drawn-out, decided upon by a jury of locals.
9. The courts must punish fairly and impartially.
10. Warrants of search and arrest must be specific and backed by evidence.
11. Court cases between citizens are preferably decided upon by a jury.
12. The right to observe and report on the happenings of government and society shall never be restricted.
13. As standing armies are prone to abuse, the proper defensive force of a free state, is one comprised of its regular citizens, returning to the community in times of peace. And the military must at all times be subservient to the will of the people.
14. Within this state, there should be a single uniform government.
15. In order to maintain these rights, we must at all times adhere to the principles of fairness, moderation, self-restraint, frugality, and goodness.
16. No one should be compelled to follow the spiritual beliefs of another, therefore all are entitled to exercise their own beliefs in the manner they see fit. But it is the duty of all to practice patience and tolerance, love and charity, toward one other.


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