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What is a summary of the Virginia Declaration of Rights?

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Quick Answer

The Virginia Declaration of Rights enumerates several universal rights that should serve as the foundation of government. Constitution.org states that the Virginia Declaration of Rights exerted influence on famous subsequent documents like the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

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According to Constitution.org, the Virginia Declaration of rights serves to assert man's inherent liberties and limit the power of government.

The first three articles define the relationship between government and the people. All men are created free and are entitled to such rights as life, safety and the pursuit of happiness. The people are the source of all political power and government officials are public stewards accountable to the body of citizens.

Article 4 declares that all men are equal. It dismisses traditions like inherited titles of nobility. Articles 5 and 6 lay out the principle of separation of powers. The legislative and executive powers should be held by one entity and the judicial power by another. Moreover, no citizen may be unjustly deprived of property or denied suffrage.

Articles 7 to 16 place limits on the power of government. They censure actions like baseless searches and seizures, self-incrimination, and cruel and unusual punishment. They guarantee citizens many civil rights, including the right to trial by jury, freedom of the press and freedom of religion.

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