National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1765-1786: We win a hard-fought Revolution and seize its promise of liberty

June 12, 1776
As we debate independence, Virginia declares its rights

Virginia Declaration of Rights

Virginia is ahead of us all. Today, Virginia passed a Declaration of Rights to include with its new state constitution.

Drafted by George Mason, the declaration includes a list (or bill) of rights modeled on the English Declaration. Rights listed include: freedom of the press; no cruel and unusual punishment; and trial by jury.

Wednesday, December 18, 1776

North Carolina just passed its own declaration of rights. Four states have now followed Virginia—and some are going even further.

They’re saying that the rights of the people should be off-limits not just to executives like kings and governors...but to legislatures too.

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