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CONVENTION OF VIRGINIA,
INSTRUCTING THEIR REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS TO PROPOSE
A Declaration of Endependence.
[Unanimously agreed to, on Wednesday the 15th of May, 1776, one hundred and twelve members being present. See Journ. Conv. pa. 31.]
FORASMUCH as all the endeavours of the United Colonies, by the most decent representations and petitions to the King and Parliament of Great Britain, to restore peace and security to America under the British government, and a re-union with that people upon just and liberal terms, instead of a redress of griev ances, have produced, from an imperious and vindictive administration, increased insult, oppression, and a vigorous attempt to effect our total destruction. By a late act, all these Colonies are declared to be in rebellion, and out of the protection of the British crown, our properties subjected to confiscation, our people, when captivated, compelled to join in the murder and plunder of their relations and countrymen, and all former rapine and oppression of Americans declared legal and just. Fleets and armies are raised, and the aid of foreign troops engaged to assist these destructive purposes. The King's representative in this colony hath not only withheld all the powers of government from operating for our safety, but having retired on board an armed ship, is carrying on a piratical and savage war against us, tempting our slaves, by every artifice to resort to him, and training and employing them against their masters. In this state of extreme danger, we have no alternative left but an abject submission to the will of those overbearing tyrants, or a total separation from the crown and government of Great Britain, uniting and exerting the strength of all America for defence, and forming alliances with foreign powers for commerce and aid in war : Wherefore, appealing to the SEARCHER OF HEARTS for the sincerity of former declarations, expressing our desire to preserve the connexion with that nation, and that we are driven from that inclination by their wicked councils, and the eternal laws of selfpreservation,
Resolved unanimously, That the delegates appointed to represent this Colony in General Congress, be instructed to propose to that respectable body, to declare the United Colonies free and independent States, absolved from all allegiance to, or dependence upon the crown or parliament of Great Britain; and that they give the assent of this Colony to such declaration, and to whatever measures may be thought proper and necessary by the Congress for forming foreign alliances, and a confederation of the colonies, at such time, and in the manner, as to them shall seem best: Provided, that the power of forming government for, and the regulations, of the internal concerns of each colony, be left to the respective colonial legislatures.
Resolved unanimously, That a committee be appointed to prepare a DECLARATION OF RIGHTS, and such a plan of government as will be most likely to maintain peace and order in this colony, and secure substantial and equal liberty to the people.
We the people of the UNITED STATES, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure Domestic Tranquillity, provide for the Common Defence, promote the General Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and our Posterity, DO ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of AMERICA.
ALL legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a CONGRESS of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. SECTION II.
The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year, by the people of the several states; and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.
No person shall be a representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.
Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of
of the legislative power.
of the House of Representatives.
Of the Senate.
free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, threefifths of all other persons. The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the state of NewHampshire shall be entitled to choose three, Massachu setts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence-Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New-Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North-Carolina five, South-Carolina five, and Georgia three.
When vacancies happen in the representation from any state, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.
The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other officers, and shall have the sole power of impeachment.
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first election, they shall be divided, as equally as may be, into three classes. The seats of the Senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year, of the second class at the expiration of the fourth year, and of the third class at the expiration of the sixth year, so that one third may be chosen every second year; and if vacancies happen by resignation or otherwise, during the recess of the legislature of any state, the executive thereof may make temporary appointments until the next meeting of the legislature, which shall then fill such vacancies.
No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not when elected, be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall be chosen.
The Vice-President of the United States, shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.
The Senate shall choose their other officers, and also a President, pro tempore, in the absence of the VicePresident or when he shall exercise the office of President of the United States.
The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside : And no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members present.
Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.
The times, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in electing memeach state by the legislature thereof; but the congress bers. may at any time, by law, make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Congress to year, and such meeting shall be on the first Monday in assemble anDecember, unless they shall, by law, appoint a differ- nually. ent day.
Each House shall be the judge of the elections, re- Powers of turns and qualifications of its own members, and a ma- each House. jority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such mauner and under such penalties, as each House may provide.
Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behaviour, and with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.