The story of Virginia is, in many ways, the story of our nation. From the country's beginnings as an English colony to the creation of the United States of America, Virginia—its land and its leaders—has been central to the nation's formation. During the Revolutionary Era, Virginians made significant contributions to winning independence from Britain, and also to defining and protecting that hard-won freedom. At the same time that Virginia's leaders advocated freedom for themselves, other individuals sought to mold the rhetoric of the Founding Era for their own purposes. Women, American Indians, and African Americans were pushed around the edges of this newly formed democracy—contributing, protesting, and using the system to win the rights they desired.
"Shaping the Constitution" highlights this remarkable legacy. The multilayered and ongoing story is told here using the resources that the creators of our Constitution used and prepared themselves. Explore them and make your own decisions about the story they tell and the responsibilities passed to us by the generations before.
To begin your immersion in the story, read the introduction to our documents by eminent U.S. Constitution scholar John P. Kaminski. Dr. Kaminski is the founder and Director of the Center for the Study of the American Constitution at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the author of numerous books and articles about the Constitution and the Early Republic, most notably the Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution.