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Adoption of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1974


This piece titled “Adoption of the Virginia Declaration of Rights” was painted in 1974 by Jack Clifton. Clifton, who was commissioned by the Jamestown Foundation to paint a depiction of the first legislative assembly at Jamestown, painted the Adoption of the Virginia Declaration of Rights to complement the earlier work. Both paintings now hang in the Virginia State Capitol. George Mason drafted the original Declaration, which included rights such as the ability to confront one's accusers in court and to present evidence in court, protection from self-incrimination, the right to a speedy trial, the right to a trial by jury, and the extension of religious tolerance. All of the aforementioned rights were eventually adopted as a part of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution in 1791. Once completed, the draft was debated between late May and early June 1776 and other significant changes were made. The final version of the Virginia Declaration of Rights was adopted on June 12, 1776, and its subsequent influence is undeniable. Some notable Virginia politicians painted include Patrick Henry, John Tazewell, Archibald Cary, Edmund Pendleton, George Mason and Thomas Jefferson.

Clifton, Jack. Adoption of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. 1974. Virginia State Capitol. In Adoption of The Virginia Declaration of Rights, Oil Painting. shaping_the_constitution/doc/adoption.


History: VS.1, VS.5b, VS.6b, USI.1, USI.6c, CE.1, CE.2b, VUS.1, VUS.c, GOVT
Art: 4.1, 5.1
English: 4.7, 5.7

Suggested Questions

Analyze: Who do you think the key people in this painting are? Why?

In Their Shoes: If you were Patrick Henry in this situation, what viewpoint would you be defending?

Social Media Spin: Create a 280-character tweet from the perspective of one of the following men in attendance: Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, Patrick Henry.

Analyze: Compare and contrast the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Constitution. Create your own Bill of Rights for this year (feel free to add rights you feel are needed today).

Artistic Exploration: Write a letter to the editor or draw a political cartoon expressing a point of view held by a person who supports or opposes the document.


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