Virginia Legislative Petitions

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The right of citizens and others to petition governing authorities was for many years a jealously guarded one. While recognized only indirectly in Magna Carta, it was reaffirmed in the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Originally petitions were for the purpose of asking favors or redressing wrongs, but they came to serve many other purposes. In Virginia petitions appear as early as the first session of the General Assembly in 1619 and increase in frequency during the ensuing years of both the colony and the commonwealth. They vanish from the Virginia scene, except for very particular purposes, shortly after the Civil War.

This bibliography begins with the Fifth Virginia Revolutionary Convention, which met from May 6, 1776 to July 5, 1776, with occasional references to earlier conventions or meetings of the House of Burgesses. It includes such associated documents as claims, memorials, and propositions - the difference between these and petitions not being easily ascertainable. It has been compiled by a close reading and indexing of the printed journals of the convention and later of the House of Delegates and Senate.

Compiled by Randolph W. Church.

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