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Read the Virginia Secession Petition and Access Project ’76 Audio below

Patrick Henry as he appears debating the Constitution in Mike Church's "Spirit of '76"
Patrick Henry as he appears debating the Constitution in Mike Church’s “Spirit of ’76”

Mandeville, LA  – In the process of ratifying the U.S. Constitution, the most celebrated, lengthy and heated debate was held in the Virginia Convention which convened on 4 June, 1788 in the old State House in Richmond. Seeing that there would not be enough room to accommodate the 187 delegates and thousands of interested citizens, the convention moved to the Academy of Arts & Sciences on Broad Street on Richmond’s Shockoe Hill.

• See Stonewall jackson’s famous speech on Virginia’s Secession Act here
• Hear George Mason read Virginia’s Ratification Statement here (from “The Spirit of ’76”)

The two loudest and most famous opponents of ratifying were George Mason & Patrick Henry. Realizing that they would lose their effort, Henry & Mason successfully moved to have the convention attach a conditional statement to their ratification “instrument” guaranteeing that VA could leave the new Union (secession) if it proved injurious:

His excellency, Governor RANDOLPH, reported, from the committee appointed, according to order, a form of ratification, which was read and agreed to by the Convention, in the words following: VIRGINIA, to wit:

“We, the delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected in pursuance of a recommendation from the General Assembly, and now met in Convention, having fully and freely investigated and discussed the proceedings of the federal Convention, and being prepared, as well as the most mature deliberation hath enabled us, to decide thereon, Do, in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known, that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power, not granted thereby, remains with them, and at their will; that, therefore, no right, of any denomination, can be cancelled, abridged, restrained, or modified, by the Congress, by the Senate or House of Representatives, acting in any capacity, by the President, or any department or officer of the United States, except in those instances in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes; and that, among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained, or modified, by any authority of the United States.”  (1)

Listen to the Preview of “George Mason reads VA’s Ratification Statement” – Gain access to ALL Project ’76 content and much more. Take the Tour

Virginia therefore, had become a Country on 15 May, 1776, before the Declaration of Independence, had written and assented to her own Constitution on 26 June, 1776 and then on 25 June, 1788 assented to become part of the Federal Union under the Constitution. It should thus, on 17 April, 1861 elicit nothing more than sorrow among Union States at seeing the Old Dominion go its own way but as we know, the end of federalism and the reign of coerced nationalism would not admit the plain, evident truth declared that day:


To Repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution:

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention, on the 25th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eight-eight, having declared that the powers granted them under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.

See Mike’s Film “The Spirit of ’76” for the FULL story of the Constitution’s ratifying struggle in VA.

Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain that the Ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong to a free and independent State. And they do further declare that the said Constitution of the United State of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.

This Ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day when ratified by a majority of the votes of the people of this State, cast at a poll to be taken thereon on the fourth Thursday in May next, in pursuance of a schedule hereafter to be enacted.

Done in Convention, in the city of Richmond, on the seventeenth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and in the eighty-fifth year of the Commonwealth of Virginia. (2)

Sec’y of Convention


In this clip from “Gods & Generals” General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson gives his famous speech informing his men that VA has seceded from the Union & will soon have to fight because  “The Lincoln administration has chosen to inaugurate civil war”.

Take me back to the top!

(1) VA Ratification Instrument

(2) VA Secession statement

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About the author

Host of the Mike Church Show on The Veritas Radio Network's CRUSADE Channel & Founder of the Veritas Radio Network. Formerly, of Sirius/XM's Patriot channel 125. The show began in March of 2003 exclusively on Sirius and remains "the longest running radio talk show in satellite radio history".

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2 Responses
  1. Jeff Lewis

    One more comment on this scene , reminds me of what a heavy burden it is to carry, when one’s country is turned upside down. There will never be war again such as this, God willing. How thats not to say we shouldn’t go our own way… not willfully, but in peace for best of all in this Union.

  2. Jeff Lewis

    I was fortunate to be re-enacting at the filming of movie “Gettysburg”. Stephen Lang would ride up and down the lines, as Gen’l Pickett, during filming of Pickett’s Charge, and we felt we were invincible!!! How crazy is that… Great actor!!! The best part was when we did Pickett Charge scene on actual battlefield. At the end of the charge they filmed we came to bottom of the a small hill, and looked up. I saw wave after wave of reenactors with Stars and Bars coming over the hill. I looked to left and right, and grown men were in tears. For that one moment it was so unreal!! Most of men there were resident “yankees” and even they had tears. Felt special to be from LA. Thanks for the link. Very special.

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