History holds massive information on different aspects of rights. It has defined human rights as core in the life of a man. This has brought forth the declaration of rights, where different authors have come up with unique arguments and explanation of human rights. This is what has been defined as declaring rights, which has two main sections; Rights in Revolution and The Constitution and Rights. Through outstanding processes of argument, several documents were developed in both 17th and 18th century. It is at this point that history was gaining roots and was marked by several documents, which hold different arguments. This is because of time difference, being authored by different authors as well as discussing different topics on human rights. The main discussion on this argument will be based on the three documents outlined below; the declaration of rights of the first continental congress (1774), Virginia's statute for religious freedom (1786), and the declarations of rights enacted by state constitutional conventions in Virginia (1776). Each of these documents is unique in its argument following thorough discussion and evaluation of a given human right. The uniqueness may have been influenced by the time, people whom the discussion aims as well as the author of the document. This will be explained by the discussion that will follow on each of the above named documents and comparisons between the documents.
The document on the declaration of rights of the first continental congress (1774) is based on a congress that was held in Pennsylvania. It was a meeting for all the colonies where delegates were supposed to represent each colony with only Georgia missing in the congress. The main aim of the seating was for the colonies to show their authority over Great Britain.1 However, colonies varied in their agendas for the congress. New York and Pennsylvania had impacted their delegates with concrete instructions of seeking a resolution with England. Other colonies acted as a defense to colonial rights. Some colonies were out for legislative parity while other sought for complete separation.
The aim of this convention was to bring forth understanding among the colonies that there were rights that were denied to them. In the congress, the colonies present were discussing the type of leadership that they had in their regions. They did not believe in this kind of leadership where everything would be dictated to them. They were looking for peaceful and democratic governance which would not be impacted by foreigners. Therefore, they defined a plan that would unite all the colonies and the Great Britain. A council was formed among the colonies that would aid in representing the colonies2. This council was equivalent of the English parliament.
The congress was a challenge to England as it had to ensure that all the terms that were agreed upon in the congress were met before the next meeting. The congress brought forth an association which would aid in regulating the resistance to Great Britain. The association aimed at ensuring that there was communication between the different colonies. However, this was successful by the end of 1974. Several issues discussed had been achieved.
This document was an aim for equity and freedom among the colonies. However, this has been achieved through the ages in these regions. In most of the states in the United States of America, there is unity of purpose. People have a clear outline of what peace is as well as democracy. They have confidence on peaceful and democratic leadership which is contrary to the dictatorial or colonial rule which they were subjected to by the Great Britain. Citizens have come to understand their rights as well as identify themselves with the success of the country in self governance. Proper leadership is crucial in ensuring clear understanding of human rights. This has dawned on these former colonies of the Great Britain and they are now masters of democracy and have massive respect for human rights.
The declarations of rights enacted by state constitutional conventions in Virginia (1776), is the other discussion which aims at explaining how citizens define their rights and achieve them. This document is related to the previous one. It is based on the congress that was held by the colonies in the United States. The aim of the Virginia Convention was to make a resolution that all the colonies in the United States should be free and independent. A committee had been prepared to pioneer declaration of rights as well as plan for governance.
This began by appointment of a committee that would aid in drawing up the declaration of Independence. This was exceedingly crucial as it aided in developing a system that would make every citizen part of the new form of governance that the state was looking forward to achieve. This process began by drafting the first state constitution for Virginia which was integrated by a declaration.
The declaration was carried out mainly by George Mason. The committee and the convention played a tremendously vital role of making some verbal changes as well as adding sections 10 and 14 to the constitution. The declaration was a model for bills of rights in other state constitutions as well as the source for the French Declaration of the Rights of man and of the Citizen.3 The influence of the Virginia constitution to the French Declaration of rights was a challenge as they did not have any direct connection.
The main aim of the declaration of rights which was enacted by the people of Virginia had respect for human rights as the basic and core aspect of discussion. The constitution, which they developed was a clear representation that all men are equal and independent. It dictates human rights as inherent, and no individual had a right to deny the rest any of the rights outlined in the constitution. It declares that all individuals are subjects to happiness of life and have the right to acquire and possess property depending on their pleasure and safety.
The declaration highlighted that through magistrates, their trustees and servants, power of the community is protected and no other authority applicable in the definition of the rights of the society. The government for the state should be a government for all people and not a representative of a portion of the citizens. This would promote democracy and peace since people will be exposed to equality and common goal of growth and advancement. The drafted constitution dictates clearly that no man is entitled to exclusive emoluments from the society. This means that in distribution of public resources, all parties in the state should be treated equally with favor falling on none of the individuals involved.
The constitution also dictates that all powers in the society should be separated within a given line. It dictates that legislative and executive powers in the state should be separated and distinct. This would prevent citizens from oppression by the law as well as senior people in the administration of the state.
This form of declaration revolves around peace where justice is the core pillar fashioned by moderation and frugality. It further touches on religion which is a highly crucial social character in the society.
Some issues discussed on this declaration as well as rights are common in the current form of governance. Any government that gets into power is aiming at ensuring that peace prevails among members of the society. The only way through which peace can be restored in the society is through democratic governance where everyone has a say in the society.
However, as time elapses situations change and the perspective of issues change. Human rights being sensitive and characterized with dynamism of times change with time. People become aware of other rights, which were denied previously, bring in some change in the constitution.4
Virginia's statute for religious freedom (1786) is the other declaration of rights that has shaped the line of human rights. Its main focus is on the sensitivity of religion and the rights that go around with the factor. The statute dictates that all men were equally created by God, and none of them should be superior to the other. Contrary to the previous arguments or declarations, Virginia’s statute for religious freedom focuses on developing an argument based on religious point of view.
The declaration focuses on a proper understanding of the conduct of people who are religious leaders in the society. It defines discipline as crucial in leadership and defining principles of life. Religion should act as motivation for success in governance of any country.
It also defines truth as a core for proper leadership. A country led by honest individual is subject to perfection and success is a guarantee for the country. Religion should bribe the world with honor and respect for human life. It dictates that no wise man who leads in truth shall diminish. They will always expand their civil capacities.5
Leadership build on proper religious ground is a platform for excellence of a given country. This is because even the leaders will be aiming at delivering satisfactory leadership where equity is fundamental.
This declaration outlines that it is through religious governance that Virginia has been able to withstand leadership pressure that has followed it for some time.
This document has borrowed a lot from other declarations like the ones outlined above. It has been able to combine what is expected of governance by man and what God expects of people when it comes to governance. This religious declaration has been incorporated in the Virginia declaration of rights. This has shown that religion is a truly critical virtue in governance and respect for human rights. The declaration of rights of the first continental congress (1774) also intertwines with the religion declaration in a highly formal manner. It rejected human oppression while the religion declaration says that all men are equal.
In conclusion, there are fundamental relationships among the declaration rights that were developed to shape the political and social setup of states. Although, all of them revolve around human rights, each of them holds some uniqueness which is defined in the formulation of the rights. However, their uniqueness lies on their variant formulations. They have developed rights which are coherent with the current forms of governance where respect for human rights is fundamental.
Burnett, Betty. The Continental Congress: a primary source history of the formation of America's new government. New York: Rosen Central Primary Sources, 2004. print
Peterson, Merrill D.. The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom: its evolution and consequences in American history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. print
The constitution of Virginia: together with the Virginia Bill of Rights, passed June 12, 1776. Virginia: The New nation (1867), 2008. print