1830 Virginia Constitution

The Compiler (Wheeling)
January 27, 1830

In this week's paper we lay before our readers the new Constitution; and with unfeigned sorrow it is, that we cannot congratulate our fellow citizens upon the occasion. The grievances under which we have so long groaned, and of which we have so long complained, instead of being removed, or in any degree ameliorated, are continued, and riveted upon us more firmly than ever: RIVETED, we say, because from what we see abroad, we are forced into the belief that the constitution will be accepted by the people. Presses hitherto most strenuous for a thorough reform, have suddenly become very dispassionate, and appear disposed to approve, what but a few days before, strong language was employed to reprobate. This fact, more than all else, has tended to blast our hopes of the rejection of this MONSTER, more odious than the "serpent" that has so long reigned over us.

There never was a representative government susceptible of amendment to a greater extent than the old constitution of Virginia, particularly as it respects the basis of representation, the right of suffrage, and the County Court system. To remedy these defects, was the principal cause of the call of a Convention; and yet, under the new constitution, with the exception of a slight extension of suffrage, all things remain as under the old. It is true that the numbers of members in the House of Delegates is reduced somewhat; but the PROPORTIONS East and West of the Blue Ridge, are substantially retained.

This constitution is GIVEN to the West, much in the same manner as the constitution of France was given by Louis XVIII. The King, though a minority of the nation, held the sovereign power; and he gave the nation such a constitution as suited his own views. The Eastern division of Virginia held an unequal share of power. The Convention question was carried chiefly by the vote of the West; but the apportionment of members was made by the East, and made to secure a majority of Eastern members. It has passed a modification of the constitution, which has been carried by the vote of the East against the West. No Western man voted for it, except Cook, of the Valley. With this exception, all the Delegates from the West, with three from the Loudoun, and two from the Bedford district, were against the adoption of the new constitution. The final vote was, yeas 55, nays 41 - including Mr. Doddridge, who was sick and absent when the question was taken, and also including Mr. Stanard, of Richmond, who was the only anti-convention man who voted with the nays. A considerable majority of the Convention voted for the constitution; but that majority represented only a MINORITY of the white population of the state. The 55 members who passed the constitution, according to the tables heretofore published, represented 334,925 whites. The 41 members in the negative, represented 348,336 whites. Thus the MINORITY has GIVEN to the MAJORITY a constitution, which perpetuates that inequality of power which was sought to be obviated by a revision of the old constitution.

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