In honor of Constitution Week, Virginia’s rare copy of the U.S. Bill of Rights was on public display today at the Library of Virginia. The story behind it reveals that the Commonwealth played a pivotal role in its adoption as part of the supreme law of the land.
The document is the actual Bill of Rights sent by Congress to the General Assembly. The Library’s Director of Special Collections, Tom Camden, notes that in 1791, Virginia was the final state needed for ratification. “It’s designed solely to protect personal liberties and states’ rights. There was a lot of concern that the federal Constitution had too much power concentrated in the federal arena,” says Camden.
Virginia’s copy has the original 12 amendments, including two on the number of Congressmen and their compensation, that were ratified by the House of Delegates but not the Senate. It is made of sheep or goat skin and is worth at least $40 million
-by Anne Marie Morgan