Library of Virginia

To mark the 50th anniversary of the current state constitution, the Library of Virginia is offering Virginia’s Constitutions, a traveling exhibition. Virginia’s Constitutions is an exhibition from the Library of Virginia with support from the Virginia Law Foundation, Hunton, Andrews, Kurth, LLP, Reed Smith LLP and McGuire Woods. The Virginia Law Foundation promotes through philanthropy the rule of law, access to justice and law-related education.

State constitutions are one of the most essential parts of the social contract. They articulate a way of life and embody fundamentally important ideas about the relationships between people and their government. State constitutions provide additional protections and rights not named in the federal constitution and can be amended more often than the federal one. Thomas Jefferson believed state constitutions should be revised at regular intervals.

Like the federal constitution, Virginia’s first constitution defined three branches of government: executive, judicial and legislative. Virginia’s constitutions establish and regulate local governments and determine the power of the state to levy taxes. Virginia’s earliest constitutions offered economic opportunity to some Virginians but condemned others to lifelong enslavement. After the Civil War, the state’s constitutions determined what kind of public education children could receive. All the constitutions defined who may and who may not vote, that most basic level of participation in self government.

Virginia’s Constitutions is a four unit, double sided banner exhibition available for viewing at the Lynchburg Public Library, 2315 Memorial Avenue, now through Jan. 1, 2022, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours each Tuesday until 8 p.m.