This Article, using the early history of the Virginia Constitutions as a model, explores some of the great themes of state constitutional thought in America-among them the nature of a constitution, 'What values constitutions embody, how constitutions evolve, what scheme of representation they create, what relations they establish among the branches of government, and state constitutions in a federal system. The Article is in two parts. The first part recounts the highlights of Virginia's constitutional development in the early years, with emphasis on the great constitutional convention of 1829-30. The second part analyzes the relevance which this early history has to modern problems in four areas: (1) constitutional theory, (2) suffrage and representation, (3) the frame of government, including the relations among the three branches of government, and (4) comparative state constitutionalism and state constitutions in the federal system.

A. E. Dick Howard, "For the Common Benefit": The Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776, in The George Mason Lectures: Honoring the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Virginia Declaration of Rights , Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 11–19 (1976).