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This implied right became explicit in 1407, when Henry IV clearly recognized the right of the individual to petition.

In 1689, the English Bill of Rights formalized the right of subjects to petition the king and protected them from retaliation.

In Virginia, legislative petitions became the only form in which private or specific local or provincial matters could be introduced for deliberation in the House of Burgesses.

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Citizens were encouraged by their legislative representatives to send petitions to Richmond; in turn, the delegates gave each petition consideration and due procedure.These pleas from the people of Virginia serve as a vibrant register of popular opinion on matters both public and private.General Background One of the most basic civil rights that the Englishmen who waded ashore at Jamestown brought with them was the right to petition the government.In 1215, the Magna Carta implied the right of the individual to petition the baronial council (the forerunner of Parliament) for redress of grievances.As the primary catalyst for legislation in the commonwealth, petitions addressed public improvements, military claims, divorce, manumission of slaves, division of counties, incorporation of towns, religious freedom, and taxation, among other concerns.

Between 17, members of the General Assembly reviewed petitions reporting that hogs were running loose through the streets of Smithfield; protesting that an Albemarle County woman’s personal inheritance was sold to pay the debts of her drunken and runaway husband; complaining that two ex-sheriffs of Cumberland County had not been paid; and requesting freedom for William Beck, a slave who rendered "exemplary service" in the military.Petitioning played a vital role in Virginia politics from the American Revolution to the Civil War.The right to petition was not restricted by class, race, or sex; as a result, women, free blacks, and slaves petitioned the General Assembly, although they were all denied the right to vote.During the eighteenth century, the House of Burgesses itself petitioned Parliament and the crown on political issues.With the adoption of the American Bill of Rights in 1791, the right "to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" was guaranteed.Historical Background in Virginia Slowed by primitive modes of transportation, communication posed problems in developing representative government in the newly formed republic.