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Declaration offering pardon to the Slaves Who have taken Arms under Lord Dunmore


Mr˙ Treasurer, from the Committee appointed to draw up a Declaration, offering pardon to such Slaves as should return to their duty, reported, that the Committee had accordingly prepared the following Declaration; which he read in his place, and afterwards delivered in at the Clerk' s table, where the same was again twice read, and unanimously agreed to:

By the Representatives of the People of the Colony and Dominion of VIRGINIA, assembled in General Convention.


Whereas Lord Dunmore, by his Proclamation, dated on board the Ship William, off Norfolk, the 7th day of November, 1775, hath offered freedom to such able-bodied Slaves as are willing to join him, and take up arms against


the good people of this Colony, giving thereby encouragement to a general insurrection, which may induce a necessity of inflicting the severest punishments upon those unhappy people, already deluded by his base and insidious arts; and whereas, by an act of the General Assembly now in force in this Colony, it is enacted, that all negro or other slaves, conspiring to rebel or make insurrection, shall suffer death, and be excluded all benefit of clergy: we think it proper to declare, that all slaves who have been, or shall be seduced, by his Lordship' s Proclamation, or other arts, to desert their master' s service, and take up arms against the inhabitants of this Colony, shall be liable to such punishment as shall hereafter be directed by the General Convention. And to the end that all such who have taken this unlawful and wicked step may return in safety to their duty, and escape the punishment due to their crimes, we hereby promise pardon to them, they surrendering themselves to Colonel William Woodford, or any other commander of our Troops, and not appearing in arms after the publication hereof. And we do further earnestly recommend it to all humane and benevolent persons in this Colony to explain and make known this our offer of mercy to those unfortunate people.