the American Revolution, and the Constitution>Virginia
Dec. 14, 1775.
By the Representatives of the People of the Colony and Dominion
of VIRGINIA, assembled in GENERAL CONVENTION
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 masters' 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 that end 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 Col. William Woodford, or any other commander of
our troops, and not appearing in arms after the publication hereof.
And we do farther 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.