Author: General Assembly

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“Senate Joint Resolution No. 12” (2010)

In March 2010, the General Assembly extended state recognition to the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia. State recognition is a legislative process, first established in the 1980s, by which the Commonwealth of Virginia acknowledges its longstanding relationships with and governmental responsibilities to tribal communities. The text of this joint resolution reflects the extensive documentation compiled by the Nottoway community, including genealogical research of Nottoway families, records of Nottoway tribal participation in the written history of Virginia, and documentary evidence from colonial to modern times.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“Concerning Huie and Cries.” (March 1657)

The following law, passed by the General Assembly in its March 1657 session, sets out the protocol for publicizing petitions to retrieve indentured servants who ran away. This is the earliest legislation in the Virginia colony concerning the business of apprehending fugitives. This law is based on the English tradition of hue and cry, in which the public’s aid was solicited in the apprehension of criminals. This tradition is a cornerstone of the history of the servant and slave patrols in early Virginia.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“Senate Joint Resolution No. 5” (February 8, 1950)

In this excerpt from the Journal of the Senate, there is an account of state senators Lloyd Bird and Garland Gray introducing Senate Joint Resolution No. 5, a bill that would create the Virginia History and Government Textbook Commission. The bill passed and the commission went on to create history texts that sought to impose the Lost Cause version of slavery, the American Civil War (1861–1865), and Reconstruction on Virginia students.

 

 

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“An act directing the emancipation of certain slaves who have served as soldiers in this state, and for the emancipation of the slave Aberdeen.” (October 20, 1783)

This act, passed during the October 1783 session of the General Assembly, grants enslaved people their freedom in recognition of their military service on behalf of free people during the American Revolution. Among them was Aberdeen, who served in the Virginia Navy. A year earlier, in May 1782, the General Assembly passed a law that allowed enslavers to manumit their slaves at will, without government approval. During the Revolution, thousands of enslaved people fought for the British after they were promised freedom for their service, and beginning in 1783, more than 3,000 of these soldiers were resettled in Nova Scotia.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“An act for the purchase and manumitting negro Cæsar.” (November 14, 1789)

This act, passed during the October 1789 session of the General Assembly, grants Caesar, an enslaved man, freedom in recognition of his service in the Continental Navy during the American Revolution. He was one of many enslaved men serving on vessels charged with protecting Virginia from the British. Caesar was a crew member of the Patriot. He joined the Virginia Navy in 1776 or 1777 and continued to serve after the British surrender. He remained enslaved by the Tarrant family in Hampton until this act, when the General Assembly purchased him in order to manumit him from his enslaver. He continued working as a river pilot and was able to purchase the freedom of his wife and one of his three children; his wife purchased the freedom of another after his death.